Original URL: http://www.staronline.com/vcs/ox/article/0,1375,VCS_238_2082671,00.html

Police investigate threats against local Latino leader
LULAC official O'Leary also reports vandalism
Ventura County Star  
July 2, 2003
By staff reports

Oxnard police confirmed Tuesday that they are investigating reports of vandalism and threats against local Latino leader Denis O'Leary.

Detective William Swisher said there was an ongoing investigation but declined further comment.

O'Leary, a regional director of the League of United Latin American Citizens and a teacher in the Rio School District, said there have been several cases of vandalism at his home, including firecrackers in his mailbox.

And about three weeks ago, he said, a fellow teacher told him about getting a phone call from another person saying, "I want you to help me get rid of Denis O'Leary." The teacher began to defend O'Leary and then hung up, O'Leary said.

O'Leary, who declined to name the teacher or caller, said he takes the matter seriously. "I've been looking over my shoulder for the last couple of weeks," he said. "I consider it a threat."

David Rodriguez, vice president of the Latin league's Far West region, said the group has asked the FBI to investigate as well. An FBI spokeswoman could not say Tuesday whether the agency has made a decision yet.

O'Leary has been a vocal supporter of former Rio School District Superintendent Yolanda Benitez. District trustees recently fired Benitez, accusing her, among other things, of illegally promoting bilingual education.

O'Leary also stirred controversy recently when he asked the board of another Latino group, El Concilio del Condado de Ventura, to censure John Flynn, a board member and county supervisor.

The board rejected the idea.