A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled this morning that lawyers for a camp ranger carjacked in Big Bear by rogue ex-LAPD cop Christopher Dorner must shore up his claims against the cities of Irvine and Riverside in his bid for $1 million in reward money.
Richard Heltebrake maintains he deserves the money because his 9-1-1 call helped lead cops to former La Palma resident Dorner, but Judge Elizabeth Allen White said she is not convinced that a contract existed between Heltebrake and the cities as his attorney contends.
Irvine, whose police department was one of the lead agencies in the hunt for Dorner because his first two presumed murder victims were killed there, and Riverside, which presumably lost a cop to Dorner, each contributed $100,000 toward the $1 million, multi-agency fund distributed to civilians who helped lead law enforcement find him before his final, fiery standoff in Big Bear on Feb. 12.
A month after Dorner's death, three retired judges enlisted to determine who should get portions of the reward money chose four people other than Heltebrake. It was explained at the time that while Heltebrake made a 9-1-1 call after his encounter with Dorner, law enforcement was already on the multiple murder suspect's tail by then.
Attorney Denise Rocawich, representing Irvine, told the court the city's offer to the reward pool was not official until the City Council passed resolution in March. So Heltebrake's claim is tantamount to saying he accepted an offer from the city of Irvine that had not yet been made, Rocawich argued. “It just can't be established that a contract existed when the offer was made a month later,” she reportedly said (via City News Service).
Judge White said she understood Rocawich's point, but that she wanted to give Heltebrake's lawyers another chance to make their case against both cities. The judge had previously made the same ruling in regards to Heltebrake's claim that the city of Los Angeles also owes him reward money. (He also has a separate case against the county of Los Angeles, whose motion to dismiss is set to be heard next month.)
Heltebrake's lawyer Sivi Pederson argues the cities are claiming to have had no contract with Heltebrake but yet did have obligations to the four claimants singled out by the judges. “It seems we're dealing with a two-sided coin here,” Pederson reportedly said.