Did City Employees Steal Over $50K of Equipment?

CNG Fullerton

Another day, another story of alleged theft/fraud of city property here in the city of Fullerton finally coming to light.

In late January 2017, Julia James contacted me about some questionable purchases charged to Facility Superintendent Bob St. Paul’s City-issued procurement card.  I asked Tim Campbell to review the purchases for calendar year 2016.  His review revealed several purchases charged to the CNG Fund that did not appear to be CNG-related.  Based on the preliminary findings, I asked Tim to examine Bob’s P-card purchases for 2014 and 2015 as well. Over the three years, Bob used his P-card to charge the CNG fund slightly less than $12,000 for several dozen purchases. Many of these purchases had no clear relation to CNG operations; for example, there were multiple purchases for clothing, flashlights, tools, and canopies, some of which appeared to be for personal use.  Most of the purchases were initiated by Public Works Analyst Trung Phan, the CNG operation’s manager.”

This time around it looks like the protocols and oversight in the city were so lax that over the course of years employees were able to use their city issued purchasing cards to buy over $50,000 worth of stuff that was of no use to the city.

“It took the audit team about a week to complete the additional review and inventory.  When the team finished, the value of questionable purchases increased to at least $50,000.”

Former employees Bob St. Paul and Trung Phan allegedly worked together to charge items to the CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) station on Basque and Commonwealth and when the city tipped them off that they were under investigation – it appears they returned as much as possible in the dead of night and so no real investigation was done and no prosecution was possible.

‘While playing the archived video, we found several instances of Trung arriving at night, briefly stopping at the CNG station, and then unloading items from the back of his personal truck and taking items into the storage area.Bob was also observed returning an item very early in the morning.The incidents took place after Dennis and I counseled Bob and Trung regarding the P-card purchases, but before they were placed on leave.”

That video evidence was actually found out purely by accident which would be comical if it wasn’t so sad.

On top of purchasing things of no use to the city and absconding with them, only to return them in the dead of night, Trung also allegedly manipulated his payroll to get unjustified overtime.

“The research revealed that Trung charged overtime several times a month, claiming he had to come in after hours to reset the station’s equipment. This contradicted with indications by Fastech’s maintenance technician, that the equipment rarely failed.”

That nobody in the city up the food chain knew the efficiency or status of the CNG station and what the vendor even did, as evidenced by an employee able to fake overtime for unneeded work, is another damning indictment on city hall.

The culmination of all of this was yet more settlement agreements coming out of corruption or malfeasance on the part of government employees and not a word to the people of Fullerton. It’s just $50,000+ of your money that was wasted so why tell you anything?

What all was purchased? How much money was wasted? How long did all of this go on and was anybody else involved? The world will never find out. Why? Because:

CNG Investigation Halted

“We halted the internal investigation when the employees made the decision to resign.  As such, I am not anticipating a final report.”

That’s right. The city decided they didn’t want to know the full extent of the issue once they were able to settle with the employees in question and successfully sweep this issue, like so many others, under the rug.

We here at Friends for Fullerton’s Future had inquired about this issue when we were first alerted to it and the response at the time from the city was as follows:

“Regarding #2 of your request, the records you have listed are exempt from disclosure pursuant to Government Code section 6254(b), (c), (f) and (k); Government Code section 54963, Evidence Code Section 950 et seq., Code of Civil Procedure section 2018.010, and Government Code section 6255 (personnel, law enforcement investigative files, Brown Act, litigation, attorney-client privilege and attorney work product).”

So much for an open and transparent government. Once again we were all left in the dark while simultaneously being forced to pay for the useless purchases, admin leave and billable hours required to settle this nonsense.

Speaking of the settlements, the one with Trung, likely the same or similar with that of St. Paul, has the boilerplate Paid Leave (vacation) nonsense and other such niceties. The best part though, as usual, is as follows:

“Employer agrees not to defame, disparage or demean Employee for anything he did or may have done in the course and scope of his relationship with Employer.”

Lord help the next employer these two end up working for in the future which in the case of Phan is the CA Department of Transportation. I guess the city helped him to fail upwards.

Phan LinkedIn

You can read the settlement agreement with Phan Trung [HERE].

The report about the entire incident is as follows:

CNG Report 01CNG Report 02CNG Report 03

What Else Happened to Sergeant Jeff Corbett?

This blog revealed the other day that according to former Fullerton PD Sergeant Corbett, he essentially let former City Manager Joe Felz skate on DUI/Hit-and-Run charges because the former Police Chief Dan Hughes told him to just run a “physical assessment.

Did Corbett think that Hughes would cover for him and have his back? We have two pieces of information that look like they lend themselves to that assumption.

The first is a photo that was entered into the record during another officer’s termination investigation. It was photographed inside the locker an officer’s locker at FPD:

Hughes Untouchables

This photo appears to be a photoshopped poster for the 1987 movie “The Untouchables” with Dan Hughes’ face where Al Capone’s is on the original poster.

The other faces on the poster are said to be those of Sgt. Gharah, Sgt. Corbett, Sgt. Radus & Sgt. Petropulos.

To be fair, this poster of “The Untouchables” doesn’t mean these men thought they were untouchable and that they’d cover for one-another, but it certainly sets a questionable tone in an environment where ethics and accountability should be paramount.

The question the poster forces us to ask is if any of these men thought they were untouchable and that leads us to our next bit of information.

There has long been a rumor floating around Fullerton PD that Sergeant Jeffrey Corbett was involved in an incident where it was alleged he was having relations with a woman not his wife in his patrol vehicle.

It looks as if there might be more to those allegations than mere rumor and innuendo.

Corbett PSB

PSB #2013-96
Other Misconduct

Sergeant Jeff Corbett

Potential Policy Violations:
340.3.5 (z) Performance
706.3 Use of City Vehicle
706.3.5 Authorized Passengers

Recommendation to Staff: Not Within Policy
Suspension – 40 hours
Approved

That reference, PSB #2013-96 means that this suspension took place in 2013 and was investigated by the Professional Standards Bureau (also known as Internal Affairs).

Here are the code citations:

340.3.5 (z) Performance:
Any other on-duty or off-duty conduct which any employee knows or reasonably should know is unbecoming a member of the Department or which is contrary to good order, efficiency or morale, or which tends to reflect unfavorably upon the Department or its members.

706.3 Use of City Vehicle:
City-owned vehicles shall only be used for official business and, when approved, for commuting to allow members to respond to department-related business outside their regular work hours. Members shall not operate a City-owned vehicle at any time when impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. Any member operating a vehicle equipped with a two-way communications radio, MDC and/or a GPS device shall ensure the devices are on and set to an audible volume whenever the vehicle is in operation.

706.3.5 Authorized Passengers:
Members operating City-owned vehicles shall not permit persons other than City members or persons required to be conveyed in the performance of duty, or as otherwise authorized, to ride as a passenger in their vehicle.

We know based on this info that Corbett had somebody in his car who shouldn’t have been and he did something that was considered “unbecoming a member of the Department”. For these findings, he was given a 40 hour suspension which for all we know was a paid vacation by way of “Admin Leave”.

If Corbett and Hughes were two of the “untouchables” and in 2013 Chief Hughes allowed Corbett to walk with a slap on the wrist for alleged improprieties on duty in a patrol vehicle – what else did Corbett believe Hughes would cover for him and vice-versa?

This would seem to put the Joe Felz accident into a different light and it certainly deserves looking into but don’t expect our City Council, City Manager or District Attorney to bother.

Parks Employee Cost Fullerton 40K

We finally know more of the story of that overturned Parks and Recreation vehicle from 2016 that the city has been so suspiciously tightlipped about.

Turns out the Parks & Rec employee driving the vehicle was at fault and it cost the city at least $43,000 in claims.

Parks and Wreck Claim

Parks and Wreck Fault

The city has never, not once, commented on this story or what happened nor how much it has cost the taxpayers. As far as we know the employee(s) at fault are still on the job.

Did Danny Hughes Order the Joe Felz Cover-up?

Dearly Departed Sappy McTree

This blog has written countless stories about the sordid tale of former Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz’s Wild Ride back on Election Night 2016 when he hit a tree and allegedly attempted to flee the scene of the crime.

This blog actually filed a complaint with the city which led to the firing of Sergeant Jefferey Corbett who is now facing a felony rap over this incident.

For context we also wrote about when former Chief Danny Hughes said the following at a nuisance hearing back in 2017 (emphasis added):

“When there is a, especially in the city of Fullerton, where there is somebody, whether it be a City Council Member or in this particular case the City Manager, those types of incidents are gonna, what I would describe, blow up. No matter what that decision is made regarding the outcome of that case there there will be allegations and conspiracy theories and all sorts of information that comes from that.”

Really we’ve been watching this story since it started and now we have some salient details to share with you good citizens. So let us put Hughes’ conspiracy take to the test.

Here is FPD’s version of the actual events that happened on election night 2016 starting with what Officer Gibert told the investigators tasked with looking into the complaint against the FPD handling of the Joe Felz DUI incident (emphasis added):

“Gibert said he had six and a half years of experience as a police officer. Gibert said he had conducted approximately 700 D.U.I. investigations and assisted in an additional 150 to 200 D.U.I. investigations. Gibert acknowledged that he was taught to enforce the law without any favor.”

I asked Gibert to tell me what he recalled regarding his involvement from the collision investigation involving former City Manager, Joe Felz. Gibert told me the following:”

The radio call was of a vehicle collision. While Gibert was on his way to the location, dispatch advised the vehicle was trying to leave the scene. Gibert was the first officer on-scene and as he arrived, he saw the vehicle travelling west bound. The vehicle appeared to be disabled, but was still partially moving. Gibert then initiated a vehicle stop and as a result, the vehicle came to a halt. As he was exiting his unit, the vehicle began to move again. Gibert put his unit back into drive not knowing if the vehicle was going to try to leave. They moved a very short distance and came to a complete stop. Gibert then placed the front of his police unit bumper up against the vehicle’s rear bumper in case he tried to flee again. Gibert explained that he tried to pin his unit up against the vehicle so the suspect would not endanger any civilians; this also positioned Gibert to possibly conduct a P.I.T. maneuver if it were necessary.”

At that point in time, the vehicle stopped. Gibert believed Corporal Jim Boline was next onscene and walked up on his passenger side. They ordered the driver (Joe Felz) out of the vehicle. Gibert had the Felz facing away from him. As Gibert placed Felz’s hands behind his back, he identified himself as Fullerton City Manager, Joe Felz. Gibert stopped his investigation or any questioning at that time and had Felz sit on the front bumper of his police unit. Gibert then requested for a Sergeant to respond to the location.

But then, oddly these bits come out:

“As he was handling the traffic collision, he chose to not mark “hit and run” on the form because of the distance from Felz’s vehicle to where the initial collision occurred.”

He had to do force the vehicle to stop and prepare for a P.I.T. maneuver but didn’t consider it a hit and run? That makes little to no sense.

That then compounds another problem:

“I asked Gibert if he was aware of the email sent by C.S.I. Technician Victoria Mayhew to Lieutenant Mike Chocek. Gibert said he was not familiar with the email. As a result, I read him the content of the email. Gibert commented by stating the portion of the email involving him was accurate. Once Mayhew arrived on scene, Gibert told her to just photograph the damaged tree. Gibert said he was trying to limit the exposure of how many people were involved with this case. Gibert stated that C.S.I. would not normally photograph the vehicle since this was not a hit and run investigation.”

Gibert, with 700 DUI investigations under his belt, saw Felz try to flee a scene and smelled alcohol on the suspect. Owing to Felz’s position of authority a Sergeant was called. That Sergeant was Jeffery Corbett.

On September 7, 2017, FPD Records personnel performed a CAD search to reveal how many DUI investigations Sergeant Jeff Corbett conducted within the last 5 years. Zero investigations were located.

For a DUI investigation an Officer with 700 DUI investigations was replaced by one with 0 in five years. In fact, Corbett wasn’t even certified as a Drug Recognition Expert according to Officer Franke:

“Corbett was decertified as a D.R.E. because he did not submit the required recertification paperwork to Sacramento. To Franke’s knowledge, Corbett has not attempted to get recertified as a D.R.E. since then.”

Everything Corbett did looks to have been wrong and done simply to not collect evidence.

“In regards to the Walk & Turn test, Franke’s overall feeling was as if Corbett was conducting a cursory, “Lets hurry up and get this done; I want to see what you’re able to do and not do” type of investigation.”

“According to Franke, it would have been fair for the people of California to see if Felz was or was not intoxicated. It would have also offered the opportunity to offer exculpatory evidence that would have been fair to Felz. What Corbett did on scene, was a “Gross deviation” of the training he received in the past from Franke and the D.R.E. Program. Franke stated that it seemed as though the test was stopped to prevent any more incriminating evidence to be revealed.”

It goes on to explain what Corbett did and why he claims to have done it and here are the big takeaways (emphasis added):

“I then asked what Corbett meant when he told Officer Haid, “Nobody has done any FSTs, nobody’s done a breathalyzer, so technically we don’t have to go deuce, we can just a do a TC and drive him back. Corbett said he had already spoken to the Watch Commander (Lieutenant Goodrich) and Chief Hughes at that point and he was explaining to Haid that he was not aware what part of the incident was to be handled by Fullerton PD. Corbett added that he did in fact know that Fullerton PD was at least going to handle the traffic collision report portion of the incident. I asked Corbett to elaborate on what he meant because his answer was not directly answering my question, nor was it making sense. Corbett then added that he was trying not to reveal too much too Haid of what he and Chief Hughes spoke about via telephone. At that point in the interview, I told Corbett that phone records indicated his conversation with Haid was in fact after his first call to Goodrich, but before his calls to Chief Hughes. Corbett then said that did not change anything because he was still waiting on a call back to see what direction the Chief wanted the investigation to take.

I asked why it took approximately 1-hour to start the FSTs. Corbett replied stating that the back and forth phone calls caused the delay in having Felz start the tests. I asked Corbett when he last conducted a DUI investigation on his own. Corbett said about 1-year prior to the incident.”

“Sergeant Corbett said no he was not trained that way, but was only asked by Chief Hughes to obtain a preliminary assessment and that’s why he only had Joe Felz do those two tests.

Sergeant Corbett stated that he specifically remembered Chief Hughes requesting either a “couple” or a “few” tests for the “assessment. I asked Sergeant Corbett if he interpreted that as two tests and he said yes.”

“I asked Corbett if he had knowledge of the on-scene officers’ expertise as it relates to D.U.I. investigations. Corbett stated yes, but Chief Hughes instructed him to be the lead.

“I asked Corbett if he remembered asking Joe Felz if he had recently been drinking alcohol that morning and he said yes. I asked Corbett if he could remember Joe Felz’s response and it was, “Yes.” Corbett said he asked this question because he could actually smell alcohol on Felz’s breath. I then asked why Corbett did not have any follow-up questions after Joe Felz admitted to have consumed alcohol. Corbett again stressed that he was not conducting a full D.U.I. investigation and only wanted to obtain basic information to report back the Chief Hughes. I then asked Corbett why he didn’t ask Joe Felz if he had been drinking prior to the two tests he had him perform. Corbett again said he did not ask Joe Felz prior to the FSTs because he was only asked to do a preliminary assessment.”

“I then asked if Corbett has ever terminated his questioning after asking the subject if they had been drinking like he did with Felz in the past. Corbett did not directly answer my question and again said he was only asked by Chief Hughes to get a physical assessment.

“I asked Corbett if he remembered turning the 502 form in with the police report and he responded by saying that there was “no need to.” I asked Corbett to explain why he thought it was not necessary to turn in the form. Corbett said it was irrelevant because there was no arrest.  I asked if Corbett still had the 502 form or if he discarded it. Corbett said it was discarded.”

I asked why there was a delay in Corbett downloading his body-worn-camera and he did not recall or explain why that occurred.”

I asked Corbett if he remembered showing Chief Hughes a printed copy of his police report draft. I asked why he showed the report to Hughes prior to it being sent through the normal Versadex chain. Corbett said Chief Hughes requested it.  I asked if it was normal operating procedure for him to show a draft of the police report on a Word document as opposed to submitting it via the internal report database (Versadex). Corbett said it was normal because that is how it was requested by Chief Hughes.”

Corbett wanted to make it clear that his actions were just a “preliminary assessment” of Joe Felz’s intoxication level. Corbett said that if he was conducting a full D.U.I. investigation, he would have had Felz perform more tests and the 502 form would have been completed which included all associated questions found on the form. Corbett did not go that route because he was directed by Chief Hughes who only wanted a simple “assessment of Felz’ intoxication level”. Corbett was asked by Chief Hughes to perform a couple tests and that’s what he did. Once Corbett obtained the assessment, he called Chief Hughes to relay the information. Corbett then was waiting to see if he was going to handle the rest of the investigation or relinquish the incident to another agency. Corbett again said that he would have done more if he was told to investigate further.

Read the whole report HERE.

It certainly reads like Danny Hughes misled the city council at the very least and orchestrated the Felz cover-up from the start.

Hughes claimed in his letter to council the following:

“I informed the Watch Commander that I would call the sergeant to obtain additional information and that I would have the field sergeant conduct a preliminary assessment by performing Field Sobriety Tests and if the sergeant believed there was a level of intoxication that met the criteria to be a violation of the law, we would contact the CHP to investigate.”

The CHP were not contacted and Sergeant Corbett did not conduct a full investigation.

A Hamel Timeline and Conflict Problem

Chief Hamel and Wife

Was Kathryn Hamel’s Settlement Agreement, to bypass disclosure laws, the byproduct or possibly even the direct result of inter-departmental nepotism and favoritism?

The following email shows that the Internal Affairs investigation into Lieutenant Katheryn Hamel started on or around August 02, 2018.

This smells of a conflict considering the date of that fateful Lady Antebellum concert (August 24, 2018) in which Chief Hendricks, Hamel’s then-boss, allegedly committed battery against an EMT.

Hamel-IA-August2018

This means that Katheryn Hamel was actively being investigated by Fullerton PD’s Internal Affairs division while her husband, Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel, was overseeing the investigation of Katheryn Hamel’s supervisor Captain Oliveras and boss Chief Hendricks.

This information forces us to at least consider a conflict of interest between departments which was kept from the public both at the time and since. We knew of the Hamel connection between departments but not that Fullerton’s Hamel was under investigation at the direction of then-Chief Hendricks.

Instead of sending the Chief Hendricks battery case immediately to an outside agency, Irvine PD appears to have been allowed to complete their investigation.

Wait Wut

Will our own City Council publicly ask the new Chief of Police, Robert Dunn, who was in charge during this fiasco, why this was allowed to play out in such a suspicious way? Don’t count on it. After all, they hired Dunn as permanent Chief last night and tried to do it on the Consent Calendar with zero public input.

What Happened to School Resource Officer Jose Paez

Paez

Something untoward may have been happening at Fullerton High School and the entire community appears to have been once again kept in the dark.  Your children may have had their privacy invaded & may be the victims of somebody they were told to trust.

We’ve received what looks like part of a Body Worn Camera audit and it shows some very questionable information.

Paez BWC Audit

Highlights are as follows (emphasis added):

  • Father reporting his 13 year old daughter having inappropriate relationship with 16 yr old boy. Paez takes photos of text messages from father’s phone with an iPhone.

  • Returned to a home, asked teenage boy and girl if he could get their mother’s phone number. He wrote it on an envelope he was holding with name “***”.

  • Texting on freeway while driving to CHOC with a suicidal teenage girl in backseat.

  • With an iPhone he takes 13 photographs of text messages between 422 victim and suspect from victim’s phone using an iPhone. Unsure if his own or PDs.

  • While investigating Snapchat Hacking report, he takes picture with iPhone of victim girl’s phone screen that has text messages and what appears to the girl in the shower. Girl is 17 years old. At 8m 30s he asks the girl to take screenshots of the conversation (presumably the one he had just photographed) and send it to his work email so he can add it to the case. Why did he take photos with phone?

  • Talking with an 18 year old woman – about some sort of sex crime involving her ex-boyfriend . He tells her there was mention of a sex video. She said it was deleted. He asked to see her phone to confirm the video was not there. She tells him she has “inappropriate” pictures of herself on her camera roll. He takes her phone and scrolls through the pictures. He spends 4 minutes 20 seconds scrolling through her phone.

  • Talking to teenage boy about oral sex video on his phone. Stops recording before interview is over. Next video is 2 hours later with boy’s mother in the room.

  • Talking to girl who took videos and pictures of herself and her boyfriend having sex. Paez pulled the video from his own iPhone to show her. (Not sure if work phone)

  • Takes picture of a teenage boy he is interviewing at a school. Appears Paez adds a caption to the image and sends it to multiple recipients.

  • Takes photos of juveniles phone text messages. Unk if work phone or personal.

  • (17-68541) Paez investigating one juvi with another juvi’s nude pictures on phone. On this case he called CSI to take photos of the images he discovered on the phone.

  • Interviewed a female teacher wearing a skirt. Had his BWC on his belt. Of the 200+ videos I watched of his, this was the only time I’ve seen footage with BWC on belt. Had pretty clear view, under the table they were sitting at, of her knees to hips. Fortunately, nothing “candid” was captured on his BWC. I checked audit trail and discovered he watched the video only once about a month later. Interestingly, the video that preceeded this one was deleted. The deletion occurred because the category was changed, by Paez, from “Arrest” to “Radio Calls”, which changed the deletion schedule from August 29, 2019 to March 04, 2018. Attached is the audit trail for the deleted video.

Make of all of that what you will but quite a bit of it seems like questionable behavior at best.

It is interesting that Officer Paez was able to delete files from the system by changing categories. It would be enlightening to know how often this happens at FPD. That there seems to have been no oversight on this process up this point is problematic to say the least.

Fullerton Officer Jose Paez may or may not be with the Fullerton Police Department anymore, we’ve seen no confirmation either way, but we do know that he was a School Resource Officer (SRO) at Fullerton High School.

This is confirmed though an March 2, 2017 article in the Fullerton Union High School Tribe Tribune.

Paez Tribe Article

We also know that this status as an SRO is no longer current based on FPD’s website about the School Resource Officer program.

FPD SROs 2019

I understand the premise of innocent until proven guilty, but unfortunately, Fullerton PD does not — as they parade names and faces on social media to brag about their arrests while they themselves hide behind the Police Officers Bill of Rights and other such laws. I’d love to give officers the benefit of the doubt but they, through their unions, fight tooth and nail to stop disclosure of criminal acts amongst their brothers and sisters in blue, and enough is enough.

It’s possible that Officer Paez did nothing wrong and I’ll leave that up to the readers to demand answers from City Hall, Fullerton High School and FPD. It seems inappropriate at best to be using a Body Worn Camera to potentially video record under a teacher’s skirt, under a table, or taking screenshots and photos of underage nudity on a phone that might not even be department-issued.

It should be remembered that just a few days ago I showed Christopher Wren was terminated, partially, for having a nude photo of himself on a department-issued phone. Now square that with the above. I’ll share more as I know it and hopefully somebody can demand and get answers as to what is going on over at FPD and City Hall.

No Public Input on the Police Chief

Well folks, Fullerton is at it again. On Tuesday, without any public input, the City Council is slated to appoint Interim Police Chief Robert Dunn as the “Permanent” Chief for the Fullerton Police Department.

I put “Permanent” in quotes because Chiefs tend to leave in disgrace often around these parts.

The position of Police Chief wasn’t put out for applicants despite 5 people applying the last time around. Nope, this time not only is the city not looking to recruit from outside of the city, or even open it up to other in-city employees – they’re shoving it onto the consent calendar.

Dunn - Consent Calender Hire

For the uninitiated I’ll quote a previous post on this very blog about such items.

A typical definition of a consent calendar would be as follows:

Under parliamentary rules governing City Council meetings, Consent Calendar items are reserved for items that are deemed to be non-controversial. They allow a City Council to save the bulk of it’s meeting time for issues in which there is a need for a serious public debate.

So that means that Fullerton’s council thinks that hiring somebody for the position of the Chief of Police for between 5-11 years is non-controversial and not worth discussing.

They don’t even want to have a token discussion on this issue. Not only do we never get oversight, we don’t even get The Performance wall of local government.

Based on some recent stories we’ve seen we might beg to differ about this being something that should be vetted in public. But alas, we at FFFF actually care about transparency and integrity from our government officials which are things this council is adamantly against.

While this doesn’t come as a surprise, it’s actually worse than the last time we hired a new “permanent” Chief. That time city staff actually wrote the questions for council to ask in closed session.

Let us not kid ourselves, even if this was a public hearing our bootlicking council would never a tough question or make demands that would upset their union benefactors.

As per usual, this group of “public servants” just wants to do everything in the dark. Maybe some day we’ll get some openness, honesty and transparency in the city of Fullerton. But don’t count on it.

Nothing to See Here

What Happened to Officer Christopher Wren

Wren is on the right
Wren is on the right…

Some of you may remember the story of Officer Christopher Wren, the FPD brother in blue who pled “no contest” to a list of charges back in 2009. That wasn’t enough to get him booted from the force then but it appears he’s off the force now.

So what happened? What would possibly be worse than false imprisoning somebody?

An affair with a subordinate.

The department learned about the affair when Wren’s wife threw him out of the house and a subsequent investigation took place. During the course of this investigation some things were learned and #3 is a fun note.

“A nude photo of you, taken on October 17, 2017, was located on your Department-issued phone”.

One has to wonder how common this problem is around the station and on department-issued phones.

Based on this report these officers, while on duty, just ignored dispatch and the city they were supposed to be “serving and protecting” so they could “talk” about their dalliances. Sometimes for hours at a time.

The list continues.

Wren-Dismissal 03

Let’s look at #10 for a second.

“while on duty and in uniform and in a women’s restroom at the Fullerton Police Station… you met with Officer Riedl for several minutes to discuss your personal relationship”

They met in the women’s restroom for several minutes to “discuss” their relationship. Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

Finally Officer Wren made a point to “confront” Officer Ramek about their “respective relationships with Officer Riedl”.

It would appear that there was quite the love triangle happening at FPD and that despite the department policy on notification of any such relationships (specifically the subordinate one) it was only discovered once Wren’s wife notified FPD that she threw him out of the house.

Based on FPD’s history this looks like classic turning a blind eye to policy until it becomes a problem too big to ignore. Here’s the relevant policy:

FPD Policy Relationship 01

FPD Policy Relationship 02

We’re not sure what, if anything, happened with Officers Riedl or Ramek or how many “discussions” are still happening in the FPD women’s restroom at this time. As more information is released we’ll be sure to share it.

So What Did Lieutenant Kathryn Hamel Do?

Sgt. Kathryn Hamel

By now you’ve likely seen that the City of Fullerton and the Fullerton Police Department cut a deal with Lieutenant Kathryn Hamel and in doing so bypassed CA’s disclosure law known as SB1421.

We just received a tip which gives us some context into this whole Hamel ordeal. Most of the details are buried but a diligent anonymous soul divulged some of it.

First it appears that Lieutenant Hamel was the subject of two internal affairs investigations and at least one of them was completed. This first image shows this much.

Hamel-IA

We know, thanks to Transparent California, that Fullerton at the time only had 6 Lieutenants.

But to narrow it down more we were also sent the following:

This arrest of Rock Wagner resulted in a lawsuit against the City of Fullerton which we believe is still pending.

Finally we have this image which was sent along to show that even the settlement agreement was written to omit certain facts.

Hamel-Skelly

It would seem that Hamel wasn’t innocent of the charges that led to the internal affairs investigations because they rescheduled a “Skelly” hearing against her.

Now let us put that in context with our earlier post:

“all charges against Hamel, including charges relating to dishonesty, deceit, untruthfulness, false or misleading statements, ethics or maliciousness were never resolved or proven because there was no Skelly hearing or opportunity for appeal and, accordingly, are not sustained.”

If you’re wondering what a “Skelly” hearing is I’ll let the city of Fullerton’s own city attorney Jones & Mayer lay it out:

Due process requires that any deprivation of life, liberty, or property be preceded by notice and opportunity for hearing appropriate to the nature of the case. In California, this is referred to as a Skelly hearing or conference, after the California Supreme Court decision in Skelly v. State Personnel Board, 15 Cal. 3d 194 (1975).

The Ninth Circuit held that, at a minimum, these pre-removal safeguards must include notice of the proposed action, the reasons therefore, a copy of the charges and materials upon which the action is based, and the right to respond, either orally or in writing, to the authority initially imposing discipline.

Basically you don’t schedule a skelly hearing unless you’re going to discipline somebody and take something away from them – usually their job. (more…)

Fullerton Police Cut a Deal to Bypass the Law

As hinted yesterday, we received an anonymous piece of correspondence with a copy of the separation agreement between “Lieutenant” Kathryn Hamel and the City of Fullerton.

It is quite an interesting read. We aren’t the only outlet to receive this so we’re curious to see what coverage, if any, this receives in the press.

From what we have gathered Officer Hamel had at least two internal affairs investigations into her actions. It is alleged that one of them was for giving false statements.

These internal investigations were dropped as a condition of this settlement specifically to avoid disclosure under the law known as SB1421.

To quote the agreement (bold emphasis added, caps lock in original):

“The City will revise its Notice of Intent to Discipline Hamel to remove allegations relating to dishonesty, deceit, untruthfulness, false or misleading statements, ethics or maliciousness.  The Interim Police Chief will place a notice in the file indicating that, pursuant to settlement, all charges against Hamel, including charges relating to dishonesty, deceit, untruthfulness, false or misleading statements, ethics or maliciousness were never resolved or proven because there was no Skelly hearing or opportunity for appeal and, accordingly, are not sustained.   The IA investigation, and related materials including the revised Notice of Intent to Discipline,  will be sealed and maintained in the Human Resources Department, and only in the Human Resources Department, with a notice reading:  “THIS IS A SEALED FILE AND SHOULD NOT BE DISCLOSED OR OTHERWISE PRODUCED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE CITY MANAGER, AND ONLY AFTER RECEIVING A WRITTEN OPINION FROM THE CITY ATTORNEY THAT SAID RELEASE OF INFORMATION IS REQUIRED UNDER APPLICABLE LAW.”

“The City asserts, based on a “not sustained” finding of all charges, that any and all records relating to this investigation are not subject to release under Senate Bill 1421.  The City further asserts that any challenge to this legal opinion by any entity will be defended by the City – in court if necessary – to the fullest extent.”

Since Jerry Brown made it possible to find out when police lie, sexually assault people and cause great bodily harm through SB1421 the police and local governments in CA have been scrambling to find ways to block it’s implementation or ways to work around it and here we see one of those ways.

We citizens should fully expect that this is going to be the new normal.

Lacking consequences the police will continue closing cases and ending investigations to protect their own. Watch as the councils and mayors of our city and state do nothing for fear of union funded reprisals at the ballot box.

This is what happens when there is no objective civilian oversight and departments are allowed to handle their own investigations into the wrongdoing of their friends, family and co-workers. (more…)