Q: What do downtown LA development, 137 lbs. of cocaine, Hugh Rodham and Pardongate have to do with MPLS?

Categories: General Archive
A: Everything, apparently

Just got around to last' week's LA Weekly cover story, no small triumph of reporting by Jeffrey Anderson, about a quiet, er, powerbroker in LA. One surprise of many is that much of the reporting hinges on cops and prosecuters in Minneapolis, specifically the MPD's Tony Adams and Gerry Wehr. They're remarkably candid about a 10-year-old case that continues to elude them.

It's a long story, and there's too much to summarize here, but the gist is this: Carlos Vignali becomes a suspect in a huge drug deal here in the city. His father, Horacio, is a real estate profiteer in downtown LA with incredible political connections (not least of which is to Hugh Rodham, the brother of the former first lady and current junior senator from New York.)

Adams, Wehr and local prosecuters get stonewalled trying to expand the case. Carlos Vignali eventually gets pardoned by Bubba Clinton right as he leaves office in 2001.

The story starts on a spooky note, with Adams and Wehr in the thick of it all:

Tony Adams and his partner, Gerry Wehr, smelled something fishy when they arrived in Los Angeles back in 1994 to arrest Carlos Vignali, the target of one of Minnesota?s biggest drug cases. The Minneapolis narcotics officers had caught the 22-year-old Vignali on a wiretap conspiring to distribute crack cocaine in the Twin Cities. They checked into the Hilton on Grand Avenue under names known only to their local contacts at the DEA.

Within hours, they say, they received a call from defense lawyer Anthony Brooklier, who represented an alleged associate of Vignali. Strangely aware of how to contact the visiting officers, Brooklier, a high-paid mouthpiece for celebrities and accused gangsters, wanted to know what the officers were up to.

And another salient passage:

The two Minnesota officers at the center of the Vignali case remain bewildered by the media?s portrayal of the father as a lovable advocate for his son?s freedom. Only after Pardongate was over did the White House ?inadvertently? produce DEA documents that revealed startling allegations about Horacio Vignali. The allegations flashed on the L.A. Times? front page for a day but never gained traction. Adams and Wehr still have trouble swallowing the image of Vignalis? money and charm being enough to move elected officials, including the county?s top law enforcer and the region?s top federal prosecutor, to extraordinary and inappropriate lengths. Their police sense is offended.

They are not alone. Current and former federal prosecutors and a federal judge in Minneapolis suggest something else was going on ? perhaps something more consistent with the give and take of big-time drug enforcement. Having shared their unvarnished opinions with their counterparts in Los Angeles and talked to reporters at the Times to no avail, they are astonished at the city?s ability to avoid airing its dirty laundry.

?You got that many people upset in Minnesota, you can figure there?s a lot of stuff that still needs to be exposed,? says a federal agent familiar with the Vignali case. ?But the whole truth will probably never come out without a grand-jury investigation.?

There's much, much more, and it's worth the read.



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