FBI is also looking at DA's office, sources say | February 23, 2011 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



News - February 23, 2011

FBI is also looking at DA's office, sources say

by Renee Batti

A source recently interviewed by the FBI has revealed that the apparent investigation by the federal agency isn't limited to the town of Atherton, but includes the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office as well.

Since late January, the FBI has been interviewing Atherton residents and others about matters involving the town of Atherton, according to several sources.

But after the Almanac reported the apparent investigation, another reliable source contacted the newspaper to talk about being interviewed by two FBI agents. That source 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.

County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe wasn't buying the allegation that his office is being investigated. "This whole FBI thing has been manufactured ... there's no FBI investigation, in my belief," he said.

"There certainly has been nobody (who contacted) us, and that's a standard procedure the FBI would follow."

Noting that interviewing someone doesn't constitute an investigation, he added: "There's nothing to investigate involving us. What would it be? ... There's been some pretty unfair coverage of the District Attorney's Office and the men and women who work hard in it." ... There've been some misconceptions put out there that have damaged the reputation of the office."

Atherton resident Peter Carpenter acknowledged playing a role in the amatter, but noted that it was only as "the switchboard" helping to connect several people with the federal agency.

Several people who felt they had evidence of wrongdoing came to him for advice, he said, and because he has a number of contacts within federal agencies, he was able to help. "My role was simply to identify an appropriate FBI person to whom that person could speak."

Former finance director John Johns, who successfully sued the town for wrongful termination and currently has a complaint filed against the police department, said he was interviewed about his experiences with the town of Atherton in late January by an agent in the San Francisco office of the FBI. And an Atherton resident who did not wish to be identified acknowledged that he, too, had been interviewed about his experiences.

Julianne Sohn, a spokeswoman with the San Francisco office of the FBI, said that as a matter of policy she could not confirm or deny that an investigation is taking place.

Mayor Jim Dobbie said he knows nothing about an FBI investigation of town matters, nor does anyone he has spoken to. "But that doesn't mean it's not happening," he added.

Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen, who has publicly criticized the town for not hiring neutral outside investigators when public officials are accused of possible wrongdoing, could not be reached for comment. In the past year, three council members have been subjects of internal reviews conducted by the city attorney after complaints were made about their actions.

Atherton resident Jon Buckheit is suing the town, three police officers, Councilman Jerry Carlson and the county in federal court over the handling of his 2008 arrest during a domestic violence incident. He and Mr. Johns, the former finance director, have accused the police department of falsification of police reports and other misconduct.

The building department has had its share of complaints as well. Mr. Johns' audit of that department shortly before he was fired turned up questionable practices and possible misconduct. He also challenged expenditures by the police department he said were not proper.


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Posted by What happened?
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 22, 2015 at 11:37 am

What happened to all of the comments from this story from 2011? There were many. A

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Posted by What happened?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2015 at 11:40 am

Any reason all of the dozens and dozens of comments under this thread from 2011 were scrubbed?

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Very good question.

1 person likes this
Posted by Poster
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Are these the links you are looking for:

Web Link

Web Link

The comments are on the news stories posted on the Almanac home page. The link with no comments is to the story in the online archive of the print edition.

Stories posted on the home page are labeled with NEWS at the top. Stories in the online archive of the print edition are label with ALMANAC on top.

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Posted by observant resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 25, 2015 at 3:35 am

we've all seen or heard about the sketchy mis-doings by Steve Wagstaffe. We've had the same experience with the completely outrageous situations within the walls of the APD. Why don't we actually do something this time around?

The only person in the APD I knew that had his heart in the right place was Sgt. Guerra. Then he was ousted quickly probably because he had an actual passion for real ethical police work and that contradicted what "blue code of silence" had been, and still is being employed in the culture in Atherton.

If you'd really like to read further, go to the articles of Officer Yee. He was the Atherton Police Officer who was also a very solid cop until his dramatic indictment for allegedly stealing an Atherton Resident's golf clubs out of their car's trunk and driving away(in his squad car). Then returning to respond to the theft call.

What's brow-raising about this story that on the surface seems like a cut-and-dry case is that he, too, was a wonderfully kind and passionate officer of the law that, if you read the comments, for some reason didn't seem to be very liked by his colleagues at APD.

In order to not sound like an activist for these specific cops, I'll refer you again to the article comments trail within those articles respectively. One thing I will say though, is that you get the feeling he was framed by the blue code of silence brotherhood that had formed in Atherton over the past two decades. Why would a POLICE OFFICER who knows the ins and outs of fundamental theft investigations blatantly take these golf clubs to a golfMart in San mateo county and sell them? My suspicion is that round of dirty cops somehow convinced him they were a gift from them and so he again, was caught on APD parking lot survailence video removing the clubs from his squad car and placing them in his personal vehicle.

His testimony was never heard in court because of the imminent enormous legal fees he would have accrued through defending himself against a laundry list of crimes you can imagine he was charged with for 'stealing golf clubs from a resident while on duty, then returning to answer the dispatch call in response to the resident's 911 call about stolen golf clubs, then in turn filing a theft report on behalf of the resident.'

Call me crazy but if you think Atherton Police are an upstanding and honest department, please do refer me to any police blotter in the last ten years that state an actual resident of Atherton was arrested on DUI charges. Please find me any proof they have done any of that.

Moreover: an officer, who will remain unnamed for sake of not having my entire post deleted by almanac staff, was questioned by the CHP a few years back as to why he did not arrest a resident for DUI. this resident was stopped by the officer for speeding, cited for speeding, then stopped 30 minutes later by CHP and arrested for DUI.

Moral of the story, if you think you're just being paranoid by thinking there's a larger picture in Atherton, I wouldn't just turn the page. Wherever there's corruption and bribery, there's money --and god knows Atherton was named the richest zip-code in the United States by Forbes in 2011

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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2015 at 8:16 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Observant Resident,

Great post