LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Four young men arrested last fall by the sheriff on drug charges – which later were dropped – have filed a claim against the county, alleging civil rights violations and false arrest.
Bo Sheffer of Middletown; Jesus Mendoza and David Garcia, both of Hidden Valley Lake; and Edward Corona of Napa filed the claim – which was received by the county on April 3 – against the county of Lake, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Francisco Rivero.
On Nov. 15, 2011, Rivero arrested the four, who were booked at the Lake County Jail for selling marijuana, possession of marijuana for sales, conspiracy to commit a crime and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to an original Lake County Sheriff’s Office report.
The arrests resulted after Rivero was contacted by a Middletown man who said he found a baggie of marijuana in his 16-year-old son’s possession. Rivero also cited that teen for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
While Rivero said at the time that the case’s evidence was “absolutely solid,” District Attorney Don Anderson would order all four of the young men released from jail and refused to prosecute the case, saying the evidence was weak.
He also raised procedural issues about how the case was handled, alleging that Rivero used illegal detentions, searches and photo lineups, and illegally seized a vehicle.
Anderson said at the time that the alleged marijuana sale was only for $3 and involved three grams of marijuana.
The claim against the county and Rivero alleges that Rivero, while acting in his capacity as sheriff, violated the men's civil rights by forcing them to undergo false arrest and false imprisonment, subjecting them to unreasonable search and seizure, and taking their property.
They are claiming emotional duress, public humiliation and loss of earning capacity.
No stated amount of damages is included, but the claim noted that it exceeds $10,000.
The attorney for the four men, Richard Knox of Ukiah, did not return a call seeking comment.
County Counsel Anita Grant said the claim with go through the usual process, with the county’s third-party administrator for liability claims, the George Hills Co., handling the claim.
If the claim is turned down, the four claimants will then have six months to file a tort claim in court, Grant said.
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