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Sheriff in Mel Case -- Pants on Fire

8/20/2006 2:02 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

This past Friday afternoon, I landed in Los Angeles after taping my "People's Court" segments in New York. I checked my voice mail at work as we taxied to the gate and the first message was from an L.A. County Sheriff's sergeant. He wanted to talk to me about the Mel Gibson case.

I sort of knew why he was calling. The Department is obsessed with finding out who gave me the arrest report in the Gibson case. I've made it clear that I will not tell them and, besides, the law is on my side. Nevertheless, I wanted to play it out so I called him back. He was nice enough, telling me he was in charge of the "criminal investigation" into the leak and wanted to know if the rumors were true that I paid someone off for the documents. I told him I would not tell him anything about how I got the report, but I did mention that I have said on TV several times that we absolutely did not pay anyone for the documents. He thanked me, saying that I answered 80% of his questions, and that was the end of it.

Do you think the Sheriff's Department might also spend a little time figuring out why officials blatantly tried to cover-up the incident by repeatedly lying to the public the day of the arrest? Please understand, this is not about Mel Gibson. Frankly, I think given what went down, his punishment was far more severe than any other drunk driver in 2006. I can't think of anyone who was put under as much scrutiny after a DUI. This is not about Mel. It's about how arrogant the Sheriff's Department is and how officials clearly feel empowered to violate the public's trust again.

I think I've finally figured out the Sheriff's shenanigans the day of Gibson's arrest. As we reported, the Sheriff sanitized the arrest report and took out all references to Gibson's attempted escape, his anti-Semitic remarks and his bad behavior. It was done at the behest of the brass in the Sheriff's Department, and, even though he denies it, I'm told Sheriff Baca was involved in the decision. So officials told me and the rest of the media the day of the arrest that it occurred "without incident." A lie. I was told by a Sheriff's spokesperson that my information about what really went down was false. Another lie.

At the time, I felt the Sheriff, who is quite friendly with Gibson, didn't want to expose what happened on his watch, so he would arrange it so that if it came out, it would be the District Attorney's responsibility. Now I realize how dense I was -- I was totally off base. The Sheriff knew this case was going to be plea-bargained. No way would it ever go to trial. If it was plea-bargained -- as it was -- the arrest report and the incendiary video of Gibson at the station would never be admitted into evidence. It would be part of the Sheriff's investigatory file and as such protected from disclosure. In other words, Sheriff's officials clearly felt the public would never know what really happened with Mel and that they could lie and get away with it. Clearly, they didn't count on me getting the arrest report. That busted them big time. And now other lawyers have told me they've seen this happen before with other celebs.

So the Sheriff's Department is investigating why they got busted, not the corrupt process that officials sanctioned. And an "independent" commission is now investigating whether the Sheriff followed proper procedure. Well, let me tell you something about this commission. Three days after the arrest, I called the head of the commission twice -- you would think I'd get a call back if he were serious about getting to the truth. I'm still waiting, but I'm not holding my breath.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a slam on the rank-and-file in the Sheriff's Department. This is about the officials who feel they have a right to pick and choose who gets special treatment. Of course, they will do it again, and again. It's the way it works in L.A. It's just another example of "Celebrity Justice" in Tinseltown.

89 COMMENTS

No Avatar
1.

Greta    

I have no idea why this is any of the public's business. It's not a criminal act to be a racist or bigot. I certainly don't agree with his views but I think it's arrogant of the MEDIA to assume they deserve to know this information. I don't feel one ounce of "betrayal" by them scrubbing the report. The criminal facts were still there.

2953 days ago
2.

Alyn Brodsky    

That sheriff is as full of sh*t as is Mel Gibson.

2953 days ago
3.

noyes    

Sounds like somebody in the sheriff's department is trying to cover his booty

2953 days ago
4.

Jen    

Lisa, a.k.a "Devoted Fan," he's not talking about Mel Gibson right now, he's talking about corruption. I fully support exposing corruption and I expect many people here do as well. If you don't like it, don't read it.

2953 days ago
5.

Rick    

The Sheriff Department would have covered it up, Mel is a contributor to thier organization and money speaks even for the Sheriffs Dept. I believe that they were going to cover it up but got caught. I say KUDOs to whoever gave the report to you. That Seargeant you were talking to is trying to put blame on who gave you the report, because they could not cover it up, once the report came public. This BIGOT MEL should have gone to jail, this was not the Idiots first time with a drink drive. So we now see if you are a celebrity who donates large sums of money to them, they will cover up anything-Talk about incompetance...............

2953 days ago
6.

Cary    

Oh, Harvey. Please move on. No one wants to read this anymore.

2953 days ago
7.

Lisa    

Jen:
The point is, if your doing a story on corruption then show a picture of the sheriff without Mel Gibson in it. Let's not fool ourselves, corruption is everywhere, but TMZ wasn' even an after thought for most people until the Gibson story.
Look at the comment section, stories on Mel have more written than anyone.

2953 days ago
8.

Rick    

5. Lisa, a.k.a "Devoted Fan," he's not talking about Mel Gibson right now, he's talking about corruption. I fully support exposing corruption and I expect many people here do as well. If you don't like it, don't read it.

Posted at 1:57PM on Aug 20th 2006 by Jen
Yes he is talking about BIGOT MEL, he wanted to know who released that info, so they could take retibution on that person for allowing the public to see this arrest record that was suppose to be a COVER UP-When it comes to money even the Sheriifs Department will comitt illegal acts...So wake up, and smell your farts Lisa...THIS WAS GOING TO BE COVERED UP!!!!!

2953 days ago
9.

jeanne    

Sad, but true....celbrities often get a "break" because they have donated a few dollars to the cause...or, because they are neigbors of the person involved. I think that Baca is trying to stand up for his department. I wish he would nail at least a couple of the officers who were involved in the coverup. Any coverup is
bad. The officers should remember "equal treament for all".

2953 days ago
10.

Alyn Brodsky    

Hey, Lisa, learn how to count. The Paris Hilton slut has generated more comments. And on the subject of comments, I wish they'd run a story about Tom Cruise--now THERE"S someone it would be a pleasure to sling some verbal shit at. Or are you as taken in by that creep as you are by that bigoted Gibson bastard. (And by the way, do you think he calls his wife "sugar tits"?)

2953 days ago
11.

Lisa    

Alyn, so you got a problem with Me, Mel, Tom, and Paris. Seem like you got some issues. So I wont bother even trying to explain my point to you. Good Luck

2953 days ago
12.

Alyn Brodsky    

The only point you've got, Lisa, is the one on top of your head.

2953 days ago
13.

Lisa    

God Love you Alyn!

2953 days ago
14.

Esq    

Well done, Harvey. You're right, it's not about Mel. The justice system and the rules are there for a reason, and the LAPD decision-makers need constant reminding of this. Keep the faith, Harvey. Thank you.

2953 days ago
15.

layla    

Melg Gibson is an anit semitic asshole nazi and his antics should be answered, when you are in the public eye and are making racial slurs you should be reprimended, esp. when we are having a worldwide racial problem. if you are a fan of mel's acting fine but his morale character is weak and he is a LOOOOSER.

2953 days ago
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