Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Griego v. City of Barstow (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 3, 2023)

It's a new year, but 2023 does not begin with good news for Jesse Griego, who was a captain in the Barstow Fire Protection District until he was fired for various alleged misconduct. The trial court held that the City of Barstow had to reconsider its decision, but the Court of Appeal reverses, holding that Mr. Griego stays fired. 

Which, in truth, is a result that is perhaps not surprising given the various allegations leveled against him. Which include the following:

"Griego worked for the Fire District from 1997 to 2018. He also coached children’s sports teams, including the girls’ softball team at Barstow High School.

In 2007, the Fire District issued a memorandum to its captains directing personnel not to attend sporting events while on duty. On March 23, 2017, a fire chief verbally reprimanded Griego for coaching on duty. Griego was defensive and argumentative. The fire chief told him, “[T]here is no coaching on duty in any capacity. Do not take the engine. Period.” Griego expressed no regret, and later was seen again attending a sporting event while on duty. On March 29, 2017, the chief issued a written reprimand.

Also in early 2017, a safety officer at Barstow High School reported she suspected an inappropriate relationship between Griego and a 15-year-old student, H.S. The officer saw Griego bring H.S. lunch during school hours and H.S. drive Griego’s car. She heard students saying H.S. was wearing Griego’s shirt, the two had adopted a cat together, and they had visited a theme park together. 

The Barstow Police Department opened a criminal investigation into Griego for suspected statutory rape (Pen. Code, § 261.5). The City placed Griego on paid administrative leave, and Barstow High School told him to end contact with the girls’ softball team. Nonetheless, Griego continued to attend practices and games and to communicate with coaches and players, including H.S. . . .

The City’s investigator sustained 19 allegations against Griego. These allegations included, among others, that Griego (1) sought an “intimate dating relationship” with minor H.S.; (2) defied specific directions not to coach while on duty despite multiple warnings; (3) carried a concealed handgun outside his home without a permit; and (4) filed a false court document under penalty of perjury. 

The handgun allegation referred to November 2017, when Griego carried a concealed gun to investigate suspicious people outside his home. A police officer arrived and asked Griego if he had a gun; Griego said yes and showed it to him. The officer asked if he had a concealed carry permit; Griego did not. Penal Code section 25400 prohibits carrying a concealed gun in public without a permit.

As for the perjury, in 2017 Griego’s ex-wife applied for a domestic violence restraining order against him. A temporary restraining order issued in July 2017 included a direction to store any firearms with the police department or a licensed gun dealer. Yet in August 2017, Griego signed and filed a response that declared, “I do not own or have any guns or firearms.” Griego later admitted he had owned guns for about two years. Regarding the false court filing, he said, “I probably didn’t even read that and pay attention to that.”"

Let's face it: those are not great (alleged) facts if you're trying to keep your job. In the public sector or anywhere else.