The Cover-Up Club

Yesterday, the OC Register did a story about the Fullerton jail house death of Dean Francis Gochenour, and the role played by Vincent Mater, who smashed his DAR against a steel door in order to destroy the evidence it contained.

Well, it happened like this...

Our Acting Chief, Dan Hughes, was unusually chatty.

For instance, he shares with trusted police scribe Lou Ponsi the fact that an internal investigation was concluded by June 20, 2011, that discipline was recommended by Hughes, himself, and then Mater quit on August 2: I made recommendations for discipline and in that process, he resigned,” Hughes said.

So let us ponder a few things. Mater destroys his DAR in mid April, and disciplinary action is started over two months later? And what is this disciplinary “process?” Hard to say; it may have included firing the creep, but if so the process is designed to permit the perp to quit first. And that’s a shame because in the case of Mater we already know he was considered by the DA to be a Brady Cop, (i.e. unfit for court testimony due to unfamiliarity with the truth). We also know that he was complicit in some way in the wrongful incarceration of Emanuel Martinez.

Whatever this so-called discipline process entailed (including, no doubt, union exacted rights for appeal hearings, ad nauseam), Mater decided his best option was to walk away, perhaps to try his luck as a cop somewhere else. So Mater quietly went his merry way on August 2, 2011 – curiously, just as the Kelly Thomas murder protests were starting in earnest.

And now, for the $64,000 question: what was going on between the FPD and the DAs office between August 2 2011 and March 13, 2012? Seven and a half months had passed since Mater’s departure; eleven months had passed since the original crime. It would appear to the outsider that nothing was going to happen at all.

And then somebody changed their mind. I wonder why.


Vince Mater Finally Charged in Connection With FPD Jail Custody Death

The DA’s press release:


FULLERTON – A former Fullerton Police Department (FPD) officer has been charged with destroying evidence for crushing his audio-recorder after an inmate committed suicide in jail following a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest by the defendant. Vincent Thomas Mater, 41, is charged with one misdemeanor count of destruction of evidence and one misdemeanor count of vandalism. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of one year and six months in jail. Mater is scheduled to be arraigned March 26, 2012, at the North Justice Center in Fullerton. The Department is to be determined.

At the time of the crime, Mater was a police officer with FPD.

At approximately 9:45 p.m. on April 14, 2011, Mater is accused of conducting a DUI investigation after making a traffic stop of a vehicle being driven without its lights on in the dark. The defendant was in uniform and driving a marked FPD patrol car. Mater is accused arresting the driver, Dean Gochenour, upon determining that Gochenour was under the influence of alcohol.

Mater is accused of transporting Gochenour in in his patrol car to the Fullerton City Jail (FCJ) and turning him over to FPD jailers to be booked upon arrival. Throughout the duration of his contact with Gochenour, Mater is accused of wearing an FPD-issued Digital Audio Recording device (DAR), which was activated and would have audio-recorded any statements made by Mater or Gochenour.

At approximately 11:30 p.m., inmate Gochenour committed suicide by hanging himself in a cell at FCJ. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) was subsequently contacted to conduct the custodial death investigation.

In the hours after Mater learned of Gochenour’s death, the defendant is accused of destroying his DAR by crushing it and removing the mother board and circuit board. The audio captured on Mater’s DAR of the defendant’s interaction with Gochenour could not be recovered as a result of the damage. The defendant is accused of destroying evidence that would have been relevant to the OCDA’s custodial death investigation.

FPD investigated the case against Mater regarding the destruction of evidence and submitted it to the OCDA for criminal prosecution.

To read the OCDA’s full report on the custodial death of Gochenour, visit and select “OCDA Report Custodial Death Investigation – Inmate Dean Gochenour” from the Investigation Letters tab under the Media Center.  The report was issued today, March 13, 2012.

Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.

The DA’s letter describes the details of the event.

Read the letter

Curiously, this event took place 11 long months ago. Still, better late than never.

What is a Brady Cop? And What Did Vince Mater Do to Become One?

Update: When you’re trying to pierce the veil of secrecy in a police department bent on concealing its officers’ misdeeds, some of the details come through a little fuzzy. I recently received some corrected information on officer Mater’s role in the arrest, highlighted in red below. Note that Mater is still the officer who (allegedly) destroyed his audio recording and was later fired.

I’ve also noticed that almost an entire year has gone by, but Officer Mater has not been charged with destruction of evidence. The DA is reportedly still “working on the case.”

A Brady Officer is a cop with a sustained record for knowingly lying in an official capacity. A Brady cop’s testimony in court is almost worthless, which makes you wonder why a police department such as Fullerton would bother to employ one.

But on to the story. Remember that odd Fullerton jail suicide of Dean Francis Gochenour last year?

The word was that the jail arresting officer by the name of Vince Mater had broken apart his audio recorder and smashed the chip containing a recording in the immediate aftermath of the suicide. Whatever was captured on that recording before and during the arrestee’s suicide, we’ll never know.

Dean Gochenour died in the Fullerton City Jail on April 15, 2011

A few months later, Officer Mater was quietly fired.

Well, now we’ve found new state court docs revealing that the DA had also declared Mater to be a “Brady officer.”

We don’t know how Officer Mater earned his status as certified liar, but if it was so bad that even the FPD couldn’t look the other way, well…it must have been pretty bad.

Mater’s name did appear in an OC Register story in November 2010 about the wrongful incarceration of Emanuel Martinez at the hands of the FPD, in which Mater was johnny-on-the-spot with a gang tag that helped send the wrong guy to jail.

Fast forward to 2011, when the FPD ends up with a dead guy in jail, a smashed recorder, another cop on paid leave and presumably another set of lawsuits.

Oh, and one more thing: for all the City’s talk of transparency and its employment of several highly-compensated Public Information Officers, all of this information was kept from the public until…well, today.

So How Many Brady Cops Does Fullerton Have?

Which is worse, ignorance or apathy?

Yesterday we published a post about a Fullerton cop named Vince Mater who had been identified in court documents as a “Brady” cop, a policeman whose veracity is so doubtful that the DA doesn’t dare put him on the witness stand.

And that got me thinking: are there other Brady cops on our payroll, and if so, how many?

I don’t know, and I can’t even find out. For some reason it’s a real big secret that’s carefully guarded. Of course it takes legal action by a defense attorney to get anything more than a cop’s name, rank and serial number. That’s the police state we have permitted to be erected about us, and that’s a helluvan erection.

On the other hand, simply knowing the actual total wouldn’t violate the sanctity of our Heroes. But, could it be that there are so many Brady cops the entire cop-superstructure would be threatened if the true number were made public? (Now we wouldn’t want the cops to lose public confidence in the police, would we?). Why isn’t it fair to speculate if we won’t be told?

What are the costs of having Brady cops on a police force, both in terms of civil judgments and inability to convict dangerous criminals? Who knows? My guess is that somebody like Pat McKinley, Don Bankhead or Dick Jones doesn’t know. Or care. After all none of these “esteemed” councilmen seems to care that a serial sex predator was knowingly left on the FPD.

Anyway, it sure makes you stop and think about it in light of the recent revelations of bad behavior by Fullerton’s boys and girls in blue. Could any of these fine, upstanding citizens be Brady cops? Could any Brady cops currently be on paid administrative leave, or even charged with a capital crime?