Remember that whole flap back in October about a complaint filed by Anaheim police captain Jarret Young against his higher-ups, Chief Raul Quezada and Deputy Chief Dan Cahill, alleging time card fraud? Well, Anaheim taxpayers: the probe by a city-contracted law firm is still ongoing and has cost about as much as Quezada’s supposed theft of public funds.
To rewind: Young charged that Quezada and Cahill took plenty of days off without marking them down as vacation time. That allowed for an alleged cashout of unused days worth more than $24,000 for Quezada and $38,000 for Cahill. The city tasked Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo to look into the complaint and the firm got right to work in October. Invoices obtained by the Weekly shows legal fees tallying up to $22,497.50 for the month.
Young cried foul at the hiring of Atkinson, telling ABC 7 that the firm had a conflict of interest by having worked with, dined and befriended the accused. While the Weekly can’t say who’s friends or not, Irma Rodriguez Moisa, an attorney with Atkinson, did send out an invitation to dinner back in March after contract negotiations wrapped up.
“Gentlemen: I am emailing you to join my colleagues and me for dinner on Monday March 14 at the Chief’s dinner,” Rodriguez Moisa wrote to undisclosed recipients. “We’d love to catch up and toast to the new [memorandum of understanding] MOU. Please feel free to stop by for even just a bit of time to share an hors d’oeuver.”
The formal invitation to dine at Porter’s Prime Steakhouse inside the Ontario DoubleTree Hotel came from Rodriguez Moisa and three other lawyers with the Atkinson firm during the California Police Chiefs Association Annual Training Symposium. Quezada’s calendar, obtained by the Weekly, noted “Dinner with Irma Rodriguez” from 6:30 – 9 p.m. that night. Cahill arrived an hour later, according to his own calendar.
The city shrugs off the dinner invitation by the lead investigating attorney as a non-issue.
“We have every confidence that the firm has the experience and expertise required to conduct a fair and impartial review,” says city spokesman Mike Lyster. He also noted that the probe is ongoing, even though invoices requested by the Weekly show no billing for November and early December.
The Orange County District Attorney’s office is still holding the matter under review. Neither Young nor Quezada could be reached for comment on the case.
Young’s complaint isn’t the first sign of an Anaheim police department divided under Quezada’s helm. Sergeant Tony Montanarella took a not-so-subtle swing at the then-interim chief while blasting cronyism in an OC Register opinion piece a year after the 2012 riots. And the internal police riff ain’t the first to come across Rodriguez Moisa’s desk. When serving as Glendale’s defense attorney, she lost a civil trial in 2003 when a jury awarded $3.5 million to three women officers who accused its department of failing to protect them from discrimination and sexual harassment. She called the officers liars looking for “the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
Whether Rodriguez Moisa and crew finds that Quezada and Cahill took some extra gold coins from Anaheim’s taxpayer pot for undeclared vacation time remains to be seen. Stay tuned!