Part Three in new News-Press DUI series

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By PETER LANCE SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-PRESS

October 5, 2012 6:06 AM Third of five parts

On Thursday the News-Press presented the first half of an illustrated timeline detailing the events that began in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2011 when I was arrested by Officer Kasi Beutel, then head of the Santa Barbara Police Department’s Drinking Driver Team. At the time, Officer Beutel was a five-year veteran who had been celebrated in 2009 as Top DUI Officer of the year by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She won the same award for 2010 a few months later.

My criminal case was dismissed Nov. 15, 2011, and the Department of Motor Vehicles restored my full driving privileges in March of this year.

But I have continued to press my investigation, which began after I noticed several serious discrepancies in Officer Beutel’s report of my arrest, including declaring under penalty of perjury that I made “unsafe turning movements” leading up to my stop, even though she wasn’t present for the stop and claiming to have witnessed me sign a Trombetta blood test waiver, which I did not sign and which James Blanco, a nationally ranked handwriting expert, concluded was a forgery.

In May 2011, Mr. Blanco, who volunteered to help my defense, concluded that the Trombetta waivers in my case and those of two other Beutel arrestees – 19-year-old Cody Zoesch and 26-year-old Alison Woolery – had been forged.

The chronology went through July 2011, when Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill set a hearing later that month regarding the alleged forgery evidence. In the weeks that followed the discovery of the first three Trombetta forgeries, we found two more, those of John Eric Page and Rachel Morales. The Trombetta waivers purportedly signed by Ms. Woolery and Ms. Morales were witnessed by Kasi Beutel’s husband, Officer Mark Corbett, who had preceded her as head of the department’s Drinking Driver Team.

CLAIMS OF WITNESS INTIMIDATION

Before the hearing took place on July 26, 2011, Norma Hansen, a criminal investigator for the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, made several phone calls to prospective witness Ms. Woolery, beginning on July 6. When Ms. Woolery did not respond, the 48-year-old investigator, a former SBPD officer, showed up at her home unannounced. Mr. Zoesch, the college student who also claimed to have a forged Trombetta waiver in his file, got similar treatment.

The contacts stopped only after both witnesses informed Ms. Hansen that they were represented by counsel and did not wish to be interviewed prior the July 26 court hearing.

Meanwhile, after the Rev. Thomas James, the minister who performed two wedding ceremonies for Kasi Beutel in 1997 and 1999, filed a sworn declaration along with his wife, Pam, describing how in 2005 the former Kasi Moore asked him to back-date her official marriage license, they were actually contacted by Officer Beutel herself.

The D.A.’s attempt to contact Ms. Woolery and Mr. Zoesch along with Officer Beutel’s call to the Jameses prompted my attorney Darryl Genis to file a Notice for a Protective Order on July 26, 2011. In that pleading, Rev. James stated, “Kasi probably knew she was pushing the limits of legality with a call to us.”

DISTRICT ATTORNEY FAILS TO PRODUCE TROMBETTA ORIGINALS

Judge Hill denied that motion, and the hearing into the blood test waiver forgery allegations began on schedule. I was present along with Ms. Woolery, Mr. Zoesch and two other Kasi Beutel arrestees, Mr. Page and Ms. Morales, and all were ready to testify that we had not signed the Trombetta waivers bearing our signatures. Handwriting expert Mr. Blanco, who had now examined all five Trombetta “signatures” and declared them forgeries, was also prepared to take the stand.

But when Judge Hill asked Deputy District Attorney Sanford Horowitz for the original waivers he had pledged to bring to court, Mr. Horowitz replied that he’d only brought photocopies. At that point, scolding him, Judge Hill noted, “The Police Department is across the street.” He ordered the forms produced in five minutes and sent Officer Beutel, who was present in plain clothes, to retrieve them. That was at 2:37 p.m.

Judge Hill then turned to a discussion of whether he would sanction me and the News-Press for publishing the partial transcript of an April 8, 2011, closed-door Pitchess hearing – named for the landmark California case Pitchess v. Superior Court seeking to have a judge examine a police officer’s personnel file – pertaining to Officer Beutel. An editorial in the News-Press had cited not only our First Amendment right, but our duty to publish what was clearly an official transcript that was legally obtained.

Although Judge Hill argued that his gag order would survive an appeal, he concluded that he would hold neither me nor the paper in contempt.

THE HEARING IS CUT SHORT

Meanwhile the clock on the wall in Dept. 2 was ticking and Officer Beutel didn’t return with the blank forms until 2:53 p.m. With the hearing scheduled to last only another 97 minutes, it was doubtful that all five witnesses could be heard. Judge Hill admitted that, “It’s not insignificant to me that four or five people come forward and claim forgery.” But after a short recess he only permitted two of the five to testify.

The first was Mr. Page, a 30-year-old stockbroker arrested by Kasi Beutel in November 2009. Questioned under oath as to whether he signed a Trombetta waiver, Mr. Page answered, “I was never presented with it.” After he was handed the document, which Officer Beutel claimed she’d “witnessed” him signing, he said, “That’s not my signature and not my numbers (the date) next to it.”

Reiterating the same experience I had with Officer Beutel, Mr. Page insisted that he was never given the option of a blood test. With no knowledge of the potential forgery, he ended up pleading guilty in 2010, but he testified that after reading my series last year in the News-Press, he came forward.

Before Mr. Zoesch took the stand, Judge Hill warned him that if he was testifying untruthfully that would amount to perjury, a felony that could put him in prison. Mr. Zoesch replied, “I’m just going to tell the truth. I’d like to testify.”

Under oath Mr. Zoesch said that after his stop he got the impression from Kasi Beutel that the only place he could get a blood test was jail, so he acquiesced to a breath test with the Alcotest 7410 – the breathalyzer that was subject to manipulation. Asked if he’d signed a Trombetta waiver, he said, “No. I hadn’t seen the form until this afternoon.” His breath result was a blood alcohol content of .08 – right at the legal limit for an adult – but as a minor, that number equaled a misdemeanor for Mr. Zoesch, who later pled guilty to a lesser charge known as a “dry reckless.”

At that point it was 4:17 p.m. and neither Mr. Blanco, who’d flown in from San Francisco at his own expense, Ms. Woolery or Ms. Morales were permitted to testify. My attorney, Mr. Genis, asked Judge Hill to extend the hearing, but as the News-Press reported, the judge insisted that it must concluded by 4:30 p.m. citing “union rules.”

QUESTIONING THE CITY ATTORNEY

Two days later, I sent a detailed email to City Attorney Steve Wiley, copying Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, the City Council and Police Chief Cam Sanchez along with District Attorney Joyce Dudley and two of her surrogates, Hilary Dozer and Gordon Auchincloss, citing multiple instances in which Mr. Wiley’s office appeared to be obstructing the News-Press investigation of Kasi Beutel including:

* Preventing Lt. Donald Paul McCaffrey, then the SBPD’s public information officer, from responding to my questions relating to the department;

* Inciting Judge Hill’s gag order on the publication of the Pitchess hearing transcript;

* Filing a motion to quash a valid subpoena from Darryl Genis who sought to question Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez on the statement in his June 23, 2011, press release that Officer Beutel had an “unblemished record;”

* Restricting Mark Howard of the city of Santa Barbara Risk Management Department and Robert Samario, the city’s finance director, from disclosing details about Officer Beutel’s alleged “shoulder” injury in a workers’ compensation claim she filed stating she was injured during her 2009 arrest of Michael Kenny, a Santa Barbara fisherman;

* Muzzling police Lt. David Whitham, who had routinely responded to previous public records requests in 24-48 hours. “From now on,” Lt. Whitham had told me, “Everything relating to Kasi Beutel is going through the City Attorney’s Office and they’ve told us that we can take up to 10 days to comply.”;

* A new policy as of that week restricting access to Kasi Beutel-related police reports by the SBPD – citing the city attorney as the source of the policy change.

At that point I informed Mr. Wiley that I had just learned that the state Department of Insurance had commenced a criminal fraud investigation into the “shoulder” injury claim for which the city’s Risk Management Department was urging the District Attorney’s Office to seek restitution from Mr. Kenny of $7,762,89. I ended the email this way: “You and other city officials including the mayor and members of the City Council now have a choice: You can be a part of the solution or part of the problem. If my allegations are correct – and neither I nor the News-Press would have published them if they weren’t – then it is incumbent upon you to move now toward full disclosure.”

FORCIBLY EJECTED BY JUDGE HILL

At the continuation of the Trombetta blood waiver hearing on Aug. 1, 2011, I was present with Mr. Blanco, Ms. Woolery and Ms. Morales. We were all prepared to take the stand and testify under oath as to the forgeries. But Judge Hill began the hearing by ordering all news media cameras – which had been present at the hearing on July 26 – banned from the courtroom.

He proceeded to castigate the defense. First Judge Hill said that he’d received a report that I’d used my cell phone during the previous hearing. He then remonstrated my attorney, Mr. Genis, who a week earlier accused Judge Hill of “filibustering to burn up … time” – a move that Mr. Genis alleged prevented additional defense witnesses from testifying.

“What I’m not going to do,” said Judge Hill, “is tolerate an attack on this court or the process.” At that point Mr. Genis noted the number of police officers in the courtroom, citing the last hearing where the presence of up to eight officers might have lead to witness intimidation. Just then, from the back of the gallery, City Council candidate Cruzito Cruz, who had filed a complaint against Officer Kasi Beutel on April 7, 2011, began clapping.

Judge Hill ordered him removed. But as he was being led from Dept. 2 by sheriff’s deputies, Mr. Cruz yelled out, “There’s 40 cops here man, kick them out.”

At that point, Judge Hill, who had earlier insisted that the blood test waiver forgery witnesses testify under oath, reversed himself, now stating that he merely wanted them to sign a series of blank Trombetta waivers for subsequent analysis. They could also submit sworn declarations, but he would not permit them to testify at this hearing.

Noting how well John Page and Cody Zoesch had held up under oath, Mr. Genis protested, but Judge Hill was unmoved, whereupon Mr. Genis called Officer Kasi Beutel to the stand so that he might question her on the purported waiver signature in my case.

But Judge Hill said no. Officer Beutel would not have to testify. Like the other witnesses, she merely had to file a declaration. When Mr. Genis objected, noting that depending on the credibility of Officer Beutel’s testimony, the case might be “shut down” then and there, Judge Hill held his ground, refusing to put her on the stand.

At that point I spoke up. “The only reason you wouldn’t want her to (testify) is Mr. Goldwasser isn’t here and you don’t want to see her take the Fifth,” I said, making a reference to Officer Beutel’s police union attorney who wasn’t present that day.

The judge ordered me to stop talking and when I wouldn’t, he ordered bailiffs to remove me. According to an account by Scott Steepleton in the News-Press, “four deputies swarmed on (Lance) as he sat at the defense table and one took him by the arm.”

I was then hustled from the courtroom by Sgt. Michael Skall who continued to bend my arm back behind me even though I offered no resistance. Forcibly twisting my arm, he then hustled me down the back stairs and out of the courthouse while members of the press were blocked by other sheriff’s deputies from documenting the ejection.

Despite the best efforts of Mr. Genis, none of the defense witnesses to the Trombetta forgeries or handwriting expert Mr. Blanco, who’d flown in a second time from San Francisco, were permitted to testify. Now, just as Judge Eskin had during an earlier hearing, Judge Brian Hill seemed to be going out of his way to keep Kasi Beutel, the chief accusing officer in my case, from testifying under oath.

THE PROMISE OF AN INVESTIGATION

The next day, Mayor Schneider and City Administrator Jim Armstrong issued a press release promising to investigate my findings on Kasi Beutel. Citing “several serious allegations concerning Officer Beutel and the Police Department” raised in the News-Press series, they insisted that “it is the duty of the city administrator, city attorney and chief of police to review these allegations and, if necessary, take appropriate action to initiate discipline, outside investigations, etc.”

But rather than undertaking a public investigation, the city, according to documents obtained by the News-Press, spent upwards of $12,000 hiring Sintra Group, a consulting firm owned by Steve Bowman, the former assistant chief of the Ventura Police Department, to look into my claims. No one from Sintra Group ever contacted me to confirm my allegations, but Sintra issued a report nonetheless, which the mayor and City Council members were allowed to see in December 2011.

City Attorney Steve Wiley refused to make the report public, claiming that the report, financed with city funds, was exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act.

Sintra is the same firm the city of Santa Barbara contracted to investigate allegations of misconduct by Police Chief Sanchez after Mesa resident Wayne Scoles was arrested June 27, 2008, following a verbal altercation with the chief. While a Santa Barbara jury dismissed the charges against Mr. Scoles, the city has kept Sintra’s report on the matter secret as well.

In an interview for this story, Mr. Scoles, who now lives in Oregon, said he received a letter from the city stating that Sintra found “no substance” to his allegations. But he questioned the basis of that conclusion. “The jury believed me,” said Mr. Scoles, “which is why I was found not guilty. But this consulting firm staffed by former police officers didn’t.”

Mr. Scoles called Sintra’s report in his case “a whitewash.”

A “MISTAKE” IN WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM

On June 3, 2011, just three weeks before I reported in my series that Office Kasi Beutel had Tasered Mr. Kenny with 50,000 volts after the 2009 DUI stop and claimed that he kicked her in the hip, the city’s Risk Management Department contacted the District Attorney’s Office asking that additional charges be filed against Mr. Kenny in order to collect $7,762.89 for his alleged injury to Kasi Beutel’s “shoulder” during the arrest.

After my series produced hard evidence from Mr. Kenny’s police report that Officer Beutel had not been injured, the state Department of Insurance commenced a criminal fraud investigation.

D.A. FINALLY ADMITS TROMBETTA ORIGINALS DESTROYED

After we had sought the original of my Trombetta waiver form as early as Feb. 24, 2011, and after Judge Hill ordered the originals of questioned waivers from six other Beutel arrestees turned over two other times that year, April 30 and July 26, the Santa Barbara Police Department finally confirmed on Aug. 3 that it had shredded all but one of them, that of John Eric Page, who was arrested in November 2009.

Two days later, Mr. Genis asked Judge Hill to dismiss my case on the grounds of “outrageous governmental conduct.” But the judge refused, setting a further hearing date of Aug. 24, at which time handwriting experts from the prosecution and defense would testify. Judge Hill then ordered the original of Mr. Page’s Trombetta waiver to be sent first to my handwriting expert, Mr. Blanco, for analysis and following his examination, forwarded to the Department of Justice in Sacramento.

But that single blood test waiver would soon result in a bombshell revelation.

INFRARED TESTING SHOWS BEUTEL PRE-CHECKED DUI FORMS

At the Aug. 24, 2011, hearing, Mr. Blanco revealed that sophisticated infrared testing of the Page Trombetta original proved that Kasi Beutel conducted his field sobriety test with a form in which she pre-checked a number of test answers before even making contact with Mr. Page. She even pre-checked an “X” in the spot where he purportedly waived his right to a blood test.

“This form strongly suggests,” Mr. Blanco wrote in a sworn declaration, “that Officer Beutel went into the field on duty armed with a document that would meet certain criteria to guarantee a successful DUI arrest.”

 

 

POLICE DEPARTMENT CONDONES PRE-CHECKING

Confronted with evidence suggesting Officer Beutel had a pre-determined mindset to find John Page guilty of a DUI crime, Deputy Police Chief Frank Mannix told the News-Press’ Scott Steepleton that the Santa Barbara Police Department did not “have a policy… preventing a form from being filled out in advance,” adding that the technique was used by Officer Beutel for “efficiency.”

But Mr. Steepleton cited Policy 334 of the SBPD’s manual noting that, “Employees shall not repress, conceal or distort the facts of any reported incident, nor shall any employee make a false report orally or in writing.”

As far as the public knows, no action was taken against Officer Beutel by the department for the pre-checked form practice. On Sept. 6, 2011, when we sought to introduce evidence that she had pre-checked boxes on my police report, the prosecutor, Mr. Horowitz, asked Judge Hill for a continuance until Sept. 20. The judge granted the request.

In the meantime, handwriting expert Mr. Blanco filed another sworn declaration in which he noted that my Trombetta waiver not only contained a pre-checked “X,” just like Mr. Page’s, but that Kasi Beutel even checked a box claiming that I was “unstable” before she was ever called to administer a field sobriety test on me on Jan. 1, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

D.A. MEETS WITH BEUTEL DESPITE INJURY CLAIM

Meanwhile on Sept. 6, the same day that prosecutor Mr. Horowitz asked Judge Hill to put off an examination of the pre-checked form issue, he interviewed Kasi Beutel in the D.A.’s office along with Norma Hansen – the same D.A. criminal investigator who had tried to contact Trombetta forgery witness Alison Woolery.

Officer Beutel drove some 55 miles or so from her home in Newbury Park, in eastern Ventura County, to Santa Barbara for the interview, which lasted more than 30 minutes. She admitted pre-checking forms for “efficiency,” but claimed she had abandoned the practice because “it wasn’t accomplishing the goals … I wanted, which was just to make this faster and neater.”

But what made that interview extraordinary, was that it took place during a 90-day period in which she was on sick leave for a purported on-the-job injury – her third medically-related leave since 2007.

Ever since Officer Beutel’s appearance at my DMV hearing on June 30, 2011, had been cut short, my attorney, Darryl Genis, had been trying to get her back under oath at the DMV. The last time Kasi Beutel had testified at a criminal hearing was in People v. Batalas, June 28.

Now, nearly two months later, on Aug. 25, after a hearing was set at the DMV office in Ventura for Sept. 8, Mr. Genis had a subpoena served on Officer Beutel commanding her presence. But two days after that, under penalty of perjury, Santa Barbara Police Lt. Donald Paul McCaffrey responded with a form known as a Declaration of Unavailability.

Claiming that Officer Beutel “will not be able to comply with the aforementioned subpoena,” Lt. McCaffrey swore that she could not appear at the Sept. 8 DMV hearing because of an “Extended illness,” which he described as “I.O.D. Injury on Duty.”

Undeterred and armed with evidence suggesting that Officer Beutel was not so impaired that she couldn’t testify, Mr. Genis scheduled a second hearing date with her at the DMV for Oct. 13. In fact, Mr. Genis served a subpoena for that hearing himself on Sept. 27.

More than two weeks later, literally on the eve of Kasi Beutel’s long sought-after appearance at the DMV, a second SBPD lieutenant, James Pfleging, signed another sworn Declaration of Unavailability for Officer Beutel; this time claiming she couldn’t appear because she was “Off Duty Medical.” That notice wasn’t received by Darryl Genis until 6:43 p.m. – barely 14 hours before the scheduled hearing.

It was faxed to Mr. Genis’ office by the City Attorney at 6:43 p.m. – nearly one hour and forty-five minutes after the normal close of business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KASI BEUTEL SWEARS SHE WAS TOO SICK TO TESTIFY

During the four months since her last appearance at the DMV, I and my lawyer sought multiple times to get Kasi Beutel on the stand. She was present for the July 26, 2011, hearing in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, but Judge Hill refused to put her under oath. She appeared in uniform at the Aug. 6 hearing at which time the prosecutor, Mr. Horowitz, asked for a continuance.

It wasn’t until early January of this year, when the city attorney provided us with a sworn declaration by Officer Beutel pursuant to a motion in Ventura County Superior Court to compel her to testify at the DMV, that the full significance of those sworn declarations of unavailability became clear.

In her declaration, under penalty of perjury, Officer Beutel claimed that “on August 11th, 2011, at the recommendation of my physician, I was placed on extended medical leave.”

Stating that she was “unable to work until (she) received clearance from her doctor” Officer Beutel insisted that the leave lasted until Nov. 11 – a period of 90 days – and only then was she able to return “to full duty.”

She didn’t explain why, despite the 90-day leave, her doctor had cleared her to testify in Dept. 2 in a hearing for my criminal case on Oct. 25, except to say that, “The medical release extended only to this specific hearing and this case.”

But in that declaration, Officer Beutel appeared to commit perjury once again, stating that, “Apart from my preparation for and testimony at the Motion to Suppress Hearing (on Oct. 25, 2011) I did not work until cleared by my physician.”

Somehow she failed to mention that while having been declared “unavailable” to testify at the DMV on Sept. 8, she had been able to meet two days earlier with Mr. Horowitz and investigator Ms. Hansen at the District Attorney’s Office headquarters on Santa Barbara Street, near the County Courthouse, to discuss her practice of pre-checking forms – an interview that was indisputably “work” related.

Nor did she mention that she made the 110-mile round-trip commute from her home in Newbury Park at a time when she was supposedly the victim of an “Extended Illness,” having been “Injured on Duty.”

EXPERT BLANCO FINDS 10 PRE-CHECKED FORMS

On Sept. 12, 2011, after Mr. Genis requested additional discovery, the SPBD produced 10 other DUI forms filled out by Kasi Beutel between Nov. 19, 2009, and Jan. 8, 2010, including the pre-checked field sobriety test forms of John Eric Page and Cody Zoesch.

Analyzed by Mr. Blanco, the reports documented a stunning pattern in which Officer Beutel brought pre-filled investigative forms into the field, further suggesting a pre-meditated mindset to arrest drivers for DUI crimes regardless of their guilt or innocence.

BEUTEL FINALLY TAKES THE STAND

Claiming that she’d received special approval from her doctor, Kasi Beutel finally appeared on the witness stand at a hearing in my criminal case on Oct. 25, 2011.

Earlier at that hearing, Officer Heather Clark, who along with Officer Bruno Peterson pulled me over New Year’s Day 2011, admitted that she had destroyed an audio recording of the stop and arrest.

Under cross-examination by Darryl Genis, Officer Clark also admitted that she didn’t write a narrative report of the stop until May 19, 2011, nearly five months after my arrest – and she’d filed it only after Mr. Horowitz, the lead prosecutor, told her to write it.

Officer Peterson admitted to Mr. Genis that he didn’t recall ever telling Officer Beutel that I was stopped for “unsafe turning movements,” a statement she’d sworn to in a DMV form. In fact, he testified that she’d told him that it was an “error.”

“I know that was not what I told her,” Officer Peterson said on the stand.

When Kasi Beutel finally took the stand, she was accompanied by Charles Goldwasser, the lawyer from the police union who had guided her testimony at two previous hearings.

That testimony took place during Officer’s Beutel’s 90-day sick leave for a purported injury on duty, but when Darryl Genis asked if she was on medical leave, Mr. Goldwasser jumped up. He asked Judge Brian Hill if he could advise his client how to answer.

Judge Hill allowed it and when Officer Beutel, who appeared to be in excellent physical condition, finally responded, she said, “your Honor I believe I have a right to privacy and confidentiality.”

The judge agreed that she wouldn’t have to answer the question.

When pinned down by Mr. Genis on why she had written “unsafe turning movements” on a sworn DMV form in my case, when she had not observed the stop, Officer Beutel testified, “My recollection is that he was stopped for failing to (proceed) on a green (light) and unsafe turning movements.”

When Mr. Genis asked who told her that, Officer Beutel said she couldn’t recall. Finally, under penalty of perjury, she insisted that she had witnessed me sign the Trombetta blood waiver that handwriting expert Mr. Blanco contends was a forgery. She also insisted that she had not used pre-checked forms in my case.

EVIDENCE OF AN ADDITIONAL TROMBETTA FORGERY

On Nov. 13, 2011, Mr. Blanco filed another sworn declaration in which he examined the Notice to Appear and Trombetta blood test waiver of Cayla Condon, a 22-year-old who Kasi Beutel arrested on suspicion of DUI at 1:44 a.m. Dec. 31, 2010, 24 hours before she put the handcuffs on me for the same crime.

As in my case, Mr. Blanco compared the Notice to Appear, which Ms. Condon admittedly signed (and which included her thumb print) against the blood test waiver witnessed by Officer Beutel, which Ms. Condon insisted that she had not signed.

Mr. Blanco’s conclusion: the Condon Trombetta waiver, like mine, had been forged.

This new evidence now suggested that Office Kasi Beutel had witnessed six forged Trombetta waivers including mine and that of a motorist arrested just a day before me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DARRYL GENIS’ FINAL MOTION TO DISMISS

On Nov. 14, 2011, the day after filing Mr. Blanco’s declaration, my lawyer, Darryl Genis, submitted a 16-page pleading to the court arguing that my case should be dismissed not only because Officers Peterson and Clark lacked probable cause for the stop, but because Kasi Beutel, the chief accusing officer, lacked credibility after perjuring herself by filing a false DMV DS-367 form.

Mr. Genis had already filed a parallel common law motion to dismiss the case based on the outrageous conduct of the District Attorney’s Office in allowing the blood test waivers to be shredded by the Police Department and Officer Beutel’s alleged witnessing of multiple forged Trombetta advisories. The consequences for Kasi Beutel, the SBPD and the District Attorney’s Office might have been dire if we’d had the chance to prove those allegations in front of a jury.

But we never got the chance.

JUDGE HILL DISMISSES THE CASE

The very next day, Nov. 15, 2011, Judge Brian Hill threw my case out, ruling that the stop by officers Peterson and Clark violated my Fourth Amendment rights.

The judge noted that after the light turned green, despite the allegations in Heather Clark’s May 19, 2011, report that she saw me stopped at a light with my “head drooping … chin nearly resting on (my) chest,” the officers followed me “for a much longer period than (I) was stopped at the light … and if there was any suspicion of … DUI or anything else, there was plenty of time to watch (me) drive … both officers testified that there were no violations whatsoever, no weaving in the lane, nothing of the sort.”

Meanwhile, despite the fact that we had shown in court and at the DMV that Kasi Beutel lied and perjured herself by filing a false DS-367 form – the same charges that resulted in the June 25, 2012, indictments of Los Angeles Police Department DUI officers Craig Allen and Phillip Walters – Officer Beutel was back on the job that same day after her 90-day sick leave.

FILING A FORMAL COMPLAINT

On Aug. 19, 2011, the last installment in my original 13-part series for the News-Press had been headlined “Search for the truth or for a way out?” Since it was clear to me that multiple government agencies including the SBPD, the District Attorney’s Office, the city attorney and even some Superior Court judges had seemingly gone out of their way to shield Kasi Beutel from possible criminal liability, I decided to file a formal complaint with the City Attorney’s Office. It can be downloaded HERE:

On Dec. 6, appearing at a City Council meeting, I passed out copies of the 20-page complaint to the mayor and council members. But when I sought to question Mayor Schneider and City Administrator Mr. Armstrong about their Aug. 2 pledge to fully investigate my findings, I was shouted down by several police department sympathizers in the council chambers.

Moments later, Mayor Schneider cut off my microphone.

A short time later, after several people surrendered their time to me, I sought to question Chief Sanchez, who was present and about to give his monthly report – a task he’d been handed thanks to my series – but he refused to respond.

It was at that council meeting that City Attorney Steve Wiley first disclosed that the city had hired the Sintra Group to investigate my findings, but that the city intended to keep their report confidential.

Ten days later, Chief Sanchez demonstrated that he had no interest in getting to the bottom of my multiple allegations of misconduct by Kasi Beutel, when he assigned Lt. James Pfleging to investigate my complaint.

The lieutenant was one of the two officers who had signed notices of unavailability for Kasi Beutel under penalty of perjury, claiming that she could not comply with a subpoena to testify at the DMV because she was on medical leave. In any criminal investigation into whether or not Officer Beutel broke the law by dodging those DMV subpoenas, Lt. Pfleging would likely have been witness and perhaps even subject to potential charges.

DMV DISMISSAL TAKES 90 MORE DAYS

Meanwhile, even though I’d been vindicated in the criminal court, state proceedings seeking to revoke my driver’s license continued at the DMV well into this year. On Feb. 15, after avoiding two earlier appearances during her 90-day sick leave, Kasi Beutel appeared at a hearing in Oxnard. But this time she wasn’t merely chaperoned by union lawyer Charles Goldwasser, she was also represented by Reed Gallogly, the deputy city attorney who had been present during the secret April 8, 2011, Pitchess hearing before Judge George Eskin, during which the judge called Kasi Beutel an “exemplary officer.”

Now at the DMV, virtually every time Darryl Genis sought to impeach Officer Beutel’s credibility by questioning her about her perjury on the DS-367 form, Mr. Gallogly objected and hearing officer Michael Windover let the objection stand.

In order to get Officer Beutel to appear at that hearing, Mr. Genis had been forced to file a motion in Ventura County Superior Court asking a judge to compel her attendance.

It took an additional filing by Mr. Genis before hearing officer Mr. Windover finally considered all the evidence involving Officer Beutel’s misconduct and issued what’s called an Order of Set Aside or Reinstatement, returning my driver’s license to me on March 6 – more than 14 and one-half months after Kasi Beutel arrested me.

In a page-one story, the News-Press’ Scott Steepleton reported that the city of Santa Barbara spent nearly $12,000 on the still-secret Sintra report, including $432 to a Ventura County bankruptcy attorney named Douglas Higson who weighed in on a part of the probe entitled “Beutel Bankruptcy Investigation.”

There has been no official accounting, but there’s little doubt that the nearly year-long criminal prosecution and protracted DMV proceeding cost the county and state tens of thousands of additional dollars and hundreds of man hours expended by the District Attorney’s Office, the court, the SBPD and the city attorney all in the prosecution of a misdemeanor DUI case in which the accused was alleged to have been one-hundredth of one percent over the legal limit.

But as we’ll see in the next two parts of this series, the stakes for these multiple government agencies are extremely high. Once a decision was made by Chief Sanchez to circle the wagons around Kasi Beutel, there seemed to be no limit to the willingness of city, county and state officials to ensure that she wouldn’t be brought to justice.  Copyright 2012 By Peter Lance

 

2 Responses to Part Three in new News-Press DUI series

  1. Paul W Reply

    October 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I don’t understand why the city has gone to such great lengths to protect this police officer? I understand that the stakes are high, but this goes beyond insanity. The misconduct on some many levels of govt. is enough to make one scared to leave your house. I thought that after your case was dismissed we would see some change and I surely thought that Officer Beutel would be gone. I was wrong. And I’m sick about it.

  2. Sarah Reply

    January 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    This is an excellent series. I lost track of your case but if only you knew the extent of corruption and collusion in our wonderful “superior” court and “law enforcement” system.

    Your case is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are interested look into the civil side of things, as well. I know insiders and it’s beyond anything you could imagine.

    Judges, d.a’s, city attys office, civil and criminal lawyers, etc, etc. The collusion and corruption is beyond comprehension.

    You’ve done a great and professional job of identifying many of the players but it’s so much worse than anyone, even you, could imagine.

    Came across your series as I was about to start my own blog on this sick, corrupt SB court system but still organizing my thoughts so connecting now would not be productive.

    I know some people who know you, as well and who fully backed you. If you are not sick and tired and exhausted of the whole matter I would love to chat or meet at some point in the near future when I am more organized -clearly you already are. Let me know if you’re interested or you’ve had it – either way I understand

    What you’ve done is heroic. Please stay involved. It goes so far beyond your case – as I’m sure you know.

    If you’d like – drop me a line and let me know your status and level of interest.

    Feel free to delete this comment if you’d like as it is more of a personal message- it’s up to you.

    You are a true and fearless hero. And intelligent too. What an incredibly valuable citizen.

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