Judge rules against Mono County and for former Deputy Madrid

monosheriffMono County, represented by John Vallejo of the County Counsel’s Office, petitioned Superior Court to set aside last February’s arbitration decision in the termination of Deputy Jon Madrid. In a tentative decision, Judge James Garbolino ruled solidly against Mono County and included several quotes in his decision, highly critical of the Mono Sheriff’s Department. He reaffirmed that Deputy Madrid is reinstated with back pay.

In a 19-page decision, Judge Garbolino declines to re-hear the case but reaffirms the arbitrator’s decision with a very minor difference over a limited period of time for back pay. The arbitrator had found no wrong-doing on the part of Deputy Madrid and reinstated him with full back pay. The arbitrator had said that he found “serious abuse of discretion” by the Sheriff’s administration when they fired Madrid and then called him back to sit in a chair in the lobby of the Sheriff’s Department.

It all started in recent years, according to court documents, when Deputy Madrid filed a Hostile Work Environment complaint that accused Sheriff’s Administration of abusive behavior. That complaint was never addressed, but after that Sheriff’s men accused Madrid of incorrectly reporting work hours and taking unwarranted pay of around $382. The arbitrator found that evidence showed that Madrid did not intend to take that money for time off and that other deputies with discrepancies in pay sheets had been informed to correct them – not fired as Madrid was. Judge Garbolino finds that Deputy Madrid’s termination was the result of “retaliation and that Deputy Madrid’s subsequent reassignment to the status of a “greeter” was made solely for the purpose of administering punishment without legal or factual justification.”

Judge Garbolino’s decision recites Madrid’s record as a 12-year Marine and qualified deputy with numerous duties and skills. Said the Judge, “The record supports the conclusion that Deputy Madrid performed his job meeting and exceeding expectations.”

The Judge notes that Sheriff Rick Scholl had called Deputy Madrid back after firing him to make him work as a “greeter” as a form of punishment. The Judge’s decision says there was evidence in the record that “certain Department managers that were looking for an excuse to have Madrid fired were harassing Deputy Madrid.”

In footnotes of his decision, Judge Garbolino tells how Lieutenant O’Hara made comments that his “goal was to fire three deputies, including Jon Madrid.” Madrid filed a workplace harassment claim against O’Hara in 2011, according to the Judge. The complaint went to then Undersheriff Ralph Obenberger. After that, according to the Judge, Madrid was accused of falsifying his payroll records. The Judge also said that Undersheriff Obenberger indicated he would not pursue Madrid’s harassment claim and that it would “go away” if Madrid resigned. The Judge further stated that when the Undersheriff handed Madrid his notice of administrative leave, Madrid asked him again about the harassment claim “to which the Undersheriff replied, ‘How the f—should I know?” This, according to Judge Garbolino, who was quoting court records.

The decision says six months later, Madrid was called back to sit in a chair with no uniform, badge or weapon. The Judge said, “His assigned duties were lesser than those of a WalMart greeter.”

The Judge ruled against Mono County’s petition that tried to assert that the former arbitrator exceeded his scope of jurisdiction and in favor of Deputy Madrid, with a minor difference in back pay. Madrid was also awarded costs and attorneys fees.

In a related matter, former Deputy Madrid has also filed a suit against Mono County in federal court. Reports indicated that Sheriff Obenberger attempted to be removed from that case, but the court denied that request.

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35 Responses to Judge rules against Mono County and for former Deputy Madrid

  1. Russ Reese March 5, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    Meet and Greet Sheriff OB. Friday March 7th 5:30 PM. Walker Community Center. Then, Sat March 15th 1000-1200. Wheeler Crest Fire Dept. Thse are posted on Facebook

  2. jomama March 5, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    As a 31 year law enforcement professional, now retired, I know both deputies and officers nearly all of them solid citizens and excellent professionals. However, there is a fundamental difference between sheriffs and chiefs of police. That is a sheriff is elected and historically sheriff departments across California tend to be run like good old boy networks. The sheriff will tend to surround himself and promote those who support him/her in order to stay in office. Thus those persons are not necessarily the best for the job at hand. I know Rick Scholl. He left MLPD in a snit because he didn’t get promoted to lieutenant. It was no surprise to me that he made the bonehead decision to put the deputy in the office as a “greeter”. And that decision let to the judgement against the department. It would seem it is time for a change at the top.

  3. wagonrd March 4, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    The Sheriff has held several “Meet and Greet” sessions throughout Mono County, and nary a sight of Disgruntled Citizen, Vote Mono, Really, Lets Be Clear, I Love to Fish, Snowman. And there are more Meet and Greet sessions scheduled. What’s the matter guys? Why not attend and hear answers to your questions?

    • Lone ranger March 4, 2014 at 9:22 am #

      Meet and greet is not a debate! What is this, parent teacher night! There is one coming up I’ll be there!

    • Vote Mono March 4, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      I have never heard of any that Obenberger has put on. When were these meet and greets and where?

      Why don’t you publish a schedule, so that all can attend?

      • Leo March 10, 2014 at 12:35 am #

        I believe there has been 4 to date with more coming. Go to his website or Facebook page for more information.

    • Really March 4, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      That is because the sheriff is feared, not respected.

    • Citizen Kane March 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

      wagonrd, please tell us why Obenberger assigns an on duty seargent to follow and observe Braun at all the RPAC meetings that she attends around the county.

  4. Disgruntled Citizen March 3, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    I am amazed that as all these issues with the Sheriff’s Department reveal themselves, we are not seeing the Sheriff making any responses back to the people. Braun is giving answers and clarifications on issues that are brought up…. Maybe its time for Obenberger and Weber to step down and get out of the counties way. Mono county citizens desrve more ethical leadership than what it is recieving.

    Both Obenberger and Braun have great resume’s, but I feel that Obenberger has been tainted by the Good O’le boy system… Just step down already… can you even do your job effectively now? Who can trust you?

    • Really? March 3, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

      DC, what is so great about Obenberger’s resume? The part where he was a cop for almost 20 years and never got promoted to a position of supervision?

      • Disgruntled Citizen March 3, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

        Really, FTO and OIC are both a supervisory position and a very important training position. OB has been Sgt, Lt, and undersheriff… All of which are supervisory positions. He has worked hard to get where he is, but don’t get me wrong…. He’s done as Sheriff of our community.

        And no matter who you are, a career in law enforcement that lasts as long as OBs or Braun’s; should be rewarded… That’s why they have pensions….

        I just want to see a new Sheriff who won’t divide the department like it is now. It shouldn’t be north county versus south county. Or admin vs deputies… Or Sheriffs dept vs the community.

        MCSO should work with the community.

        • Really? March 4, 2014 at 2:41 am #

          Anyone with two years on can be an FTO. OIC is by default because there is no sergeant on duty. It is whom ever has senority on the shift.

          Neither FTO or OIC is something you test for. They are not promotions. Only in Mono County under the Paranick good ole boy system could someone go from Deputy to Under Sheriff in a few years. They should spend 3 to 5 years as a sergeant before promoting to Lieutenant, not 5 months!

          Obenberger and Weber’s experience in Mono county consists of working the mean streets of June Lake, a community of 500 people and learning bully tactics of leadership from Paranick, O’Hara and Scholl. They never had a good leadership example to learn from. They are in way over their heads, At best they should be deputies supervised by an experienced sergeant and evaluated monthly.

          • Disgruntled Citizen March 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

            Really?.. I never stated that FTO or OIC were promotions… but it is a position of a supervisor over one or more people…whether by default or not.

            No Department that I have worked for would allow anyone to be able to be an FTO after just 2 years.. so thats the first issue with the department… you would have rookies teaching rookies. Thats a recipe for disaster. And at minimum no Sgt. should have less than 10 years so I dont see how someone like Weber with about 15 years of experience would every be Undersheriff.. Weber is not qualified for the position. He would barely qualify as a LT. in a big dept.

            So REALLY.. your attacking the wrong person. Keep your eye on the Goal… Get Obenberger and Weber out of the Sheriff’s Dept.. and it starts with a new sheriff.

    • Vote Mono March 3, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

      I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t wait for the debates!!!!

      Obenberger you got some splannin’ to do!!!! Lol

      How much you want to bet he doesn’t have the rocks to face us all?

  5. Lone ranger March 3, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Are you talking about the sheriffs administration! Lol

  6. wagonrd March 2, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Good point ” Let’s Be Clear”. I think it’s difficult to get rid of a LT.First of all, he’s not a dummy. It takes a lot of moxey to rise to that position. Secondly, every militaristic organization has a “Hatchet Man” because he takes the heat off the old man. Nevertheless, I look at the ultimate results, and that is: my community is a safe and enjoyable place to live. A regime change can’t improve on that.

    • Let's be clear March 2, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      The fact that you seem to be okay paying your hard earned tax dollars to someone you describe as a “hatchet man” and for a Sheriff’s department you refer to as a “regime” is just plan scary to me. Much less that you expect decent hardworking deputies to work under these circumstances is just not right. You sound like just because you don’t have to endure it, it is okay with you.

      As for it being a paramilitary organization I think you should consider that Deputy Madrid was a Marine for twelve years, so obviously he is versed in the chain of command. He also isn’t going to not stand up for mistreatment of himself or others. How many people could say they would stand up to this administration? I am sure not many.
      There are few people that serve in the military and choose to continue service to their community as a law enforcement deputy.

      Those ultimate results you speak of you should choose to thank the proper people for and I don’t think the current administration is it.

  7. First Amendment March 1, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    As of Thursday’s Judge’s ruling Mono County has been removed as a defendant in the First Amendment violation case.


    Seems that taxpayers are off the hook? I think it reads that defendants are being name individually, not in their official capacities within/at Mono County.

    • Mustang Sally March 1, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

      Actually, the county not being named as a party in the federal case was simply a clerical error, and the paperwork to amend it has already been submitted. Once it gets filed I’m sure it will be available for everyone to see. Unfortunately for taxpayers, the County will have to defend itself (or at least their insurance will.) Additionally, from what I understand there are ten more unnamed defendants whose names will be put forth at later date. Now that the case has been accepted I would imagine we’ll learn those names fairly quickly.

      At the end of the day, I don’t think the county is quite off the hook yet.

  8. wagonrd March 1, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    Law enforcement, like the military, is a chain of command organization. It is not a democracy. When a subordinate can be insubordinate and get by with it, the agency becomes a social organization where obediance of an order is optional. Sure, most people understand that LT.O’hara had all the leadership skills of a Nazi guard in Auschwitch, but he was subsequently put on permanent admin leave. The MCSO has since become a much more enjoyable workplace. OB is doing a good job.

    • Let's be clear March 1, 2014 at 8:59 am #

      First of all you are correct Lt O’Hara was exactly as you have described. The problem I have with what you said is – who let him conduct himself in the manner that he did? Paranick, Scholl, and Obenberger. He was allowed to do as he pleased because they were too afraid of dealing with this man. He tortured the deputies constantly and nothing was done about it. He was the king of the 10/19 to Bridgeport. Instead of them dealing with him properly and firing him as he was long past deserving, he was rewarded with a two year severance package to go away.

      This is another example of the administrations incompetence and the continual tradition of rewarding poor professionalism, bad behavior, and incompetence as long as you continue the good old boy tradition.

    • I Love To Fish! March 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

      “Judge Rules against Mono County Sheriff’s Department”

      “The MCSO has since become a much more enjoyable workplace. OB is doing a good job.”

      Blahh HA HA HA sure sounds like he’s doing a great job. HA HA

  9. JulieT March 1, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    Oh dear, Employment law never was John V’s strong point-one of the problems here is that they all are being directed by their egos and not the law.

  10. Disgruntled Citizen February 28, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    I would like to say that as a local I know many of the deputies that work the county and for the most part all of them do the job that they were hired to do. But, times are changing and the good ‘ole boy department needs to end. I feel that the big issues with the county dept started with sheriff scholl and have continued since he has left. It seems that the department rewards the employees who will jump at every command and hold back the employees that stand for morals and enforce the law as prescribed. I would like to see a department that will hire employees who want to grow with the department and respect the public.

    I feel that OB and the current administration of the sheriffs department have out lived there use for mono county, and it is time for a change. The age of nepotism is over.

    • Leo March 10, 2014 at 12:23 am #

      WoW, I work for the department and I haven’t got a clue where you came up with that!!!
      All of the men and women of MCSD do a great job for the county. Most go above and beyond and are involved in the communities on and off duty.
      “Good ole boy” ? What are you referring to? I know what good ole boy is in law enforcement and it’s not part of Obenberger’s administration or our department.!!!
      Now, I will say that before Obenberger was appointed Sheriff the department had no direction, 2 parasites and very low morale.
      Todays department under Obenberger is nothing like those years. The parasites are gone, we have direction, and morale is great. In fact the employees of the department are publicly backing Obenberger.
      He has made it a great place to work. He supports us and we support him. I don’t know where you are getting your information but it’s wrong.I know of no one who jumps at every command nor anyone who would give those commands. It doesn’t happen!!! We all work together to get the job done, sure there is a rank and structure, it’s a law enforcement agency.
      Everyone is encouraged to speak up if they see a need or have an issue. It’s a great work model that has turned the department around.!!!
      As to your comment about enforcing the law, I believe our arrests are up over 80%. Our citations are up and even are warning are up. We are encouraged to recognize that there are many ways to enforce the law. By using the sprit of the law or the letter
      of the law.
      I could go on and on of the positive and forward moving changes that Obenberger has brought to our department, however you should find out for yourself.
      Go talk to the Sheriff himself and/or talk to the current employees of the department. You never know you may end up talking to me.

      God Bless

  11. Snowman February 28, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    ” Reports indicated that Sheriff Obenberger attempted to be removed from that case, but the court denied that request.”

    You can’t make this stuff up! What happened to Madrid took place under Scholl. Obenberger made sure that he would be included in the case when he said in a previous hearing that regarding making Madrid sit in the chair and greet people, he would do it again!

    If Sheriff Obenberger is the best Mono County has to offer for Law Enforcement leadership, we are in deep, deep trouble.

    • Leo March 9, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

      The sheriff at that time made that decision. not Obenberger ..! It was done at the will of that sheriff.!!! I can tell you that over the years Obenberger has done a lot more good for John then people will ever know and that John would be willing to talk about.!!
      The 3 best things that have happen to MCSD over the last 2 years have been the retirements of the cancer that was within the department and the appointment of Obenberger to Sheriff.
      If you haven’t been part of the department in the last say 8 years or so and have never been there with John and everyone involved then you don’t know anything.
      That being said MCSD is a totally different department then it was under the pervious sheriff. In fact the employees for the department are publicly backing Obenberger!!! That would have never happen under the pervious sheriff and in fact didn’t .!!!

      God Bless

  12. Vote Mono February 28, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    Yet another perfect example of why we need a new sheriff and administration! We need some actual professional law enforcement officers that conduct themselves as such!

    They need to be respectful to the citizens, employees and how about to the board of supervisors that hired them! That isn’t what we have been seeing Mono County!

    Remember that June 3rd!

    • Joe Citizen March 1, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

      It’s sad and pathetic how the mistakes of one or more Deputies makes you think that they should all be labeled as bad. How many of the Mono County Sheriff’s deputies have you met? Apparently all of them since you are labeling them all as unprofessional who don’t respect anyone. So ignorant! I personally have had many positive experiences with them and completely disagree with labeling them all as bad without being able to justify such statements. All you have to back your statements is what you read. I could write anything I want in this paper and you would probably believe it. SAD!

      • Gistine March 1, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

        Joe, I agree with you. My neighbor is a deputy and he is as solid as they come. Another friend of mine who is a deputy has a heart of gold and genuinely believes he is fighting the good fight. I do not let one (or maybe a few) bad apples cloud my judgment.

        In my opinion, there are always three sides to a story with the middle-ground being the truth, but what is blatantly obvious is the fundamental malfunction at the top. Those who are in charge should be held to a higher standard and should ultimately be held accountable. They should lead by example -not make examples out of their employees. This unfortunate situation probably could have been avoided in so many ways. It sounds as if those in charge may not have the tools to properly manage and mitigate these kinds of a situations that should have never escalated in such a manner. The whole situation is very unfortunate, but something good has come from it and that is a clear demonstration for change. So I’m running with that.

  13. Curious February 28, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    What are the odds that Dick Luman was also railroaded by Mono County ?

    Way to hang in there Deputy Madrid !

  14. Rick O'Brien February 28, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    Another HUGE nail in Ralphy’s coffin…countdown till June, tic,tic,tic!

  15. Gistine February 28, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    I’m willing to bet there’s plenty more where this came from. It appears the chickens are coming home to roost.

    Way to uphold justice and fairness, Judge Garbolino. 🙂

  16. Heather February 28, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Benett, is there any way to find out exactly how much all this is costing the taxpayers of Mono County? Not necessarily the back pay award, as salary is salary, but the law firm Mono Country hired to file the writ had to be expensive, and I imagine the county being slammed with legal fees is going to cost a pretty penny. Also, what do the BOS have to say? Since an arbitrator and a Superior Court judge have all ripped the county a new one over the issue, going to Federal Court seems like the very definition of crazy – and I can bet that won’t go well for the county (or it’s taxpayers) either. Can we just get rid of the Sheriff’s department and start over already???


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