genuine mont blanc pens cop cleared
1996 03 21 04:00:00 PDT SAN FRANCISCO San Francisco’s Office of Citizen Complaints has rejected theft allegations against a police officer even though a grand jury indicted him for the same charges in a corruption case, The Examiner has learned.
The police watchdog agency’s preliminary decision to drop the complaints against Officer James Acevedo the second such dismissal of a high profile case disclosed this week brought renewed criticism of OCC Director Lance Bayer.
The Examiner reported Tuesday that the OCC had found insufficient evidence to uphold administrative charges against Officer William Wohler in the 1993 shooting death of Brian Sullivan. The City paid Sullivan’s survivors $295,000 last year to settle a suit alleging Wohler wrongfully killed him, though The City did not admit guilt in the case.
Bayer declined to comment on the theft complaint, but defended his tenure.
“Since I’ve been director of the OCC we’ve made some tremendous strides,” said Bayer, an appointee of former Mayor Frank Jordan. “I’m pleased to be of service to this administration and this mayor. I believe I have a great deal to offer.”
In letters dated Feb. 28 to two complainants, Bayer said the OCC had been unable to gather sufficient evidence to uphold their allegations.
Lisa Strain had alleged that in January 1994 Acevedo and several other officers burst into her Western Addition home, held her at gunpoint and stole Cartier perfume, several Mont Blanc pens, a sterling silver pen and other valuables.
Strain and her roommate, Desiree Smith, also alleged that Acevedo and Officer Gary Fagundes came to their new apartment in the Tenderloin in April 1995 and stole a diamond ring, a watch, an electronic organizer and $871 in cash.
Strain and Smith filed their complaints with the OCC on Oct. 10, 1995 less than two weeks after a San Francisco grand jury had indicted Acevedo on two counts of grand theft in connection with the incidents.
The grand jury issued the charges after hearing testimony from the women.
An indictment requires a good faith finding that there is enough evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt which is far stricter than the majority of the evidence standard necessary for upholding a citizen’s complaint.
Based on the indictment, then Police Chief Tony Ribera brought his own administrative charges against Acevedo. That case is pending before the Police Commission.
But OCC Director Bayer said in his Feb. 28 letters to the two women that the OCC investigation “failed to disclose sufficient evidence to enable us to determine the validity” of the allegations.
Jeffrey Sloan, the lawyer for the two women, said the OCC had failed to investigate the case thoroughly and hadn’t even interviewed Smith. He said he’d seek a further hearing.
The women said Wednesday they felt betrayed and humiliated by the OCC’s findings.
“It’s like a slap in the face,” Smith said. “I’m a little outraged. For the OCC to find no problem . . . I don’t see how that could happen.
“It makes you kind of have doubt in the whole system,” the 25 year old artist said.
Strain, 30, a retail clerk, said she felt twice victimized first by the police, then by the OCC.
“This has been very difficult,” she said, adding that the police have yet to return her property.
“They (officers) went from the jewelry box to the closet, back and forth,” she said. “I felt like the mini mart they came in and took what they wanted.”
The OCC also failed to find evidence to sustain the women’s complaints against Fagundes and Officer Steve Landi.
Acevedo, 46, is scheduled for trial next Wednesday in Superior Court for allegedly stealing from the women. Fagundes, 42, and Landi, 40, face charges of stealing from other people. All were on a special anti drug team. Each has pleaded not guilty.