Friday, March 7, 2014 – 11:00 a.m.

The civil service appeal hearing for Angela Gray, the former San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department employee at the center of a highly-publicized pay scandal, started Friday morning.

Gray is appealing her termination by Sheriff-Coroner John McMahon. McMahon, who interestingly heard Gray’s pre-termination appeal, fired Gray for conduct related to the pay scandal and an added charge of insubordination. Gray was at the center of a scheme to defraud taxpayers by assisting in the falsification of training and education documents, which allowed sworn employees to either recieve additional pay, skip state-mandated training, or both.

In 2012, seven employees, including Gray, were singled-out and indicted by a San Bernardino County Grand Jury.

Gray’s August 2013 conviction of a single count of misdemeanor grand theft has already been dismissed and expunged, and her probation was terminated early. Charges against two others were dismissed for lack of evidence, and a former sheriff’s sergeant also entered a negotiated guilty plea to a single misdemeanor charge.

Earlier this week, after Gray’s lawyer filed her witness list, which included McMahon, the county dropped all scandal-related charges and decided to proceed only on the insubordination charge.

Attendee’s at today’s proceedings, before Hearing Officer David Hart, confirm that Hart originally ruled, at Gray’s request, that the hearing be open to the public.

What happened afterwards was highly unusual, not to mention bizarre.

It’s reported Former sheriff’s deputy Kenneth Holtz, entered the hearing room. Hart immediately asked Holtz to indentify himself. Holtz did just that.

Hart, who’s viewed by many as being pro-management in his decisions, immediately requested Holtz leave the room. What happened following is inexplicable conduct for a neutral hearing officer.

Sources inside the room say Hart went into a angry diatribe as to how Holtz, who’s own case was heard by Hart, and decision later overturned by the five-member Civil Service Commission, had, get this, been saying bad things about him on the “blogs”. Hart said he didn’t want everything he said in the hearing written about.

One has to wonder why!

Gray’s lawyer, Saku Ethir, argued to keep the proceedings open, which is the appellants right. Hart refused.

Reading the transcripts of this proceeding is definitely going to be a read.

Gray may as well prepare and appeal of her case to the San Bernardino County Superior Court.