SLO settles lawsuit over convicted cop
March 21, 2015
The city of San Luis Obispo has settled a lawsuit filed by two confidential informants of a former police officer who was convicted of extortion.
FBI agents arrested Cory Pierce in Feb. 2013 after an undercover investigation revealed that the former narcotics officer stole drugs from the evidence locker, stole drugs at gunpoint and manipulated individuals to sell drugs. Pierce pleaded guilty to one count of extortion, and in Dec. 2013, a judge sentenced him to 18 months in federal prison.
Last year, two of Pierce’s confidential informants filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court, which included an allegation that Pierce forced one of the plaintiffs to have sex with him. In December, the city paid $25,000 to Kip Holland and his girlfriend, April Stewart, in order settle the suit.
The lawsuit alleged that Pierce manipulated Holland and Stewart into selling or trading drugs for the officer on about 80 occasions. Stewart, who was listed in the lawsuit as Jane Roe, contended that Pierce forced her to have sexual intercourse and engage in an act of oral copulation.
The suit also named San Luis Obispo County as a defendant. Though Pierce was a city police officer, he worked as a member of the sheriff’s narcotics task force.
Still, the city’s insurance authority is covering the cost of the settlement.
City Attorney Christine Dietrick told the Tribune that the settlement was reasonable. But, both the city and county found the case to be meritless and neither agency had any responsibility for a single officer’s criminal conduct, Dietrick said.
According to the federal attorney’s office in Los Angeles, Pierce told Holland that he could work off a heroin charge if he cooperated. Pierce would provide the couple placebo pain pills to trade for real pain pills or drugs used for heroin addiction.
After Holland told Pierce that a drug dealer he deceived wanted revenge, Pierce said he would “take care of it,” a federal attorney’s office press release said. The couple eventually took their concerns to law enforcement.