LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Los Angeles suburb that irked taxpayers by paying its top officials six-figure salaries faces a retaliation lawsuit from former police sergeant James Corcoran. He claims officials in Bell, Calif., forced him to retire early for reporting voter fraud and the city’s efforts to cover up an official’s attempted sexual assault of a secretary.
In January 2009, Corcoran says he was assigned to look into charges against former building inspector and current police administrator Eric Eggena. About halfway through the investigation, city manager Robert Rizzo and police chief Mike Chavez allegedly told Corcoran to wrap up the investigation, which he claims could have led to graft charges against Eggena.
Corcoran also reported that several off-duty police officers were taking absentee ballots and handing them out, instructing voters on how to vote, and filling out the ballots of dead people, according to the Superior Court complaint.
He says he also reported Rizzo’s sexual advances toward a secretary. Corcoran claims the secretary had complained that a “heavily intoxicated” Rizzo blocked her from leaving his home and “repeatedly attempted to sexually assault her.”
“During this encounter, Rizzo repeatedly told the secretary how much he admired Adolf Hitler,” Corcoran claims. He says the city tried to cover up the attempted sexual assault.
In November 2009, Corcoran was demoted from detective sergeant to patrol sergeant, according to the lawsuit, and was put on paid leave a few months later, ostensibly for “insubordination.”
He says he was forced to retire early to avoid being fired.
The former sergeant claims he was “personally humiliated and has become mentally upset, distressed and aggravated” by the city’s retaliation.
He wants Bell to compensate him for his losses, including income, benefits and medical expenses, and to pay him general damages for emotional distress and mental suffering.
He also wants the city to restore his police sergeant credentials. He is represented by Gregory Smith in Woodland Hills, Calif.
Bell officials recently made headlines for their six-figure salaries. Four of Bell’s five city council members made $100,000 a year for their part-time positions, and Rizzo earned $787,637 a year — almost twice the pay of President Obama.
Rizzo and two others resigned last week amid public outrage over the salaries, which have prompted investigations by Attorney General Jerry Brown and the District Attorney’s Office.