Former police chief’s son suspected of counterfeiting, burglary
June 30, 2016
By DANIEL BLACKBURN and KAREN VELIE
Paso Robles police caught a break in a counterfeiting case when officers recognized a man videotaped passing a counterfeit bill at a CVS Pharmacy as the son of former chief of police Lisa Solomon and a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputy who worked the DARE program.
On Tuesday, an officer stopped Justin Robert Fontecchio, 25, who was walking on Niblick Road, and told him he was under arrest. Fontecchio responded by punching the officer in the face and attempting to run away. Nevertheless, the officer arrested Fontecchio and booked him into the San Luis Obispo County Jail.
In addition to allegedly passing $10 and $20 counterfeit bills, police were also seeking Fontecchio to question him about a burglary at Solomon’s North County home. A thief had broken in through a garage window and stolen a Ford Cobra.
Fontecchio is facing 18 charges including eight for burglary, seven for counterfeiting, auto theft, resisting arrest and being under the influence of drugs. His bail is set at $50,000.
Solomon, Paso Robles’ first female police chief, quit her job in March 2012, less than 60 days after complaints surfaced regarding her behavior with subordinate officers. Those complaints centered around allegations of sexual assaults committed by Solomon on officers under her command.
Some of the charges alleged that on one occasion, during a “retreat” for department brass at a Big Sur resort, Solomon ordered several subordinates into a hot tub with her, where she inappropriately touched them, they later said.
Other complaints, several of which would result in lawsuits, asserted that Solomon threatened retaliation against officers who declined to follow her orders to obtain unlawful ticket quotas.
Numerous city officials — most notably council member John Hamon — actively backed Solomon prior to and after her departure. And while CalCoastNews was reporting on Solomon’s mounting troubles at the time, the county’s daily newspaper published glowing feature articles about Solomon.
She resigned after a partially-completed report was compiled by a city-hired private investigator and delivered to then-city manager Jim App. Consequently, city officials issued a press release asserting Solomon was leaving because reporting on “a local news website” had made it “impossible for her to do her job.”
The report was never released publicly despite Public Records Act requests by CalCoastNews and others. App and City Attorney Iris Yang contended that the report was an “unfinished work product” and therefore did not fall into the category of a public record. And city council members were given only a “verbal briefing” of the report’s contents by App and Yang before voting for Solomon’s walking package.
Solomon departed city employment with a $220,000 check, and payment of another $30,000 for accrued vacation, sick leave, and other benefits.