A man who is suing Atherton in federal court said that Atherton Councilman Charles Marsala asked him for a $500,000 personal loan shortly before he filed his lawsuit.
Jon Buckheit, an Atherton resident, is advocating the creation of a police oversight board. When that idea was tabled at the Wednesday, March 17, Atherton City Council meeting, he protested the vote during a public comment. "Charles, when you came to me asking to borrow money, you had a very different view than you do today," Mr. Buckheit said.
Mr. Marsala told The Almanac he could not comment. "I spoke with the city attorney and I've been advised not to talk about it because we're in litigation with (Mr. Buckheit)," he said. "I'm comfortable with my vote on Wednesday night. I voted with the majority of the council … and I explained my reasons."
Mr. Buckheit said that in late September, Mr. Marsala asked him for a $500,000 "hard money" loan against equity in his Atherton house. Mr. Buckheit said the size of the sum gave him pause, but that he considered an arrangement that would make him one of several investors in the loan to Mr. Marsala.
"It didn't pan out," Mr. Buckheit said.
In October, Mr. Buckheit filed a lawsuit against the town and two of its police officers over the handling of a domestic dispute at his house in 2008. Mr. Buckheit was arrested on domestic violence charges, but he was later exonerated by a San Mateo County Superior Court judge and granted a declaration of factual innocence. In October, he filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco.
The vote to table any further discussion of creating a police oversight committee was 4-1, with Mayor Kathy McKeithen opposed. At the meeting, Mr. Marsala said he was concerned that a small town like Atherton would have trouble finding enough citizens willing to serve on an oversight committee, and that leaks of confidential information regarding police officers could be a problem.