Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Police chief accused of having affair with 19-year-old female cadet

December 7, 2011 |  5:45 am

The small town of San Fernando is grappling with two sex scandals at City Hall.

The city has been roiled by the mayor's announcement that he was having an extramarital relationship with a councilwoman.

But months before that, a teenage police cadet filed a lawsuit claiming that she had been fired after having a months-long affair with the current police chief, including at least one tryst in his city car.

Police Chief Marco Anthony Ruelas spent much of the year on leave amid an investigation into an alleged affair with a 19-year-old police cadet in 2009 when Ruelas was a lieutenant. His contract expires in January.

Maria Barajas accused the chief of orchestrating her firing because he feared she might reveal their relationship. Court papers include references to hundreds of texts and emails between the two.

Ruelas, in a statement, described his connection to Barajas as a "voluntary friendship" and denied wrongdoing. He noted that the former cadet's lawsuit has been dismissed twice.

The former cadet's lawsuit also names Sgt. Alvaro Castellon, the man accused of having an affair with Councilwoman Brenda Esqueda. The cadet claimed that Castellon had threatened to make her "disappear" if she spoke of the alleged affair.

A high-ranking police commander said in a memo that he was prevented from putting Castellon on leave after the mayor and Esqueda showed up at the police station to complain.

On Monday, two weeks after the mayor's public confession, Castellon stepped to the microphone to discuss his personal life, saying that city officials had backed off from putting him on leave because he had threatened to sue them.

As he spoke, residents yelled for him to explain whether he was having an affair with Councilwoman Esqueda. He replied, "None of your business."

Castellon contends that the former cadet had devised the allegations with help from his enemies on the force. He said he was targeted because he had exposed "something fishy" in the awarding of a police towing contract.

"I was a whistle-blower," he said later.


'MythBusters' cannonball smashes through house

Alec Baldwin 'got a little angry' on plane, Oscar De La Hoya says

Woman in fatal fall at Queen Mary had been drinking, police say

--Jessica Garrison and Richard Winton