Jaramillo wins back pay from county in judge’s ruling

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Personal Injury News

Article Date: 6/22/2009 | Resource: MLG

Jaramillo wins back pay from county in judge’s ruling

Former Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo is entitled to three years of back pay and benefits from the county on his claim that he was unlawfully terminated by former Sheriff Mike Carona, a judge said in a tentative decision released today.

The ruling potentially means the county must pay Jaramillo about $485,000, plus attorneys’ fees.

Judge Andrew P. Banks of Orange County Superior Court wrote that Carona violated the state’s Public Safety Officer Procedural Bill of Rights when he fired Jaramillo in 2004. Carona refused to give Jaramillo an opportunity for an administrative hearing and failed to give notice of his decision to impose discipline, Banks wrote.

Banks awarded back pay and benefits to Jaramillo from the date he was fired, March 17, 2004, through Jan. 28, 2007, when he pleaded no contest to two felonies.

In a non-jury trial before Banks, which was held in April and May, Jaramillo’s lawyers argued he was owed about $720,000.

However, the judge wrote that the county can deduct $234,294 from the amount it owes Jaramillo, finding that Jaramillo earned that much during the three-year period.

The county had argued that Jaramillo had signed away his rights to a hearing and notice of discipline. “They are wrong on both counts,” Banks wrote.

Banks also wrote that the county must stop trying to get senior Sheriff’s Department officials to waive their rights under the Public Safety Officer Procedural Bill of Rights. Any such waivers currently in force are unlawful, Banks wrote.

Jaramillo isn’t entitled to non-economic damages, but he can collect reasonable attorneys’ fees, Banks wrote.

Jaramillo, once considered a likely successor to Carona, was appointed assistant sheriff by Carona in January 1999. After Carona fired him in March 2004, Jaramillo pleaded no contest in 2007 to state charges of public corruption. He was sentenced to a year in jail and ordered to pay $10,000 restitution to the county.
Carona was convicted of witness tampering in January of this year and was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison, where he is scheduled to report on July 24. During his trial, witnesses testified about extra-marital sexual affairs Carona conducted while he was sheriff.

In his ruling, Banks wrote that he found credible Jaramillo’s claim that he was fired partly because he “notified former Sheriff Carona that Carona’s use of County property, including automobiles and helicopters, for sexual liasons, was improper.”

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Jeffrey Marquart