Spin Cycle

Saturday, April 12, 2014 – 10:00 a.m.

The Federal Buruea of Investigation (FBI) is conducting a criminal civil rights investigation at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Is anyone really surprised?

It didn’t take long for all parties to come out and confirm a story, published here Friday afternoon.

The Sheriff’s Department statement was definitely a rushed attempt to get ahead of the story. The spin dry was in full swing on this one!

But Sheriff-Coroner John McMahon should have taken some lessons from his pal District Attorney Mike Ramos’ experience, with saying that his office and the Feds were working hand in glove on the Colonies investigation. Ramos went around for years telling everyone the FBI was in on the case, when in fact they had dropped the matter long ago, and had been replaced by crickets.

Now McMahon’s handlers are attempting to paint a facade that somehow the Sheriff’s Department was already out in front of this serious matter.

A matter, that if true, involves multiple incidents of assault under color of authority civil rights violations, at both West Valley and High Desert Detention Centers.

After all, purportedly chaining inmates to fences and applying a taser, or opening food tray doors and filling inmate cells with pepper spray, doesn’t occur in a vacuum. In other words, alleged conduct, such as described, doesn’t occur in secret.

Translated— word travels fast!

If the alleged conduct was, in fact, comitted by new deputies, then one can only imagine what else may be going on here. This conduct wasn’t taught in the Academy.

Now to the spin.

The hastily-prepared press statement, by McMahon’s outfit, would lead one to believe that his operation is paired-up with the FBI on ths one.

However, the FBI seems to paint the situation quite differently.

According to FBI spokeperson Laura Eimiller, this is their civil rights investigation, and the Sheriff’s Department is cooperating. The results of the investigation will be turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, not District Attorney.

The FBI statement is crystal clear.

Obviously, after the obstruction of a federal investigation, that went on over at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which led to the downfall of Sheriff Lee Baca, the feds are taking no chances.

Secondly, the Feds aren’t going to allow anyone from the local prosecutors office to get anywhere near this. Too much potential for interference.

After McMahon took office, he was cautioned, by many, to take the department in a new direction and cleanup its management. It was advice that fell on deaf ears.

For now he’s paying the price from a public perception standpoint only. What comes later for the appointed Sheriff may be better or worse.

There’s a better than fifty percent chance that some of these brain trusts may have already tried to sanitize evidence. But only time will tell.

Sources also say the department may have more Fed troubles down the road.

That potential focus is certain use-of-force deaths, and the District Attorney’s statements that his office will not to prosecute any such cases, since the acquittal of former Sheriff’s Deputy Ivory Webb.

The issue has apparently already made it back to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

It’s clear the Sheriff’s Department would have preferred the instant matter never see the light of day. That wishful thinking went down the toilet when the FBI walked in the front door.

The bigger question is how many millions of dollars will this managerial incompetence cost county taxpayers?

County supervisors, who are scared to death of the District Attorney and Sheriff, must be privately shaking their heads.

Lastly, maybe the Feds are genuinely starting to take an interest in looking at the real corruption in the county.