Mishaps, coverups and manipulation in a case against a SLO family

September 9, 2020

Cheyne Orndoff, Princess, and Vanessa Bedroni

By KAREN VELIE

Editor’s Note: This is part two in a two-part series about the consequences of mistaken identities assumptions and the San Luis Obispo Police Department’s efforts to send a couple to prison after officers tried to quietly find then-Police Chief Deanna Cantrell’s pistol, lost in an El Pollo Loco bathroom. Read part one.

It started in early 2017, when Cole Orndoff identified himself as his brother Cheyne Orndoff during a drug-related arrest. He would later plead guilty to five misdemeanors, including impersonating his brother. In logging Cole Orndoff’s conviction and probation into the county criminal justice information system, it appears that an employee of the SLO County Probation Department wrongly listed Cheyne Orndoff as the guilty party and not the victim.

In mid-2018, Cheyne Orndoff was working as a counselor at Templeton High School but was terminated because of the incorrect information about his “crime” in the county system, he said. Cheyne Orndoff petitioned the court to correct the record to show he was the victim in the case and not on probation, but even though the court confirmed he was not on probation, the Probation Department’s criminal justice information system continued to list him as the offender.

Cheyne Orndoff also reached out to the Pismo Beach Police Department, the agency that had arrested his brother, and asked them to help correct the county’s error. In an attempt to help Cheyne Orndoff, Pismo Beach sent an email to the SLO County Sheriff’s Department explaining he was the victim in the case.

Cheyne Orndoff graduated summa cum laude from Cal Poly, with a degree in psychology, in March 2018. He applied for employment to multiple public and private organizations, including county social services, but was rejected because of the probation error.

That mistake, and the belief by police that the bearded Cheyne Orndoff was the clean-shaven man who hours earlier picked up Police Chief Deanna Cantrell’s lost pistol, led to his arrest and his children’s placement in foster care.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff deputies involved at the scene had actual knowledge that Cheyne Orndoff was not on probation. The sheriff’s department had records of the case, as Cole Orndoff spent 56 days in the SLO County Jail for the impersonation and drug charges. In addition, five months prior to the raid, the Pismo Beach Police Department emailed the SLO County Sheriff’s Office reaffirming information that Cheyne Orndoff was the victim, and not the perpetrator.

Shortly before Orndoff was booked into jail, a SLO County Sheriff’s Office watch commander and a deputy chief discussed on a recorded line what happened to Cheyne Orndorff.

Watch commander: Apparently this wasn’t the right guy.

Laughter.

Watch commander: While they were out there, I guess one of the detectives were still doing some work on it and they got a better side profile of him and it wasn’t Cheyne. So, basically at this point they don’t know where the gun’s at. So, I asked their captain, are you guys planning on putting some sort of, you know, BOL for local agencies, cause they apparently put this on Facebook at six hours ago, but never bothered telling any of the local agencies. So, he said, yeah, we’ll put something out.

Deputy chief: Had they put on social media that there had been a stolen firearm?

Watch commander: Here’s what they put. If you just go to SLOPD’s regular Facebook page, it says SLOPD is asking for assistance, locating this man who may be in possession of a stolen firearm at El Pollo Loco on LOVR on today’s date at 12:15 and to call SLOPD. So, they put this out at, you know, right when it happened.

Deputy chief: And, of course, they identified that guy as having a stolen firearm when he in fact does not have a stolen firearm.

Watch Commander: He just has, you know, basically a lost property that is not his, not – I wouldn’t call it stolen.

Deputy chief: But this guy doesn’t have the gun?

Watch commander: No, it’s not Cheyne Orndoff. They had the wrong guy.

Deputy chief: Do they think they have the right guy now?

Watch commander: They don’t know who the right guy is.

Deputy chief: Jesus Christ.

Watch commander: So, they went out there. They searched his property They’ve cleared. It’s not him. So, it cleared from that location and they’re like, “yep, it’s not him. We have a better photo now, apparently.” And they now have a side profile and it’s not him.

Deputy Chief: Right. I tell you what, if Cheyne decides he wants to file a complaint against San Luis PD, he’s got a pretty good beef.

Watch commander: Probably.

Deputy chief: Well, I’m really glad we decided to play it cautious with them because what a surprise, their info wasn’t good.

Watch commander: Well and that’s why I called you. Because I’m like, you know, I’ve dealt with SLOPD enough to know that whatever they’re telling me, only a fraction of it is going to be correct.

Deputy Chief: Because they have a really bad habit of not vetting stuff all the way through.

Cheyne Orndoff and Vanessa Bedroni were booked into the county jail on a Wednesday, and by law should have had their arraignments by Friday. However, their rights were violated; they were kept in jail until their arraignments on Monday July 15, 2019, according to court records.

While the couple was still in jail, SLO Police Detective Suzie Walsh attempted to pressure the SLO County District Attorney’s Office to file the cases as felonies.

“I’d like to make sure this case gets filed as a felony and I’m concerned that arraignment is approaching quickly,” Walsh wrote in a July 12, 2019, email to Deputy District Attorney Greg Devitt. “Please accept my apologies if I’ve been misinformed and the case has already been filed as a felony.”

While people charged with a misdemeanor are often released without bail, those charged with felonies face longer prison terms, and often need to post bail in order to be released from jail. On occasion, people charged with felonies, even those who are not guilty, agree to plead to a misdemeanor in order to get out of jail and avoid longer prison sentences.

Devitt responded to Walsh’s request, telling her he had already filed misdemeanor charges against Orndoff and Bedroni, according to court records.

But Walsh was not ready to give up. Walsh contacted a social worker and asked that she call back on her personal line. Those calls appear to have led to a urine test, that came back positive for methamphetamine. But the sample was retested by a private lab and it tested drug free. The SLO Police Department claims they may have mixed up urine samples.

Regardless, the false positive urine sample resulted in the district attorney’s office filing felony child neglect charges against both Orndoff and Bedroni.

At a hearing scheduled for Sept. 24, the court will consider a motion to suppress evidence collected during the warrantless search, filed by Bedroni’s attorney Peter Depew.

Meanwhile, the probation department corrected the law enforcement database, the couple gathered their dog Princess from the pound, the couple’s children remain in county custody and the police chief resigned her position after getting a job at the Bay Area city of Fairfield.

Sign up for breaking news, alerts and updates with Cal Coast News Top Stories.


Loading...

25
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
Gramelin

Police Officer’s Oath

The widely used oath embraced by the International Association of Chiefs of Police reads, “On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.


???? And THIS Is how She REALLY upholds her Oath???? Cantrell and Walsh should reconsider careers in law enforcement. Seems they have NO clue on how to have the public trust, or willingness to be held accountable…etc.


Cindy

This case and others like it could be avoided if one of the primary agencies stops it. The city needs to follow rules, have body cams on and transparency, something that has not occurred with the current administration. They all work together on the coverup, who cares about the little people we destroy.


If CWS was not obsessed with the federal money it gets for keeping children in its custody, and department heads fired and then asked for charges against lying social workers, these thing would stop.


If the DA’s office was more interested in justice, instead of having a relationship with police and the win, they would not file charges on some of these cases. Instead, they battled for months to block disclosure of communications showing this case had holes in it. They should prosecute lying cops, but they would have to go back to other cases and do house cleaning. They should push transparency and never fight to withhold evidence that could help a defendant.


If the judges, many former DAs, cared more about justice than getting along with the county elite, they would not stand for the breaking of laws, even if it only damages poor people who can’t often afford a good attorney. The fact that they violated their rights for an arraignment within 72 hours, should have been caught by the court. But the judges are more into politics than justice. How many of these judges were put into office because people like Adam Hill asked the governor to appoint them. Do you think he suggested the most just attorney for the job, or those who would provide him cover?


All we need is one agency to serve as a watchdog for justice for everyone. And maybe, the others will follow suit.


Djgleno

Chief burton chief of police for paso profited from his wife’s commissions for the kids he helped take. Has repeated false accusations and no one says anything. Allowed officer who rapes his way to the top and is allowed to resign. City worker runs over a homeless child . and yes simply ok . local black woman who claimed her child was abducted takes child back at knife point from worker in paso park. She goes to prison for 4 years and no one ever fallowed up on her claim that cps kidnapped her kid. Finally you have san luis obispo chief of police she loses her gun and lies and sticks it on innocent family man. Yet cps keeps there kids. my.son was abducted by a cop who was determined to be a rapist. Yet my son was kept and adopted out. with just a few cases mentioned among hundreds in the county even a local reporter silence as the held her grandchildren hostage. LOCAL POLITICIANS such as Jordan Cunningham claim to want to protect our families and children. the truth is he was made aware of this dirty cop and cps. Yet did not do anything till after these family’s lost everything. no one will tell any of these stories afraid devon drake and the county will take there children. what is going on with our community. once a place known for protecting our civil rights now covering up the truth so they can have a phat check.


By far cal coast is the only news source that has had the balls to stand up for whats right . why can’t the others stop pandering to the cops. With puff pieces and not speak up for the little guy .


Last Individual

Either Fairfield knew of these malfeasances or they didn’t. If they didn’t know, they didn’t do much of a background check and/or she lied during her interview. They certainly should know by now, and should rescind their offer. If they did know, they are apparently indifferent to the lawlessness exhibited by the SLO Blue Street Gang… I mean Police under Cantrell. In which case maybe she didn’t have to lie during her interview. Maybe they relish having this sort of perp… I mean person as police chief. After all, Fairfield police don’t have a particularly good record themselves.


The Fairfield locals are well aware of her exploits and have some idea of what to expect. I don’t know how the city leaders could not be aware. Here is a sample of some local reaction from a neighborhood website.


“There are several articles out there that make her assignment questionable.” (Followed by link to a CCN article.)


“Wow, what a story, thanks for sharing this, she has not even taken over the position and there’s already an incident to remember her by.”


“There are actually a few questionable incidents. It’s a shame because I had high hopes for her when I initially read the announcement.”


“That’s not good.”


“What was up with the naked chick in the back of her stolen car?”


“Where did you see that?”


“Oh it’s real.” (Followed by a link to KSBY website.)


“Wow, first was her gun, now her car. I wonder what else.”


I know people who live just outside Fairfield. I fear for their safety after September 30. I am particularly concerned since the city limits does not appear to be any sort of barrier to contain her injustice.


By the way, is Suzie Walsh related in some way to Joshua “Sureshot” Walsh who “allegedly” demonstrated his ability to shoot and kill a dog two out of three times at essentially point-blank range?


Murse

Yes, Suzie Walsh is related to Joshua Walsh. They are married.


south

Most people don’t fully comprehend the importance of leadership in an organization. A leader sets the tone for the system and then middle managers enforce the philosophy. In the case of SLO, it has had for years quirky elected leaders who hired subpar city managers who in turn hired people to act as “palace guards” and department heads. The result is typically an entirely untrustworthy, dysfunctional organization. When it happens in business, the business fails. When it happens in government, nothing happens until people vote in change and demand the new elected officials clean house and right the ship.


SLO is just one of the cities in this mess. AG is another as is GC to a lesser degree. The County too has several departments, Planning, Public Works and DSS that are saddled with terrible leadership and it’s unlikely to improve until they get a competent CAO.


Here is the tough part for local government: Hiring competent leadership willing to come in and suffer the slings and arrows of unions and civil service hearings for years for typically much less than can be earned in the private sector or larger jurisdictions.


What should happen is that jurisdictions must make all managers at-will and merit-based recompensed. All managers, not just department heads. Salary structures should also be re-evaluated to attract the top people, hopefully from private industry, with the knowledge that they will be putting in 60+ hours a week implementing a forensic audit and strategic plan that was developed by a world-class business consultant.


We as constituents need to buy into these strategies and not bemoan salaries and administrative costs as long as someone is accountable to make it happen and guarantee results in 36 months.


south

Finally. Thank you Karen for your reporting. You all provide a vital service that is completely missing elsewhere in the region. People, make sure you keep these good people working by contributing to this website with money, not just clicks.


shelworth

Good grief! Write them a check for 5 million bucks, apologize and clean up your damn records!


ActaNonVerba

A chief can probably recover from leaving their piece in the crapper. Probably. They can’t recover from this sort of coverup bull manure.


It’s astonishing she was hired by Fairfield, CA to be their chief of police. Another woke community seeking a lesbian chief it would seem. That, they did an incredibly poor job of vetting her.


Were I the mayor/city council of Fairfield I would rescind the offer right now, and deal with it in court if need be. Hiring someone like Cantrell, given her record, takes a real toll on a community.


Francesca Bolognini

And just how much are these people getting paid?


Asking for a friend…….


kevin rise

I am very grateful for you folks reporting on this. I hope the DA and Sherriff have a formal response as to th severity of this issue and their role as Oversight. I hope this doesnt get brushed under the rug using politics or anything else, this is a tragic series of events, and it seems like many criminals were involved in terrorizing an innocent family. Nothing is ironic in the departure of the chief, and my lord the salary she took in. If we know, the feds must know id think, hope but if not. Folks, email our local reps in Congress about this, I am. This isnt about politics, we pay these people to keep the peace transparently, to uphold the law and criminal justice, but the corruption here is systemic and deep, and it doesnt care what party you vote for, your race, religion, or gender too. This is bad, very very bad and can and will cost us tax payers, this IS the corruption and injustice that must be stopped, this is sinful. And what is our DA or Sherriff doing to Uphold our Local Judicial system? This Blue Line is so damn thin and fragile. Its fraying.


newscruzer1

Calcoastnews, formally known as SLO Uncovered is San Luis Obispo Counties only true investigative source for news, uncovering facts Hidden from public view, bringing to light that informed decisions can be made in helping make things better.

Feeling compelled to weigh in, as hearing spouted by others that Calcoast news is fake news, group leaders encouraging followers not to talk with them.

If those only knew what true watchdogs for the people are willing to put themselves through so facts can be weighed by reasoning ones, they would have a much different view.

With that being said, allow me to add my own personal view why the world is in such decay, much like when viewing a beautiful flower attached to its stem, but sad, much like we see the world today, detached from receiving spiritual nourishment from our God, withering and dying.Now if a believer as those claim, read John 17:3


ActaNonVerba

Given that Cantrell is a lesbian, there is NO WAY the SLO Tribune would have went in-depth on this story. Right, Joe?


ActaNonVerba

Oh wait! It appears the Tribune finally got off their dead asses and actually printed something that wouldn’t pass the progressive approval process.


kevin rise

Can you drop the politics for this one Acta and focus on the issue and solutions and dialogue please. We all get it, she’s lesbian and a cop whom is democratic; firstly, she’s a criminal abusing the constitution as a public servant, everything else is secondary. We have enough rhetoric politically.