Torres unable to refute theft claims

September 4, 2013
Dee Torres and Roy Ogden

Dee Torres and Roy Ogden

By CALCOASTNEWS STAFF

Attorneys argued Tuesday over allegations of malice and the theft of gift cards from homeless clients during a hearing regarding a slander lawsuit filed by a homeless services manager against an Atascadero private investigator.

In depositions, Dee Torres claimed that gift cards were not donated to homeless services until after 2003 and that she had not been called a thief prior to a CalCoastNews’ investigation in which dozens of former co-workers, friends and spouses confirmed allegations of mismanagement or misappropriation.

Attorney Stew Jenkins responded to Torres’ claims by noting an email, sent 10 years ago, in which Torres’ ex-boyfriend addresses her as the thief of the Prado Day Center. In addition, a deposition from a former manager at the homeless center rebuked Torres’ claim that gift cards were never donated until after 2003.

Torres, director of homeless services for the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), filed suit against Mike Brennler in March, claiming he defamed her during a phone conversation with her former husband, Charles Barber. Torres alleges that Brennler defamed her by telling Barber that she stole money from clients at the homeless shelter, as well as from former CAPSLO client Cliff Anderson.

At the time of the alleged defamation, Brennler was assisting CalCoastNews with an investigation into the treatment of homeless persons in San Luis Obispo County.

Jenkins said that the plaintiff was unable to prove malice or that the allegations of theft are untrue. In order for a public figure to prove slander, the alleged statement must be provably false and said with actual malice.

Ogden said Tuesday that Brennler displayed malice by, amid his investigation, contacting Almiorl, who had “hatred” for Torres. Ogden said Almirol spent six months in jail for abusing Torres, and then using the courts to dominate her time.

Jenkins countered that “talking to biased witnesses does not demonstrate any malice.”

Additionally, Jenkins said that scores of people with whom Brennler spoke during his investigation, aside from Almirol, confirmed allegations of “misappropriation of donations and charitable funds intended for the homeless.”

Ogden said that “Brennler had serious doubts” about the allegations when he called Barber and maintained that the private investigator lied about Torres.

Last month, LaBarbera issued a tentative ruling in favor of an anti-SLAPP motion filed by Jenkins. The anti-SLAPP motion seeks a dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds that it was filed to silence criticism.

If LaBarbera stays with his tentative ruling, Torres will likely have to pay Brennler’s legal fees.

LaBarbera said Tuesday that he would rule on the case in a day or two.

 


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SamLouis

When is Steinberg going to be canned?


kayaknut

When her pension is fully vested or by backroom agreement that still allows her to collect it for life.


Mr. Holly

OK everyone let’s get ready for some traumatic event to happen in Dee Torres life that will be directly related to her employment with the County. This will result with a leave of absence, with full pay and benefits of course, and then a behind close door settlement and finally the usual lucrative government retirement. And then due to the law and privacy matters no one will ever know what happened. Same old story just a new face to go along with “the system”‘ Oh Lisa Solomon where are you?


SamLouis

You hit the nail on the head!


Torres needs to be prosecuted for her alleged thievery once and for all.


NorCoMod

Won’t happen. Not in this county.


karma2come

As sad as it is, I agree she will never face any prosecution. She has the backing of an agency that refuses to believe any wrong doing. I would just REALLY like to know, why?? As far as Adam Hill goes, yes he is one very confused man and his love for her has made him look more a fool then he has for himself! As a professional he shouldn’t be making any decisions related to CAPSLO because of his relationship with Torres, but I also believe he is another caught in her web of lies regarding her innocence! He’s whipped and wearing rose colored glasses! His best bet would be to get as faraway from her as possible! Like all Black Widows, her poison is going to kill him! She may not lose her job, but she’s lost any respect and trust this community had and I doubt she will ever again benefit from money or gift cards intended for the homeless! There won’t be any!!!


MaryMalone

Maybe she’ll file a suit for sexual harassment against her fiance, Adam Hill.


msminiver

Ah, the fall of Rome begins!


SLOTECH90

Seems to me that “the Fall has been in motion for several decades.


Jorge Estrada

So why is this a story? No comment until the judgement is levied! Who in their right mind would even chance tampering with the will of an impartial judgement based on sound testimony? The judge has heard this case and it would be a travesty for he to read a comment that privately and erroneously precipitated an unjust outcome.


MaryMalone

QUOTING THE ARTICLE: “Jenkins said that the plaintiff was unable to prove malice or that the allegations of theft are untrue. In order for a public figure to prove slander, the alleged statement must be provably false and said with actual malice.


————


Too bad for Torres she didn’t follow appropriate accounting procedures and account for each gift card donated and each card distributed a homeless client.


Oh, silly me. If she had followed appropriate accounting procedures, she wouldn’t have been able to (allegedly) steal gift cards meant for homeless families.


pasoparent5

Agreed. Maybe a positive thing to come out from this whole mess will be that well-meaning businesses won’t just randomly donate gift cards anymore without some follow-up on WHO actually gets the cards.

I still can’t get over the donations of Tom’s Toys cards, knowing that homeless kiddos were jipped. Seriously, who rips off KIDS?!


Legitimate charities suffer when cases of misappropriation occur. Why would I give a gift card, cash, clothing, etc. when I’m not really sure my donations will end up in the right hands? CAPSLO needs to be as transparent as possible and “follow appropriate accounting procedures” like you mentioned.


HarryMalone

PasoParents…


You will now be getting a letter from CAPSLO’s out of town attorneys… that is all.


Cindy

“gift cards meant for homeless families”.


The part that really frost’s my behind is that she stole toys from impoverished children at Christmas (Tom’s Toy’s gift cards). She claimed that they (the homeless) didn’t deserve the gift cards! But Dee and her’s, they deserved the gifts….. it doesn’t get much sicker than that. What sort of person does something like that, who? I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide that question.


Pelican1

“I’m not interested in the facts. I’m concerned with the law.

That as a matter of law, the truth of your story is irrelevant.

We have no knowledge the story is false. Therefore, we’re absent [of] malice.

We’re been both reasonable and prudent. Therefore, we are not negligent.

Democracy is served.”


Nancy

Almirol called Torres the “thief of Prado Day Care” back in 2003 in an e-mail. That would certainly give his account of her stealing gift cards plenty of credibility. This obviously isn’t something that he has just recently come up with. He has been saying it for 10 years. He also claims to have participated and benefited from the left of the misappropriated donations. I would say that at this point, Almirol is 100% credible.


Cindy

“Jenkins said that scores of people with whom Brennler spoke during his investigation, aside from Almirol, confirmed allegations of “misappropriation”


“Scores”, A score is 20 so this would mean that at least 40 people have stepped up and said that she was and/or is stealing. Could this be true, 40 people? I knew of at least a dozen but 40? Perhaps Mike Brennler could confirm this huge number? Did Stew Jenkins provide all the names of those witnesses to the judge?


JordanJ

Somebody needs to send all those declarations to CAPSLO and ask them how this fits into the investigation that they claim to have done. Oh wait, CAPSLO will spend tax payer $$ on high priced SF attorneys again to send out 40 letters threatening to sue them all.


MaryMalone

When you consider how many CAPSLO employees and volunteers had opportunity to observe Torres’ behavior, and how many different “partners” Torres has had over the years, it could actually be a very big number.


Scarlet

Wait. So now there are court documents and affadavits that attest to this thievery. On the record.


When will she be leaving to “spend more time with family”?


MaryMalone

I don’t think so, Scarlet.


CAPSLO, Torres and their allies on the county board of supervisors now need to keep Torres in place so she can continue to effect some type of cover-up.


It is way past the time that CAPSLO can claim they just didn’t know. If Torres is indicted, then others, more powerful than Torres, will be indicted right along with her.


Therefore, the only way they can try to ensure that this all just goes away is if Torres remains in place to continue the coverup.


This is exactly what City of Bell’s Mayor Rizzo did with his city manager, Angela Spacia.


Scarlet

I actually believe it will go the opposite way, Mary.


Biz and the Friends of Prado Board will all claim that they believed Dee when she told them there was nothing to the allegations. When more info or indictments do come out, they will back away and say “we had no idea this was going on” and can her.


I think Dee brought the suit to discover who the sources were so they could also be targeted.


MaryMalone

I agree with your last statement.


However, it doesn’t change the reality that she knew she didn’t have the evidence when she filed the lawsuit, yet went ahead with the trial, anyway.


Torres knows too much about CAPSLO, Steinberg, etc. for them to throw Torres under the bus.


At the very least–especially after that, ahem!, “investigation” into the gift-card allegations–Steinberg and the board could be charged with conspiracy, in the theft itself and/or in the cover-up of the theft.


Then there the issues with accounting and IRS submittals. I doubt that all of the gift cards were declared to the IRS.


Again, I think the Steinberg and the board have been negligent in continuing to allow Torres to run CAPSLO’s homeless services, their “investigation” was a sham, and they are quite likely to be complicit either in the theft itself and/or the coverup.


If Torres is arrested, I think others will be arrested, as well. That is why I think they have participated in shielding Torres and aiding in her coverup, so they have a lot to gain by keeping her un-arrested.


karma2come

Exactly Mary! She is a good thief, she was in the position to know what was accounted for and what wasn’t! Plus she bought time to destroy evidence or threaten those who know into not talking! She was the only one to receive the donations so her cover up was easy! Her ex’s and kids were probably the only ones to witness the spending, CAPSLO isn’t going to do anything, ignorance is bliss! Thank goodness Karen found out and shared what she knew to be true, at least the community knows! Bravo CalCoast!!!


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