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Affidavit details Costa Mesa police union ties to Private Investigators

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2014 | Firm News |

This news really is not suprising.  The police and its union is very devoted to increasing the police budget to pay its members.  The city governments are often faced with budget cuts.  These two forces collide and it can get messy.

The truth is the police budget is a healthy one.  I can imagine some dirt on the a councilmember would be a nice bargaining chip.  It will be interesting to see how this ends.


As his alleged mission to defame Costa Mesa councilmen unraveled in 2012, a private investigator tried to get his story straight with the law firm that hired him on behalf of the local police union, according to court papers obtained Monday.

“Tell them I went rogue and (you) had no idea and you immediately fired me,” wrote Christopher Joseph Lanzillo, a private investigator and former Riverside police officer, in a coded text message to an attorney for the union.

The message is just one of many communications and financial records within the court papers – a search warrant affidavit – that link the police union to two private investigators who are accused of illegally tracking one Costa Mesa councilman with a GPS device and phoning in a false DUI report on another.

The court report also details how the Costa Mesa Police Association raised membership dues to pay the law firm to dig up dirt on politicians prior to the November 2012 election. Documents also show how the former police union president deleted emails in the weeks following the DUI stop.

Lanzillo, 45, and Scott Alan Impola, 46, a former Riverside police detective from Canyon Lake, were each charged with four felonies Wednesday after prosecutors alleged they conspired to make a phony DUI report on Councilman Jim Righeimer on Aug. 22, 2012, and conspired to track Councilman Steve Mensinger with a GPS device from July to August 2012. The union at the time was concerned that Mensinger and Righeimer supported a budget that cut police expenditures and reduced the number of sworn officers.

Union connections

Prosecutors would not address last week whether the law firm would eventually be charged, but confirmed that the police union had not been charged because there was no evidence that the union knew about the illegal conduct beforehand. The union has denied having anything to do with the DUI report or GPS tracking device.

Yet the court report shows that Costa Mesa police officers in top union positions were eager to document the councilmen in compromising situations. The police union board even discussed a scenario involving drugs, Las Vegas and a sex worker.

“If it hasn’t already been discussed maybe we should think of informing DETER (union attorney Dieter Dammeier) that RIGG (Righeimer) and MESS (Mensinger) will be in Vegas soon,” wrote Costa Mesa Police Association Treasurer Mitch Johnson, a 21-year Costa Mesa police veteran, in a May 3, 2012, email to former union President Jason Chamness, current President Rob Dimel and Paul Beckman.

“I think Mess if (sic) a doper and has moral issues,” the message continues. “I could totally see him sniffing coke of (sic) a prostitute. Just a thought.”

All four are still officers with the Costa Mesa Police Department.

“Its disappointing that police officers have become political operatives with a desire to ruin peoples lives in order to achieve additional pay and benefits,” Mensinger responded Monday. “It speaks volumes to the corruption and thuggery in the Costa Mesa police union. I have to believe that rank-and-file police officers, who are fine men and women, will find this every bit as displeasing.”

Court records show that in spring 2012, the union raised dues and tripled the law firms’ monthly retainer to support private investigators “digging up dirt” on Costa Mesa council members.

Even after the phony DUI report, as the union attempted to distance itself form its former law firm – Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir – and the P.I.s, records show that money continued to flow from the union to the law firm to investigators.

The affidavit shows that even after the union said it fired its law firm, after word of the DUI setup got out, the union continued to pay its elevated retainer rate of $4,500 per quarter to the firm as late as January 2013. Lanzillo and Impola were paid by the law firm through January, as well.

The Full article can be found here.

Hire a Proactive, affordable, and quality defense when you are facing San Diego DUI charges.  Whether you have been charged of a San Diego DUI, Poway DUI, Chula Vista DUI, La Mesa DUI, Santee DUI, Mission Valley DUI, Clairemont DUI, Point Loma DUI, La Jolla DUI, Carmel Valley DUI, Mira Mesa DUI, Pacific Beach DUI, Del Mar DUI, Encinitas DUI, Oceanside DUI, Ocean Beach DUI, Escondido DUI, Vista DUI, San Marcos DUI, Carlsbad DUI, El Cajon DUI, San Diego Expungement, San Diego Bench Warrant, San Diego Failure to Appear, San Diego Restraining Orders, San Diego Terminate Probation, San Diego Minor Possession of Alcohol, San Diego Probation Violation, San Diego Prop 47, Lakeside DUI, Lemon Grove DUI, National City DUI, Cardiff DUI, Racho Santa Fe San Diego DUI, Rancho Bernardo DUI, Spring Valley DUI, Solana Beach DUI, Leucadia DUI, Golden Hills DUI, North Park DUI, Torrey Pines DUI, Eastlake DUI, Paradise Valley DUI, it is vital you need to hire an attorney who knows how to defend your rights and can determine if the government can prove their case.  Contact the Law Office of Mark Deniz now for a free case evaluation at 858-751-4384 or send an email to [email protected].

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