CCN reporter arrested on DUI charge for .06 blood alcohol level

August 21, 2013
Josh Walsh

Josh Walsh


CalCoastNews reporter and co-founder Karen Velie was taken into custody on Aug. 13 after a San Luis Obispo police officer arrested her on suspicion of driving under the influence. Officer Josh Walsh placed Velie under arrest after her blood alcohol test showed a .06. California’s drunk driving laws require an arrest if a driver has a .08 alcohol level.

The arrest comes during CalCoastNews investigations into activities at CAPSLO, the county’s nonprofit that serves homeless persons as well as wrongdoing over the handling of hazardous wastes.

Walsh said at the time of the arrest that he would have arrested her even if she had a blood alcohol level of as little as .01, Velie said. California law prohibits driving while intoxicated no matter what the blood alcohol level.

At the time of the arrest, Velie had just finished teaching a bridge class at a San Luis Obispo restaurant.

Twenty-four people attended the class, several of whom saw Velie minutes before the traffic stop. After the arrest, Velie spoke to the majority of the class members, all of whom said she was clearly not intoxicated.

“I only saw her have one glass of wine and she looked fine,” said San Luis Obispo attorney Stew Jenkins. “She did not appear to be under the influence at all.”

Medical doctor Gary Foresman agreed.

“I witnessed her. She was coherent,” Foresman said. “She was teaching bridge to myself and my wife and she was unequivocally not drunk when I left that night.”

Foresman left the restaurant shortly before Velie did.

Former San Luis Obispo police officer Mike Brennler said the arrest of Velie was out of the ordinary.

“In my 33-year law enforcement career, the standard procedure was to release someone who submitted to a breath test that demonstrated they were under the state limit,” Brennler said.

“Bookings in such misdemeanor cases were very rare.”

The arrest and its aftermath appeared to be directly connected to the news agency’s recent reporting on county homeless issues. It came following a months-long series of articles by CalCoastNews detailing activities of Dee Torres, CAPSLO homeless services director. Torres is the fiancé of County Supervisor Adam Hill.

Since the arrest, CalCoastNews opponents have used the alleged DUI as the focal point of a smear campaign targeting CalCoastNews and its advertisers.

Hill sent text messages to CalCoastNews advertisers Tuesday morning informing them of Velie’s arrest.

The text message and email campaign targeting advertisers followed directly in the wake of CalCoastNews reporting on a slander suit filed by Torres against Brennler, who is represented by Jenkins.

CalCoastNews reported on Aug. 19 that Brennler had challenged a sworn statement that Torres filed in her suit. Torres was not truthful in her statement, Brennler said. A hearing on a motion to dismiss the suit is scheduled for Thursday morning.

CalCoastNews also recently published text messages sent by Hill to a key witness in the case, in which the supervisor attempted to get the witness to change his story. That story, which appeared on Aug. 16 showed exchanges between Hill and Ralph Almirol, a former boyfriend of Torres. In the texts, Hill tried to get Almirol to withdraw his statement that he and Torres used gift cards that were intended for the homeless for themselves.


Officer Josh Walsh If you did something unethical in this case karma will catch up to you too…


What does he care, he’ll get his pension.

Jorge Estrada

As they say,” no good deed goes unpunished.” Are the city cops going to arrest the masses on a Saturday evening or just wrongfully humiliate Ms Velie out of retaliation for her job of being the messenger?

The taxpayers of SLO have paid for cop junkies, cop drug smugglers and next?, their bullying through the misappropriation of authority.

Out of my support for law enforcement these behaviors are the exception but as we know, zero tolerance is the rule in all these cases.


she blew a .07! So she was legally drunk..end of story….Who cares-another drunk off the road


Legally drunk is .08 in California! Ms. Velie is not “another drunk on the road”! Are people just not seeing the facts? This lady blew a .06……..that could be a ticket……most often not, so our SLOPD decides to let her cool off in jail for the evening! I would guess Karen wins the law suit against SLO……just like everyone else who they treat unlawfully.


According to State law, then out for a day of wine tasting is against the law if you rack up even a .02 blood alcohol level and then trot off to the next winery. I don’t think there are enough limos, taxi cab, designated drivers or cops to prevent that. Obviously she was targeted. Apparently, with all the functions held for public officials that serve alcohol, they should be placed under arrest when they leave their functions as well, according to the law. Drink a glass of wine while out at dinner, well don’t do that either because according to state law, that’s a crime too. Hypocrites!


People drive erratically for other reasons than alcohol impairment. It is NOT obvious that she was “targeted.”


Septic sewer can always be counted on to show up for her loyal supervisors scarlet moments. Cult followings are so interesting!

Old Salt

Many Enforcement Officer’s I’ve known over the past 35 years are alcoholics or drug users…Including Correctional Officers… Hypocrites busting citizens and or Inmates for doing what they do daily…


Arrests don’t mean squat.

The DA will never prosecute this one. Any Defense attorney would just demand to take it to trial where they would win and the DA would look stupid.


I hope you’re right primarily for Ms. Velie’s sake, but also because it sure looks like she was targeted and that someone was attempting to have some revenge served-up to her for doing her job. In the meantime she needs a damn good lawyer.

Hopefully CCN gets to the bottom of this story… and I mean the low-down dirty bottom.


Yes, but it would not be the first time the DA looked stupid for wasting time & money prosecuting completely pointless stuff.


Remember that John Ryan Mason, the psycho firefighter, was declared innocent by a jury.

I don’t have so much faith in the judicial system.


I am with you on this, several good lawyers in town can get her walking papers on this.


The lines are drawn…big government progressives/public sector union supporters vs the rest of us. This is the tyrannical government many of you have wanted…now it’s here. I don’t know Karen’s politics…she would probably not agree with me much on important issues but I believe in a free and fair press and CCN is both. Memo to the people that relish the thought of squashing Karen and CCN. I recommend you back off. No one is too big to fall…even you Mr. Hill.


Ram, I’m sorry, but your rant makes no sense. “Union supporters v s the rest of us?” What in the world? Are you totally clueless as to who’s whom in all this — that Stew Jenkins, defender of the homeless and foe of Torres, is an ardent Democrat, is pro-union? That Adam Hill couldn’t have had a thing to do with this arrest? That the paranoid fantasy of a connection is just that? Let’s at least look at facts.


hijinks…don’t be sorry I don’t shy from disagreement and I’m not the smartest person in the world. I’m also a union supporter. I support private sector unions. Public sector unions are a determent to the people. Most elected office holders of both persuasions are in favor of PSU and I believe they have circled the wagons. Just look at the IRS and their unions behavior. You don’t have to have a huge imagination to concoct a scenario where an embattled sitting board member may be able to convince a Public Sector Union patrolman to do his bidding.


Only problem with the colorful theory is Hill is a COUNTY supervisor and this was a CITY cop. What’s the nexus? He has zero influence over city stuff.




hijinks, does Ashbaugh sound familiar? He is a City councilmember, devoted CAPSLO board member, big supporter of SLO PD, friend of Adam and Torres. Anything else you want to know?


“The lines are drawn…big government progressives/public sector union supporters vs the rest of us. This is the tyrannical government many of you have wanted…now it’s here.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah …Break out the camo and wave your copies of “Atlas Shrugged” in the air.

I’m sure you’ll attract many new ‘rest-of-us’ers’.


Big government has nothing to do with it. It has to do with Hill and his out-of-control behavior. Period. This guy is too much of a wacko to be in a position of power and influence.


Big Government has everything to do with it…there was a time when crumbs like Hill worked for the people and did it with pride. Now they work for themselves…the bigger the staff the better; the bigger the size and power of government the more they like it. Big enough to give a girlfriend a top dollar government job with no condemnation. Big enough to make stores stop giving out bags for the goods you purchase in said store. Big enough to take away a tax break for small business’s and do it retroactively. Big enough to attempt to harm a local news media by scaring advertisers. You heard of too big to fail…that also apply’s to government but the saying goes like this…too big to control. As in out of control. As in Hills out of control behavior (your words). mbactivist please be as Leary of big government as you are big business. It will serve you well.


Dude (or Dudette, as the case maybe) you apparently know nothing about the link between big/government/progressive/public sector unions/ supporters of unions if you feel you can lump everyone in any and all of those categories and think that everyone there thinks, feels and behaves exactly the same. Government grows whether there are Democrats in charge (many of whom are not progressive in any sense of the matter) as well as under Republicans (look at the increase in government structure, number of government employees under Presidents Reagan and both Bush’s – they all “grew” government, period). And as a progressive liberal, let me clear any confusion away for you if you think that Supervisor Adam Hill is supposedly a “progressive”; he is not, period. He may occasionally invoke a few talking points that sound progressive, but his actions clearly show where his political ideology is firmly staked – he is using his office to push his viewpoint, to reward and protect his friends and supporters and does not seem to care at all about the residents of San Luis County, as long as he gets his way. Not a progressive in any sense of the word.


I’m not sure what you’re saying Bob…Progressives have always stemmed from both the Democrat and the Republican parties. Mr. Hill is a progressive. He believes all good things come from government and all worth belongs to government. He believes that he and his colleagues are a cut above the average man and he shows that with his disrespect for anyone that disagrees with him. Sorry Bob but that’s a progressive. Read up on President Wilson and his wife and tell me it doesn’t remind you of Mr. Hill.


They need to have a “WTF” check box.


Just how did Adam Hill find out about the arrest so quickly? Think about it. This should be alarming to every citizen out there.


Maybe one of the CCN reporters tipped him off? Goodness knows, they are on a story before the perp has been booked.


Now that is a very good question and it should be alarming to every citizen out here. If i were paranoid i would question why Karen is still walking free on our streets. We need to stop these thugs


It’s a matter of public record. There’s a public listing of all arrests, a public log of all police responses to incidents. It’s no secret, as our ÇCN reporters will tell you!


No there is not. The daily report does not give names.

Paula Revere

Hill is joined-at-the-hip with Parkinson.


I feel sorry for Parkinson. If you have to have a conjoined twin, for the love of god’s grace, it should not be a doofus like Adam Hill.

Sarah Bellum

Adam Hill is still contacting advertisers? That’s gotta be illegal, isn’t it?


I asked around and he never stopped.

Illegal, prob not however he does it from his supervisors office on the county network.


Nothing like the free press under attack. Keep at ’em, Karen. And when you have a moment, hire a great attorney to sue the city. And the county.


I suspect that John Assbaugh was behind this one. He has the influence with the local police. He is the one that sends the SLO police goon squad out after the homeless people to force them to join CAPSLO. Once in CAPSLO Assbaugh and his friends can extort money from them.

On the other hand, bridge is a game for those with deviant behavior and well a certified bridge instructor would by default need to be extremely abnormal and their behavior might be misinterpreted by those unfamiliar with the game

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