Councilman Jose F. Moreno, OC Democratic Party Chair Ada Briceno and the other 20 defendants being prosecuted for illegally shutting down the busy Harbor Boulevard/Katella Avenue intersection are all being represented by the same lawyer: criminal defense attorney: Fred Thiagarajah, a former deputy district attorney.
Thiagarajah’s criminal defense practice includes theft, fraud, DUI, violent offenses, drug crimes, domestic violence and sex crimes.
According to our sources, he has a reputation as a smart, resourceful lawyer. Client testimonials sing his praises. “K.R” – charged with domestic violence – writes:
“I had also contacted many other lawyers and was told my situation was bleak. From our first conversation, Fred assured me that I had a strong defense and we could prevail at trial. Fred was absolutely correct!! We prevailed after trial attaining an acquittal within only 45 minutes!!!”
“R.G.” – charged with sexual penetration of a minor – writes:
“I was involved in a SERIOUS crimial case and was sentenced minor jail time as well as 5 years of FORMAL probation, and later, with an oppertunity for a reduction of probation (17b motion). Fred not only helped me get through this very difficult process with encouragement, but helped me achieve relief from probation just under half of my probation time (2yr 4mo.) which is UNHEARD OF! He even swayed the judge to get my Felony charge reduced to a Misdemeanor even when I had a probation violation!“
“M.H.” – whom Thiagarajah represented against charges of felony burglary and a 3rd DUI – writes:
“I highly recommend Fred and would hire him again without hesitation.”
Moreno, Briceno and company appear to be in good criminal defense hands.
It’s unclear who is paying for Mr. Thiagarajah’s services, although the fact he is representing all 21 defendants suggests a single organization is paying the tab and retained his services even prior to the actual arrests.
Present at the January protest was a young attorney holding a banker’s box labeled “arrest materials”:
If that is the case, Councilman Moreno will have to report the value of his legal representation as a gift – unless he is paying his pro rated share of Mr. Thiagarajah’s services himself.
OC Left Glorifying The Illegal Protest
In the wake of the D.A.’s announcement, UNITE-HERE and its allies have been glorifying the arrestees – particularly Moreno:
UNITE-HERE Local 11 Co-President and OC Democratic Party Chair Ada Briceno compared the carefully choreographed arrests of her and her comrades to the genuine peril faced by civil rights pioneer John Lewis:
Really? Briceno, Moreno and their comrades were gently, courteously arrested in a staged protest, taken to a mobile processing center and released. Lewis actually put his life on the line, suffering numerous beatings from police and civilians, assaults and tear gassing while fighting for genuine civil rights.
In a Voice of OC article earlier this week, Moreno rationalized the shut down of Katella and Harbor by claiming “We didn’t harm, no one was harmed by our action directly. There was inconvenience.”
“Whatever consequences may come my way, and also for the other 20 [are] certainly well worth the consequence if it means the backbone of our economy – our hotel workers, our hospitality industry workers” receive “fair, dignified wages,” health care for them and families, and a panic button for safety at their jobs, which Moreno said they did receive. “They are the backbone of our economy. They deserve it,” Moreno said.
One can certainly dispute Moreno’s minimizing of the harm caused – but when did that become an excuse for deliberately violating the law – especially by an elected official? Again, this is where these gratuitous, self-congratulatory comparisons to the Civil Rights Era fall short. Those civil rights activists were civilly disobeying the unjust laws themselves. Moreno and Briceno were just breaking the law – unless they’re contending Anaheim Municipal Code Section 7.28.010.010’s prohibition against loitering is unjust.
Moreno went on with the Voice of OC:
“As a council member, I should be treated equal to all others, as an elected official. And the DA in his campaign made very clear that nobody is above the law in our county, and that he would act accordingly. And so I appreciate him holding up his campaign commitments to the people of Orange County,” Moreno said.
Equal? Could the rest of us march out and form a drum circle in a busy intersection, shut down traffic for miles around and be rewarded with kid-glove treatment and a top-notch defense attorney pre-ordered by a powerful political ally?
The behavior and rhetoric of Moreno, Briceno and their cohort brings to mind Eric Hoffer’s observation: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
When it comes to hotel union politics in Anaheim, it appears to be well into the racket phase.