News

Perjury counts against former deputy sheriff dismissed

DA's evidence against one-time sheriff candidate was lacking, judge concludes

A San Mateo County Superior Court judge has again dismissed some of the criminal charges by the District Attorney's Office against Juan Pablo Lopez, a former Sheriff's Office deputy and a 2014 write-in candidate for sheriff.

Judge Donald Ayoob on Jan. 25, acting on a motion to dismiss the charges against Mr. Lopez, tossed the following three counts of perjury:

• Two counts of offering a false or forged document with the intent of committing fraud. The judge could not find a reasonable inference in the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing that the documents were false, according to Maria Belyi, an attorney representing Mr. Lopez and a member of San Francisco-based Pier 5 Law.

• One count of making a false statement under oath concerning an income report for the 2014 election year. The judge could not find evidence of unreported income as presented, Ms. Belyi said.

Mr. Lopez, 54, still faces – and has pleaded not guilty to – one count of theft by false pretenses, two counts of mortgage fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit a crime, one count of filing a false nomination paper or declaration of candidacy, one count of voting where he was not entitled to vote, and one count of embezzlement, according to a report by District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

High deference?

Judge Ayoob, by his actions at the motion-to-dismiss hearing, concluded that, unlike the remaining counts, the perjury counts did not show a factual basis for taking them to a jury, Ms. Belyi said.

The judge at motion hearings is supposed to give "high deference" to the judge who presided at the preliminary hearing – in this case, Judge Lisa Novak – and who allowed the charges to go forward, Ms. Belyi said.

"Our burden was pretty high, so we're happy that the three charges got dismissed," she said. "We're preparing for the pretrial conference in March and the trial in May."

Sean Gallagher, the deputy district attorney overseeing the prosecution, said Judge Ayoob used his own analysis to find insufficient evidence for the perjury counts.

"This evidence has been hashed out in front of an experienced judge who was there to test that there was probable cause," Mr. Gallagher said. "She found that there was probable cause to stand trial and answer for all nine of these felonies."

"The reviewing judge is supposed to defer to the findings of the magistrate (Judge Novak), absent clear error," Mr. Gallagher added. "We just don't think it was even close."

Despite the dismissals, the core of the case "is still there. In that respect, it's still intact," he said. "We're still sorting out what we're doing on the three counts, but we're moving forward and looking forward to the May jury trial."

Defending Mr. Lopez with Ms. Belyi is famed San Francisco criminal defense attorney J. Tony Serra, also of Pier 5 Law. Ms. Belyi said she and her colleague see this case as retaliation on the part of the county against Mr. Lopez after he ran for sheriff.

It's the second time in two months that Judge Ayoob has seen fit to dismiss charges against Mr. Lopez. In December, he dismissed two counts of conspiracy, also brought by the county and to which Mr. Lopez had pleaded not guilty.

As a sheriff's deputy Mr. Lopez is now retired he had been assigned to the county jail. He'd been charged in December 2014 with conspiring with corrections officers and a gang-affiliated jail inmate to smuggle in two cellphones and Oxycontin over several months, and to allow the inmate to use the phone openly in the jail.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2018 at 1:56 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

San Mateo County's Political Prosecution coming up on 4 years of Abuse of Office.
As a Private Victim's Advocate I am proud to announce another Victory for former Sheriff Deputy Juan P. Lopez.

Hon. Judge Donald Ayoob is a Asset to the residents of San Mateo County, He doesn't support Prosecutorial Misconduct. He needs the residents of SMC to support him and his Honest efforts to have all Judges to be impartial.

That is what we " Those who Don't Matter" expect.


5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 5, 2018 at 2:06 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

The entire case should be tossed. It is so obviously retaliation for trying to run for sheriff. When will the people of SMC wake up and understand we have a corrupt DA in office?


2 people like this
Posted by C'mon now
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Feb 5, 2018 at 2:47 pm

Same guys, same comments. Over and over and over and over. If this is so bad, why has there been no corrective action?

Or just a bunch of online noise...


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 5, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

C'mon now: Don't be so naive. Who would take the "corrective action?" Not the District Attorney who tends to be vindictive when proven wrong.


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 5, 2018 at 4:20 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Holy cow! I didn't realize how many charges they had thrown at Lopez. And yet Luke Lonergan, the Ivy League educated Silicon Valley pioneer, who's been profiled in the Wall Street Journal who was arrested .in an interagency sting at SFO with massive quantities of child pornography from Russia, didn't even get his name in the paper when arrested- although other minorities arrested in the same sting were identified by the San Mateo DA's office. And he wasn't even charged with a felony- the first time that someone with that amount of child porn was not charged with a felony, according to Santa Clara Detective Dan Ichige, who was in charge of the sting.

Why did Wagstaffe hold a PRESS CONFERENCE to announce the charges agains Lopez, whose name is not well known to the public, but fail to notify the press about the arrest of Lonergan- a far more prominent citizen? Seems all out of whack and very fishy and weird

Mr. Serra. Lopez's attorney is doing an excellent job. This story should be going national.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 5, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"If this is so bad, why has there been no corrective action?"

Really? Why do you think no action has been taken.


Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 6, 2018 at 3:49 am

Did Lopez correctly state his place of residence? Misrepresent financial documents? I thought he actually lived outside San Mateo County. Isn't truthfulness a requirement for a sheriff? Lopez certainly didn't avoid the appearance of misconduct, at the very least.

Obviously Greg Monk had trouble with truthfulness but the DA & SMC voters glossed over that. I'm not sure why Lopez is being seen as a victim of prosecutorial misconduct. Maybe SMC voters don't care about integrity & deserve what we'e gotten. Too bad.

Judge Novak has a good reputation. Serra's known more for courtroom (melo)drama rather than any incisive legal mind he may have had when he was younger. He's a showman who, for some, is fun to watch.


Like this comment
Posted by Unbelievable
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 6, 2018 at 4:13 am

Dowtowner:

Corruption runs rampant in San Mateo County are incredibly naive if you think people in positions of power are being truthful.

See: DJW


2 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2018 at 6:41 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Downtowner asks: Did Lopez correctly state his place of residence? Yes he did

Misrepresent financial documents? Not according to Judge Ayoob

I thought he actually lived outside San Mateo County. Nope he owned two properties like many people he only voted out of one. I think our President owns more than one home only votes out of one.

Isn't truthfulness a requirement for a sheriff? Look at Operation Dollhouse for the answer to that.

Lopez certainly didn't avoid the appearance of misconduct, at the very least. Same could be said for Illegally Appointed
Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, look to LVMPD Spokesperson Bill Cassell April 25, 2007


Like this comment
Posted by What's going on here?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 6, 2018 at 7:40 am

Seems to me that San Mateo County Justice system in 2018 = Alabama, circa 1959.


Like this comment
Posted by Answer
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 6, 2018 at 8:51 am

Downtowner states: "I'm not sure why Lopez is being seen as a victim of prosecutorial misconduct."

One important event that colors the entire situation is that Wagstaffe also filed various charges against Lopez' girlfriend that were also dismissed. Even Wagstaffe's deputies weren't grousing over that dismissal. The Almanac doesn't like to report on that even though it obviously is connected to whether this entire prosecution is legitimate or a vendetta.


2 people like this
Posted by What's going on here ?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 6, 2018 at 9:24 am

"Answer" makes a good point. Distinct Attorney Steve Wagstaffe made a big point of also announcing the"charges" against Lopez's fiancé, Evelyn Chavez. The papers dutifully reported this:
Web Link

But I have seen no followup about the charges being dropped against her in the press. It is important news that should be covered


Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 6, 2018 at 2:10 pm

@ Michael G. Stogner - Thank you for your answers.
I do take issue with any flexibility in the definition of residence as it applies to voting & office-holding eligibility. No matter how many properties are owned & used for investment, commercial, vacation, 2nd residence, etc., , only 1 is allowed for voting (& IRS) purposes. Web Link

Many locals own other homes in Tahoe, Palm Springs, Carmel, & out of state as well but they reside & vote in here, in their home counties & towns. Residing elsewhere but pretending to live in SMC in order to hold office here is dishonest. An SF supervisor had a similar problem a few years ago & was removed from office when it was discovered that he actually lived in, iirc, Alameda Co.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 6, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Downtowner:

Lopez split his time between two homes as many people in this county do. He only voted from his San Mateo property. That is not dishonest and not a crime. This is prosecutorial misconduct and a pure vendetta by Wagstaff.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2018 at 5:52 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Downtowner,

Juan P. Lopez has been registered to vote at his Redwood City property since 2012 2 years before the 2014 election.

Today in 2018 he still lives in the same property in San Mateo County.


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

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