Southern California breaking news and trends

LASD recalling 200 official-looking badges and identification cards

Sheriff Badge cudahy

Photo via U.S. attorney's office

The U.S. attorney's office released this photo it says was taken at a Cudahy night club showing an unidentified woman wearing Councilman Osvaldo Conde's sheriff's badge as she holds his gun in one hand and his bodyguard's in another. Conde was one of three Cudahy officials arrested last month on bribery charges.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is recalling about 200 official-looking badges and ID cards that were distributed to local politicians.

The faux credentials, handed over to people without law enforcement responsibilites, have the potential for abuse, say critics, who believe the items may have been rewards for political contributions.

Sheriff Lee Baca's decision to round up the badges comes only weeks after the FBI arrested three Cudahy officials on bribery charges.

The L.A. Times reports the move to recall was prompted by the release of a photograph showing a woman in Cudahy nightclub with two handguns, and wearing a councilman's badge.

LASD spokesman Steve Whitmore told the Times the timing is a coincidence, and said a 2007 state attorney general's warning is what prompted the recall.


Baggage: Drug couriers to plead guilty in TSA bribery case

Mercer 20886

Brian Watt/KPCC

TSA baggage X-ray at LAX.

For their part in a bribery scheme invoiving TSA agents at Los Angeles International Airport, two suspected drug couriers, Charles Hicks and Andrew Welter, have agreed to plead guilty to one count each of conspiracy, the U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday. Each man faces a maximum of five years in prison.

Not to be confused with the four TSA screeners charged in April with taking bribes and allowing massive amounts of cocaine to blow through security at LAX, this pair of defendants belongs to a different case where marijuana was smuggled onto planes leaving Los Angeles.

The men paid up to $500 -- via an intermediary -- for each piece of drug-filled luggage that made it through security, court documents showed. The suspected TSA employees named in those documents have not been charged.


Three Cudahy officials indicted on bribery charges

Pile of money

Tracy O./Flickr Creative Commons

The L.A. Times is reporting that three Cudahy city officials -- Mayor David Silva, Councilman Osvaldo Conde and city employee Angel Perales -- have been indicted on federal bribery charges for soliciting and accepting $17,000 from an individual looking to open a medical marijuana shop.

FBI officials descended on the city Friday morning, according to the newspaper, however it was unclear if the men were taken into custody.

Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, confirmed with KPCC that three men had been indicted, saying further details were to follow as "law enforcement operations continue."