San Bernardino County Sheriff

In narrative rejected by county, whistleblower complaint alleges corruption, retaliation

By Shea Johnson, Staff Writer
Posted Aug. 1, 2016 at 3:15 PM
Updated Aug 1, 2016 at 5:44 PM

Three current or former deputies who say they were rebuked for disclosing an alleged impound and ticket quota scheme entrenched within two High Desert sheriff’s stations will have their days in court.

A whistleblower lawsuit filed two years ago by retired San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Tim Jordan and deputies Brian Moler and Jeff Wetmore is expected to head to trial Aug. 29 after a county judge last week rejected an effort to toss it out by attorneys for the county, court records show.

Judge Bryan F. Foster did grant dismissals for two other causes of action, which weren’t challenged by the plaintiffs.

At its core, the lawsuit claims Jordan faced retaliation while at the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Station in 2010 after he “discovered sheriff’s personnel assigned to the department’s Narcotics Unit would routinely tow vehicles and ‘flip’ them by purchasing the vehicles at lien sales and selling them for profit.”

A deputy’s father owned one tow company, according to the lawsuit, and deputies were allegedly afforded first dibs on vehicles for far less than Kelley Blue Book value. Jordan alleges he reported this to a lieutenant and was shut down when trying to follow up on the status of his reports to management, transferred to the Victorville station, assigned to the graveyard patrol and required to work weekends.

The legal complaint also accuses Victorville Sheriff’s Station higher-ups of setting a quota of 200 traffic citations per month for motorcycle deputies — a policy that would be prohibited under state law — and deputies who failed to meet the quota were forced to work weekends or had their motorcycles taken away.

Higher-ups effectively pressured Moler into downgrading one citation issued to a department secretary to a warning, the lawsuit claims, while another employee was urged to change red light camera citations to warnings mostly for “young, attractive women drivers.”

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