Covello quitting the DA’s office

July 10, 2014
Prosecutor Tim Covello shows brass knuckles used in murder. -- Pool photo by Joe Johnston

Prosecutor Tim Covello shows brass knuckles used in the Dystiny Myers murder. — Pool photo by Joe Johnston

By JOSH FRIEDMAN and KAREN VELIE

A little more than a month after losing his bid to become San Luis Obispo County’s top prosecutor, Tim Covello is stepping down from his position with the district attorney’s office.

Covello, who is currently assistant district attorney, or second in command, submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday, sources close to the district attorney’s office said. Covello has accepted a job in the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, and his last day of work in San Luis Obispo will be Friday.

On June 5, a contentious campaign for the district attorney’s seat concluded with Covello losing to Dan Dow, a lower ranking prosecutor. Dow won with a 10 percent margin.

Before several internal issues came to light last year, District Attorney Gerry Shea planned to step down prior to the end of his term and ask the SLO County Board of Supervisors to appoint Covello. The previous two district attorneys both retired about six months before the end of their terms and requested the appointment of their successors, who then ran successfully as incumbents.

However, after a rift about an upper level management change, Shea elected to serve out his term, inside sources said. A group of deputy district attorneys then selected Dow as the best candidate to run against Covello.

During the campaign, all of the county’s deputy district attorneys who chose to endorse a candidate threw their support behind Dow while Shea backed Covello.

Past and present members of the district attorney’s office said publicly that a rift exists between management and subordinates. Dow said during a debate that Covello is unapproachable and has a top-down management style that hurts morale.

Covello argued that morale problems stemmed from work related issues, such as deputies not working full days.

As a prosecutor, Covello prosecuted Rex Krebs, who in 2001, received a death sentence for abducting and killing two college students. He also prosecuted two men and a woman, who received murder convictions in 2003 for the killing of a national guardsman in Paso Robles.

Most recently, Covello prosecuted the Dystiny Myers case, which ended in Feb. 2013 with murder convictions of all five defendants.

Covello has worked for the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office since 1993. He has served as second in command at the office since 2012.


23 Comments

  1. LocalJane436 says:

    Disappointed in some of the negative comments from this community – a public servant who dedicated 20+ years to the community and placed some horrible criminals behind jail on our behalf. Instead of thanks for dedication and service – comments like those from some of the above demonstrate a lack of class and the worst of our county. Personally, I extend my thanks and wish him luck as he moves on. Santa Maria is very lucky to be getting his legal expertise and experience; hopefully SLO will not regret that loss of experience in the DA’s office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

    • mindy says:

      I worked at the DA’s office and Tim is right about the DDA’s not working full days. The non-attorney staff had to put in their 40 hours, but the DDA’s did not. Tim was one of the few was always at work. Friday afternoon you’d be lucky to find more than a couple DDA’s in the office. Some of them even went to the movies during the day. I’ve been in the legal field for over 30 years and Tim was one of the best attorneys I’ve had the privilege with which to work.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  2. nurse1 says:

    Voted for Dow because the whack jobs running Morro Bay, Mayor Irons, Christine Johnson Schmuckler supported Covello. EASY CHOICE.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

    • MajorityFan says:

      Yet all of them clearly won their respective elections in their respective June elections, and reelections. Enough said.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

      • nurse1 says:

        Yes they did. Thankfully the county and the voters collectively were wise enough not to vote for Covello who were highly supported by the 3 stooges Irons, Christine Johnson and the Schmuckler. Under their INEPT leadership Morro Bay is on its way to being unincorporated. Unless of course you can call Joey Racano to the rescue. After all by his own words he had a plan to tear the stacks down. Joey, Jamie, Christine, and Noah to the rescue! bahahahahahha!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    • MajorityFan says:

      While prosecuting a statutory rape case, district attorney candidate Dan Dow accepted $5,000 in campaign donations from the attorney representing the defendant, according to court and campaign contribution records.

      A few days before a final plea deal was reached, Dow asked to be recused from the case saying he wanted to avoid the appearance of impropriety. He later received another $5,000 from the same defense attorney.

      The state attorney general’s office concluded that Dow, a deputy district attorney, did nothing illegal in accepting the contributions. Legal ethicists, however, say the donations can suggest a conflict of interest in the eyes of the public.

      “The appearance is very bad,” said Geoffrey Hazard, a professor emeritus at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, who has written a casebook on professional ethics. “I think most people in a position that that guy was in would have been more careful.”

      While another ethicist said Dow should return the money, Dow said he has no reason to since the donation had no impact on the case.

      “There’s absolutely nothing unethical,” said Dow, who previously chastised his opponent, Assistant District Attorney Tim Covello, for taking money from a man Dow once prosecuted in a DUI case.

      Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/04/25/3037807/donations-to-dow-campaign-raise.html#storylink=cpy

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

      • kettle says:

        You are bringing ethicist’s into local politics? Fine, then apply your new standard to every campaign, instead of your buddy Covello.

        PS the election is over, the people voted, Tim has left the building.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  3. pasoparent5 says:

    I appreciate Mr. Covello’s years of public service but did not vote for him because

    1) the vast majority of assistant DA’s supported Mr. Dow and
    2) Mr. Covello ran a very negative campaign.

    Hopefully Mr. Covello’s attitude toward subordinates will change in his new place of employment.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 39 Thumb down 15

    • Jon Tatro says:

      As a retired police officer I worked with Tim Covello and he was very good at what he did. That being said I voted for Dan Dow for a variety of reasons. Tim was a good DDA and should be thanked for his service to this county.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 34 Thumb down 3

      • Cindy says:

        I also voted for Dan Dow. The turning point was my disgust at the manufactured accusations and insinuations that the Covello camp was slinging at him. It wasn’t just a negative campaign it was outright DIRTY and it wreaked to high heavens.

        I figured if the Covello camp had nothing truthful to throw at Dow and was low enough to manufacturer garbage with no proof what so ever, well – “birds of a feather flock together” and that was the catalyst behind the final deciding factor for me.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 11

        • MajorityFan says:

          The truth is that Dow accepted bribery money in the form of campaign contributions. Hardly trustworthy.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 16

          • nurse1 says:

            MF your head is buried in the fog. Thank god the county voters do not believe your fairy tales, that you are so adept at presenting to your ol burned out hippie faction here in Morro Bay. Smoke another one!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

            • MajorityFan says:

              Do you always try to bully those who do not agree with you and present factual information? I am neither a hippie nor a pot smoker, but I am flattered that you have imagined me that way.

              Not really sure where your head is buried, my friendly nurse, most likely somewhere in your lower anatomy.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

              • Moderator says:

                nurse1, MajorityFan, Less about each other, much much less.

                Further activity of this nature and I will start burying accounts.

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

                • Citizen says:

                  Moderator, you should remove MajorityFan’s accusation that Dow accepted bribes. That situation was investigated and Dow was exonerated.

                  Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

    • Mariposa says:

      Yes, certainly, thank you Tim Covello for over 20 years of service to San Luis Obispo
      County.

      Throughout the recent district attorney campaign and even now, there is an ongoing
      ignorance among citizens concerning rank within San Luis Obispo County’s Office of
      the District Attorney. That ignorance even awkwardly surfaced via some individuals
      hosting public debates. One of our neighbors also exemplified this prior to the June 3rd election: “Tim Covello is ONLY an ASSISTANT district attorney, but Dan Dow is DEPUTY district attorney.”

      District Attorney – GERALD SHEA
      District Attorney elect (formerly DEPUTY District Attorney) – DAN DOW
      ASSISTANT District Attorney (through July 11, 2014) – TIM COVELLO
      CHIEF Deputy District Attorney – JERRET GRAN
      CHIEF Deputy District Attorney – SHERYL WOLCOTT
      DEPUTY District Attorneys – more than 20 in the office

      It was “the vast majority of DEPUTY district attorneys who supported Dan Dow” (not
      assistant DA’s) during the recent campaign.

      Let us not be a county of ignorant people but become informed at every level. This
      translates into understanding what our Constitution says so we will KNOW when we are being fed lies vs. the truth!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 5

      • Kevin Rice says:

        The above chain of command was always my understanding. I’ve heard the confusion but never “lies”. Moreover, specifically because Covello was number two and endorsed by Shea, I voted for Dow. I never felt Shra did adequate public service and, therefore, wanted change.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 12

  4. Extremely Stoic says:

    Thanks for the above mentioned convictions, best wishes on the SB job

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 33 Thumb down 2

  5. slomike says:

    Saw this one coming. He will be great for Santa Maria, which is great for all of us. Now there will be a happy DAs office here! Wonder if Tea Party or CCN will turn on Dow at some point because he works for the (shudder) government?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 24 Thumb down 50

    • whatdouno says:

      Only if he becomes part of the corruption do people turn on government. Time will tell.
      See ya’ Covello, wouldn’t want to be ya’.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 29

  6. isoslo says:

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…goodbye

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 41 Thumb down 33

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