Man Says Sheriff’s Officers Hid Evidence|to Protect Deputy After a Fatal Accident

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A man claims that officials in Lake County conspired to maliciously prosecute him for a fatal boating accident that actually was caused by a sheriff’s deputy who was “under the influence of intoxicating liquor at the time of the collision.”

     In his federal complaint, Bismarck Dinius said he was manning the tiller of a 27-foot sailboat on Clear Lake, on the moonless night of April 29, 2006, when the vessel was struck by a fast-moving 24-foot powerboat owned and operated by Lake County Deputy Sheriff Russell L. Perdock.
     Dinius claims Perdock was “speeding in the range of 40 to 60 mph,” while his sailboat was going 2 to 5 mph.
     Also onboard the sailboat was its owner, Mark Weber, and Weber’s girlfriend, Lynn Thornton, who was the lone fatality in the accident.
     After the crash, Perdock claimed that the sailboat did not have its navigation lights on, a statement that was contradicted by Weber and others at the trial, the complaint states.
     Dinius also claims that law enforcement officials refused to administer a breathalyzer to Perdock after the accident, and that Perdock’s claim that he had drunk only one beer that day, during the afternoon, “was false, and that defendants or some of them conspired with Perdock in efforts to fabricate evidence supportive of this falsehood, or in efforts to suppress or fail to preserve material evidence tending to show that Perdock consumed alcoholic beverage(s) in the hours immediately prior to the collision and/or tending to show he was under the influence of intoxicating liquor at the time of the collision.”
     Dinius claims that more than one security guard at a bar told Lake County Sheriff’s Officers that they had seen Perdock drinking there on the night of the accident, but that “no LCSO investigative report was ever prepared and disclosed to plaintiff’s criminal trial counsel, revealing the foregoing material facts.”
     Dinius, an experienced sailor and winner of several regional sailing races, was the only person charged in connection with Thornton’s death. The manslaughter charge was dropped before trial and he was acquitted of drunken boating, according to his complaint.
     Dinius claims that officials misled the court from the preliminary hearing onward. Among other things, he claims, the officials concealed exculpatory evidence and fabricated evidence to protect the deputy sheriff.
     Dinius said the his 2-year legal ordeal, which he characterized as a “corrupt investigation, prosecution and attempted conviction,” has cost him all of his money, and his job, hurt his reputation and caused profound emotional distress.
     He seeks compensatory and punitive damages on claims of conspiracy, libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution.
     The defendants are Perdock, Sheriff Rodney Mitchell, District Attorney Jon Hopkins, Marine Patrol Sgt. Dennis Ostini, investigator James Bauman, Marine Deputy Lloyd Wells, Detective Sgt. Wesley Frey, Sgt. James, Sgt. Dean Pick, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Dept. Sgt. Charles Slabaugh, Lake County, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
     He is represented by Laurence Masson of Berkeley, and attorneys with the Northern California Innocence Protect, of Santa Clara.

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