An organized crime investigation into the ZZZZ Best carpet cleaning company has produced evidence that a deputy district attorney leaked confidential information to one of the key suspects, police officials said.
The state attorney general's office has been asked to consider obstruction of justice charges against Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Edward Consiglio, who has been on paid leave for seven months pending the results of the inquiry, Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. William Booth said Thursday.
According to police documents, Consiglio, 47, a prosecutor with 14 years experience, "warned" two Encino men that they "and other organized crime figures" were under surveillance. The documents allege that Consiglio became "close friends" with one of the men, Maurice Rind, who has two felony convictions, and tapped a law enforcement computer on his behalf.
"We think there is evidence that Consiglio committed a crime that needs to be considered by a prosecutor to determine if the evidence is sufficient to prosecute," Booth said.
The case was turned over to the attorney general in December, he said, to avoid the conflict of interest that would result if the district attorney's office was asked to prosecute one of its own members.
Deputy Atty. Gen. Charlene Hanaka, who is handling the case for the state prosecutor's office, would not comment on the inquiry.
Consiglio, who was assigned to the prosecutor's Van Nuys office, declined to be interviewed. But according to police records, he acknowledged to detectives that he and Rind were friends, and that he had gotten some information for Rind. Consiglio told investigators "he hoped he had not done anything wrong," the documents say.
"I think the whole matter will be resolved favorably to him," said Consiglio's lawyer, Mitchell Egers. "Consiglio never engaged in anything improper, unethical or illegal."
Consiglio had a "minimal kind of contact" with Rind, Egers said, and knew only that "Rind had been convicted of what he thought was a technical offense of being an undisclosed officer in a brokerage house."
But Rind, who served prison terms for stock and mail fraud in the 1970s, said in an interview this week that he and Consiglio had been friends since 1984, and that he recommended commodity, stock and art purchases for Consiglio.
Rind said Consiglio only gave him public information on motor vehicle violations, however, and he termed ludicrous police allegations that he is linked to organized crime.
'Not a Criminal'
"I am not a criminal," Rind said. "I have never been a criminal. I don't have to know criminals to make money."
The case against Consiglio was compiled by the police Organized Crime Intelligence Division, which has been investigating ZZZZ Best for nearly a year. A separate, federal investigation resulted in the indictment last month of ZZZZ Best founder Barry Minkow and 10 others on fraud and racketeering charges. Three of the defendants have since pleaded guilty.
Neither Rind, 49, nor his business partner, Richard Schulman, 53, have been arrested or charged in the ZZZZ Best case, but police reports submitted to a congressional subcommittee described them as behind-the-scenes financiers and advisers to the company.
ZZZZ Best, founded by Minkow in his parents' Reseda garage, collapsed last July amid allegations that grossly inflated revenue reports had helped it become a hot stock on Wall Street, earning fortunes for the 21-year-old Minkow and others. Police said that Rind and Schulman earned more than $1 million each on one stock deal alone.
The allegations against Consiglio are outlined in lengthy, still-sealed affidavits filed by police to support search warrants served in the case last summer. The affidavits, examined by The Times, allege that:
- Consiglio warned Rind and Schulman that they and others were being watched by police. The police reports filed with the congressional panel, which held two hearings on ZZZZ Best, say that Rind "has connections with organized crime" and that Schulman is "a reputed associate of the Genovese crime family."
- Consiglio, "under the direction" of Rind, obtained information about another suspect in the ZZZZ case, Ronnie A. Lorenzo, the manager of Malibu's Splash restaurant, who is identified in the police reports as a reputed member of the Bonanno family.
The information was allegedly retrieved by Consiglio from the National Crime Information Center, a confidential computerized data network open only to law enforcement officials. It is a misdemeanor to give information from the network to people not authorized to receive it.
- Consiglio continued a relationship with Rind even after Police Chief Daryl F. Gates told a news conference last July that Rind was a suspect in his department's investigation of organized crime families' use of ZZZZ Best and other companies to "launder" profits from narcotics sales and other illegal activities.