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Councilman: Law Firm Linked To Pension Talks Behind Fake DUI Report

COSTA MESA ( — A Costa Mesa city councilman on Tuesday said a law firm involved in ongoing pension negotiations with the police department was behind an alleged plot to set him up with a false DUI report.

KNX 1070's Mike Landa reports Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer was joined at a media briefing by other local lawmakers who claim they have targeted by the same law firm.


Fullerton Councilman Bruce Whitaker, Buena Park Councilman Fred Smith, Irvine Councilman Jeff Lalloway and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach all joined Righeimer at a news conference on Tuesday to call out the Upland law firm of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill.

"What they're doing is they're making elected officials make a decision between voting the right way for their community and protecting themselves from embarrassment, harm, or worse," said Righeimer.

Representatives from Lackie, Dammeier, & McGill denied any wrongdoing.

Righeimer was issued a field sobriety test after an informant called 911 at about 6 p.m. last Wednesday to report a driver who was possibly drunk.

The caller then followed the driver — later identified as Righeimer — from the Skosh Monohan's restaurant to his home in Mesa Verde and directed police to Righeimer's residence.

Now Righeimer tells KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that the person who called police was tailing him for a longer period of time than he previously believed.


"The person was actually following me the whole day, they were a hired investigator," Righeimer said. "When you listen to the 911 tapes, he's basically guiding them to my house."

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer
Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer (credit: CBS)

Righeimer said police arrived shortly after he arrived at his home on Fairview Road and Avocado Avenue and was given a sobriety test, which he passed.

After the officer "apologized and then walked away," Righeimer said his wife pointed out the officer speaking with a motorist at the end of his block.

"At that point, I immediately knew that I was being set up," he said.

The caller reportedly identified himself as Chris Lanzillo, a former Riverside police officer who has worked as a private investigator for the law firm that, until last week, represented the Costa Mesa Police Association, the union for the city's police officers, according to the Daily Pilot.

No charges were filed. Police are currently investigating the call.

At a news conference on Friday, Righeimer showed his receipt for two Diet Cokes totaling $6 from Skosh Monahan's from the night in question.

Now Righeimer alleges that the person who phoned in the 911 call may be connected to ongoing talks to outsource municipal jobs to private companies to bolster finances for the cash-strapped city.

"The issue here is that the false report was brought in and that person, it now comes to light, works for the law firm that our police association has doing their negotiations," said Righeimer.

Negotiations with the police union include a proposal that would give retirees 81 percent of pay at 55 years of age as opposed to their current 90 percent of pay at 50 years of age, according to Righeimer.

In addition to the Costa Mesa Police investigation, Righeimer expects the Orange County District Attorney's office to look into the 911 call, along with possible coordination with "several" other district attorneys from various counties.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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