Lawsuits, Investigations and Staff Turnover Plague Coroner’s Office
SAN MATEO – According to estimates compiled by the San Mateo County Counsel’s Office, the expenses related to ongoing lawsuits, investigations and an in-house monitor of the Coroner’s Office have cost San Mateo County taxpayers in excess of $500,000 and counting.
“The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office has been subject to a myriad of lawsuits and investigations and still requires an in-house monitor due to allegations of sexual harassment. The failure of the current Coroner to maintain a professionally run office is incontrovertible and must end as soon as possible,” said Stacie Nevares, a candidate for the Office of San Mateo County Coroner.
Under the leadership of incumbent Coroner Robert Foucrault the Coroner’s Office has been sued for allegations of sexual harassment and, in a separate lawsuit, for failing to disclose to a grieving mother that the Coroner’s Office had retained her son’s heart even after the young man was laid to rest. An external investigation of the Coroner’s Office by a retired judge determined, among many revelations, that in recent history the viewing of pornography was commonplace, a birthday cake for an employee was adorned with a naked woman figurine, employees drew breasts on a life-size fake skeleton in the office among a litany of inappropriate behavior under the Coroner’s watch.
Foucrault himself was accused of mooning two employees at one point.
As a result of the missing heart case alone, San Mateo County has been forced to pay for ongoing litigation costs that totaled $376,000 as of February 15, 2010 and far more by now. In addition, the cost for an external investigation of allegations of sexual harassment by a former employee cost $26,000. As a result of the sexual harassment investigation the San Mateo County Manager placed an in-house monitor in the Coroner’s office at a cost of $86,997 in 2008 and $47,948 in 2009. Totals for 2010 were not immediately available.
Costs related to a second lawsuit based on the sexual harassment lawsuit against the County and rampant staff turnover have yet to be totaled.
When confronted with the costs related to his misconduct in a recent newspaper interview Foucrault referred to the taxpayer funds used to defend the county in court and to conduct the internal investigation as “Monopoly money”.
“San Mateo County residents simply cannot afford the current Coroner any more,” said Nevares. “It is time to elect a Coroner who will restore the dignity and respect that the functions of this public agency require.”
Stacie Nevares is a San Mateo native and a former member of the Coroner’s Office. Nevares now works as an analyst with the University of California, San Francisco Police Department where she continues to dedicate her life to public service and to helping people in their time of need. Nevares has years of law enforcement experience and holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration.
The election for San Mateo County Coroner will be on June 8, 2010.