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A recent article in your paper about a meeting involving El Dorado County sheriff’s candidate John D’Agostini and the Modified Motorcycle Association has resulted in many letters from people who are angry that a surveillance recording was released to the media. Many accusations and derogatory remarks have been directed at the sheriff, the other sheriff’s candidate and the Sheriff’s Department as a whole. Some folks believe this was a “set-up” and some say that if this was a coincidence that he showed up during a surveillance operation he should still have some expectation of the concealment of the recording.
As a resident and voter of this county, and by the way I am not and have never been a member of law enforcement, I have my own thoughts and questions:
One of the main things that struck me as odd was why anyone who is a professional law enforcement officer and now wanting to be our sheriff would accept an invitation from the MMA or any other organization that has ties to a criminal organization. (Yes, there is proof of this. When you run the Hells Angels Corporation for its business associates, the Modified Motorcycle Association is listed as one of their business associates and vice versa. Also if you look at the MMA’s Executive Board and their lobbyist you will also find all the proof you need. It’s all there on the Internet). And he met with this organization not once, but twice. But to quote one of our own county supervisors, Ray Nutting, “Candidates have the responsibility to meet with constituents from any walk of life.”
He would know, since he also met with the MMA at least twice to garnish votes during his campaign for supervisor. And, of course, Nutting is listed as one of D’Agostini’s key endorsers. The fact that the other candidate, Craig Therkildsen, didn’t even respond to the invitation from the MMA shows that he considered it professionally and morally wrong.
It’s true that there are members of the MMA who are motorcycle riders who don’t belong to any gangs, but we know from having heard this recording (it too is available on the Internet) that their key interests regarding this sheriff’s candidate were concealed weapons permits and the promise of a non-intrusive law enforcement presence when these clubs/gangs hold their parties in our county.
I believe that when you’re campaigning for the top law enforcement position in our county you might want to use discretion and integrity in not only who you are meeting with to garner votes but also in the language used in these meetings instead of his outrageous statements regarding decapitation of deputies, the ease of receiving concealed weapons permits, etc. It surprised me how easily he reverted to “street language,” evidently in an attempt to earn votes.
As noted by letter writer Ken Harper, a retired federal agent, El Dorado County has been proactive in keeping gang activity from spreading from the big cities into our community. I would think that a great portion of this success is gained by intelligence gathering and surveillance. Keep up the good work.
Now I see in the paper that a member of the Hells Angels and other motorcycle club members addressed a meeting of the Board of Supervisors regarding all that has happened regarding D’Agostini. The Hells Angel made a statement that “a few bad apples” can ruin the reputation of any entity. It must have been the whole damn apple orchard that was involved in the melee in Harrah’s Casino in Laughlin, Nev., in 2002. People were shot, stabbed and injured when guns, knives, hammers and wrenches were used by these “few bad apples.” Again, if you go to the Internet you’ll see all the crimes and violence these “few bad apples” are involved in regularly, not only in California, but around the world. So my last question — why are they coming to his defense?
I’m grateful to the media for publishing all of this from both sides. As a voter I was undecided prior to all of this on who my vote would be cast for.