*** Administrator Note: This is the first local newspaper story to run following our post on Friday at noon. More coverage is expected this week and beyond.***
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY
By Steve Hunt, Editor
Posted Jun. 26, 2015 at 8:40 PM
With a lawsuit set to be tried next year, the San Bernardino County Grand Jury is believed to have called at least three current or former sheriff’s deputies to testify about alleged corruption in the department’s High Desert stations, sources said Friday.
The Grand Jury’s annual report is expected next week.
Deputies Tim Jordan (now retired), Brian Moler and Jeff Wetmore filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against San Bernardino County on July 25, 2014. The lawsuit was amended March 3. Last week, San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Bryan F. Foster set a trial date of May 16.
Jordan, Moler and Wetmore claim in their lawsuit, filed by attorney Christopher L. Gaspard of Gaspard Castillo Harper, APC, that they faced retaliation after reporting a litany of abuses at the Adelanto/Victor Valley Station and the Victorville Station.
Among the specific allegations in the lawsuit were deputies impounding citizens’ cars for personal profit, the existence of monthly traffic ticket quotas for motorcycle traffic deputies and supervisors pressuring deputies into altering traffic citations.
The office of Sheriff John McMahon declined to comment on the lawsuit or the allegations on Friday.
“Because it’s involving personnel matters and a lawsuit, we don’t have a comment,” Lt. Brad Toms told the Daily Press.
“I have no doubt” the deputies will win this case, Gaspard told the Daily Press on Friday evening. “Of all the cases I’m handling, this is one of my favorite cases. I just don’t see how (the county) can win. I have plenty of evidence they made disclosures protected by law and were retaliated against.
“It’s really taken a toll on them. My guys are 100 percent in the right.”
Attorney Susan E. Coleman of Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP, representing San Bernardino County, filed a response to the plaintiff’s second amended complaint on April 1. In it, the county denied all the allegations and Coleman asked for judgment to be rendered in favor of the county.
According to the amended complaint, Jordan was the administrative/detective sergeant at the Adelanto/Victor Valley Station in November 2010. The lawsuit claims “he was assigned to serve a detective with a previously prepared ‘letter of reprimand’ for impounding a car during the service of a search warrant and later purchasing the car from the tow yard during a lien sale and (giving) the car to his daughter for personal use.”
The lawsuit further claims that Jordan in early 2011 “discovered that 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.” The lawsuit said the father of a deputy sheriff owned one tow company. Deputies would call his company and when the car would come up for sale, regardless of which towing company had it, the deputies would receive a call and be offered the first chance to purchase the car, often for thousands of dollars below Bluebook value.
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