The Joe Felz Cover-up is nearly complete. Yesterday the officer, Jeff Corbett, who falsified his report, was slapped on the wrist for his felonious actions.
While we don’t know what happened in his Jury Trial, the bench trial ended yesterday with the judge giving him less time for lying in his official capacity as a police officer than you can get for contempt of court.
His attorney said this case, where an officer lied on a report, was more of a “political football than a felony”. Let that sink in. Lying under the color of authority isn’t that big of a deal in this system.
His attorney also claimed that Corbett was being prosecuted for his “opinion” that Joe Felz wasn’t intoxicated. What this defense attorney and judge ignored is that it took Corbett over an hour to conduct his “limited investigation” because, according to Corbett himself, the “back and forth phone calls” took too long. Those are the phone calls between Corbett, Danny Hughes, Jennifer Fitzgerald and lord knows who else.
So the powers that be were pulling strings for Felz to not get treated like any other DUI in Fullerton (hi MADD!) and Corbett went along with it by stating that an obviously intoxicated Felz (who plead guilty to that fact) didn’t seem intoxicated. The other officers reported that Felz “smelled of alcohol” but something something Corbett is hero and deserve.
The judge admitted she had no idea there was an independent investigation by RCS and she clearly didn’t know the facts of the case or she wouldn’t call this just a “sloppy investigation”.
The judge claimed there are a lot of politics involved and then claimed she was going to avoid the politics to “follow the law” but you cannot untangle the two in this case. Let us not forget that the Mayor and Chief of Police directed the actions of a police officer in relation to the drinking and driving by the City Manager. That the officer was on the up-and-up when he claimed to not think the City Manager was drunk under the law (after not doing a breathalyzer and waiting over an hour to conduct any sobriety tests) is laughable at best.
It only took 51 months, 14 days (or 1,567 days) for the illusion of justice to be handed down in the Joe Felz Sappy McTree Caper.
All in all he got 80 hours of community service, is required to pay restitution (that may not even exist), is required to pay $500 to the “victim witness” and Corbett can’t work in law enforcement anymore. Once this “diversion” is completed in a year the record will be sealed.
All that remains is for the body worn camera footage to be “lost” by FPD now that there is no reason to legally withhold it from the public.
Here it is after 4 years of obfuscation by City Hall and Fullerton PD. Here is the 9-1-1 call from the night former City Manager Joe Felz ran over a tree and tried to flee the scene. Pay special attention to the squealing of his vehicle as it limps down Highland away from poor Sappy McTree.
You’ll recall that he was given a ride home by Fullerton PD and given a pass on his DUI thanks to the position of power he enjoyed. This treatment ultimately, thanks to this blog, led to the firing and charging of the responsible Fullerton PD Sargent.
Give it a listen.
Now we await the body camera footage and other records from the incident.
There was a protest today in Fullerton, like many cities around the country, sparked by the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis. People are justifiably angry about the actions of the officers involved who killed Mr. Floyd.
This blog has long stood against police misconduct and abuses of authority from the Pre-Kelly Thomas days to my ongoing lawsuit trying to expose the ongoing Culture of Corruption within the City of Fullerton.
We’re allies on the issues of abuses of authority and unaccountable police.
That said I implore you to focus your anger.
Police abuse people not for such a simple issue as wrongthink. Manual Ramos threatening Kelly Thomas with his balled up fists wasn’t a Black vs. White issue. When 50% of the Officers fired for the murder of George Floyd are POCs it breaks the lazy narrative.
Police do terrible things because we as a society let them. We tell them it’s okay. We condone and support their actions. We give them endless benefits in their checks and qualified immunity in the courts.
We do it every election at the ballot box.
In 2016 Jennifer Fitzgerald, our current Mayor, won election with more votes than any candidate has ever received in the city of Fullerton. She won with these numbers despite being the biggest bootlicker on council since the 3 council members we recalled.
During her tenure, this woman has caused our budget to be absolutely CONSUMED by police pay and benefits. Public safety currently accounts for more than $7 out of every $10 we spend in our general fund. This is ridiculous but it has no end in sight and we’re getting less and less for it.
Our city cannot afford to fix our roads because she and those like her have never seen a police pension or pay raise she didn’t adamantly support.
Meanwhile she has fought, tooth and nail, against any meaningful reform of the Fullerton Police Department from her seat on council. She glad hands police and supports their militarization at every opportunity. She has supported asset seizures which is when the city steals your property to pad their budgets. She has gone so far as to support hiding records from the public by not demanding the City follow basic public records laws. Hell, this blog got sued for showing that FPD is RIGHT NOW doing everything they can to AVOID publicly disclosing wrongdoing by their officers.
This blog exposed a pervert cop who was caught filming up a 16 year old’s skirt while assigned to Fullerton High School and her solution was to vote, multiple times, to SUE US. Oversight? Accountability? Assurances that there is chain of custody and accountability? That FPD won’t turn more of our kids into victims of sex crimes? She’s been as quiet as a church mouse on those issues because she puts bad cops over our kids & our city as a whole.
Did you know that Fullerton purchased 160 AR-15s? That’s more than one PER officer. Why? Why does FPD need that kind of firepower? It certainly isn’t to protect you. And if it’s not to protect you, it’s to protect the very police that our elected officials refuse to hold accountable from you.
Fitzgerald eagerly supported this purchase and militarization without hesitation. As did Jesus Silva & County Supervisor Doug Chaffee.
They do the bidding of the Fullerton Police Officer’s Association and the FPOA cares about one thing and one thing only – keeping cops with fat wallets above the law at your expense. Remember that the less accountable they are, the more you pay when they screw up. Those millions that Fullerton paid Ron Thomas certainly didn’t come out of any police pensions or FPOA bake sale.
In the near decade since Kelly Thomas was murdered we have seen no meaningful reform of the Fullerton Police Department. No transparency. No real oversight. Jennifer Fitzgerald has now been Mayor twice in that time. She was put onto council in the election months after the recall resulting from the Kelly Thomas murder – she even ran on exploring changes to the police department and it was all bullshit to placate you. She allegedly refused to even watch the Kelly Thomas video unless her buddy, Chief Danny Hughes, was there to guide her opinion. Imagine somebody saying that about the George Floyd video – that they wouldn’t watch it without the Commander in charge to guide them through it? That’s our Mayor.
If you care about police accountability. If you care about justice. If you care about any of the things the protesters claim to care about in this moment of national outrage – make your voice heard at the ballot box AND the in the streets.
Don’t forget. Don’t get complacent. Vote against anybody who puts the FPOA above we the people. Kick the Jennifer Fitzgeralds with their constant bootlicking to the curb. Be a part of the change that stops the platitudes.
Fullerton, like most departments, has a problem reminiscent of Serpico and this problem is years in the making. This problem is part of the story of the sordid “Culture of Corruption” that was documented after the Kelly Thomas beating. This veritable Serpico problem is a cancer within the system where once in uniform even good people turn a blind eye to corruption and stand idle as their unions and water carriers work to stomp on both people working towards and laws aimed at transparency.
For those unfamiliar with Frank Serpico he was an officer in the NYPD who stood up against widespread corruption and suffered for this crime against the Blue Wall of Silence. When he was shot in the face in the line of duty his fellow officers went so far as refusing to call for help.
This reverse Serpico problem is the common issue of Officers refusing to speak out, refusing to stand up and refusing to be good ethical humans for fear of reprisals from their brothers and sisters in blue.
Today I want to tell a story that should have been told some time ago – the tale of how ethics can get you fired at Fullerton PD.
I’d like to tell you about one Corporal Paul Irish.
You see, Corporal Irish was fired for dishonesty. A year or so ago I spoke to Paul and I was given copies of the files related to his termination. Honestly I didn’t know what to do with what he gave me and I sort of let it sit waiting for the time to really dig into it. Life, kids, you know the drill. That box sat in my garage patiently waiting for me to have time. Skip ahead and, well, the city cost me my job recently and I find myself with more time on my hands. So I got to reading.
To sum up hundreds of pages of paperwork — what Corporal Irish DID was, allegedly, tell his supervisors he was giving a talk on seat belt safety when he actually gave a talk on ethics. When they hammered him for his dishonesty on what his talk was about they ran a full investigation into the issue which ultimately led to his termination for more alleged dishonesty.
The transcript of the talk is [HERE] and the actual audio as recorded by Corporal Irish is here;
According to the information I have seen, these are the charges for which Corporal Irish was fired:
PSB #2014-72IA Investigation
Corporal Paul Irish
Potential Policy Violations:
340.3.5 (g) – within policy
Recommendation to Staff: Not within policy – Termination Approved
That’s a bunch of jargon so I’ll allow the Fullerton Police Department’s Policy Manual chapter on Conduct explain all that legal speak:
(h)Knowingly making false, misleading or malicious statements that are reasonably calculated to harm or destroy the reputation, authority or official standing of the Department or members thereof.
(i)The falsification of any work-related records, the making of misleading entries or statements with the intent to deceive, or the willful and unauthorized destruction and/or mutilation of any department record, book, paper or document.
(l)Any knowing or negligent violation of the provisions of the department manual, operating procedures or other written directive of an authorized supervisor. Employees shall familiarize themselves with and be responsible for compliance with each of the above and the Department shall make each available to the employees.
(n)Criminal, dishonest, infamous or disgraceful conduct adversely affecting the employee/employer relationship, whether on or off duty.
(z)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.
Remember, this all stems from Corporal Irish giving a talk on ethics that his supervisors didn’t approve of him giving and being mad at being “lied to” about said briefing.
This should be put into some context with current events in order to explain the aforementioned Serpico problem. When some cops are fired for seemingly trivial issues while others are given a pass for egregious conduct it sets bad examples. It tells Officers who to follow, which lies are okay and where things stand in regards to the Blue Wall of Silence. This is how a cancer grows in a department. A blind and subservient government is how it remains untreated and metastasizes.
This year, thanks to this blog, we learned that Fullerton PD and Fullerton City Hall worked to enter into an agreement in order to shield Lieutenant Kathryn Hamel from the disclosure of her crimes. The city was willing to stop investigations in order to protect her, the wife of Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel, from any sustained findings of dishonesty which would have made her crimes public records under the CA law known as SB1421.
Currently there is an also an officer, Jeff Corbett, being charged with a felony for falsifying his reports as related to the drinking and driving of former Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz in November 2016. That Sergeant was only terminated after a friend of this blog filed a citizen complaint which triggered an investigation which led to a sustained finding of dishonesty. Only AFTER that investigation was concluded in September of 2017 did FPD open their own investigation and terminate Corbett.
These are current issues at the Fullerton Police Department as ignored by our current City Council, City Hall and police brass.
The hearings over Irish’s termination went through 2016 and well into 2017 while Sergeant Corbett was being given a pass for clearly violating department policy during the Felz incident. This is at best an inconsistent application of policy and a strong indicator of favoritism in the department – ergo, cancer.
If you think I’m being hyperbolic about comparing Paul Irish to Frank Serpico in premise, in the notion that the Department will crush one of their own to cover their corruption or incompetence – remember that I’m being sued, along with David Curlee and this blog, for allegedly clicking links and posting stories that showed police misconduct. Stories that showed the Kathryn Hamel deal. A story about a pervert cop at Fullerton High School that FPD and City Hall wanted kept secret. The city has never disputed those stories, or others – they’ve just demanded we remove the truth from this site while defaming us as thieves and hackers.
Your tax dollars are being used to punish us not because we allegedly clicked links and thus broke a federal law in the process. We’re being sued because we, yet again, embarrassed Fullerton PD by pointing out corruption and malfeasance and my records requests, if fulfilled as required by law, would embarrass them further. They’re using your money and the courts to intimidate and attempt to silence us because we again stepped out of line. We got in the way of the Blue Wall of Silence and both those in uniform and those in charge at City Hall are too self-interested and too cowardly to stand up for what is right. Too worried about their pensions, campaign dollars and cronyism to be ethical. They preach integrity and practice treachery.
Sadly the tale of Paul Irish is just another in a long line of such stories. A story of the government using it’s weight to silence dissent. A story about government arrogance crushing a voice even when it comes in the form of an officer talking about the things the Police Department hypocritically displays on their own walls. Ethics used during times of convenience are no ethics at all.
A lot has happened in Fullerton over the last several years and while my involvement has waned ever since the City threatened me civilly and criminally because I happen to be associated with this blog, and this blog published embarrassing things City Hall would rather hide from the people, I have remained committed to finding the truth and speaking up against the vapid and self-serving corruption of our council majority & the city hall they oversee.
In my capacity as a chronic malcontent these last few years I have made numerous records requests looking for information and many of those requests have been ignored, delayed or denied owing to dubious legal claims or just outright misrepresentations of the law. As such I have opted to sue the city of Fullerton for violations of the California Public Records Act.
The now filed Petition for Writ of Mandate alleges that the City of Fullerton has violated the CPRA in regards to my records requests related to no less than 5 separate issues.
Back when I first started filing requests, specifically for the body worn camera and dash cam videos of the Joe Felz DUI incident, the city was able to hide behind a lack of enforceable disclosure laws as SB1421 was not yet the law of the land. Cities did/do this because they know it takes a lot of time, effort and commitment to make them comply with disclosure laws.
Here in Fullerton the arrogance got so bad that they didn’t even try to hide their disdain for the public and transparency. At one point after claiming the Felz video was exempt from disclosure owing to the non-existent sham investigation, City Attorney Gregory Palmer asserted to me; “If you are dissatisfied with the response you have remedies”.
Skip ahead a few years and it turns out I DO have remedies and I have opted to act upon them. Hence this lawsuit.
For those interested, the lawsuit reads as follows (after the jump, emphasis in original, exhibits in the Writ link above):
For a long time we had inklings and heard rumors that former City Manager Joe Felz monkeyed with the accounting around City Hall and fudged as much as possible while pretending, with the likes of Jennifer Fitzgerald that our budget was “balanced”. It was plainly obvious when the Redevelopment Agency was shuttered by State law and yet nobody lost a job that Felz’s priorities were not with fiscal restraint. It was just as obvious when nobody on City Council questioned it that he was bound to keep on keeping on.
So now we have a new small example of how Felz and everybody down the food chain ran our city (emphasis in original):
“Years ago after the Kelly Thomas incident, Joe had authorized a part-time parks & rec employee to hang around in the lobby during Council meetings for (I’m assuming) crowd control or some type of assistance. I just found out today that these employees’ time, averaging 5 hours per Council night, is being charged to Public Works landscaping, apparently because Joe thought that budget had money???? (not). Public Works has finally gotten wind of it and says no more, which I absolutely agree with. Either this coverage should cease, or it should be charged to the City Council’s budget (for which there is absolutely no room).
Please provide direction to affected parties as appropriate.”
While this looks like small potatoes, it goes to the ethics and opaque way Fullerton’s finances were run and the willful ignorance on the part of council. This payroll game is another case of something which ran for literal years before somebody found it by accident at which point the “Oh shit do something” brigade started worrying about details they long ignored.
If payroll for employees is buried in the wrong departments what other money is being used inappropriately around City Hall?
Don’t expect our City Manager to explain how this problem ran for so long and who is being held to account or for our City Council to ask any tough questions or to even address this or any similar issues. That would be out of character and would require them to be open, honest and accountable.
Back in April of 2017 we wrote a piece about FPD giving taxpayers the middle finger regarding spending cuts within the department. During budget meetings the Police Department offered the PR outfit “Behind the Badge” up for tribute in their paltry cost savings plan and that was pretty much it.
For context, during this time it was mentioned that the police department burned through over $1Million a year in overtime (OT) pay.
What most people didn’t know, hilariously, is that the Chief of Police himself didn’t know how that money was being spent (emphasis added):
“I can be made aware I am spending a lot of money in overtime, but a detailed accounting of that overtime is not available. We have codes for court overtime but, to my understanding, that is all. If the OT was spent to maintain minimum staffing I do not know. If the OT was due to a community event I do not know. If the OT was due to extended shift overtime I do not know. “
That is from the former Chief of Police himself. If Overtime was due to a community event, minimum staffing or extended shift OT he didn’t know.
Let that sink in for a minute.
The Chief of Police didn’t (and likely doesn’t still) know how OT was being used in his own department. And this went on for literal years before Hendricks got here.
This is where I give former Chief Hendricks some praise for at least in one aspect attempting to right a ship that the council, city manager and former Chiefs had let float adrift. Let us not forget that the officers who took the OT never brought it up or questioned it as they were perfectly happy to ride the OT gravy-train into Fullerton’s fiscal ruin.
But wait, there’s MORE! Not only was the Chief unaware of how OT was being spent, we were also burning through OT as standard operating procedure (emphasis added):
“In the last six years following KT’s death, ALL community events and requests were taken on and a large number of them were done on overtime. This was the case up until I got here. I was unaware the marching orders were “do everything and money is no object” until literally last week. In the prior months, I had used personal discernment to tell Community Services to say “no” to some things and, instead to offer an on duty Watch Commander or a beat cop or sergeant to simply swing by and say hi. No exaggeration, if someone asked for a PD display of canines, SWAT and all their equipment etc., we gave it to them. Most of those things happened on the weekend and many of the individuals responding did so on overtime.”
The mentality was “do everything and money is no object” for 6 years until Hendricks put a stop to it. This was likely a Dan Hughes and/or Joe Felz thing that just sat uncontested by our lazy, incompetent and/or corrupt city staff and council because the idea that the council didn’t know about it is laughable. The only way they didn’t know about this is because willful ignorance is bliss in council chambers and feigning ignorance works too well with low information voters.
If nothing else this shows a complete lack of budgetary seriousness for at least six years from our City Councils, City Managers, HR Director and Police Chiefs in that time. You can’t seriously talk about balancing a budget and being conscious of costs when you have standing orders that “money is no object” and your Chief of Police is ignorant of how the money in a $1Million+ budgetary item is being allocated and spent.
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:
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.
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
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.
On Tuesday our City Manager, Ken Domer, wants Council to award Acting Chief Dunn with an Interim Chief gig. With this new gig comes a new contract as the new council decides who to put in the role “permanently”. Like all things in government there are already some serious questions in how this is playing out legally. Let’s see if you can spot an obvious problem in the contract.
Ok, I’ll give you a hint (emphasis added):
SECTION 12 – CONFIDENTIALITY AND NON-DISPARAGEMENT
Except as otherwise required by law, in the event the City terminates Employee with or without cause, City and Employee agree that no member of the City Council, the city management staff, nor Employee shall make any written, oral, or electronic statement to any member of the public, the press, or any City employee concerning Employee’s termination except in the form of a joint press release or statement, which is mutually agreeable to City and Employee. The joint press release or statement shall not contain any text or information that is disparaging to either City or Employee. Either City or Employee may verbally repeat the substance of the joint press release or statement in response to any inquiry.
What’s the problem, you ask?
Your right to know how the most senior members of Fullerton’s government behave is being voted away, again, by our City Council on Tuesday. Watch it pass 5-0. Bureaucracy Commandment #3: Protect thyself and thy brethren. I’m actually a little surprised this contract wasn’t buried in the Consent Calendar in the hopes nobody would even notice.
Take a look at Fullerton’s track record. Our previous city manager and 2 of our last 3 Police Chiefs resigned in disgrace — City Manager Felz hit a tree allegedly driving drunk, Chief Sellers went on medical leave in the midst of the Kelly Thomas scandal and most recently Chief Hendricks left after allegedly battering an EMT.
With contracts like this one, you have no right to know about any of it. That of course means you have no right to pressure City Council to do anything about it, either.
See the sickness?
When Hendricks resigned the city lied by omission and gave you nothing but a puff piece about how awesome he was for Fullerton. When I called the City’s Public Information Officer I was told, laughably, that Hendrick’s alleged battery for which he went on admin leave was unrelated to his resignation.
This contract is written so poorly that Dunn could shoot somebody in the face and BY CONTRACT nobody from the council or city could tell the public, media or other city employees why he was fired.
More to come on this outstanding contract at a later date. In the mean time, remember, your right to know stops where an employee’s paycheck begins.