A former Glendale businessman accused of trading guns for drugs with a deadly San Fernando Valley street gang faces a minimum of five years in federal prison after pleading guilty Thursday.
Meanwhile, 52-year-old Scott Schaffer’s former girlfriend, disgraced ex-Burbank City Councilwoman Stacey Jo Murphy, is scheduled to appear today in Pasadena Superior Court to face state cocaine possession and child endangerment charges directly related to her relationship with Schaffer.
Authorities have said Schaffer traded guns for coke with members of the Vineland Boyz, who are believed responsible for the deaths of two police officers and the attempted murder of a third officer.
Soon after his arrest at his home in Glendale, which was prompted by a previous admission of a Vineland Boyz member who said he had acquired a weapon from Schaffer at a North Hollywood bar, Schaffer told authorities that he stored weapons and drugs at Murphy’s Lido Avenue home in Burbank, where the single mother of three lived with her remaining minor child, who was 12 at the time of her arrest.
On Thursday, Schaffer pleaded guilty to one count of trading two guns for cocaine, which carries a minimum sentence of five years.
Schaffer is presently free on $1 million bail and enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program. He is currently required to wear an electronic monitoring device on his ankle at all times.
Murphy’s attorney, Rick Santweir, did not return phone calls for this story.
Assistant US Attorney Mark Young said there is no condition binding US District Judge John Walter to accept the deal.
“We are basically obligated to try to get a guilty plea on the most serious offense,” said Young. “[Trading guns for cocaine] was by far the most serious offense he was charged with.”
As for Walter, “The judge can sentence him to any amount of time that is reasonable according to the law,” Young said. “Five years is the minimum amount of time he can get.”
Over the past decade, or since Murphy, a popular three-term councilwoman who twice served as mayor and is the former wife of former Burbank Councilman and LA County Court Commissioner Tim Murphy, had been in office, Schaffer was a major political contributor, donating thousands of dollars of his and his former company’s money to political campaigns in Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and Los Angeles.
In addition, Schaffer, who once co-owned City Cab Co., also served in public office as a former Glendale Water and Power Commission member.
Schaffer was originally indicted by a federal grand jury for trading guns for cocaine, possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute the drug, selling firearms to a known felon and using cocaine while possessing guns.
The indictment was handed up soon after Schaffer and Murphy were arrested in July following a joint investigation by local and federal law enforcement officials.
Had Schaffer been found guilty on all counts, he could have been sentenced to 45 years in prison.
In court today, Murphy’s attorney is expected to work with prosecutors in setting a date for a preliminary hearing.
Murphy has pleaded innocent to all of the charges against her. If Murphy is convicted, she faces a possible three-year sentence.
Acting on information from Schaffer, police searched Murphy’s home and found cocaine, 900 rounds of ammunition and a loaded high-caliber handgun.
Murphy resigned from the Burbank council a few weeks after being charged.
Murphy is free on a written pledge to appear in court.
Schaffer will return to court in June, at which time he will be sentenced.
Young would not say if Schaffer was cooperating with the investigation into the Vineland Boyz, but said Schaffer may have feared for his life due to statements that he made to police investigators shortly after his arrest.
“He made statements to his involvement when he was first arrested and police said he was cooperating,” Young said. “He had some concerns because of his statements.”
The search came a month after members of an anti-gang task force found a .45 caliber firearm registered to Schaffer at the Granada Hills home of one of the Vineland Boyz, Luis “Pops” Mendoza.
Police believe the ruthless gang is responsible for the 1998 shooting death of LAPD Officer James Beyea; the Nov. 15, 2003, murder of 26-year-old Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka, and the attempted murder of Burbank Officer Gregory Campbell. Campbell was shot during the incident that claimed Pavelka’s life.
The law enforcement task force that busted Mendoza, Schaffer and Murphy was formed after Pavelka was killed and has arrested hundreds of alleged gang members in a number of so-called gang sweeps conducted throughout Southern California.