Rackauckas: Thank You Orange County

The following is a press release from an organization unaffiliated with Voice of OC. The views expressed here are not those of Voice of OC.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: January 4, 2019

 

THANK YOU ORANGE COUNTY

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Thank you for the opportunity to have served as your District Attorney for the last 20 years. It has been my distinct honor and privilege to spend my life serving the public and dedicating my life’s work to maintaining public safety. Together we have addressed and tackled numerous complex issues all with the goal of keeping our cities safe and enjoying the fruits of our labors with those we love.

In our time together, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has filed well over 1.2 million cases with a felony conviction rate of over 90 percent, adding to the many reasons why people choose to live, work, and enjoy life in our communities.

Through your support, we have reduced gang membership by more than half by vigorously prosecuting gang crimes and dismantling their leaders, enjoining gang activity, and incentivizing youth to reject gangs by participating in their communities. Through our award-winning Orange County Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (OC GRIP), we have changed the course of young lives by keeping students focused on school attendance, achieving good grades, becoming involved in positive afterschool activities, and exposing them to positive role models.

We have also worked very hard to stay one step ahead of the criminals who focus on technology to commit their crimes by learning and analyzing the systems and schemes they manipulate to commit economic fraud. As a statewide leader in complex fraud prosecutions including Ponzi schemes, insurance fraud, embezzlement, financial elder abuse, real estate fraud and more, we have obtained sentences of up to 90 years in state prison sending a strong message to fraudsters – there will be severe consequences when you are caught!

In an effort to abolish modern day slavery, we established the nationally recognized best practice model known as the Human Exploitation And Trafficking Unit (HEAT). Since its inception in 2013, HEAT has obtained hundreds of state prison sentences, including eight life sentences, for those who commercially exploit and traffic others for financial gain. As the fastest growing global criminal enterprise and the second largest criminal enterprise in the nation, this 32 billion dollar industry is more than deserving of the comprehensive approach we have taken in addressing these crimes.

As the only DA’s office in the nation to create and maintain a local DNA database, we have taken a leadership role employing the latest DNA technology to solve both violent and property crimes. Through these innovative measures, we have brought closure to victims’ families by solving cold case murders and have used DNA evidence to swiftly identify criminals and prevent future victimization. In 2013, the office invested in a Rapid DNA Instrument, which can generate a DNA profile within two hours. This useful tool is used to solve crimes and help law enforcement by quickly identifying perpetrators and stopping criminals from committing serial crimes.

DNA was key in the identification and capture of Joseph DeAngelo, internationally known as the Golden State Killer, a man who reigned terror up and down the state for 12 years. He stands accused of 13 felony counts of murder, 13 felony counts of kidnapping to commit robbery, and special circumstances sentencing enhancements for multiple murders, murder during the commission of rape, robbery, and burglary, personal use of a firearm, and personal use of a knife during the commission of the offenses. DeAngelo faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole and the case will be jointly prosecuted in Sacramento County and involve Contra Costa, Orange, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura Counties.

As one of the few prosecuting agencies with an Innocence Review Panel, I recognized years ago the significance of evolving technology and the importance of reviewing cases of incarcerated inmates who claim they have been wrongfully convicted. Established in 2000, the Camille Hill Innocence Review Panel (CHIRP) is named after Senior Deputy District Attorney Camille Hill, who unexpectedly passed away, in honor of her incredible body of work within the legal community. Today, CHIRP serves as a testament to the office’s commitment that all inmates receive justice, no matter how old the conviction. To date, more than 600 criminal cases have been reviewed, forensic analysis was performed in 20, and all provided evidence confirming the inmate’s guilt.

Recognizing the abuses involved in the sober living home and addiction treatment industry and the impacts they cause within our neighborhoods, we established the Sober Living-Home Investigation and Prosecution team (SLIP) to investigate reports of criminal and civil violations related to the industry. Orange County has become a magnet for unscrupulous treatment operators who recruit addicts from across the country, often brokering and trading this fragile population who are desperately seeking help. Once their insurance is maxed out, victims are tossed out on the street to relapse, oftentimes contributing to the homeless issue we are experiencing. Although the unit is just starting out, I have high hopes for significant results in the years to come.

Through the Environmental Protection Unit, together we have fought to protect the quality of our air, soil, and waterways from companies and individuals who illegally dump pollutants by holding them accountable and making them financially responsible for the damage caused. In an unprecedented case, we held the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) responsible for violating numerous state statutes and regulations related to the installation, maintenance, monitoring, permitting, testing, and overall operation of underground gasoline storage tanks (UST). The company’s irresponsible actions resulted in contamination of the aquifer, groundwater, and soil caused by the leaking USTs. Posing a significant threat to the supply of drinking water we rely on, my office moved quickly with the goal of compelling the defendants to bring all identified sites into compliance and cleanup any contamination caused by the leaking USTs and retail gas station operations. We were successful in this case, which was the first time a district attorney had ever prosecuted a major oil company and forced the compliance and clean-up of every single violation. I am very proud of this victory as safe drinking water is a truly priceless commodity and Orange County’s supply needs to be protected.

I am also very pleased by the advances we have made together in the consumer fraud arena. These types of complex cases typically result in criminal prosecution or civil action in which my office has sought a court-ordered injunction to stop the unfair business practices and collected penalties and restitution for the consumer or for the future prosecutions of new consumer protection cases. Cases of significance include multi-million dollar settlements against Toyota for concealing safety issues related to unintended acceleration in violation of California consumer protection laws and DV Biologics, LLC, and Da Vinci Biosciences, LLC, two companies that unlawfully sold fetal tissue and cells for profit. These settlements have far-reaching impacts felt well beyond the county lines and will never be forgotten.

These are just a handful of examples of what we have achieved together. The two decades I have spent serving as your District Attorney have been some of the most meaningful of my professional career. Now I find myself looking forward to this new chapter in my life and spending time with friends and family while enjoying the beautiful community we are so blessed to live within as a private citizen in private practice.

Thank you for the opportunity to work alongside of you to keep Orange County one of the safest places in the country,

Tony Rackauckas

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