Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lanzillo Takes The 5th...

According to informed sources, and verified by Daily Pilot reporter Bradley Zint in an article late this afternoon, HERE,  private investigator Chris Lanzillo exercised his right against self-incrimination today when he "took the 5th" more than 200 times during a deposition that is part of a lawsuit filed by Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer, his wife, Ilene and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger springing from events that occurred more than 18 months ago.
You will recall that, according to some contemporaneous news reports at the time, Lanzillo was in councilman Gary Monahan's bar, Skosh Monahan's, with a female associate apparently attempting to lure Monahan into some kind of compromising situation with her.

Both Righeimer and Mensinger were also in the bar and, when Lanzillo saw Righeimer leave, he followed him and called the Costa Mesa Police Department to report him as a probable drunk driver.  After reporting the incident Lanzillo apparently followed Righeimer home and waited nearby in his car while a member of the CMPD - Officer Kha Bao, as it turns out, who is the CMPD's most highly-decorated DUI officer - arrived to inquire of Righeimer.  According to reports, Bao asked Righeimer to step outside, did a quick horizontal gaze nystagmus test and, based on his experience with hundreds of drunk drivers, determined Righeimer was not, in fact, impaired and left.  You can read about that kind of test at the link above.  This is only one of several so-called "field sobriety" tests used and can be used to quickly affirm that the driver is NOT impaired.  Righeimer was NOT asked to stand on one foot nor was he required to do the "walk and turn" test.  And, he was not administered a breathalyzer.

According to reports, Righeimer's wife observed Lanzillo in his car and approached him, at which time he drove off.  Some reports indicate that he "attempted to run over her" - obviously not true or Officer Bao would have arrested him for assault with a deadly weapon.

So, now the drama continues.  Lanzillo, just as you and I do, had every right to exercise his constitutionally-guaranteed protection against self-incrimination.  Of course, as we've seen from this council majority, the rights of others don't mean much to them.  You can read the quotes from the various lawyers in Zint's article.

There is no word at this time as to the next step in this drama.  I expect there will be other maneuverings by both sides as they work their way through the legal obstacle course.  We've been led to believe that there is a deadline imposed by the judge in the case of next Monday for more legal action.  We know that Righeimer expects to be able to be involved in the negotiations of the CMPOA contract because he said that from the dais not too long ago.  However, even if the CMPOA is removed from the lawsuit, both he and Mensinger have demonstrated clear bias against the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department and, in my non-legal opinion, should be barred from participating in any way.

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Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

The clear bias here is against Steve and Jim. You don't like their politics and at every turn find a way to disparage them.

I would suggest that taking the 5th is certainly appropriate when you are asked questions that could cause you to be prosecuted or sued.

We all know that you have the right to not provide evidence against yourself. Still, by exercising that right, you certainly raise questions about your innocence.

None the less, innocent until proven guilty!

Let's just hope that this moves forward expeditiously.

3/20/2014 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bruce, how I feel about your pals is an entirely different issue - and one that I've never denied. I don't like their tactics and, certainly, not their results. I don't like the way they bully people, bend or just flat out ignore the rules, and on and on.

We still have no resolution to the 60th debacle nor the Fairview Park DG trail issue, among others. We're still spending obscene amounts of money on legal fees on their watch.

3/20/2014 11:55:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Resident said...

Pot Stirrer, Bruce is absolutely correct. Jim and Steve were victims of harassment and false police reports, the PI involved takes the 5th on every question, and you have no opinion but another jab at Jim and Steve?

Honestly answer this question - what if Sandy or Wendy had been the targets?

Your obvious bias and failure to call for real answers is really sad.

Attack them all day long on their actions that you disagree with, but have the moral fortitude to acknowledge the reality that Lanzillo's actions were a direct attempt to silence and intimidate elected leaders in an effort to change the way they vote.

3/21/2014 01:25:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CM Resident, you presume to know information that is not in evidence. Lanzillo is entitled, as are you and I, to seek the protections provided by the 5th Amendment. You don't like it, but that's the way it is.

My personal preference would be to get to the truth of this matter and let the chips fall where they may. However, you cannot force Lanzillo to potentially incriminate himself - that's how the law works.

We can speculate all day about other scenarios - "what if" this, "what if" that - none of which are relevant.

And where to you get off challenging my "moral fortitude"? Neither you nor I KNOW the reality of the situation, so get off your high horse.

You sound offended by what you refer to as my "obvious bias", yet you know EXACTLY how I feel about your buddies. I DO want "real answers", which may or may not be the answers you're looking for. I want to know just what kind of a coincidence placed both Righeimer and Mensinger at Gary's bar (a Brown Act violation?) at that precise moment? I want to know if the staged complaint by the folks on Ford Road the evening before at the council meeting played a role in it. I want to know why Righeimer - all full of bluster and false outrage - was permitted to direct the police chief to be at Ford Road the next day at 3 p.m. to "get to the bottom" of an issue that already was being handled by the police department. Yes, I want to know what took Lanzillo to Monahan's that day...

I find it especially amusing that you suggest Lanzillo's actions were a "direct attempt to silence" anyone, since your pals do that all the time. Ironic, no?

I suggest that you stop the puffery and posturing for your pals and, if it bothers you to read what I write, just stop reading it. It's that simple for even you to understand. Don't like it? Don't read it!

3/21/2014 02:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

People will make a big deal about the "200." But once you plead the 5th you really have to stay with that. If you answer anything after that, it can be used to get around your silence.

It's easy to assume they are hiding something (I have done that often), but this was such an important and noble concept the founding fathers thought it wise to add it to the Constitution. Since they are generally venerated for getting it all right with the Constitution and Bill of Rights, let's give them this one, too, and assume Lanzillo's innocence, and let's not infer that it is part of a master plot. His silence is his defense, not anyone elses.

3/21/2014 07:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Squad 51 said...

For all anybody knows.... The PI was working for the Righeimer and this whole ridiculous scenario was designed to make the cops look bad and give him something to make him look like it's him against the dirty union thugs.
I never have bought into the PI hanging around to be identified when he didn't have to (and a professional PI wouldn't) and the ready Diet Coke receipts part of this orchestrated stage play.
Taking the 5th is to protect somebody alright. I'm just not buying that it's the cops. Just too lame a production for them. Sounds more like something out of the 'fire everybody' camp.

3/21/2014 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

I find it ironic that that Jim and Steve's supporters are claiming Jim and Steve were "harassed, targeted and bullied" by their opponents.
As Geoff stated here, these are the same actions these two have directed at others, especially their opponents. We have seen examples of this since they came into office.
I'm sticking with innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.

3/21/2014 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Resident said...

Pot Stirrer, I have no problem whatsoever with your personal attitude or opinions about any politician. I know why you feel the way you do, and I respect your opinion.

I did not and do not question your moral fortitude, nice try. I did and still do ask that you demonstrate it by acknowledging the reality that Lanzillo's actions were a direct attempt to silence and intimidate elected leaders in an effort to change the way they vote. It doesn't help your cause (getting rid of Righeimer), but it is the right thing to do. Every decent person should condemn Lanzillo's actions and demand full accountability. Trust me, I will comdemn anyone found culpable - regardless of party, position or affiliation.

Lanzillo stated in the Daily Pilot that he was there targeting Monahan and Mensinger. You're big on motives and conspiracies - why else would a PI from Menifee, employed by the law firm then representing the Costa Mesa POA, be targeting two Costa Mesa council members in the middle of a hotly contested election? Sure, it could be a coincidence, but do you really think so?

Again, what if Sandy or Wendy had been the targets?

3/21/2014 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CM Resident, I beg to differ. When you wrote, " but have the moral fortitude to acknowledge the reality..." you did, indeed question my moral fortitude.

I don't pretend, as you apparently do, to KNOW what Lanzillo's motives were, nor who might have hired him. We all can speculate all we wish, but until the FACTS are known it's just a futile exercise.

As I said before, I'm willing to let the legal process run its course and let the chips fall where they may. I've read the lawsuit and, if your pals claims are true, I don't understand how they manage to stay on the job. In Steve's case, how - in such a fragile emotional state - did he manage to finally land a job? If the alleged "injuries" they suffered are as severe as they portray in the lawsuit filings, it seems to me that they should be in very serious psychological counselling because of the emotional trauma.

And, you can continue to present "what ifs" all day long. Until we have a situation that can be evaluated it's just another waste of time.

3/21/2014 01:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Jim and Steve had been trying to silence residents and opponents since they got into office. Don't whine to me about oh poor Jim and Steve trying to be silenced and bullied. Turn about is fair play. Look whose crying now?

Squad 51, yes! We know Jim had a receipt for diet cokes. But whose? His name isn't on it.

I have also wondered why the PI stuck around to be identified and watch, when he didn't have to. I'm thinking this is very strange also. He'd have never been caught otherwise, and there would be no lawsuit. Interesting. Perhaps the PI takes the 5th to protect Jim and Steve. Could this be where the missing money from the 60th went? Just something to ponder.

CM Resident, did you find it abhorrent when Mensinger hired a PI to follow city employees around in their personal time after work? I thought not.

3/21/2014 01:37:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Resident said...

Pot Stirrer,

Of course, you know what is in a person's mind better than they do, and while you decline to opine about Lanzillo's motives, you have never once shied away from offering chapter and verse on everyone else's. I have read your blog for years, and I have a pretty good idea about the answer to my question. If Sandy or Wendy were targeted as Jim And Steve were, I'm confident that you would leave no stone unturned trying to bring the perpetrator(s) to justice. Too bad you are so focused on the election year anti-Righeimer/Mensinger message that you won't break from it to acknowledge the giant elephant in the room.

Where's My Coffee, what are you talking about? Which PI?

3/21/2014 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

CM resident,

While all your allegations seem so very real to you, many of us see that " giant elephant in the room" as a dust cloud right now.
Your indignation that we don't all agree with your opinions is interesting.
Let the due process of law take its course.

3/21/2014 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

CM Resident, Mensinger hired a PI to follow the employees around in their personal time. He followed Billy to a bar, and Billy confronted him. Its not a secret. Mensinger did this before it was done to him. Its hard to have any sympathy for him when he does it himself.

3/21/2014 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

What we know (I think we know) - A PI who had ties to attorneys representing the police union called in a bogus DUI report on Jim. The officer who responded gave him one simple test, found the report to be unsubstantiated, and left.

The incident was all over the news and discussed on talk radio. Who alerted the media? It seems it was the victim.

The actions of the PI were underhanded. I think both sides would agree on that. But who directed the PI's actions? There is at least a slight chance that it was a publicity stunt orchestrated by someone other than the police union.

3/22/2014 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Skeptical in Costa Mesa said...

Interesting point CV. And who's been whining all over the media since? Those two are getting much attention out of this. Sometimes those crying innocent the most are the ones most guilty? Just saying ;)

3/22/2014 04:23:00 PM  

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