LBPD Backs 'Somali Pirates' in Business Hijackings

By: 
Stephen Downing

Part One of this story was published In the Beachcomber’s Oct. 12 edition (available on-line) as told by Tracy Alcantar, 60, an owner/operator of the Acapulco Inn (AI), and confirmed by Aristides Gascon (aka Hawaiian Bob), his business partner, LBPD documents and video evidence that revealed an Aug. 25, 2016 early morning break in of the AI premises when Jimmy Weiser drilled the dead bolt lock on the front door and entered with his associates, Jerome Chiaro and Eugene Rotondo, the trio that Alcantar and his attorney refer to as: “The Somali Pirates.”

Evidence established that the LBPD enabled the “pirates” to take over the business without a court order.

Following publication of Part One the Beachcomber interviewed Weiser, who denied drilling the dead bolt lock that day. He said, “That was another time.” Weiser alleged that Alcantar “took that video and other incidents and rearranged them to fit the story he wanted to tell.”

The Beachcomber’s review of the unedited video and LBPD police logs dispute Weiser’s denial.

Weiser acknowledged that they did not have a court order but argued that the legal papers they had established their ownership. (More on the legal papers later).

The Beachcomber asked Gene Rotondo if he or any of his companions had a court order to seize the business. Rotondo said, “I have no comment. I am not going to discuss any of that.”

Alcantar said after he was forced out by the LBPD he obtained a court order the next day, Aug. 26, took the business back and later asked Sgt. Kosoy (the sergeant who sanctioned the takeover) to view the 8-camera (unedited) security video that proved the break in, all activity that followed and ultimately “new management” selling AI inventory until closing time that night.

After viewing the video Sgt. Kosoy refused to take a crime report, stating again that it was a civil matter.

Alcantar told the Beachcomber that both Weiser and Chiaro own bars in East Division, “that are watering holes for East Division cops.” He speculated that, “it had a lot to do with the cops siding with the Pirates.” He said, “Both Weiser and Chiaro have POA (Police Officers Association) plaques hanging in their bars.”

Weiser did not deny that LBPD officers frequent his bar but said that there is no POA plaque on the wall. He said the responding officers were rude to him, offering this as evidence that he received no special treatment.

Following publication of Part One the Beachcomber was contacted by a veteran, currently employed, LBPD officer. The officer – who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing retaliation – said that they had serious doubts that Weiser’s bar being a police watering hole had anything to do with what they said was, “a bad decision made by Sgt. Kosoy to allow a third party to take over any business without a court order or to refuse to take a crime report.” The police veteran said, “Incompetence and poor training likely led to the flawed decision.”

Part Two of this two-part story begins 13 months later on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at around 9:45 a.m.


According to Alcantar he and his partner, Aristides Gascon, 43 (aka Hawaiian Bob) were in the process of getting the Acapulco Inn (AI) ready to open for business. His head cook, Adrian, was present along with the AI’s two bartenders, Taylor and Ashley.

Alcantar said, “Two young women walked in and asked, ‘Are you guys open?’ I said come on in, we’re not open yet but what do you need?”

Alcantar continued, “So they sat at one end of the bar and ordered mimosas. Then I see this guy I’ve never seen before come in and sit at the other end of the bar. He didn’t order anything. It just seemed like he was observing.”

Alcantar said, “It wasn’t long before I learned that he was a locksmith and the mimosa girls were bartenders, all waiting for the “Somali Pirates” to hijack my business for the second time in 13 months.”

Alcantar opened a binder stuffed with photos and legal papers. He pointed to pictures of James Wieser and Jerome Chiaro and said, “A couple of minutes later these two come charging in the back door with another guy named John Austin yelling ‘it’s over. You’re done. We’re taking this bar over’”

Alcantar said, “That’s when I picked up the phone and called 911.

The time frame reported in LBPD radio dispatch reports, coupled with AI security video reviewed by the Beachcomber established that Alcantar was behind the bar with Hawaiian Bob when the three men entered from the back door.

Alcantar said, “I saw John Austin start to video on his cell phone when Weiser ignored our employees only sign and trespassed behind the bar, still yelling, ‘We’re taking over.’ I told him he had to get back. He kept coming. I shoved him back three times.”

Alcantar continued, “Hawaiian Bob grabbed me around the waist from behind and our cook, Adrian, put himself between me and Weiser. That’s when Weiser turned to Austin and said, ‘He did it. He did it. I got him to do it.’”

Weiser confirmed that he went behind the bar and added that in addition to being pushed three times Alcantar choked him, “And it took two people to pull him off of me.”

The Beachcomber reviewed a court restraining order that Weiser applied for on Sept. 29. He attested that Alcantar “pushed me several times, grabbed me by the throat and pushed me to the ground.”

When the Beachcomber told Weiser that a video tape showed him being pushed back by Alcantar but there was no choking, Weiser said, “There is no video tape.”

The Beachcomber informed Weiser that Hawaiian Bob showed the video to Officer James Stahmann and after viewing it Officer Stahmann said, “I don’t see any choking. I see three shoves.” Weiser was told that Officer Stahmann made a similar entry in his radio log, also reviewed by the Beachcomber. Weiser said again, “I don’t know that there was a video.”

LBPD radio logs establish thatimmediately after Alcantar shoved himWeiser made his first call to LBPD dispatch and alleged that Alcantar had committed battery upon his person. Weiser told the dispatcher “I am the new owner” and hung up.

The radio log indicates that 20 seconds later Weiser called dispatch again and said, “There is a dispute, the managers had a meeting yesterday and they elected a new manager, and the prior manager is not accepting it. He’s yelling and causing a disturbance.”

A few minutes later, the officer who would take charge of the incident, James Stahmann, arrived as did an attorney named Anthony Trujillo, Gene Rotondo, one of the individuals involved in the break in reported in Part One and another man named Timothy Moriarty – all of whom represented themselves as AI owners.

Hawaiian Bob told the Beachcomber that he was allowed to remain inside while Officer Stahmann ordered his partner, Alcantar, outside.

Hawaiian Bob said he saw the pirates and their attorney showing legal papers to Officer Stahmann. He said, “Pretty soon Stahmann comes over to me with one of the documents and tells me that these guys have a right to be here. He shows me one of their legal papers. He points to a line that says, ‘Belmont Station (the organization owned by the pirates) has a potential 45 percent ownership of the Acapulco Inn.’ I pointed to the word “potential” and asked the officer if he knew what that meant.”

Hawaiian Bob continued, “He just looked at me so I tried to simplify it for him. I said, it means maybe or maybe not. Maybe they own 45 percent and maybe they don’t. It’s potential. It’s a civil matter. It has to be decided in court.”

Hawaiian Bob said that both he and Alcantar asked Stahmann multiple times to call for a sergeant. “The pirates didn’t have a court order. Stahmann just wasn’t getting it,” he said.

The Beachcomber’s review of LBPD radio logs establishes that Officer Stahmann did call for a sergeant. The log also included a statement that there was “no rush.”

The Beachcomber reviewed LBPD manual section 7.1.9.1. It reads: “A field sergeant shall be notified by an officer and/or the communications center and is required to respond to any circumstance where any person demands a supervisor.”

Alcantar said, “Stahmann came up to me and said, ‘you can’t go around touching people.’ I asked him, even if they are robbing you? Stahmann says, ‘I’m trying to figure out why I’m not handcuffing you and taking you to jail.’ I said for what? Protecting my business and property? Then he asked me for my identification.”

“When I gave it to him he wrote me a citation for battery, Alcantar said. “He told me that Weiser wanted to make a citizen’s arrest and that he had every right to do so, even though the video Stahmann watched showed Weiser trespass, force his way behind the bar and then put on a big phony show for the video John Austin was shooting with his cell phone.”

According to Alcantar, Stahmann had him sign the citation, told him that a sergeant had been called, allowed the trio to take over the business and left the scene.

Alcantar and Hawaiian Bob said they waited at a restaurant across the street for a sergeant two hours before they finally called East Division. Sgt. Eric Golz, who took the call, refused to come to the location but agreed that they could come to the station.

Alcantar said they met with Sergeants Jose Flores and Eric Golz, at the station. “We explained the facts to them and they didn‘t really seem to care,” Alcantar said.

“They said it was a civil matter and there was nothing they could do,” he said. “We kept telling them that the pirates did not have a court order and kept asking why Stahmann allowed them to take over the business. They just shrugged and sat there stone-faced. Finally Bob said, ‘Let’s just go. This meeting is getting nowhere. So, we left.”

The Beachcomber asked the LBPD veteran for an opinion as to why the two sergeants would do nothing. The veteran said, “That’s how it’s done. They knew Stahmann screwed up and the LBPD never admits to screw-ups. They just let the clock run until it goes away.”

With the help of the Belmont Shore Street Business Association and Councilmember Suzie Price, Alcantar was able to arrange a meeting with LBPD East Division Police Commander Eric Herzog at Price’s field office on Oct. 13, 2017. Those present included Alcantar, Hawaiian Bob, Price’s field deputy Lisa West and Herzog.

Alcantar said he told the commander that he was “not happy with the outcome of that day, that it defied logic and asked how it could have happened.” Alcantar said Herzog replied, “Well, you’re a businessman.”

Alcantar said that he did not understand where that comment came from and asked, “One question sir. Are your officers authorized to turn over a privately owned business to a third party without a court order?”

Alcantar said Herzog replied, “My officers are not authorized to do that.”

Commander Eric Herzog responded to the Beachcomber’s request for comment and wrote: “The statements you are attributing to me are false.”

Hawaiian Bob confirmed Alcantar’s statement. Lisa West, field deputy for Councilmember Suzie Price, stated that she could not recall if Alcantar asked the question or if Herzog answered it.

The Beachcomber polled three former chiefs of police (one from Long Beach) a former LAPD police commission executive director, the chair of Law Enforcement Action Partnership and a former LASO police lieutenant and constitutional rights attorney with the question: “In your career as a police officer have you ever enforced, endorsed or supported a policy addressing civil business disputes in which officers were authorized to turn over a privately-owned business to a third party without a court order?”

The reply was unanimous: “No.”

Alcantar said he and Hawaiian Bob took the matter of the takeover to civil court. Because the judge who had presided over all prior litigation between the parties was on vacation, it took them five weeks to obtain a court order to retake their business, which was accomplished on the afternoon of Oct. 27, 2017.

Between legal costs, loss of business and inventory economic costs were in excess of $200,000, according to Acantar.

[Editor's Note: The following italized text containing additional details was held back from the Oct. 26 print edition of this story due to space limitations.]

Hawaiian Bob said, “When we first took the AI back our attorney advised us to sleep on the premises for a few days as a precaution.  And sure enough, they came back. On the second morning I woke up to the sound of a drill cutting into the front door.”

The Beachcomber reviewed video from the outside AI security camera.  It featured James Weiser drilling the deadlock on the front door, while his associates waited to gain entry.

Hawaiian Bob said he called the LBPD while he and his employee barricaded the door to keep the pirates out until the police arrived.

“This time we had a court order, “ Hawaiian Bob said, “but at first the police  wouldn’t honor it. They said it wasn’t in their system.  I showed them the paper with the official court stamp and told them that maybe they should serve it.  That’s when they backed off and stopped listening to the pirates.”

Hawaiian Bob said that Weiser and his associates were told to leave, “but the cops didn’t arrest or cite any of them for drilling our door or trying to force entry.  They said it was a civil matter.”

Alcantar said he paid a criminal attorney $5,000 to handle the battery charge lodged by Weiser. He was unsure if the city prosecutor refused to file or if the court dismissed the charge. He said his attorney told him he was not required to appear.

Weiser told the Beachcomber that he was not asked or told anything about what happened with the citizen’s arrest he made. When asked if he cared if a crime committed against his person was not prosecuted he said “I’m not gonna go there.”

Alcantar reported the takeover incidents to LBPD’s Internal Affairs Division in late October 2017.

Just short of one year later (Sept. 24, 2018) Alcantar received a letter from the Citizen Police Complaint Commission’s (CPCC) executive director, Anitra Dempsey, who notified him that his complaint had been classified as No Further Action (NFA)a similar disposition that Dempsey unilaterally applied to 490 other citizen complaints between Jan. 2014 and July 2018, according city records acquired by the Beachcomber.

Three days later, Alcantar received a letter from LBPD Internal Affairs Commander Lloyd Cox notifying him that his complaint had been classified as unfounded.

Alcantar appeared before the CPCC commissioners on Oct. 11, 2018 and appealed Anitra Dempsey’s NFA decision.

Alcantar said, “I don’t really expect a just result, but it will serve as another piece of straw on that corrupt LBPD haystack that might catch fire some day. Then, maybe we’ll get to see some change.”

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police.

stephen@beachcomber.news

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Comments

Another example of overall incompetence by the LBPD, this is a reflection of the corrupt and incompetent Chief Luna and his staff. Why are they still employed by the city. Mayor Garcia I am holding you responsible for these clowns running the department. I will not vote for you if you try a run for the 3rd time. I will delete you just like Luna used TigerText to delete evidence.

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