Patterico's Pontifications


What the L.A. Times Never Told You About an Inmate Who Was Close to Chuck Philips

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:11 pm

[UPDATE: Thanks to Mickey Kaus for the link. I have a very short summary of this post here. If you’re getting lost, try the summary.]

Did former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips get duped by a con artist who improbably placed himself at the center of major acts of violence in the rap world? Did Philips become overly cozy with a prison inmate who sought to advance his agenda with tall tales and forged documents?

I’m not talking about James Sabatino.

The L.A. Times has published two major articles that relied on the credibility of a state prison inmate named Waymond Anderson. (Full disclosure: the Deputy D.A. who prosecuted Anderson is currently one of my supervisors.) But the paper failed to tell readers facts that would have revealed Anderson to be an obvious con artist spinning tall tales.

In January 2007, Philips wrote a front-page L.A. Times article asserting Anderson’s innocence in a 1993 arson/murder. The article took a strong position on Anderson’s innocence, and indeed, Philips has told an interviewer that he believes Anderson is innocent.

But Chuck Philips and the L.A. Times never bothered to tell you who Anderson claims really committed the murder. In this post, I will disclose this for the first time.

Hold onto your hats. Because it’s one of the goofiest tall tales you ever heard.

Namely, Anderson claims he was framed for murder by the same guy who killed Tupac Shakur.

Oh — and he says the same guy also killed Biggie Smalls.

How does Anderson claim to know all this? Because the murderer, Keith Davis, told him — in phone calls made to Anderson while Anderson was in jail, facing murder charges for the murder Davis had committed.

You see, according to Anderson, he remained very close to Davis, the man who had framed Anderson for murder. Anderson claims that Davis regularly spoke with Anderson in phone conversations that Anderson supposedly conducted while he was in jail for the murder that Davis committed.

In those jailhouse phone conversations, Anderson claims:

  • Anderson served as a middleman for negotiations between Christopher Wallace and Davis regarding a record production deal that Wallace was setting up for Davis and others as partial payment for the murder of Tupac Shakur;
  • Anderson listened as Christopher Wallace paid for the murder of Tupac Shakur — a transaction that he claims took place in a Las Vegas hotel room that Davis had booked under Anderson’s stage name;
  • Davis confessed the Shakur murder to Anderson; and
  • Davis reported to Anderson, step-by-step, his plans to kill Wallace, and gave Anderson a detailed confession of his involvement in the Wallace after the fact.

Again, all of these conversations supposedly took place while Anderson was incarcerated, facing murder charges for the murder Davis had committed.

Anderson made these improbable claims in a 2007 deposition in a civil case.

But did the L.A. Times know about Anderson’s rather singular claims?

Yes. They most certainly did. Because they reported on the deposition — only they left out the parts I just told you about.

Anderson’s deposition was given in August 2007, in a lawsuit brought against the City of Los Angeles and LAPD by the estate of Christopher Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls or Notorious BIG. In September 2007, the newspaper reported on certain aspects of Anderson’s deposition. But strangely, the paper didn’t say one word about Anderson’s improbable claims of involvement in the biggest rap murders in history.

Instead, the newspaper touted claims made by Anderson that he and other witnesses had been bribed to implicate Suge Knight (and by extension the LAPD) in the murder of Biggie Smalls. The newspaper described Anderson’s testimony as “explosive” and claimed that it posed an “unexpected reversal” for the plaintiffs.

By trumpeting Anderson’s claims of bribery, the newspaper’s coverage favored Suge Knight, by undercutting the plaintiff’s theory that Suge Knight (and by extension LAPD) was behind the murder of Biggie Smalls. Which is interesting, Chuck Philips had long been seen as strangely close to Suge Knight — and had even been accused of receiving money from Suge Knight.

Regardless of the truth of these accusations, it is beyond doubt that Philips wrote a series of articles that disparaged the plaintiffs’ theory that Suge Knight (and LAPD) was involved in the murder of Biggie Smalls. Philips’s articles were unscrupulous and agenda-driven; he even went so far as to “out” a valuable law enforcement informant who was the key to the investigation. The informant received beatings as a result. (The outing of this informant will be the subject of a future post.)

Given this history, it was fascinating how well Waymond Anderson’s deposition appealed to Chuck Philips, the man who had written an article touting Anderson’s innocence.

Philips was interested in who had committed the murder of Biggie Smalls. Anderson claimed to know who that was.

Philips was interested in discrediting the plaintiffs’ theory that Suge Knight was involved in Biggie Smalls’s murder. Anderson not only recanted his previous testimony supporting the plaintiffs’ theory, he also provided information to discredit four other plaintiffs’ witnesses (Michael Robinson, Kenneth Boagni, Mario Hammonds, and Russell Poole), as well as the plaintiffs’ attorney Perry Sanders, whom Anderson improbably accused of bribery.

Philips must have been in hog heaven.

Some people even suspected that Chuck Philips had fed the bribery story to Waymond Anderson on Suge Knight’s behalf. Perry Sanders, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told the L.A. Times that he believed Anderson was “acting at the behest” of Philips — a claim that Philips and his editor James O’Shea roundly denounced.

The next step in the drama occurred in August of this year, when Anderson said the same thing that Perry Sanders had said.

In sworn testimony given at a court hearing, Anderson accused Philips of conspiring with Suge Knight to suborn perjury and threaten him with messages from Knight that Philips allegedly smuggled into prison and delivered to Anderson. Anderson said that Philips had brought in documents relating to the litigation, so that Anderson could learn what people were saying, and tailor a false story to the facts in those documents.

After Anderson’s explosive testimony, Philips declared himself “flabbergasted” by Anderson’s claims, telling the L.A. Times: “This is the ultimate betrayal.”

But it appeared that someone was taking Anderson’s claims seriously: the FBI.

Anderson’s attorney said that the FBI had questioned Anderson about his interaction with Philips. And sources tell me that representatives from the FBI were present at the court hearing where Anderson made these claims.

The L.A. Times now faces something of a Catch-22 as regards the credibility of Anderson, because Anderson has now accused Chuck Philips of some pretty serious wrongdoing — wrongdoing that, if proven, could result in criminal charges. Wrongdoing that is apparently being investigated by the FBI.

Either Anderson is telling the truth, or the paper fell hard for the claims of a prison inmate who turned out to be a liar.

But the editors of the L.A. Times should have known long ago that Waymond Anderson’s credibility was questionable. All they had to do was read the entire deposition transcript — the one whose contents they selectively reported in September 2007.

OK, so we know that the newspaper knew about the deposition. But how do I know what Anderson said in his deposition?

I know because I have it. You can read it here — and revel in Anderson’s far-fetched claims of having been at the center of the two biggest murders in hip-hop history.

By the way, this is hardly the only evidence of Anderson’s guilt that the paper failed to report. A document filed by the District Attorney’s office states: “In 1994, Petitioner provided multiple, audio-taped interviews and an eleven-page detailed statement in which he stated that he was in a Los Angeles record store the night before the fire” — when Philips claimed that Anderson was in Mississippi. That same document says that, in the recordings, Anderson “additionally admitted obtaining the gun and car used in the murder.” Philips never reported these facts, even though he reported on the filing of that document, and reported other (weaker) claims made in the filing.

In the extended entry, I flesh out more of the relevant background, and summarize the key details of the deposition, for those of you who don’t have the time to read the entire deposition, but want to immerse yourselves in more of the details of this fascinating saga.

There is much more to come, by the way.

Much more.


US Government Is Failing to Deport Criminals

Filed under: Deport the Criminals First — DRJ @ 2:42 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Houston Chronicle reported today on its comprehensive 8-month study of Houston criminal and immigration records that show federal immigration officials allowed up to 75% of the 3,500 Harris County Jail inmates who admitted they were in the country illegally to remain in the US instead of facing deportation. The released inmates include child molesters, rapists and drug dealers.

From the report:

• In 177 cases reviewed by the Chronicle, inmates who were released from jail after admitting to being in the country illegally later were charged with additional crimes. More than half of those charges were felonies, including aggravated sexual assault of a child and capital murder.

About 11 percent of the 3,500 inmates in the review had three or more prior convictions in Harris County. Many had repeatedly cycled through the system despite a history of violence and, in some cases, outstanding deportation orders.

Immigration officials claim their officers are overworked, underpaid, and note they successfully deported 107,000 criminal aliens nationwide in FY 2008, including 8,226 from Houston. They estimate “between 300,000 and 450,000 inmates incarcerated in the U.S. are eligible for deportation each year” but only about 10% are screened.

And these numbers may be low given that the Houston Chronicle states the criminal alien screening process is based on previously deported suspects or a suspect’s voluntary admission that s/he is in the country illegally:

“The Houston Police Department, which runs the city’s jails, notifies ICE only about suspects with immigration warrants and previously deported felons.

Of the more than 80,000 bookings into Harris County Jail during the review period, about 3,500 — less than 5 percent — admitted to being in the country illegally. ICE filed paperwork to detain roughly 900 of the 3,500. During the review period, the agency also filed paperwork to detain 2,500 suspects not included in the database, indicating that many immigrants who are eligible for deportation do not disclose that they are here illegally.

ICE, however, could not confirm whether the inmates marked for ”holds” actually were deported.”

Harris County Sheriff-elect Adrian Garcia hasn’t decided whether he will continue to allow federal immigration officials to screen inmates at the Jail. His predecessor, the current Sheriff, authorized the screenings in late 2006 after the execution-style murder of Houston police officer Rodney Johnson by an illegal immigrant, a murder that outraged the police and the community.

Sheriff-elect Garcia’s election was one of a near sweep by Democrats of Harris County offices attributed to Obama’s win. If the Sheriff-elect ends the screening program, efforts to deport criminal aliens may be a rare and short-lived experiment in Houston.


Taking Your 401(k): A Nobel Idea Supported by Many Noble Prize-Winning Economists

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 10:45 am

In an article about 401(k) plans, and the plans of some Democrats to take them away, the L.A. Times tells us:

But even Noble Prize-winning economists have admitted that they don’t closely monitor their 401(k) statements — allowing an initially well-balanced portfolio to become dangerously overexposed to stocks as those investments grow faster than bonds.

Yeah, but who really cares about the thoughts of an economist whose top honor is winning an engineering prize?

Hooray for the four layers of editors!

On a serious note: James Rainey recently mocked Rush Limbaugh for warning that Democrats have been talking about taking away your 401(k):

In a time when the nation calls out for cool leadership and rational discussion, Limbaugh stirs the caldron, a tendency he proved in a particularly grotesque way last week when he accused Obama’s party of plotting a government takeover of 401(k) retirement plans.

“They’re going to take your 401(k), put it in the Social Security trust fund, whatever the hell that is,” Limbaugh woofed. “Trust fund, my rear end.”

A slight problem with Limbaugh’s report: Obama and the Democrats have proposed no such thing.

The proposal, in fact, emanated from a single economist, one of many experts testifying to a congressional committee.

The president-elect has thus far shown as much interest in taking over your 401(k) as he has in moving the capital to Nairobi.

That may be, but that’s not quite what Rush said. Limbaugh’s specific accusation — that “[h]is [Obama’s] party is now talking about a government takeover of 401(k)s” — is supported by today’s front-page article, which tells us:

“The current 401(k) system has not turned out to be as secure as we want it to be,” said Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “It has not provided the returns that we want it to. And it’s not provided the level of savings that we want it to. It’s kind of failing on a number of fronts.

“Should there be a serious reassessment? Absolutely,” he said.

Miller’s committee already has held two hearings on the effects of the financial crisis on retirement savings plans. At one, a professor from New York’s New School for Social Research called for creating government-backed retirement savings accounts that would offer a guaranteed, inflation-adjusted 3% return. The government would contribute to the accounts using money gained by eliminating the annual tax breaks for 401(k) savings — about $80 billion.

The idea has not been embraced by key lawmakers, perhaps in part because abolishing the tax break on 401(k) savings could reduce participation.

But the fact that the idea received a serious hearing before Congress is a measure of how much the crisis has shaken confidence in the 401(k) approach.

“In July, my plan was looked on at best as a noble idea . . . but completely unrealistic,” said the plan’s author, Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor of economic policy analysis at the New School and a longtime critic of 401(k) plans. “I was viewed as thinking out of the box, and now I’m in the box.”

(Doesn’t she mean a “nobel idea”?)

It’s reassuring to know that someone who wants to kill your 401(k) plan considers herself to be “in the box.”

P.S. Rainey is the same guy who told us not to worry about the Fairness Doctrine. They’re not going to take away your 401(k), Rainey assures us, and “nobody” is talking about implementing the Fairness Doctrine. Nobody! [Said in the rushed tones used to disclose onerous loan terms at the end of a radio commercial for refinancing:] ExceptforChuckSchumerJeffBingamanDickDurbinandafewotherDemocratlawmakers.

I imagine Rainey will still be mocking conservatives even after Democrats have convened hearings on the subject, and supporters of the Fairness Doctrine are describing themselves as “in the box.”

Banner for “The Jury Talks Back” Site

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General — Patterico @ 9:07 am

Kimsch at Musing Minds designed the following banner for the upcoming blog written by readers of this site:

Here is a button for the sidebar:

Very snazzy. I think the search for a banner is over. Thanks, kimsch!

There is a chance that the new site will be up and running by tomorrow.

Great news: Justin Levine, WLS, and JRM have agreed to post on the new site. Among the “jurors,” they will be the “foremen” — jurors with previous jury experience who will bring along the rest of the crowd to make the whole trial a success.

As for the other “jurors,” here is my current thinking.

I am still working my way through the applications — over two dozen so far. I think I will choose a core group of no more than 12 “jurors.” This may be a rotating bunch, and I expect that one or more will drop out of the core group as time goes on, either because they decide they’re not cut out for it, or because they just don’t fit the mix for whatever reason.

But everybody who applied will get a chance to post at some point. My vision is to take the people who are not initially chosen for regular spots, and offer them the chance to serve as “alternates.” Each week, we will choose one or two new “alternates” who will be allowed to post freely for one week, after which a new set of alternates will be chosen.

As time and energy permit, I will link some of the posts on the main page. Standout posts may be elevated to the main page.

I think this will be fun. It will give some core readers a chance to post; it will hopefully serve as a destination for people during my work day; and it should open the floor to more points of view. The downside will be that you people will figure out that anyone can do this, and that there’s nothing so special about me. I know that already, but it’s a secret. With this blog, it may get out.

It’s a small price to pay. Stay tuned.

Fires in Southern California

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:25 am

The L.A. Times reports: Catastrophic fires blaze a path of destruction through the Southland.

In a swiftly moving catastrophe that seemed as familiar as it was shocking, Southern California once again was besieged by flame Saturday, from Orange County to Santa Barbara, with hundreds of homes consumed by three major wind-driven fires, including one of the most devastating blazes ever to strike the city of Los Angeles.

The paper reports that, miraculously, there has been no loss of life.

Our little fire here in Rancho Palos Verdes was put out yesterday and turned out not to be an issue. Fires in Sylmar, Yorba Linda, and Corona added to the destruction of the Santa Barbara/Montecito fire further north, and sent a cloud of ash and smoke across the L.A. basin.

Yesterday Mrs. P. was at the grocery store and ash was falling from the sky like snow.

I made the mistake of falling asleep with the windows open. I woke up at 1 a.m. with the smell of smoke permeating the bedroom. It smelled exactly like we were one campsite down from a large campfire, and the wind had shifted to blow the smoke from that fire into our campsite.

I know a lot of readers of this site come from Southern California. I hope all is well with you.

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