Rackauckas ‘Interfered’ in Political Corruption Investigations, Says Former Top Investigator

OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas speaks during a court hearing. (Pool photo by the Orange County Register.)

Craig Hunter, the former chief investigator to Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, is leveling a series of explosive allegations against the top prosecutor, including claims Rackauckas “interfered” in corruption investigations of his political allies.

Hunter, who abruptly left his position last month, said in a legal claim against the county he investigated “a number of political corruption cases” and provided Rackauckas information about them.

“In general, Rackauckas interfered in political corruption criminal investigations in the County of Orange, involving candidates that he endorsed politically,” states Hunter’s legal claim, which was filed by attorney Bradley C. Gage.

No names of candidates were listed in the claim, a copy of which Gage provided to Voice of OC.

“This information will be provided in detail at the appropriate time. However, it is part of the reasons why [Hunter] is now a whistleblower victim,” the claim states.

Hunter’s claim says he was retaliated against – and ultimately given the option of resigning or being fired – after Rackauckas learned Hunter had given testimony to the county’s grand jury that “could be highly embarrassing” to Rackauckas.

“On multiple instances, [Hunter] complained and or disclosed violations of various laws and statutes by Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney” and others, the claim states.

Asked when the corruption allegations will be further explained, Gage said it depends on whether the county resolves Hunter’s claim.

If the county doesn’t resolve it, Gage said, “it comes out, and it won’t be pretty.” Hunter expects to return to work on May 21 or 22, he added.

Legal claims are filed with government agencies as a precursor to filing a lawsuit and are typically required before filing the lawsuit.

Rackauckas’ office disputed Hunter’s claims, but said they were barred from discussing specifics unless Hunter gives his permission.

“A legal claim filled with false allegation [sic] and factually inaccurate information was filed by Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) employee Craig Hunter — clearly with the goal of trying to get  money from Orange County Taxpayers,” said the DA’s statement.

“The OCDA would like nothing more than to share all of the details about Mr. Hunter’s employment and the merits of the claim. In order for us to do this, Mr. Hunter needs to simply sign some documents that would allow us to tell our side of the story.  Mr. Hunter and his attorney know full well that because this is a personnel matter, without his consent, the OCDA would be handcuffed from publicly responding to these allegations.  We do not expect him to do so, as transparency in this matter would only expose the falsehoods and inaccuracies in his frivolous claim. That said, we are calling on Mr. Hunter to immediately waive any and all rights to confidentially so that the public can know what actually happened.”

In his claim, Hunter also alleges wrongful behavior by Rackauckas’ chief of staff, Susan Kang Schroeder.

Schroeder gathered “nomination signatures in the office for Tony Rackauckas’ re-election,” the claim states.

Additionally, Hunter’s claim says he “advised Tony Rackauckas that Schroeder during times she should have been at work, was sending out requests for individuals to come to a fund raiser for Tony Rackauckas. While this went from a private computer, it was sent during normal working hours that Schroeder was paid for. Schroeder was frequently out of the office.”

And, Hunter’s claim says, Schroeder used Rackauckas’ name to raise money through a nonprofit and then used that money to promote her private business partner, musician Scott Foster. The claim also suggests Rackauckas failed to disclose the payments as required by law. Such payments to nonprofits at the request of elected and top government officials are known as “behested payments.”

As of 2015, Schroeder was president of a music promotion company with Foster, known as M3Connection, from which Schroeder received income while also working as Rackauckas’ full-time chief of staff. Foster performed at annual rock concerts sponsored by Rackauckas and the DA’s office, and then used videos of his performance to promote his career.

It’s the latest round of wrongdoing leveled at the DA’s office, which is embroiled in a U.S. Justice Department investigation into alleged illegal misuse of jailhouse informants and concealment of evidence. In November, a state appeals court reviewing the allegations ruled Rackauckas’ office “violated targeted defendants’ constitutional rights” and “intentionally or negligently” ignored violations by the Sheriff’s Department.

After retiring as Anaheim’s deputy police chief in 2012, Hunter joined Rackauckas’ office in early 2014 as the chief of the DA’s Bureau of Investigations, overseeing about 240 employees.

But last month, Rackauckas suddenly announced Hunter was gone.

“Effective immediately, Craig Hunter is off duty and not expected to return,” Rackauckas told his staff in an email April 24.

Rackauckas’ office has not said why Hunter left.

“Due to the protection afforded by the Police Officers Bill of Rights and the laws protecting personnel matters, the OCDA is prohibited from discussing the facts surrounding the employment status of its employees,” spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden wrote last month in a statement.

But the DA’s office did respond to Hunter’s departure by saying it “will continue to take swift and appropriate action to maintain the excellent work” in the investigations bureau.

Meanwhile, Hunter’s attorney says his client was wrongfully acted against and expects to return to work soon.

The reason Hunter was out of the office was because of a “minor medical issue,” Gage said in a phone interview Friday evening. “I don’t even know that he’s been terminated.”

Hunter has been cleared by a medical professional to return to work on Sunday May 21, Gage said, and expects to come back that day or Monday the 22nd.

“He is coming back, and he’s healthy and he’s ready to work. And so hopefully they’ll allow him to,” he said.

“What they’re really trying to do is go after him because he’s a whistleblower. And that’s wrong. And there certainly is a lot to be a whistleblower on.”

Gage also disputed suggestions that Hunter’s departure was related to allegations he improperly used his work phone to receive sexual text messages.

Any discipline against a peace officer, such as Hunter, must legally take place within a year of the allegation, Gage said, while the “sexting” allegations were made two years prior to Hunter’s departure.

Hunter was the subject of allegations he sent and received sexual text messages – including nude photos – using his county-owned cell phone. The results of any investigation, if one was conducted, have not been made public by the DA or county.

Those sexting allegations were found to be false, Gage said.

In the claim, Hunter also alleges Rackauckas “failed to conduct an investigation” after Hunter informed him of rumors that one of his highest-ranking prosecutors was having an affair with another high-ranking DA official.

Additionally, Hunter’s claim states, “A supervisor got his administrative assistant pregnant without investigation. However, Tony Rackauckas would investigate rumors of others rumored to be but not involved in sexual relations as a way to retaliate against whistleblower employees.”

The County Counsel’s office released part of Hunter’s claim to Voice of OC Friday, but redacted the specific allegations against Rackauckas and Schroeder.

A decision on whether to release the full claim will be made within 10 days, Senior Assistant County Counsel Jack Golden told a Voice of OC reporter Friday.

Legal claims against the county were previously available immediately upon request at the Clerk of the Board’s office. But the county recently implemented a policy requiring that legal claims first be reviewed by an attorney.

As for Hunter, his attorney suggested Rackauckas could be concerned about the grand jury testimony.

“[Hunter] has provided testimony to the grand jury, which maybe Rackauckas is concerned about,” Gage said.

“My client has a right to talk to the grand jury. And nobody has the right to go after him for that,” he added. “If that is the reason, then that’s wrongful.”

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

  • Jessica Davis

    Perjury, illegal use of informants, cover-ups, self-interest…what’s next for the D.A.’s office. It’s unfathomable that anyone would support Rackauckas. He has no moral compass. What a loser.

  • Hs Gill

    Tony, you messed up a 9 years old kid Lexi Dillon’s life. You helped a child molester by jeopardising the safety of a 9 years old victim. Chickens will come home to roost for ya.

  • John Claxton

    One doesn’t need to look far to see where T-racks interests lie. He has turned a blind eye on public corruption since taking office. Look at his wife. Peggi buff was a non-permenent employee to political hack John Williams, who was eventually outed as the Public Administrator/Guardian. Her employment should have been terminated with John Williams. But oh no, T-Rack couldn’t have that. She was quietly transferred against HR policy to a regular county position (no recruitment), where she still gets paid her $100k+ a year salary to do clerical work ( the other clerical staff that do the same job only get paid about $45k per year). This worthless DA needs to go.

  • Ed Romero

    Where were all these Investigators when those Drug Dealing, Marijuana Smoking, Cocaine Snorting Racist Lesbians were running Orange County. They were led by that former Chairperson of the Orange County GOP, who was installed as a Judge, then promoted to Chief Probation Officer and finally to Director of Health, she had HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION. She use to Smoke so much Marijuana at her residence in the City of Anaheim that her neighbors would call our Probation Records Unit complaining about all the Marijuana fumes floating over to their houses. There was that Dirty Corrupt Asst. Chief Probation Officer that use to Smoke so much Marijuana while on duty at the Probation Officer that our entire Office looked like a Foggy Day in Fresno. She had her very own Gang of Drug Dealers, most of them Deputy Probation Officers, both of these individuals used their positions of POWER to Hire and Promote their numerous Drug Addicted Lesbian Friends to positions that should of gone to more qualified applicants.

    • LFOldTimer

      Ed, you crack me up, little buddy! 🙂

  • M Swindle

    How can any conscious morally sound voter continue to support this man with the knowledge of what he has done? Or do they bury their heads in the sand on Huntington Beach? From the Jailhouse snitch scandal to his failure to consider charges against Lexi Dillon’s father. That man hid his face in the jacket of his suit when confronted by Martin Burns. Looks pretty incriminating if you ask me. 6 Child Molestation charges were recommended by Tustin PD yet he never pressed them? Why? Perhaps association via campaign funds between the Father’s defense attorney and himself?

    • LFOldTimer

      When you consider his known competition, namely Todd Spitzer, it’s 6 of one or a half-dozen of the other. Hopefully Judge Goethals or Scott Sanders will run for DA. I would knock on doors for either one during election season 2018.

      As it stands now I feel like I’m under the authority of the future inhabitants of Dante’s Cocytus sector of Hades.

  • Paul Lucas

    holy moly!

  • David Zenger

    “Rackauckas’ office disputed Hunter’s claims, but said they were barred from discussing specifics unless Hunter gives his permission.”

    Oh, BS. They’re always chatty as can be – when they want to be.

    • LFOldTimer

      Let’s hope the FBI and the OC Grand Jury are taking note of these latest developments and making them a pertinent focus of their investigations.

      Tired of all the watchdogs turning a blind eye.

  • Shirley L. Grindle

    It is astounding to me that Rackauckas has gotten away with so many wrongdoings resulting from his selective investigation/prosecution style. By far one of the most disastrous non-actions was his failure to prosecute Lexi Dillon’s father for the 6 child molestation/abuse charges filed against him by the Tustin PD. TR plays favorites and in this case the father’s defense attorney is someone known to be influential with TR as well as a big campaign contributor to TR.

    • LFOldTimer

      Of course it’s astounding, Shirley. Any red-blooded American would agree. The problem is that all the children are taught that in America ‘justice is blind’ and that the author-i-tays practice ‘equality under the law’. So they grow up with a false belief. When they get old enough to discern fact from fiction they realize that they were lied to by the school system. Corruption flourishes. Confidence and trust in the establishment evaporates. Civility dies. You’ve got a few years under your belt. You should know that the author-i-tays being held to a higher standard is nothing but an outlandish myth. Those in power know it’s wrong – that it’s a direct violation of their sworn oaths. But they couldn’t care less.

      Will Rogers once said “Education never helped morals. The most savage people are the most moral. The smarter the guy the bigger the rascal”. There was never a more truthful quote.

      Whenever I see these frauds put their hands over their hearts and recite the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ I want to puke.

      • M Swindle

        They pledge allegiance LFOldTimer to no flag or no god or no cause for that matter let us all recognize that which you do.

        • LFOldTimer

          You’re right, M Swindle. All they care about are their own selfish needs. To hel* with the rest of civilization.

          As Lord Acton warned us over a century ago “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

          I barely recognize my beloved country any more.

  • LFOldTimer

    Yep. Now they’re eating their own. Dracula and Frankenstein are going at it. lol. It’s the battle of Transylvania. What an embarrassment for the County of Orange. Is there even one good apple in the entire bunch? More family values from the conservative RINOS. Has the Lincoln Club chimed in on any of this yet? If not, what’s holding them back? Where are the County Supervisors? Hiding under the dais??? They openly called out Judge M. Marc Kelley and demanded his recall. But not one of them even looks cross eyed at Hutchens or T-Rack. lol.

    Excuse me for a minute. I have to go shower.

    • justanon

      Nobody is going to “blame” trump or Bannon, but make a COMPARISON, why yes, yes we will.

      What’s going on in The Whitehouse under trump, does indeed look a lot like this mess, except trump’s mess is bigger, uglier and will have much broader consequences.

      • verifiedsane

        The resident comment section communist provocateur diaper boy continues their anarchist whine-a-thon…whaa whaa whaa

        • justanon

          Says the resident comment section, old man’s post-licker ….er… liker, ha, ha, ha.
          I hope he pays you well for that ‘service’.

          • verifiedsane

            Better to be erroneously called an “old man’s post-licker”, than to be an actual communist & anarchist a*se kisser, Diaper Boy…..Now run home to your aunt Pelosi and whaa whaa whaa some more…..:)

          • justanon

            I usually just ignore your stupid little comments as they have no-punch. In order for a insult to be insulting it has to have some basis in reality, yours are just a bunch of alt-right trigger words that ONLY excite you.
            So continue on licking old bigot’s post and abusing yourself to your oh-so-exciting alt-right trigger words … I just feel sorry for your mama having to pick up all those used tissues, yuck.

          • LFOldTimer

            Why don’t you get out of the house and go take a walk on the beach or something? Who knows? You might see Trump and Bannon and Putin cavorting together to rig the 2020 elections. You can run home and report it to Mother Jones. ha.

          • justanon

            You write the most ridiculous cr*p, it just reveals what a damaged mind you must have.

            Seriously, what is wrong with you?

            Try and stay in the here and now and focus on what is and not your silly little right-wing conspiracy fantasies.

            Maybe try slapping yourself … hard!

          • LFOldTimer

            Bill and Hitlery need your money.

            Donations (ie. bribes) to the Clinton Foundation Fund have fallen by 90% since Hitlery was defeated in the election.

            Chelsea needs the cash to maintain her lifestyle.

            Please send in a generous donation to the CFF!!! It’s tax deductible!!! LOL!!!!

          • justanon

            More tin-foil hat right-wing cuckoo craziness!

            Old man you need de-programming … stat!!!!

          • verifiedsane

            Just more whaa whaa whaa from the unhinged communist Diaper Boy…..please come back when you develop some small semblance of intellectual capacity…..which in all reality, would equate to NEVER again… 🙂

          • LFOldTimer

            “unhinged” is an understatement. The on-line rageful intolerance of opposing opinions and inability to accept differences in human thought reminds me of the Berkeley crowd. Rigid and inflexible and openly defiant – even when faced with the facts. It’s this sort of temperament that eventually leads societies down the road to fascism. Hitler is a prime example. Don’t forget – Hitler was a socialist.

        • LFOldTimer

          It appears that our resident snowflake diaper child may be afflicted with ‘election stress disorder’ and can’t let go based on the incessant negative comments about Trump.

          The new-aged leftist liberal shrink and Oprah collaborator, Deepak Chopra, recommends deep breathing exercises and meditation for the snowflakes with Trump-induced trauma.

          For those with sleep disturbances I recommend counting the times that Bill and Hillary repeatedly jump over a wooden fence chasing unicorns draped with dollar bills. Not only will be provide relaxation – it’ll be good for a laugh or two at the same time.

          I read today that there was an earthquake in Oklahoma. It’s Trump’s fault. lol. Expect a pink-hat protest. lol.

          • verifiedsane

            LMAO

          • justanon

            Nah, we liberals are stocking up on popcorn just watching the trump sh*t-show unfold.

            We also enjoy getting to watch you hypocritical little trump supporting worms squirm as you try and make excuses for the ignorant, corrupt, lying, traitor that in all your glorious stupidity you saw fit to elect as POTUS.

            We just wish you were capable of SHAME and REMORSE, but you’re too evil and corrupted yourselves to admit that anything’s amiss.

            If you had any self awareness you’d do the decent thing and STFU!!!!

          • LFOldTimer

            Get some help.

          • justanon

            Yeah, you’d probably vote for the corrupt, ignorant, lying, TRAITOR again, and that tells us EVERYTHING we need to KNOW about YOU and your ‘standards’.

            Do you think your stupid rants about honesty and justice hold any water coming from a trump supporter??? Get it through your head, he’s made a FOOL of you and everyone who supported him.
            Trump is an old-fashioned thug, he doesn’t know nor care about America or American values. All he cares about is his ego and his money.

            Everything you write now about standards, honesty or justice … all stinks of HYPOCRISY!!!!

          • LFOldTimer

            I would suggest a consultation w/ Deepak. Show him your numerous comment rants on Trump. The first step to recovery is admitting to being a snowflake. 🙂

          • justanon

            Too bad you’re so dim, otherwise you’d understand that my rants aren’t so much about trump as they are about you.

            It’s your hypocrisy.

            You and your post-licker can bring up all the ridiculous irrelevant caca, like “Deepak” and throw out the assorted alt-right trigger words, but it won’t hide the fact that YOU SUPPORT a lying, ignorant, blatantly corrupt and possibly traitorous POTUS while also trying to PRETEND that you’re outraged by lying and corruption on a local level.

            You’re both blatant and shameless hypocrites and have no moral high-ground to stand on, lol!!!

          • LFOldTimer

            Considering the alternative, I stand proud of my vote for Trump. Did you read the latest on Hitlery?

            “Hillary Clinton’s Department of State aides allegedly threatened a
            South Asian prime minister’s son with an IRS audit in an attempt to stop
            a Bangladesh government investigation of a close friend and donor
            of Clinton’s…..”

            http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/25/exclusive-hillary-aides-threatened-prime-ministers-son-with-irs-audit/

            Hitlery the extortionist and racketeer. She flexed her muscle and tried to extort the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to drop an investigation on a generous Clinton donor by threatening to arrange an IRS audit on the PM’s son. ha.

            What a low-life bottom feeder. A knee-cruncher! Compared to Hitlery Trump is a Sunday school choir boy!!! HAH!

          • justanon

            Right, more conspiracy cr*p from a right-wing nut site.

            WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO STOP BEING FOOLED BY THIS BULL SH*T????

            Hillary was investigated until the-cows-came-home and they got nothin’, but you chumps sooo WANT to believe that there was something, anything there, that any caca that they throw out, you latch onto. You’re like Charlie Brown believing Lucy with the football. How many times must you be fooled before you learn???

            Yet trump has BLATANTLY violated EVERYTHING you claim to value. Whether it’s his messy, dirty personal life, his shady business dealings and now, his disrespecting the rule of law and our democratic institutions and you chumps still defend him.

            WHY???

          • LFOldTimer

            The Associated Press is a right-wing nut site??? ha.

            As usual, you got nothin’ but more hot air of zero value.

            Now go run off to a Hitlery rally to promote her nomination in 2020!!! ha.

            Al Capone for President in 2020!!!! LOL!

          • justanon

            You ‘believe’ all sorts of cr*p, like the Clinton’s murdered Vince Foster. That PROVES you are a far-right fringe nut-cake. You have ZERO credibility, lol.
            Case closed.

          • justanon

            I just went and read your latest ‘scandal’ story.
            A big nothing burger, funny how the big “ALLEGED” IRS threat must of gone NOWHERE as the investigation continued and was submitted all without an IRS audit happening.
            You deranged Hillary-haters are sooo desperate to smear her, it’s down-right pathetic.

          • LFOldTimer

            The only reason the audit didn’t happen is because it got publicized so the Clintonistas backed off. Hitlery thought she could get away with it on the sly. lol. When the PM of Bangladesh called her out she shut up.

            These are the strong armed dirty tricks that the Clinton’s pull to retribute their enemies or those who resist their demands. Go ask the families of Seth Rich and Vince Foster.

          • justanon

            Oh brother, are you getting this cr*p relayed to you through the fillings in your teeth?

            You are down right cuckoo!!!! LOL!!!

          • verifiedsane

            DC MURDER MYSTERY Slain DNC staffer was WikiLeaks’ source, say investigators – http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/16/slain-dnc-staffer-had-contact-with-wikileaks-investigator-says.html

          • LFOldTimer

            Oh, I know, Verified. This has been common knowledge for a long time. Seth Rich was the inside mole who leaked the DNC documents and emails to Wikileaks. And death was the price he paid for it. Hopefully they track the murderers down and bring them to justice. I’m telling you. These people play hardball. They are vicious thugs who will stop at nothing to silence those who oppose them. The Washington DC cops tried to cover it up. So the family had to hire a PI to expose the truth. The swamp runs deep.

            Whoever the murderers were left Seth’s wallet and valuables intact. This was a murder borne of vengeance. A political murder. Repugnant.

            The dummycrats are the Party of Peace, Verified. 🙂

    • Cynthia Ward

      …and cue the descent into bickering over national issues that have nothing to do with the local situation, and those lobbing word bombs add nothing to the debate but childish insults. Thanks for hijacking the thread. Can we please get back to the issue of the County CA’s office?

      • LFOldTimer

        Where have you been?

        VOC has routinely posted articles on Trump and illegal immigration – both are national issues, whether you disagree or not. Local and national issues often overlap, whether you disagree or not.

        I only attack when I’m attacked, if you noticed. Otherwise I’m polite and only want to voice my opinions on the topics of the day, whether you like it or not. Why don’t you chastise the ones who follow me around incessantly to pick fights and cause trouble simply because they don’t like my opinions? Oh, I forgot. You disagree with my point of view so you’re just like them. lol.

        As soon as Norberto limits posters to a certain number of comments per day I will continue to post on issues that I find of interest, whether you like it or not. It’s called civic engagement. The snowflakes hate it. But I couldn’t really care what the snowflakes like of dislike.

        Clear?

        Sorry dear. I see through your

      • Sandra

        Couldn’t agree with you more! How do things get so side tracked.