A spanking for Lee Baca?
A front-page story in Monday's Los Angeles Times points to L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca giving preferential treatment to Ezat Delijani, a real estate developer who has given several generous donations to Baca. The issue at hand: Delijani was in a rental dispute with one of his tenants over lease forgery. When the Beverly Hills Police Department concluded this was a civil matter, the real estate developer enlisted Baca for help; he wanted a criminal investigation. And that's what Delijani got. Baca is now downplaying his personal involvement, but the Times' investigation found:
[D]elijani's son sent an e-mail to Baca's assistant.
"Hi Susie, Hope you're well," Delijani's son, Shahram, wrote. "Can you please let the Sheriff know that I spoke to … Beverly Hills Police Department and they informed me that they will not investigate the case. Thank you."
On a printout of that e-mail, a handwritten note from Baca urges action from Chief Willie Miller, who at the time oversaw the Sheriff's Department detectives division.
"Chief Miller -- This case involves a 'lease forgery.' Could you have our people investigate this," reads Baca's note, which is signed "Lee B."
[R]ecords reveal that detectives referred to the case as a "Sheriff Baca Special Request" and gave it a "rush" status, generally reserved for high-priority or time-sensitive cases, including homicides.
For nearly four months afterward, a detective for the cash-strapped department devoted more than 115 hours to the case. According to testimony, a sheriff's handwriting examiner devoted about 60 hours to the investigation -- in addition to time she spent working with another sheriff's employee to make charts used before the jury in the civil case. At one point in the investigation, four sheriff's investigators went to the Westwood office of Nassir's attorney to serve a search warrant, records show.
Oh, and ...
Delijani regularly gave Baca expensive presents: a $150 gift basket in 2003, $200 worth of liquor in 2005, $65 worth of spirits in 2006, $200 worth of wine in 2007, three bottles of wine in 2008 and $88 worth of wine in 2009, financial disclosure records show. He donated $1,000 to "Friends of Sheriff Lee Baca" in 2005 and another $1,000 to the political committee in 2006 through his company, Delson Investment, according to records. In one day in 2009, members of the Delijani family donated $5,000 to Baca's officeholder account, $5,000 to his attorneys fees fund and $5,000 to his committee "Friends of Sheriff Lee Baca 2010."
The Times’ editorial board is likely to weigh in soon on Baca’s intervention. Where do you stand?
-- Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: Beverly Hills business magnate Ezat Delijani, left, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca at a 2009 ceremony formally dedicating the corner of 7th Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles as Ezat Delijani Square.