D.A. not informed of allegation against San Fernando police sergeant
The L.A. County district attorney's office says it was never informed that a San Fernando police sergeant allegedly threatened a former cadet who accused the police chief of having an affair with her.
A high-ranking police commander said in a memo that San Fernando's acting police chief abandoned a plan last April to place Sgt. Alvaro Castellon on leave after Mayor Mario Hernandez and Councilwoman Brenda Esqueda went to the police station to complain.
"He is to return to duty and it will be business as usual," the mayor said, according to a memo written by Lt. Kevin Glasgow to the police department. No further investigation of the allegation was conducted.
Prosecutors in the district attorney's office who specialize in reviewing police misconduct were never informed of the allegations, said district attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.
The memo written by Glasgow stems from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed earlier this year by a former police cadet who allegedly had an affair with Chief Marco Anthony Ruelas.
According to the lawsuit, Castellon allegedly threatened to make the cadet "disappear" if she talked about her relationship with the chief.
Then-acting Chief Robert Jacobs determined the threat was a potentially criminal act and decided to place Castellon on leave while the matter was being investigated.
Glasgow wrote in the memo that when he called Castellon into his office in April to put him on leave, Castellon pulled out his cellphone and called the city manager, who then called Glasgow and told him "no adverse action against Sgt. Castellon would be taken."
A few minutes later, Hernandez and Esqueda banged on the station’s closed doors, the memo said. Hernandez put Jacobs on his cellphone speaker and yelled “Speak!”
Jacobs informed Glasgow to abandon placing Castellon on leave based on the orders of the mayor and city administrator.
“Councilmember Esqueda, who was holding onto the door, stated, 'Mistake' and slammed the door in front of me and walked away,” Glasgow wrote.
Hernandez walked back into the police station and yelled at Glasgow. Another department supervisor tried to calm Hernandez, who replied. “This … has to stop, you two don’t say anything to him. He is to return to duty and it will be business as usual.”
Castellon, addressing the City Council on Monday night, said he was not placed on leave because he threatened to “sue the city.”
As he walked away from the microphone, a resident yelled out to him, “Are you still having your affair Brenda Esqueda?”
As he walked away, Castellon replied, “None of your business.”
Castellon contends the former cadet had devised the allegations with help from his enemies on the police force. He said he was targeted because he had exposed "something fishy" in the awarding of a police towing contract.
"I was a whistleblower," he said later.
Ruelas has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the cadet and notes the suit has been dismissed twice.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: San Fernando Mayor Mario Hernandez. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times