Arrest in Costa Mesa Investigation Case Still Has No Clear Evidence to Unions

Councilman Jim Righeimer - Costa Mesa, Photo: Chris Prevatt

Councilman Jim Righeimer – Costa Mesa, Photo: Chris Prevatt

The arrest of a private investigator and a lawyer hired to represent the Costa Mesa Police Officer’s Union has the first real confirmation from the DA’s office that a GPS device was used to track then council member-now Mayor Steve Mensinger’s truck two years ago, but there’s zero evidence that the Union had anything to do with it.  Previously, the DA’s office would not even confirm the existence of a tracking device or acknowledge it was tied to the Union, only the council member’s lawyers said so.

The Voice of OC story has the scoop:

The investigators, Christopher J. Lanzillo and Scott A. Impola, are each charged with four felonies, including conspiracy to commit a crime of unlawful use of electronic tracking device, false imprisonment by deceit, and conspiracy to commit a crime of falsely reporting crime, the release states. 

If convicted, Lanzillo and Impola face a maximum sentence of four years and four months in jail, as well as revocation of their private investigators’ licenses, according to the DA release. Each is being held on $25,000 bail.

In the months leading up to the 2012 election, Lanzillo and Impola allegedly attempted to ensnare councilmen Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger while they were working for the now dissolved law-firm Lackie, Dammeier, McGill and Ethir, which was retained by the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association.

The DA specifically accuses Lanzillo of following Righeimer as the councilman drove home after an evening at Councilman Gary Monahan’s bar and restaurant, Skosh Monahan’s. Lanzillo called 911 and falsely reported that Righeimer was swerving on the road and stumbled out of his car upon arriving home, according to the DA release.

A Costa Mesa police officer arrived on scene and administered a sobriety test, which Righeimer passed. The councilman only had two non-alcoholic beverages while at the restaurant, the news release states.

And in the summer of 2012, Lanzillo and Impola conspired to place a GPS tracking devince on Mensinger’s vehicle “without his knowledge or permission,” the release says.

Righeimer and Mensinger have also filed a lawsuit against the defunct law-firm, the union and Lanzillo.

Lanzillo and Impola are also accused of placing a GPS device on a vehicle belonging to an attorney working for a competing law firm. But the victims of those alleged crimes aren’t identified in the news release.

Now council member Jim Righeimer and Mensigner have field lawsuits against the investigator, the defunct law firm and the union, the union and it’s officials were not charged with any crime by the DA’s office and the two council members are going to have to produce evidence that the union somehow directed the activities of the investigator and law firm are accused of doing.

Time to drop the union from the lawsuit gentlemen.


  5 comments for “Arrest in Costa Mesa Investigation Case Still Has No Clear Evidence to Unions

  1. Ltpar
    December 12, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Dan, finally an article we can agree on.

    The Costa Mesa Police Association should never have been included in the Civil lawsuit in the first place, except for Reigheimer flexing his muscles to show them who is the boss. Looking at the charges against the two PI’s, filed by the District Attorney, they also look pretty flimsey and in the old days, they would have laughed at someone wanting to file such a case. I suspect since the D.A. and the Three Stooges from Costa Mesa are part of the Republican “good ol boy” network, the filing was done to help the Civil case.

    In the end, while the Costa Mesa Police Association might have been guilty of being stupid in public for not vetting the flakey law firm before hiring them, they had no knowledge of what the lawyers or the PI’s were doing. I concur with your assessment, it is time for the Police to be dropped from the case.

  2. Junior
    December 14, 2014 at 7:44 am

    The story may change when people are under oath and offered a deal for testimony.

  3. junior
    December 16, 2014 at 9:05 am

    The evidence is starting to pile up.

    Affidavit details Costa Mesa police union ties to P.I.s

  4. junior
    December 16, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Joint statement from City CEO Tom Hatch and Acting Police Chief Rob Sharpnack on the Orange County District Attorney’s investigation into surveillance of councilmembers. 12/15/2014

    Recently, the Orange County District Attorney stated that the Costa Mesa Police Officers Assn. paid to have some of our elected officials surveiled in the months prior to the November 2012 election. We find this deeply concerning and will work vigorously to obtain and evaluate all information about the conduct of any involved Costa Mesa police officers, whether on or off duty, and to do so in a thorough and unbiased manner.

    Close scrutiny is being given to whether, and in what manner, any member of the Costa Mesa Police Department had culpable knowledge of or aided in the surveillance of our elected officials, or engaged in any other violation of the rules, regulations and standards of conduct of the City and Police Department.

    If warranted and in coordination with the District Attorney’s Office to insure no impacts on its criminal investigation, an internal investigation will be initiated by the City and conducted by an independent party to provide all concerned with confidence in the completeness, fairness, and impartiality of that process. Strong and appropriate action will be taken if misconduct has occurred.

    We are sorry that Mayor Steve Mensinger, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer and Councilmember Gary Monahan and their families were put in this unacceptable situation.

  5. junior
    December 17, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    “Let the Games Begin,” the playbook offers police unions this advice: “Focus on an individual: Avoid spreading your energy. Focus on a city manager, councilperson, mayor or police chief and keep the pressure up until that person assures you his loyalty and then move on to the next victim.” Yes, “victim.”
    Steven Greenhut –

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