Almanac

News - May 21, 2014

Supes candidate says he questioned sheriff about Vegas incident

by Dave Boyce

For Greg Munks, the sheriff of San Mateo County and the incumbent in the June 3 election for his third four-year term, one question refuses to go away: What were he and Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos doing on an April night in 2007 when Las Vegas police and federal agents found them on the premises of a brothel located in an unmarked house in a residential neighborhood?

Mr. Munks answered that question at the time with a statement that he has not publicly elaborated upon: that he had been seeking a massage after a relay run and that he "believed (he) was going into a legitimate business."

The raid on the brothel, referred to by federal agents as Operation Dollhouse, netted seven arrests, though not of customers, and 3,500 tabs of ecstasy and $20,000 in cash. Mr. Munks and Mr. Bolanos were detained and questioned, then released. The subsequent investigation looked into whether the prostitutes were working as sex slaves, a Las Vegas officer said at the time.

If Mr. Munks was wounded by that experience, the wound may have reopened April 29 while he was attending an invitation-only conference in Redwood Shores on the subject of gun violence in schools.

The question to Sheriff Munks came from Mark De Paula, a resident of San Mateo who is challenging incumbent Supervisor Carole Groom in the election for county supervisor for District 2.

It was a question Mr. De Paula said he'd heard while campaigning. "I had a quite a few people ask me about the Munks situation and whether he was exonerated by the FBI," he told the Almanac. "I wanted to hear it directly from him."

The conference had not yet started, Mr. DePaula said, when he noticed Mr. Munks socializing in the seating area. He said he walked up to Mr. Munks, introduced himself, said he had a question, and proposed that they step away from the gathering, which they did. Mr. De Paula said he asked Mr. Munks if the FBI had exonerated him in the Operation Dollhouse incident.

According to Mr. De Paula, Mr. Munks replied to his question with a question of his own: "How dare you ask that question here?" Mr. Munks then alluded to his reason for being there: to discuss gun violence in schools.

Mr. De Paula said he followed up. "Sheriff Munks," he said, "I'm just asking you a yes or no question."

Mr. De Paula said the sheriff then re-examined Mr. De Paula's name tag and asked him who he was and what his name was, then walked over to Capt. Mark Wyss of the Sheriff's Office and said: "This guy probably doesn't belong here."

Asked to comment, Capt. Wyss told the Almanac that he had nothing more to say about the incident than what he told another newspaper, which was that he did not remember the sheriff saying that Mr. De Paula probably did not belong at the event.

Mr. De Paula said he attempted to calm things down, to "neutralize it. I had a little bit of butterflies in my stomach." He said that he walked to the lobby with Capt. Wyss and repeated that he had been looking for a yes or no answer and that he was surprised that Mr. Munks did not have a prepared answer seven years after the event.

The Almanac attempted to get Mr. Munks' account of the incident with Mr. De Paula, but he was not available for an interview. In an email, however, Mr. Munks commented: "Just a guy pulling a sophomoric campaign stunt at an inappropriate time and place," he wrote. "The real story is the important work of that day focusing on the problem of school shootings and what we can do as a community to prevent/respond and recover from them."

As for Mr. De Paula, when the Almanac asked him what he would do if elected supervisor, he said he would ask for Mr. Munks' resignation.

Comments

Posted by Carlos, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 2, 2014 at 10:10 am

Disgraceful that no one petitioned to recall Munks at the time and that no one has run against his re-election ( except for this hopeless write-in bid). Sex slaves are not prostitutes: they are victims of rape. What does that make the customers? Rapists.


Posted by Forest dweller, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 2, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Interrupt a conference on reducing gun violence in schools.

Gun nuts will do anything to disrupt that kind of progress. They'll do anything; anything except get a qualified candidate for sheriff on the ballot.

Be glad when this election is over. Next time, put a candidate on the ballot, instead of using an issue from 2007 as a stalking horse for politicians running for other positions.


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