Atherton police report investigation stalled Atherton, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Nov 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm
Seven months have passed since Atherton's police chief asked the San Mateo County district attorney to investigate the charge that a police report was falsified to bring a trumped-up charge of child abuse against an Atherton resident.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 12:00 AM
Posted by John P Johns, a resident of another community, on Nov 3, 2010 at 7:57 pm
Wagstaffe is being dishonest. He doesn't need a copy of the investigative report to conduct his investigation. His own prosecutor was present when Tony Dennis made the admission under oath about the police report being falsified. His own prosecutor is familiar with all involved.
She could have asked the hard questions but she did not.
Posted by felony hit and run, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2010 at 10:34 pm
Mr. Stogner asks "Why couldn't the Chief of Atherton Police find and prosecute the corrupt cop? What's the hold up?"
[Portion deleted. Please don't use Town Square to accuse people of crimes. You can say that the chief should or could take certain actions. But we don't want Town Square to be used to accuse people of criminal behavior.]
Posted by Proud to Be Blue, a resident of another community, on Nov 4, 2010 at 10:05 pm
So Buckheit doesn't want the district attorney to investigate this "crime"? Could this be because once they verify there's no evidence of any wrongdoing at all, he has nothing more to complain about? This would be funny if he weren't trying to ruin the lives of some fine Police Officers in the process.
Posted by felony hit and run, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 4, 2010 at 11:28 pm
Glen Neilson was the newly appointed Chief of Police (by never before City Manager Gruber), during Mr. Buckheit's false arrest (Oct 2008), for the year thereafter that it took Buckheit to sue to obtain a copy of his own police report, and then thereby discover that the charges against him had been falsified. Chief Neilson announced his retirement to new horizons, the very week before the Factual Innocense Hearing went before a Judge (Nov 2009). With Chief Neilson safely redeployed to the Sequoia Healthcare District (and out of Dodge City), one of the original arresting officers (Tony Dennis) stated under oath that he himself had not altered the police report and that it must have been someone else who had made that second series of wrongful actions to cover up for the first and second.
All of this has been published in the Almanac and proven in Court, so there should be no need to delete it.
It was clear to the judge that a whole series of "deeply disturbing" decisions were made not only by the arresting officers, the command watch, and up through and including the Chief. Clearly Officer Dennis wanted to get left holding the bag for only those actions that he was in fact responsible for, not everyone else's. Clearly Chief Neilson was CHIEF Neilson. Clearly he was both in charge and responsible for the actions of his entire department and certainly his own actions and non actions. Clearly he left his department with a giant mess on their hands, and one which was caused by his own lack of leadership and control and good judgement. The question of who had the biggest motive to falsify the report is a pretty easy guess. If this post is still too speculative for the editors, then I would refer them to their own reporting or the Court transcripts.
Posted by Interested, a resident of another community, on Nov 5, 2010 at 10:14 am
I am not sure I understand why Mr. Buckheit will not release the report to Wagstaffe. If Wagstaffe whitewashes an investigation it will be obvious. It would seem to me that allowing Wagstaffe to do his job would be the most reasonable action. In full disclosure I have to say that I know Steve Wagstaffe, his desire to disclose wrongdoing by Public Officials has always been adamant. I can fully understand Mr. Buckheits reticence at trusting the system (it has after all, already failed him miserably)but it would seem the process should be followed and lets see where the chips fall.
Posted by David, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2010 at 10:16 am
I know Steve Wagstaffe too. And when it comes to law enforcement in San Mateo County, Wagstaffe is most certainly NOT interested in disclosing wrongdoing.
Case in point: Sheriff Greg Munks' little excursion to the house of underage prostitution. Wagstaffe wrote an email to Munks defending him, and implying that his opinion of him held more sway than those others (including some detectives who worked under Munks)who wanted him to resign.
Beware of Wagstaffe's so -called "charm." It's as false as you can get. All Wagstaffe cares about is looking good. But he's a terrible manager and the more he doesn't deal with the messes in his county, the worse it will get for him.
Wagstaffe will cover for all police officers in his county, no matter what.
The San Mateo DA's office is one of the most dysfunctional I have ever seen and needs a massive overhaul.
Buckheit's case should be investigated by the Attorney General's office.
Posted by Jon Buckheit, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2010 at 10:19 am
Interested, if Mr. Wagstaffe truly were adement about pursuing this type of wrongdoing, he would have done it long before I requested the outside investigation. In fact, his office was aware of this report falsification before I was; Tony Dennis admitted during questioning that he had discussed it with Wagstaffe's deputy before the proceedings even began. The prosecutors, in violation of applicable case law, did not disclose this information to us before the proceedings began, and they certainly didn't do anything else about it.
Couple this with the active lawsuit against the county, and it should be clear why Mr. Wagstaffe cannot perform this investigation. In fact, the State Bar guidelines actually prohibit him from doing so.
Posted by Felony hit and run, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2010 at 11:13 am
As was posted about 10 months ago on this blog (deleted instead of verified)--Wagstaffe and Neilson have (or had ?) each other on their top ten best friends lists for the world to see-posted on their face book pages--so the conflict of interest argument should hold up pretty well.
Also Neilson's take away for his one year as Chief was over 300,000 dollars--so to add in the Buckheit law suit 10,000,000 and Pilar's 250,000 pay out, the pensions-I feel like Atherton has been the victim of a snatch and grab.
Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community, on Nov 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm
Here are the 2 e-mails you were talking about from Fox and Wagstaffe to Munks and Bolanos i received from the County per FOI request.
e-mail sent 4/25/07 10:47AM
Greg and Carlos
"I just want to let you both know how sorry I am for what you are going through with the media frenzy. It isn't easy getting beaten up in the media, but hopefully it will all be yesterday's news by tomorrow, If there is anything I can do to help or provide support, please know I am more than willing."
Hang in there.
e-mail sent 4/25/07 10:20 AM
Greg and Carlos
Just a quick word of support from me as you go through a difficult time. To those who matter, your decades of outstanding work in law enforcement are all that count and your integrity is not the slightest marked by the modern media's efforts to make a story out of a non-story. Hard as it is to think it now, remember it will be yesterday's news and irrelevant by tomorrow.
My positive thoughts are out there for both of you.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community, on Nov 6, 2010 at 9:16 am
I believe he cares about the report because a police officer falsified information on the report that accused Burkheit of a crime against a child. Read the stories on this case next time. You can't have police officers just making up anything they want on a police report.
Posted by Jon Buckheit, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2010 at 10:28 am
Don, not sure what you mean about "in the beginning". The case was never prosecuted. The prosecutor assigned to oppose the factual innocence was Lisa Coburn. She was also the person who decided not to prosecute the original police report, at least according to the paper records we've reviewed.
I recently met with an individual who received a factual innocence last April in SMC in a 15-minute hearing. (Apparently he is the fifth person in the history of the county to receive it, as I was told I was the fourth).
The short oral hearing is the way these motions are traditionally heard. For some reason, perhaps related to the falsification, mine was a three-day "trial". My opinion is the prosecutor pulled out all the stops to oppose it with the knowledge that, if it had been granted, the report falsification would come to light. (Yet another reason it's inappropriate for them to investigate the matter).
Posted by Don, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2010 at 11:27 am
Jon: Thanks, that's what I meant by "the beginning."
I do agree that it is ridiculous of the DA to be investigating this case.
I know they did an internal investigation into prosecutor Melissa Mckowan for a case- going on right now - for which she's being sued for lying to a judge to get out of trying a case. Supposedly that got her into hot water with Wagstaffe, but to the press, he's still covering for her.
Wagstaffe will always, always protect law enforcement in the County over all else.
Posted by Don, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2010 at 11:34 am
You might want to take a look at this case, where a family is suing the San Mateo District Attorney's office. It's the inverse of yours- they want the case reinstated. But they also have the financial means and the education to fight the DA and the County, and they are going to keep fighting.
Posted by high tech detective, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2010 at 8:20 pm
"Interested" (AKA Duncan) doesn't know Wagstaffe very well.
Wagstaffe has a double standard as Mr. Johns pointed out. If you are a friend or a friend of a friend, you could murder your mother in law and he'd call it justifiable homicide.
On the other hand if your his enemy or an enemy of one of his friends, stand back, if you so much as think about stealing a candy bar in his county you're gonna do time, or you'll spend a fortune avoiding jail. Just ask Troy.
Posted by Neal, a resident of another community, on Nov 7, 2010 at 4:39 am
Um, Mr. Stogner, the lawsuit has nothing to do with the test results. It has to do with the prosecutor lying to a judge by saying that the family didn't want the daughter to testify. As this lie has proven to be false from the prosecutor's own emails, the prosecutor in a new statement has now offered a NEW lie- that the therapist for the daughter " threatened "to blackmail the family. The therapist has just signed a sworn declaration saying this is false, as does the family. It's in the files. Go look.
Additionally,the father who got the private defender in this case was making over $100,000 a year. The prosecutor on the case, Mckowan told the mother for over a year that she was going to prosecute the father for lying about his income to get a free lawyer. Her supervisor, Guidotti now says the prosecutor's office dropped the ball about prosecuting the father, and that they should have.
The prosecutor has lied on a number of other cases about witnesses and evidence. There have been at least two internal investigations into her for her actions on two cases in the last five months. Those are just the ones we know about.
The abovementioned case is about lying to the courts and to witnesses and about witnesses.
This is one case where you've got the facts ass-backwards.
Posted by Don, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 7, 2010 at 4:52 am
The point is that in both the Buckheit case and the Sadek case, both parties who are suing are educated and have the financial means to pursue their cases. Just think of all the people who have been railroaded by the DA who have neither the education or money to pursue a lawsuit.
I do know that the prosecutor on the Sadek case has gotten into serious hot water with Steve Wagstaffe for her work on the case. While Wagstaffe is putting on a public face of support for Mckowan, behind the scenes, it's been a different story.
[Portion deleted. We don't know if this happened, and since it involves a named individual, it's probably not appropriate for Town Square. ]
Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community, on Nov 7, 2010 at 6:38 am
"Um, Mr. Stogner, the lawsuit has nothing to do with the test results."
I understand why you do not want to discuss the 3 Lab results.
I invite you to start a new thread about the Sadek case if you wish.
I have been an advocate in this County for 10 years now, I have asked our District Attorney to prosecute Fraud and Perjury cases in our Family Law Courts and I have asked the Board of Supervisors to make this a top priority for the County. They have declined to do so.
Steve Wagstaffe's response was, "Mr. Stogner it is unfortunate but Fraud and Perjury are prevalent in our Family Law Courts and the Judges don't seem to care."
I told him it is his job to prosecute not the Judges.
I have made this statement under oath in front of Hon. Judge Beth Freeman.
Posted by Jon Buckheit, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Nov 7, 2010 at 10:12 am
Don says: "The point is that in both the Buckheit case and the Sadek case, both parties who are suing are educated and have the financial means to pursue their cases. Just think of all the people who have been railroaded by the DA who have neither the education or money to pursue a lawsuit."
This is perhaps the most significant issue in my mind. If the Atherton police officers who have been censured by a judge for misconduct and the involved parties at the district attorney's office including S. Wagstaffe have the hubris to do this to people who obviously have the means to fight back, imagine what has been done to the people who don't. I shudder to think about it, and have to believe there are many more horror stories we don't even know about. If you start to research, as I had to do, the various barriers police unions have put into place by throwing their financial weight around the California legislature, you'll also be horrified that it's almost impossible for the public to ferret out police misconduct. They have for all intents and purposes legislated themselves as self-governing and self-correcting bodies. It's scary.
Of course, I have also noticed that an attitude that is prevalent by some misguided members of law enforcement is: "the more you want to question your guilt, the more we want to get you". This attitude is anathema to how the U.S. legal system was constructed, but very, very palpable with some members of the law enforcement brigade who probably shouldn't be in law enforcement. Therefore it is possible that if you are a lower income person who have been unjustly arrested, by simply resigning yourself to your fate (since you don't have the means to challenge it), they may not feel the need or motivation to resort to falsifying a report to try to make matters worse for you.
Posted by Don, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 7, 2010 at 12:40 pm
In terms of getting someone like the Attorney General's office to investigate your case, have you thought of going to the Northern California Innocence Project? This kind of fight is right up their alley. It is my understanding that they have received several complaints about the San Mateo DA's office recently. The director there is Cookie Ridolfi. She and Maurice Possley, a former reporter for the Chicago Tribune just put together a study of prosecutorial misconduct in California, which they say is rampant. They're at the Santa Clara School of Law.
Posted by John P Johns, CPA, a resident of another community, on Nov 7, 2010 at 7:22 pm
We all owe a debt of gratitude to Jon Buckheit. I feel indebted to him because he has exposed the DA for what it is, as a dysfunctional den of petty corruption.
It is remarkable, shocking really, that Lisa Coburn would continue to oppose Jon's declaration of factual innocence despite knowing about the police report being falsified. What we have is one crooked Deputy DA, protecting a crooked Atherton cop.
I am grateful to Jon because I share a similar experience with Wagstaffe's malevolent minions.
Jon's experience tells me that I wasn't deserving of how I was treated. My story as described below is similar to Jon's story in the sense that the DA was more interested in doing a favor for a fellow law enforcement officer than in serving the cause of justice.
At the request of former Chief Robert Brennan, the DA initiated a criminal investigation of me on charges of fraud. The DA kept this case open until July 2007, despite the fact that I gave the DA proof I was innocent in early April 2007. The motive for keeping my investigation going on for so long was simple, to try and pin me down long enough that the statute of limitations ran out on my civil case.
This gambit failed when I re-filed against the Town even though my crimninal investigation was still underway.
What the DA needs is a good old fashioned performance audit, conducted in accordance with auditing standards promulgated by the Comptroller General of the United States.
I'll be first in line to apply for the job in case any County Supervisor has the nerve to fund such an audit.
The reason for widespread prosecutorial misconduct in California is simple, it's called prosecutorial immnity. There ought to be a law against that.
Maybe when Buckheit has had his way with Wagstaffe there will be. Its about time Wagstaffe was taken to the woodshed.
Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community, on Nov 8, 2010 at 5:38 am
I have been asking the Board of Supervisor to supply Oversight of the District Attorney's Office for 10 years now for this very reason. I have also requested Oversight of all of our elected offices, Sheriff, Probation, Coroner etc.
"What the DA needs is a good old fashioned performance audit, conducted in accordance with auditing standards promulgated by the Comptroller General of the United States.
I'll be first in line to apply for the job in case any County Supervisor has the nerve to fund such an audit"
I suggest this will not happen with any of the current County Supervisors and not for lack of nerve but lack of interest, it does not interest them, all 5 Supervisors are members of the Service League of San Mateo County.
Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community, on Nov 8, 2010 at 5:44 am
Bob Brennan was a member of Service league when he was Chief of Police for Atherton but now that he is a San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy working at the jail he is not listed on the Advisory Board of S.L.
Posted by Don, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2010 at 5:58 am
Mr. Stogner: You are beating your head against the wall by going to other entities in San Mateo County for justice. Time to get outside help. It's the only way.
If you always do what you've always done, you will always get the same result.
Again, I strongly suggest that Mr. Buckheit and Mr. Johns take their grievances about Wagstaffe to the Northern California Innocence Project. My understanding is that you won't be the first - not by a long shot. The more complaints they have on him and his office, the stronger case you have.
Posted by Don, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2010 at 8:18 am
POGO: You are wrong on that. The Innocence Project does not limit itself just to cases for wrongfully convicted people. They are concerned about all kinds of prosecutorial misconduct. And they have helped wealthy clients as well.
I know for a fact that the Innocence Project has shown interest in the Sadek case, which is a civil suit against San Mateo County for wrongfully dropping a criminal case. The people who have filed the Sadek civil suit are wealthy.
The part of Mr. Buckheit's case that would interest the Innocence Project is the fact that the falsified police report is being investigated by Wagstaffe and his office. As Mr. Buckheit has expressed a wish for an entity like the Attorney General's office to take over the investigation, this is something that the Innocence Project could help him with.
Mr. Buckheit would do well to contact them to see if they can help with getting Wagstaffe off the case.
Posted by Don, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2010 at 8:26 am
From LA TImes: October 5, 2010
Report finds many prosecutors in California have committed misconduct
A law school study discovers 707 cases in which state, U.S. and appellate courts found misconduct in opinions between 1997 and 2009. The authors criticize the State Bar for disciplining only 6 prosecutors.
October 05, 2010|By Jack Leonard, Times Staff Writer
Hundreds of prosecutors in California — including many in Los Angeles County — have committed misconduct with near impunity as authorities failed to either report or discipline them, according to a report released Monday.
The misconduct ranged from asking witnesses improper questions during trial to failing to turn over evidence that could help a defendant and presenting false evidence in court, according to the report, which was issued by an innocence project at the Santa Clara University School of Law.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2010 at 8:29 am
From The Innocence Project's web site:
"Most law enforcement officers and prosecutors are honest and trustworthy. But criminal justice is a human endeavor and the possibility for corruption exists. Even if one officer of every thousand is dishonest, wrongful convictions will continue to occur."
The Buckheit case is a perfect example of 'one officer in a thousand' who has been shown to be dishonest - the challenge is to figure out which one and to then remove the cloud over the other 999.
Posted by Don, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2010 at 9:56 am
As stated, the Innocence Project can do many things. However, in the Buckheit case I am specifically referring to the criminal aspect of the Buckheit case - not the civil case. I am referring to the falsified police report -which Wagstaffe is supposed to be investigating. If Wagstaffe is investigating then that is a criminal investigation. As I stated, that is the aspect of the case that the Project can look at.
As stated, they are interested in all kinds of prosecutorial misconduct. And the criminal aspect of Buckheit's case- the falsified report- certainly falls under that.
Not sure why you keep harping on the civil part when I have been referring to to the criminal aspect. However, I do know that they have looked at cases where DA's offices are being sued in civil court for misconduct in criminal investigations.
You might want to do some research on them.
This is a huge organization, with branches all over the country and in Canada now. I think in Europe as well. They're branching out and are looking at all sorts of cases.
Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community, on Nov 8, 2010 at 10:03 am
I think the Innocence Project would be more interested in the 2005 conviction of a man that involved 2 San Mateo County Sheriff Detectives fabricating the existence of evidence in written form only, ( meaning this so-called evidence never made it to the evidence room or got turn in) but they did testify about it under oath. Also the DDA under the leadership of Fox and Wagstaffe told the jury this (evidence) was broken into several pieces.
I have personally asked San Mateo County Counsel to supply me with the Evidence # assigned to this item.......NO CAN DO. they don't have it. It never existed there is a man in prison for life because of this.
So back to Buckheit, he is just one of many who have been abused by Law Enforcement in San Mateo County.
Posted by John P Johns, a resident of another community, on Nov 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm
Thank you Don for your recommendation.
I think your referral to the innocence project is a very good one.
POGO is correct in noting that Buckheit case is a civil case. So was mine. However I sincerely believe that there does exist a criminal element in both of our cases.
It is also quite possible that the Inocence Project could be helpful in restoring a life that has been ruined by Wagstaffe and by the two former Atherton chiefs of police who conspired with the DA.
I sincerely believe that Clark Yee was convicted under false pretenses because he was one of the few if not the only officer in the Atherton Police Department who would not tow the line, who would not cooperate in the lying, deceit and corruption endemic in the Atherton Police Force.
I was accused of a crime to draw attention away from criminal misconduct in the Atherton PD, so was Jon Buckheit. Jon and I fought back, Clark Yee was not so fortunate he did not have the ability or the means. Clark Yee is a victim. The charges against Clark Yee were trumped up.
When the time is right and when additional factual information becomes available the Innocence Project will be contacted. Rest Assured.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm
I think we're talking past each other, which is certainly your right.
You said "the Innocence Project can do many things... I am specifically referring to the criminal aspect of the Buckheit case."
There is no criminal aspect of the Buckheit case. There have been no criminal charges filed. There have been no trials. There have been no convictions.
Mr. Buckheit is pursuing a civil case and is seeking monetary damages.
As I said, the Innocence Project stated goal is to help people wrongly convicted of crimes. I'm not saying they won't help Mr. Buckheit, but his situation - at least as of this writing - does not involve that.
Posted by POGO, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2010 at 3:17 pm
Well, I don't trust you, sorry.
There is no criminality here from either side... at least not yet. As such, there is no cause of action other than civil.
I know of no instance when the Innocence Project ever intervened in an investigation (prior to criminal charges being filed) and I suspect you do not either. This group has very limited resources and, as such, devotes their efforts to people who they suspect are wrongly incarcerated.