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FBI focuses on Atherton, DA's office, sources say

Original post made on Feb 15, 2011

(This is an expanded version of a previously published story.)
The FBI is interviewing Atherton residents and others about matters involving the town of Atherton and the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, according to sources who told The Almanac they had been interviewed.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 11:45 AM

Comments (51)

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Posted by None
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Key quote: "A reliable source who contacted The Almanac after being interviewed by two FBI agents said the federal law enforcement agency is seeking people who have information about possible misconduct, or who have witnessed possible misconduct, by the District Attorney's Office. The source spoke on condition of anonymity."

People who have information about misconduct by the San Mateo District Attorney's office should not be afraid to come forward.


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Posted by Lurker
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm

It's about time the San Mateo DA's office was investigated.


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Posted by Lurker
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Who do citizens contact at the FBI if they have information on misconduct? Maybe Renee Batti at the Almanac News will be able to assist them ?


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

It has seemed to me over the years that if you're a police officer in San Mateo County and you have have unjustifiably shot a suspect, you can usually count on the county DA's office to dismiss any chance of being charged with wrongdoing.


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Posted by Lurker
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm

On the first thread about the FBI investigation, someone named "RG" wrote said they could "cite numerous instances where former DA James Fox and his staff found it convenient to not prosecute criminal behavior or investigate civil rights violations in the County because, at least by appearances, such prosecutions would be an inconvenience or an embarrassment to the "select" few.

RG: I would be interested in hearing more details.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm

To Observer:
Your statement explains a lot--like why no one in SMC that is in a position of authority can even remember the difference between right or wrong anymore. Actually, It may never have even existed in the cultural memory of this county. At least not in the corridors of power.
Open any local history book that you care to and I can guarantee that the first paragraph will describe how The County San Francisco got rid of all it's own corruption problems by ceding their own southern extremity to a bunch of wealthy but problematic thugs, if they would agree to just all clear out of the city and not come back. There are many examples of second, third and fourth generations having inherited their fathers seat at the table in some smokey back room that secretly runs the SMC machine. Apparently, they have all gotten a little too sloppy to keep pulling this exclusive game off unobserved. Maybe they can all be encouraged to move further south again.


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Posted by None
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 15, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Who else here has been the victim of police and/or misconduct by the San Mateo District Attorney's office? Whoever you are, let's hope you come forward to the FBI.

San Francisco office.


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Posted by Lurker
a resident of another community
on Feb 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Disturbing Emails sent from former DA Jim Fox and current DA Steve Wagstaffe in defense of Sheriff Greg Munks and sidekick Bolanos, who were arrested in a police sting in Las Vegas for visiting a prostitution house with underage girls in 2007.


e-mail sent 4/25/07 10:47AM From DA Jim Fox

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.

Jim

e-mail sent 4/25/07 10:20 AM from Steve Wagstaffe

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.

Steve

_____

"To those who matter? " What hubris. If a District Attorney in a big city had defended someone like Munks, they would have been asked to step down immediately.


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Posted by Monica
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Feb 16, 2011 at 1:31 am

I have a few really valied complaints that might shock the citizens of SMC how do I get a hold of someone?


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Posted by None
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 16, 2011 at 4:38 am

Monica: Today's San Jose Mercury News has a story, "Sources Say FBI is Asking Questions about San Mateo District Attorney's Office"

It mentions that an Atherton citizen named Peter Carpenter got the FBI ball rolling. Perhaps if you emailed Renee Batti, at the Atherton Almanac, she could put you in touch with Carpenter. Renee's email: rbatti@almanacnews. com. You could also contact reporter Bonnie Eslinger at the Mercury News: beslinger@dailynewsgroup.com.

Here's today's story from the Merc:

Today's San Jose Mercury News: "Sources Say FBI is asking Questions about San Mateo District Attorney's Office"

Web Link

Excerpt:

The FBI has interviewed several Atherton residents in recent weeks, but the focus of its investigation may include the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, The Daily News has learned.
According to one person who was interviewed by the FBI but requested anonymity, the federal agency is interested in speaking with other people who have information about misconduct or have witnessed misconduct related to the district attorney's office. That could include former or current employees of the office, as well as people whose cases have been represented by it.


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Posted by Lurker
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2011 at 6:17 am

From Merc. story:

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said no one in his office has been interviewed or talked to by the FBI, and he has no knowledge of any investigation.

"Of course there's lots of disgruntled people sometimes that don't like the decisions we make," he said. "But ... there is nothing that I would conceivably be aware of that the FBI would be interested in investigating over here."

_____

Of course Wagstaffe wasn't contacted by the FBI, because Wagstaffe is their target!



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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:43 am

My role in this matter was simply to connect a number of citizens who felt that they had evidence of wrongdoing to the appropriate federal law enforcement agency. I have no personal knowledge regarding the alleged wrongdoings and I defer to the FBI to determine if there is sufficient evidence to seek prosecution.


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Posted by None
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 16, 2011 at 9:19 am

If others believe they have been the victims of wrongdoing, then I hope that they will also come forward.

Thank you for your efforts, Peter.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

Peter Carpenter has done us all a favor by soliciting the FBI's assistance in draining the swamp.


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Posted by Only Me
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2011 at 11:19 am

Thank you, Peter. I hope this is the beginning of the end of the corrupt DA and APD. So many suffered under their dirty rule.


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Posted by JT
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2011 at 11:27 am

I've heard reports that a man posing as an FBI agent has been interviewing former and current Atherton officials. He apparently uses a tape recorder and takes notes, and has a realistic FBI badge. If you've seen this man, please report him to police.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm

JT - good try to discredit this investigation but fortunately the FBI agent involved is, surprise, a female.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm

O.K. I'm finished laughing now at Officer JT's attempt to put this thing back into the (closed loop) Box that it has resided in for so long. By the way does poster JT happen to be a local dispatcher with an ax to grind?
I can remember several years ago that another poster "Just a Thought" had proclaimed that ultimately it would take a female to clean up this SMC mess--here's hoping the the FBI sent in the right woman.


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Posted by None
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Well, to be accurate- there are TWO FBI agents investigating this case-a woman, and a man.


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Posted by runyon
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm

[Post removed. Please discuss the topic, not other posters.]


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Posted by Will
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Hey Lurker, if you really want to contact the FBI, call the number for the office in SF. It's in the phone book. By the way, when I was growing up in Lindenwood we had an FBI agent who worked in the SF office as our neighbor. He was one of the ones than looked into this kinda stuff. Nice guy, unless your the one getting grilled!


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Posted by DP
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I think JT was joking, and Peter took it seriously. Tells you something about Peter that he didn't find it humorous.


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Posted by None
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 16, 2011 at 6:00 pm

DP:

Nothing about this is a laughing matter. Bravo to Peter Carpenter for having the courage of his convictions.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm

DP states:"Tells you something about Peter that he didn't find it humorous."

I suspect that if we knew who JT was that none of us would consider his comment as humorous.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 16, 2011 at 6:23 pm

DP
Nice back tracking deflection attempt--but everyone's got your MO


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm

DP says:

"I think JT was joking, and Peter took it seriously. Tells you something about Peter that he didn't find it humorous."

DP why would anybody think that having the FBI investigate a local Police Department and our District Attorney is a humorous?

Thank You Peter


RECENT POSTERS: Please get back on the topic instead of taking snipes at each other. - Editor


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 16, 2011 at 7:08 pm

We've heard from JT and DP. Betting they are one in the same. Also betting they are the subject of this investigation. Getting a little warm is it boys?


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm

As Mr. Buckheit's counsel is a former United States attorney, I doubt Mr. Carey needed Mr. Carpenter's help in contacting the FBI over any prosecutorial misconduct. I suspect Mr. Carpenter has inserted himself in this newest waste of taxpayer money and resources as a way to express his frustration over the district attorney not pursuing what would be California's first case of a violation of the Brown Act which was enacted some 57 years ago. At least with Ms. Fergusson, he did not enlist his own attorney to draft a letter to the district attorney such as he did when he was upset over lawn signs that were appearing that endorsed certain candidates running for the Fire District (October 2009) which also went no where. He actually wrote his own letter on this occasion.

Many thanks to the San Jose Mercury for giving us the complete story in letting us know who was behind this FBI investigation. While an FBI investigation makes for a stimulating article, it should be pointed out that at least the Mercury News included the entire quote by FBI spokeswoman Julianne Sohn that she "can't confirm or deny any sort of investigation but it's important to note that "people come to the FBI every day with complaints." "We listen carefully, we ask questions", Sohn said. "That doesn't mean we have enough to proceed with an investigation".


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Thomas:

if the FBI wasn't conducting an investigation they wouldn't have interviewed anyone. Since they clearly have interviewed people, they are clearly conducting an investigation. It's really not too complicated.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:49 pm

To eliminate Thomas' doubts about whether or not an investigation is in progress, it was the FBI who sought me out. The agent with whom I spoke offered to meet me at a time and place that was convenient for me.

I was so delighted to hear from them that I insisted on a time and place that was most convenient for them.

JT's comment was clever indeed. It's always funnier when you aren't the one being investigated.


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 16, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Mr. Johns, I have no doubts with regards to whether an investigation is in progress and that it was the FBI that contacted you. I am merely pointing out the timing with which the investigation was initiated and who was named by the San Jose Mercury as behind it. It has nothing to do with you or your continued delight with bashing everything Atherton.
While I have come around to believe Mr. Buckheit was denied his due process by the APD, I think his hiring you and your subsequent posts on this forum has done more damage than good on his behalf. As far as the inequities you suffered while employed by the town, you were compensated and it's time to move on and find your next cash cow.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Thomas - you need to do your homework before posting ridiculous statements.
1 - Read the entire thread before making incorrect assumptions:
"Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, 12 hours ago

My role in this matter was simply to connect a number of citizens who felt that they had evidence of wrongdoing to the appropriate federal law enforcement agency. I have no personal knowledge regarding the alleged wrongdoings and I defer to the FBI to determine if there is sufficient evidence to seek prosecution."

2 - I did not hire an attorney when I challenged some of the signage being used in the 2009 Fire District election.

3 - My role in the current investigation is as described above and has nothing to do with how the DA handled the Fergusson affair. I have previously stated my opinion on the DA's investigation of the Fergusson matter - they reached a different conclusion than I suspect they would have had they bothered to actually question the only person with full knowledge of the situation, Ms. Fergusson.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Thomas calls it bashing, I call it holding people accountable for their misconduct.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 16, 2011 at 9:52 pm

The only thing this thread proves is that some serious attention is being focused on Atherton and the San Mateo County District Attorney's office.

Our elected officials would be wise to get ahead of this story before they get swept up in it.


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Posted by Proactive Leadership
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Unfortunately that's not going to happen in Atherton, POGO. I'm not sure whether Jim Dobbie's comment when the story broke is him trying to be Mizaru, Kikazaru or Iwazaru…but he's in a state of denial.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

You know what they say, "if you're not part of the solution..."

This is a real chance for the Atherton Town Council to step up and show some courage.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 16, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Pogo:
The only courage your going to see from this council will be delivered by transatlantic plane sometime tomorrow, in the person of good old Ms. McKiethen.
But it's going to be Collect on Delivery only folks--so residents bettered be prepared to step up and support her in force--the rest of the council will just stand by and watch while the town flames on.
and while I'm at --Thank God for Peter Carpenter's commitment to this community. Maybe we will actually all be able to survive with just one good person in leadership, and one Great Citizen amongst us. Anybody wanna lend these two a hand much...........?


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Posted by RG
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Feb 16, 2011 at 11:44 pm

In response to Lurker's request for more detail on my experiences of questionable ethics by Jim Fox and other police agencies in SMCo here is my second attempt at a post on the issue:

1) A series of mail robberies from our mail box in 1996 which netted the thieves several replacement credit cards upon which they ran up charges in excess of $30K. The thefts went un-investigated by both the sheriff and the DA until we purchased a security camera and began monitoring the tapes. It only took about an hour to catch the next attempt on tape which did finally spur the sheriff into action. A day or two later they took 2 reputed members of the Russian mafia down at gunpoint. Our esteemed DA declined to prosecute this case without even the courtesy of an explanation. When I tried to talk to him about the issue on what apparently was a straight through line to his office, he was livid that I had gotten through to him. The only real dialogue was his demanding "who gave you this number." I never did get any explanation from him. Apparently the feds did prosecute these guys a few years later. But I know fully that in the intervening years, many others suffered the angst and time consuming problems of identity theft wrought not just by these thieves but by a DA who had other priorities.

2)Several instances of theft, by contractors doing work for the county, of public property from an agency in which I had some responsibilities. The thefts were amply documented with photos (which I still have) and investigated by the sheriff. The thefts were not even denied by the contractors. But, according to the DA, theft of public property "is a civil issue." I don't know what law school our DA at the time attended but he definitely needed more than a little updating on California's criminal code. The sheriff's office eventually refused to even respond to these issues because even though they felt it was a criminal act and were sympathetic, they knew the DA would do nothing and "didn't want to waste their time."

3)An instance less than 2 years ago wherein Menlo Park police offices investigating a report of an unidentified person walking in a neighborhood where there had been some burglaries stopped a Hispanic domestic worker walking, as she often did, to her job at a local home. Even though the person was identified by the owner of the home where she worked as well as her supervisor who is also Hispanic, the officers took it upon themselves to photograph both the worker and her supervisor "to keep in our files for future investigations." I'm no expert on civil rights law but in my view as well as the view of several lawyer friends, this was a pretty egregious violation of the civil rights of these 2 people. This issue was brought to the attention of our county DA, the city mayor, the city police chief, and the attorney for the city. None of the aforementioned 4 people had the courtesy to even reply to my letter.

So, in San Mateo County it's all right to steal credit cards and use them to swindle local merchants, and it all right for county contractors to steal public property, but you darn well better not be caught walking while Hispanic in the wrong neighborhood.

I've seen some other similar behaviors by the county counsel but I'm tired of pounding sand because I feel quite sure that this will all come to naught.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 17, 2011 at 1:42 am

Thanks for that RG
So. Now that the old DA is at least finally gone if not entirely forgotten, and the new DA does not have a boss to please anymore, or to use as an excuse, one possible correction might come if the new DA could ever separate himself from all of the legacy obligations to "Those Of Us Who Matter Inc.", or whatever name the VIP Club cronies that manipulate his office to run their little political machine are calling themselves currently. The DA may actually need some serious help in separating himself from these titans of SMC and their entrenched grip on power behind the scenes. No one could ever know better than he does, what forces they might unleash on anyone who stands in their way. Maybe he is afraid of them?
Money (our taxes)--Power--and a Private Army in Blue-- Is any of this why the readers of this forum bother to vote every few years? Oh that's right! We didn't need to bother to vote because everyone knew better than to even bother to run against him.. .....
Think there any chance the guy secretly wants to be rescued by the FBI?


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Posted by No chance
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 7:14 am

You're dreaming. The "guy" you are talking about, Steve Wagstaffe, doesn't want to be rescued. We need to be rescued from him by him being removed as DA. Why?

1. He lies pathologically. Multiple citizens from all walks of life have experienced him lying about all sorts of things. The only common denominator is it's to protect him, people working for him, or law enforcement.

2. He puts allegiance to his buddies above following the law. Protecting a corrupt cop or corrupt deputy DA is much more important to Steve than the rights of victims (or certainly perps, who have rights too).

3. His mentality, best evidenced by his e-mails to Greg Munks after Munks was caught in an underage prostitution house. The famous "Those who matter" line. His e-mail to Munks was actually much more extreme and offensive than Fox's was.

This guy has two brothers in the practice of law, one a professor, who won't even talk to him. He's malevolent.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 7:44 am

The Board of Supervisors refused to act on 3 requests to investigate/performance audits of Steve Wagstaffe.


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Posted by None
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2011 at 7:47 am

Here's the link to Mercury News story today:

"Mother Sues San Mateo County DA for Dropping Child Molestation Case"

Web Link


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Posted by Lurker
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 7:49 am

The story about the FBI's investigation into the San Mateo DA's office was on the Yahoo local news page yesterday.


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Posted by Lurker
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2011 at 8:42 am

Wagstaffe sounds nervous in today's Merc story. Not his usual arrogant self.

Don't tell me he's not rattled by the news that the FBI is looking at him.


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Posted by None
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

San Mateo Daily Fetch: " A Rough Week for the DA"

"It isn't often that a DA get sued, but that's what's happening in San Mateo County. The mother of a girl is suing the DA because he dropped charges against her husband who drugged and molested her daughter… This story, combined with the FBI poking around the DA's office and it has been quite a week for the newly elected DA…"


Web Link


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Posted by Jack Kirkpatrick
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm

[Post removed; stick to the topic.]


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Posted by Lurker
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm

[Post removed. Please stay on topic and don't attack other posters.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack Kirkpatrick
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 1:14 pm

{Post removed. Stay on topic and refrain from attacking other posters.}


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Posted by Jack Kirkpatrick
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm

[Post removed; stick to the topic]


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Posted by Jack Kirkpatrick
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm

[Post removed; this thread is about an investigation of government agencies, not criminal prosecutions of individuals.]


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Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Concerning the other lawsuit against the San Mateo DA's office, this San Mateo Daily Journal story says today that prosecutor Melissa Mckowan actually asked the victims' family in the criminal case to PAY for expert witnesses. This is against the law.

Web Link


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