Trial Nears For Colton PD Detective Hit With Union Fund Theft Accusations

(September 3) Wesley Bruhn, the former Colton police detective who acceded to the position of the Colton Police Officers Association president and as such once enjoyed power within Colton’s 67-member police department  rivaled and some said exceeded that of the police chief and the eleven other officers in the department who outranked him, is scheduled to go on trial next month.
Bruhn stands charged with having embezzled more than $165,000 from the union he once headed.
On November 9, 2012 the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office filed five counts of felony grand theft and one felony charge of forgery against Bruhn and obtained an arrest warrant against him from Judge William Jefferson Powell. Bruhn was not in custody at the time and was categorized as a fugitive. Five days later, Bruhn  surrendered to authorities at the San Bernardino County sheriff’s headquarters, and was promptly arrested. According to the district attorney’s office, Bruhn began appropriating for his own use union funds beginning in July 2008.
Bruhn was formerly the president of the Colton Police Officers Association. Subsequently, he served as that organization’s treasurer.
According to the district attorney’s office,  Bruhn, now 47, engaged in the thefts while he was serving first in the capacity of union president and later as treasurer. The thefts continued through July of 2012, prosecutors allege, when then Colton Police Officers Association President, Rich Randolph, was alerted to what were described as anomalies in the union’s accounts.
Randolph arranged for an independent audit of the union’s funds, which until that point were under Bruhn’s control.
That audit quickly determined there was money missing and Bruhn was suspended as treasurer. In August 2012, Bruhn was put on paid administrative leave by the police department after discrepancies in the union’s accounts were confirmed and the matter was turned over to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for investigation.
Bruhn’s run as union leader featured dizzying highs in which he seemingly defied the political and professional chain of command and prevailed in showdowns with his superiors, as well as the low point that resulted in his removal as treasurer and his suspension from the department.
He battled with former councilman Richard De La Rosa, himself a corrections officer, over policy decisions made by the city council and what Bruhn complained was “micromanaging” of the police department by the city’s political leadership.
In September 2007, Bruhn filed a claim against the city and Councilman De La Rosa, alleging that De La Rosa maliciously made false and defamatory accusations against him. Bruhn maintained De La Rosa filed a “completely bogus” harassment complaint against Bruhn over his unwillingness to go along with De La Rosa’s dictates as a council member.
Earlier in 2007, as president of the Colton Police Officers Association, Bruhn led the charge against then-police chief Ken Rulon, accusing his boss of creating a hostile work environment, misusing his position to make personal discount purchases with department vendors, having instituted citation and arrest quotas that were charted on a bulletin board on the wall of the police department headquarters and engaging in intimidation of the men under his command as well as sexual harassment of female employees. Rulon  maintained that Bruhn had acted against him because he had been passed over for promotion to sergeant. Nevertheless, in the test of will and power between the two men, Bruhn prevailed, obtaining a no-confidence vote against Rulon by more than ninety percent of the Colton Police Officers Association’s 67 members and seeing Rulon ignominiously fired, and his badge and gun taken from him before he was unceremoniously escorted by armed officers from his office. After his firing, Rulon sued the city for wrongful termination but lost in that effort when it went to trial, in some measure because of the testimony Bruhn had provided. It was at that point that Bruhn’s power and influence in Colton had reached its apex. Two years later, Bruhn slipped from his pinnacle of power and he was relieved of his role as union treasurer and kicked out of the association altogether.
Judge Harold T. Wilson has ordered that the trial, with deputy district attorney Mike Grigoli prosecuting and Hal Charles Smith serving as defense attorney, commence on October 6.

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