Thouvenell was part of ’05 suit
Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/16/2011 06:45:56 PM PDT
UPLAND – A 6-year-old case filed against the city by an Upland business owner has resurfaced in the campaign for a City Council seat.
A lawsuit filed against the city in 2005 by Kenneth Beck, owner of Dineen Trucking, has become a talking point in the city’s special election because it involved one of the candidates, retired Upland Police Chief Martin Thouvenell.
Thouvenell is running among a field of 11 to fill a vacancy on the City Council.
The issue came up during a candidate forum Wednesday at El Dorado Mobile Home Park. The nine candidates who attended the forum were given two minutes each to share their thoughts on the case.
“I am about restoring integrity at City Hall for the residents of Upland,” said Thouvenell, who retired as police chief in 2005. “My record of honest service to Upland citizens speaks for itself.”
The District Attorney’s Office issued a warrant for Beck’s arrest on the grounds that he threatened a police officer.
An appellate court in 2008 ruled that Beck’s lawsuit over the arrest had enough evidence to move forward to trial. Rather than going to trial, the city agreed to pay Beck $375,000 in damages and Beck was to remove a dirt pile from his property.
The city is working with Beck, said Upland City Attorney William Curley in an emailed response.
“The City of Upland and Dineen Trucking/Mr. Beck are working on the implementation of the settlement agreement terms but nothing more – this is truly `old news,”‘ Curley wrote. “The City and Dineen Trucking/Mr. Beck’s representatives are working cooperatively to accomplish all that must happen but there is no continuation of the case itself or any new legal proceedings at all.”
Beck filed a lawsuit against the city, including Thouvenell, Upland police Capt. Jeff Mendenhall (then a sergeant), a code enforcement officer and a Montclair-based competitor in 2005, claiming he was wrongfully arrested and jailed soon after he complained that the city had illegally awarded a contract to the Montclair company.
He also claimed the city investigated the giant pile of dirt, rock and concrete on his property at the behest of the Montclair company, because the contract had been canceled due to Beck’s complaints.
“It was an illegal dumping case,” Thouvenell said. “As time went on (city officials) were unsuccessful in getting Mr. Beck to remove that big mountain of dirt, so it was sent over to the Police Department, which is commonly given to code enforcement.
“Code enforcement was working on the case for several months with not a lot of progress. Citations were issued. They went back and forth. (Beck) was being extremely uncooperative and wouldn’t do anything in terms of removing the debris.”
Beck later confronted Thouvenell and Mendenhall at a city event and was arrested in the incident. Beck claimed the police did not have probable cause to arrest him, which the appellate court upheld.
“He was drunk. We didn’t feel like it was in our best interest to do anything that night,” Thouvenell said. “We left and Sgt. Mendenhall, at the time, wrote a report and submitted it to the district attorney like every police department does in California. Always has and always will.”
Beck did not return calls seeking his comments.
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