By now the whole world knows that John Lee, Los Angeles City Councilmember for District 12, formerly chief of staff to now-indicted former CD12 rep Mitch Englander, accompanied his boss to Las Vegas in June of 2017 to be plied with liquor, money, and sex in exchange for the usual list of favors to real estate developers. And Lee, known as City Staffer B in the indictments issued so far, admits going on the trip but denies receiving anything untoward or engaging in suspect or illegal activities.
And even though Englander’s indictment doesn’t mention anything leading up to that June 2017 trip, it’s clear that he and surely also John Lee had to have been conspiring with the developer for a while. Without a lot of prior discussion and understandings how would these conspirators have trusted one another enough to offer and accept such blatantly corrupt incentives? The indictment refers repeatedly to text messages between Englander, Lee, and the corrupt developers, so at least some of the pre-Vegas communication probably took place via cell phone.
And the City issues cell phones to Councilmembers and selected staff. While most criminals can probably understand that it’s a bad idea to arrange crimes on your work phone, it’s not impossible that Lee1 didn’t realize this at first. Regardless of the wily criminal tendencies of these political thugs they’re not bright people or at least have astonishingly poor impulse control. So perhaps early on Lee did use his work phone to communicate with his co-conspirators?2 And maybe at some point he realized that he might be leaving evidence by doing so? Which is speculation, of course.
But speculation or not it would certainly explain the highly suspicious fact that in January 2017 Lee asked his aide Brandy Turnbow if it were possible to get detailed billing records for his work phone from Verizon. By that time he’d worked for the City of Los Angeles for more than 20 years and yet the question hadn’t come up for him before his boss was running a criminal conspiracy out of City Hall. So Turnbow emailed Matthew Webster of Verizon asking him about it. And after a lot of tedious discussion he sent her the information she requested as an email attachment.
Which was tremendously good luck, because of course City emails and their attachments are public records. Which is how I laid hands on one of the most remarkable documents I’ve had the good fortune to receive during my long career of requesting public records. This is a detailed 300+ page3 call-by-call log of CD12 work phone activity from October 2016 through January 2017.4 It has all of Mitch Englander’s work phone calls, all of John Lee’s, and also other staffers. It includes not only the number called but the location of the caller’s phone when the call was made.
Continue reading In January 2017 — When The Mitch Englander CD12 Crime Conspiracy Must Already Have Been Busily Whirring Away — City Staffer B — Which Is To Say John Lee — Asked His Assistant Brandy Turnbow To Get A Copy Of His Detailed Phone Log From Verizon — Could He Have Been Using His Work Phone To Do Crimes? — Worried About What Lurid Or Incriminating Information He’d Spilled? — And Turnbow Did Get Them From Verizon — Via Email! — Which Is How I Came To Have Copies Of John Lee’s Phone Logs! — And Mitch Englander’s! — For November And December 2016 — Including Number Called And Location Of Lee/Englander At Time Of Call! — They’re Not Quite Formatted Enough To Search Or Sort Reliably — But Here They Are For To Exercise Your Detective Skills! — Like An Easter Egg Hunt For Grownups!