Until recently reversed after the policy was about to be revealed, command personnel at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, with Sandra Hutchens’ approval, have, since November of 2008, been eligible to have tolls for the personal, non emergency use of their department issued vehicle paid by Orange County taxpayers.
While other department employees, and every ordinary citizen are responsible for paying tolls when commuting to and from work, OCSD command personnel, in a policy instituted by the Sheriff’s handpicked import from Los Angeles, former Assistant Sheriff Mike Hillmann, (PDF) were to have their commutes considered part of their daily responsibility. To quote from the policy memo (see attached), ‘Your responsibilities include driving this vehicle to and from your residence and to your duty station on a daily basis.’
The memo’s language is so broadly written that tolls incurred by any personal use of the vehicle would appear to be covered. To quote, ‘As command personnel, you are expected to have this vehicle available during off-hours and respond to emergencies 24-7.’ It also mandates that, ‘First responder equipment includes, but is not limited to, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner, Toll Road Transponders allowing access to all areas within Orange County.’
Now the question must be asked: How much have the the taxpayers of Orange County paid so that command personnel can use the toll roads for their daily commute, as well as other personal travels? And have these covered expenses been reported to the Internal Revenue Service as monetary benefits given to OCSD employees above their salary?
Considering Sandra Hutchens’ past history of personal fiscal mismanagement, as documented on this website, we expect to find more instances like this as time goes on.
A recent forum for candidates seeking election to the office of Sheriff of Orange County provided some very telling words from Sandra Hutchens.
In the first video clip, which contains audio recorded at the event, Sandra Hutchens responds to a question as to whether she should be held to the same standard as an applicant to be a deputy sheriff when it comes to revealing significant personal financial details. The puzzled reactions of those in attendance is unmistakable. For reference, see the relevant pages (Here, and Here) of the Personal History Statement applicants to become peace officers must complete FULLY and TRUTHFULLY. Did Sandra Hutchens hold herself to that same standard when she applied to be appointed Sheriff?
OCCCWS has learned that Sandra Hutchens and her former husband were the subjects of a restraining order connected with a lawsuit filed against them by Fidelity Federal Bank in 1992, which was previously reported here. The restraining order (see attached documents below), issued in conjunction with the appointment of a receiver to manage the property until it could be sold at foreclosure, instructed Sandra Anderson (as she was then known) and her former husband to “refrain from demanding, collecting, or receiving any rents”, “surrender possession of the property”, “refrain from interfering in any way with the receiver’s performance of his/her duties”, and to return “any monies presently held by them that have been received as rent”.
The initial complaint alleged that Sandra Hutchens and her former husband continued to collect rent after defaulting on the rental property, prompting the issuance of this restraining order.
This is yet another revelation which casts doubt on Sandra Hutchens’ ability to manage an $800 million budget. But it also elevates the main question which must be answered: did Sandra Hutchens FULLY inform the Board of Supervisors as to these deficiencies in her financial past during the interview process? We have heard no indication from the Board that they knew the extent of this matter.
The citizens of Orange County deserve to know if Sandra Hutchens is a person of integrity, or if she willfully concealed material facts that any person applying to be a deputy would be expected to disclose.
OCCCWS has learned that Sandra Hutchens and her former husband were sued for more than $800,000 after defaulting on a rental property in 1992. The complaint obtained by OCCCWS (see below for attached documents) alleges that Sandra Anderson, as she was then known, and her then husband continued to collect rents from the sixteen unit apartment complex even after they stopped making required mortgage payments, leading Fidelity Federal Bank to seek the appointment of a receiver by the court to manage the property until it could be sold at foreclosure.
To quote documents filed by the plaintiff: “The defendants have apparently diverted and kept for their own personal use the Bank’s collateral (rental income) for the last two months totaling approximately $13,696.34 in the aggregate.” The court subsequently appointed a receiver to take over the property. A year after filing suit, the Bank requested the action be dismissed without prejudice since it had foreclosed on the property and taken possession itself.
This property is the same one on which more than $36,000 in tax liens were filed against Sandra Hutchens and her former husband, a story that OCCCWS recently reported, making it the property that Sheriff Hutchens’ campaign consultant, Dave Gilliard, said had been ‘disposed of’. Apparently failing to make required payments and having your property taken by foreclosure counts as ‘disposed of’ in Sandra Hutchens’ world. Interestingly, Sandra Hutchens claimed she had no knowledge of the liens, but was a named party in the lawsuit. Documents also show that, despite repeated attempts to be served a summons, she did not appear in court to respond to the complaint.
This new information only adds to the already troubling questions regarding Sandra Hutchens’ fitness to lead the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and her ability to manage an $800 million budget. That she walked away from financial obligations which she willingly accepted, and has not informed the voters she asks to elect her of the same, raises legitimate questions about her integrity, as well as the process used by the Board of Supervisors to select her.
OCCCWS has learned that Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, shortly before she was promoted to the rank of Captain in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, was the subject of massive tax liens by the very county she served (see the actual documents below).
Documents obtained by OCCCWS show that Sheriff Hutchens, then known as Sandra Anderson, along with her former husband, were delinquent in paying property taxes in the amount of more than $36,000 to Los Angeles County. No public record was found showing that these liens were ever directly paid by Sheriff Hutchens and her former husband.
This raises troubling questions about Sandra Hutchens’ ability to manage not only her personal finances, but those of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. More importantly it raises the issue of integrity, as every applicant to become a deputy sheriff is expected to fully disclose any deficiencies in their financial history, and failing to do so would likely end their hope of employment with OCSD. The question must be asked: did Sandra Hutchens inform the Board of Supervisors of this past deficiency, either directly or through the search firm retained to evaluate candidates for appointment to the office of Sheriff-Coroner?
If Sandra Hutchens withheld this information, she is plainly holding herself to a lesser standard of integrity than the deputies she commands. If she disclosed this information, and was still appointed, then the process adopted by the Board of Supervisors failed the citizens of Orange County.
Hundreds of thousands of Orange County residents honor their obligations to pay their taxes, even in difficult times and through trying personal circumstances. The fact that appointed Sheriff Sandra Hutchens apparently did not, and may have concealed this from the voters of Orange County, speaks volumes about her fitness for the office she seeks.