Posted by john p johns, a resident of another community, on Dec 2, 2010 at 9:39 am
john p johns is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Here is the timeline you asked for.
My car was stolen from my driveway in Palo Alto during or proximate to September 2006. It happened just one or two days before I was to testify before the San Mateo County Grand Jury in regards to my audits of the Building Department. At the time of my first Grand Jury interview, I had completed Phases I and II of the Building Department and was in progress with Phase III of the audit.
At the time I thought the timing of the theft of my car, my audits of the Building Department and my scheduled testimony before the Grand Jury was a mere coincidence. Now I am no so certain.
What I learned during Phase I and II and what is now a matter of public record is that Ms. Lois English and Mike Hood conspired with members of the building community to evade fees and to violate the Town's zoning ordinance.
What is now a matter of public record is that City Manager Jim Robinson, Deputy Town Planner Lisa Costa Sanders and Town Planner Niel Martin turned a blind eye to the misconduct of Mr. Hood and Ms. English.
As a point of background information I know that Jim Robinson's ignorance of Mr. Hoods' and Ms. English's misconduct was willful. I know this to be true because when I brought to his attention the apparent permit violations of 55 Belbrook and 94 Tallwood in late 2005, Mr. Robinson told me sternly "Let me give you one word of advice, don't get involved".
What I learned during my audits of the Building Department which I conducted during the months of April 2006 through October 2006 is that a select few very powerful and wealthy people including Steve Ackley, Principal of the Pacific Peninsula Group, three members of the City Council, Sam Benzacar and Charlie King received illegal favors from Ms. Hood and Ms English. What I also learned later is that Ms. Lois English was reprimanded for receiving gifts. Who from I do not know, but I do have my suspicions.
At about the same time as I was to testify before the Grand Jury, I had a private meeting with then Chief of Police Robert Brennan.
The Chief cautioned me about "airing the City's dirty linen" and cautioned me to "keep things in the family". During this private meeting Brennan made reference to the sizable mortgage on my house in Palo Alto. Brennan told me that unlike his own personal situation where his house was nearly paid off and where his retirement was set, I really needed my job.
I remember it odd that the Chief would be so knowledgeable about my financial condition. These were matters that I kept to myself.
Chief Brennan also told me that I was making some people quite unhappy with my audits of the Building Department. I recall Chief Brennan's very words. "These people don't play nice" and "These people are used to getting what they want". I later came to understand fully how true Brennan's words were.
At the time of this September 2006 meeting, I was about to release my findings on Phase III of my audit of the Building Department. During this meeting the Chief of Police remarked upon how easy it would be for Jim Robinson to fire me. He said that it would akin to a head coach being fired in the interest of "bringing a new leadership". I was reminded of my at will employment status. I was reminded of my financial obligations.
I was told to keep the City's dirty secrets "in the family". I also received a thinly veiled threat of being subject to criminal prosecution. The Chief said "we all know you aren't around very much". The Chief implied that I had falisified my timesheets.
The Chief later threatened my assistant finance director with criminal prosecution as well. The Chief told Paula Pierce "I'm only doing you a favor". The Chief said to Paula that there might be a time when she would have to testify as to whether or not she assisted me in commiting a crime by processing a timesheet of mine that was not accurate.
It was Robert Brennan who carried out this threat ultimately. In December 2007 after I was fired by Atherton, Robert Brennan sent John Warren, the Chief of Investigations of the San Mateo County District Attorney's office an e-mail, urging him to review the Topliff report. This e-mail initiated a criminal investigation on my person by Ivan Grosshauser that lasted from January 2007 to September 2009 (yes, September 2009, two years and nine months).
What I found to be most disturbing about the conduct of the San Mateo County DA and, specifically its collaboration with the Atherton Police Department is that my criminal investigation was kept open long after I had presented exculpatory evidence to the DA.
In April 2008, using information within the Town's own computer system I provided Mr. Grosshauser proof in the form of an audit trail. This audit trail came from the Town's financial accounting system. The audit trail denoted the dates and time of activity on the Town's computer system which corroborated my time and attendance on my timesheet entries.
I obtained this exculpatory evidence via e-mail from my former assistant finance director. Sherman Hall could have asked Paula Pierce for this information, but he did not. I forwarded this information via my attorney to Ivan Grosshauser in April 2008. Despite the fact that this evidence proved my innocence, Grosshauser kept his investigation open, exploring additional charges that had been leveled against me.
What is remarkable is that, Sherman Hall a detective with the REACT task force ocnducted an extensive forensic examination of the computers to which I had access to. How could it be I wondered that Sherman Hall would overlook evidence that proved my innocence?
What is also remarkable is that I learned through the Town's responses to my public records requests that the Town computers I had access to were tampered with on the day I was suspended. All of my e-mails were deleted. All of the contents on my local drive and my portion of the shared drive on the Town's file server were deleted on the day of or shortly after my suspension. How could it be I wondered how Sherman Hall could overlook this evidence of computer tampering during his investigation. I began to suspect Sherman Hall was part of a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice.
For me my experience with the DA was a terrible relapse, it was a repeat of the Topliff episode to wit: Finance Director falsely accused. Finance Director proves his innocence, Finance Director is subject to additional accusations and so on.
Only this time it wasn't an administrative investigation. This time, the stakes were much higher. This time, someone wanted to put me in prison.
Despite the proof of my innocence, the San Mateo County DA kept open its investigation of me on charges of fraud. It looked into Charles Marsala's charge that I had improperly used the Town's credit card to subscribe to an internet dating serivce. It looked into allegations by Ms. Lois English that I had stolen cash receipts.
The problem with these two witnesses is that they both had motives to lie. Neither were credible witnesses. Moreso there was an inconvenient truth, there was proof that Marsala's allegations and English's allegations were outright lies.
What I want to emphasize with the readers of this post is that the District Attorney and the Atherton Police Department consipired with one another to violate my right to freedom of speech and to due process.
What my experience tells me is that Jon Buckheit is not alone. He is not the only victim. Jon Buckheit has a very good case. I stand ready to testify in Jon Buckheit's case. I have a very compelling story to tell.
The DA ignored exculpatory evidence and kept my criminal investigation open far longer than was justified. At the same time, I provided proof positive of fraudulent conduct within the Police Department by former chief Robert Brennan and Glen Nielsen.
In an act of audacity and arrogance, Ivan Grosshauser an inspector with the Investigations Division of the DA sent me a letter telling me that after a "thorough investigation" he concluded that there was no evidence of a crime as I had alleged.
This is sheer nonsense. This is an abuse of prosecutorial discretion. This is an example of an incestuous relationship amongst law enforcement in San Mateo County.
I delivered former chief Robert Brennan and Glenn Nielsen to the DA on a silver platter. As did Jim Robinson did nearly five years ago, the DA turned a blind eye.
In the interests of full disclosure. I am working for Jon Buckheit as his forensic accountant on the Wickett Estate. Some may say that I stand ready and willing to testify in the Buckheit lawsuit against the DA and the Atherton Police Department as a way of returning a favor to Mr. Buckheit for the honor and privilege of being part of an elite team to reconstruct Ms. Wickett's life and finances.
I am grateful to Mr. Buckheit for the honor to be of service to him. However I am motivated by and have an allegiance to one thing, that is the truth. This is why I stand ready to testify in his case.
I believe the DA and the Atherton Police Departmet have a lot to answer for. I thank my lucky stars that a man like Jon Buckheit has the financial resources and the moral courage to take on those in power who have no shame, no sense of honor, no integrity.