By Donna Westfall
On Monday, August 17th, a 30 page packet was handed into District Attorney, Dale Trigg, requesting an investigation into the possible Breach of Public Trust by former Del Norte County Sheriff’s Detective, Bob Barber. Specifically this request for an investigation concerned the disappearance of property that was confiscated by law enforcement officers under the direction of Barber.
The Taxpayers Association states that there is no wiggle room for officers that appear to be lining their pockets and is asking the DA to consider whether Barber’s conduct in making property disappear is criminal.
Word is that Barber quit the Sheriff’s Department upon Erik Apperson winning the election for the office of Sheriff of Del Norte County.
In 2011, Barber drew up the search warrant signed by Judge Brown that led to the alleged illegal search and seizure of Dave Egan’s property over a .357 caliber revolver, a BlackHawk Pistol valued at $350. Egan did have a highly prized, lifetime collection of firearms all of which were legal to possess and own. Egan valued his collection at about $90,000.
One neighbor recalls that as they took Egan to jail, three Sheriff’s vehicles were being loaded up as officers took out box after box after box of property from Egan’s house. It appears that most of it never made it to the evidence locker.
The search warrant is supposed to be issued by a Judge based on probable cause. Statements made by former Judge Chris Doehle during the candidates forum held at the Tea Party meeting while she was running for office in 2014, made it sound like there was quite a safety net in place concerning search warrants. She responded that it takes three parties to get a search warrant; the law enforement officer, the Judge, and the DA. And that was a very strong safety net. Except that that was not accurate. The DA is not required to sign.
Crescent City Police Chief, Ivan Minsal, on Wednesday August 19th, in his 34 years of experience he states it would be wise to have the DA involved.
- “In my prior career and assignment, as in this position, an officer, especially in a sensitive or priority case, would greatly benefit from a DA’s review and insight. Deputy DA’s or DA, need to be on the ground floor of such a case in order to have all hands on deck and protect the victims, witnesses and suspects. An officer can never go wrong in getting a DA’s buy off.”
But in the final analysis in the Dave Egan case at least, there didn’t appear to be a safety net at all. In other words:
- They executed a warrant
- They never found the item listed on the warrant
- They took $90,000 worth of property
- Most of the property disappeared
While a search warrant is based on probable cause, the DA’s office looks at prosecuting a case successfully by building a case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The way Barber handled the case made it appear that he didn’t care whether or not the case was prosecutable. In other words, the DA’s office is not in business to waste taxpayers money by taking on lost causes.
And, the Crescent City-Del Norte County Taxpayers Association is particularly alarmed when it comes to having taxpayers dollars going to pay salary and benefits to law enforcement officers that appear to be intent on breaking the 4th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, intent on slandering good citizens, and intent on confiscating property without leaving a proper receipt or returning those items in good order. Dave Egan states that he did get some things back that were not his property and were pieces of junk.
Barber was also the detective on the $29,000 missing funds from the Solid Waste Management Authority. Per his report file, he did not even contact the suspects in the case.
Due to the two incidents recited here, the Tax Association finds Barber more than just derelict in his duties and asks the DA’s office for justice in the form of conducting an investigation with an eye towards restitution, arrest and conviction for violating the public trust.
Because of these actions and inactions by Barber, the Tax Association fears for the taxpaying public. It is not ok to steal funds from an agency supported by taxpayer dollars and then not have a proper investigation. And it is not ok to illegally search and seize property, confiscate property from good law abiding, tax paying citizens and go move to another State to avoid possible prosecution.
When asked why hand in the complaint to the DA’s office instead of requesting a Grand Jury investigation responses were:
- We have no confidence in Presiding Judge William Follett.
- We definitely have no confidence in the foremen of the Grand Juries.
- The Grand Jury has a well documented history of burying these types of complaints.
- Three members on the Board of the Taxpayers Association testified before previous Grand Jury’s concerning alleged fraud and corruption concerning the Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade and expansion. They felt like they were being treated like criminals.