Santa Clara Co Sheriff’s Office Corruption: Who Is with the Sheriff’s Advisory Board?

The recent arrest of Robert Schiro for another DUI hit and run incident while on parole for a 3 year sentence for causing permanent disability to Ashley Nelson while driving drunk, and while his drivers license was revoked for the remainder of his life raised my eyebrow.

I recognized the name. Where had I seen it, I pondered. Then I started looking — political donations? Nope. I searched a couple other places and found nothing. Then it hit me. I saw that name on the Best in the West guest lists. So I pulled up the files and started looking.

Sure enough on the list of Sheriff’s Advisory Board (SAB) guests, there was Mr. Schiro. A man under investigation at that very time for an injury hit and run and who was attempting to deceive the very agency that was hosting him at this event. This wasn’t even his first DUI, it was his second in recent times, the first just didn’t result in anyone being injured as far as I’ve been able to find out.  Neither DUI incident, nor the resulting serious injury appears to have affected his membership with the SAB at that time.

Ironic this story breaks just after Sheriff Smith released a press release for the 4th of July telling us it’s our “patriotic duty” to keep our roads safe. Perhaps she should tell her friends that as well.

But the Sheriff doesn’t worry about those kinds of things in her circle it seems.  The range seems to be the place to bring those under investigation by the sheriff. Fun in the sun, guns and helicopters, an adult play ground many people would like to, but never will enjoy.

Just some of the people we know who were invited to these adult fantasy events was Ron Batistella, another SAB member now under federal indictment after the investigation was handed from the Sheriff’s Office to the federal government; and Aldon Smith, an election time tool who the sheriff insisted was a “victim”. While yes, Aldon was a “victim”, he was also a suspect with illegal guns with reports that someone in his home had been shooting them off over the crowd at a recent part.

We’ve seen other people who were on the SAB with criminal histories. We’ve found other criminals the sheriff has been exchanging favors with — one of them even a now convicted, former county supervisor.

Here’s the problem — today, we don’t have any idea who is a part of the SAB. We know that Mr. Schiro was still on the SAB months after the injury DUI. We know he had prior DUIs. For all we know, he is still a part of the SAB today.  I certainly hope not, but he clearly remained a part of the organization without impact while he was under investigation for a serious crime he was later convicted of and sentenced to prison for.

We know the SAB and the sheriff claims that there are background checks done on applying SAB members, but Sharath Sury brings that claim into question, a man so bold as to state publicly, despite his criminal background our sheriff make him an “honorary deputy.”  We have at least one person who has expressed their frustration with the apparent inaction on his application and the implied reasons for his being ignored.

This is a group of people, under the umbrella of being a non-profit, who clearly have influence over our current Sheriff, Laurie Smith. This is a group of people who are using the Sheriff’s Office for who knows what purpose.  Maybe there is no ulterior motive for any of them, but why should we trust in that at this point?  Some, I’m sure, have the very intent that is stated — to help the Sheriff’s Office. Others, it’s not so clear why they’re a member of this group.

It’s becoming clear what we do need is transparency with this group. While I appreciate any citizen who wants to contribute to the betterment of their local law enforcement, it’s critical that any agency involved needs to be transparent in this type of relationship.

The public deserves to know how much money is being raised at these private fund raisers that are being held for the “public interest” and how much of that money is going back into the sheriff’s office. They deserve to know they are not footing the bill for repairs, equipment usage, ammunition, etc. and that that they’re not paying by proxy through the funds supposedly being raised to help the sheriff’s office.

They deserve to know the people involved do not have criminal records, that these are not individuals who have abused the public trust.  It needs to be open that if a member does come under investigation they are at the very least put on probation from the organization and that it’s disclosed to the public that they are a member of the SAB, especially if the investigation is being conducted by the Sheriff’s office.

The people of this county deserve full disclosure of the list of members every year when annual member dues are paid and a record of the organizations financial activities.

It’s that simple. If the Board of Supervisors has any credibility, they will stop this ethical embarrassment and protect not only their community, but the people who are a part of the Sheriff’s Advisory Board who deserve to be associated with a credible organization with a positive purpose.

If you’re so inclined, please contact your Supervisor (or all of them) and let them know, you want transparency in the membership and financial activities of the Sheriff’s Advisory Board.

David Cortese, you want to show San Jose that you care about public safety — show us here and now, the ethics and credibility of public safety leadership means more to you than protecting the equivalent of insider trading that goes on in this county.  Show SJ you’ll actually step up to a situation with ethical questionability and deal with it rather than use it to your advantage to win an empty election.

Mike Wasserman:
Phone: 408-299-5010;  Email: mike.wasserman@bos.sccgov.org

Cindy Chavez
Email: Cindy.Chavez@bos.sccgov.org ; Phone: (408) 299-5020

Dave Cortese
Email:  dave.cortese@bos.sccgov.org  or his policy aid, Mike Donohoe @ Mike.Donohoe@BOS.SCCGOV.ORG
or you can contact his office at (408) 299-5030  (thank you to the person who provided me this information.)

Ken Yeager
Phone: 408-299-5040 ; Email: Supervisor.Yeager@bos.sccgov.org

Joe Simitian
Phone: (408) 299-5050 ; Email: supervisor.simitian@bos.sccgov.org

 

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