DA Reviews Takasugi/SVPD Issue

The VC Star is reporting that District Attorney Totten is reviewing the allegation that the Simi Valley Police delayed the Takasugi fraud investigation until after the Mayoral election. Of course, the suggestion here is that Takasugi’s former partner, Mayor-elect Bob Huber, was protected by the SVPD by this move.

As someone who was outspokenly against the Bob Huber campaign in the final months of the campaign cycle, I immediately took notice when these headlines appeared. However, there are two things to consider before rushing to judgment: 1) what is motivating the attorney to make those statements and 2) how normal is a 3 week training period for an investigator (the official cause for the delay of the investigation).

Regarding the attorney who made the allegation in court, Roger Stanard, he’s probably quite effective at his job. If an attorney can identify a situation like the Takasugi and Huber relationship, as well as the heated election for Simi Valley Mayor, it won’t take much time for him to determine that he benefits to make an issue of it. He can comfortably make the accusation and know that the sensitive topic of our election will result in headlines which could easily result in an investigation or review by the DA. This is just cause for a continuance, where the attorney can have more time to prepare, or better yet, leverage all evidence obtained by a police investigation that is suddenly pushed forward due to public pressure. So far, this only tells us that the victims in this case have a very skilled attorney.

Keep in mind, the attorney was armed with the details of this case since June, but waited until 2 weeks before the election to file the crime report. It’s a fair bet that he knew what he was doing..

On to the other point, there are plenty who believe the Simi PD’s explanation that the investigator was in the middle of 3 weeks of training is just an excuse. It’s actually quite believable that training is something that causes unwanted delays from time to time, and it’s very believable that this is something that can continue to happen in the future. To better understand, you need to consider the basis of the Simi Valley POA contract dispute. Although I don’t know the finer details, I do have some insight at a high level that I’ve put together from input from both sides of the dispute.

Our City believes that the Police Department should implement mandatory rotation of job specialties. For example, a homicide detective might rotate into a position as a fraud investigator after a set period of time. This would give the detective multiple skills and provide redundancy and backup in the department. However, the department looks at this unfavorably. For them, it prevents them from sharpening their skills to the finest because they are effectively switching jobs. They require training on every rotation. Some detectives look for careers outside of the SVPD because of this.

Here’s the inside story on the delays in the Takasugi case. A seasoned homicide detective recently retired because he didn’t want to rotate. Another homicide detective was recently promoted. This opens two homicide positions. There are two “white collar crime” detectives, one of whom recently left, also due to the unfavorable position on rotations. The other took one of the open homicide detective positions. This new homicide detective is important here, so remember him as I continue.

With homicide partially covered, a new detective was needed to cover the now open white collar crimes investigations. The new “white collar crime” detective is a newly promoted patrol officer. This case goes to him. As a new detective, he needs to lean on someone with the expertise in cases like these. The new detective’s mentor? That would be the new homicide detective mentioned above, recently moved from his previous “white collar crime” position. Unfortunately, he was in training, in two different schools in fact. One of them was for investigating homicides.

The training situation is true… not an excuse. And it’s reflective of a serious problem in our department. Blaming either the City or the PD for the problem seems much less relevant to me than fixing the problem.

Regarding the Takasugi case, regardless of when the investigation starts, should have started, or if it has already started, everyone agrees that there appears to be a crime that has been committed. Since a criminal report has been filed and an investigation is about to happen, it’s almost a sure thing that justice will be served and he will be arrested. As to whether or not Takasugi will be indicted, that will be up to the District Attorney. And as far as whether or not Takasugi will suffer civil damages, my suspicion is that Attorney Roger Stanard will be very effective at making that happen.