Cop May Be Liable in Plot to Set Up DUI Arrests
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge refused to dismiss claims over a private detective's "dirty DUI" scheme to tarnish the reputation his client's estranged husband.
While Lane Bauldry was going through a divorce in 2010, his now-ex-wife Mona Daggett allegedly hired private investigator Christopher Butler to nab him in a so-called dirty DUI.
The scheme involves women plying a client's unsuspecting husband with alcohol and then persuading him to give them a ride somewhere, at which point he falls into the clutches of a police officer who had been lying in wait to make the bust.
After Bauldry's November 2010 arrest in a dirty DUI, Daggett used that report to have the family court limit how much time he could spend with their daughter, according to the federal complaint.
Bauldry says the District Attorney's Office either never brought or dismissed the charges against him.
He sued Daggett; Butler; Contra Costa County; Butler's alleged partner in the county sheriff's office, Stephen Tanabe; the deputy who arrested him, Tom Henderson; the city of Piedmont; and Sgt. Andrew Wells, the Piedmont officer who allegedly tried to arrest Bauldry in a similar scheme the previous month.
Though Piedmont and Wells had persuaded the court to dismiss the claims against them, U.S. District Judge Stephen Breyer refused to let them off the hook on the first amended complaint Tuesday.
Summarizing the allegations from the complaint, Breyer noted that Wells and Piedmont had allegedly been part of an unsuccessful "attempt at the Dirty DUI" on Oct. 21, 2010.
Bauldry says Butler followed him to an Oakland, Calif., bar named Crogan's that night shortly after accepting a $600 payment from Daggett.
"Butler did not know any Oakland police officers who would agree to arrest plaintiff, so he asked Sgt. Wells of the Piedmont Police Department to assist with the plan," according to Breyer's summary. "Butler hoped to entice plaintiff to drink at Crogan's, leave the establishment, and drive through Piedmont, where Sgt. Wells would then arrest plaintiff. Butler, Tanabe, and others approached Sgt. Wells about the Dirty DUI plan before October 21. Sgt. Wells had previously helped Butler coordinate unrelated events in Piedmont. He knew that Butler was untrustworthy and unreliable. Sgt. Wells agreed to be a part of the plan, telling Butler that he would be on duty and would be willing to arrest plaintiff for drunk driving. On October 21, 2010, Butler, Tanabe, and two women went to Crogan's to effectuate the Dirty DUI, planning to have the two women convince plaintiff to drink excessively and then have plaintiff drive them elsewhere. However, for reasons unknown to Plaintiff, the October 21 Dirty DUI attempt ended prematurely. Sgt. Wells learned that the Dirty DUI scheme ended unsuccessfully. He continued to keep the scheme a secret and did not take any steps to stop the Dirty DUI."
Daggett allegedly paid Butler another $600, and the successful Dirty DUI went down after Bauldry tried to drive away from a Danville bar named Meenars on Nov. 2.
Though Judge Breyer dismissed claims against Wells and Piedmont for false arrest and egregious official conduct, he said Bauldry "sufficiently alleges Sgt. Wells's involvement in the conspiracy."
"Sgt. Wells made no effort to withdraw from the conspiracy at any point, and the objectives of the conspiracy were obtained when Plaintiff was arrested on November 2 and the arrest was used against him," the ruling states. "When Sgt. Wells agreed to arrest plaintiff during the unsuccessful first attempt, he agreed to participate in the 'Dirty DUI scheme,' which ended upon completion of the conspiracy's objective."
Wells cannot get immunity because the alleged conspiracy "created foreseeable harm to plaintiff," and Wells had a duty to warn plaintiff, Breyer said.
Since his alleged actions were not taken in the name of public policy, he therefore is not protected, according to the ruling.
Bauldry can also advance his claim for punitive damages because the alleged conspiracy caused him harm, Breyer ruled.