Follow The Dots - You Heard it First at J4J
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California November 10, 2001Follow The Dots(You heard it first at JAIL4Judges)
Ex-Officer's Trial Could Taint Police
Court: Defendant accuses former Huntington Park colleagues of evidence tampering, on-duty sex.By RICHARD MAROSI
TIMES STAFF WRITER
October 9, 2001
A former Huntington Park police officer will soon face off against his onetime colleagues in a court case so strange it inspired a judge to give some of the law enforcement participants a nickname.
He called the Huntington Park officers a "liars club."
In a case involving two jurisdictions, John Maley of Fountain Valley is facing one count of possessing illegal ammunition in Orange County. But he says Huntington Park officers framed him because they feared he would expose wrongdoing, including alleged on-duty sex with prostitutes. The long-running case is more than just a sordid tale of feuding cops and sexual misadventures. The Huntington Park Police Department, already under investigation for alleged civil rights violations, could face huge liability costs and another blow to its reputation and credibility.
Though a judge has scoffed at many of Maley's claims, he has ruled that some photographs confiscated from Maley's Fountain Valley home disappeared and were possibly destroyed by panicked Huntington Park officers.
"They are a bunch of people running scared, for their jobs, from the City Council, from the press, from investigations by perhaps the FBI, the [Internal Revenue Service]," said Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Borris last year.
In his ruling, the judge refused to drop the charge against Maley but said the defense could argue at trial that Huntington Park police had destroyed evidence.
Prosecutors are reviewing the case for any evidence of police-related misconduct. Defense attorneys say old cases could be reopened in a Rampart-like review if officers were found to have lied or tampered with evidence.
"It is really outrageous what they did," said Romero Jacinto of the public integrity assurance section of the Los Angeles County public defender's office. "We're going to see if any of their conduct has impacted our cases."
The case against Maley began in April 1998, when Fountain Valley police, concerned that Maley was "paranoid," raided the modest tract home that he shares with his wife and two children.
Fountain Valley officers said they confiscated two shotguns, 11 rifles and 11 handguns, most of them fully loaded, as well as alleged destructive ingredients and espionage literature. Also present at the raid were officers from Huntington Park, a blue-collar city in southeast Los Angeles County.
Maley, who had retired from the Huntington Park police six years earlier, was originally charged with 10 felonies. Most of those counts were either dismissed by judges, citing insufficient evidence, or dropped by prosecutors. It is not clear why Orange County prosecutors dropped other charges.
Maley has tried to get the remaining count--possession of four tracer rounds--dismissed by saying Fountain Valley officers improperly gave Huntington Park police four albums of photographs. Maley says some of the photos disappeared.
Some photos allegedly showed an officer having sex with a woman near a police car and officers cavorting with a scantily clad woman. Another one allegedly showed numerous gun-toting, beer-drinking officers, in a line, exposing themselves while on duty.
Judge Borris agreed that Fountain Valley police improperly gave the evidence to their fellow agency. He said some of the photos--a "powder keg" of embarrassing evidence--were then probably destroyed.
"If this isn't the poster boy for bad faith, I don't know what is," he said. "I am appalled. . . . I cannot express the distaste of what has happened here by means of that Police Department."
But Borris did not dismiss the charge against Maley, mainly because he believed that the officers were trying to protect themselves, not harm his case.
Maley's attorney, Derek Bercher, however, plans to revisit the issue at the trial, scheduled to start this week. Though several photographs disappeared, others remain, and Bercher hopes to undermine the department's credibility.
Some photographs show dancing drag queens and gruesome crime and accident scenes. In one, a murder victim on a gurney--his chest slashed open by a knife--has a sign wedged into his hand saying, "Ventilated Hood."
Another photograph shows officers allegedly mimicking gang behavior by posing in front of a graffiti-covered wall.
Maley, who left the force in 1992, said that he took some of the Polaroid photographs but that others were given to him by officers. Maley, a British-born former Royal Marine and Drug Enforcement Administration agent, portrays himself as a chronicler of misdeeds.
"You always have a few clowns in any department, but once I discovered that these guys are crooks and corrupt, I decided to keep a collection that would be evidence of proof of their improprieties," he said.
Others doubt anything Maley says, calling him a disgruntled ex-cop trying to deflect attention from his own alleged crimes. The judge said the photographs amount to just a strange souvenir collection.
Speaking of Maley and his former colleagues, Borris said: "His credibility is one of the lowest. . . . He is part of the boys in the liars club, Orange County chapter, of the Huntington Park Police Department."
Borris also harshly criticized several Huntington Park officers, right up to Chief Randy E. Narramore, who was questioned about the photographs at last year's hearing.
Narramore, the judge said, gave contradictory answers that were "all over the map." Borris likened the chief to a bumbling TV character.
"He basically says, 'I know nothing,' comparable to . . . Sgt. Klink on 'Hogan's Heroes,' " said the judge, misnaming the television character, Sgt. Schultz, in the 1960s series about a World War II prison camp.
Narramore, in an interview, said that he couldn't comment on the judge's ruling, but that Maley possesses a "demented imagination" that has caused many people "undue heartache."
Narramore is expected to testify at the trial, which attorneys say could last one to two weeks at the courthouse in Westminster.
The case has split the City Council in Huntington Park, where the FBI is still investigating the 72-member department over allegations of police abuse of minorities.
Councilwoman Linda Luz Guevara often mentions the case during meetings in an effort to expose alleged wrongdoing. But Mayor Ric Loya stands by Narramore.
"At this point in time, we're leaning with our chief," he said. "We're all watching it carefully. We feel confident enough that when the whole thing is done, we'll be OK."
City Councilwoman Linda Guevara was one of the speakers at JAIL4Judges' November 11, 2000 fundraiser (last year) in Reseda, CA., in which she spoke of this police corruption in her city prior to it being exposed to the public via the news. You heard it first at JAIL4Judges.-Ron BransonJ.A.I.L. is the new means of a peaceful revolution in this country.
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