Officer Kasi Beutel
Second of five parts involving Santa Barbara Police Officer Kasi Beutel
Philip L. Graham, the late former publisher of The Washington Post , is famously credited with describing daily deadline journalism as “the first rough draft of history.” When a reporter is in the middle of covering a story, whether it’s a city council meeting, a criminal case or war, it is difficult to get any perspective. Just where does the truth lie – in the opposing statements of the protagonists or somewhere in between? And how will history judge the players?
In the case to be laid out here, the reporter was also in the middle of the story.
Now, 20 months after this story began with my arrest for alleged driving under the influence, my case has been dismissed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court and all proceedings at the Department of Motor Vehicles terminated. For all practical purposes, when it came to the charges against me, I was vindicated. But I couldn’t stop reporting the story because issues of police misconduct remain unresolved.
So to provide context, insight and perspective, we continue this series in the News-Press with an illustrated timeline of events in the investigation that began when I was pulled over by two officers from the Santa Barbara Police Department in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2011.
SANTA BARBARA POLICE DEPARTMENT “THE STOP and ARREST”
Just after 1 a.m., I was driving home north on Santa Barbara Street when I pulled to a stop and noticed a patrol unit roll up next to me. I was dressed in a tuxedo and politely nodded to the driver whom I later learned was Officer Bruno Peterson. When the light turned green I drove forward, only to see Officer Peterson’s roof lights in my rear view mirror.
With his partner, Officer Heather Clarke, Officer Peterson ordered me to park at the curb, claiming as probable cause for the stop that I had failed to drive on the green light, impeding traffic. A call to dispatch summoned Officer Kasi Beutel, who was then coming to the end of her tenure as the lead officer on the department’s Drinking Driver Team.
Officer Peterson asked if I’d been drinking and I told him I’d had three glasses of champagne over a four-hour period beginning at 8 p.m. After Officer Beutel arrived I casually joked that if she was stopping a driver like me who was unimpaired, she must have “a quota” that night. She flashed anger and snapped, “If you say another word I’m taking you to County Jail.” She then locked my hands behind me in cuffs.
Later, as Officer Kasi Beutel administered a breath test with what I learned was an Drager Alcotest 7410 breathalyzer, I noticed that she placed her thumb over the exit port as she screamed at me to “blow harder, blow harder.”
At no time did Officer Beutel offer to let me take a blood test to measure my actual blood alcohol content, and after a perfunctory series of field sobriety tests she announced that she was placing me under arrest for DUI. She then drove me to the Sobering Center on East Haley Street and ordered my vehicle, a 2006 Land Rover LR-3, towed to an impound yard. The only document I signed in the field that morning was a Notice to Appear, to which I also applied my thumb print.
No blood test waiver (known as a Trombetta advisory) was ever presented to me for signature. I later learned that such waivers are “the Miranda warnings” of any DUI stop and a suspect must be presented with one to sign (witnessed by the officer) waiving his or her right to a blood draw. That’s because blood analysis is the most accurate measure of BAC and the only test for which there is a re-testable sample.
SANTA BARBARA POLICE “THE DUI AWARD WINNER”
The next morning I had to go to police headquarters to retrieve my vehicle. There I paid a $160 fee in addition to another $341 at the towing yard. But while I was in the department lobby I noticed a framed poster. It showed Officer Beutel smiling and in uniform. In the upper left was a gold star, and there was text noting that she was the Top DUI Officer and Gold Pin Winner for 2009 cited by Avoid the 12, the association of law enforcement agencies in Santa Barbara County aimed at suppressing driving under the influence.
While the vast majority of DUI arrestees plead guilty, I knew that I was innocent and decided to fight, so I hired attorney Darryl Genis, one of the best-known DUI specialists on the Central Coast. During our first meeting, he told me that the California attorney general had issued an information bulletin in 2006 warning law enforcement agencies not to block the exit port on the Alcotest 7410 because it “can affect the readings of a subject’s breath alcohol concentration.”
SANTA BARBARA POLICE DEPARTMENT BREATHALYZER SUBJECT TO MANIPULATION
I later discovered by way of Dr. Michael Hlastala , a professor at the University of Washington, that Officer Kasi Beutel’s demand that I “blow harder, blow harder,” was a technique often used by DUI officers to boost BAC levels. By admonishing a suspect to push more breath into a 7410, BAC levels could be increased up to 40 percent, forcing an innocent driver with a legal blood alcohol content of .05 to go over the limit. It soon became clear to me that without a blood test and re-testable sample and with the 7410 subject to manipulation, my case was going to hinge on the word of Officer Kasi Beutel, an Avoid the 12 and Mothers Against Drunk Driving award recipient, versus mine.
SANTA BARBARA POLICE PERJURY IN A POLICE REPORT
Then I found that Officer Beutel, who claimed to have made an astonishing 331 DUI arrests in 2009, was willing to commit perjury in my police report to get a conviction. First, she signed a sworn DMV form called a DS-367 stating that I had been stopped by officers Peterson and Officer Heather Clark for “unsafe turning movements,” even though she never witnessed the stop and the two officers would swear under oath that they’d never told her I’d done anything more than hesitate at the light.
In her police report narrative, Officer Kasi Beutel described my LR-3 as a “Range Rover” and stated that the other officers had “observed the driver almost passed out behind the wheel,” another allegation officers Peterson and De Clark later denied under oath.
She also wrote that when I stepped out of my vehicle I “almost fell over” and that during a field sobriety test I “fell forward and apologized.” She added that I “appeared very intoxicated and unsteady” on my feet but concluded after the breath test that my “BAC registered .09/.09” which was only one hundredth of one percent over the legal limit.
SANTA BARBARA POLICE WITNESSING A FORGED BLOOD TEST WAIVER
In her report, Officer Kasi Beutel insisted that she had “advised Lance of his right to a re-testable sample.” But when I got the report in which a box was checked that “I DO NOT wish to give a sample of my blood,” I saw that the “signature” she had purportedly witnessed had been forged. Compare the signature on that Trombetta advisory (pictured above), which appears nearby, with the signature on the Notice to Appear that I did sign and marked with my thumb print (shown on A-1).
As we’ll see, the conclusion that the Trombetta signature was forged was that of James Blanco, the exclusive handwriting expert on voter fraud for the California Secretary of State, who formerly worked for the state Department of Justice and U.S. Treasury and who worked on my defense.
SANTA BARBARA POLICE DISCOVERY REQUEST FOR THE ORIGINAL TROMBETTA
In order to determine just who allegedly forged that Trombetta advisory, Mr. Genis filed a discovery request with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office on Feb. 24, 2011, seven weeks after my arrest, asking for originals of all related documents in my arrest.
At that point, given the evidence of misconduct in my own police report and having spent more than 30 years as a reporter uncovering waste, inefficiency and corruption in government, I commenced an investigation to determine whether Officer Beutel’s actions in my case represented an isolated incident.
SANTA BARBARA POLICE AWARD-WINNING DUI ARREST RECORD
That poster in the lobby of police headquarters was the result of a pair of awards Officer Beutel received in 2009 from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Avoid the 12 for her self-professed claim of compiling 331 DUI arrests; a figure that represented more than half the felony and misdemeanor DUI collars in the entire department. It was a record almost three times as great as the 111 arrests attributed to her next closest SBPD colleague, Officer Doug Klug.
On May 10, 2011, Officer Beutel purportedly topped her own record, winning the same two awards for 2010 with an astonishing record of 349 DUI arrests, beating out 40 other sheriff’s deputies and police officers with a record more than 10 times the average arrest figure of the other nominees. Her winning total accounted for 21 percent of the combined 1,656 county-wide DUI arrests in 2010 cited at the awards presentation.
SANTA BARBARA POLICE INFLATING ACTUAL ARRESTS
But in comparing her alleged arrest statistics against the actual figures furnished by the department after multiple California Public Records Act requests, I found that Officer Beutel had overstated the actual number of DUI arrests she made in 2009 that led to the MADD and Avoid the 12 awards, and in nominating her for the 2010 awards, which she accepted, the Santa Barbara Police Department over-reported her actual number of DUI arrests by almost 15 percent.
Meanwhile, a comparison of Kasi Beutel’s purported DUI collars against “The DUI Round Up,” a detailed summary of arrests released by the SBPD, showed a repeated pattern of inconsistencies. For example, the roundup showed that on Aug. 22, 2010, she made four arrests. The problem was that two of the alleged collars took place in different locations at the same time. Further, in a statement that challenged statistical probability, Officer Beutel told the Lompoc Record that more than half of her arrests were at a .15 blood alcohol content, which is almost twice the legal limit.
COMPARED TO A ‘COMIC BOOK SUPERHERO’
In 2011, Officer Beutel won a personal makeover valued at $11,000 from the California Health and Longevity Institute in Westlake Village, near her home in Newbury Park. As part of the promotion for what was called Project Transformation, she posed for several photo spreads in the Ventura County Star newspaper that showed her working out, and drinking what appears to be wine with fellow officer Mark Corbett, one of her predecessors on the DDT whom she reportedly married in May of that year.
One Project Transformation press handout described Officer Beutel, who joined the force in 2005, in almost mythic terms as “similar in many ways to a comic book superhero. By day she is a soccer mom … By night, she guards the community in the role of police officer.”
BANKRUPTCY FRAUD SANTA BARBARA POLICE OFFICER KASI BEUTEL
Officer Kasi Beutel’s former husband, Todd Beutel, was a CPA whose accounting firm was one of only 69 in the nation cited by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2007 for violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a 2002 anti-fraud law passed in the wake of the Enron scandal. Court files in the Officer Kasi Beutels’ back-to-back Chapter 7 bankruptcies from 1998 to 2000 and their contentious 2005 divorce show that:
* Officer Kasi Beutel may have committed fraud in her 2000 Chapter 7 filing by holding onto a $270,000 home in Agoura Hills under the Homestead Exemption, at a time she later claimed she was living in a townhouse just blocks away with husband Todd, who filed a similar Chapter 7 bankruptcy 19 months earlier. In his petition, he claimed that the townhouse was his sole property and thus exempt from creditors.
* The total credit card debt between the Officer Kasi Beutels wiped out by the back-to-back filings amounted to almost $200,000 and included 24 credit cards between them.
* On April 24, 2000, just prior to filing her Chapter 7 petition, Citi Financial Inc. entered a default judgment against Officer Kasi Beutel under her maiden name, Kasi M. Moore in Van Nuys Municipal Court. While the amount of the actual judgment was not listed in her bankruptcy petition, Kasi Moore listed three separate debts to Citi-related entities totaling $16,562.
HOME & GARDEN TV MAKEOVER
Despite their money woes, the Beutels had expensive tastes. In 2003, several years after both Chapter 7 petitions were discharged, they spent $15,000 on a Medieval makeover of the bedroom in their new Thousand Oaks home.
In a 2003 story headlined “Their Bedroom is Their Castle,” the Ventura County Star covered the makeover, which had been videotaped for a reality show on HGTV. The redo, which included a suit of armor, went beyond HGTV’s initial budget and interior designer Brynja McGrady told me that the Beutels spent another $8,000 to have her re-design their master bathroom.
The spending habits and bankruptcy activities of Kasi and Todd Beutel were relevant, because “lack of well-balanced credit” is a potential reason for rejection for an applicant to the Santa Barbara Police Department and it was unclear just how closely Officer Beutel was vetted when she was sworn into uniform Nov. 28, 2005.
POTENTIAL PERJURY DURING DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS
Seven months earlier, in her divorce from Todd Beutel, which she initiated, Kasi Beutel made conflicting statements in sworn filings when she claimed that her 1997 marriage to Todd, (which she’d previously sworn to as occurring May 31, 1997) actually took place Jan. 15, 1999, two days after his bankruptcy was discharged. It turns out the Beutels had two weddings: an elaborate Medieval-style affair in May 1997 for 100 guests complete with costumes made by the minister’s wife and a 20-minute informal “legalization” wedding in the minister’s backyard just days after Todd’s Chapter 7 discharge. The minister, Thomas James, swore in a declaration filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court that the day before the first “wedding,” which had been intended as their “legal” marriage, the Beutels called him and asked him to treat it as an informal ceremony.
The motive seemed to be to keep Todd Beutel from liability for bankruptcy fraud when he filed as an “individual” in his 1998 Chapter 7 petition and held onto the townhouse the couple was living in. Todd later flipped that property for a profit of $307,000 and Kasi later sold the $270,000 home in Agoura Hills she’d held onto in her separate bankruptcy for a gain of $149,000.
Then right after Todd’s discharge, Rev. James, who had officiated at the first ceremony, got a call from the Beutels saying, “Let’s now make it legal.” According to Rev James, they drove up to Ventura in civilian clothes with their original maid of honor from 1997 and after that short backyard “ceremony” he filed the official license.
Now the couple were legally married.
SUBORNING THE PERJURY OF THE MINISTER
But Rev. James and his wife, Pam, told me that Kasi Beutel called them five years later on the eve of filing for divorce from Todd and asked him to back-date the marriage license to the date of the Medieval wedding – a move that could have increased her spousal support.
“I told her that I could not do this,” the minister wrote in his sworn declaration, “that it would be perjury for me to tamper with the marriage license; an official instrument that had already been filed with the L.A. County Recorder. At that point she began sobbing and sobbing on the phone and imploring me to back-date the license for the sake of her children.”
Under the state Penal Code, certifying to a marriage license and then changing the date after the fact, knowing that the previous date was false, could have subjected Rev. James to a perjury charge. The act of attempting to get him to falsify such a record is known as subornation of perjury, a felony punishable in state prison for a term of up to four years.
GATHERING ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE OF MISCONDUCT
Given what I’d learned about Kasi Beutel’s apparent willingness to break the law, prior to when she put on a uniform and after, I decided to see if mine was an isolated case – and I found more than two dozen people with similar stories. They’d been pulled over by Officer Beutel who routinely administered breathalyzer tests with the Alcotest 7410, yelling at them to “blow harder.” In at least four other cases, arrestees insisted that they had not signed the Trombetta waivers that Officer Beutel claimed she’d witnessed them sign.
Also, a half dozen of the arrestees had independently used the same phrase telling me that “she ruined my life.” One of them was Alison Woolery, a 26-year-old UCSB graduate whose plans to become a nurse were shattered after Officer Beutel arrested her on suspicion of DUI in March 2009.
ANOTHER FORGED TROMBETTA WAIVER
In Ms. Woolery’s case, the Trombetta waiver was witnessed by Officer Mark Corbett, Kasi Beutel’s husband. The reason Officer Corbett got involved was that on the night his wife pulled Ms. Woolery over on Chapala Street, an initial breath test in which Officer Beutel used an Alco-Sensor IV breathalyzer failed – producing readings of .09 and .142, which were too far apart to be admissible in court.
So, after reportedly promising Ms. Woolery that she would take her to get a blood test, Officer Beutel locked her in cuffs, put her in the back of her patrol unit and drove her from Chapala and Carrillo streets to Gelson’s parking lot off Las Positas Road, where Mark Corbett was working on another police call.
After Officer Beutel reportedly told Ms. Woolery that she’d leave her in the back of the unit unless she agreed to another breath test, the young woman acquiesced. Officer Corbett used an Alcotest 7410 – the same device that the state attorney general says is subject to manipulation – and got readings of .14 and .13. Ms. Woolery, who couldn’t afford to go to trial, allowed her court-appointed lawyer to plead her guilty. She ended up paying more than $3,200 in fines and costs and was rejected from a Cal State nursing program because of her DUI record.
FORGERIES ON THREE BLOOD TEST WAIVERS
But an examination of Ms. Woolery’s police report shows the results of the first breath test were missing. According to the legal doctrine enunciated in the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors are duty-bound to provide defendants with any exculpatory evidence, that is evidence known to the prosecutor that could establish the innocence of the defendant or reduce his or her punishment. But those first conflicting test results were strangely absent.
And, just as in my case, there were different signatures on her Notice to Appear and the Trombetta waiver – in this instance witnessed by Mark Corbett.
After comparing multiple samples of her signature, handwriting expert Mr. Blanco issued a sworn declaration that Ms. Woolery’s waiver, like mine and that of 19-year-old Beutel DUI arrestee Cody Zoesch, had been forged.
“Beyond a reasonable doubt,” wrote Mr. Blanco, “I concluded that the signatures on those blood test waivers were forgeries.”
PERJURY AT A PITCHESS HEARING?
Any defense can make what’s called a Pitchess motion – named for the landmark California case Pitchess v. Superior Court seeking to have a judge examine an officer’s personnel file. So on March 9, 2011, my attorney, Darryl Genis, filed a motion with Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge George C. Eskin, then presiding over my case, asking him to examine the personnel files of Bruno Peterson, Heather Clark and Kasi Beutel.
In the first sign that the Santa Barbara City Attorney’s Office would go out of its way to protect Officer Beutel, they filed a response on March 16, resisting the disclosure and calling Mr. Genis’ allegations of misconduct by Kasi Beutel “outrageous and preposterous.”
At a hearing before Judge Eskin on April 8, 2011, Tava Ostrenger , a deputy city attorney, argued that only the complaint files on an officer were eligible for Pitchess motion review and that only Kasi Beutel’s files, if any, were subject to examination. Judge Eskin agreed and retired to his chambers for a closed-door or in camera review of Officer Beutel’s file. Present with him were Ms. Ostrenger and Reed Gallogly from the City Attorney’s Office.
While the recording of those proceedings was supposed to remain secret, the court administrator released a CD of the entire Pitchess hearing to me. When I played it, I was surprised to learn that the in camera session was included.
Never intended for public consumption, the recording of the secret session revealed an extraordinary effort on the part of Judge Eskin to take direction from the city attorneys and effectively exonerate Officer Beutel. Worse, it suggested that Sgt. Todd Stoney, a 17-year veteran of the SBPD who was then supervisor of Internal Affairs, committed perjury when he swore under oath that there were no complaints in Officer Beutel’s file regarding untruthfulness, integrity or the falsification of reports.
I later learned that at the time of that hearing, there was at least one complaint against Officer Beutel that should have been in the file. It was submitted the day before, April 7, by Cruzito Cruz, a two-time candidate for Santa Barbara City Council. There was also probative evidence of a second complaint alleging misconduct by Officer Beutel during a DUI arrest filed by the arrestee, Taurino Torres, a naturalized U.S. citizen.
But in that closed-door hearing attended by Ms. Ostrenger and Mr. Gallogly, Sgt. Stoney was asked by Judge Eskin “whether there is anything in Officer Beutel’s file that could be characterized in the nature of a complaint by a citizen about anything?”
Without skipping a beat, while under oath, the supervisor of Internal Affairs answered “No, your Honor.” When the judge followed up, asking, “There is none?” Sgt. Stoney replied, “There is nothing. The court has our record.”
At that point, calling Kasi Beutel as “an exemplary officer,” Judge Eskin, a sitting judge of the Superior Court, asked Ms. Ostrenger for guidance in how to describe the secret proceeding when they returned to open court.
She replied: “Your Honor, I really wish that you could say what a good officer Kasi Beutel is, particularly in light of the defamatory comments that have been made against her in an open court.”
But Ms. Ostrenger advised the judge to limit his comments to what he found in her file.
ESKIN’S DEFENSE OF BEUTEL FORCES RECUSAL
On April 22, 2011, my attorney tried to get Officer Beutel on the stand regarding her DUI arrest numbers. But acquiescing to repeated objections by Deputy District Attorney Sanford Horowitz, Judge Eskin refused to put Officer Beutel under oath and in a position of having to either perjure herself or take the Fifth Amendment on her DUI arrest statistics. He called the inquiry “irrelevant” and warned, “I’m not going to let this court be used as a vehicle for Mr. Lance to pursue his agenda – to destroy the career of Officer Kasi Beutel.”
Going further, Judge Eskin declared, “You have not provided me with one scintilla of evidence that Kasi Beutel went around telling people that ‘I made 331 arrests last year.’ Not one piece of evidence. Not one fact.”
Then four days later, pursuant to a Public Records Act request, came the proof. It was an email from Officer Beutel dated Jan. 5, 2009, nominating herself for the MADD awards and stating affirmatively that she made 331 DUI arrests to Officer Klug’s 111.
On May 13, 2011, I filed a declaration under the California Code of Civil Procedure asking that Judge Eskin recuse himself from my case for prejudice and bias toward Officer Beutel or face removal. Less than three hours later, while denying any prejudice or bias, Judge Eskin took himself off the case.
Now the misdemeanor DUI case of the People v. Peter Lance would be adjudicated by Brian Hill, chief judge of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court, who’d spent 18 years as a deputy district attorney.
SANTA BARBARA POLICE OFFICER HEATHER CLARK DESTROYS EVIDENCE
The next clue that the Santa Barbara Police Department was working with the District Attorney’s Office to protect Officer Beutel came May 19, 2011, when Officer Heather Clark, who went to the police academy with Kasi Beutel, submitted what was purported to be a detailed narrative of my stop, by her and her police partner, Officer Peterson, on Jan. 1, 2011. She later admitted that she was told to write the report by Deputy D.A. Mr. Horowitz. Her narrative wasn’t filed until more than four and one-half months after the stop and contained some curious new information.
In it Officer Clark claimed that when she and Officer Peterson pulled up next to my Land Rover LR-3 she “observed a white male adult behind the wheel, with his head drooping and his chin nearly resting on his chest.” This suggestion that I was asleep or severely impaired would later be seized on in a press release from the Santa Barbara Police Department exonerating Kasi Beutel.
At a July 28, 2011, DMV hearing, under oath Officer Clark admitted that she “couldn’t say” if I was “looking down” at the time she and Officer Peterson rolled up next to my vehicle. When pressed by lawyer Mr. Genis as to her use of the term “drooping,” Officer Clark testified that it was “just the word I chose at the time.”
Then, continuing under oath, Officer Clark admitted that she had a pocket digital recorder that she used to record some portion of the events surrounding my stop and arrest, but “at some point later there was nothing evidentiary (on it) and it was erased.”
SANTA BARBARA D.A. AGREES TO PROVIDE DOCUMENT ORIGINALS
On March 2, 2011, in response to Mr. Genis’ request for discovery, that is for the prosecutor to hand over relevant case material, Mr. Horowitz filed a pleading in which he objected to turning over 58 of the 60 items requested, calling them “irrelevant, not exculpatory and not material.”
Heather Clark’s recording would clearly fall into the category of “Brady materials” since the audio might contradict Office Beutel’s version of events. But the only items Mr. Horowitz agreed to turn over were a copy of the dispatch log from the period surrounding my arrest and “a copy of the original reports and documents filled out by the officers involved.”
That agreement to produce the “originals” would end up having huge implications in the months to come as we sought the original of my Trombetta waiver.
On April 8, 2011, after my investigation had uncovered evidence of additional forged Trombetta advisories, Mr. Genis filed a second request for discovery asking for all Trombetta waivers from Kasi Beutel DUI arrests from 2009 to the present.
SANTA BARBARA JUDGE HILL DECLARES FORGERY RELEVANT TO OFFICER KASI BEUTEL CREDIBILITY
On May 31, 2011, in response to a motion to compel the original Trombettas from the DUI cases of myself, Ms. Woolery and Mr. Zoesch, Judge Hill stated, “Obviously if there’s a forgery in this case, that’s relevant in terms of Beutel’s credibility and should be admissible.”
Later, in response to Mr. Genis’ continuing request that the District Attorney’s Office furnish the original Trombetta waivers, Judge Hill said, “We’ll bring in Mr. Lance, we’ll bring in Officer Beutel (and) we’ll bring in the original documents.” He later pressed Mr. Horowitz and got his assurance that “if the other two arrestees were prepared to take the stand and testify under oath that they did not sign their Trombetta advisements, then, yes, we will” furnish the originals.
At that point handwriting expert Mr. Blanco filed a sworn declaration stating that the signatures on the Trombetta waivers in my case and those of Ms. Woolery and Mr. Zoesch were forgeries.
Judge Hill ordered all three witnesses to return to court July 26 to testify under oath and provide a series of handwriting examples that could be compared to the Trombetta waivers.
SANTA BARBARA POLICE CHIEF SANCHEZ CLEARS OWN OFFICER KASI BEUTEL
Meanwhile on June 22, 2011, the first installment of my original series was published on page one of the News-Press. It was accompanied by a sidebar in which I described my stop and arrest as the genesis for my investigation, noting that I’d done many stories on drunken drivers and auto safety over the years as a correspondent for ABC News and celebrated the work of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “This probe began,” I wrote, “not as some vendetta or attempt to ‘get’ a police officer, but as an honest, dispassionate exercise in truth finding and it will remain that way.”
That first part disclosed how the alleged misconduct of a DUI award winner like Officer Kasi Beutel was not an isolated case. In fact, scandals had erupted in recent weeks involving two alleged “dirty DUI cops,” in California and North Carolina. The cases, in which Officer Brandon Mullock in Sacramento and Officer Barry Grimes in Charlotte were found to have lied, had now jeopardized hundreds of DUI cases in both jurisdictions.
But on June 23, the second day of the series, ignoring his department’s own policy manual mandating that, “Regardless of the source of an allegation of misconduct, all such matters will be investigated,” Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez issued a press release entitled, “SBPD Supports Officer Beutel. Police Chief Denounces One-Sided Article.”
While describing Officer Beutel as having an “unblemished career,” the release claimed that, “In her two-year tenure as the DUI enforcement specialist for the Santa Barbara Police Department, Officer Beutel has conducted hundreds of DUI investigations. She has testified in court many dozens of times. Every one of her arrest cases have been reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office.”
But picking up on Officer Kasi Beutel’s misidentification of my vehicle, a 2006 LR-3, the press release four times called it a Range Rover, a car worth tens of thousands of dollars more.
The release also piggy-backed on Officer Heather Clark’s false and latent description of me at the time of the stop, prompted by Sanford Horowitz, the deputy district attorney, as “head drooping, chin nearly on his chest.”
JUDGE ESKIN ALLOWS OFFICER KASI BEUTEL TO LAWYER UP
By early July, it became evident inside the courts that there were serious problems surrounding Kasi Beutel’s credibility. In one DUI case, defense attorney William Makler obtained Judge Eskin’s assurance that he would be allowed to impeach Officer Beutel on some of the allegations in my series.
At that hearing, which took place on a Friday, Judge Eskin went so far as to advise Mr. Horowitz that Officer Beutel might want to consult with “counsel independent of the district attorney.”
Four days later in open court, Officer Kasi Beutel was not only represented but coached on the witness stand by Charles Goldwasser, an attorney who regularly works for police unions, including the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association . Now, despite Judge’s Eskin’s earlier willingness to allow Mr. Makler to impeach Officer Beutel’s credibility on the allegations of bankruptcy fraud and perjury during her divorce, the judge sustained 27 separate objections by Mr. Horowitz. Judge Eskin pointedly refused to allow Mr. Makler to question Officer Beutel about the dates of her marriage and even though my series demonstrated how the two “weddings” might have been linked to bankruptcy fraud by Kasi and ex-husband Todd, Judge Eskin declared that “When this individual got married is wholly irrelevant to these proceedings.”
GOLDWASSER COACHES OFFICER KASI BEUTEL AT DMV HEARING
Two days later, after first trying to avoid a DMVhearing in my case, to which she’d been subpoenaed, claiming a conflict with another case, Officer Beutel showed up in civilian clothes at the DMV’s Ventura office and was soon met by attorney Mr. Goldwasser.
This time when my attorney, Darryl Genis, attempted to question Officer Beutel
about her marriage and bankruptcy, Mr. Goldwasser objected, even though allega-
tions of perjury and fraud are considered “prior bad acts” and subject to examination for impeachment of witness credibility under the California Evidence Code.
But DMV hearing officer Michael Windover, like Judge Eskin, repeatedly refused to
allow Mr. Genis to probe Officer Beutel on those matters. “I am not going to consider anything related to… a dissolution of marriage,” Mr. Windover insisted. When questioned about her DS-367 in which she accused me of making “unsafe turning movements,” Officer Beutel admitted that she didn’t see me driving. But she insisted that she had witnessed the signature on my Trombetta waiver the same document that handwriting expert Mr. Blanco concluded was forged – stating emphatically that she had seen me sign it in her
At that point Mr. Genis asked her if she would take a polygraph to confirm that and Mr. Goldwasser jumped in: “She doesn’t have to take a polygraph,” he said. Officer Beutel then began laughing, telling Mr. Genis she found the question “amusing.”
JUDGE HILL THREATENS SANCTIONS
Continuing my investigation on July 10, 2011, I sent Sgt. Todd Stoney an email asking him about his testimony behind closed doors in the April 8 Pitchess hearing during which he’d insisted there were no complaints in Kasi Beutel’s file. One day later, the News-Press got a threat letter from the Santa Barbara law firm of Nye, Peabody, Stirling, Hale & Miller in which partners David Nye and Jonathan Miller accused me of defaming Officer Beutel in the series. It was clear now that Kasi Beutel had two sets of lawyers representing her. The next day the Nye firm sent another letter alleging that I had defamed Sgt. Stoney in my series when I suggested he’d committed perjury at that Pitchess hearing. “Moreover,” the Nye-Miller letter insisted, Sgt. Stoney’s comments “were made in a closed and highly confidential in-camera proceeding, which neither Mr. Lance. nor the public has a right to.”
Claiming that the way I obtained the transcript was “highly improper,” they alleged that I was “furthering the ongoing vendetta against Officer Beutel.”
But the way I’d obtained that recording was perfectly legal. After paying a $5 fee, I got a CD of the hearing from the court administrator. But following the Nye-Miller letter, Deputy City Attorney Tava Ostrenger went to Judge Hill and on July 15, the chief judge summoned me and Darryl Genis to his courtroom, Dept 2.
At the hearing, which was also attended by Matt Clarke, an attorney for the News-
Press, Judge Hill ruled that I was forbidden from publishing the contents of the in camera transcript and he went even further, threatening to impose sanctions on me and the News-Press. It was in effect a gag order from the chief judge.
Undaunted, the News-Press published a partial transcript of that closed-door session in another installment of my series on July 24, 2011, in which I detailed how complaints against officers like Kasi Beutel seemed to fall into “a black hole” at the police department where they were rarely investigated.
OFFICER KASI BEUTEL WRITES RESULTS ON BREATH TEST PRINTOUTS
Another installment of the series highlighted new evidence that Officer Kasi Beutel was manipulating DUI breath tests using the Alcotest 7410. This one told the story of two roommates arrested on separate DUI charges a month apart. In each case when the 7410 printouts proved illegible, Officer Beutel actually wrote the test results into the margins by hand. In the case of Chris Jackson, a 22-year- old coach at San Marcos
High School who was pulled over on April 30, 2010, Officer Beutel recited the familiar mantra: “I could immediately smell an odor of alcohol … I also noted Jackson’s eyes were bloodshot and watery.”
Then, while administering the breath test she told him, “You’re blowing like a girl,” admonishing him, as she’d done with me and other arrestees, to “blow harder, blow harder.”
But when she printed out the results of the tests, the results – which turned out to be .06 and .08 – were unreadable, so Kasi Beutel wrote them in by hand.
Within a month the district attorney dismissed the case for lack of probable cause.
Nonetheless, Mr. Jackson’s arrest showed up in the list of Officer Kasi Beutel’s statistics compiled by the police department and submitted for the MADD and Avoid the 12 awards in 2010.
Still Mr. Jackson was downright lucky when compared to his roommate, Blake
Bender, who Officer Beutel arrested on suspicion of DUI a month earlier. Following the same MO – odor of alcohol, bloodshot and watery eyes – she conducted a test on Mr. Bender with the 7410 and despite her screams to “blow harder,” his results were .08 and .08 – right at the legal limit.
But like so many DUI suspects, wanting to get the process over with and unaware that his breath test may have been rigged, Mr Bender let his lawyer strike a deal with the district attorney. He pleaded guilty to what’s known as a wet reckless – a lesser charge – even though, if he’d known what would happen to his roommate a month later, Mr
Bender, too, might have pressed to get his case dismissed. That’s because, once again, Kasi Beutel wrote the results of Mr. Bend- er’s purported test results in the margin of the Alcotest 7410 by hand; a technique that might have looked suspicious to a jury.
In the third installment of this new series, as the timeline continues, we’ll present the shocking story of how, after repeated requests by Darryl Genis for the originals of the Trombetta waivers forexaminationby handwriting experts on both sides, the district attorney admitted in August 2011 that all but one of them had been shredded. This led to a new discovery: that Officer Kasi Beutel had gone into the field in 2009 and 2010 with pre-checked DUI forms – an indication of a pre-determined mindset to frame innocent drivers for DUI crimes that they didn’t commit.
Fighting Crimes Against the Elderly with Laurel Sykes, Vicki Johnson, and Officer Heather Clark
Financial abuse of seniors is a devastating crime that banks are uniquely positioned to help identify. It can be as simple as taking money or as involved as coercing or manipulating a victim into turning over property to an abuser. Unfortunately, we are seeing an increasing trend in fraud against seniors, and much goes unreported. Baby Boomers, Americans born between 1946 and 1964, represent the largest portion of the population and continue to reach senior status in record numbers due, in part, to increased life expectancy. Laurel Sykes, our Chief Compliance and Risk Officer, sits down with Vicki Johnson, Senior Deputy District Attorney, and Detective Heather Clark, from the Crimes Against Property Unit of the Santa Barbara Police Department, to discuss recent scams witnessed by local banks, and hear about recent cases from local law enforcement, along with tips for stopping the abuse! Article Link
Be sure to check out SANTA BARBARA POLICE DEPARTMENT
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