Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

Get while it’s hot. Chip’s latest book is a collection of his top narrative and investigative articles. May we present “The Vicodin Thieves: Biopsying L.A.’s Grifters, Gloryhounds and Goliaths” More new projects on the way.

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

In this stories collection 23-years-in-the-making, you’ll find 29 articles on a sumptuous basket of subjects originally published in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Los Angeles Daily News, L.A. Weekly and other publications. Hold on for the unexpected and the maddening, the heartbreaking and the mystifying. The feature, investigative and opinion pieces here by Chip Jacobs range from Tommy Koulax’s litigious, chili-cheese hamburger empire, Lockheed’s super-secret Skunk Works defense plant and the deadly, 1913-accident during construction of Pasadena’s famous Colorado Street Bridge, to the hazy, first casualty of Operation Desert Storm, chromium-6 pollution outrages, violent bus drivers and profiles of Southern California political heavyweights Richard Riordan, Danny Bakewell and Richard Alatorre, among others. Vicodon Thieves, which draws its name from a Los Angeles Times feature about pharmaceutical burglars who prey on medicine cabinets at real estate open houses, also includes expanded articles about a high-flying, smog-emissions broker who fell in with shadowy, ex-CIA and military-intelligence operatives bent to “repatriate” forgotten U.S. government aid from around the globe, and the unsolved, execution-style murder of one of suburbia’s most electrifying young mayors blocks from his childhood home. Two new stories grace this compendium, as well. One explores the prodigal life of an early, Universal Pictures director (the author’s great uncle, Nat Ross) gunned down in 1941 by a sociopathic drifter, who’d die in the San Quentin Gas Chamber for his crime. A pair of photographs of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., likely captured hours before he was assassinated in the kitchen of Los Angeles’ old Ambassador Hotel, inspires another original narrative. Few outside of the most ardent of Kennedyphiles probably realize how close RFK came to not being there the night America’s trajectory changed forever, or the cursed, Hollywood enmeshment to his final days. Published by Rare Bird Books  /  /  Barnes & Noble

The saga of Anne Sholtz and Rep. Joe Barton and a little hardware

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Texas Congressman Joe Barton, along with fellow Republican Greg Walden, last year pressured the Justice Dept. to release documents on the secretive prosecution of former high-flying, emissions-broker Anne Sholtz. Barton, a global warming skeptic and longtime champion of big oil, made news again recently for his comments that the federal mandate for BP to set aside $20 billion for cleanup of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill amounted to a “slush fund” and shakedown. Guess what? He was forced to apologize.

Washington Post story on his outburst, which was curious to say the least. Here’s the official contrition from him in an MSNBC update.

I’m just wondering when Barton will get around to explaining why he and House lawyers and investigators were chomping at the bit to learn more about Sholtz and what her air pollution-exchange scandal says about a  possible greenhouse gas cap-and-trade, when a national energy/climate bill was on the front burner, and why he’s allowed it slip from it from his political consciousness now that the bill’s propsects faded.  Could it be Barton’s entire reasoning was to slam Obama, via California, and shield the petroleum sectors? Naw, couldn’t be.

In any event, my story on Sholtz — and it’s contexualized and expanded in our book Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles – won gold in the Southern California Journalism Awards Sunday night. I dislike even mentioning this, because I am ambivalent about subjective honors, but in this case I make an exception because after all these years, there is still more heat than light about the Sholtz caper and Barton’s real motives, let alone why the Justice Dept. handled her the way it did and all that CIA stuff.

Backloading the news … been busy

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009


You want links? You got ‘em:

The fantastical cap-and-trade fraud story involving former Pasadena emissions broker Anne Sholtz and a cast of shadowy players has kicked up a bit of dust, and they’ll followups. The story, which originally appeared in the Pasadena Weekly/Southland Publishing chain and here, has now run as a two-part installment in the California Energy Circuit (click here and here), and will make its debut on this Thurday. They’re both terrific sites, but I’m biased.

The story certainly has tickled emotions about whether a greenhouse gas market can work without massive white-collar fraud, and generated some conspiracy minded notions about Sholtz’s entanglements with men claiming to be currency hunters with CIA, Special-Ops and military backgrounds.

In other news …

Has cap-and-trade worked where it’s been rolled out? A very good enviro writer takes a swipe at answering this.

The Station Fire that chewed and flattened and burned so much of the Angeles National Forest blew enough smoke, ash and detrius to remind Southern Califorians of their decades strangled by man-made smog. Let’s hope it stays nostalgia. Relief is here.

What’s the future of the San Joaquin Valley? Bleak without some changes. Newsweek covers it.

While we dealt with recession, terrorism, subprime mortgages, and rising Earth temperatures, California showed it hasn’t lost all of its environmental courage in setting standards for chromium six, a subject I know a little about.

AIR OF DECEIT Anne Sholtz & “Operation Bald-Headed Eagle:” a cap-and-trade tale unlike any other

Thursday, August 20th, 2009



August 20, 2009

By Chip Jacobs for the Pasadena Weekly

The demise of Anne Sholtz’s once-grand life is evident in the smaller things. It’s there in the GPS-tracking bracelet — standard issue for felons in home detention — that looped around her ankle for a year, and in her near-dormant passport. It’s traceable in her pillow, which rests today in leased home miles from the $5-million hillside estate that had broadcast her transformation from Caltech economist to business phenom.

Yes, the wreckage from that existence — the economizing, the isolation from connected friends who now shun her — is graspable.

Where the picture turns as murky as whisky-brown Southern California smog is how Sholtz, as a then-thirtysomething go-getter, was able to deceive the very air-pollution market she helped conceive, and the lessons that holds for keeping financial crooks out of the trillion-dollar, greenhouse-gas trading system that President Obama has trumpeted as a key to curbing global warming.

Unless you’re in the arcane field of emissions trading, chances are you’ve probably never heard of Sholtz before. Last April, the former Pasadena emissions-broker was convicted in federal court of fraud relating to a multimillion-dollar deal for credits in Southern California’s novel smog-exchange. Despite pleas that she sock Sholtz with years behind bars, US Central District Court Judge Audrey Collins gave her just a year in home confinement.

Fortunate with a light sentence in that downtown LA courtroom, Sholtz nonetheless sustained heavy losses outside of it, squandering, among other potential, her chance to build a unique and lucrative pollution-trading business, with access to Obama or Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as an industry confidante. Those opportunities gone, she now drives her mother’s car, not the Mercedes or SUV she once did. Rather than expanding her ideas into climate change, she checks in with her parole officer.

Blown prosperity for Sholtz, it’s been no bonanza for others, either.

Between criticism over its secretive, mixed-bag prosecution of her and evidence of Sholtz’s role in a scheme to extract millions in overseas US aid with men purporting to be American intelligence and military operatives, the Department of Justice’s LA office probably wishes she would just fade away. Local smog regulators at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), whose market-based regulation proved vulnerable to her deceptions, can relate.

Trouble is some events are just too big to disappear. And the Sholtz case, no matter its relative obscurity or connection to complex regulations, fits that mold because it underscores the need for vigorous oversight of emissions markets against seemingly inevitable Wall Street-style chicanery.