Are Orange County Deputies Trying to Kill Pre-Trial Inmate Josh Waring?

(Illustration by Jouvon Michael Kingsby)

CHAPTER ONE
Hearing how Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) management describes its jail system, you might guess there would be a line of vacationers eagerly awaiting entry each day. “Inmates have access to television, outdoor recreation, local newspapers, mail, commissary purchases (minor grocery-store food items and sundries) and special programs,” OCSD has proclaimed, as if selling a resort. “Inmates also receive medical, mental-health and dental care. Religious services and vocational and educational programs are also offered.”

Opened 51 years ago, the county’s Men’s Central Jail is, in truth, an eerie, drab, concrete-and-steel bunker that could have been designed by a sadistic 1960s Soviet Union bureaucrat. Though there are plenty of decent people who work inside, the environment is made worse by not only felonious individuals, but also demented deputies. These particular officers have proven over the decades that their barbaric imaginations know no bounds, even when dealing with pretrial inmates who haven’t been convicted of any crime and couldn’t afford bail while their cases snail-slid to an eventual jury.

That reality, befitting third-world dictatorships, has existed regardless of who is sheriff in a Southern California coastal county with a population larger than 20 states. Adding insult, the department is shameless in its counter propaganda. “[We are] dedicated to providing safe and secure facilities for those entrusted to our care,” OCSD reported. “It is ingrained in our departmental character to uphold the law and is professionally delivered with the utmost integrity.”

Facts show otherwise, as hundreds of Weekly articles have documented. In the quarter of a century of covering public corruption in Orange County, I’ve seen repeated examples of every type of deputy malfeasance, including blatantly unnecessary shootings and killings, destruction of exculpatory evidence for defendants, perjury, unconstitutional scams to aid prosecutors, rapes, misuse of valuable public property, falsification of official documents to mask colleagues’ misdeeds, and, for sheer entertainment, cell arrangements designed to fuel gladiator-like battles between inmates. When those events weren’t entertaining enough, deputies have fired paintballs at startled inmates sitting on toilets.

I’ve also interviewed dozens and dozens of citizens who claimed to have been abused by deputies. These alleged victims displayed fresh bruises, broken limbs and scars to demonstrate horrific experiences. And there are others awaiting trial who haven’t emerged alive.

That’s why there is real concern for 30-year-old pretrial inmate Josh Waring, whose mother, Lauri Peterson, starred in Bravo’s Real Housewives of Orange County series from 2006 to 2008.

Deputies loathe Waring for multiple reasons, including he played the primary role in exposing OCSD’s latest scandal over their illegal surveillance of inmate communications with defense attorneys and helped lead a hunger strike to protest the continual mistreatment of other inmates.

He’s now the poster victim underscoring the depths of remorseless corruption at Sheriff Don Barnes’ 4,000-employee department with a billion-dollar annual budget.

Illustration by Mark Dancey

In August, after hearing detailed reports that Waring had been beaten and psychologically tortured by deputies, I notified Barnes’ executive staff that reporters were watching. But instead of delivering jail safety with the self-proclaimed “utmost of integrity,” deputies may have responded by creating situations in which other inmates have gotten opportunities to attack Waring, which is quite a feat given he’s in a “total separation” section of protective custody.

Joel Garson, Waring’s attorney, says Barnes’ staff has “engaged in a scheme to severely injure or kill” Josh. According to Garson, officers retaliated against his client by concocting a lame excuse to move him for 10 days to the “HOLE,” a dark cell with a defective toilet and the smell of feces and urine. On another occasion, Josh was stripped, thrown in a cold cell, denied his seizure medicine and ignored for two days.

Waring’s divorced parents fear the worst. “This is a tragedy,” Peterson recently complained to OCSD staff. His father, Phillip Waring, told the Weekly the department is “trying to break him.” Or worse: have him carried out of jail in a body bag.

(Illustration by Jouvon Michael Kingsby)

CHAPTER TWO
For decades, jail deputies secretly trampled firm constitutional rights for in-custody, pretrial defendants who had been charged and had legal representation by enticing snitches to slyly befriend before questioning them about their cases. Such illegally obtained information was used without a judge or jury’s knowledge to secure convictions for prosecutors. The M.O. is simple: When those informants hit the witness stand, they falsely claim the government’s target confessed without prompting. They also testify they came forward only for noble societal motives—not personal rewards, even though they quietly receive cash payments, jail perks and, when nobody is paying attention, even reduced sentences at a later date for their own crimes.

What is known nationally as the Orange County jailhouse-informant scandal isn’t based on wild conjecture, as claimed by the sheriff’s department. Its ugliness has been confirmed not only by the more than 20 murder, attempted-murder and felony-assault cases the scandal has so far upended. In a historically blistering 2016 ruling, the California Court of Appeal declared that OCSD cheating went “well beyond simply distasteful or improper” and is “real” and, to underscore their 53-page rebuke, “grave.”

We learned last year that jail deputies weren’t just cheating with snitches to sabotage trials. At the same time, unbeknownst to the world, they were clandestinely monitoring privileged telephone calls between defendants and their attorneys while courthouse strategies and case details were discussed. That’s another constitutional no-no any first-year community-college law-enforcement student understands.

This newest embarrassing scandal would have remained hidden if not for People v. Waring. Defense attorney Garson discovered that deputies had recorded attorney-client calls involving Waring, who has struggled with substance abuse, and handed them over for investigation to George Maridakis, a detective with the Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD). According to February 2018 testimony, Maridakis listened to the recordings, and then shared gleaned trial-strategy information with prosecutors. Those revelations forced the sheriff’s department and Global Tel*Link (GTL), the jail phone-system contractor, to admit Waring hadn’t been the only abused defendant. Efforts to determine the true extent of the unethical OCSD surveillance is the subject of pending litigation inside Orange County Superior Court.

OCSD’s idea of “providing safe and secure” jails (Photo courtesy of the Waring Family. Photo illustration by Federico Medina)

CHAPTER THREE
It’s understandable why win-at-all-costs law-enforcement officials would believe they needed to cheat against Waring. Their 2016 attempted-murder case against him contains weaknesses. For example, two vehicles—a dark-blue sedan driven by Bryan Jason Goldstein and a white BMW SUV driven by Waring—were seen on the street near a shooting not far from South Coast Plaza. Daniel Lopez, the victim who was hit in the crotch, insisted the bullets had been fired from the blue sedan. Intense, multiday CMPD pressure to get him to place the shooter in the white SUV failed.

As I’ve previously reported, a police dispatcher had broadcast the following alert after Lopez’s interview at the crime scene: “Okay, the subject we are looking for, the name is going to be Bryan Goldstein. White male wearing a black-and-white basketball-style tank top. Tattoos . . .”

Goldstein is a fascinating character who loves to talk. A drug addict and dealer, he has been in and out of jail, often after securing incredibly lenient punishment. He’s also been known to carry guns, according to police reports. But why would officers quickly move from him in the Lopez shooting case to Waring? There are witnesses who think the cops got it right, but how to explain law enforcement’s decision to give Waring a gunshot-residue test after the incident–which came back negative, but not Goldstein, who was also detained after being caught in hiding?

Could the explanation be that Goldstein is a veteran police snitch roaming around Orange County’s drug- and white-supremacy-infested underworld? Three weeks before the Costa Mesa shooting, he was in a seedy Anaheim motel room where a fellow drug dealer, whom he went to visit for narcotics, ended up murdered. A June 2018 jury, which heard his wildly implausible account of events, didn’t buy him blaming another drug addict for the killing. But police did, and Goldstein escaped charges.

(Illustration by Jouvon Michael Kingsby)

CHAPTER FOUR
On Aug. 18, I received an agitated message. “Sorry to bother you, but Josh just called me, and he’s frantic,” his father told me. “In the last two weeks, deputies tackled him to the ground, [and then stomped] their feet on his back. During the time deputies were beating him, he suffered a black eye and multiple cuts/bruises. Deputies threw him into a cement wall. They refused to give him his seizure medication, which resulted in a seizure and him hitting his head on the cement. . . . Please let me know what you can do. He fears they will kill him.”

The sheriff’s command staff immediately received this message from me: “I have been informed that deputies are again abusing Josh Waring, a pretrial inmate in a suspiciously weak attempted-murder case. Please look into this for me. Just so you know, Josh’s situation is a top priority for my attention. And I am already aware of multiple law-enforcement shenanigans violating his constitutional rights.”

Carrie Braun, OCSD’s public-information manager, responded, “I appreciate that you’ve reached out. Do you have information you could share regarding the alleged abuse? We take all allegations seriously and will investigate fully.”

“The gist of what I’ve been told is that jail deputies have been unnecessarily aggressive and embellishing situations that supposedly require force and punishment,” I replied. “I also know that Josh believes certain deputies have it out for him and that he fears for his life. Obviously, I haven’t been there to know exactly what is going on, but I hope that he isn’t harmed/tortured/abused in pretrial detention.”

On Aug. 23—after Braun says she relayed my concern to the jail command staff two days earlier—deputies left Waring unprotected. 

“Last night, they let Josh out of his cell along with a 300-pound Mexican gang member,” his father wrote me. “The guy went after Josh right away. No one else was out of their cells, and no deputies were around. Josh is a very good fighter and dropped the guy, but [he] fears the next guy will have a blade or there will be more of them.”

Waring’s prognostication was dead-on. On Oct. 9, he was ambushed again by a more lethal threat. According to Peterson, deputies freed her son from his protective-custody cell and supposedly weren’t paying attention when another inmate emerged from beneath a stairwell. Unlike the first attacker in August, this one was armed with razor blades in each fist.

“Josh fought for his life for an estimated five minutes,” Peterson recounted. “Josh’s face was slashed from his left eye down to his jaw, requiring multiple stitches, and [it] will leave a very large scar. It’s a miracle his eye was spared. Josh was stabbed and sliced multiple times in the neck and chest and received no antibiotics as a preventative measure against infection. He is very lucky to be alive.”

She added, “[Josh] believes that the jail guards and deputies are facilitating these attacks.”

It took 20 staples and stitches to sew up Waring’s wounds.

“I was terrified,” he explained to the Weekly. “I thought I was going to die. Yet all I could really think about was being exonerated for the charges brought against me. After the attack, once I realized how badly I was injured, I worried about how the jury will perceive me when they see my face with the stitches. I am already an insecure person, but this has added to my anxiety.”

On Oct. 18, Garson hopes to convince a judge to either reduce Josh’s $1 million bail or issue a release on his own recognizance because the sheriff “can no longer guarantee his safety, either through deliberate indifference by deputies or intentional placement of [my client] in a place deputies know he is ‘green-lighted’ for murder.

But Braun disputes that stance. “The safety and security of inmates in our custody is our primary responsibility and a charge we take seriously,” she stated. “With an average of more than 5,500 inmates in the Orange County Jail on a daily basis, we are continually working to protect the inmates in our care.”

In September, in between the two recent attacks on Waring, and in response to a federal class-action lawsuit filed regarding jail-corruption allegations, Barnes issued his own statement, insisting that “claims of inhumane treatment at Orange County Jails are patently inaccurate.”

CHAPTER FIVE
Facts are stubborn things, though. Consider Danny Pham: The cosmetology student, whom deputies felt disrespected them, was days away from completing an 180-day jail sentence in July 2017 for nonviolent car theft when he was relocated to a cell with a man accused of killing two homeless men and displaying obvious signs of mental instability. The 27-year-old Pham, who had also been homeless, left as a corpse about a week after the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California issued a 104-page report outlining inhumane and unsafe conditions in our jails.

A pre-custody Josh (Photo courtesy of the Waring Family)

In 2010, deputies placed an arrestee on a misdemeanor charge in a cell with Brian Lee James, a psychopathic member of Public Enemy Number One Death Squad, the Costa Mesa-born white-supremacist criminal street gang in allegiance to the Aryan Brotherhood. James had just been arrested on several attempted-murder counts and, given his already-accumulated status as a violent Three-Striker, knew he would never likely emerge from prison. He removed the black shoe laces from his white Converse sneakers and began strangling the man, whom deputies refused to identify. The attack ended minutes later, when the victim’s eyes rolled back in his head and his body fell limp. Deputies then entered the cell and labeled themselves heroes for saving the terrorized man’s life.

But there’s no case as bad as the 2006 one involving 34-year-old John Derek Chamberlain in custody awaiting trial on a minor pornography-related charge. The Rancho Santa Margarita software engineer was beaten to death by waves of inmates for as long as 40 minutes after they say two deputies on nearby guard duty encouraged the attack. Chamberlain was stripped, sexually assaulted, stomped, punched and mutilated. His 24 ribs had been broken 43 times, as a gruesome autopsy showed. After the killing, deputies erased video footage of the shift, doctored official logs and huddled to devise an identical accounting of events, though they later insisted they were guilty of no wrongdoing.

The question now is: Are OCSD deputies determined to add Waring to that list of shame, and if so, will Orange County’s district attorney, California’s attorney general, the FBI or federal prosecutors care?

CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.

23 Replies to “Are Orange County Deputies Trying to Kill Pre-Trial Inmate Josh Waring?”

  1. `The question now is: Are OCSD deputies determined to add Waring to that list of shame, and if so, will Orange County’s district attorney, California’s attorney general, the FBI or federal prosecutors care?´´

    Evil has No Shame…

  2. While in the OC jail at Theo-lacy I had 2 months of relaxation with activities to include a culinary arts program, Christian services and yard time. The deputies were kind enough to escort us to chow. It was like having your own personal body guards. Cellibraty treatment at every turn. Life really is how you CHOOSE to see things! While on probation I had a great PO named Mark Long. He often came by to visit and encourage my lifestyle as a father and husband.

  3. Damn it Moxley please contact me. I have a story to tell of my son who has been treated the same way as Waring has. My son served time with him prior to me bailing out my son. I have a story that is more important than most you have published, my son story is one of a political move for California Law… Irvine Police Corruption, with proof and the District Attorneys office corruption with proof and the judicial as well being all corrupt and how unfair it is

  4. Robert Curtis
    You got Lucky,
    People Such as Kelly Thomas and Countless Others did not see Quality time / exchanges that way
    With the Heroes.
    Sounds Like a Vacation Setting, When are You going back for more R&R?

  5. I’ve seen the inside of that jail under Hutchens’ rule. The changeover from Corona did nothing to cure the corruption and abuse, and her retirement hasn’t fixed it either. The evil goes deep there, and most of the people working at the jail have severe, and I do mean very severe mental illness.

    The worst thing I saw there, and it was unbelievable to me, was a beautiful young black woman cowering in the corner of a clear-doored isolation cell completely naked, and I do mean completely naked, while male officers walked past the cell and ogled her.

    If you don’t think we live in a third world country, you’re mistaken.

    The dark underbelly of Orange County is beginning to fester. People are abused in their jails and no one bats an eye. Worse, many of the people being abused are there for non-violent crimes and are no threat to society at all–at least not until they face the abuse and torture of our jail systems and come out with a nasty case of PTSD and a genuine chip on their shoulder.

    Every time I think about running from the problem, just going to the country to live out my life in peace and quiet, I read a story like this and am reminded why I need to stay and fight. Thanks for the reminder Scott. You changed at least one life with your story today.

    1. 100% True and On Point deb. Ditto…
      These Criminal Parasites Posing as Public Servants
      Must be Stopped, Charged and Locked away in their
      Own Self Made Hell , that the people at large pay for.

  6. I don’t believe the OCDA will do anything to remedy this. They’re as corrupt as OCSD. They’ve yet to learn their lesson about complying with their Brady obligations.

  7. What about the victims of Josh? Josh already tried to kill them….I realize that hasn’t been proven in court yet but none the less……I think they might be in fear for their lives if Josh were to be let out! In fact I can guarantee that would because I am one of his victims! I never met Josh before that night of June 20th but I can tell you with 100% certainty the he is the person that shot at me, trying to kill me. I’m so sick to death of reading about how poor Josh is being mistreated in jail and about his he’s innocent of attempted murder…..I call B.S!!!! I saw him with my own eyes! If he’s being mistreated in jail well he probably has done something to deserve it. Don’t get it twisted….. Josh is not some innocent guy being picked on…… he is a menace and he sits where he deserves to sit! His mother can afford to bail him out if she were that worried about him but she likes him being in jail because it gets her ‘has been’ name back in the papers. It’s pathetic and it’s sickening! She really should be ashamed of herself!

  8. I sat on a criminal jury and the key witness, a Sheriff’s Deputy, was caught in a bald-faced lie on the stand. Everyone in the room caught it. Yet he wasn’t found in contempt of court, and I found no evidence of charges ever being filed.

    And if you think the Sheriff’s Dept is corrupt, take a look at the judges and other higher-ups.

    1. What are You Kidding?
      Does not matter how he got there,
      Everyone´s U.S. Constitutional Rights
      Must be protected, in or Out of L.E. Custody
      Those Violating a person´s Rights Especially Under Color Of Law
      are breaking Federal Laws and need to face Charges Period.

  9. My son is currently sitting in the men’s central jail waiting for his pre trial and his bail is set at $520.k I do fear for his safety in there. It’s bad enough the deputies treat visitors like we are criminals

  10. Always Remember,
    Injustice Anywhere is a Threat on Justice Everywhere!

    Does not matter how he got there,
    Everyone´s U.S. Constitutional Rights
    Must be protected, in or Out of L.E. Custody
    Those Violating a person´s Rights Especially Murder Under Color Of Law,
    breaking Federal Laws and need to face Charges Period.

  11. You are Right There, The Cops DO Run The Jail
    and how these Sick Clowns Run it Must Stop.
    Some of the Heroes in L.A. found out , Now sitting in Prison Themselves,
    This Lesson Must and will be taught here in Orange County!

    Take Care hardquestions.

  12. I unfortunately frequent said jail all three of them ( musick, lacy & central) and i can tell you first hand that almost every sheriff in that place is a piece of shit. As far as Waring goes he should have never done whatever it is he did to lock it up (go into protective custody). So as far as I’m concerned his credibility is crap the only reason i don’t think he is lying is because i know those cops and I’ve seen how they operate and the front the put on to all of you Naive stuck up residents (predominantly in the upper class areas) of orange county. I can honestly only think of no more than 10 deputies that i can say were decent human beings and treated me like a person and not a slave or a complete piece of shit. I hope somebody does something about it but it sounds pretty unrealistic and far fetched to me.

  13. from first hand experience the majority of cops in Orange County not just COs (correction officers). I’ve had circumstances in the past where I’ve been in similar situations where it feels as if the COs single you out. But I’m reality it’s not you being singled it’s how they treat everyone. Some of the most inhumane things. The COs no most of us inmates aren’t going to report them because 1, no one ever believes inmates 2, if you do say something they will make your life a even bigger hell. The worst experience I had was a CJX and I was being recycled on a 4th of July weekend. Basically the jail is full they move inmates previously housed back to the loop. The loop is the beginning where the cops are the worst literally despicable. Well you are only supposed to be in the loop for 24hrs I’ve been in their way longer besides the point. So now they take 32 of us inmates place us in a 16 man cap room. No where to sit or stand for 12 hrs well. This was going all weekend it was my 5th time being moved. That’s literally a shitty bed at night and one hot meal a day for 5 days. Needless to say people aren’t happy. Well the COs decide it would be fun to throw 5 sack lunches in the cell to watch us fight over them. Someone got their orbital bone broken. I’ve been a few pop offs (riots) but this was disgusting. Needless to say nothing happened. This is one of many incidents. I’ll be the first one to say I broke the law it was my punishment. I understand that but their is no reason to completely treat inmates worse then insects. I still suffer from PTSD now from the guards and cops harassing me for years. He didn’t start that hunger strike that’s a fact. I was inside during the hunger strike it came down from upstate. Josh could never pull that off he is a PC (protective custody) which is considered a “Blue Bender” and has 0 juice.

  14. Josh is strong, but wrong is wrong. God sees what’s happening, and HE’S pissed. I’m believing God for HIS justice to free Josh, and punish those who mistreated him. You ever see God punish someone for you, while you did the right thing? Wooo! I have. Pray and believe in justice for Josh! It’s already coming!

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