California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a close political ally of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, has taken a pass on filing charges against Gascon’s Chief of Staff Joseph Iniguez.
Iniguez, who made headlines for allegedly drunkenly threatening and berating an Azusa police officer, has been under investigation by the California Department of Justice over the incident, possibly for threatening to illegally snuff out the career of the officer, as the Globe recently reported.
According to a court filing submitted yesterday by Iniguez’s attorneys, the Gascon crony is no longer facing potential prosecution for his actions related to an Azusa police encounter because “Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation related to the … case has concluded, with the governing statutes of limitations having expired.”
Bonta’s office confirmed that they are not pursuing charges against Iniguez:
“Since this would have been a conflict of interest for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, we reviewed the entire matter. Given the totality of the circumstances, our office has decided not to pursue charges.”
However, the AG’s office added that the decision was made before the time limit took effect:
“Our office came to that decision before the statute of limitations on any possible charges had run.”
That statement would indicate the decision not to charge was made between Nov. 23 and Dec. 11 of last year, but for some reason they did not inform the public of the decision.
“This really has the stink of politics about it,” said former president of the Los Angeles deputy district attorney’s union Marc Debbaudt. “If this is just about the drunk in public charge, it would take two hours – max – not eleven months – to determine whether or not to proceed.”
Bonta first became Attorney General by appointment by Gov. Gavin Newsom who, as Mayor of San Francisco, first appointed Gascon as District Attorney there. Bonta and Gascon have worked together on numerous progressive anti-prosecutor “reform” projects over the years and each has endorsed the other for election to the offices they currently hold.
Proud to support @GeorgeGascon for Los Angeles County District Attorney! He is a powerful and courageous reformer who will infuse our criminal justice system with more compassion, humanity, and safety! pic.twitter.com/D8mTmC2EqS
— Rob Bonta (@RobBonta) February 27, 2020
The specific potential charges were not revealed by Bonta’s office, though two criminal matters could have been related to the incident: drunk in public and/or abuse of office by Iniguez allegedly threatening the officer involved. The DOJ handled the case because the LA DA’s office was barred from investigating one of its own employees and the Azusa Police Department – as is its standard practice due to its size – refers its “high-profile incidents” to other agencies – like the sheriff’s office – for further investigation.
It remains unclear which of the potential charges Bonta’s office focused on; however, their reference to “before the statute of limitations had run out on any possible charges” indicates they are claiming to have looked at both, as the allegation of abuse of power – which is a felony – has a three-year rather than a one-year limit like the misdemeanor drunk in public.
Briefly, the initial incident apparently unfolded as follows: after he and his soon-to-be husband were pulled over by an Azusa officer for making an improper U-turn on December, 11, 2021, Iniguez reportedly became belligerent.
After the officer approached the car he caught a strong aroma of alcohol. Iniguez, the passenger in the car, said he had been drinking and the odor was his. Iniguez was arrested for public intoxication, though his fiancé – after it was determined he was below the legal blood-alcohol limit – was not charged in relation to the incident.
Iniguez captured the entire incident on video – a video he has never publicly released – that he says shows him acting in a proper and professional manner before being wrongly arrested for public intoxication, a direct contradiction of the officer’s statements that he was slurring, using obscenities, and threatening him with illegally placing him on the “Brady list,” a compendium of cops the District Attorney’s office consider unreliable and/or problematic.
Placement on that list is – at the very least – a career killer, law enforcement insiders said, and Iniguez, as custodian of the list, would have the ability – however unethical and/or illegal – to do so.
Iniguez, for his part, sued the Azusa department for violating his First Amendment rights by allegedly impeding his taping of the incident. That suit was put on hold until the DOJ investigation was completed so, in theory, it can now move forward. Whether or not it will is unclear, though the dropping of the DOJ investigation does mean that there is now absolutely no potential legal impediment to Iniguez releasing the video he says confirms his side of the story (in fact, if he pursues the suit he must turn it over at least to Azusa’s lawyers.)
Attempts to contact Iniguez’s attorneys were unsuccessful; attempts to elicit a comment from Gascon’s office on the matter were met with silence save for a suggestion to call Iniguez’s attorneys.
Over the New Year, the Globe broke the story of Iniguez being an investigation target, noting further problems with the conduct of both Iniguez and Gascon regarding this matter and the numerous other scandals plaguing the leftist ideologue Gascon’s regarding the administration of his office and his attitude towards the justice system in general.
Bonta himself is no stranger to serious ethical questions, including funneling money to his wife’s Mia Bonta’s place of work. He also played a major, if unsavory, role in ensuring that Mia replaced him in the Assembly when he was tapped by Newsom as Attorney General.
Bonta’s incestuous ties to the “one party rule” Democrats and the Sacramento blob have previously raised significant concerns over his ability to operate the DOJ impartially, with eyebrows specifically raised for his takeover of a corruption investigation into another political ally, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
In that case, Bonta has already ordered the return to Kuehl of all the electronic devices seized in a raid on her home.
Considering his handling of the Iniguez case, it appears now that Kuehl can sleep very soundly in the knowledge Rob may take care of her, too.
The Globe appreciates Bonta’s willingness to offer a comment. In the spirit of full disclosure, though, here are the questions his office was sent:
- Exactly what did the criminal investigation of Iniguez relate to?
- Why did the DOJ take so long to investigate, long enough that the investigation became moot?
- Why was the DOJ involved in the investigation in the first place?
- Does Iniguez still face public intoxication charges?
- AG Bonta and LA DA Gascon are close political allies – is that not a conflict of interest and/or what role did that relationship play in timing of the probe?
- Did AG Bonta intentionally “slow roll” as a favor to either Gascon and/or Iniguez the investigation so the charging time limit would run out?
- Will other political allies under investigation, such as Sheila Kuehl, receive the same deferential treatment?
- Has the DOJ and/or any of its employees seen the alleged video that Iniguez took that evening – if not, why as it was the key to either of the potential charges?
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