Department roiled by fake training scandal

SAN BERNARDINO — A grand jury on Friday returned indictments against seven current and former San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department employees accused of faking training documents to boost their pay.

On Tuesday, Sheriff Rod Hoops and District Attorney Mike Ramos held a news conference to discuss the felony charges of perjury, grand theft and conspiracy against training specialist Sally Ann Christian, 45; Cpl. Detective David Pichotta, 48; retired Lt. William Maddox, 57; Lt. Russell Wilke, 44; retired Assistant Sheriff Michael Stodelle, 64; retired Capt. Hobart Gray, 51; and custody specialist Angela Gray, 42, who are husband and wife.

All are accused of falsifying training documents, which made them eligible for increased pay and retirement benefits, Ramos and Hoops said. Ramos said the alleged thefts range from $2,000 to possibly as much as $100,000 when retirement increases are considered.

Indictments charge that Pichotta, Maddox, Wilke, Stodelle and Hobart Gray placed their names on attendance rosters for classes at the sheriff’s training academy they never attended. The two other suspects, Angela Gray and Christian, worked at the training facility and assisted the others in falsifying the rosters, according to the indictment. The falsified documents were then submitted to the state Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training. In return, the seven suspects received increased pay and retirement benefits.

Hoops said that the current employees in that group were placed on administrative leave Monday. The grand jury began hearing the case on Feb. 28.

All charges carry penalties of between three years and eight months to five years and eight months in prison. Angela Gray faces charges on more counts — six — than the others. She faces nearly six years in jail.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say this is a very disappointing day for the sheriff’s department,” Hoops said, adding that the indictments do not reflect the vast majority of the department’s 3,500 employees. Allegations were first brought by other sheriff’s employees, he said.

“The sheriff’s department will not be defined by the alleged acts of a few number of individuals,” he said.

The indictment states that both Christian and Angela Gray had opportunity to place names on attendance rosters, and “there was no audit program for attendance roster records in place during this time period.” Hoops said procedures have now been changed so that two or three people, including a supervisor, must now review training rosters.

All but Maddox appeared in superior court for arraignment on Tuesday. Judge Michael Dest ordered that a warrant be placed for his arrest if he does not appear by Friday.


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