Rat cop gets 1 year in jail in scheme to frame councilmen

A Riverside police officer who admitted he tried to set up a Costa Mesa councilman for a false DUI and tailed the city’s former mayor using a tracking device was sentenced by an Orange County Superior Court judge to one year in jail.

Judge W. Michael Hayes opted against a sentence of probation for Christopher Joseph Lanzillo, 47, of Lake Arrowhead, who was at the center of an effort funded by the Costa Mesa Police Association to dig up dirt on Councilman Jim Righeimer and former mayor Steve Mensinger in 2012 during tense contract negotiations with the police union.

“I feel here that this was a crime of the head, not the heart,” Hayes said before the sentencing. “I do know he was at a minimum a foot soldier in a firm that was using what I call hardball… and illegal tactics during contract negotiations, and we just can’t have that in Orange County.”

Costa Mesa police Officer Jason Chamness, who was police association president in 2012, testified that he and union officials believed Mensinger and Righeimer posed a threat.

The feckless Police Association has denied knowing about illegal actions on the part of the law firm or its private investigators.

A civil lawsuit filed by Righeimer and Mensinger against the police union is pending.

Read the whole story in the Press Enterprise

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