Rep. Issa: A Past Filled With Suspected Arson, Weapons Charges & Auto Theft

June 01, 2010 10:34 am ET

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has received a lot of media coverage lately as he demands an investigation into an alleged job offer made to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).  What's interesting about this scenario is not only the fact that it doesn't appear a crime was committed, but also that Issa himself has lived through numerous scandals and allegations without any judicial consequence.

Suspected Arson

1982: Issa Suspected, But Never Charged, In Arson Incident At Manufacturing Plant. According to the Los Angeles Times: "A suspected arson fire ripped through [Issa's Ohio] manufacturing plant in 1982. No one was ever charged in the fire, but authorities were troubled by a dramatic escalation in the facility's fire insurance just weeks earlier. Even before the blaze was put out, investigators began peppering Issa and his partner with 'crazy questions' regarding their whereabouts before the fire, Issa recalled." [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis, emphasis added]

  • Prior To Fire, Issa "Boosted" Fire Insurance And Removed A Computer From The Premises. According to the Los Angeles Times: "Weeks before the fire, Issa and [business partner] Hunsinger boosted their fire insurance from $ 100,000 to $ 462,000 on property stored for other companies...At the same time, a separate company that contracted with Quantum to outfit bug zappers increased its insurance to $ 400,000, and, according to an insurance report, one investigator was 'concerned about the coincidence.' Fire investigators also noted that a computer was taken off the site eight days before the fire, 'allegedly to be reprogrammed' by Issa's lawyer, and that business blueprints were put away in a safe--which was 'not previously done before.'" [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis]

"Suspicious Burn Patterns" And "Out Of Normal Practice" Behavior Alerted Investigators.  The Washington Post reported: "Investigators reported 'suspicious burn patterns' and said the fire may have been set. A company bookkeeper, Karen Brasdovich, also told them that computers and records had been removed from the site days before the fire for no clear reason. 'It was totally out of normal practice,' she said in a telephone interview last week." [Washington Post via FTLComm.com, 7/8/03]

AC Custom Fire: Flammable Liquid Had "Been Poured On The Only Area Not Covered By Fire Sprinklers."  The Los Angeles Times reported that "seven months after Issa took control," a fire broke out at the "Quantum manufacturing plant."  "Case files from Maple Heights, the Ohio fire marshal and insurers pointed repeatedly to the likelihood of arson in the blaze, which officials estimated caused $ 800,000 in damage. Although an accident could not be ruled out, the uneven and unnatural burn patterns made the blaze 'suspicious in nature,' the state concluded two months later. Flammable liquid appeared to have been poured on the only area not covered by fire sprinklers, investigators found." [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis, emphasis added]

Intimidation With A Weapon

Former AC Custom Executive Claimed Issa Intimidated Him With A Gun. According to the Los Angeles Times: "One of Issa's first tasks as the new boss [of AC Custom] was to remove an executive named Jack Frantz. According to Frantz, Issa came into his office, placed a small box on the desk and opened it. Inside, he said, was a gun." [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis]

  • Issa Allegedly Used Intimidation To Fire Executive Frantz. According to the Los Angeles Times, Frantz claimed, "'He just showed [the gun] to me and said 'You know what this is?' Issa invited Frantz to hold the gun at one point and told him he had learned about guns and explosives during his military days, Frantz said. Because he was about to be fired, Frantz said he saw it as 'pure intimidation.'" [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis]
  • Former AC Custom Bookkeeper: "It Was Pretty Terrifying." According to the Los Angeles Times: "The bookkeeper, [Karen] Brasdovich, also recalled Issa having a gun at the company that day. 'It was pretty terrifying,' she said." [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis]

Issa On The Incident: "Shots Were Never Fired." The Los Angeles Times reported: "Issa said, 'Shots were never fired. If I asked Jack to leave, then I think I had every right to ask Jack to leave...I don't recall having a gun. I really don't. I don't think I ever pulled a gun on anyone in my life.'" [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis, emphasis added]

Auto Theft & Weapons Charges

Issa "Twice Arrested In 1972 On Weapons Charges." According to the San Francisco Chronicle: "Issa was twice arrested in 1972 on weapons charges -- once in Ohio, once in Michigan." [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2/03]

Issa Was Convicted Of "Possession Of An Unregistered Handgun," Paid Fine, And Served Probation. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: "[W]hen Issa was attending college in Michigan, was fined $100 and put on three months' probation after being arrested for possession of an unregistered handgun, Michigan court records show." [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2/03]

1972: Issa Was Arrested For Auto Theft. According to the New York Times: "In 1972, [Darrell Issa] and his brother William were arrested in the theft of a Maserati from a Cleveland car dealership." [New York Times, 7/23/03]

1972: Issa Also Charged With "Carrying A Concealed Weapon." According to the San Francisco Chronicle: "Court records...show that in March 1972, one month after getting out of the Army, Issa was arrested on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and auto theft. The court file doesn't indicate the type of weapon involved." [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2/03]

Auto Theft, Concealed Weapons Charges Were Ultimately Dropped. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: "In May 1972, a grand jury indicted Issa on a larceny charge in connection with the car theft but dropped the weapons charge. Two weeks later, a prosecutor dropped the car theft charge as well." [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2/03]

  • Charges Were Dropped Despite Witness Reports. According to the Los Angeles Times, "a witness reported seeing [Darrell and William Issa] pushing the sports car down the street just before midnight, records and interviews show. But the charges were dismissed--months before the older brother, [William], was convicted of stealing another car amid a string of offenses." [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/98, via Nexis]

Issa On His "Indiscretions"

Issa Blamed Past Discretions On Youth. According to the New York Times, Issa said: "Look, I was a kid. What would you rather have? A cardboard-cutout who never made a mistake when he was young only to become governor and then carry on like a juvenile delinquent?" [New York Times, 7/23/03]

Issa Blamed Older Brother For Run-Ins With The Law. According to the New York Times: "'I love my older brother Billy,' said Mr. Issa, explaining that he got caught in the orbit of his ne'er-do-well brother who has five felony convictions for car theft and is currently unemployed in Cleveland. 'He stole a lot of cars. He stole my car. You could say that drew me to the car alarm business. Poetic justice.'" [New York Times, 7/23/03]

Issa Used Sarcasm To Downplay Checkered Past. In reference to reporters inquiring about his past, Issa said in a New York Times article, "Some day somebody's going to report on those little pineapple squares I snitched at a party." [New York Times, 7/23/03]

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