OC: Law Enforcement Agencies at Odds – Times

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OC: Law Enforcement Agencies at Odds Posted on October 6, 2003 at 10:29:55 AM ORANGE COUNTY Law Enforcement Agencies at Odds Newport Beach police say O.C. sheriff’s officials interfered in the investigation of 3 teens charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old. By H.G. Reza, Times Staff Writer More than a year after three young men — including the teenage son of an Orange County assistant sheriff — were arrested on suspicion of raping a 16-year-old girl, two local law enforcement agencies are at odds over what happened in the early stages of the investigation. Newport Beach police, who arrested Gregory Haidl and two friends in July 2002, accuse two sheriff’s officials of interfering with the investigation by advising the young man not to talk to their investigators. Both sheriff’s officials have refused to talk to prosecutors, who brought one of them before a grand jury in an apparent effort to learn more about the incident. Haidl’s lawyer, who contends the alleged victim consented to the encounter, has raised questions of his own about the first days of the investigation, alleging misconduct by police and prosecutors in an effort to get the case dismissed. The disputes stem from a case that began July 6, 2002, the day the three teens allegedly videotaped themselves raping an unconscious girl in the Corona del Mar home of Orange County Assistant Sheriff Donald Haidl. At the time, authorities said the victim had been incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, but there is no mention of drugging in the criminal complaint against the suspects. The younger Haidl, of Rancho Cucamonga, and two others — Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann also of Rancho Cucamonga — were charged with 27 counts of rape and sexual assault. The three, who were 17 at the time of the alleged crime, face trial as adults next spring. In a March 14 letter first made public last month by the Orange County Register, Newport Beach Police Chief Bob McDonell complained to Sheriff Michael S. Carona that one of Carona’s top assistants and a lieutenant — both colleagues of the elder Haidl — hindered police detectives who were trying to question Gregory Haidl at his mother’s Rancho Cucamonga home three days after the alleged assault. Donald Haidl and his wife are divorced. He was not at his Orange County home on the night of the alleged incident. According to McDonell’s three-page letter — written eight months after the incident — Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo and Lt. Wilfredo Moreno drove to Rancho Cucamonga on July 9 and appeared to persuade the elder Haidl not to let his son be interviewed by Newport Beach police detectives. Before Jaramillo’s and Moreno’s arrival, Haidl had agreed to make his son available for questioning by detectives, McDonell wrote. After the visit, he declined. Jaramillo, who is also an attorney, told Newport Beach detectives that “the law enforcement side of him wanted Don Haidl to bring out his son to speak with the investigators,” said McDonell, who also quoted Jaramillo as saying that “the lawyer part of me is advising [Haidl] not to let his son speak with you.” McDonell accused Jaramillo of displaying “divided loyalties” between his responsibilities as a cop and a criminal defense attorney. However, the chief did not accuse Jaramillo and Moreno of doing anything illegal or violating Orange County Sheriff’s Department policy, and he credited Jaramillo with persuading Gregory Haidl to tell detectives the names of the victim and the other suspects. McDonell declined to be interviewed, and a police spokesman said the district attorney’s office had ordered police not to discuss the case. Jaramillo angrily denied doing anything that hindered the Newport Beach police investigation. He said Donald Haidl decided not to allow his son to be interviewed by police without any legal advice from him. “The kid’s father has been involved in law enforcement for two decades. He knows how things work. Do you really think he was going to say, ‘Son, get out of the house and go with these people and talk to them’? He didn’t even know what the crime was at that point. He had a constitutional right not to talk to the cops,” Jaramillo said. In a response to the Newport Beach police chief, Orange County Sheriff Carona on May 29 dismissed McDonell’s complaint. Carona wrote that Jaramillo’s and Moreno’s “account of the incident differs greatly” from McDonell’s, but he did not elaborate. Moreno, the other sheriff’s official at the house, did not return telephone calls seeking comment. But in a court document, Gregory Haidl’s attorney says Moreno refused to talk to the prosecution or defense attorneys, and that prosecutors forced him to testify before the county grand jury during the summer. In an interview, Jaramillo said that he too has refused to talk to prosecutors or defense attorneys, but he has not been summoned to testify before a grand jury. Moreno’s grand jury testimony is sealed. But Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno ordered that it be unsealed and turned over today to Haidl’s attorney, Joseph Cavallo. “The use of the grand jury to get a witness — a police officer — statement strikes at the lack of fairness we’ve been facing,” Cavallo said. “If [Moreno] or another witness is unwilling to talk to us, where do we go? What options do we have? “Unlike the prosecution, we don’t have a grand jury to go to in order to get a witness to talk.” Cavallo has also filed several motions seeking a dismissal of the charges against Haidl based on alleged misconduct by police and prosecutors in the earliest stages of the investigation. In one instance, he said authorities erred when they the refused to allow him to meet with Gregory Haidl before his arrest on July 9. He said Newport Beach police and a prosecutor who had a warrant to search Donald Haidl’s home the next day also improperly barred him from the house. Rory Littler, a professor at Hastings School of Law in San Francisco, said police and prosecutors are not legally bound to allow a defense attorney to be present while they interrogate a suspect unless the suspect requests legal counsel. Littler also said there is no legal authority that allows a defense attorney to be present while police search his client’s house, unless he is already inside. 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