Federal case may prove hard to beat

As an investigatory agency, they don’t get more thorough than the FBI and Melton knows it. The indictment spells trouble for the mayor, who has fought one battle after another since he’s occupied the city’s top office, largely because of his own actions.

Melton has never denied having a role in tearing down a private residence on Ridgeway Street. He said it was a crack house and that it deserved to come down. A state court jury in April 2007 found him and two bodyguards not guilty of malicious mischief, house burglary and conspiracy to commit house burglary.

Will the federal charges be so easy to beat? It’s clear that the Justice Department would never have brought charges if authorities didn’t believe in the strength of their evidence. Ironically, some of the strongest evidence comes spewing from the mayor’s own mouth. He has not backed down from the Ridgeway incident in which he is accused of having young men riding aboard the city’s Mobile Command Unit damage the house with sledgehammers and wooden planks.

He has been unrepentant, and that can’t be good as another arsenal of $400-an-hour attorneys works to free him of these charges. Other things have changed since the April 2007 trial.

Melton’s politics have worn thin in this town. He is no longer the larger-than-life, misunderstood guy who gained a small measure of national fame from appearances on the front page of The Los Angeles Times and on prime time with Geraldo.

Ronnie Agnew