DA hires discredited investigator to look into perjury questions

May 2, 2018

District Attorney Dan Dow

By KAREN VELIE

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow has hired an investigator to look into whether an expert witness used by his office committed perjury. But the investigator he chose has had his work criticized by the San Luis Obispo County civil grand jury. [Cal Coast Times]

Dow’s choice, Richard Thomas, a private investigator with an office in Ojai, was hired by the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District in 2010 to investigate the district’s administrator over questions about payments made to his private engineering firm. John Wallace, who was the administrator, faced questions about conflicts of interest in awarding work to his company the Wallace Group.

Thomas was to look into several questionable transactions including a charge of $16,921 the Wallace Group billed the district to hire a painter to repaint the roof of the sanitation district’s maintenance building.

Thomas concluded from his investigation that the charges were for structural review, contract management and bidding tasks and appeared justified. In his report, Thomas talked about Wallace’s “great reputation,” and disputed the allegations of overcharging and impropriety.

But, in 2011, the San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury found Thomas’ investigation into Wallace inadequate and faulty, a determination it appears the DA’s office shared at the time. The DA’s office charged Wallace in 2017 with two felony and two misdemeanor counts of conflicts of interest in his work for the sanitation district despite Thomas’ report that cleared Wallace of wrongdoing. In March, Wallace plead no contest to the two misdemeanor counts.

Tracy Nix

The expert witness Tracy Nix, an 18-year DA’s office staffer, has testified in court and written in her resume that she holds a bachelors degree from Cal Poly. But Nix does not have a college degree.

On March 14, a judge ordered Tracy Nix’ transcript released to attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu, who planned to refute her testimony on the stand. After the transcript was released, the district attorney’s office decided against having Nix testify.

Responding to questions about Nix’s credentials, Dow said that because Nix “walked” by participating in a Cal Poly commencement she believed that she had graduated and earned her degree.

“If she believed she had a degree, then she did not commit perjury” Dow said. “It is common at Cal Poly for people to believe they have graduated when they have not.”

Following a Cal Coast Times article that included allegations that Nix made multiple false claims in her resume and on the stand, Dow hired Thomas.







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19 Comments

  1. anonymous93446 says:

    I think this incident would qualify as academic dishonesty. From what I have researched, the students make a commitment to the college. People do walk (a lot) but, they are given “blank diplomas” and have 2 semesters to complete the necessary coursework. I think a FOIA request should be directed to San Luis Obispo Human Resources department, and there should be some form of punishment. It gets annoying when you have public officials admitting wrongdoing and no punishment is incurred.

  2. InTheKnowing says:

    Mr. Dow…. Really… you can do better than Thomas.

    • DocT says:

      You sure about that? Dow needs an investigator he can trust. The public is being misled and the unfortunate fall out from all the true information being shared is that many people no longer trust the DA.

      There needs to be an investigation that can re-frame the truth so it doesn’t have such a negative PR slant to it.

      Perjury sounds so…..well….it sounds bad! There must be another way to say it so that Mrs. Nix can save face and the DA can be re-elected.

      We, the taxpayers will pay for all the coming lawsuits, so that isn’t a concern. But the impression of competence, professionalism and integrity must be re-gained. A good investigation might just do the trick!

  3. DocT says:

    First, let me say that I don’t remember not graduating from law school. I may or may not have a degree…..it was almost 20 years ago. I don’t even remember my kid’s names, music I listened to, vacations I took….it was two decades ago! Shoot, I might even have a degree in engineering from Cal Poly, I just don’t remember.

    In other words, my opinions can be considered expert opinions, because I’m not perjuring myself or telling lies, because I honestly don’t remember not graduating……

    So, here’s some legal advice (I may be a lawyer?) AND some financial advice (don’t clearly remember not getting a FINRA and CLU cert so It’s possible I’m an expert on financial matters):

    1. Do not hire any investigator. This will save money up front. Just declare that everything has been looked at and Mrs. Nix is an expert, was and expert and will be an expert.

    2. Regardless of whether you hire a crony “investigator” who will say whatever you want him to say—-speaking to Dan Dow here—-appeals and lawsuits are coming your way. You’re going to lose those lawsuits due to perjury on the part of your expert AND possible prosecutorial misconduct on your part.

    The taxpayers will pay millions to settle these suits, so the money you save by not paying the “investigator” can be loaded into the pool of awards given to those folks who successfully appeal and then counter-sue the county.

    Since #2 is definitely gonna happen……it makes financial sense to skip paying the goofy investigator.

    As far as legal advice, it’s always best to keep silent and never utter a word without an attorney present—-pretty much the exact opposite of what the cops and DA want people to do when they’re hauled into jail and get lied to and manipulated by cops into a plea bargain.

    So, since I’m not sure I’m not a lawyer and don’t remember not graduating with a degree in finance, this is great advice. You would do well to follow it Dan Dow.

    Keep Mrs. Nix on the team. We, the taxpayors have your back! Well, financially speaking we do….we have no choice. This is your time to shine Dan! Make us proud and pretend that everything is great! Tell us how much you value the law and how justice is blind, and how none of us are above the law.

  4. 1965buick says:

    1. If you choose to participate in the ceremony without fulfilling your requirements, you are told that you will not receive a diploma. I.e. having graduated.
    Lie.
    2. Do you hire a sketchy P.I. to ‘find’ what you want, but just to be ‘in the clear’ it doesn’t really have any value? See #1.

    And 3. Will the next D.A. be any better, or will they eventually join the good ol’ boys club, because that’s just what you do?

  5. debeddarn says:

    The SLO Grand Jury is controlled by Progressives.
    At last count there was only 1 or 2 Conservatives.
    This was stated to me by an x member!

  6. JB Bronson says:

    Dan. You are learning to “play the game”. Ian has learned it well and how to say all the right things. What you won’t learn from him is that what you do matters more than what you say.

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