P.I.'s attorney says client unlikely to face charges

An attorney for a private investigator who called Costa Mesa police to report Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer as a possible drunk driver said Friday that he doubts charges will be filed.

"From what he's said, he has nothing to hide," attorney Tony Kimbirk said of his client.

Kimbirk is representing Menifee-based private investigator Chris Lanzillo in Orange County Superior Court proceedings that will determine what evidence seized by authorities can be used by the Orange County district attorney and what falls into the category of attorney-client privilege.

Kimbirk said Lanzillo often receives assignments to investigate people but works within the parameters of the law.

Lanzillo has said he was hired to tail politicians in Costa Mesa but has not revealed who hired him.

"He does what's legal," Kimbirk said.

Also represented in the court proceedings Friday was Dieter Dammeier, a founding partner in the law firm Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir.

The firm previously represented the Costa Mesa Police Officers Assn., but the group severed ties with the Upland law firm after the August incident, saying it wanted to move away from the aggressive tactics associated with Lackie, Dammeier & McGill.

"Now that the P.I. has provided the purpose of the investigation, and the D.A.'s office has reviewed the materials it has sought to verify no unlawful activity occurred, we anticipate closure on this case," one of the firm's partners, Dieter Dammeier, said in an email.

Another man, believed to be an investigator, was referenced in court records. His exact involvement in the case is unclear, and he could not be reached for comment.

On Aug. 22, Lanzillo called Costa Mesa police reporting that Righeimer appeared to be drunk and driving erratically, swerving and speeding, and that he had run a stop sign.

Lanzillo followed the councilman to his house, and a Costa Mesa police officer cleared Righeimer of being under the influence. The councilman produced a receipt for two Diet Cokes.

Righeimer called the incident a "setup" and said Lanzillo targeted him because of his politics.

The Orange County Register reported Friday that Lanzillo was observing Costa Mesa Councilman Gary Monahan that night but later chose to follow Righeimer.


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