(July 20) All criminal charges have been dismissed against lieutenant William Maddox, the third highest ranking of seven current and former sheriff’s department employees indicted by a grand jury in March 2011 on charges relating to the falsification of training records.
According to documents filed with the Superior Court, theft and perjury charges that were previously lodged against Maddox have been withdrawn “in the interest of justice.”
Maddox, who was an executive officer at the Colorado River Station in Needles for the last portion of his 26 years with the department, was never interviewed by investigators and did not appear before the specially impaneled criminal grand jury that indicted him.
In the indictment, sheriff’s corporal David Pichotta, lieutenant Russell Wilke, retired assistant sheriff Michael Stodelle, retired captain Hobart Gray, custody specialist Angela Gray, training specialist Sallyann Christian and Maddox were accused of falsifying records for the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, the state agency which certifies law enforcement officers with regard to skills and specific technique qualifications. By earning certificates, officers can have their pay level increased or otherwise qualify for advancement or promotion. According to the indictment, Angela Gray and Christian added the names of Pichotta, Wilke, Stodelle, Hobart Gray and Maddox to the rosters of training classes they never attended, enabling them to claim higher pay and retirement benefits.
The district attorney’s office has now acknowledged that Maddox was erroneously included in the indictment. Maddox’s attorney, Michael Scafiddi, proffered documentation and information to the district attorney’s office demonstrating Maddox completed all of the training certification courses he was credited with completing and that he had followed proper department procedure in earning and claiming those credits. The district attorney’s office independently verified that information.
“For years the sheriff’s department had a program similar to programs of other police departments that allowed its employees to use their practical life experience to get college credits,” Scafiddi told the Sentinel. “For his dispatch class, Bill applied for certification based upon his work opening a dispatch center in the desert. Doing that required him speaking with other agencies throughout the state and researching both technical and procedural issues. He was told by the sheriff’s academy staff that qualified him to audit the dispatch class. Auditing classes is a common occurrence and what students often do to get credits. He relied upon the academy staff and never knew or was told there was anything wrong. He was instructed by his captain to apply for the advanced certificate ten months later. The case was mishandled by the sheriff’s department from the beginning. The sheriff’s department had a political agenda. If they had done a competent investigation and looked at the evidence before they took this to the grand jury to get a true bill, he would not have been charged. He was not given the opportunity to testify before the grand jury. There is no way he intended to hurt anyone or steal anything and he certainly did not commit perjury.”
Scafiddi said Maddox “served the public for 26 years with distinction and honesty and for the last 16 months he has been called a criminal and a liar. I am disappointed in the sheriff’s department but I have to give credit to the district attorney’s office. After they found out the truth they did the honorable thing and dismissed the charges. It is a shame a good person had to be put through this because of the unprofessional work of the sheriff’s department. It cost him thousands and thousands of dollars to restore his good name.”
Deputy District Attorney Dan Silverman, who is prosecuting the seven defendants, said that taking the information now available to the prosecutor’s office into consideration, he would no longer be able to prove Maddox had engaged in the actions previously alleged and that his office could not establish criminal intent on Maddox’s part.
The case against the remaining six defendants is still proceeding toward trial. All six have pleaded not guilty. A status hearing on the case is scheduled for September 14. Silverman maintains the information provided to prosecutors by Scafiddi, while vindicating his client, in no way mitigates the actions of the other six.