DA investigator charged with perjury claims inexperience

March 31, 2016

justice 2A former San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office investigator who is on trial for perjury testified Wednesday that he did not lie to a judge in an affidavit. Rather, he made mistakes as a result of inexperience, he said. [Tribune]

A.J. Santana allegedly lied to a judge in an affidavit while on loan to the Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force. Deputies reported the incident, and Santana was charged with a felony county of perjury.

Santana faces a maximum of three years in jail if found guilty.

In Aug. 2014, Santana was setting up a controlled buy in order to obtain a search warrant. The target of the investigation was suspected San Miguel drug dealer Tommy Pappas.

During the controlled buy, a confidential informant was supposed to purchase drugs from Pappas and hand them over to Santana. That occurred, according to Santana’s affidavit.

But, members of the narcotics unit who witnessed the incident said the informant’s wife got into the man’s vehicle before he gave the drugs to Santana. That compromised the controlled buy because the wife could have provided the drugs.

Santana then allegedly falsified key details in the affidavit in order to secure a search warrant for Pappas’ home.

On Tuesday, Santana took the stand in his trial and testified that the informant’s wife was was searched visually, not physically, before she got into the car. On Wednesday, Santana returned to the stand and said he made errors in the affidavit and at times strayed from the affidavit template officers use.

But, Santana testified he was not trying to make false statements or cover up inadequacies in the investigation. Santana said he had been lead investigator in about eight narcotics unit cases, but he was more experienced in investigating financial crimes.

Deputy Attorney General Seth McCutcheon argued Santana was more experienced than he claimed. McCutcheon read aloud part of the affidavit that listed Santana’s professional qualifications, which included narcotics investigation training.

Earlier in the trial, a county sheriff’s deputy testified Santana was stubborn, inexperienced and untruthful while working with the Narcotics Task Force. A county prosecutor testified Santana’s affidavit contained clear discrepancies, and he did not think Santana was giving the judge the full picture.

State attorneys are prosecuting the case because of Santana’s connection to the district attorney’s office. The trial resumes Friday.


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10 Comments

  1. NorthCountyGuy says:

    Inexperience with lying???? Give me a break.

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

    Not to gloss over the lying under oath, for which the guy should be punished, but look at the facts of this sting and how silly law has become.

    The wife of the informant “buyer” gets in the sellers car and it poisons the drug custody chain because the wife could have provided drugs to her informant husband. WHat was the purpose of the seller even being there IF THE WIFE COULD HAVE GIVEN DRUGS TO HER HUSBAND DIRECTLY.

    Even if the wife messed up the sting,they didn’t feel as though they had probable cause to get a search warrant without lying? Either we have some dumb investigators or a ridiculous system of justice.

    (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  3. T-Bone says:

    Did anyone notice that he signed all his reports Hans Christian Andersen?

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

    Sorry AJ, you’re a liar. Typical bs from the narcotics task force. You belong with Corey Pierce in federal prison. Go ahead and take the old Rodney John, Dickle, Chastain, and the rest of the lame investigators with you. “Anything for a bust” for the NTF.

    (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
  5. Gordo says:

    Now here is the one cop who gives all the good ones a bad name… What a lop!

    I remember seeing Santana strutting around downtown SLO with all the other D.A. investigators before he went to the narcotics unit. He actually wore a fedora around town, like he was a character out of a 1940’s detective picture…

    “A.J. Santana: GANGSTER SQUAD!”

    (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
  6. r0y says:

    A simple mistake. He didn’t know he was not allowed to lie. Case closed.

    (12) 22 Total Votes - 17 up - 5 down
  7. whatdouno says:

    Yeah, goes right up there with the dog ate my homework.

    (13) 19 Total Votes - 16 up - 3 down
  8. citygirl says:

    Sorry to say the trial did not resume Friday, it is a holiday and courts are closed. So much for stating the facts.

    (-5) 11 Total Votes - 3 up - 8 down
  9. kayaknut says:

    I’m sure his salary reflected his inexperience or does he plan on giving us taxpayer money back since he was not up to the job he was being paid for.

    (13) 21 Total Votes - 17 up - 4 down

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