Police Dept

Police Dept


The influence of the law enforcement department with jurisdiction over your case cannot be overstated.  The police or other officers assigned to your case have enormous power over how you are perceived by the District Attorney determining whether to press or decline charges against you and how strictly or leniently to prosecute you.  These officers also are empowered with gathering all the evidence presented to the District Attorney.  Police officers determine how to depict their version of their investigation in reports submitted to the District Attorney.

Despite the current anti-police hysteria in America (eg., Black Lives Matter, etc.), it is reasonable to assume most police officers are honestly engaged in law enforcement.  However, especially in a small town with very little police department oversight or accountability, police misconduct can run terribly amuck. In the case of the globally notorious Palos Verdes Estates Police Department (click here and here), various corrupt officers engage in selective and non-enforcement of local, state and federal laws according to who the officers favor or disfavor.

The following are the typical ways that corrupt police officers may work against the innocent defendant's interest.

  1. Case Over-Weighting:  The level of attention and resources dedicated to a police department's criminal investigation should be determined by both the seriousness of the crime and the initial appearance of strength or weakness of evidence.  However, if that police department is corrupt and there is bias against an innocent defendant, even frivolous, petty, false allegations may get the treatment of a multiple-homicide investigation. This was the case with Palos Verdes Estates Police Department Detective Russell Venegas.  In the Victim's case, the innocent defendant also happened to have been the leader of the effort to save the City's budget by replacing the local department with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (at 1/3 to 1/2 the cost; click here).  Essentially, the Victim had spent years working toward replacing the PVEPD, while the false accuser's family had contributed financially to the effort to "save" that police department.  Given this dynamic, it is easy to imagine how each of the false accuser and the PVEPD used each other to maliciously prosecute an innocent defendant who both perceived to be their common "enemy."
  2. Evidence Mishandling:  This includes evidence destruction and altering.  Though a case in which the defendant probably was guilty, alleged evidence mishandling was the cornerstone of O.J. Simpson's defense.  Defense attorney Johnnie Cochran alleged, for example, that allegedly racist LAPD detective Mark Furhman moved the location of a bloody glove onto Simpson's residential property in Brentwood, California.  An example in the Victim's case was the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department (PVEPD) misrepresenting and excluding various aspects of the false accuser's actual statements to the police.  Exacerbating this misconduct was various PVEPD's officers' (e.g., Belda, Tomlins, Venegas) outright violation of explicit written police department policy requiring the PUMA audio recording of the false accuser's dialog during the investigation.  This is tantamount to evidence destruction in that the result is the same:  evidence that should have existed under policy is not available for the innocent defendant to scrutinize in his legal defense.
  3. Evidence Fabrication:  The actual fabrication of false criminal evidence against an innocent defendant is without question the most serious offense that can be committed by a law enforcement agency.  Such misconduct exhibits nothing short of evil intent by the perpetrating party.  In October 2017, Palos Verdes Estates Police Department one-time parking enforcement officer Karli Pooler fabricated her own false witness testimony relating to an alleged crime.  Please see below for more information.
  4. Defendant Defamation and Maligning:  The District Attorney often but improperly shall seek guidance on which parties are the "bad guys" and which are "good" or "righteous" (click here).   This creates prosecutorial prejudice that can drive the direction of the DA's determination to press or decline charges.  The police department is well aware of this process, and if corrupt and biased may defame and malign an innocent defendant to ensure charges are pressed.  The Palos Verdes Estates Police Department, faced with an innocent defendant who had campaigned to replace it with the Los Angeles Sheriff, apparently engaged in a "full court" press to malign the Victim.  Please see below and prospectively the PVEPD's sub-page within Back Story.
  5. False Accuser Backing:  The precisely opposite treatment of a false accuser may occur with a corrupt and biased police department.  In the case of the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department, the false accuser for a period of time was a convicted drug felon, had been declared a public safety risk by the California Nursing Board, was declared "emotionally traumatized" by a PVEPD Corporal, and even admitted in an audio-recorded PVEPD dispatch call, "I sound like I'm an insane person, don't I?"  However, none of that mattered.  Why? Because a) the Victim had led the effort to replace the PVEPD and b) the false accuser and her husband had contributed financially and actively otherwise to the group opposing the Victim in the latter's effort to replace the PVEPD with the LASD.  It really is as simple as that.
  6. Artificially Slow or Fast-Tracking the Investigation:  Depending on the circumstances, it may accrue to an innocent defendant's detriment to hasten or slow down various aspects of the case.  For example, Palos Verdes Estates Police officer Sean Crisfield appears in 2018 to have slow-walked his related investigation of suspected online Identity Theft by the false accuser or an accomplice (see below).  By slowing and delaying various aspects of his investigation, Crisfield was able to delay the timing of obtaining the identity thief's Verizon IP address beyond Verizon's record retention period of one year.  Sean Crisfield appears to have committed this offense on top of determining to neglect obtaining or not utilize other information available from the online source.

Details of corruption and misconduct by the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department, headed by Chief Mark Velez during part of the relevant period, can be viewed here.  The PVEPD not only violated explicit written department policy (by failing to audio-record false accusations by a resident the department favored) but also repeatedly provided the false accuser with explicit guidance on how to preclude exculpatory (Brady) evidence from becoming available to the falsely accused.

The following is a preview of forthcoming sub-page (http://www.defendant.com/back-story/palos-verdes-estates-police-department/)

Officer Karli Pooler:  In October 2017, former parking enforcement officer Karli Pooler committed the most serious act of police misconduct - fabricating a claim to have witnessed an allegedly criminal act that never occurred.  Specifically, Karli Pooler falsely claimed that while she was driving around in her Parking Enforcement truck to have witnessed Defendant.com's founder operating a drone on a specific date on which the latter never even touched the control device of any drone.  This was fabricated by Pooler in order to assist her misconducting fellow officers (Venegas, Barber, Belda, Gaunt, etc.) in their patently obvious effort to aid and abet the malicious prosecution by Cindy and Dan Dunbar.  To be clear, there is NO chance that Karli Pooler actually witnessed what she claimed; this never occurred.  Fortunately, contradicting testimony from a credible witness, combined with circumstantial evidence and the sheer absence of any evidence corroborating Pooler's fabrication, no related charge was brought against Victim.  Victim's attorney seeks to have Pooler subject herself to polygraph to prove her guilt in this vicious crime.

Sgt. Erick GauntSgt. Erick Gaunt is considered to be one of the most maliciously comporting officers in the Palos Verdes Police Department. In October 2017, a self-proclaimed "excited" officer Erick Gaunt deceitfully misinformed the false accuser that the Victim was within weeks of being arrested.  The Victim not only never was arrested, but he never even spent a minute in a courtroom (his attorney represented him in all hearings).  This same Erick Gaunt allegedly had engaged in police misconduct in 2013 during his re-submittal of a Victim-related investigatory report to the District Attorney.

Captain Steve Barber:   Officer Steve Barber has a long history of alleged corruption and misconduct within the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department .  While a sergeant under Chief of Police Dan Dreiling, Steve Barber gained the dishonor of being perhaps the only senior officer ever to be demoted to a lower level.  In 2015, Steve Barber's friendship/relationship with the criminally accused Lunada "Bay Boys" surfer gang was a focus on many in the community.  In 2017, Steve Barber was video recorded engaged in alleged police misconduct related to Victim.  This misconduct was reported to PVEPD Chief Mark Velez and appears to have led to an internal affairs investigation of Steve Barber.

Captain Luke Hellinga:  Luke Hellinga appears to have developed an improper relationship with the false accuser.  The relationship became so deep that the false accuser appears to have used a friendly moniker to address him ("Dr. Hellinga"), possibly related to Hellinga's apparent provision amateur psychological counseling to her.  Luke Hellinga was exposed in this regard when an E-mail he sent to the false accuser was provided to Victim during the 2017-2019 discovery process.  Furthermore, over the course of over a decade, police captain Luke Hellinga developed a reputation amongst certain Palos Verdes Estates residents for an incomprehensible deficiency in law enforcement.  Captain Luke Hellinga became notorious for refusing to issue citations to residents whose votes he would need every 9 years to tax residents' homes to fund the PVEPD budget consuming an astounding 55-70% of PVE's citywide budget.

Fmr. Chief of Police Mark Velez:  Mark Velez is considered by Defendant.com to be the most corrupt chief in PVEPD history.  Under Velez's leadership, police officer misconduct not only was systemic but reportedly rewarded by Velez.  In an example reported by officer Aaron Belda to former Chief of Police Dan Dreiling, Velez instructed Belda to attempt to bring an invalid robbery (211) charge against a PVE resident in retribution for his insisting on an internal affairs investigation of a PVEPD dispatcher (Hazel Menendez).  In an incredible conflict of interest, evidence exists that Velez was moonlighting as a criminal defense lawyer while also a PVEPD captain working with the District Attorney to prosecute criminal defendants.  While under Velez's leadership, in 2018 the PVEPD and its union disseminated knowingly false propaganda in order to deceive PVE voters into passing a parcel tax that partially funded the PVEPD.  The list of reportedly unscrupulous acts by Mark Velez is far too long to list here.

Det. Russell Venegas:  Venegas headed the corrupt, misconduct replete Palos Verdes Estates Police Department investigation.  Russell Venegas' myriad examples of police misconduct included baselessly misinforming false accuser Cindy Dunbar of his agreement with her baseless, false criminal allegation. Venegas also repeatedly violated explicit PVEPD written policy requiring the audio recording of the false accuser's verbal statements when she falsely reported alleged crimes.  Russell Venegas also failed to highlight to the District Attorney materially contradictory testimony of Dan and Cindy Dunbar - behavior that further impeached their credibility and supported allegations of perjury.  According to defense attorney J. Patrick Carey, Russell Venegas had failed in his effort to obtain a law degree and become a practicing attorney.

Sgt. Aaron Belda:  Belda is viewed by Defendant.com to be the most corrupt police officer in the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department.  Aaron Belda, in an act of apparent bias and discrimination, in 2012 falsified repeated, written and verbal victim-corroborating witness testimony.  This detailed, written and reiterated testimony clearly exhibited that the phone properly and legally obtained and used by a defenseless, naked PVE assault victim to call for never-dispatched police assistance was not taken by force (robbery) from trespassing/attacking assailant.  Appallingly, no warrant for the arrest of the assailant ever was issued by the PVEPD, which waited nearly five days to assign the investigation to Aaron Belda, who then waited until days later to conduct his assailant phone and E-mail interviews (the latter of which included Aaron Belda wishing the assailant  "Happy Halloween to you too").   The assailant never was called into PVEPD for in-person questioning.  Aaron Belda's misconduct reportedly was internally investigated by the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department two times in 2015 alone. The subject of one of those investigations focused on an October 2013 sex-related incident involving Aaron Belda allegedly keeping Nadia Amer in his apartment while her husband was searching for her outside.  Despite being investigated repeatedly by the PVEPD, Aaron Belda continued his corrupt misconduct.  In August 2016, Belda unsuccessfully attempted to deceive the District Attorney into bringing unsubstantiated charges against a PVE resident by making false declarations relating to a non-existent crime. In July 2017, Aaron Belda violated explicit PVEPD written policy requiring the audio recording of the false accuser's verbal statements when she falsely reported alleged crime.  Police sergeant Aaron Belda also received global notoriety for his reported mishandling as lead officer and first-on-the-scene to the death of Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington (click here).

Chief of Police Tony Best:  After being passed over  repeatedly for the Chief position, allegedly violated various civil rights of citizens campaigning to have PVEPD replaced by Los Angeles Sheriff Department.  Tony Best finally was appointed to the Chief's position after Mark Velez determined to make practice criminal defense law without the apparent conflict of being a PVEPD officer sworn to investigate and help prosecute criminal defendants.

Officer Sean Tomlins:  Tomlins, already notorious for allegedly "sleeping on the job," was audio recorded engaging in collusion with the false accuser.  Tomlins' misconduct also included multiple incidents of violating explicit PVEPD written policy requiring the PUMA audio recording of the false accuser's accusatory statements.  Sean Tomlins' apparent lack of dedication to his sworn oath seems to have led him to a very slow track within the department.

Sgt. Kenneth Ackert:  To Corporal Kenneth Ackert's discredit, in October 2017 he falsified in a PVEPD incident report the dialog between him and the false accuser, in a patently obvious effort to buttress false claims (that the District Attorney determined to decline to charge).  To Ken Ackert's credit, he diagnosed the false accuser as "emotionally traumatized" following a bizarre incident involving the false accuser's profanity-laced, paranoid mutterings relating to a recreational drone flying 200' over her neighborhood.  Four months later in an unhinged four-minute call to PVEPD dispatch to report that she could not log into a social media account, the false accuser admitted, "I sound like an insane person, don't I?"

Officer Sean Crisfield:  Sean Crisfield's "rap sheet" of alleged police misconduct has grown quite rapidly in his early police career.  Crisfield in 2018 conducted the corrupt PVEPD investigation of attempted Victim identity theft that was suspected to have been committed by Victim's false accuser or accomplice.  Sean Crisfield misconducted the process to the benefit of the alleged criminal by "slow walking" the evidence gathering process and neglecting to obtain or utilize basic elements of the alleged crime.  Sean Crisfield repeated this process during another alleged crime committed by the false accuser when in 2019 he determined repeatedly to neglect obtaining any statement from a prime witness who could corroborate the Victim's statements.  In 2021, Defendant.com received new allegations against Sean Crisfield from an apparent PVE resident accusing Crisfield of withholding and/or non-collection of relevant evidence in a domestic violence incident (see Comment Section below).

Jonathan Ix:   PVEPD officer Jonathan Ix's abuse of discretion established him as one of the most consistently misconducting officers in the department.  Officer Jon Ix has been recorded responding to repeated reports of illegal activity within the PVE community with actions of his own that have more acutely disturbed the same community.  Jonathan Ix's alleged misconduct were reported to Chief of Police Daniel Dreiling, who reportedly took no action to eliminate such misconduct.  Chief Daniel Dreiling is believed to have engaged in sham internal affairs investigations intended exclusively to defraud the community into believing he adequately supervises his officers who truly operate with essentially no oversight.

17 thoughts on “Police Dept”

  • I know the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department. Pure garbage and corruption. These are the rejects who “graduated” from Rio Hondo’s fake police academy but couldn’t hack it at the Sheriff’s Academy. Just look at the lack of fitness in the place. I mean imagine Steve Barber trying to chase anyone.

    • I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this police department’s officers referred to as the Keystone kops. They are a total joke. PVE has got to be the best place to commit a crime because these idiots couldn’t catch a dead fly with a 6′ flyswatter.

      • The one officer who has been labeled the most laughable – in a Keystone Kop way – is Sean Crisfield. Sean Crisfield’s apparent incompetence at effectively enforcing the law has become folklore in certain parts of Palos Verdes Estates. Defendant.com doesn’t find it humorous, though, because at some point either his being dishonest or incapable may lead to a tragic outcome.

        • [NOTE: While Defendant.com firmly believes that PVE Police Department officer Sean Crisfield is highly unethical and corrupt, the comment below is merely an allegation by a party who submitted it to Defendant.com. Defendant.com encourages the party who has made this allegation to E-mail supporting evidence to the E-mail address on Defendant.com‘s Contact Page. That evidence, if it appears legitimate, shall be posted in Officer Crisfield’s section on Defendant.com’s Police Dept. webpage. It appears that the allegation may be related to a domestic violence lawsuit filed in 2019 (click here)]

          Sean Crisfield alongside his other cohorts. Falsified refused to take a report destroyed evidence for the violent abuser, only to report a crime of Rigo B. Due to biases made a victim the criminal of assault, all kinds of other accusations. Which lead to other long-term defamation of character, and punitive damages.

          • If the 2019 case referred to above indeed is related to this online allegation vs. Palos Verdes Estates police officer Sean Crisfield, there is a remarkable coincidence. Commissioner Glenda Veasey was the California Superior Court Torrance courthouse Commissioner who denied the apparently illegitimate restraining order petition against the apparently maliciously prosecuted party who appears to have posted the comment above. Commissioner Veasey is the same wise adjudicator who, conversely, did grant the TRO in favor of Defendant.com‘s founder and against alleged harassing neighbor Cindy Dunbar in 2017. See Defendant.com‘s “Back Story” page for more background on that matter.

  • I’m in Redondo right now but have spent a lot of time in PVE. Ive dealt with the PVE Police Department and they are notoriously corrupt guys. They were inefficient in dealing with my situation and seem to lack basic law enforcement skills. I’d save your dollars and move to the Sheriff Dept. pronto!

  • Then department under mark velez was at its most corrupt by far. With him gone, maybe and just maybe this thing can be salvaged.

  • Palos Verdes Estates police officer Russell Venegas is an embarrassment to the badge. He is a lightweight physically and intellectually. Like his old boss Mark Velez, he tries to cover up his low IQ with educational degrees. He is not respected by many who work alongside him. He got promoted because people pity him due to his kid’s birth defect. He iwould be working fast food if not for this job.

    • NOTICE: The following public comment contains unverified claims and information alleging corruption by Palos Verdes Estates Police Department officer Russell Venegas. Defendant.com has requested of the comment poster supporting evidence and information.


      I’m currently in the process of suing this police department for something very serious . Anyone want to hop on board and help spread their corruption to news outlets ? Russell arrested me falsely both times. I’m a 95 pound girl five feet tall. He protected my ex husband someone with an extensive criminal history for beating a wide beater . Also after I was kicked in the stomach by ex hubby and bleeding at the scene Russell accused me of being on my period . Sexist and biased . Anyone want to help spread my story I have the body cam footage of the arrest as well .

  • EVERYONE with any true understanding knows that the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department is rotten to the core. And I mean ROTTEN.

    Imagine for argument’s sake I used to work for the City of Palos Verdes Estates. So I’ve seen these PVEPD officers and their tricks from the front row. From that seat, it’s obvious the real purpose of this crew of misfits – who mostly can’t get a job as a Wal-Mart security guard much less at a real police department – is to drain PVE of its tax revenues. Since the city is almost entirely dependent on property taxes for its revenues, that means the PVEPD sucks dry 5,000 or so homeowner taxpayers. Nearly 100% of property taxes flow into the pockets of PVE Police Department officers and vendors who sell the department unnecessary toys (like new SUVs every few years).

    The result? Every other department within the city government is deprived of cash flow. Worker compensation is starved, and employees suffer. The finance department – deprived. The planning department – deprived. The City Public Works Dept – starved. The code enforcement “department” is so deprived it really is outsourced to a guy who comes in a few days a week. This is why there is almost no real, consistent code enforcement in the city. Anyone driving through PVE and not looking at the ocean view will see how ugly the City has become. Weeds and dead trees are everywhere. The landscaping is embarrassing. Things go rotting and unrepaired everywhere, but at the Police Department.

    The result of this? MASSIVE employee defection from Palos Verdes Estates. Don’t believe me? The Daily Breeze wrote an article about it with this headline: “Palos Verdes Estates still reeling from mass employee exodus”


    PVE’s latest city manager – something like the 5th in the last few years!! – just quit (https://www.californiacitynews.org/2021/08/palos-verdes-estates-city-manager-resigns.html). Nobody with legitimate talent wants to work in PVE City Hall. It is the saddest place on Earth. One only stays there because they can’t get a job in close vicinity anywhere else. If you can get a job in Redondo, then that’s where you go. PVE fired its only good City Manager in decades – Joe Hoefgen – in 2011 (https://www.dailybreeze.com/2011/06/21/palos-verdes-estates-officials-city-manager-firing-not-due-to-any-wrongdoing/). He went on to spend a decade as Redondo Beach’s best city manager in the city’s history (https://www.dailybreeze.com/2021/05/17/redondo-beach-city-manager-joe-hoefgen-set-to-retire/). While there, he poached away PVE’s few qualified employees. People like Mike Ross and Stacey Kinsella followed Hoefgan to Redondo. RPV siphoned off various other disgusted PVE employees, like superstar Ken Rukavina (https://www.rpvca.gov/directory.aspx?EID=185).

    Others exhausted of the $ all flowing to the PVEPD just quit, like City Clerk Vicki Kroneberger, who was revered as a longtime PVE employee. Lauren Pettit was a gift from God as her replacement, but she soon exhausted from PVE’s mismanagement, joining Hoefgen in Redondo (https://www.dailybreeze.com/2017/06/28/palos-verdes-estates-city-clerk-leaves-for-redondo-beach/). I could go on, and on, and on with names of those who fled 340 Palos Verdes Drive West.

    And it all stems from the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department and their intimidation of every single PVE City Council member who dare even ponder replacing the PVEPD with the LASD.

    • As it relates to the correlation between PVE City Hall’s employee mass exodus and the PVEPD, “Ex Employee” has hit the nail square on the head. However, one should not blame the PVEPD for this outcome. The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the PVE City Council members who perpetuate this funneling of taxpayer savings to the PVEPD. Fiduciaries like current-Mayor Michael Kemps, Mayor Pro-tem Victoria Lozzi, and past Mayors such as George Bird and Betty Lin Peterson all have put their heads in the sand and let the city’s core staff and infrastructure disintegrate.

    • PVE just suckered another fool into the City Manager job.


      Mark Prestwich just failed his first test as a decision maker:. HE TOOK THE JOB!!!!!!

      How could anyone take this job after all of the nightmares suffered by those who came before him?

      Prestwich soon shall learn he works not for the City Counsel but PVEPD Chief Tony Best. Any dream he has of attracting real talent will be dashed when he realizes all the money goes into pockets of that embarrassingly incompetent crew of cretins.

  • Aaron Belda is named as the most corrupt officer at the PVE Police dept. He also is the most unintelligent.

    In 2020, he got some accolades for running into a house aflame searching for a guy’s wife. Well, that wife had been standing right behind Belda on the street! Give the guy an A for bravery, for sure. But he definitely flunked the IQ test. Uh, Aaron, maybe look around for a few seconds before running into burning buildings.

  • We live in a picture-rich world, where often one photo is worth a million words.

    Well, the following photos are worth billions of words. Just think about this as you view them. There is a deep well of evidence that the the Palos Verdes Police Department engaged in widespread police misconduct in its assistance of Cindy Dunbar’s malicious prosecution of the Victim on this website. At least one PVEPD officer guided Cindy Dunbar on how to avoid creating evidence that would assist her Victim at trial. Countless others violated the department’s own writen policy by turning off their recorders when they should have been recording Cindy Dunbar. This list goes on and on.

    So what does Cindy Dunbar do to show her appreciation for these officers’ putting their careers and reputations at risk? She puts a BLM sign, not once but in 2020 and now again in 2022 in front of her house. What do you think these officers think when they drive by her house and see this?

    Cindy Dunbar BLM Front Yard

    Now, just as a reminder, this is how BLM feels about the police officers in Cindy Dunbar’s neighborhood.

    BLM Defund the Police Poster

    BLM Street in DC

    BLM Defund Police Explained Website

    BLM #DefundThePolice Website

  • When a police department is as corrupt as the one in Palos Verdes it is only a matter of time before a lawsuit bankrupts the city.

    The hidden billion-dollar cost of repeated police misconduct

    More than $1.5 billion has been spent to settle claims of police misconduct involving thousands of officers repeatedly accused of wrongdoing. Taxpayers are often in the dark.


  • Aaron Belda who is head of the PVE police union is a scoundrel extraordinaire. He and his lazy goons on the force are attacking Dez Myers because she had the “balls” to call out their corruption and laziness. What is sad is that if she wins, I’ll bet she loses her nerve and becomes big PVE PD cheerleader, just like everyone else scared of them.

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