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Law firm accused of planting GPS device on Costa Mesa official's car

Business EnterprisesLegal Service

An Upland law firm accused of bullying civic leaders faced new accusations Wednesday of planting a GPS device on the car of a Costa Mesa official as a way to intimidate him.

In an amended lawsuit, Costa Mesa Councilman Steve Mensinger said the device was affixed to his car during the entire 2012 election season and came to his attention only when he was alerted by the Orange County district attorney's office.

"Watergate, that's when I last heard about something like this happening," said Vince Finaldi, the Irvine attorney who filed the suit and amended complaint, which was first reported by the O.C. Weekly.

The firm has represented dozens of police unions in Southern California and has a reputation for its bare-knuckled tactics and attacks on city hall. At the time of the accusations, the firm was employed by the Costa Mesa Police Officers' Assn.

Investigators with the Orange County district attorney's office last month raided the offices of the Upland law firm — Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir — a month after it announced that it would be dissolving following a series of scandals and the lawsuit.

Since last year, prosecutors have examined accusations that a private investigator who had worked with the firm tailed Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer from a local restaurant and bar and called 911 to say the then-councilman was possibly driving drunk.

Righeimer passed a sobriety test when a police officer later showed up at his home.

Attorneys for Righeimer and Mensinger believe the GPS device enabled the private investigator to follow the pair to Skosh Monahan's on the night of the 911 call.

adolfo.flores@latimes.com

paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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