Orange County District Attorney

The Orange County district attorney is investigating the firm that allegedly targeted civic leaders who were seeking to alter police pensions.

By Paloma Esquivel and Joseph Serna
October 16, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

Orange County district attorney’s investigators have raided the offices of an Upland law firm accused of bullying civic leaders across Southern California in its aggressive representation of police and their unions.

The search of Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir comes after the firm announced last month that it would be dissolving following a series of scandals and a lawsuit filed by Costa Mesa city leaders who alleged that the firm was harassing them for political gain.

The firm has represented dozens of police unions in Southern California and has a reputation for its bare-fisted tactics and attacks on city hall.

Since last year, prosecutors have examined accusations that a private investigator who had worked with the firm followed Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer from a local bar and called 911 to say the then-councilman was possibly driving drunk.

At the time, the firm was employed by the Costa Mesa Police Officers’ Assn. and Righeimer was an advocate of reexamining police pension and benefits to lower city expenses. After the call, a police officer came to his door and asked Righeimer to take a sobriety test, which he passed. Righeimer later produced a receipt from the bar showing he’d bought only a soda at the tavern.

A Costa Mesa Police Assn. official, who asked not to be identified because he is not permitted to speak publicly about the investigation, told The Times that union board members met with Orange County district attorney’s investigators earlier this year about the incident in connection with a grand jury investigation. The official said the union is cooperating with the investigation.

Since the accusations came to light, city leaders elsewhere have accused the firm of bullying them or employing aggressive tactics, some of which were outlined on the firm’s website until they were taken down last year. The tactics included work stoppages, so-called blue flu strikes, storming City Council meetings, holding officials up for public ridicule and targeting individuals.

“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,” the site advised.

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