Antelope Valley deputies subject of drug task force probe
Retired sheriff's deputy testified about a drug task force in the Antelope Valley that went beyond its scope
LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A retired sheriff's deputy testified today that he concluded a drug task force in the Antelope Valley went beyond its scope when he learned he, himself, was a possible focus of the probe.
Russell Bailey, a 28-year veteran who retired in 2008, said he and other
deputies in the Lancaster and Palmdale stations got together and reported
their concerns to the county's Office of Ombudsman after he learned in 2000
that his home might be about to be searched by members of the joint federal and
local task force.
Bailey said he was particularly worried about the conduct of fellow
Deputy Darren Hager, a task force member.
``It was my belief that the investigation by Deputy Hager was out of
control and it was affecting all of our lives greatly,'' Bailey said in
testimony before a Los Angeles Superior Court jury in trial of Hager's wrongful
termination and retaliation lawsuit against the county.
Hager testified Friday that an informant advised him in May 2000 that
Deputy Richard Engels was allegedly linked to the June 1998 disappearance of
Deputy Jonathan Aujay, who vanished after saying he was going running at
Devil's Punchbowl in the Angeles National Forest. His body was never found.
Hager filed suit in April 2007. He maintains he was fired for telling
his boss, Lt. Ronald Shreves, what he had learned from informants regarding
Engels and what allegedly happened to Aujay.
Bailey testified that Engels, who he considered a friend, was the deputy
who advised him that his home might be the subject of a search warrant.
Engels told him he received the information from a sheriff's homicide
investigator, Bailey said.
Bailey acknowledged that some members of the task force, including
Hager, believed Engels might have had information concerning Aujay's
Asked by Hager's lawyer, Richard Love, whether he thought Engels might
have lied about the search warrant directed at his home, Bailey replied, ``I
never had that feeling.''
Bailey said Hager told him that he believed Aujay was killed after
stumbling onto a methamphetamine lab linked to the Vagos motorcycle gang and
that Engels helped prevent law enforcement from solving his disappearance.
Bailey also said Hager's girlfriend was a secretary in the Lancaster
station and regularly told deputies their task force activities that her
boyfriend relayed to her. He said the task force operated out of a local ``safe
In his testimony, Hager said all of the information he obtained was
documented and reported, but that he followed orders from superiors not to
conduct any investigations on his own into Engels' alleged conduct or into
Aujay's presumed death.
But defense attorneys say Hager was terminated for indeed doing his own
investigation of Engels and for distorting information he received from
wiretaps in order to convince his supervisors that Engels was corrupt. They say
Engels was later cleared of any wrongdoing and that Aujay likely committed
Hager, now 44, worked for the sheriff's department from February 1988
until his termination in July 2003. Love said the drug task force that Hager
was part of, Operation Silent Thunder, made hundreds of drug-related arrests
while in operation from 2000-01.
The lawyer said Hager was honored with the federal Drug Enforcement
Administration's highest award in Washington, D.C., in September 2002.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — In light of a 63-year-old woman being mauled to death by pit bulls in the high desert community of Littlerock, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today asked staffers today to evaluate a proposed change in the county’s definition of a dangerous dog.
Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who said “four killer pit bulls” attacked Pamela Devitt, called for the change.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — High surf pounded the coast and fierce winds howled across the Southland today, with gusts topping 70 mph whipping the Saugus area and 50 mph in Lancaster.
As the nation slowly emerges from the Great Recession, the economic numbers for the Antelope Valley show a much higher rate of sustained unemployment and devalued housing prices in both Lancaster and Palmdale.
The five-year economic downturn saw much of the area’s the job losses come from the construction industry and retail sales. At the beginning of the year, Lancaster had an unemployment rate of 14.4 percent while Palmdale fared better at 11.1 percent. In 2008 the two cities lost a little fewer than 1,000 jobs combined, according to a 2009 report.
A 2013 bipartisan poll from the Democratic Hart Research firm and the Republican Public Opinion Strategies firm shows that 77 percent of American voters feel immigration reform is good for the United States.
One study, conducted by the Center for the Study of Immigration at the University of Southern California, shows that if the estimated 8.5 million lawful permanent residents became U.S. citizens, their earnings alone over the next decade would generate somewhere between $21 to $45 billion.
After years of planning, followed by delays, lawsuits, recession and a slow economic recovery, the California High Speed Rail Project will at last begin construction this summer. The first major leg will stretch from Madera to Fresno in the Central Valley, and then extend 114 miles south to Bakersfield. A second portion will run from Palmdale, through Victorville and onto Las Vegas, Nev.