Court of Appeal:
Present Offense Was Passport Fraud; P.I. Was Convicted in 1992 of Arranging, For Client, Beating of His Ex-Wife, Who Was Daughter of John Wayne
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district has affirmed the denial of a writ of administrative mandamus sought by a man who contends he was wrongfully stripped of his private investigator’s license by a state agency based on a conviction for passport fraud, an offense, he asserted that has no relationship to his role as a detective.
Justice Victoria Chavez of Div. Two wrote the opinion, which was filed Wednesday and not certified for publication. It upholds a judgment by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant.
The appellant, Oded Daniel Gal, had pled guilty in 2015 to a federal offense based on having applied for a passport in 2006 using a name, date of birth, driver’s license and birth certificate that were all phony. He was sentenced by a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to one month in prison, six months of home confinement and three years of supervised release.
When California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services held a hearing on June 27, 2017, to determine if discipline should be imposed based on the conviction, Gal explained that he needed a passport to visit aging relatives in Europe and Israel and feared that his June 15, 1992 felony convictions in Orange Superior Court would be a bar if he revealed his true identity.
Those convictions, pursuant to a guilty plea, were based on Gal having hired the two thugs who beat up actor John Wayne’s daughter, Aissa Wayne, and her boyfriend, Roger Luby, in the garage at Luby’s Newport beach home on Oct. 3, 1988. His client, who paid Gal $43,000, was Aissa Wayne’s ex-husband; the former spouses were engaged in a custody dispute.
Gal was sentenced to four years in prison on one count each of conspiracy to commit assault and false imprisonment and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. His private investigator’s license was revoked at that time, but with the revocation stayed during a probationary period.
Based on the 2015 conviction, an outright revocation was ordered on Oct. 27, 2017, effective Dec. 2 of that year.
In her opinion affirming Chalfant’s denial of writ relief, Chavez said:
“The record shows that private investigators such as appellant contract with public agencies to investigate crimes and perform background checks. They have access to confidential consumer information, including home addresses and social security numbers. Private investigators testify in court and sign reports under penalty of perjury. These functions and duties require honesty and integrity so that the public, public agencies, and courts can rely on the truthfulness of the testimony and reports….
“That appellant’s admittedly fraudulent and dishonest acts did no harm to any of his clients did not preclude the Bureau from disciplining him. The law does not require the existence of a victim before an agency may order a license revoked as part of its effort to protect the people of California from unscrupulous conduct.”
Gal contended that the penalty of yanking his license was excessive. Chavez disagreed, saying:
“The Bureau’s disciplinary guidelines provide that license revocation is an appropriate penalty for an offense involving dishonest or fraudulent conduct. Appellant admitted to multiple acts of dishonesty in furtherance of the crime for which he was convicted. He admitted making false statements in an application for a Nevada driver’s license and in the State of New York in an application for a certified copy of a birth certificate. Appellant had a prior disciplinary record. He expressed no remorse for his actions. The delay between the appellant’s commission of the crime and his conviction and revocation of his license does not mitigate the seriousness of his offense or his multiple acts of dishonesty.”
The case is Gal v. Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, B296963.
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