Last Update: Thursday, May 23, 2013
|Castellon and Esqueda File Claim Against the City of San Fernando|
|Written by Alex Garcia|
|Thursday, 21 March 2013 05:28|
Alleging emotional distress, damage to reputation, humiliation, economic losses, loss of earning opportunities and legal fees, San Fernando Police Department (SFPD) Sgt. Alvaro Castellon and Brenda Perez (who is one and the same as Brenda Esqueda, former Mayor), have filed a claim against the City of San Fernando.
City officials now have 45 days to respond or reject the claim. The lawyers for Castellon and Esqueda would then have the option of proceeding with a lawsuit. Castellon has been on administrative leave for alleged misconduct since Oct. 4, 2012 when police superiors took away his badge, gun and police identification. An internal investigation into that charge is still in progress, according to SFPD interim Chief Robert Parks.
Esqueda was recalled, along with former council member Maribel De La Torre during a special election in November.
Another council member, Mario Hernandez, resigned after information surfaced about a physical altercation with De La Torre, with whom he had a relationship that, when he revealed it during a city council meeting in November of 2011, made news across the country.
Castellon and Esqueda have been engaged in a relationship for some time, which both of them have confirmed.
Castellon was also the righthand man of former SFPD Chief Tony Ruelas, who was accused by a former police cadet of firing her after a sexual affair. That cadet, Maria Barajas, filed a lawsuit where she claimed that Castellon had told her "she could disappear."
Ruelas was put on administrative leave and then reinstated with the approval of Hernandez, Esqueda and De La Torre. He retired soon after.
The claim, filed by the Woodland-Hills based law offices of Golberg & Gage, said "the City of San Fernando has a history of wrongdoing," including members of the Police Department who engage in sexual relations with police explorers under age, including one who became pregnant as a result of this.
It also alleges that another explorer complained in 2005 of "inappropriate touching" by then Sgt. Jeff Eley, who is currently on administrative leave for alleged "ticket fixing" for a Congressman's employee.
In addition, the claim states that Castellon reported a conflict of interest between former police Chief Robert Ordelheide and Black and White Towing, alleging that Ordelheide received "kickbacks" of money for contracts he approved for that company.
According to the claim, Castellon informed Esqueda (her maiden last name), while she was mayor pro tem that Police Officers Association (POA) President Irwin Rosenberg told Esqueda "that she must either help the POA to eliminate Sgt. Castellon, or the POA would target her, including using the media to defame her, and ruin her reputation."
The claim seeks damages in excess of $10,000, and names several employees as causing the injury to Castellon and Esqueda, including: Lt. Kevin Glasgow, Ordelheide, (now Lt.) Eley, Saul Garibay, Rosenberg, and Parks. San Fernando City Attorney Rick Olivarez said "we have the claim and we're looking at it," but did not elaborate.
Parks said he was surprised when he received notice of the claim, partly because the claim states that Castellon was terminated on February 7, 2013.
But Parks emphasized that Castellon is not off of the force yet, and an internal investigation is still ongoing. Such investigation should be finished in a month, he said.
None of the current city officials said they could comment about pending litigation. But citizens involved with the Recall Committee expressed their feelings. "I don't think (what is in the claim) is true. In fact, Castellon was the one who was intimidating during the whole recall process," said Patty Lopez, a recall committee member.
"I think Brenda is only resentful for what happened (being recalled). I don't think there's a case," Lopez said, adding that the claim will only cause more financial troubles to the city. "Apart from the $4 million deficit in the city, and now they have to pay for another lawsuit, it's ridiculous."
Paul Luna, another committee member, echoed those sentiments. "I think any claim by either of them, it's totally baseless and unfounded. These claims are desperate attempts by them to profit from the city, profit from the situation that they have caused the city to get into," Luna said.
"It is just absolutely incredible that these two, as well as Maribel De La Torre and Mario Hernandez, had the audacity to claim that they were damaged by the city. These were statements by people who absolutely refused to accept responsibility for their actions, to take responsibility for the situation that they have put the city in."
Luna added that "it's unfortunate" that the city will now have to incur legal costs in defending itself against a merit-less claim, and that if the city decides to file a claim against them it would not be able to recoup any money because Esqueda and Castellon don't have any assets.
"Maybe that's why they're doing this. They know they have absolutely nothing else. It's a situation where they can do damage.
And because of the situation they have put themselves in, the city cannot gain anything by going after them."
|Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 05:33|