Hey, Santa Ana, Ready for a Needle Exchange Spot in the French Court Neighborhood?

Will Santa Ana soon get a needle exchange location? No, silly, an official needle exchange location, which is right now proposed for the French Court Neighborhood.

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Eder Giovanni Herrera, Once Held in Slayings of His Mom and Brother, Wins $700k Settlement

Courtesy of Orange County District Attorney's office
Former double murder suspect Eder Giovanni Herrera is now richer.
Close readers may recall that almost a year ago the lawyer for Eder Giovanni Herrera accused Orange County law enforcement of having blood on its hands in the deaths of four homeless men who were fatally stabbed after Herrera was falsely locked up for the murders of his mother and older brother in Yorba Linda. The latter slayings and the four that followed were ultimately pinned to Herrera's former best friend Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo, who went on to commit suicide while in custody. The Brea Police Department patrolled Yorba Linda under contract on Oct. 25, 2011, when Ocampo stabbed 53-year-old Raquel Estrada more than 30 times in her upper body and her 34-year-old son Juan Herrera more than 60 times before leaving their bodies on the floor of their home. Now, the City of Brea has agreed to pay the surviving son $700,000 to settle his wrongful imprisonment lawsuit.

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San Diego Politician Seeks To Undermine OC Great Park Audit

In Legally Blonde 2, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) works to pass anti-animal testing legislation. But her sly boss, a congresswoman (Sally Fields), secretly sabotages the effort on behalf of a money-hungry campaign contributor. Though naïve and ditsy, Woods uses her charm to turn once contemptuous politicians into admirers, wins a new law and everybody, including her Chihuahua Bruiser, lives happily ever after.

It's a feel good Hollywood tale that doesn't quite mirror reality, at least in Sacramento. On April 22, Assemblywoman Lorena S. Gonzalez tried to play the role of an Elle Woods-type do-gooder by advocating that the state auditor open an investigation into the City of Irvine. Her issue? In a rambling, semi-coherent statement, Gonzalez said the legislature has "a responsibility" to determine if the audit of Orange County Great Park spending was performed "for political reasons."

The reason for the audit is obvious. Flabbergasted Irvine residents wanted to know how city officials spent about $250 million in park funds without building a single, major, promised feature of the proposed project. And the answer is most definitely political, but not the way Gonzalez is spinning the issue.

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Rancho Santiago College Foundation Accused of Brown Act Violations in Saudi Arabia Deal

A clash between Rancho Sanitago Community College faculty and brass could rock the casbah.
The Faculty Association of the Rancho Santiago Community College District claims the state's open-meeting law was violated in deliberations that led to RSCCD's controversial $105 million consulting contract with two technical schools in Saudi Arabia.

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Tainted Irvine Democrats Hope Sacramento Pals Will Rescue Them In Great Park Scandal

Luke McGarry / OC Weekly
Ever want to see politicians simultaneously argue two sides of one stance--and pretend they are consistent? Go to Irvine and see Beth Krom and Larry Agran in action. More than a year ago, Krom and Agran devised a two-pronged communications strategy to undermine the independent audit of how their political machine spent in excess of $200 million without building a single, major, promised feature at the Orange County Great Park.

The first prong involved trying to rile up the public by describing the audit as a waste of taxpayer funds, which was never a concern when their machine ran the proposed park and handed out $165,000 a month in no bid, no benchmark contracts to their own political consultants. Booted from power by 2012 voters, the pair suddenly discovered the notion of frugality.

Once one of California's largest and most anticipated public works projects, the Great Park idea under the leadership of Krom and Agran devolved into a cesspool of incompetence, mismanagement and cronyism you'd expect from two local politicians, one a housewife and the other a lawyer who has never held a private sector job, pretending they possessed the expertise to create a $1.6 billion, "world class" park.

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Loaded .38 Found in Carry-on at Airport Named After Gunslinger Portrayer John Wayne

Courtesy of the TSA
This was in a SNA carry-on.
A loaded .38 caliber handgun was plucked out of the security line at John Wayne Airport last week but don't worry, there was no round in the chamber, according to the TSA.

That made it one of nine loaded firearms found in TSA lines at the nation's airports last week. There were also 31 unloaded guns, multiple stun guns and ninja stars, 10 inert/replica/novelty grenades and knives of all shapes and sizes seized at U.S. airports last week, the TSA reports.

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Second Smoking Gun Of Prosecutorial Team Cheating Emerges In Death Penalty Case

R. Scott Moxley
DA Rackaukas addresses reporters in March
We reported earlier this week ("Dial Eme For Murder," April 15) that the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) won a 2007 death penalty case after hiding a key piece of evidence that would have undermined the government's trial position. Prosecutor Dan Wagner argued defendant Anthony R. Navarro, a Mexican Mafia associate and a prolific FBI informant, ordered three gang soldiers to carry out an October 2002 hit near Knott's Berry Farm. Navarro said he couldn't have commanded the soldiers because the gang wanted him dead for being a snitch, an assertion Wagner mocked as a "ridiculous" lie.

The prosecutor wasn't just wrong; law enforcement possessed evidence proving the error. Nearly two months before successfully asking jurors to impose death, government agents recovered the Mexican Mafia's secret "hard candy" list, which recorded the names of individuals the gang wanted murdered on sight, including Navarro, a.k.a. "Droopy." In a flagrant violation of ethics, officials hid that document from the defense, Judge Francisco P. Briseno and a jury of seven men and four woman. The 48-year-old defendant now lives on San Quentin State Prison's death row hoping the state Supreme Court will someday overturn his conviction.

But the Weekly has learned Wagner's prosecution of Navarro, his only death penalty victory before taking over the OCDA's homicide unit, cheated the defense of a second piece of critical exculpatory evidence: a letter written by Armando Macias, one of the gang soldiers that killed victim David Montemayor and months later used shanks in a murder attempt on Navarro inside a Fullerton courthouse holding cell.

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DA Tony Rackauckas Once Again Milks A Pedophile Case

Courtesy: Jack Lindsay / City of Vancouver archives
Milking it
It's not often when Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas conducts a press conference. It's exceptionally rare when Rackauckas calls the media to his office to announce he's filing an appeal. But the DA has suffered huge public relations setbacks this year involving alarming prosecutorial team incompetence and cheating in death penalty cases.

So, this morning, Rackauckas issued his third "media advisory" in two weeks to draw attention away from the messes and to a no-lose PR stunt: Attacking Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly's decision to go relatively soft on 19-year-old Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto, a pedophile who sodomized a three-year-old female relative and received a 10-year prison sentence instead of a 25 years to life term sought by prosecutors.

Or, more accurately: Renewing his re-attacks on Kelly, who--by the way--is, like the DA, an ultra-conservative Republican.

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Dial Eme For Murder: How Prosecutors Teamed With Mexican Mafia In Death Penalty Case

R. Scott Moxley
Prosecutor Wagner defending questionable DA moves in pending death penalty case

It's odd when both the Mexican Mafia and the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) want the same guy dead. It's remarkable when two assumed-enemy outfits work together to achieve a mutual goal. But that is what happened to Anthony R. Navarro Jr.

The Mexican Mafia (a.k.a. La Eme, the pronunciation of M en español) put Navarro on its "hard candy list," marking him for death. OCDA simultaneously worked to hand him capital punishment. In the process, a church-going prosecutor and an unsavory disciple of Eme bosses collaborated in a Santa Ana courtroom. As a result, Navarro today sits on San Quentin State Prison's death row.

The 48-year-old hoodlum admits he's no angel. At the age of 12, he became a gangster, two years later landing in the California Youth Authority for manslaughter. He inked his body with underworld tattoos, took the moniker "Droopy" and became a leader of the Pacoima Flats Gang in the San Fernando Valley. During a prison stint for robbery, the smooth-talking car enthusiast, small-time methamphetamine dealer and $19-per-hour Warner Bros. studio extra won prized Mexican Mafia associate status.

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Lawyer For Santa Ana Police Says Ex-Cop's Sexual Orientation Lawsuit Is Ridiculous

SAPD chief Rojas
A lawyer for the City of Santa Ana is calling a lawsuit filed by a retired, high-ranking police officer who says she was discriminated against because of her sex and sexual orientation "an attempt to extort money" based on a claim that "borders on ridiculous."

Diana L. Field with Ferguson, Praet & Sherman filed those remarks in advance of a scheduled April 20 hearing with U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.

Field is asking Selna to dismiss Tammy Franks' lawsuit before the case reaches a jury trial.

The Weekly first reported in January about the case, which alleges a homophobic officer filed a frivolous, theoretically anonymous complaint designed to smear Franks' reputation and sabotage her career that saw her rise to the rank of commander.

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