The Honorable Jeff Sessions with BEE Articles

Jeff Sessions

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Attorney General of the United States
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Subject: Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department

Dear Mr. Attorney General,

As a former duly elected Mayor for the City of Modesto California, I am respectfully requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice intervene immediately in the deepening crisis within the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.   Immediate action is necessary to prevent further damage by our elected Sheriff and reverse eroding public confidence (and public fear) regarding our judicial system. The depth, denial and cover-up of serious misconduct threatens the foundation of our criminal justice system. I am writing solely on my personal behalf, not in official capacity for the City of Modesto.

Years of continuing revelations of scandal emerging from the office under Stanislaus County Adam Christianson is now beyond critical proportions. I am respectfully requesting that you open an investigation at Department of Justice investigation into the continuing allegations of corruption and documented misconduct. As it is within your power to do so, I urge you to take control the of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department by consent decree.

The high-profile scandals have continued to draw scrutiny from the local press for more than 11 years with the office of District Attorney Birgit Fladager continuously embroiled in her own well-documented scandals, we are left “with the fox guarding the chicken coop” In my role as a loyal and concerned citizen as well as prior elected official, I believe the role of “belling the cat” has fallen on my shoulders, and thus this letter to you.  A review of our local press, The Modesto Bee will return endless stories of the Sheriff and District Attorneys misdeeds.  Random examples:

  • Death in custody – The jailhouse death of Former Deputy Craig Prescott. The Sheriff’s office has refused to release the autopsy report, however the families independent autopsy indicated Prescott died from irreversible damage to the brain respiratory failure while being crushed to the floor by eight Sheriff’s Deputies.  Note the Death certificate was never signed. 
  • Negligent Homicide – The 11-year-old Modesto boy (Alberto Sepulveda) who was fatally shot when an inter-agency SWAT team officers acting on a false narcotics sweep raided his parents’ home. This case was also settled out of court. one point the local paper released an expose that in just the first 6 years of the Sheriff’s tenure, 41 cases had already been lodged against his Department, costing taxpayers $10 million dollars. Since that story, the complaints, lawsuits and settlement have continued to pile up.  In the absence of public records, the current estimate is over $15 million dollars.
  • False Allegations-The Sherriff in concert with the District Attorney, charged 9 individuals with murder including a prominent local attorney who had run against the DA in the previous election.
  • Prosecutorial vindictiveness-Despite two separate Judge’s rulings against various merits of the case and releasing them after 18 months on their own recognizance. Regardless of the District Attorney continues court to the tune of over $8 million taxpayer dollars:
  • The Sheriff initially provided contractual law enforcement services for the Cities of Riverbank, Patterson, Waterford and Hughson. The Sherriff later reduced each Cities committed law enforcement personnel by one each.
  • On the witness stand, the Sheriff admitted to redirecting Federal funds designated for the Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force, to the Korey Kauffman and AJ Pontiff cases.
  • Targeted Jailhouse discrimination– In jail, Latino inmates are asked whether they are active or former gang members and housed accordingly without the option of saying neither. S. District Judge Lawrence O’Neill stated: “The policy is deficient because it intentionally discriminates against detainees who are suspected of belonging to Hispanic gangs, but not against detainees suspected of belonging to non-Hispanic gangs. the policy … reflects a constitutionally impermissible racial bias against Hispanic inmates.”
  • Frivolous Spending – The Sherriff sent eight men to a SWAT training center 14,800-mile round trip to Jordan (including a 3-day vacation in Paris). A world class SWAT Training center exists 77 miles away from Modesto.
  • Workplace Harassment – maintains an environment of workplace harassment and irrational repeated behavior towards groups of employees – an example is that in sworn testimony during the hearing of Deputy Dennis Wallace, he was forced to when it was discovered he maintained a list of “limp, lame and lazy employees”.  Deputy Wallace was later killed in the line of duty.
  • Discriminatory Employment Practices – During his tenue at the Stanislaus Sheriff’s Department – a marked increase in the layoffs of Assyrian, Latinos and other minority employees.  The Department is increasingly maintaining and recruiting officers of a single mold.

The Sheriff’s actions have left the County, the courts, the judicial system, and the public, no other course of action. I am respectfully requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice begin an investigation and employ all resources to restore order immediately and halt the continuing decay within our County judicial system.


Carmen Sabatino,

Former Mayor of Modesto (2000-2004)


1 Comment

  1. My husband was murdered by the Stanislaus county sheriff’s department in riverbank California on May 29th of this year. My husband and I were married over 26 years, never in a million years did I think for a second that something so horrific would happen to my husband and myself.
    I have retained council, I want justice for my husband. And I will get it.
    More power to you Mr. Sabatino.
    I truly hope that the department of justice will listen and ACT.

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