News

Defense attorney accuses DA of vendetta in prosecution of sheriff's deputy

DA calls the accusations 'nonsense'

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story reported that Mr. Lopez allegedly embezzled as much as $400,000 from his campaign fund. That figure was inaccurate. The Almanac will report further details as they become available.

By Scott Morris Bay City News Service

The attorney for a San Mateo County sheriff's deputy accused in 2014 in a jail smuggling case and last week in a new case involving embezzlement and fraud has accused San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe of bringing a "personal vendetta" against his client.

Juan Pablo Lopez, 51, was charged last November with allowing two corrections officers to smuggle cellphones and drugs to an inmate in the Redwood City jail between April and December 2013.

Last week, Mr. Wagstaffe filed new charges against Mr. Lopez accusing him of committing fraud during a campaign for sheriff last year, embezzling campaign funds and filing false documents in an attempt to profit off of homes he owns in Newark and Redwood City.

But Mr. Lopez's attorney, Stuart Hanlon, said on Feb. 19 that he thinks the two cases against his client are retaliation for Mr. Lopez's unsuccessful bid for sheriff last year. Mr. Lopez, who ran as a write-in candidate (his name was not on the ballot) received just 1.4 percent of the vote in his loss to Sheriff Greg Munks.

"I think these charges are retaliation, this whole set of cases against him are retaliation," Mr. Hanlon said. He said Mr. Wagstaffe has a close relationship with Mr. Munks and is bringing the cases due to a "personal vendetta."

"This is really a misuse of the legal system," Mr. Hanlon said. He said he intends to file a motion to recuse the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office so the state Attorney General's Office can prosecute.

DA responds

But Mr. Wagstaffe said that Mr. Hanlon's allegations of retaliatory prosecutions are "nonsense."

"I certainly have known Sheriff Munks for many years, but that's no basis to recuse my office," he said, adding that in the past he also had a friendly relationship with Mr. Lopez.

"To claim that somehow this is a political prosecution based on my friendship with the sheriff is something that comes out of fantasy land," Mr. Wagstaffe said. "It's not based in any fact."

Mr. Wagstaffe said Mr. Munks would not be a witness in the case and that he has no intention of prosecuting the case himself.

Mr. Lopez pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the new charges related to his finances and campaign for sheriff, prosecutors said.

Many of the charges stem from whether Mr. Lopez lived in Newark or Redwood City. He owned homes in both cities but prosecutors allege that Mr. Lopez continued to live in Newark while his fiancee, Evelyn Segura-Chavez, 34, lived in the Redwood City condo, where she operated a childcare facility, according to Mr. Wagstaffe.

The alleged fraud began in 2013, when Mr. Lopez, Ms. Segura-Chavez, and a county employee Mr. Lopez had met while working at the jail, 47-year-old Christopher John O'Dell, conspired to overestimate water damage to the Newark residence to bilk Mr. Lopez's insurance company out of thousands of dollars, according to a criminal complaint filed against the three defendants.

Then, in July 2013, Mr. Lopez set out to refinance the Redwood City condo, which required it to be his primary residence. He and Mr. O'Dell allegedly prepared false documents indicating Mr. Lopez was living in Redwood City and renting his Newark home to his cousin, according to the complaint. However, prosecutors allege Mr. Lopez continued to live in Newark.

Whether he lived in Redwood City or Newark would become an issue again the following year, when he declared his candidacy for sheriff and voted in a local election. Prosecutors allege he lied about his residency and was not legally eligible to do either.

While running for office, Mr. Lopez and Ms. Segura-Chavez, acting as his campaign treasurer, allegedly embezzled campaign funds for personal use, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have charged Mr. Lopez with three counts of conspiracy, two counts of filing false documents, one count of fraud, two counts of perjury, one count of embezzlement and two counts of election fraud.

Mr. O'Dell is charged in two of the conspiracy counts. Ms. Segura-Chavez is charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of embezzlement.

All three defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges against them in the court of Judge Richard Livermore on Wednesday, Feb. 18. Mr. Lopez is out of custody on a $170,000 bail bond and Ms. Segura-Chavez and Mr. O'Dell are both free on a $10,000 bail bond.

They are scheduled to return to court March 6.

Mr. Lopez pleaded not guilty in December to two previous counts of conspiracy for allegedly allowing the two corrections officers to smuggle cellphones, oxycodone, alprazolam and ibuprofen to inmate Dionicio Lopez, a Hells Angels member accused of a shooting in Daly City in 2011. Prosecutors have said there is no known familial relationship between Juan Lopez and Dionicio Lopez.

Mr. Hanlon said he is still receiving evidence in both cases.

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 19, 2015 at 9:46 pm

One Waxstaffe was presented with evidence that former Atherton mayor Charles Marsala voted in an Atherton election with an address given as a home he sold that was actually knocked down at the time of the election, he did nothing.


6 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 2:30 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

Good point, Hmm. Wagstaffe sure has a double standard. Good for attorney Hanlon for finally bringing this issue to the forefront. Wagstaffe's fawning emails to Munks after he was caught going into the brothel for underaged trafficked girls was sickening and unprofessional.


4 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2015 at 7:59 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

When reporter Scott Morris says last week in this article he means this week. It was just 2 days ago Wednesday 2/18/2015 that the additional charges bail and 2 new defendants were added.

Every Sheriff Deputy in San Mateo County knows they could be the next Juan Lopez.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2015 at 10:44 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Juan Lopez is a San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy, not a former deputy, that is a false statement.

Scott Morris and the Almanac might want to publish a correction.


4 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2015 at 11:50 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Everyone should write this one down to remember.

"While running for office, Mr. Lopez and Ms. Segura-Chavez, acting as his campaign treasurer, allegedly embezzled as much as $400,000 in campaign funds for personal use, prosecutors said."

Just because DA Steve Wagstaffe says something is true, doesn't mean that it is.


3 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

That "$400,000" really surprised me, because I didn't think Lopez raised anywhere near that amount. He didn't get that many votes and barely did any publicity.

Anyone know how much Lopez really raised for his campaign?


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

So, Greg Munks who had far more donors to his campaign for his re-election last year, only raised $32, 183.

Web Link

Excerpt:

Sheriff Greg Munks raised $3,750 in his unopposed bid for re-election for the period March 18 to May 17, bringing his total to $32,183 to date, according to campaign finance disclosure forms due Thursday. He spent $15,377.16 to date.

___

So can the Almanac reporters explain to me why Wagstaffe said that Lopez and his manager misused $400,000 in election funds? Did anyone bother to ask him to explain this absurd figure? Very few people in the County knew that Lopez was running. He was a write-in candidate and did almost no publicity. There is no way in hell he raised that kind of money.

Anyone?


2 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Here is the SMDJ article by the same reporter Scott Morris of Bay City News and there is NO mention of the $400,000
being embezzled.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Well this is virtually the same article and the Almanac printed the $400,000 figure. There is no way in hell Lopez raised that kind of money.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Not exact numbers but close.

Juan Lopez raised $500.00 and spent close to $10,000 on his campaign for Sheriff of San Mateo County.

It would be great if one of the Almanac's reporters could straighten this out.


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Those numbers are more like it, Mr. Stogner. Let's hope the Almanac asks for clarification... Wagstaffe was sent a warning by the California Bar in 2010 after he lied to the press in a defendant's rape case. The Almanac has a copy of this letter of notification... Please get to the bottom of this.


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Perhaps Deputy Lopez might want to think about filing a complaint against Wagstaffe with the California Bar.


4 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Er, Almanac? Your OWN PAPER reported that Lopez only raised $1000. How on earth then do you reconcile publishing that Lopez misused $400,000 in campaign funds?

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Ok, reporter Scott Morris says that DA Wagstaffe just contacted him about the $400,000 number and that it is incorrect. The amount that Wagstaffe says Lopez used for his personal use, according to Morris is "unspecified."


1 person likes this
Posted by Renee Batti
associate editor of The Almanac
on Feb 20, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Renee Batti is a registered user.

The Almanac has also been trying to clarify the $400,000 figure. We have removed the figure from the story and will provide more information as it becomes available.


5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 20, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

"So can the Almanac reporters explain to me why Wagstaffe said that Lopez and his manager misused $400,000 in election funds? "

Because our DA is an Habitual liar? Just a hunch.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

This is the funny not so funny part of San Mateo County.

I was in the court room with Sheriff Deputy Juan Lopez and Ms. Chavez for the entire proceeding and booking process. I never once heard about $400,000.

Some guy for a room in Oakland named Scott Morris producing this nonsense and gets it published in at least 3 papers. He admitted per phone call today with Mark DePaula that he was not in the courtroom. Corrections are needed.

1) Juan Lopez is a Sheriff Deputy………….not former, even Steve Wagstaffe says he is former. That is not right.


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

The Ayres blog notes that last year the Almanac posted a story that talked about Lopez not having to file a campaign report last year because he raised less than a thousand dollars.

It appears that Lopez raised a total of $250. And Wagstaffe is accusing him of EMBEZZLING the funds? Doesn't anyone at the Almanac see how ludicrous this is? Why didn't Wagstaffe look at how Munks spent his funds? There was a lot more money there- $32,000. I have half a mind to send this to Gawker, because it will make the San Mateo DA's office the laughing stock of this country.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

How does a DA investigate a person for embezzlement of campaign funds for their personal use when the person only raises $250 for their election?

Has the Almanac asked DA Wagstaffe if he has examined Munks's use of his $32,000 election funds?Shouldn't there be equal treatment here?

Why is it that the DA's office first said that Lopez smuggled cell phones into the jail but now is saying that he just "knew " about it? Don't reporters and citizens realize that this is an absolute use of power to spread false stories in the press like this to smear someone? This is an abuse of power and it echoes what happened in the case where in 2010 the California Bar sent a warning to Wagstaffe after he lied to the San Mateo Daily News about the facts of a rape case the day before the trial. The Almanac has a copy of this letter and knows the name of the defendant in that case.

Doesn't anyone see that the DA's office has gone certifiably off its rocker? Please, do some fact checking, reporters!


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2015 at 5:56 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Duplicate post. Please remove second post.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 20, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

"Has the Almanac asked DA Wagstaffe if he has examined Munks's use of his $32,000 election funds?Shouldn't there be equal treatment here?"

You've got to be kidding. Munks is one of those "that matters" in Wagstaffe's world. He gets a pass even when he gets caught in a brothel featuring underage prostitutes. Not so much as a censure from the County Supervisors.

And the sheeple of San Mateo County just keep voting for these people. Amazing.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mark De Paula
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2015 at 10:49 pm

Mark De Paula is a registered user.

I got a funny feeling, but it’s not really funny.
Mr. Scott Morris of BAY CITY NEWS( the reporter for this story) just might have taken a press release from SMC D.A. Wagstaffe.
Wagstaffe can not make up his mind up on how many cases his office handles in a year.
Wagstaffe said in a interview with PEN TV in Oct. 2014 that his office handles 24,000 cases a year.
November 5, 2014 , he tells Vic Lee of KGO TV after Prop. 47 passed that 1/3 of his 3,000 cases he handles a year will be dropped.
After the arrest of Deputy Lopez in November 2014 he said on TV that his office handles 18,000 cases a year.
Just maybe, D.A. Wagstaffe mixed up the numbers of $ 400,000.00 , which is crazy!
Another reason not to trust D.A. Wagstaffe.


3 people like this
Posted by Bruce
a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2015 at 1:37 am

Bruce is a registered user.

Embezzlement sounds better if it's for large amounts of money. You're not going to get anyone riled up if someone spent thousands of dollars of their own money and then tapped just $250 in donation to try to offset some of their personal expense.

$400K on the other hand... now *that's* SHOCKING! We all want to be SHOCKED by the impropriety don't we??

Likewise, It's better to toss in all kinds of drug stuff if all you've got is the implication that someone *may* have been in the position to notice that a prisoner had a cell phone.

Wagstaffe is doing a great job of whipping up the "press" and defending upstanding employees like Munks! Sheesh, everyone needs to calm down here. No reason to upset the Dollhouse.


1 person likes this
Posted by Bruce
a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2015 at 7:19 am

Bruce is a registered user.

Or... maybe Wagstaffe is conflating a few facts, a la Brian Williams -- About $400,000 in cash deposits is what was found and used as evidence against Ms. Jia Hui Keyes... Perhaps Wagstaffe had *that* prosecution swirling around in the back of his mind!


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 21, 2015 at 7:20 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

Did the Palo Alto Daily Post also report the $400,000 figure ?


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 21, 2015 at 7:36 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

Has the Almanac investigated to see if there is any history of interaction between Lopez 's fiancé Evelyn and Sheriff Munks in past years? Attorney Stuart Hanlon has the answer to this.. This story has deep roots. Can't wait for witness statements!


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2015 at 8:20 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Holly L. asks "Did the Palo Alto Daily Post also report the $400,000 figure ?"

answer no


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2015 at 8:52 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Attorney Stuart Hanlon is the perfect attorney for a politically motivated case.

Sheriff Deputy Juan Lopez case started with a "Tip from inside the JAIL" Search Warrants still hidden. the recent Scott Morris character assignation (former, $400,000)

Stuart Hanlon starts about 3:30 mark in video

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2015 at 8:55 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

character assassination,


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2015 at 10:11 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Mr. Stogner:

doesn't the law require the defense have access to ALL evidence via discovery?


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 22, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Menlo Voter:

It's called the Brady Rule, as you most likely know. Although in its 2010 report on prosecutorial misconduct in California, the Northern California Innocence Project singled out then- San Mateo prosecutor Al Giannini as one of the state's worst offenders for failing to turn over exculpatory evidence. See page 13

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Menlo Voter asks

Mr. Stogner:

doesn't the law require the defense have access to ALL evidence via discovery?

Yes it does, our DA does not follow the law. you also need to find a Judge that respects the upholds the law.

Attorney Stuart Hanlon is perfect for this case.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Sheriff Deputy Juan Lopez was opposed to the building of the New Jail and especially opposed to the expensive bonds to finance it. He was in favor of the voters to vote on it, the Supervisors, Sheriff and DA didn't want the voters to have a say.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

It seems Mr. Hanlon needs to take this to the AG.


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 23, 2015 at 2:16 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

How can DA Wagstaffe justify recusing himself from the child pornography case of Former San Mateo Probation chief Stuart Hanlon because , he said, he'd had a professional relationship with him, and yet won't recuse himself in this case, despite being very good friends with Munks and according to him, having a "friendly " relationship with Lopez?


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 23, 2015 at 9:20 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

In my previous comments, I meant to say San Mateo Probation Chief Stuart Forrest, not Stuart Hanlon.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 23, 2015 at 10:36 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

I am acquainted with Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Lopez, and DA Steve Wagstaffe.
When Juan ran as a write-in candidate for Sheriff, I voted for him. I later met him and his fiancee at a San Mateo County Libertarian Party meeting. Mark De Paula, John McDowell and I, running as a team for the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors, sought and received the Party endorsement. Juan helped Mark place campaign signs for the team. I trust Juan Lopez.
My experience with Wagstaffe was in relation to a complaint I filed regarding three “sitting” Sequoia Healthcare District Directors, Kane, Griffin and Faro, who had voted themselves an increase in health insurance benefits. After exchanging communications with Mark Hudak, counsel for the District, the DA’s office declined to take action to seek return of benefits erroneously received by the trio.
Hudak is well known in the San Mateo County legal community. Was this a conflict of interest? Shouldn’t the DA have referred this to the Attorney General or the Grand Jury?
See:Web Link

I question Wagstaffe’s purpose in prosecuting Deputy Lopez.


2 people like this
Posted by Bruce
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Bruce is a registered user.

So - Almanac Editor stated that they'd update with corrections about the $400,000.00 claim as soon as they clarified everything.

It's been a few days now, so... what 'cha find out?? (The anticipation is killing me...)


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Progress report on the $400,000 embezzlement source per Scott Morris of Bay City News Service.

It did not come from Attorney Stuart Hanlon, he has confirmed that he spoke with Scott Morris but that subject was not mentioned.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

News update Tonight 10:00PM KTVU 2


2 people like this
Posted by Bruce
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2015 at 10:13 pm

Bruce is a registered user.

That was a pretty good report!

Best of all, nobody can call into question Wagstaffe's email supporting Munks after he was busted by the FBI at an illegal brothel, because Wags confirmed it, and even had the gall to stand behind it now, while the other side of his mouth was talking about prosecuting Lopez because it's the right thing to do if somebody does something wrong.

Next let's see if anyone can figure out who came up with the $400,000.00 figure.


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 24, 2015 at 2:38 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

Here's the KTVU news clip about Lopez/ Munks and Wagstaffe

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 24, 2015 at 3:10 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

The Ayres blog has a post up with the KTVU video and asks why Wagstaffe has one standard for Munks and another for Lopez.

Web Link

I am sure Wagstaffe and Munks didn't expect to have the tables turned on them in this case as no one ever fact checks them or fights back. It's about time this happened.


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