Six-figure award for man who accused detective of affair with wife
A jury awarded more than $450,000 Thursday to a man who accused a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detective of having an affair with his wife while simultaneously investigating him for threatening his wife, the man’s attorney said.
Alberto Gutierrez sued Det. Phillip Solano and another deputy for violating his civil rights. According to his attorney, he was taken into custody twice in 2008 on charges of violating a restraining order.
But during Gutierrez's criminal trial, information surfaced that the man’s wife, Mayela Gutierrez Gil, and the detective were Facebook friends who had exchanged messages and calls. “How are you precious? I miss you a lot,” read one from the detective, according to Gutierrez’s attorney, Arnoldo Casillas.
Gutierrez was facing several misdemeanors, including making criminal threats, stalking and two counts of disobeying a domestic relations court order. A judge, however, dismissed the stalking charge and one count of disobeying a court order. A jury acquitted Gutierrez of the remaining charges.
Gutierrez said the criminal allegations came as he tried to regain partial custody of his three young daughters. During the trial, Gutierrez’s wife and the detective denied they had a romantic relationship. But Gutierrez said that his mother hired a private investigator who collected evidence that their relationship was romantic.
Casillas called the deputies’ behavior scandalous, saying the $457,500 jury verdict was fair. The county will likely have to foot the bill.
Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said Solano will now face an internal affairs investigation. Although, he said, sheriff's officials "believe we have very strong grounds for an appeal, so that's going to be carefully considered."
The attorney for both deputies did not immediately respond to requests for interviews Thursday evening.
-- Robert Faturechi
On Twitter @RobertFaturechi