|Homophobia in Mendocino County, California|
Mendo's Operation Hetero
by Bruce Anderson
Official Mendocino County is awfully slow to adjust to contemporary realities, as the startling ordeal of a gay Ukiah man named Marc Tosca illustrates.
In December of 1990, Tosca and his late partner, Harry Kirkpatrick, bought the 527-acre Eagle Springs Ranch west of the county seat. Upon purchasing the ranch, one of the couple's first acts was to hang their framed "Domestic Partner Certificate" on the wall of their livingroom. As Mr. Tosca has since pointed out, "Should anyone for whatever reason have a problem with same that is certainly their right and they can simply elect not to work at Eagle Springs. One would think that indeed it would end there."
One would think, but this is Mendocino County where the thinking is often after the fact.
The "it" couldn't have been made any more evident, short of a billboard announcement at the ranch gate, and of the many people who worked for Mr. Tosca over the years only one career criminal attempted to convert "it" to cash, an attempt so wildly implausible one staggers at the official stupidity that acted on it.
On the afternoon of September 24th of 1998, Mr. Tosca arrived at the gate to his property west of Ukiah. He was unaware that the man in the car with him was an undercover cop posing as a prospective ranch hand. As Mr. Tosca emerged from his car to open the gate to his home, a stentorian male voice boomingly demanded, "Sheriff's Department, hold it right there, hold it right there, hold it right there! Put your hands in the air! Right now!"
Mr. Tosca, who is disabled and elderly, was then loudly directed to "Get down on the ground, right now, on your knees, on your knees! Let's go! Don't fuck around! Don't you reach in your pocket!"
The Sheriff's Department, with the District Attorney's office all the way on board, was carrying out one of the most bizarre and bizarrely flawed arrests in local history.
With the old man immobilized on his knees, not reaching in his pockets and not fucking around as per shouted instructions, Christy Stefani and Tim Kiely, guns drawn, hustled up to Mr. Tosca and, placing their mini-cannon hand guns inches from his head, informed Mr. Tosca that he was "under arrest for oral copulation."
Oral Copulation? Oral copulation! You need guns to arrest an old man for oral copulation? You need a task force complete with undercover agent to grab one property-owning, non-criminal senior citizen for one bogus charge of oral copulation?
Mr. Tosca, it seems, was regarded by local law enforcement as the Saddam Hussein of le turlute, the Osama bin Laden of the fumer le cigar, the Hamas of el chupas, the al Qaeda of the blow job!
Deputy Cash had pretended to be looking for a job at Eagle Ranch. Mr. Tosca had graciously driven to Ukiah to meet Cash and drive him out to the property to show him around and inform him of his duties. As secret agent Cash joined the main body of the jubilant arrest team, Mr. Tosca was handcuffed and placed behind the wire of a Sheriff's vehicle; he would remain there for three humiliating hours while officers Smallcomb, Rakes, Stefani, Kiely, Poma, and Cash "searched plaintiff's home, removing items of personal property, including but not limited to, personal papers, microcassette tape recorder, and audio tapes."
Informant Jim Mallo had set this expensive farce in motion.
An athletic young man in his early 30's, Mallo, your standard issue sociopath, had convinced local law enforcement that the creaky senior citizen detained in the police wagon had forced the unwilling Mallo to participate in an oral-genital event!
The allegation was absurd on the face of it, and absurd to the point of insanity coming from a low-rent punk like Mallo.
Unable to find any evidence of proscribed blow jobs other than the one alleged by Mendocino County's most unreliable snitch, the intrepid guardians of the heterosexuality and the missionary position charged Mr. Tosca with "the unlawful recording of telephone calls," an improvised charge to justify the lunatic raid.
Having anticipated discovery of a cache of audio-visual scrapbooks memorializing decades of illegal blow jobs, and fully empowered by a search warrant signed by Judge Conrad Cox, Mendocino County's sex warriors retreated.
James Allen Mallo has racked up dozens of convictions for many different kinds of crimes all the way back to when he was a feral 13-year-old in Humboldt County. By the time he was an infantile but dangerous 30-year-old of the predator type, Mallo was a poster child for Three Strikes laws but, thanks to Mendocino County's porous justice system Mallo had gotten something like 40 strikes.
How Mallo came to be regarded by county law enforcement as a guy a task force sex raid is built on remains a mystery. The guy is even regarded with utter contempt by Mendocino County's criminal community several of whom, we understand from friends in that community, want to kill him. During his many stays at the County Jail in between rapes, robberies, assaults on women, drug possession, and other crimes for which he should have been put permanently away years ago, Mallo always has to be placed in protective custody, beyond the reach of his many serious enemies.
Marc Tosca fought back. He went to federal court in 2000, charging that the officers involved in his arrest, and the three-hour ransacking of his house, and the County of Mendocino employing those officers, had violated his civil rights. In the fall of 2002, all parties named in Mr. Tosca's civil rights violation suit agreed to settle it; Mendocino County would pay no damages and Mr. Tosca would pay his own considerable legal fees. But Mendoland would have to say it was sorry, its raid team would have to take tolerance lessons, and the County would have to do some road work on Mr. Tosca's ranch.
Officers Smallcomb, Stefani, DeMarco, and Kiely, in a letter to Tosca dated October 31st, 2002, wrote: "Dear Mr. Tosca: We, the undersigned, truly regret the inconvenience and unpleasantness you experienced as a result of our investigation, your arrest, and the search of your property."
Mr. Tosca, however, is unmollified. He also remains skeptical of DA Norm Vroman who, Mr. Tosca suspects, harbors lingering animosity for Tosca because of an unhappy real estate transaction between Tosca and Vroman some years back. Mr. Tosca also says that the boyfriend of his neighbor, Annie Taylor, had urged Ms. Taylor to sever her friendship with Tosca, referring to Tosca as "that faggot." Ms. Taylor's boyfriend, William Rutler, contributed an aerial surveillance of Mr. Tosca's property to The Blow Job That Wasn't.
Reprinted, with permission, from the March 5, 2003 Anderson Valley Advertiser.