Former Santa Clara County sheriff guilty on all counts in civil corruption trial
SANTA CLARA COUNTY — A jury has convicted the former sheriff of Santa Clara County and two others in a bribery and extortion case that brought an indictment alleging that the employees of the sheriff’s office took hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug dealers and other criminals.
The jury returned verdicts Tuesday afternoon against former sheriff Tom Allman, 58, and the two employees with links to him — Lt. Greg Spagnoletti and Sgt. Steven Baca Jr. They were found not guilty on six counts involving allegations that they were corrupt and took payments from drug dealers.
The jury of six women and six men took hours to deliberate over five weeks of testimony before sending the case to a vote Dec. 6. The jury was the second to hear the case after Sheriff Allman’s arrest last year.
“I think he really put himself on the wrong side of history,” said Mark Dikos, an attorney who has represented other former sheriffs in public corruption cases. “He’s a good sheriff, but he’s not above the law.”
The jury returned its guilty verdicts on 29 counts involving allegations that the deputies received cash payments and favors from drug dealers and took bribes from those in exchange for leniency in sentencing.
The sheriff’s office had a $1.5 million budget in the year before his arrest, records show.
Allman’s attorney, Mark Zaid, said in a statement released Monday night that the former sheriff is “devastated” by the verdict and “fully expects a lengthy appeals process.”
Dikos said Allman made a decision when he was arrested last year to “take his chances.”
“He’s looking for an out,” said the lawyer. “He sees he’s got no choice.”
In addition to Allman, the jury convicted Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scott Taylor, 26; Sgt. Steve Baca Jr., 46; and Lt. Steve O’Brien, 45, of various counts of extortion, bribery, conspiracy and filing false reports. All of those counts were alleged to have taken place between April 2004 and June 2011.
Spagnoletti and Baca were found not guilty on bribery and extortion charges in 2012 when they were indicted. Spagnoletti pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail. Baca was put on probation and ordered to pay