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D.A. probing 911 DUI call on Costa Mesa councilman

Righeimer
Orange County district attorney's investigators are probing a 911 call  that resulted in a Costa Mesa councilman being pulled over by police for suspicion of driving under the influence.

A field sobriety test determined that Jim Righeimer was sober.

Righeimer, an outspoken conservative, said that the private investigator who placed the 911 call on Aug. 22 was trying to set him up on behalf of public employee unions that want to stifle his political agenda.

Chris Lanzillo, the private investigator who does work for a law firm that represents police unions throughout Southern California, has denied the accusation.

On Thursday, investigators for the county prosecutor showed up at Skosh Monahan's, the Costa Mesa tavern where the investigator claimed he saw Righeimer stumbling out before climbing into an SUV and swerving away. The tavern is owned by Gary Monahan, also a Costa Mesa councilman.

The D.A. also subpoenaed the security video from Aug. 22, Monahan told the Daily Pilot.

Costa Mesa police referred any inquiries to the district attorney's office. A spokeswoman for the district attorney, Farrah Emami, declined to comment.

A white SUV without license plates followed Righeimer from the restaurant to his home. Images of both vehicles can be seen leaving Skosh's on the tape, which the Daily Pilot partially reviewed.

The video shows a few frames of Righeimer leaving without stumbling. Righeimer said he had only a Diet Coke at the bar.

But Lanzillo questioned the validity of the quick sobriety check Righeimer was given because it did not involve a Breathalyzer test.

Lanzillo, 42, is a former Riverside police detective and works as a private investigator for Lackie, Dammeier & McGill, a law firm that represents police unions throughout Southern California. The law firm represented the Costa Mesa Police Assn. at the time of the incident, but said it had nothing to do with the call.

The law firm denies Lanzillo was working for them at the time of the call, and Lanzillo has since said he was on a separate investigation when he decided to follow Righeimer and call police. When Lanzillo made the call, he told the 911 dispatcher he was meeting a friend in the area.

The Costa Mesa police union has since broken off ties with Lackie, Dammeier & McGill.

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-- Joseph Serna

Photo: Jim Righeimer. Credit: Daily Pilot

 
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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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