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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TrishaR428

It is truly disturbing to see the comments that have been written on here. I will say I agree with the majority of the Cal Coast News followers and their comments, but in this particular feed I am a little disappointed. First of all, whatsinaname, this issue has absolutely nothing to do with the AGPOA standing up to the city and their ongoing corrupt bs. Totally separate issue and whatever is being reported in the news on this incident has NOTHING to do with that. Second, I have the honor of knowing this particular person involved and know he has served our community for a long time and has always been a well respected individual. The only information anyone has at this point is what the news is reporting. He has not given a statement and it is being investigated properly to either protect him or discipline him, but things are being taken care of legitimately. From everything I have read you can’t even tell if it is his word against some idiotic tweeker who should be thanking him for having his stomach pumped after swallowing a bag full of meth. Look who is now set free and who is being looked at negatively. Everyone is a critic and quick to judge. To Charger 805, what is your profession? How many times have you made a mistake in your job? Let’s dissect your family! How much time do you have on your hands to try to INVESTIGATE as much embarrassing, PERSONAL and completely irrelevant info as possible on a complete stranger? Not only does everyone want to be a critic, but I guess a detective too! I am not saying it is ok if he did lie, but whatever the outcome I know he has done way more good for our community than harm and I will still respect him for that. People make mistakes. LEO’s are held to a higher standard than everyone else, but they are still human. I hope the investigation turns out in favor of AJ, but I am trusting the fact that it is being handled professionally.


charger805

LEO take an oath and the expectation is that they are the ‘good guy’ working within the boundaries of the law. Breaking the law to uphold it makes absolutely no sense. If the proper protocol was followed, the “idiotic tweeker” wouldn’t have been released. Two wrongs don’t make a right but particularly so when one party is supposed to be upholding the law. My guess is this isn’t the first time he’s abused his power but that is supposition and my opinion.


And you are assuming he is a complete stranger.


By the way, my family has issues as well and I’ll be the first to admit it but i’m not a sworn LEO accused of breaking the law.


marcusaurelius

Playing around with somebody’s freedom is no joke and it shouldnt be treated as such. Lying in public office, is a no no. What makes you think it is ok?


mkaney

Personally, I make mistakes in my job. But I NEVER, EVER lie in my job. If I don’t feel like going in to work I don’t call in sick, I call in lazy! Why do I get away with it? Because my employer knows the value of truth!


Perspicacious

How come nobody has accused the TWEAKER of lying? The officer said the TWEAKER gave permission and the TWEAKER said he didn’t. No, TWEAKERS NEVER lie, do they? I am not blindly defending the officer, I am just saying…


The whole “bullet” part of the story was dumb. “Hey doc, he has a bullet in his stomach I need you to look for but he hasn’t been shot.” OF COURSE he wasn’t shot! Sheesh. If someone has been shot you usually don’t figure that out by pumping their stomach. Probably the silliest thing I have read in a long time. “Bullets” are slang for small containers used to hold small quantities of drugs.


Unbelievable!


On another note, every time public employees get placed on PAID administrative leave the comment section here goes nutz! Let me explain why this is done. If someone is fired or suspended without pay without going through due process first, and is subsequently exonerated, it ends up costing the agency way more than keeping him on paid administrative leave. They end up paying back pay with interest and possible wrongful terminations suits and the like.


People here need to quit being so hysterical.


charger805

This is not shocking.

As a side, his son (same name) is in prison. Maybe the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.


Stunned

I would assume a crook would lie about stuff like this but, I’m sure wondering why they dropped charges unless they were relatively sure that he’d lied to get the stomach pump.


But on the other hand if the doctor saw a baggie in his stomach that would have been grounds to go get the warrant amended wouldn’t it? I just don’t see the benefit to his fabricating this story so I’ll wait and see on this one.


MaryMalone

File this under “No Big Surprise.”


whatsinaname

So…an officer of the law caught lying.

Lets hope those AG policeman that so many people are backing aren’t also lying…

And I do sincerely hope they aren’t.


But it should be noted that the comments on this site routinely bash the police officers every chance they get, and yet many of those same commenters are using the word of the AG police as unquestioned truth.


mkaney

You mean, officer CAUGHT lying to judge.. They do it every day.


marcusaurelius

Impunity. Prosecute the hell out of these guys so other civil servants stay on their toes.


agag1

Enough is enough!


JB Bronson

May Paso Robles City Manager and Council, and Arroyo Grande City Manager and Council, and Adam Hill, and Bruce Gibson, and John Ashbaugh and…..learn from the proper standard being set here.


Establish the facts–follow the protocol.


agag1

No one likes a bully, a cheat, or a liar.


doglover

Look at that… They placed him on administrative leave

What a good idea.


marcusaurelius

A paid vacation you mean?


OnTheOtherHand

While I think that “administrative leave” is used too often, it is based on the idea that someone is innocent until proven guilty and should not be punished until that proof is confirmed in a court of law. The administrative leave is a way of keeping them out of trouble until legal procedures are complete.


Now, if only the cops and the media would have that same standard for the rest of us “citizens” when they accuse us of crimes.


marcusaurelius

in the real world, people get fired.


Scarlet

I just love that THIS comment received a thumbs down!


agag1

Must be a bully, a cheat, or a liar.

Who knows, maybe all of the above?


charger805

Except other bullies and cheaters and liars, possibly.