Couple caught in SLO chief’s lost gun fiasco headed to trial

October 27, 2020

Cheyne Orndoff, Princess, and Vanessa Bedroni

By KAREN VELIE

District Court Judge Tim Covello has ruled that a video recording made during a warrantless search of a San Luis Obispo County couple’s home can be introduced in their child neglect trial paving the way for their arraignment.

Attorneys for Cheyne Orndoff and Vanessa Bedroni challenged a claim by police that they acted in good faith when they searched the couple’s home for the San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell’s misplaced gun. That search led to child neglect charges.

The question at the heart of the motion was whether police reliance on a mistake that incorrectly listed Cheyne Orndorff as a probationer violated his constitutional rights. The key issues: who made the mistake and were officers reckless.

In 2017, Orndorff’s brother, Cole, claimed he was Cheyne Orndorff when he was arrested on drug charges. Cole Orndorff eventually pled guilty to five misdemeanors, including impersonating Cheyne Orndorff. But when Cole Orndorff’s conviction was entered into the Probation Department’s criminal justice information system, the names were transposed showing Cheyne Orndorff as the person on probation.

If the probation department made the mistake, the evidence should be suppressed. If the mistake was committed by the court, it would likely be admitted. Employees of both agencies testified that they were unsure who made the error.

One of the officers at the scene testified he was aware Cheyne Orndoff was not the man suspected of finding Cantrell’s gun in a restaurant bathroom before the raid.

Orndoff’s attorney, Jason Dufurrena, argued that the officers violated his client’s constitutional rights. He also said that if case law did not support the couple’s position, it should be challenged.

In the end, Judge Covello ruled the officers’ conduct was not reckless and that the court had made the database error. In making his decision, Covello noted the “horrific nature of the home,” along with a reference to needles loaded with drugs.

A conflux of failures

For more than two years, Cheyne Orndoff had been trailed by the false probation report. In mid-2018, he was working as a counselor at Templeton High School, but was terminated because of the wrong information 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 while the court confirmed he was not on probation, he remained listed on the county criminal justice information system as on probation.

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

“I can’t get a job because of this bogus bench probation,” he said. “There are times, I just feel like giving up.”

At about noon on July 10, Cantrell left her pistol in the bathroom of an El Pollo Loco restaurant. A short time later, a man walked into the bathroom, discovered the loaded and unattended firearm and took it with him.

An officer mistakenly suggested that Cheyne Orndoff was the suspect. The chief sent officers to Orndoff’s home to retrieve her gun. Another public employee misidentified Orndoff as being on probation, which led officers to conduct an unwarranted search of the couple’s home.

Even though officers did not find the chief’s gun, they put Orndoff and Bedroni’s 7 and 9-year-old daughters in foster care, their 5-year-old dog Princess in the pound, and the couple in jail for child neglect because of a dirty house, paraphernalia, and a small amount of drugs.

Shortly after the arrest, a court employee testified it took about five minutes to correct the database error that listed Orndoff as on probation.

Orndoff and Bedroni are scheduled for arraignments on Tuesday morning.


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Djgleno

San luis obispo county is just so bullshit this is all because cps and the police cant admit they are wrong or that they fucked up badley when will thease public workers be held accountable for there crimes . lile mcguire the rapest cop from paso . say u rape a woman . you go to jail but if your a cop and dan dows buddy you resign and move then you can start all over again . iys sad to see so many ok with this kinda conduct . mcguire would take kids of people he victimised as the chief of paso police would proffit seeing that his wife stacia burton is the head adoption liason . yett the county would. Used. The fact that there is a child involed to protect the public from finding out the truth . and u must also ask why is dan dow hiding his records from the public . what dirty lil weasle . an old froend told me once it will all come out in the wash .. Only time will tell . cops should face lager penal actions for there crimes . his victims are tramatised and deserve justice as to the orendofs . judge covellow is not an impartial judge and is best buddys with eric dobroth assistaint d.a. of san luis he should recuse him self for being biases agimst the poor and. Those of color. There is no such thing as a fair trial in county.


Thank god calcoast has the balls to tell the truth about it . thank you for being the last honest news on the coast.


kayaknut

Can’t wait for former Chief Cantel to be on the witness stand, I hope we can watch it and the city of Fairfield tunes in.


derasmus

Unfortunately for Judge Covello, I predict that a conviction will be successfully appealed based on the manner in which evidence was discovered. Just a hunch.


Having a conviction from your court overturned in this way speaks to the bench’s administration of justice.


Gramelin

Problem is there is no justice. This Judge doesn’t care the police lied in court. Nor that their rights were violated.


LeroyMoo

“One in a million” is not a supportable argument by the judge unless a thorough and detailed audit of probation records has occurred. If either the probation dept or court clerk made the data entry error then it is a latent error. Why is one latent error not allowed, but another latent error is allowed and discounted? Just about all logging and data entry software have “change logs” that record who and when made what entries. The IT guy can easily extract LAN ID info from the change log if it exists. If the probation software is old and doesn’t have the change log feature then that’s an organizational failure to keep the software version up with the times. If the probation data entry is not checked for accuracy by a second person, then that’s an organizational failure. Is the probation supervisor or court clerk supervisor reviewing internal work with spot checks or audits and documenting same? If neither, then that’s an organizational failure precondition. If both the court and probation depts have not instigated audits and controls as a result of this Orndoff error surfacing, then that’s another organizational failure. Orndoff repeatedly tried to get the error corrected that affected his family’s standard of living and neither the court or probation dept fixed it until recently. So, the internal procedures to correct errors were not followed or were non-existent. More organizational errors! The probation record error is just one latent error in this whole fiasco. The officers were not under imminent threat and had the luxury of time to determine if they had evaluated the info offered by Orndoff. They failed badly! It’s time to bring in third party investigators to investigate the failed internal controls and interventions in this case.


shelworth

I predict the powers-that-be will wish they just wrote a big check and said “Sorry” to these people.


panflash

Yes, but, unfortunately, the “powers-that-be” don’t care, because, once again, the price tag for their malfeasance will not be paid by them- it will be paid by us, the taxpayers.


charger805

Sadly, no amount of money, no matter who it comes from can make right what they have been through and their children will probably be scarred for life. I hope they win a sh*t ton of money, tax dollars or not. This case makes my blood boil.


kayaknut

But remember that check is not coming from those officials it will be coming from the taxpayers and likely will still be needed following the likely civil trial. Another reason the city violated election rules to support the new tax, they will need the money for this.


shelworth

Yep, I just think they could have settled for less than what a jury will give them.


Gramelin

Unfortunately, we can not just deduct it from the paychecks of the people responsible for this fiasco. INCLUDING the dispatcher who failed to read the attached Note on his name, just prior to the several cops bombarding the property. ( I mean why withhold what may be important info on a perp?) That may have avoided this entire circus. This judge goes along with the cops, liars or not. He does not care.

I think they should try to have the trial out of SLO county. There is NO Way these guys will get a fair trial here.


panflash

And keep in mind that “this judge” is Tim Covello, who, as I recall, ran against Dan Dow for District Attorney and lost.


Someone want to verify that, just for the record?