Officer accused of lying to a judge

November 12, 2014

slo sheriffBy KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

A member of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force is under investigation for allegedly lying in a search warrant affidavit in order to gain access to a San Miguel man’s home and vehicle.

The raid resulted in the reported discovery of about a fourth of an ounce of methamphetamine and the arrest of a 42-year-old man for possession of a controlled substance for sale and driving with a suspended license. All those charges have been dropped subsequent to the perjury allegations, according to court documents.

AJ Santana, an investigator for the district attorney’s office who had spent the last year working as a member of the narcotics task force, had an office at the sheriff’s department.

On Aug. 27, Santana filed an affidavit with San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Rita Federman seeking a warrant to search the home of Tommy Clay Pappas and his red Acura Legend for evidence of drug dealing. Santana was successful in his request to have the affidavit sealed by the court in order to protect an ongoing investigation, according to the warrant.

On Sept. 3, several members of the NTF were watching the San Miquel home where Pappas had stayed on and off for about a month when he drove away in the Acura, according to the sheriff’s department incident report.

Deputy Al Barger followed the suspect for several miles before pulling him over. During the stop, Pappas appeared to swallow something large, Barger reported.

Other officers, including Santana, served a warrant on the home where they reportedly found a small amount of meth.

Pappas was transported back to the San Miquel home to be interviewed by Santana. In his report, Santana said that while Pappas denied swallowing anything, Pappas did give Santana permission to have a doctor pump his stomach.

Members of the narcotics team then transported Pappas to Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, where a doctor put a scope down his throat and reportedly saw a baggie. The doctor then pumped Pappas’ stomach which produced a Ziploc baggie containing 3.8 grams of methamphetamine, according to the incident report.

However, while Pappas said he did agree to an x-ray Santana said was needed to look for a possible bullet, Pappas denies giving permission to the officers to scope or pump his stomach. Santana, who was not shot during the arrest, said he did not know why the officer said he might have been.

On Sept. 22, during Pappas’ pre-preliminary hearing, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Ginger Garrett ruled to keep Pappas remanded in jail with his bail set a $25,000. Pappas pled not guilty to a felony charge of possessing narcotics for sale and three misdemeanor charges of driving with a suspended license.

After it was discovered Santana allegedly lied to a judge, the sheriff’s department notified the district attorney’s office of the perjury allegation.

On Oct. 15, the district attorney’s office made a motion to drop all charges against Pappas because of a lack of evidence.

Two days later, then-District Attorney Gerald Shea and his elected successor Dan Dow placed Santana on paid administrative leave, district attorney officials said.

On Nov. 8, Pappas was released from the San Luis Obispo County Jail. The next day he was admitted into a sober living facility in Lompoc which he had applied to stay in several months prior to his arrest, Pappas said.

Asked about the incident and its aftermath, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jerret C. Gran told CalCoastNews, “Dow has a plan, and the first order is the investigation.”

Should an investigation support allegations of perjury, it is likely that the case with be sent to the California Attorney General’s Office for further investigation, with criminal prosecution a possibility.

“We have three separate standards to look at — administrative, criminal and Brady,” Gran said.

Police officers who have been proven dishonest are sometimes referred to as “Brady cops.” Because of the Brady v. Maryland U.S. Supreme Court ruling, prosecutors are required to notify defendants and their attorneys whenever a law enforcement official involved in their case has a sustained record for knowingly lying in an official capacity.

In about two weeks, the district attorney’s investigation into allegations of perjury is slated to conclude. Dow will then decide, if necessary, on actions to take against Santana, a senior investigator with his department who was on loan to the NTF.

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33 Comments

  1. wineguyjc says:

    A county sheriff lying to a judge, oh me, oh my, tell me it isn’t so. An officer under Ian lying. I would say hard to believe, but the facts are clear just more “POUNDAGE”.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. Matthew says:

    Dear People/CCN

    Actually revealed this corrupt cop turned undercover investigator, in two of its blogs or reports. I went back to read about :SUMMER JOHNSON is A.J. Santana: CCN did a story in September ( IS LAW ENFORCEMENT USING FACEBOOK TO BUST POT USERS ?)

    The story was apparently our local cops or narcs using this phony Facebook to entrap people.If you read through the blogs postings, A.J. Santana is mentioned twice if now more. 9-17-14 1:56 PM Larry blogs states AJ Santana and others as corrupt then later the same day 3:53 PM another blog reports the Summer Johnson fake site and again you see mentioned as corrupt cops or narcs A.J. Santana and his partners Nunez and Alexander corrupt as well.

    So i went to check the records and found out all worked with Cory Pierce the arrested corrupt Narc busted last year by the FBI. They all worked together in the same Sheriff’s Narcotic Task Force so something is up. ?

    Thanks to CCN that is what apparently started the AJ Santana matter, and shortly there after Summer Johnson’s site vanished all due to AJ Santana wanting it taken down since many of his snitches were on the list

    Great Job CCN, wondering if the AG has contacted you to continue to uncover the growing scandal

    (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
  3. JMOpinion says:

    So let me get this straight. It’s the word of a meth addict against the word of a peace officer? Meth addicts don’t lie….

    (4) 18 Total Votes - 11 up - 7 down
    • zaphod says:

      and neither do police, an impartial panel perhaps , a judge ? people are just crooked timber to begin with.

      (6) 12 Total Votes - 9 up - 3 down
    • Sickandtired says:

      That is a really ignorant statement. He is getting the help he needs and fortunatly this peace officer will get the punishment he deserves. If you dont believe there are crooked cops then think again.

      (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
  4. NorthCountyGuy says:

    Its a sad fact that many journalists today are barely literate. I met 2 individuals with Masters Degrees in Journalism. Neither one could write a coherent sentence, much less a coherent paragraph.

    Not surprised that a police officer was caught lying. I have physical skid mark evidence proving that a Paso Robles police officer lied in a traffic collision report in order to cover up for his Ol’Boy Clique buddy..

    (-4) 18 Total Votes - 7 up - 11 down
    • chuck805 says:

      That doesn’t seem very nice. I think most of the articles here at CCN are well written. Especially since the reporters work for little or nothing other than getting the truth out to our community! Most other sources around here fall far short of that mark these days. CCN, you have my respect and thanks.

      Now for the other reason I had to chime in. My friend’s boy ran into some trouble a little while back. According to her the lawyer said he will probably get 3 to 5 years, but he ended up getting out after just 40 days. It turns out that the police lied, and video evidence surfaced that proved they lied. The same thing happened to another young man who worked for me about 5 years back. These kids were stupid but what these officers were willing to do absolutely disgusts me. I’ve run digging crews for about 20 years and have seen my share of young men make stupid mistakes and get into serious trouble. While I don’t condone what they did, the thing is these kids were almost always much more dangerous to society once they got out. They were angry and lost and usually wound up going back again and again for far worse crimes. It seems like the justice system focuses on symptoms in a way that prevents us from solving problems and therefore fails to truly protect us. Sorry to ramble I’ve just seen so many young lives thrown away because of their own choices and the choices of a community that was too afraid to go the distance and teach these kids the right way to be men. When this happens we all lose. My 2 cents.

      (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
  5. azuresees says:

    I don’t get it: “However, while Pappas said he did agree to an x-ray Santana said was needed to look for a possible bullet, Pappas denies giving permission to the officers to scope or pump his stomach. Santana was not shot during the arrest.”

    Whoever wrote this story sure didn’t make it understandable about this. Can you expand on that paragraph?

    (19) 19 Total Votes - 19 up - 0 down
    • pnishaven says:

      He agreed to the x-ray, nothing else. As far as the bullet goes…..more bs from corruption central.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  6. koda says:

    Maybe I read the article wrong, but I believe it said that the LEO lied to the judge on August 27th in order to obtain the search warrant that was eventually served on Sep 3. While serving the warrant, the officer also lied to the suspect and told him that he had to have his stomach x-rayed in order to make sure he didn’t swallow a bullet or something, then he had the suspect’s stomach pumped in order to retrieve evidence and allegedly lied about the suspect giving consent in the police report. Please correct me if im wrong.
    The following issues concern me, and I feel the DA’s office has an obligation to the people to release all of the info they have pertaining to the alleged perjury.
    1) What did the officer allegedly lie about in order to obtain the search warrant?
    2) How was this alleged lie uncovered? Being a realist, I have my suspicions that the department and da’s office would not have come forward unless they were either confronted by an angry judge who didn’t appreciate being lied to, or someone was threatening to go public and the maneuver by the department to come forward was political/aimed at minimizing fallout. That said, it may be the case that the department and da’s office have an unflinching commitment to the law and their own integrity as civil servants and came forward simply because it was the right thing to do – but given my own personal experiences with government, law enforcement, and human nature, I have my suspicions that this isn’t the case. I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and it would seem that if the department/da’s office didn’t have anything to hide and were in fact genuinely committed to maintaining the integrity of the office they hold, then full disclosure of the facts would only be a benefit.
    3) Santana is no rookie and actually has a lot of clout within the department and amongst ntf officers. Is it usual practice for officers to lie in order to obtain a search warrant and then have those warrants sealed so that they would not be subject to public scrutiny? The active investigations excuse is employed too often and can easily jeopardize law enforcement’s ability to secure and protect society. You either have sufficient evidence or you don’t.
    4) Why isn’t the Tribune covering this? I’m inclined to believe that any lack of coverage of a story of this magnitude could only be attributed to complicity to cover the truth up. Breaking the law in order to enforce it is never an acceptable tactic, and while I’ll admit that LEO’s and the DA’s office do have a very difficult job, if it is the case that they have to result to this sort of BS, then clearly they are not competent enough to do their jobs. The ball is in your court, LEOs, DA’s office, and SLO Trib. I want disclosure and I want a commitment to competency and integrity. I want to believe you are better than this.

    (19) 21 Total Votes - 20 up - 1 down
    • Gordo says:

      Yeah, where is the Trib? is Joe Tarica still drunk from the election results??? Sober Up Joe News a Brewin!!!!

      (5) 25 Total Votes - 15 up - 10 down
    • pnishaven says:

      Trib does have one very small article, CCN’s gives way more details. FYI, it wasnt even Pappas’s house, he was given somewhere to stay from someone trying to help him out.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down

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