By Joe Nelson
Posted: 04/26/2012 05:53:53 PM PDT
A jury on Thursday ruled in favor of the city of Colton and against its former police chief, Ken Rulon, in a wrongful termination lawsuit Rulon brought against the city in 2007.
Rulon alleged in the lawsuit that he was fired in April 2007 for reporting to the District Attorney’s Office allegations of corruption against city officials.
The 9-woman, three-man jury began deliberating Tuesday after the 20-day trial.
“The evidence, we felt, was weak,” said juror Jacque Smith, 50, of Redlands. “We didn’t see the city retaliating against him (Rulon).” Rulon’s attorney, Dan Stormer, said he will appeal, and that the process can take up to 18 months.
“I’m disappointed,” Stormer said following the reading of the verdict. “I think the fraudulent mudslinging took its toll. It does not speak well to the city of Colton.
Attorney John Higginbotham, who defended the city and its former city manager, Daryl Parrish, in the lawsuit, was not surprised by the verdict.
“This is the outcome we’ve always expected,” Higginbotham said outside the courtroom. “The whole police department revolted against this guy, and not just police officers, but dispatchers, clerks and his own secretary too.”
Among the allegations Rulon reported to the District Attorney’s Office included former Councilman Ramon Hernandez’s abuse of his city-issued credit card. Hernandez racked up thousands of dollars in charges for unauthorized motel stays with his gay lover and calls to telephone sex lines between December 2004 and May 2006.
The allegations led to the District Attorney’s Office charging Hernandez with 24 felony counts. Hernandez pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced in April 2008 to 180 days in jail, which he was allowed to serve on the weekends.
Rulon and the city disputed the timeliness in which the allegations were reported to the District Attorney’s Office. Rulon’s attorney, Dan Stormer, said Rulon reported the situation after he met with Hernandez on June 27, 2006 to discuss the credit card and cell phone charges. Rulon also provided information to prosecutors on questionable conduct by other council members.
Stormer said the city and Parrish went to great lengths to cover its tracks and was aware of Hernandez’s credit card abuse for more than a year before Rulon took action and reported it to the proper authorities.
In June 2005, Deirdre Bennett, then Colton’s Mayor, said she was informed by the city’s finance department about $1,500 in charges to motel rooms on Hernandez’s city-issued credit card. She testified that she first refused to sign the invoice after it was made clear the city was going to cover Hernandez’s unpaid credit card debt, but ultimately relented when she was told it could affect the city’s credit rating if she didn’t.
To read entire story, click here.