According to court documents, political opponents spied on two Costa Mesa city councilmen during the 2012 campaign season by affixing a GPS tracking device to Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger’s truck.
The claim adds a new layer to the ongoing lawsuit filed by Mensinger and Mayor Jim Righeimer against the Costa Mesa Police Officer’s Association (CMPOA), private investigator Chris Lanzillo and Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir.
It has been alleged by the legal counsel representing the councilmen that the GPS tracking device was attached in a “scheme to falsely accuse Mayor Righeimer of driving under the influence.” The defendants are further accused of “unsuccessfully attempt[ing] to lure Councilman Mensinger into a compromising position with a female “decoy” in a bar.”
“I’m in shock,” Mensinger said Wednesday to the Orange County Register. “This is like a (John) Grisham novel.”
The device, attached to the bottom of Mensinger’s truck, was reportedly removed and reinstalled frequently in order to recharge its battery and download the data.
According to a press release from the firm representing the councilmen, Mesinger and Righeimer are “alleging a vicious campaign of harassment and intimidation tied to last year’s labor negotiations between the City of Costa Mesa and the police union.”
The CMPOA had worked with Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir throughout contract talks with the city. Since the CMPOA has been named in the suit, the organization has sought a reimbursement from the city for legal fees associated with the councilmen’s suit.
Last month, Orange County prosecutors seized records, phones and computers from the offices of Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir in an ongoing investigation into the alleged activities of the firm who is accused of strong-arming city officials across California.
Both the law firm and the police union have denied any involvement.
“That is unfortunate, if it happened, and I can say the association was not involved with it,” stated CMPOA President Ed Everett to the Daily Pilot. “It is interesting that was not included in the original complaint.”
This isn’t the first time Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir have been accused of employing intimidation tactics in order to further their clients’ political agendas. Officials from Buena Park, Fullerton and Irvine have all come forward over the years alleging similar conduct.
Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir has since stated its intention to dissolve at the helm of several scandals in addition to Mensinger/Righeimer’s lawsuit.
Righeimer and Mensinger’s case is being investigated by both the Orange County District Attorney and the FBI.