Sherrif’s Dept. Banned From Mafia Database After OC Weekly Revelations

For Immediate Release:
July 18, 2007

An OC Weekly probe into a California sheriff’s ties to an organized-crime figure and a convicted swindler has prompted an international law-enforcement organization to ban the Orange County, Calif., sheriff access to a top-secret criminal database, according to a July 17 Los Angeles Times article.

Times reporter Christine Hanley wrote that Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU) has indefinitely blocked Sheriff Michael S. Carona and his department from reviewing “criminal intelligence information” because of the sheriff’s relationships with Las Vegas strip-club owner Rick Rizzolo and con artist Joseph Medawar. Both convicted felons are currently serving federal prison sentences for stealing millions of dollars.

As the Times acknowledges, it was a series of reports by R. Scott Moxley — the Weekly’s senior editor for news and investigations — that conclusively proved Carona’s tie to Rizzolo, identified in FBI reports as an organized-crime associate. Moxley also revealed how Carona — the head of California’s second largest sheriff’s department — allowed Medawar, a Lebanon native, to film a top-secret homeland-security, anti-terrorist training exercise in Orange County.

Moxley has won more than a dozen local, state and national awards for his work. Most recently, in June, he was given a first place award at the Los Angeles Press Club for his expose on a scheme to use the Americans with Disabilities Act for profit. His work also lead to the FBI arrest of a prominent Newport Beach, CA, physician and the grand jury indictment of a powerful assistant sheriff. In 2001 and 2006, his investigations helped free two people wrongly accused by police and prosecutors of felonies: Shantae Molina (who, at one point, faced the death penalty) and James Ochoa, both 20.