Originally posted by Buck Lovell on Monday, 26 December 2011 in Buck Lovell's - American Biker Blog
Disagreement Between Sheriff & DA Over BIKER CLUB Report
LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – The day after the district attorney released his investigation into potential federal law violations by the sheriff, the sheriff shot back, saying the actions he took last May in response to erroneous reports of a motorcycle gang's approach were meant to protect community members. District Attorney Don Anderson released the report on earlier this year, concluding that there were potential violations of federal civil rights law – including deprivation of rights under color of law – by Sheriff Frank Rivero, who set up a blockade and ordered deputies to turn back any Hells Angels who showed up in the south county on May 14. The information that the Hells Angels were on their way turned out to be incorrect, with investigators concluding the group was confused with the Vagos, their rivals, who had made a large showing in Lakeport that same day.
Rivero did not respond to a request for comment on Monday evening, but on Tuesday afternoon he issued a statement in which he accused Anderson of pursuing the investigation due to political motivations and a personal vendetta against him. Anderson, in turn, said he found it disturbing that Rivero stood by his decisions regarding the May 14 incident.
"Clearly, he intended to violate the constitutional rights of individual citizens. Whether these citizens are criminals or not, he has no right or authority to suspend the US Constitution," Anderson said in an e-mail to Lake County News. "As stated earlier it is very honorable for any law enforcement officer to protect the citizens of this county, but they must do it within the confines of the law."
Anderson's report said about 30 vehicles from several law enforcement agencies responded to the Middletown area on May 14, with some of the agencies – particularly the California Highway Patrol and the Clearlake Police Department – pulling out of the response due to concerns about legality. Anderson said he does not intend to prosecute anyone, but said he is forwarding a copy of the report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, at that agency's request, for review.
Rivero did not speak to the District Attorney's Office during its inquiry into the matter, Anderson said. Lake County News received the following statement from Rivero, who asked that it be reprinted unedited and in its entirely, which is how it appears below.
"District Attorney Anderson (DA) has not provided me with a copy of his report, choosing instead to first contact the media. To be sure, this was a misguided politically motivated gesture on his part, particularly since the DA admits he did not have the authority to bring forward charges in the first place. At minimum it calls into question his use of the District Attorney's Office's resources and the appropriate expenditure of public funds.
"Be that as it may, I will provide further comments once I receive a copy of the report in its entirety. In the meantime, it is clear the DA has a personal vendetta and an agenda, as does his principal investigator, leading me to question his integrity and dismiss the validity of the investigation. In contrast, an earlier independent investigation, which was more comprehensive and didn't take nearly as long to complete, plainly supported that the DA had a conflict of interest, was present during the entire event and said and did nothing, and that my actions were wholly appropriate and warranted.
"As to the actions I took on the day the Vagos outlaw motorcycle gang effectively closed down the City of Lakeport and the additional threat of the arrival of the Hells Angels, I stand by the decisions I made to protect the citizens of Lake County. Those decisions were made on the basis of reliable information from law enforcement experts, including the CHP and FBI. The gang violence that occurred on the heels of the Lake County incident, locally at the Konocti Vista Casino, and in Sparks, Nevada and San Jose, California, supports my concern about the real threat these outlaw motorcycle gangs posed and validate my actions. I will continue to vigorously protect the People of Lake County against this unmitigated threat of violence while Mr. Anderson fights for the "rights" of drug dealers, outlaw gangs and criminals." Anderson offered the following response to Rivero's allegations. This statement also is published in its entirety. "In response to the Sheriff's comments, I find it very disturbing that the Sheriff stands by his decisions of May 14, 2011. Clearly, he intended to violate the constitutional rights of individual citizens. Whether these citizens are criminals or not, he has no right or authority to suspend the US Constitution. As stated earlier it is very honorable for any law enforcement officer to protect the citizens of this county, but they must do it within the confines of the law. "The District Attorney's Office has not only the right but the duty to investigate all violations of the law, both state or federal. By law the District Attorney's Office has very broad investigative authority including instances such as this. There was no additional tax payer money used in this investigation. "The Sheriff questions the integrity of the investigation, but the facts are based on audio and video evidence as well as the recorded statements of 30 or more law enforcement officers whose integrity can not come under attack. "The Sheriff put an incorrect spin on my involvement in this incident. I was present during the Lakeport incident, but when the Vagos left Lakeport I had no other involvement. Had I known he was intending to close the county off to this motorcycle group I definitely would have consulted him. "The Sheriff refers to some vendetta or political motivations I have against him. This is not the case; I would very much like to work together with the Sheriff, just as I do with every other law enforcement agency in this county including his own deputies. However; I will not cover up or white wash any investigation or prosecution. "The statement that I 'fight for the rights of drug dealers, outlaw gangs and criminals', all I can say is I believe in the Constitution and the laws of this State. It is not up to me, the Sheriff, or any government to decide who is protected by the Constitution and who is not."
The full text of Anderson's summary on the incident can be found here: http://lakeconews.com/content/view/22517/919/.