Following an election night party in 2016, Fullerton’s then-city manager Joe Felz acquainted his car with a curb in a nearby neighborhood. Two years later, his reckless ride is taking down more than just a small tree in front of a home. This week, the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) office charged former Fullerton police sergeant Rodger Jeffrey Corbett with a felony count of filing a false police report related to the incident.
With all the late night commotion back on Nov. 9, 2016, a witness called emergency dispatch. Officers arrived on scene only to find Felz trying to flee from it in his car. When stopped, they noted he showed signs of being sloshed. Because of his position as city manager at the time, Corbett received the call to handle the investigation. Prosecutors allege that the former sergeant wrote a police report contradicting his subordinates in stating Felz appeared to not be under the influence of alcohol after a “cursory” examination.
They further charge that Corbett even gave Felz a ride home–Now, if only he’d done that before the ex-city manager’s booze ride, everything would’ve been copacetic!
Not buying into Felz’s supposed sobriety, prosecutors charged him with a DUI and a hit and run with property damage in March 2017. Last December, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count in admitting to having driven under the influence of alcohol. Felz was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and paid a $390 fine. Given the shadiness of the initial investigation, the OCDA began its probe of Corbett and other officers back on November 10, 2016. They impaneled a grand jury to gather evidence, but opted to file a charge on their own yesterday.
“The Fullerton Police Department recognizes public trust is at the core of what they do, and the actions that form the basis of the District Attorney’s criminal charges are not tolerated,” writes Stephen Hale, Fullerton spokesman, in response to news of the charge. “As this is still a personnel and, now criminal, matter, the City is not able to comment further.” As of this March, Corbett is no longer on the Fullerton police force. It’s unclear if the former sergeant got fired or resigned.
According to the OCDA’s office, the watch commander called Corbett to the scene because he was the in-field sergeant at the time.
Corbett, a 45-year-old Corona resident, faces three years in state prison if convicted of the felony crime. He’s due to be arraigned at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana on Sept. 18. Senior Deputy District Attorney Brett Brian is on the case. Corbett’s former Fullerton PD colleague Miguel Siliceo pleaded guilty to misdemeanor excessive force earlier this year after prosecutors also charged him with filing a false police report in an incident where he cuffed a man for resisting arrest; body camera footage revealed Siliceo shoved him while he legally used a crosswalk in downtown Fullerton. (Quick aside: Does DTF now mean “Down to Falsify?”)
The announcement of the most recent charge against Corbett comes amid even more legal problems for Fullerton PD’s top brass. The OCDA is currently investigating suspended police chief David Hendricks and captain Thomas Olivares for allegedly assaulting two emergency medical technicians following a Lady Antebellum concert in Irvine last month. An anonymous source alleged that Hendricks put one EMT in a choke hold in the scuffle that happened after they treated his wife.
Captain Bob Dunn, Anaheim’s PD former spokeshole during the 2012 riots, is now acting chief of police while Hendricks is on paid leave.