James Ramos’s Field Rep Fired In Jail Drug Smuggling Try

(February 5) Michael S. Lipsitz, Third District County Supervisor James Ramos’s field representative for the Morongo Basin, was arrested Wednesday evening as he attempted to provide drugs to an inmate during a visit at the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center.
Lipsitz, 53, of Landers, was employed by Z107.7 radio as a news reporter and was the founding member of the Morongo Basin Democratic Club before he was hired into the field representative position in April 2014. Ramos terminated him from the position in the immediate aftermath of his arrest.
According to the sheriff’s department, “Recently, deputies at the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center received information that narcotics were being brought into the facility. Deputies began an investigation and found that Michael Lipsitz was a frequent visitor of Joshua Rhodes and identified Lipsitz as the person responsible for bringing narcotics to inmate Rhodes at the fire camp. On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Michael Lipsitz arrived for a scheduled visit with Rhodes at the fire camp. Within minutes, deputies interrupted the visit as Lipsitz provided the narcotics to Rhodes.”
Lipsitz was arrested and transported to West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, where he was booked on suspicion of bringing a controlled substance into a jail facility. The substance involved was not specified.
His bail was set at $25,000. He posted a bail bond and was released from custody on Thursday, February 5, 2015, at 6:05 a.m.
Later that day, Lipsitz, an at-will county employee, received a memo from Ramos informing him he had been fired for cause.
Sheriff John McMahon said, “When I learned of this disappointing news, I contacted Supervisor James Ramos and notified him of the investigation and arrest of one of his employees. Supervisor Ramos was shocked by the news, and assured me he has zero tolerance for any type of criminal behavior. Supervisor Ramos immediately terminated Lipsitz’ employment with the county.”
Lipsitz was highly thought of in the Morongo Basin, receiving high marks for his intimate knowledge of the area and his efforts on behalf of Ramos’s constituents in vectoring the county’s attention to complaints and concerns.
He had been very active in organizational efforts on behalf of the Democratic Party, of which James Ramos is also a member. Lipsitz was described as intense in his political work, pushing the party to ingratiate itself with as wide a cross section of voters as possible, while eschewing action or individuals he saw as divisive or firebrands. Some of his Democratic Party associates found it surprising that he agreed to go to work for Ramos, who had chosen as his chief of staff Phil Paule, a longtime Republican Party functionary who had been an aide to Republican Congressman Darrell Issa.
It is unclear what the basis of Lipsitz’s relationship with Rhodes, 25, is. Rhodes has three drug possession convictions, one for misdemeanor evading police, resisting arrest, and for possessing brass knuckles.

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