D.A.’s office to investigate fake, online identities

Story by Haelee Kim
Staff Writer

Photo by Katelyn Hernandez
Staff Photographer

The South Pasadena Police Department (SPPD) announced that the L.A. County District Attorney will investigate two unknown identities accused of sending defamatory and threatening emails and public comments on Thursday, Aug. 6. 

The informant, resident Chris Bray, sent an email to city officials, SPPD officers, and local commissioners detailing the specifics of his case on Sunday, Aug. 2. Bray alleged that the two people harassing council member Michael Cacciotti did not exist and were in fact pseudonyms. He further named that the supposed suspect was council member Dr. Marina Khubesrian. 

Bray then listed the methods he used in the identification process — a combination of account recovery tools across Google and Twitter. Bray claims that the recovery data from both accounts were associated with the same email and phone number: Khubesrian’s.
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The account named Mel Trom sent Cacciotti an email accusing him of corruption in May 2020. 

“Do I reach out to the press with my story? Do I ask the City Council for an investigation under the newly adopted Code of Ethics for councilmembers and commissioners?” Trom said in an email to Cacciotti. “You’ve turned into a career politician hanging on to relevance [and] whose opinions and decisions are corrupted by his debt to his loyalists. Are they now demanding payback for their forgiveness of that original sin, that original ethical breach for which you were never formally investigated and publicly censured?”

Trom then resurfaced through a public comment to laud the hiring of city manager Stephanie DeWolfe and to voice their opposition to the postponement of the city budget deliberation.

The other account, Emily Diaz-Vines, identified herself as a 17-year-old local reporter and claimed that former city finance director Josh Betta wrote “a 56-page financial report for free [to] undermine our Latina finance director” in a bid to reclaim his old position. Betta was investigated for workplace misconduct in 2006.

The SPPD forwarded the case to the D.A.’s office one day after Bray sent his email, but it was not until another resident publicized the allegations in a local Facebook group on Wednesday, Aug. 5 that the department issued a press release. Neither Bray, Mayor Bob Joe, nor Cacciotti could be reached for comment.

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