By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Wilson in November chastised Kading for making “certain inaccurate statements intentionally or with reckless disregard for the truth” on an affidavit seeking to search eight Numero Uno markets. The judge cited instances in which Kading misstated conversations or omitted others in justifying the need for investigators to search the supermarkets.
At one hearing, Wilson said a conversation with Torres’ brother, Manuel Torres, would have “negatively affected the magistrate’s finding of probable cause,” which determined the scope of the search — but that conversation was left off the affidavit by Kading.
And Wilson said he was “suspicious” about other Kading statements that differed from wiretapped transcriptions. “Each one of the inaccurate statements had the effect of altering the meaning of the statement to fit the purposes of the investigating police,” the judge said.
LAPD Deputy Chief Charles Beck says LAPD is reviewing the case and testimony, and is talking to federal prosecutors. “We’re looking into all of it. It’s too early to make a judgment,” he says, noting that the questions surrounding Kading’s work were aired before the jury reached its guilty verdict against Torres. Kading did not testify at the trial, and numerous attempts by the Weekly to reach Kading, including through Beck, were unsuccessful.
But Madison, in court documents filed in February, declared that, “The entire case brought by the government against Mr. Torres is based primarily on Detective Kading, who spent 20 years investigating Mr. Torres, including interviewing nearly every government witness. Detective Kading has also remained in almost constant communication with key cooperating witnesses and he testified before the grand jury.”
In court documents, Kading said Torres was known in the criminal realm as “El Diablo,” and that as Kading probed Torres’ dealings, he “became aware of all the criminal activity that began to occur around his stores.” At a May 2008 hearing at which bail was denied to Torres, his then-attorney Brian A. Sun argued that Kading was making “wholly unsupported and inaccurate representations on the topics of danger and risk of flight,” and that the detective was “too close to the case.”
Kading responded that freeing Torres on bail would be “awfully risky” and would jeopardize lives — and he alleged that Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley had been prepared to prosecute Torres for four murders. Cooley spokeswoman Jane Robison said the office could make no comment during an ongoing federal case.
The vulnerabilities of the case received far less attention than the more salacious aspects of Torres’ rags-to-riches story. Much of the media focus was on his rise from street-corner vendor to mastermind of an alleged criminal enterprise, maintained by intimidating employees and others using thugs and drug dealers, and including alleged illegal dealings with former public officials.
Levenson says the recent developments may taint the U.S. Attorney’s Office, even though the office acted properly in turning over the previously unreported batch of tapes, by affecting “the credibility of prosecutors” in future cases.