In 2017, Scott Evan Dekraai was sentenced to eight life sentences following a protracted legal battle. Many Californians and those living across the country likely remember the 2011 Salon Meritage massacre that left eight people dead in Seal Beach, California.
The mass murder and subsequent trial were remarkable for several reasons, perhaps a salvo of allegations of misconduct toward the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD). Dekraai and his legal counsel alleged that the OCSD improperly used jailhouse informants to garner evidence against him. While the claims only served to prolong sentencing for Dekraai, they played a pivotal role in the Orange County Sheriff’s “snitch scandal.”
A special investigation was launched into the OCSD and the Orange County District Attorney’s office misuse of jailhouse informants and their keeping exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys for years.
County DA Misappropriated Secret Slush Funds
The snitch scandal investigation went on for years. While former OCDA Tony Rackauckas claimed he had nothing to hide, newly revealed information indicates something altogether different.
A notice from first-year District Attorney Todd Spitzer reveals that Rackauckas secretly spent $80,358 to hire an outside criminal defense lawyer to represent prosecutors under investigation, The Orange County Register reports. The former DA violated county policy by using money from a confidential revolving fund to pay attorney fees. He did not have county approval to appropriate the funds.
“This is a clear violation of state law and an effort to cover up more embarrassment of the District Attorney’s Office, already under strict scrutiny by the courts and the state bar,” Spitzer said.
The notice states that the private lawyer was hired to prep several prosecutors who were put on the witness stand for the Dekraai case and the snitch scandal, according to the article. Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, who first discovered the misuse of informants, said:
“If Mr. Rackauckas was paying outside counsel to prepare prosecutors to testify during the informant litigation, and then paying for it through a secret fund, it would appear that the department had significant concerns about aspects of the testimony that they didn’t want understood by court and counsel.”
We will continue to follow this story as it develops.
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if your family member is facing criminal charges. Attorney Brower has the experience to provide quality representation and help bring about a favorable outcome.