Hall of Justice Cloak and Dagger…
Dan Addario, the S.F. district attorney's chief investigator and the former top cop for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Bangkok, Thailand, had his wings quietly clipped early this month by the FBI. According to local law enforcement sources, Addario was about to embark on an undercover trip to the Philippines to snare fugitive Sebastian Rico when the feds intervened. Rico, a former Juvenile Probation Department worker, is accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city.
“We are cooperating fully with the federal government,” said Addario, declining to discuss the incident. FBI special agent George Grotz, the bureau's spokesman in S.F., declined comment altogether.
A sticking point between the FBI and Addario may be ratification of an extradition treaty with the Philippines, now pending. Which, of course, raises questions about exactly how Addario planned to get Rico back in the first place.
According to one DA source, Addario, who was to be accompanied by an S.F. police inspector, put out a “cover” memo Oct. 31 saying he would be away attending a professional conference, and withdrew $3,500 for expenses from an office account. But, the source says, Addario was back at work the next Monday, saying the FBI cut short his real plans — to nab Rico. An SFPD source says Addario requested support from the department, asking “for someone familiar with [Filipino] language and culture.” Chief Fred Lau authorized Inspector Fred Mollat to travel with Addario, the source says. But the mission never got off the ground.
The Rico case has been an embarrassment to the city — due to the magnitude of the apparent theft and Rico's unfettered flight from the country. Remember, probation officials questioned him on a Friday in August after discovering a pair of checks improperly cashed against a department account. The probation officials advised Rico he'd face a disciplinary hearing the following Monday, but they never contacted the police. Hours later, Rico boarded a flight at SFO and hasn't been seen since. Addario, no doubt, would have relished being the guy to finally bring Rico to justice. At the least, he managed to get the FBI's attention.
Police Chief Lau will soon get the chance to remake the face of neighborhood policing in S.F. as a 23-year-old federal lawsuit over discriminatory hiring and promotions at the department enters its last phase.
Last month, the scores from a court-monitored captains test — the first in nearly a decade — were tallied. The rank of captain is the place where police management has its most direct contact with the public. All precinct houses and special units, like the Tenderloin Task Force, are managed by one of 26 captains. Eighteen of the 26 positions are held by lieutenants who were temporarily promoted, mostly by former Chief Tony Ribera. Lau stands ready to fill all of the temporary slots by permanently promoting the top 18 scorers out of 78 test-takers.
The exam was the last major remedial task under a consent decree, which settled the federal suit in 1977. But the politics of redressing past discrimination still roil.
The police union has filed court papers objecting to how Lau intends to promote captains after the next 18 are named. That would occur as members retire down the line. The union wants Lau to pick future captains the same way he will pick the first 18 — based purely on test scores. Lau and the City Attorney's Office, which advises the chief on compliance with the consent decree, want enough latitude to reach down the ranks to promote minorities and women who have scored near their white male competitors and whose records include other qualifications, such as extra training or commendations.
Here's why: Those who have seen the test tallies say minorities and women scored high enough to be well represented among the 18 slots about to be named — but that 10 of the next 12 are white males.
Police officer accusations that district attorney foot-dragging was responsible for the July 27 gang rape of a 16-year-old S.F. girl has led to some unusual detective work.
The accusations, published by the San Francisco Examiner (see “Unspun,” Page 6), led Chief Lau to order Lieutenant Mary Stasko, head of the sex-crimes unit, to determine the source of the SFPD leak to the Ex and to uncover any violations of laws or department policies.
Lau, who generally grants officers ample leeway in dealing with the press, felt the Ex story threatened the case against the rape suspects, a source familiar with his thinking says. The victim's father told police he was considering withdrawing permission for his daughter to cooperate because he feared an Ex reporter's call to his house meant his daughter's safety was in jeopardy. “Talking with reporters is one thing, but obstructing or impeding a criminal investigation is another,” the source says.
The Ex story, which led its Nov. 4 paper, aired police claims that the lead suspect in the rape, a 17-year-old, would have been off the streets — if the DA had obtained arrest warrants in a narcotics investigation sooner. The DA's Office disputes those allegations.
Abandoned Burma Ban
The city's new purchaser, Ed Lee, has punched two big holes in the ordinance prohibiting S.F. from granting contracts to companies with business ties to the repressive regime of Myanmar, formerly Burma.
The biggest loophole comes 17 lines into 15 pages of regulations Lee proposed to clarify the ordinance: “The Ordinance does not apply to construction or to the purchase of real estate,” Lee writes. A second exempts companies with “non-equity” arrangements in Myanmar. That's where a firm has no direct corporate presence in Burma, but only partnerships with other companies that sell within the country.
The proposed regs have direct implicaions for bidders on an approximate $165 million contract being offered by the airport for construction of a “people mover.” Just listen to a lobbyist for one of the contenders. “The real question here is who told Ed Lee he could amend the ordinance,” says Barbara French, of Solem & Associates. “Who's pulling the strings? Who is the puppeteer?” The Solem firm represents ABB Diamler-Benz Transportation Inc., a bidder for the airport job that thinks a weakened Burma ordinance benefits its competitor, a U.S. subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.
Mitsubishi's subsidiary has significant financial connections to an auto distribution operation in Myanmar, though perhaps not significant enough to trigger the ordinance. But future moves contemplated by Mitsubishi, which have been reported, could put its U.S. subsidiary out of compliance.
Lee's regs could cure any problem, which has drawn attention to Mitsubishi's local lobbyist, William Coblentz, an S.F. lawyer, longtime Democratic Party fund-raiser, friend of Mayor Willie Brown, and former airport commissioner. Coblentz denies having pulled any strings with Lee or with anyone else. “We have let the facts speak for themselves. We simply outbid the competitor,” he says. “The conspiracy theory is out there, but it has no substance.”
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