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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
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‘The House Is Clean … We’re Gonna Spike Him’

SAN JOSE (CN) - A police car dash cam captured Santa Clara deputies plotting to plant drugs in a woman's home after their first illegal search turned up nothing, the woman claims in court.

Allison Ross, who was arrested after the second search of her home, sued the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department, its crime lab, Sheriff Laurie Smith, and 12 of her officers, in Federal Court.

Ross says that the deputies came to her home around 11 p.m. on New Years' Eve, 2009, after arresting her husband several houses down the street from their family home. When the deputies approached, Ross was outside talking with a neighbor.

The deputies "unlawfully detained Ross while they proceeded to illegally enter and conduct an illegal search and seizure of her home. This was done under the false pretense of conducting a 'safety sweep' of the home for an attempted 'home invasion,'" the complaint states.

Ross says she never gave the deputies permission to enter her home or gave them keys to do so.

The audio transcript from one of the sheriff vehicle's dash cameras indicates that one of the officers said something to the effect of: "negative on the home invasion - we are sweeping the house," the complaint states.

Deputies then re-entered the home and ransacked it, opening and rummaging through drawers in the bedrooms and kitchens. They placed personal property from around the house into one area in an effort to make it appear that the items were in plain sight, the complaint states.

While Ross was being held outside, she says, she overheard a deputy say that they had been denied a search warrant for the home.

Because the deputies failed to find any drugs in the home, "they planted narcotics which were kept in one of the sheriff's vehicles. Statements to this effect can be heard over the vehicle dash camera on one of the defendant's vehicles," the lawsuit states.

"The Incident Report states that two bags of white powder were found and confiscated. However, pursuant to the vehicle dash camera video and transcript, the officers are heard on the recording saying: 'the house is clean, there is no meth in the house', 'we're gonna spike that and we're gonna spike him.' 'I got the meth in the ------- car,'" the complaint states. (Epithet deleted in complaint.)

Of the 25 pictures taken of Ross's home - including those of the kitchen counter where the drugs were supposedly found - none depicted the narcotics, Ross says.

"Moreover, at the preliminary hearing, the defendants admitted to not finding any narcotics inside plaintiff's home," the complaint states.

Ross believes that two blood samples she provided to the sheriff's department were tampered with by the Santa Clara County Crime Lab.

Santa Clara County "improperly trained its phlebotomists and toxicologists to create negligent and/or false information and fabrications on toxicology reports," she says.

Ross was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of methamphetamine, a charge of which she was "completely innocent," according to the complaint.

Four days into Ross's criminal jury trial, the District Attorney's Office dismissed the charges after the supervisor of the D.A.'s Misdemeanor Team became aware that false statements had been presented to the jury, according to the complaint.

Ross seeks punitive damages on 13 causes of action, including malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, conspiracy, and duty to expose exculpatory evidence.

Defendants include Deputies Cary Colla, Paulo Contreras, Jeff A. Jordahl, Richard Rowe, R. Lopez, C. Sims, Oberdorter, Rumley, McRoberts and Palonov, and Sgts. Benner and Rowberry,

Ross is represented by Lori J. Costanzo.

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