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Crime & Safety

Petition Circulating to Ask Judge to Keep Ed Buck in Jail

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Ed Buck

LOS ANGELES — On the eve of the one year incarceration of Democratic donor and activist Ed Buck in the deaths of two Black gay men, Justice 4 Gemmel and All of Ed Buck’s Victims has begun gathering signatures for a petition calling upon Magistrate Judge Rozella A. Oliver to deny bail to Buck. 

The petition comes after Ed Buck, 65, petitioned the court arguing that he is at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 while in jail due to his age and because he says he suffers from gum disease and needs specialized cardiac care.

“Nah. He says he has gum disease and a heart issue. So then while in jail, he needs to watch what he eats, brush his teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss and use some mouthwash,” said Jasmyne Cannick who advocated for Buck’s arrest.  “He might also consider not engaging in any type of physical activity that would excite him.  The bottom line is that he’s a danger to Black men at any age–COVID or no COVID. He was in his 60s when Gemmel and Timothy died so he should not be allowed to use his age now to get out of jail.”

Buck is awaiting trial on charges of supplying illegal drugs to two men who overdosed and died inside of his West Hollywood apartment within a year and a half of each other.

Ed Buck’s attorneys have said that he would sign a $400,000 appearance bond, surrender his passport, and would agree to electronic monitoring if released.

Buck is charged with nine federal counts–including one count alleging that he knowingly enticed 26-year-old Gemmel Moore to travel to the Los Angeles area to engage in sex work and provided him methamphetamine who overdosed on the drug and died on July 27, 2017. Buck also is charged with another count of enticing another man to travel with the intent of engaging in prostitution. On January 7, 2019, Timothy Dean died of a methamphetamine overdose in Ed Buck’s apartment.

After his arrest last year on Sep. 17, a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment charging that Buck “engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs that Buck provided and perform sexual acts at Buck’s apartment,” which is a practice described as “party and play.” Buck allegedly solicited victims on social media platforms, including a gay dating website, and used a recruiter to scout and proposition men.

Buck also faces charges, including operating a drug house, that were filed last year by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Cannick continued, “Even if the courts mandated that Buck cannot use a computer, fly people into town, or use social media dating sites, there is nothing in his history to indicate that Buck would change his previous behavior that led to the deaths of two men and the near-death of countless others. Nothing.”

Ms. Cannick also shared that many of Buck’s victims have contacted her and are concerned about their safety should Ed Buck be released.

“I’m disturbed and devastated,” added Joann Campbell, sister of Timothy Dean.  “The thought of this dangerous man– who I believe killed my brother– even being considered for bail is outrageous. I am pleading to the judge to hold Ed Buck in jail until his trial. He is responsible for two deaths in his apartment.  My brother and Gemmel Moore are dead because of Buck.  This is a slap in the face to our families. He is a dangerous man and will most likely kill again if let out. Please keep him behind bars.  I’m afraid for Black gay men in Los Angeles if he is released.”

“Ed Buck’s previous history shows he is a danger,” said LaTisha Nixon, the mother of Gemmel Moore. “After Gemmel was killed we warned that another person would end up dead if he wasn’t arrested and Buck did not prove us wrong as Timothy Dean was killed just a year and a half later. We repeatedly told authorities Ed Buck was out of control and still after my son and Timothy Dean died, he was up to his old tricks and attempted to fatally overdose another man. If he is released he will continue to prey upon Black gay men. Ed Buck is a menace and deserves to be held in custody to ensure that no other person is killed by Ed Buck.”

“I am just speechless as well as restless just thinking of what will happen next–who will be the next to die–if Ed Buck is released from jail,” said Joyce Jackson, sister of Timothy Dean.

Cannick concluded with, “I am all for bail reform, but people like Ed Buck should not be the beneficiaries of the bail reform movement.”

The petition will be delivered to the Magistrate Judge and to federal prosecutors at the September 25 hearing in Los Angeles. Anyone interested can sign the petition here.

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Hit & Run

Man Sentenced for Hit-and-Run Death of Pedestrian on Sunset

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HOLLYWOOD — A 21-year-old man has been sentenced for the hit-and-run fatality of an Australian man in Hollywood last year, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

Kristopher Ryan Smith of Norwalk was sentenced yesterday to 30 days in jail, 300 hours of community service and three years of formal probation.

Deputy District Attorney Kristopher Gay said Smith pleaded guilty in February to one felony count of hit-and-run driving and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

On April 18, 2019, at 1:30 am, the defendant was driving and hit and killed 56-year-old Andrew Mallard as he was walking across an uncontrolled portion of Sunset Boulevard at Formosa Avenue. Smith fled the scene but later turned himself in.

Case BA479208 was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, West Traffic Division.

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Fraud

Beverly Grove Man Charged for COVID Relief Loan Fraud

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LOS ANGELES – A resident of the Beverly Grove neighborhood of Los Angeles was ordered held without bond this afternoon after being arrested on federal charges alleging he fraudulently obtained millions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, some of which he used on gambling excursions to Las Vegas and transferred to his stock trading accounts.

Andrew Marnell, 40, was arrested this morning by federal authorities. Marnell made his initial court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles, where he was ordered detained pending a hearing on Tuesday.

A criminal complaint unsealed in court this afternoon charges Marnell with one count of bank fraud and alleges he obtained more than $8 million in PPP loans through applications to insured financial institutions, and others, on behalf of different companies. During today’s court hearing, prosecutors said they now believe Marnell received approximately $9 million in fraudulent loans – a number that could rise as the investigation continues.

The affidavit in support of the complaint alleges that Marnell submitted fraudulent loan applications that made numerous false and misleading statements about the companies’ business operations and payroll expenses. The affidavit also alleges that Marnell, often using aliases, submitted fake and altered documents, including bogus federal tax filings and employee payroll records.

The complaint further alleges that Marnell then transferred millions of dollars from the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds to his brokerage accounts to make risky stock market bets. The affidavit also outlines how Marnell spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulently obtained loan proceeds at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino and other gambling establishments as recently as last weekend.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act is the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the PPP. In April, Congress authorized more than $300 billion in additional PPP funding.

The PPP allows qualifying small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1 percent. Businesses must use PPP loan proceeds for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. The PPP allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend the proceeds on these expenses within a set time period and use at least a certain percentage of the loan towards payroll expenses.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

The bank fraud count alleged in the complaint against Marnell carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the FBI, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General, IRS Criminal Investigation, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General. The California Department of Justice – Bureau of Gambling Control provided assistance in the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kerry Quinn of the Major Frauds Section and DOJ Trial Attorney Scott Armstrong of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form

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Lawsuits

Bev Hills Police Chief to Retire Amid Discrimination Lawsuits

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Bev Hills Police Chief to Retire Amid Discrimination Lawsuits

BEVERLY HILLS — Beverly Hills City Manager George Chavez announced that Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli will retire from the department, effective May 15, 2020.

NBC LA cites “several law enforcement and other sources” as saying that Spagnoli was notified “she had until Friday, April 24, to resign or face possible termination.”

Spagnoli joined BHPD in February of 2016 from the City of San Leandro in Northern California where she served as Chief since 2011.  She has been accused in multiple lawsuits of using slurs and making remarks about Jews, employees who were LGBTQ and people of color. NBCLA reports on allegations of promoting mostly white men and having sexual contact with employees.

“During the Chief’s tenure, crime was reduced while the department increased diversity, public outreach, best practices and advancements in technology,” said Chavez.  “We thank Chief Spagnoli for her service to our community and her three decades of public service in law enforcement.”

“I am grateful to have served Beverly Hills and proud of the accomplishments over the past 4 years to keep this world-class community one of the safest in the nation,” said Chief Spagnoli.

Chavez is expected to name an Interim Police Chief in the coming weeks. 

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