The Lawless Wild, Wild West of Trinity County, CA

By Orlean Koehle, author and former State President Eagle Forum of California, 10/17/22

The name of “Trinity” for which the river was named that runs through the county, as well as the lake, the mountain range and finally the county itself, was created back in 1853.  Trinity means “God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” It implies that Christian principles are taught and practiced upon which our nation was founded, such as a strong belief in the rule of law that protects the rights of individuals and their liberty.  However, among the elected officials of Trinity county today, it has a new meaning.  Trinity now seems to stand for their three new “guiding principles” that rule the county: “corruption, lawlessness and intimidation,” equally shared by all of its elected officials.  People who dare to bring back some semblance of true law and order are not welcome and are so intimidated, until they either join in with the corruption or give up and move away.

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Two Lone Brave Women:  In spite of amazing opposition and intimidation, two women are still holding firm to their desire to bring some semblance of law and order back to this wild west county.   They are Diane Richards and her daughter Firenza Pini, who moved from San Francisco to Trinity County in 2008 onto a ranch in Hayfork, the second largest town in the county with a population of 2,324.  Hayfork is 30 miles from the county seat of Weaverville, population 3,667, where most of the vice and corruption is going on.  The entire county, according to the 2020 census, has a population of only 16,578. 

The Trinity Gazette Reveals Election Fraud: Diane and Firenza are both strong conservative Republicans.  Diane is serving as the Chairman for the Trinity County Republican Party.  They are both members of the State Board of Eagle Forum of California over “Election Integrity.”  Diane is a trained and certified journalist who began writing her own monthly paper called the Trinity Gazette when she began to notice the amazing corruption going on in the county and the voter fraud in the elections. She and her daughter observed that it did not seem to matter who ran for office, the Democrats always won with the same margins of 70/30.  How could that be when the demographics of Republicans and Democrats are 50/50? Diane and Firenza noticed that the Democrats running would hardly put forth any effort or put up any signs. It was as if they knew they had it made before the election ever happened.  Diane and Firenza discovered that the county was using a rigged counting machine that would always produce the same results of 70/30 in favor of the Democrat running.   

Firenza ran for office in 2012 for the Assembly, and again in 2014 for County Clerk and again in 2018.  In 2016, Diane ran for the Board of Supervisors.  It was in the election of 2014 when they were helping a Deputy Sheriff with his race that they really began to see some strange anomalies in the election returns.  Diane was in charge of his recount.  She saw that all the seals were broken on the voting machines, and that there was machine manipulation going on.  Normally, a county clerk orders ballots for about 75% of the registered voters because that is the most they ever get in voter turnout.  In 2016, the County Clerk ordered enough ballots for 149%.  Why?  Was it so that she had extra ones to mark herself and get rid of the real ones that had been mailed in? The ballots had all been marked with a black tip felt pen.  True ballots sent in by mail have a variety of pen marks on them.

Law Suit Filed over Election Fraud Wins in the Appellate Court:  In the 2016 election when Diane ran for supervisor, when the election results came out, she discovered that she had lost by 28 votes even though she had won at the polling place.  Firenza filed a law suit for election fraud, not only because of the rigged counting machine, but because of other blatant violations of the law which they had observed. Those violations are listed at the end of this article.  They had already tried going to the Secretary of State (a Democrat), who would do nothing but just send a form letter back, saying he did not see any evidence of fraud that would warrant an investigation.  

The district judge refused to hear the case, so they took it to the appellate court.  The three appellate judges in Sacramento, surprisingly, did hear the case, February 24, 2017, and, even more surprisingly, they decided in favor of Firenza, ruling that the judge back in Trinity County had to hear the case.  

Postponed Trial for Two Years:  That trial that was to take place the summer of 2017, was delayed and delayed for two years. A new judge was finally brought in from Sonoma County, Gayle Guynup, who has a conflict of interest because her husband, Doug Bosco (who was disgraced in a Savings and Loans scandal), has dubious dealings and powerful connections in Trinity county, but his wife remained the judge anyway.  When the case was finally heard, the judge dismissed it.  Diane and Firenza went back to the Appelate Court.  They ruled that the case was now mute, because too much time had passed.  Diane and Firenza even tried going to the Supreme Court, but they refused to hear the case.      

High Cost of Lawsuits:  In the lawsuit, the defendant illegally had all his legal fees and costs paid for by Trinity county.  But the plaintiffs, Diane and Firenza, had to pay for their law suit and their expensive attorneys all by themselves. They went through many different attorneys.  The second ones also had a conflict of interest, beholding to some powerful people in Trinity County.  They finally got attorneys from Los Angeles who had no connections but had high travel costs going back and forth and hourly fees, costing lots of money.  

Diane was told by the former leadership of the Republican Party of California, Jim Brulte, that the party would match $15,000 in funds to help with the trial.  When Diane told him she had raised the $15,000, the party reneged on their promise. 

She did not receive one penny from them.  Diane was told by their representative, that “If she lost, it would look bad for the Republican party.”  I guess they never thought she could possibly win.     

Harassment and Intimidation – Two Dogs and a Horse Shot and Killed:  In the meantime, more harassment and intimidation took place.  Diane and Firenza’s prize dog was shot dead. Then, a second dog, a puppy, was shot.  Diane actually saw the neighbor who had done the shooting and caught him having pre-dug a grave for the pup with his back hoe.  He had removed the collar of the dog and had already tossed the pup into the 4-foot-deep grave.  He admitted to her and to the sheriff deputy that he did it.  His name is Kenneth Pickett.  He knows he committed a crime, but he is not the least bit worried about any consequences.  The county is so lawless; he knows nothing will happen to him.  His boss is Karl Fisher, a former county supervisor. Pickett was rewarded with a $6 million construction job, without a bid, for a new school to be built. 

Then, three weeks later, a beautiful, white parade horse was shot, a prized horse that had been ridden by Congressmen.  It was shot twice in the head, but was somehow able to drag its body back to the barn before it died.  

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Spread the Corruption Around:  Diane was told by one of the local officials, “A little bit of corruption is a good thing.  Everyone gets a little piece of the action.”  Each month, the elected officials each get an envelope of cash as “hush money.”  When you spread the corruption around, everyone has their hands dirty, and, of course, no one will dare speak about it, because it will involve them as well.

Seven Election Contest Violations:  These are ones whereupon a person can file a law suit.  Diane and Firenza were using all seven of them, for which they had much evidence:

  1. Voters were disenfranchised.  Many of the Hmong community who live in the county never received a ballot in the mail.  When they went to the polls to vote, they were turned away.  [They were conservative and would have voted for Diane.]  Many of them in the trial were turned away and not allowed to testify. 
  2. Precinct board misconduct. The man that was to turn in the ballots cast in 2016 did not have a second person with him in the car, which is required by law.  He stopped off illegally at his home on route before he turned the ballots in.    
  3. Diane’s opponent and the election office refused to turn over his candidacy papers to prove he was eligible to run.
  4. There was bribery going on.  
  5. Illegal votes were cast: This is called “ballot stuffing.”
  6. Counterfeit ballots (with no number on them) were created on regular copy paper and used to replace real ballots.
  7. The counting machines were rigged.  They always produced 70 percent for Democrats candidates, and 30 percent for the Republicans, no matter who was running.  

When asked if they felt their lives are in danger, Diane stated that she and Firenza feel like “They are in a holding pattern in a shooting gallery.”   Could they be the next target? 

     Your Help Needed: If you can, please do the following three things to help Diane and Forenza: 

  1. Send this article on to others.  More people need to know about the lawlessness and injustice in Trinity County.
  2. Please mail a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom or call him expressing your outrage and concern that such lawlessness is going on in a county in his state of California.   His contact information is: 1303 10th Street, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814, Phone: (916) 445-2841, Fax: (916) 558-3160
  3. If you can possibly contribute funds to help Diane and Forenza’s enormous expenses that they have spent with lawsuits and paying attorneys, it would be greatly appreciated.  Their address is: PO Box 501, Hayfork, CA, 6041.  Diane’s email address is [email protected].   
  4. Pray for them.  They are trying to move out of Trinity County.  Pray that their ranch can sell and all will go well.

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