Larry Agran Spent $200 Million At Great Park, But His Adviser Scores New York Times Story

Meranda Carter/OC Weekly
Agran became an Irvine career politician 36 years ago

We once could have imagined The New York Times sending a future reporter to a completed Orange County Great Park in Irvine for an awe-inspiring article in the paper's "Great Homes & Destinations" section. Don't laugh. There's no shame in being fooled a decade ago. That's when Irvine political boss Larry Agran promised OC that the decommissioned El Toro Marine Air Corps Station wouldn't just be filled with new houses.

The failed, 1992 Democratic presidential candidate said the development plan included man-made canyons, waterfalls and wildlife corridors; an architecturally impressive sports stadium and amphitheater; breathtaking university buildings; botanical gardens and a conservatory; and Smithsonian-caliber museums. Agran even guaranteed the Great Park would be bigger and more impressive than Manhattan's Central Park and San Diego's Balboa Park. All Irvine voters had to do to reap that historic milestone was to keep him and his political machine in control of the city.

This month, a Times reporter with "Great Homes & Destinations" did focus on Orange County, though the story wasn't about the Great Park--at least directly. That's no surprise. During Agran's 12-year reign, not a single major proposed feature was built even though $200 million evaporated from the park construction kitty.

Where did all that taxpayer money go?

More »

Court: ICE Prosecutor Cheated Drug-Dealing Mexican Caught In USA Fourth Time

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District has rebuked a federal judge and a Department of Homeland Security lawyer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for abusing the rights of a drug dealer with a history of illegally entering the United States from Mexico.

The appeals court claims Southern California ICE attorney Nathaniel B. Walker won a fast track, guilty plea from Paul Gabriel Morales Heredia by promising a sentence of six months, but violated the deal by making "inflammatory" remarks about the defendant's criminal history to Judge Stephen V. Wilson, who reacted by increasing punishment to 21 months in prison.

More »

Larry Agran Pledges Building Moratorium But Secretly Assures Developers Otherwise

Campaign image
Gaido, Agran and Fox: Are they smiling because they think Irvine voters are fools?
Newly obtained evidence reveals Larry Agran--the Irvine political boss who wrecked the Great Park plan by diverting millions of dollars to his pals in no bid contracts and lost control of the city in the 2012 elections--is hoping his November campaign slate with Melissa Fox and Mary Ann Gaido will retake power based on a lie.

In recent weeks, the Agran-Fox-Gaido team published at least six fake newspapers as well as continuous campaign mail urging Irvine voters to support them because they will impose "a moratorium" on construction projects.

"Gaido, Agran and Fox have the courage, skills and determination to restore Irvine's Master Plan and put an Irvine Growth Control Ordinance in place," Agran published about himself and his slate in the Sept. 16 edition of his campaign ad masquerading as a legitimate newspaper to dupe voters. "According to mayoral candidate Mary Ann Gaido, this would begin with a council-ordered moratorium--a 'time out'--on major new housing tracts and apartment complexes."

Concerned Irvine residents who want the best for Irvine have several reasons to be skeptical about the Agran-Gaido-Fox campaign promise.

More »

Rich Congressman, Poor Congressman: Issa and Rohrabacher at Opposite Ends of Roll Call List

Dana  Rohrabacher .JPG
OC Weekly archives
Dana Rohrabacher should hold out his hat and collect charity, based on a new D.C. wealth report.

Dana Rohrabacher? More like Poorbacher, according to a new D.C. insider list of the wealth of members of Congress. But the Huntington Beach Republican is not the only Orange County congressman to get listicled. Can you guess who was named the "richest" congressman?

More »

Police Shot Woman Holding Cell Phone And Federal Judge Blocks Her Civil Rights Lawsuit

An Orange County woman shot as many as six times in June 2012 by police, who claimed they thought the cell phone she held was a handgun, has lost her civil rights lawsuit inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana.

U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton this week formally granted the pre-trial, summary judgment request by lawyers representing the City of Orange, Orange Police Department as well as officers Brian Chambers, Charles Lange and Trent Hardeman.

In the wee hours of June 23, 2012, Olivia Ann Reil--distraught from a argument with her boyfriend who hadn't told her he loved her during the year they'd dated--was collecting personal items from inside a parked Toyota pickup truck near the intersection of Sycamore and Spruce when she noticed bright lights behind her vehicle.

People she could not see because of the lights demanded that she drop her weapon--commands she didn't understand because she held a cell phone.

More »

Prosecutors Drop Felony Charges In Wake Of OC Weekly Report

Hours after OC Weekly revealed ethical problems concerning Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) use of questionable informants in a solicitation-of-murder case against former gangster Joseph Govey, prosecutors this morning dropped all charges.

On Tuesday, Beth Costello, Govey's prosecutor, told the Weekly she'd dismissed three of the most serious charges against Govey on Sept. 22 because she wanted to hide records from Renee Garcia, the defendant's defense lawyer, in hopes of protecting the safety of the informants.

The assertion was odd for several reasons including that the informant identities have been well known: criminals Alexander Frosio, Carl Johnson Jr., Arthur Palacios and, Huntington Beach Police Department's prize, veteran snitch, Marcel Irazarry.

More »

Tony Rackauckas' Truth or Consequences: DA Continues Dropping Cases To Avoid Disclosures

Bob Aul/OC Weekly

Up until Sept. 22, Santa Ana defense attorney Renee Garcia had waited more than 400 days for the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) to fully obey pretrial ethical rules about sharing evidence in an attempted murder case. Garcia wanted prosecutor Beth Costello to turn over records of informants who'd aided the government in what turned out to be a problematic solicitation-of-murder case against Garcia's client, Joseph Govey. The massive consumption of time included six months of Costello repeatedly assuring Garcia she would surrender the evidence but reneging each time. Realizing she was being stonewalled, the lawyer wrote three separate motions to Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals in hopes of compelling production of the records.

But with Goethals favoring Garcia's position, Costello declared at a May 16 hearing she'd been mistaken by asserting there were no files whatsoever to share--especially on Alexander Frosio. He's one of the prosecution's key snitches and a serial residential burglar whom other inmates say worked at the request of Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) deputies to plant "happy cards"--mail laced with heroin--in targeted inmates' cells. Exactly three weeks later, Garcia showed the prosecutor gotcha evidence. In a different ongoing case in the same courthouse, Larry Yellin--one of Costello's colleagues--admitted the agency possessed a 3-inch-thick stack of Frosio-related informant records.

More »

John Wayne Airport Curfews Remain Through 2035 But Flight Increases Will Come ... Someday

Courtesy of John Wayne Airport
Curfews remain but more flights and passengers are coming ... eventually.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors extended the John Wayne Airport curfew through 2035 on Tuesday while also allowing for more flights and passengers--years from now, when those board members will be long gone.

More »

Prosecutors Suspiciously Drop Charges In Another Case Based On Informant Work

Prosecutors pursued tainted murder solicitation case against Govey (pictured)
For two years, prosecutors, police and sheriff's deputies stalled turning over potential exculpatory evidence to defense lawyers representing Joseph Govey--a 49-year-old Orange County man wanted dead by white supremacist gangsters and facing seven felony charges that, if convicted on all counts, could have meant spending the rest of his life in one of California's notorious prisons.

But Senior Deputy District Attorney Beth Costello walked into Judge Thomas M. Goethals' Santa Ana courtroom on Sept. 22 and startled Govey, a convicted felon, as well as his attorney, Renee Garcia.

Costello dismissed three of the most serious charges: solicitation of murder, attempted murder and street terrorism.

The veteran prosecutor's eyebrow-raising move wasn't motivated by the sudden onset of a bleeding heart sensibility. Most assuredly, the decision came reluctantly and with calculation. The Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) had, after all, consumed grand jury time to win a 2012 indictment against Govey.

More »

Police and Prosecutor-Cheating Kills Murder Case, Freeing Man Held In Jail For Years

Bob Aul
Orange County prosecutors claimed they were unclear about their ethical obligations
To prevent future public embarrassment about widespread corruption in it's jailhouse informant program, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) handed a sweetheart deal to an accused Santa Ana killer whose lawyers were on the verge of demanding a probe.

Isaac John Palacios walked out of the Orange County Jail a free man just before midnight on Sept. 23 after being in pre-trial custody since 2011 for the 2006 killing of Randy Adame near Mater Dei High School and a second, 2005 murder of Alberto Gutierrez, also in Santa Ana.

If OCDA officials--including prosecutor Erik Petersen--had had their way, Palacios might have been on his way to effectively serving a life sentence for the killings, but Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders discovered the case reeked of law enforcement corruption involving prosecutors, Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) cops as well as deputies inside the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD).

More »

Now Trending

From the Vault