scales-of-justice

Samuel Clauder sues county after being cleared of child porn charge.

By Shea Johnson
Staff Writer
Posted Nov 12, 2015 at 5:25 PM
Updated Nov 12, 2015 at 6:11 PM

SAN BERNARDINO — A former Congressional staffer exonerated of possessing child pornography will speak to reporters Friday outside sheriff’s headquarters here as he recovers property seized by authorities from his home during the criminal investigation.

Samuel Clauder was a staff member for U.S. Rep Joe Baca, reporter for two smaller, mountain-area newspapers and once acted as finance chairman and spokesman for the San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee when the District Attorney’s office filed the felony charge in March 2009.

Authorities said the pornographic material was found in April 2008 on a laptop computer at Clauder’s Crestline home, where only his estranged wife and son lived. But he was exonerated in October 2012 and filed a federal lawsuit late last year against the county, former Sheriff Gary Penrod and deputy Michael Pelkey of the Twin Peaks Sheriff Station, alleging retaliation, conspiracy and malicious prosecution.

According to the first amended complaint filed June 29, Pelkey instigated the charge with the approving nod of Penrod, because both men “harbored personal animosity towards Clauder because of (his) investigative journalistic reporting, political consultancy and his reports of official misconduct” against Pelkey’s colleagues at the station.

The attorney representing all defendants in the case could not be reached Thursday.

The suit also claims the charge was being pushed by District Attorney Mike Ramos, whose re-election campaign manager was allegedly long at odds with Clauder over how to use the El Toro Marine Base in Orange County.

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