Translate this page

New Video Emerges Showing DA Uprooting Opponent's Campaign Signs


Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
Issue 17, Volume 18.
Paul J. Young
Special to the Valley News


INDIO - In the wake of allegations that Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach and one of his managers knocked down a campaign sign belonging to his opponent, new video emerged today purporting to show Zellerbach removing Mike Hestrin signs outside a convenience store, then putting up his own.

According to media reports from the Coachella Valley, Zellerbach's campaign has acknowledged that he uprooted the Hestrin signs outside an am/pm convenience store on Jefferson Street, just off Interstate 10, Wednesday morning.

However, according to the Zellerbach camp, the district attorney obtained permission from the owner of the store to place his signs -- and take down Hestrin's.

The video images were captured by a surveillance camera overlooking the store parking lot, only a short distance from where Zellerbach was later witnessed pushing down a large Hestrin sign at the intersection of Jefferson and Indio Boulevard.

Zellerbach told one inland publication that the Hestrin sign had been knocked over inadvertently as he was planting one of his own, and that the entire episode was "much ado about nothing."

The latest video, recorded from a distance of about 150 feet, shows the driver of a white SUV getting out, walking to the side of the road and pulling down three small signs, which Hestrin's campaign has confirmed belonged to him.

After removing the signs, the individual proceeds to collect what appears to be a sign from the trunk of the SUV and walks 20 paces to another spot along the roadway, where he places his sign.

Indio police are said to be investigating the latest incident as part of a probe that began with Wednesday's complaint filed by District Attorney's Office Investigator Javier Garcia, who allegedly witnessed Zellerbach and District Attorney's Office tribal liaison Ricardo Rubio kicking down the Hestrin sign.

According to information obtained by City News Service, shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday, Zellerbach and Rubio were seen planting a campaign sign for the incumbent -- then summarily knocking down a large Mike Hestrin sign anchored at Indio and Jefferson.

Garcia apparently observed the activity and confronted the suspects, one of whom he immediately recognized as Zellerbach, said Riverside Sheriffs' Association President Robert Masson, who spoke on Garcia's behalf.

"The Hestrin sign was planted firmly in the ground," Masson said. "He said Zellerbach pushed the sign several times until he successfully knocked the sign over. He left it there on the ground. The officer confronted Mr. Zellerbach and his companion, telling them that he saw what they had done."

According to Masson, Zellerbach immediately retreated to the county-owned Ford Escape SUV that he and Rubio were using and shut the door, "leaving Mr. Rubio to pick up the Hestrin sign and try to put it back."

Garcia walked back to his vehicle and pulled out his camera phone, videotaping the tail-end of the encounter, which appears to show Rubio trying to re-erect the sign.

Guitron said Garcia arrived at the Indio Police Department lobby around noon to file a formal complaint of "tampering with a campaign sign," in which Zellerbach is named as the suspect.

"This officer would not make something like this up," Masson told CNS.

"I know him on a professional level, and he's very reliable, very credible."

Zellerbach told reporters he was in the Coachella Valley for several official functions. He has not explained why he was engaging in political activity while on county time.


District Attorney Allegedly Seen Knocking Down Challenger's Campaign Sign

RIVERSIDE - Riverside County Advertisement
Advertisement for Mike Mason
[ Mike Mason ]
District Attorney Paul Zellerbach and one of his managers were allegedly witnessed today tearing down a campaign sign belonging to his opponent in the district attorney's race, prompting an investigation by Indio police.

"A complaint was received, and we're gathering our information now," Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron told City News Service.

District Attorney's Office Public Information Officer John Hall released a statement saying, "We have been informed that the Indio Police Department has been made aware of the allegations, and we have no further comment at this time."

Sources told City News Service that shortly before 10 a.m., Zellerbach and his assistant, Ricardo Rubio, were seen planting a campaign sign for the incumbent -- then summarily knocking down a large Mike Hestrin campaign sign at the intersection of Indio Boulevard and Jefferson Street, where multiple signs are placed during any given election year.

A law enforcement officer in an unmarked vehicle observed the alleged activity, stopped nearby and went over to confront the suspects, one of whom he immediately recognized as Zellerbach, said Riverside Sheriffs' Association President Robert Masson, who spoke on behalf of the unnamed officer at his request.

"The Hestrin sign was planted firmly in the ground," Masson said. "He said Zellerbach pushed the sign several times until he successfully knocked the sign over. He left it there on the ground. The officer confronted Mr. Zellerbach and his companion, telling them that he saw what they had done."

According to Masson, Zellerbach immediately retreated to the county- owned Ford Escape compact SUV that he and Rubio were using and shut the door, "leaving Mr. Rubio to pick up the Hestrin sign and try to put it back."

The officer walked back to his vehicle and pulled out his camera phone, videotaping the tail-end of the encounter, which appears to show Rubio trying to re-erect the sign, according to images shown to City News Service.

Guitron said the officer arrived at the Indio Police Department lobby around noon to file a formal complaint of "tampering with a campaign sign," in which Zellerbach is named as the suspect.

"This officer would not make something like this up," Masson told City News Service. "I know him on a professional level, and he's very reliable, very credible."

Masson, a longtime sheriff's investigator, expressed dismay that the county's top prosecutor would allegedly behave in such a way.

"This is not what you expect from a leader," he told City News Service. "Mr. Zellerbach has tarnished the office badly. You can't go around doing things like this and have the confidence of the public. I think he should step down."

A veteran prosecutor who asked not to be identified told City News Service that she was "embarrassed" after learning of the allegations.

"It's indicative of a lack of leadership," the deputy district attorney said. "Here's a man who has made a point of reminding us all not to engage in any type of political activity on a workday, and he's out kicking down signs in the middle of a Wednesday morning? It's really pathetic."

Hestrin, who was contacted after work hours, told CNS that he was "incredibly disappointed" by the alleged misconduct.

"It's hard to believe Mr. Zellerbach would do something like this," Hestrin said. "When you consider all that's happening in Riverside County, the sitting D.A. has better things to do on county time, in a county vehicle."

It remained unclear why Zellerbach was in the Coachella Valley and not at his Riverside headquarters.

Under state law, a person can be charged with misdemeanor vandalism for destroying or damaging real or personal property valued at less than $400.


 

4 comments

Comment Profile ImageCommon Sense
Comment #1 | Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 7:08 am
Zellerbach has admitted to the Desert Sun newspaper that he was at the scene, off-road, in a county owned vehicle, during working hours, with a member of his executive staff, posting Zellerbach for DA political signs. He claims that he accidentally ran over the large, solidly-planted, Hestrin for DA sign.

So, to determine if Zellerbach committed the crime of vandalism you have to decide did Zellerbach intentionally damage the Hestrin for DA sign (as the officer in the unmarked car stated) or was this all an unfortunate accident (as Zellerbach claims)?

What does your common sense tell you occurred?

Aside from common sense, consider this: (1) was there any damage whatsoever to the county vehicle that would be consistent with it striking a large Hestrin for DA sign that was firmly planted in the ground?; (2) since Zellerbach is the big fish in this criminal investigation, what does the small fish, Rubio (who should probably be given immunity in exchange for his truthful testimony) say happened -- is he willing to go down for Zellerbach, a politician who would throw him under the bus ton save his dying political career?; (3) does the office who observed Zellerbach tearing down the Hestrin for DA sign have a reputation for honesty among the people who have worked with him during his career?; and (4) is there any evidence that Zellerbach is losing his re-election bid in terms of money raised, endorsements, support by members of the DA office, such that he is becoming desperate -- as we all know that desperate people do desperate things?

These are just a few questions that need to be answered regarding Zellerbach's criminal liability. But, criminal liability aside, Zellerbach is still in a lot of trouble (or certainly should be) for using taxpayer-owned property, on the taxpayer's dime, with a taxpayer-paid subordinate, to distribute political material designed to assist him maintain his position as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in Riverside County."

If he has any common sense (which is highly questionable in light of his pitiful, abusive, conduct), Zellerbach will resign forthwith and spare the taxpayers the expense and time that will be required to ensure that Justice (remember that word Mr. Zellerbach?) is done in this case. And to ensure that Zellerbach receives the same treatment in the criminal courts that he has afforded other taxpaying citizens who were similarly charged by him in the past.
Comment Profile ImageReality Checker
Comment #2 | Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 10:44 am
When this gets known in the nation's capitol, he'll probably be Obama's pick for U.S. Attorney General when/if he fires Asparagus boy, Holder.
Comment Profile Imagepaullywog
Comment #3 | Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 at 2:05 pm
Is he a democrat? They do this all the time. They get away wioth it too. Who is being the bully here?? On county time, using county vehicle, with a staff worker all doing things illegally?? A slap on the wrist. This is how democrats lie, cheat and steal elections.
Comment Profile ImageD Bro
Comment #4 | Friday, Apr 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm
I believe Zellerbach is a Republican, and backed by most of our Republican leaders in the Inland Empire unless I have misread our local news. If I'm incorrect on this please respond with resourced information thank You. Dave B

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

Add your Comment


Name

Images, Formatting, or HTML is not allowed : plain text only. You may post up to 5 website addresses within your comment.




Disclaimer

The Valley News has tightened its' policy regarding comments.
While we invite you to contribute your opinions and thoughts, we request that you refrain from using vulgar or obscene words and post only comments that directly pertain to the specific topic of the story or article.
Comments that are derogatory in nature have a high likelihood for editing or non-approval if they carry the possibility of being libelous.
The comment system is not intended as a forum for individuals or groups to air personal grievances against other individuals or groups.
Please, no advertising or trolling.
In posting a comment for consideration, users understand that their posts may be edited as necessary to meet system parameters, or the post may not be approved at all. By submitting a comment, you agree to all the rules and guidelines described here.
Most comments are approved or disregarded within one business day.

RSS FeedFacebookTwitter



Advertisement for Temecula Dining





Subscribe


Most Commented


Reach Local Customers



The Valley News The Valley News
760-723-7319 - 1588 S. Mission Rd. Suite 200, Fallbrook CA 92028
All contents copyright ©2014
About Us
Earthquake Information
Business Listings
Contact Us
Letter to the Editor
Report a website error
Sitemap
Online Digital Edition
RSS Feeds
Login