News

Arrested deputy sues, claims retribution

 

The year 2014 had some tough stretches for Deputy Juan Lopez of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, according to his lawsuit filed recently in federal court.

The suit, filed Aug. 19, is built around a central theme: He contested Sheriff Greg Munks' run for re-election in the spring of 2014, and Mr. Munks orchestrated a campaign of retribution.

Mr. Lopez, an official write-in candidate, received about 1 percent of the vote and Mr. Munks was re-elected, but trouble came for Mr. Lopez in the following months.

As a deputy working in the San Mateo County jail, he was arrested in November 2014 on conspiracy charges in connection with the alleged smuggling of a cellphone and the drug oxycontin into the jail. He is scheduled to be in court on Sept. 16 for a preliminary hearing, and has been out of custody since his arrest.

In April 2015, Mr. Lopez sued the county and the Sheriff's Office in Superior Court, alleging retaliation over his decision to run for sheriff. He claimed that the county violated his First Amendment rights and his rights as a California law enforcement officer.

In that same month, Mr. Lopez was charged with election-related felonies, including allegations of conspiracy, forgery, fraud, perjury and embezzlement; the charges allege the he misrepresented his town of residence as Redwood City in order to obtain a loan, signed documents that claimed he was a resident of San Mateo County when he was not, and used campaign funds for personal purposes unrelated to his run for office.

In an echo of his Superior Court lawsuit, his federal complaint alleges a conspiracy to deprive him of his rights by employees in the Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office and the Elections Office. He seeks $10.3 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages.

Other defendants are Los Angeles County, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the city of Torrance, California, Sheriff's Office Detective Andy Armando, and Jordan Boyd and William Massey, inspectors with the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Mr. Lopez is represented in his federal lawsuit by attorney David Washington of Stockton.

Allegations

Among Mr. Lopez's allegations:

■ Elections Office employees foiled his efforts to become a registered candidate. (Mr. Lopez failed to file the necessary documents on time, and ran against Mr. Munks as a write-in candidate, meaning that Mr. Lopez's name was not on the ballot.) "The clerks acted as if it was funny," Mr. Lopez says of his efforts to register as a candidate. "They were laughing out loud."

■ Inspectors with the District Attorney's Office and the DMV conspired to have his driver's license taken away over a traffic citation in Southern California, apparently issued to someone with the same name. An inspector working for District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe at one point read Mr. Lopez his Miranda rights against self-incrimination, then proceeded to "verbally assault" him "in an attempt to coerce him to waive his rights," Mr. Lopez says.

■ Inspectors broke into Mr. Lopez's Newark home, battered down a bedroom door and damaged door frames despite Mr. Lopez having given them his house keys.

■ Officers and an inspector harassed his fiancee and her children during a search of her Redwood City home on the grounds of an election fraud investigation. Officers isolated his fiancee from the children in her care that day, and questioned them aggressively without her being present.

■ Fremont police and a San Mateo County DA's Office inspector arrested Mr. Lopez at gunpoint as if he were dangerous on charges of conspiracy for allegedly bringing a cellphone and drugs into the San Mateo County jail.

"It seems that Mr. Lopez is trying to resurrect the same frivolous claims he has made in the past," said attorney David Silberman of the San Mateo County Counsel's Office.

"The idea that the Elections Office should have violated the rules and accepted his elections paperwork and that it chose not to do so because of some sort of conspiracy to favor the sheriff is preposterous. And it is telling that he fails to allege a single fact supporting it."

A preliminary hearing on the lawsuit is set for Nov. 17 in San Francisco before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Good luck, Mr. Lopez
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 4, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Rooting for you.


4 people like this
Posted by Water
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Water is a registered user.

I am also rooting for Lopez to prevail. My family and I will be following this story with interest. Alamanac - please keep us informed.


4 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Best of Luck to San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy Juan Lopez.

I see SMC Counsel David Silberman fails to mention the criminal act against the State of California DMV Computer where some person gained access and placed Deputy Juan Lopez's drivers license number on another persons ticket causing his to become suspended. This has been reported as a crime to A.G. SMC District Attorney, and SMC Sheriff Office.


2 people like this
Posted by Go Juan
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Sep 4, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Is about time .... I'm also Rooting for Juan Lopez is about time.


2 people like this
Posted by Good luck, Mr. Lopez
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 4, 2015 at 2:33 pm

What, no comment from DA Wagstaffe to the Almanac? This must be a first. Mr. Wagstaffe never misses a chance to "gab" with the press. Something's up....


2 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 4, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Did Lopez actually live in San Mateo County? Did he take drugs & cell phone(s) to inmates? Any proof?


36 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 4, 2015 at 6:00 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Will be interesting in federal court. It is not San Mateo County.


Like this comment
Posted by Lamont Phemister
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2015 at 6:21 pm

The San Mateo County Times 4/18/2008 front page article titled "Lawmakers Want Top Cops Held Accountable" reported "When the news [concerning the FBI 'Operation Dollhouse' that caught Sheriff Munks in a raid against sex slavery] first broke, some deputies felt ashamed to be part of the department, according to former employees who were still with the sheriff's at the time and others who have maintained close ties to current deputies. ... This Vegas thing ... it was the worst thing that could have happened to the office."

We can believe that Deputy Lopez' candidacy for election as sheriff in June 2014 was a manifestation of sheriff staff disgust with Sheriff Munks. Lopez' campaign web said "I will restore integrity to the leadership of the Office of Sheriff in San Mateo County."

Concerning the criminal charges against Deputy Lopez by our San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe, we can be sure beyond a shadow of doubt they are phony because we know no dishonest deputy would risk attract attention to himself by running for office to get rid of a sitting sheriff. A dishonest deputy would cozy up to the boss and get his bread buttered.

I say all Wagstaffe's charges will collapse on examination before a jury, but the public already has all the information it needs to see clearly that Wagstaffe's charge that Deputy Lopez committed election fraud is false. Wagstaffe charged the Deputy Lopez committed election fraud by running for office when he was "not a resident of San Mateo County."

Let's read California Elections Code on the web at Web Link

Section 349 states:

"(a) 'Residence' for voting purposes means a person's domicile.
(b) The domicile of a person is that place in which his or her habitation is fixed, wherein the person has the intention of remaining, and to which, whenever he or she is absent, the person has the intention of returning. At a given time, a person may have only one domicile.
(c) The residence of a person is that place in which the person's habitation is fixed for some period of time, but wherein he or she does not have the intention of remaining. At a given time, a person may have more than one residence.

The California Elections Code discusses a person having more than one residence and how to determine which is the domicile of that person - the place where he or she is an elector (voter).

Section 2027 says "The place where a person's family is domiciled is his or her domicile unless it is a place for temporary establishment for his or her family or for transient objects."

Does this mean that Deputy Lopez' domicile was the residence in Newark where he had custody of his children on alternate weeks? No, we must read further.

Section 2028 says "If a person has a family fixed in one place, and he or she does business in another, the former is his or her place of domicile, but any person having a family, who has taken up an abode with the intention of remaining and whose family does not so reside with him or her, is a domiciliary where he or she has so taken up the abode."

Deputy Lopez took a new abode in Redwood City in 2012 by purchase of a condominium. San Mateo County Tax records show that Deputy Lopez has paid taxes on his condominium in Redwood City since 2012. His children remained in the Newark Residence where Deputy Lopez stayed with them on alternate weeks when he had custody.

Deputy Lopez' driver license shows the Redwood City address as his residence. The San Mateo County Elections Office Certificate of Voter Registration dated June 5th, 2015 shows Juan Pablo Lopez registered as a voter in San Mateo County on October 18th, 2013. These things established his new abode in San Mateo County where his family does not live with him as his domicile.

Under California Law, Deputy Lopez' Redwood City residence remains his domicile as long as he intends to return there. California Elections code makes no restrictions concerning the length or frequency of absences.

Clearly, Deputy Juan Lopez was a legal candidate in the June 2014 primary election. If District Attorney Wagstaffe accuses Lopez of election fraud without knowing or understanding the California Election Code, Wagstaffe is incompetent and unfit for office. If Wagstaffe makes such charges against Lopez knowing what we have just shown, then Wagstaffe is a criminal who must be removed from office.

Lamont Phemister, San Mateo 650 286 9707


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 4, 2015 at 6:45 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Thank you Mr. Phemister. Our DA [part removed] should be removed from office. Perhaps it will happen when Deputy Lopez wins this lawsuit and the people of SMC finally see what a bunch of corrupt individuals they have elected. I'm not holding my breath though. They've shown themselves insanely resilient to corruption, why else would they reelect a sheriff caught in a house of prostitution featuring underage girls? Disgusting.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Downtowner asks,

Did Lopez actually live in San Mateo County? YES Sheriff Deputy Lopez lived in San Mateo County and DA Inspector Jordan Boyd wrote his SMC address on a DMV form number 310 on August 4, 2014

Did he take drugs & cell phone(s) to inmates? NO

Any proof? NONE


Like this comment
Posted by Good luck, Mr. Lopez
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 5, 2015 at 5:55 am

Anyone know whether the Palo Alto Daily Post did a story?


28 people like this
Posted by Gal
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 5, 2015 at 6:56 am

Why are folks rooting for Lopez?

Shouldn't they be rooting for truth?

Odd.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2015 at 8:35 am

The Almanac posted a correction to the Scott Morris Bay City News Article that was published in 5 papers about 200,000 readers read the $400,000 embezzlement statement. Read the Editors note.

Scott Morris's original statement "While running for office, Lopez and Segura-Chavez, acting as his campaign treasurer, allegedly embezzled as much as $400,000 in campaign funds for personal use, prosecutors said."

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2015 at 8:41 am

Gal asks,
Why are folks rooting for Lopez?

Shouldn't they be rooting for truth?

Odd.

My response is rooting for San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy Juan P. Lopez is the same as rooting for truth.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Palo Alto Daily Post is the second paper out of seven to publish a story about Sheriff Deputy Juan P. Lopez filing a $30,350,000.00 which the Taxpayers of San Mateo County will pay for thanks to the Supervisors.

Reporter Angela Ruggiero who has known about this suit for about 2 weeks decided to write something today.

She is misleading her readers when she has a tile of Mistaken Identity, regarding Sheriff Deputy Juan Lopez drivers license number being placed on another persons ticket in the State of California's DMV Computer. She knows I personally have filed a criminal complaint about the Hacking of the State Computer with Kamala Harris the A.G., SMC District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, SMC Sheriff Greg Munks and DMV.

This was a Criminal Act, there is NO Mistaken Identity here.

I thank the PADP for at least letting the Taxpayers know where some of their money is going to go.


Like this comment
Posted by Good luck, Mr. Lopez
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm

Did Mr. Wagstaffe give a comment to the Palo Alto Daily Post?


Like this comment
Posted by Mark De Paula
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Just one issue --Deputy Juan Lopez' Drivers License. Why did the D.A. Investigator physically take his license away?
Deputy Lopez had proven to his manager he was not in Southern California when that ticket was issued, he had time cards to prove it.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2015 at 5:45 pm

"Did Mr. Wagstaffe give a comment to the Palo Alto Daily Post?"

I don't think so for this article, here is what was printed.

"Wagstaffe has told the Post on multiple occasions that the arrest of Lopez is not a vendetta against him or his decision to run for Sheriff."

I think she meant to say FOR his decision to run for Sheriff.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2015 at 11:19 am

The criminal complaint I filed.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Good Luck, Mr. Lopez
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 11, 2015 at 4:29 pm

This week in Denver, a judge asked the DA to explain why he didn't charge a deputy sheriff with excessive force. Apparently, this DA has a history of not charging police with anything.

Sure wish San Mateo County had a judge who would challenge Wagstaffe on issues like this

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 11, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Good luck:

it won't happen in SMC because to be appointed or supported for election as a judge you have to be among "those that matter." Those that matter don't rock the corrupt political boat of SMC.


2 people like this
Posted by Ted
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2015 at 11:06 am

Mr. Lopez better have an attorney in his criminal case who has subpoenaed
all of the prosecution's key witnesses to the September 16 preliminary examination because the DA's Office will just call as witnesses a couple of investigators offering mostly hearsay.


2 people like this
Posted by Ted
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2015 at 12:09 pm

And another thing. Why is the sheriff getting paid $415,000 per year including $194,000 in "benefits' according to the "transparent california" website? It also lists the DA and Undersheriff as among the top payees in county government including unexplained "benefits." Is there any PRESS left in America to engage in "freedom of the press"? Report what is going on with persons in positions of great authority.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Transparent California
Web Link

The amount shown for our Under Sheriff does not include his income from the City of Redwood City for retirement.
So its $395, 040.00 from SMC Plus.

That puts him closer to $600K


Like this comment
Posted by Mark De Paula
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Good news for Deputy Juan Lopez at the last hearing.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 17, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Mark:

what was the good news?


Like this comment
Posted by Good Luck, Mr. Lopez
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 20, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Yes, Mr. DePaul: what was the "good news?"


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2015 at 2:59 pm

I think Mark De Paula was talking about the Prosecutorial Misconduct that just delayed the case until December 16, 2015.

The prosecutor told the Judge that he gave Sheriff Deputy Juan Lopez's attorney the data in a Unreadable Format.

That means he didn't give it to him at all.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark De Paula
a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2015 at 1:42 am

Sorry for not answering about the Good News for Deputy Lopez, Michael Stogner answered the question.
Thanks, Michael!


Like this comment
Posted by Mark De Paula
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2015 at 12:02 am

Deputy Sheriff Juan Lopez will prevail in the charges against him.


3 people like this
Posted by Wait a minute
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2015 at 8:49 am

I'm not following how any of this is good for Mr. Lopez. His story all along is that he's been falsely accused in retaliation for running against Munks. I'll wait and see all the evidence, but certainly wouldn't say that just could never have happened, knowing how Munks and Wagstaffe conduct themselves.

Now there's prosecutorial misconduct, not turning evidence over in a timely fashion. Not the first time Wagstaffe has been accused of this.

How is this good? Wagstaffe has succeeded in extending the dark clouds over Lopez's head for a few extra months, and increased the cost of defense for him. The price paid? A judge's eyebrow getting raised.

Seems to me Wagstaffe would chalk this up as a win. It probably went exactly according to plan.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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