The Triumph of Paul Lucas pt 2: Bad Buena Park Cops and Feckless Druggies!


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“…Paul Lucas won’t be the last to have been left drooling and limping pathetically in an erratic loop by one too many encounters with the everlasting car wreck of the DPOC Central Committee.”

- Gus Ayer, 2012.

Last we left our hero Paul Lucas, toward the end of 2011, he was living in Orange, running a legally registered and licensed medical marijuana collective, suffering more maladies than you can count on one hand due to a lifelong auto-immune deficiency and type 1 diabetes, treated as a pariah by much of the Orange County Democratic Party, but liked and missed by many more of us.

But before we relate the fateful events of 10/26/2011 – the police raid that turned Paul’s life upside down for a while – there are a few threads in the narrative we have to get started, a few characters we have to introduce, and sure enough, here goes:

1. Cherchez la femme.

Artist’s rendition

For about a year and a half before the events in question, Paul had had a girlfriend – hell, let’s call her Sasha – with a history of methamphetamine abuse.  Throughout the vast bulk of the time they were together she stayed off that bad stuff, but every once in a while, as people will do, she would relapse. 

Paul used to take Sasha to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings to help her keep straight.  At one meeting just a few days before the raid, Paul noticed a “creepy-looking Latino guy with a goatee mad-dogging” him, but didn’t think much of it – druggies and ex-druggies, you know, they can be a little weird.  We later learned this to be Gonzaldo Cetina – an undercover cop not above stalking his prey at their 12-step meetings.  If we can find a picture of him we will post it.

And then you need to know this:  ALSO a few days before the raid Paul found a small lump of meth in the girl-bag that Sasha used to keep at his place; disappointed in her, he put this lump (which he estimates to have been about a quarter-gram) into a safe in his bathroom, to confront her with it next time she came by.

2. “Name Three and Go Free.”

A little before that, in darkest Buena Park, some damn junkie had gotten himself busted.  There’s a standard policy among most drug cops called “name three and go free” – pretty self-explanatory – if you give up the names and addresses of three other people you believe may be in possession of illicit substances, they’ll let you off.  Is this a good policy?  Does it help the law go after ever bigger fish, or just to cast a wider and wider net, as in the attempt to tar every young man in certain neighborhoods with a gang affiliation, or the government’s insatiable drive to know all about all of us?  Who knows?  But this weak cat, probably thinking of Sasha, opted to name Paul Lucas’ apartment in Orange as a place where the cops might find some meth.

We now know the identity of this snitch, which we won’t print.  I believe I have convinced Paul to take this course of action:  “When you have the chance, confront him … say you know what he did … and then say you forgive him.  These officers are good at scaring and cajoling people – that’s what they do.”  (Needless to say, when Paul was arrested he did NOT “name three and go free” – he’s not the sort of guy who would do that, and doesn’t know any big drug users anyway.)

3. Getting the Warrant – Important Lesson Here for All of You!

The desperate unreliable testimony of a guy like our Buena Park junkie friend, however, is not enough for the police to get a warrant to raid someone’s apartment like they did to Paul’s on 10/26/2011.  So they surveilled Paul for a while.  Eventually, on 10/25, in darkest Huntington Beach, they caught him talking to somebody while sitting in his car.  This was enough for them to get a warrant.  They even admit that NO TRANSACTION OCCURRED.  Not kidding.  This is all right here in the PC hearing document, pages 56-57 and 53.

So, American citizens, this is your lesson for today.  If you don’t want what happened to Paul to happen to you, if you don’t want to go through two-and-a-half years of legal hell, then DON’T TALK TO ANYBODY WHILE YOU ARE SITTING IN YOUR PARKED CAR.  Got that?

4. A Bit on Paul’s Collective, “Orange County Organics.”

The Orange County Organics nursery, ‘way up north in beautiful Plumas County!

It was hard for me to understand – so I figured it might be for you as well – a couple of things:  Why would a nonprofit “collective” consisting of two patients and two growers have $9500 in cash floating around;  and why were the cash and pot at Paul’s Orange apartment if his collective was legal and licensed in Garden Grove?  So here are the answers: 

Paul, his now-deceased sister, and his two north-Cal grower partners were just the original four collective members;  at the time of the raid there were 23 “members” or patients in the collective;  $8000 was well within the nonprofit range for a collective of that size.  (The extra $1500 or so was rent money from Paul’s roommate – including rolled coins – they took it all.)

Paul formed the corporation in the spring of 2010, originally just as a way to get himself and his cancer-stricken Iraq-veteran sister their medicine.   Over the next year he looked for places in Garden Grove to open a shop, but the law at the time (as now) was like the wild west.  Everyone was breaking the law, but Paul was as compliant as possible, paying sales taxes and everything.

Garden Grove came out with a permitting process for shops in July 2011 and Paul applied, but instead of turning in his application took a wait and see approach.  Sure enough, this was the high point of the Federal raids in California, and each of these “permitted” locations was just being set up to be raided and its owners arrested.  Not only that, even though he had opened a bank account for Orange County Organics (see below) banks were freezing accounts of collectives and the Feds were seizing their assets.  So the wise thing was to keep everything at home, which at that point was an apartment in Orange.

The very picture of legitimacy. Click for larger image.

5. The Arresting Officers

I swear to God there are good cops, great cops even, in Orange County.  And I promise we will write about them some day.  It’s just that the MONSTERS tend to get our attention.  Milton had the same problem, I’ve heard, when he wrote Paradise Lost – the devils were so much more interesting to write about than the angels.  Same thing when it came to Dante‘s Divine Comedy – raging about Hell just flows more naturally than rhapsodizing about Heaven.  As the great novelist Tolstoy observed, “Every happy family is the same, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

When Paul told me seven Buena Park cops raided his place on 10/26/2011, I asked him “Was one of them James Woo?”  Just kind of showing off that I knew the name of a Buena Park cop – Woo is the sadistic, self-infatuated asshole who so much enjoyed putting away 16-year old Jesus Aguirre into Pelican Bay for life.  Paul laughed, “No, but one of them claimed to be.”  Turns out Detective Alex Hong, who later was the one to testify against Paul in court, likes to boast “I’m Jimmy Woo!”  I guess some of them consider Woo to be a badass of the sort they aspire to.

Hong actually DOES have something in common with Woo, besides both being brutal buffoonish Buena Park cops and being Korean-American – they have BOTH recently been demoted from detective to common street patrolmen!  Due to POBR (the infamous “Peace Officers Bill of Rights”) we don’t know why, but it sounds like a good call, eh?

But this next cat really deserves an introductory fanfare:

Meet “The YAK!!!”

The rudest and most ill-behaved of the contingent that came to Paul’s that night was a hulking, newly minted narcotics detective named Steve Yakubovsky, nicknamed “The Yak.” We’ll get into what he did at the raid of Paul’s house later, but he’d already had quite a history on the force, unsurprisingly leading to his now being unemployed a “stay-at-home dad.”  (Again, POBR prevents us from knowing the real reason.)

It was he and Officer Ron Furtado who murdered Juan Herrera back in 2004 at the end of a car chase;  Furtado pulled the trigger shooting Herrera square in the head (claiming falsely that he thought he was reaching for a gun);  it was the Yak who pinned Juan to the fence with his car so Furtado could do it.  This shooting cost Buena Park a whopping $5 million in a wrongful death suit, which is being paid to Herrera’s young daughter Violeta over the course of her lifetime.

Yakkin’ it up … but no longer on the force!

Furtado is now an investigator in Riverside, and as I said, Yakubovsky is off the force and looking for work …. but this did NOT happen as a result of the Herrera shooting.    In fact, he was promoted to detective after that – car theft detective – and then a few years later, SHORTLY before the raid on Paul, onto the highly desired Narcotics Investigators Unit.  And it’s thanks to the loose-lipped Yak that we now know the secret hazing ritual that all OC Narcotics detectives go through - they must down a “red Solo cup” of tequila mixed with tabasco and cholula.  They call that getting “fired IN” to the unit.

Perfect, eh?  Extreme abuse of the legally sanctioned drug alcohol, to give one strength and cred for kicking down the doors of those who would dare to purvey the medicinal weed.

How do we know this?  Because the Yak yaks about ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING on his completely unprotected Facebook page.   (A good rule of thumb in this age of Social Media – it’s sometimes not a good idea to offend a resourceful person with lots of time on their hands, like for example Paul Lucas.)  Here we see the Yak boasting of beingfired in” six days before the Paul Lucas raid.  Here we see him just a couple weeks later, on Nov 9, wishing that he could quit his new job.  And here we see his wife Tiffany revealing that he was driven off the force by his fellow cops.

Linked-in reveals the Yak to have been unsuccessfully seeking employment, for quite a while, in shoplifting prevention at various drug stores.  But I won’t go on, as you are not yet equipped to feel the proper schadenfreude over this, having not yet read about his behavior at Chez Lucas.

****

Damn, will you take a look at the time!  I guess this story will have to be a THREE-parter.

Next, in Part Three:

  • The Raid!
  • The Charges!
  • The Final Settlement!
  • Nadia Davis Lockyer!


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County. Performs regularly with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem, and at regular concerts at the Huntington Beach Central Library.