Charges dropped against SLO man accused of threatening to shoot minorities

September 30, 2020

Richard Vincent Orcutt

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office dropped its case last week against a retired SLO city firefighter who was accused of threatening to shoot minorities. [Tribune]

Prosecutors made the decision to drop the charges against Richard Orcutt, 63, after an FBI handwriting expert found it was unlikely the retired firefighter authored threatening letters to San Luis Obispo property management companies.

Orcutt, who worked for the San Luis Obispo Fire Department for more than 30 years, was arrested by officers in June 2019. The police department accused Orcutt of sending threatening letters on Hallmark cards to property management companies, property owners and possibly renters of homes on his street, Cavalier Lane .

The Hallmark cards displayed an American flag and contained no return address or name, police said. Letters included in court records instructed property managers not to rent to Chinese or Mexican tenants.

“They have ruined our neighborhood. You or your renters will be shot if you do,” some letters stated.

Orcutt pleaded not guilty to eight felony charges of threatening to commit a crime of violence and possessing and assault weapon. Some of the charges came with hate crime enhancements.

The retired firefighter faced up to 15 years in state prison if convicted of the charges and enhancements.

Orcutt’s attorneys argued their client did not write the letters and is not a racist. Orcutt claims he was set up by someone who lied about him and intentionally filed a false police report.

Additionally, Orcutt has received deaths threats since news of his arrest broke, his attorneys said.

Sheriff’s and state Department of Justice forensics investigators could not find any of Orcutt’s fingerprints or DNA on the letters, making the prosecution’s case largely dependent on the finding of an FBI expert document examiner. The FBI examiner conducted three separate analyses comparing the actual threatening letters to letters Orcutt rewrote verbatim.

The FBI examiner concluded Orcutt may not have been the author, suggesting there were significant dissimilarities between the actual letters and Orcutt’s rewrites.

On Sept. 24, the prosecution made a motion to dismiss the case, which Judge Jesse Marino accepted.

However, prosecutors argue Orcutt’s cache of weapons that authorities seized during a search of his home should not be returned. Prior to Orcutt’s June 2019 arrest, detectives served a search warrant at his home and found handguns, rifles, shotguns and thousands of rounds of ammunition, police said. Authorities seized a total of 37 firearms, according to the district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors argue, under federal law, Orcutt is banned for life from possessing firearms because of a 1998 misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. Orcutt’s attorney plans to argue against the district attorney’s office’s interpretation of the law.


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Buns N Roses

Hallmark makes “Keep minorities out of our neighborhood “ cards now? They do have a card for everything


Cucumber

Ah, the good ol’ “someone set me up!” defense! Alright, back to my racist ways.


Ralph Snart

Those are some serious charges to be dropped.


newlook

The FBI expert “found it was unlikely the retired firefighter authored the threatening metters….”

The FBI Examimer concluded “Orcutt may not have been the author…”

Which statement was the actual statement issued by the FBI? These are two wholly different findings. How this is reported makes a difference.


WeThePeople

Different in context, but since the court standard is beyond a reasonable doubt, either statement would produce the same result.


LameCommenter

No one should lose a constitutional right for life for a misdemeanor. For those who think so, ok maybe five years if a clean record is kept? But not for life, not even for the much vaunted domestic violence. There just aren’t significant records of delayed shootings to support a lifetime ban.


newlook

FBI ” Concluded Orcutt may not be the author”. This REPORTER CONCLUDED “it was unlikely the retired fighter authored the threatening letters…”. Huge difference. Is there anyplace to get truly objective reporting. The FBI did not exonerate this man. Nor could the confirm he wrote the letters. Is this reporter attempting to influence opinion or just poor objectivity?


Adam Trask

Good for Mr. Orcutt, and good for the FBI for proving that they are still an effective organization, despite what the current president has to say. I find it interesting that we often use handwriting—especially signatures—in a variety of ways, yet many states won’t use them to prove identity when it comes to voting by mail. It is virtually impossible to fake someone else’s handwriting as this case exemplifies.


WeThePeople

Is the FBI going to verify every signed ballot? It is not virtually impossible to fake someone’s writing…it is difficult to do well enough to where a hand writing expert does not detect inconsistencies though. It is quite tiring how some people feel so compelled to bring a Trump insult into every post, typically supported by inaccurate “facts” or statements taken entirely out of context.