The Beverly Hills police chief quietly retired after being accused of racism, anti-Semitism and affairs
It’s a scandal that ripped through the Beverly Hills Police Department and dragged the troops through the mud for four years worth of settlements and legal fees.
The shocking accusations against famed police chief Sandra Spagnoli of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, age discrimination, and claims of a series of cases involving subordinates of more than 20 city workers left a permanent “ stain ” on the elite department, according to a lawyer representing many of the complainants.
For years, the city of Beverly Hills tried to stem the tide of the claims, supporting the warring chief while taxpayers were burdened with the bill for settlements, judgments, and court fees in the millions.
But last week, on a Saturday afternoon, news of 52-year-old Spagnoli’s sudden retirement quietly slipped to the local media circles – guided by the clever strategy of Harvey Weinstein’s former crisis public relations specialist Michael Sitrick.
Rumors have been going on for months when Spagnoli would eventually be asked to leave.
A source near the department told DailyMail.com that city council members had asked the chief to resign after the latest lawsuit against her hit the courts on March 30.
Beverly Hills police chief Sandra Spagnoli quietly announced her retirement last week as DailyMail.com reveals the $ 8 million lawsuits she left behind in her wake
Spagnoli (center) is seen with subordinates. At least 21 current and former employees have filed civil lawsuits or employee complaints against Spagnoli
The source claimed Spagnoli agreed to this and sent a cryptic email to colleagues hinting at a “ big retirement announcement ” before turning the crucial moment into a joke.
“Instead of announcing her own retirement, she announced the retirement of a K9 unit,” the source said. “People on the council have dropped out. They said, “You will be fired or quit tomorrow.” ‘
Top attorney Bradley Gage, who specializes in employment matters, told DailyMail.com that the four-year scandal is no laughing matter for his 12 clients, who claim they have been victims of Spagnoli’s alleged racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and unwanted sexual acts advances.
Gage said the dozen police officers are among the 20 city workers – nearly 10 percent of the entire Beverly Hills police – who have filed charges against Spagnoli in lawsuits or HR complaints, in a scandal that he says has severely damaged the department’s reputation .
“That they keep a woman like her for so long and let things escalate like they did, it will be known for years and people will look at it with a bit of a joke, I think,” the lawyer said.
Lawyer Bradley Gage (pictured), who specializes in employment cases, told DailyMail.com that the four-year scandal was no laughing matter for his 12 clients, who claim they have been victims of Spagnoli’s alleged racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and unwanted sexual advancement
According to the city of Beverly Hills, the total cost of the lawsuits related to Spagnoli was $ 7,925,000, including $ 2.3 million to settle the case of Lieutenant Mark Rosen, the first officer to raise his head with claims from anti-Semitism.
A spokesperson for the city told DailyMail.com that Spagnoli previously “acknowledged that some of her comments, while joking or teasing, were inappropriate for anyone in her position and that the city appropriately disciplined her.”
The spokesperson added that Spagnoli has denied inappropriate sexual relations with employees.
DailyMail.com has made several attempts to reach Spagnoli in person to respond to the allegations made against her, but she did not return to us.
According to the city, Spagnoli’s notice of resignation was made “soon after the city manager accepted the chief’s resignation, regardless of the day of the week.”
In an email from DailyMail.com, Spagnoli wrote to BHPD employees that her resignation would commence on May 15 and that she would take a vacation until then.
“It was an honor to work with this team and I believe that together we made a difference to the Beverly Hills community,” wrote the controversial chief.
“I wish you all the best and remember” One team, One mission “not only during the pandemic, but always.”
Gage said that when the first officer came to him and described Chef Spagnoli’s behavior, he was stunned.
“It was so surprising and outrageous to me. I had a hard time believing that they (the allegations) were true, ” he told DailyMail.com.
But he said that as the number of accusers and increasing evidence grew, he began to see the glamorous police chief in a different light.
Here DailyMail.com has gone through the hundreds of pages of court documents, procedural documents and statements of more than 10 cases to paint a scathing picture of the police chief’s regime, one that she believes has accused the reputation of the once-revered police abandoned force in shreds.
In one case after another, current and former BHPD officers claimed that Spagnoli made racist comments and did not punish the police who did the same.
According to a lawsuit, Spagnoli used racist language when invited to a Latino employee’s home.
Lieutenant Renato Moreno invited the chief to a party at his home in December 2016. According to his legal claim against her and the city of Beverly Hills, in response to the invitation of the Latino officer, she asked, “Should I dress Mexican?”
Moreno, a devout Catholic, claimed in legal documents that Spagnoli also called his religion a cult. “People used to tell me that my religion was a cult, do you want to know what a cult is? The Catholics, that’s a sect, “said the officer,” said Spagnoli.
Lieutenant Renato Moreno (pictured with Spagnoli) invited the chief to a party at his home in December 2016. According to his legal claim against her and the city of Beverly Hills, in response to the invitation of the Latino officer, she asked, “Do I have Mexican clothes? ‘
Moreno, a devout Catholic, claimed in legal documents that Spagnoli also called his religion a cult. “People used to tell me that my religion was a cult, do you want to know what a cult is? The Catholics, that’s a sect, “said the officer,” said Spagnoli
A jury awarded Moreno $ 350,000 after suing the city as part of a $ 1.1 million lawsuit with three other plaintiffs.
Another BHPD employee, David Brandon, sued the city in 2017 for age and racial discrimination.
In his lawsuit, Brandon claimed that Spagnoli demoted six black civilian supervisors and replaced them all with “younger, white police sergeants with little or no job monitoring experience.”
Brandon claimed that Spagnoli had also canceled a BHPD study to improve salaries for minority employees.
Brandon’s case is still pending and has been delayed due to the closure of the corona virus by LA courts.
In several other lawsuits against Spagnoli and the city, it is alleged that around June 2015, two officers, Charles Yang and Stanley Shen, posted a video entitled ‘Yellow Fever with Soul’ on YouTube, which made fun of African Americans and Asian Americans.
According to legal documents, the video included a sign with ‘nice tits’, a shot of Yang’ with a woman’s buttocks’, a ‘racial stereotype’ of a black man with a chicken leg in his hand and ‘comments about slavery and’ ‘ master “derogatory towards African Americans” by Shen.
In several lawsuits against Spagnoli and the city, it is alleged that around June 2015, two officers, Charles Yang and Stanley Shen (pictured together), posted a video entitled ‘Yellow Fever with Soul’ on YouTube that made fun of African Americans and Asian Americans
According to legal documents, the video (photo) included a sign with ‘nice tits’, a shot of Yang ‘with a woman’s buttocks’, a ‘racial stereotype’ of a black man with a chicken leg in his hand and ‘comments’ about slavery and “master” “derogatory towards African Americans” by Shen
Spagnoli herself was charged in the lawsuit with making “ stereotypical comments about the size of Asian men ” and promoting a sergeant who shared the video and reportedly made other racist comments.
Yang and Shen deleted their allegedly offensive video after the department told them. They are not plaintiffs in the lawsuits.
BHPD did not respond to questions from DailyMail.com about the video and made no comment from agents Yang or Shen.
Agents told Spagnoli that one of her sergeants, Scott Dowling, had “laughed at the video and showed it to other members of the department,” despite BHPD telling the creators to remove it, the lawsuit said.
Dowling told DailyMail.com that he denied any wrongdoing and said that all charges against him were “grossly inaccurate and without merit.”
The officers told the chief that Dowling called black officers “stupid and lazy and members of the black mafia,” the legal documents alleged.
Dowling also reportedly complained about Jewish officers selling the food, “saying they could wear those funny hats to cover bald patches.”
But according to several legal complaints from Gage on behalf of BHPD officers, Spagnoli promoted Dowling to lieutenant “within days of being told about Dowling’s racist comments and the video.”
Dowling was named in court, but was not named as an accused.
The claims about BHPD officers have all been made to BHPD, requesting to ask the questions of the individual officers. The department did not respond to the allegations of racist language against Dowling.
A legal complaint from BHPD officer Anne Marie Lunsman alleged that Spagnoli had not punished another officer for calling someone a ‘towel head’ and the Spanish word for n *** er.
The City of Beverly Hills settled with Lunsman in September for an undisclosed fee.
And another lawsuit filed by a police supervisor, Gregory Routt, alleged that he was the victim of racial discrimination.
The former police chief said earlier that she is “not racist” and that the claims were a “smear campaign” from workers unhappy with her reforms.
In November 2018, Beverly Hills paid a $ 2.3 million settlement to Mark Rosen, a former police captain and senior Jewish member of the division, after suing Spagnoli for denying him promotions and making anti-Semitic comments.
Rosen’s lawsuit alleged that Spagnoli called kippahs, or kippah, the traditional Jewish cap, “funny hats” and commented on the size of Rosen’s nose.
In November 2018, Beverly Hills paid a $ 2.3 million settlement to Mark Rosen (pictured), a former police captain and senior Jewish member of the division, after suing Spagnoli for denying him promotions and anti-Semitic comments had made
Rosen told of an incident in October 2016 when he told the chief that he was recognized by apparent strangers. Spagnoli replied, “It’s your nose,” said his lawsuit.
Rosen emphasized another allegedly anti-Semitic comment Spagnoli would have made the following month.
“Spagnoli asked Rosen,” “Are you celebrating Thanksgiving?” “He replied,” “of course.” Spagnoli then tried to clarify by saying, “I mean, do your people celebrate Thanksgiving?” Said his legal complaint. .
According to court records, Spagnoli held a staff meeting in December of that year, accusing Rosen of providing information to a Jewish citizen whom the city council had addressed the previous day, “simply because they were both Jewish.”
In the same month, Spagnoli said, “Is it not sacrilege to your people (Jews) not to invest in money?” the lawsuit alleged, adding that the chief told the Catholic officers that “all Catholic priests molest little children.”
When Spagnoli spoke about allegations that a Rabbi embezzled donation funds, he asked Rosen, “Don’t your people have ethical rules regarding their rabbis? I know the Catholics don’t, at least not with the priests and children, ”the legal documents said.
When Rosen reported the “anti-Semitic remarks”, he claimed that Spagnoli “retaliated by taking away his managerial duties and transferring him to an inferior assignment.”
Anne Marie Lunsman (pictured), a lesbian member of BHPD, claimed in a lawsuit that her chief “repeatedly made comments against lesbians.” Lunsman claimed that Spagnoli responded to the mention of a lesbian by saying ‘ew’ and ‘refused to be next to lesbians in photos’
Anne Marie Lunsman, a lesbian member of BHPD, claimed in a lawsuit that her superior “repeatedly made comments against lesbians.”
Lunsman claimed that Spagnoli responded to the mention of a lesbian by saying “ew” and “refused to be next to lesbians in photos.”
“Around 2017, Spagnoli stated that she gets sick when she thinks about what lesbian couples are doing,” her lawsuit claimed.
Another officer who sued the city, Scott Dibble, alleged in his lawsuit that Spagnoli made comments like ‘ew, do you mean she’s a lesbian? “Just don’t let her touch me or stand next to me. ‘
Despite her alleged aversion to lesbians, Spagnoli sent photos of Lunsman in her twenties to the lesbian officer and said “suggestively, that was a beautiful image,” claimed Lunsman’s lawsuit.
Lunsman claimed in her lawsuit that she had passed for a promotion, saying that she was “ one of four employees who applied for six open spaces. The three men were given spots, Lunsman was denied the opportunity without any legitimate reason. ‘
The City of Beverly Hills settled with Lunsman in September for an undisclosed fee.
GENDER WITH THE FOLLOWING
In multiple lawsuits, Spagnoli was accused of cheating on her husband Paul with subordinates at the Beverly Hills Police Department and her previous job as chief of the San Leandro Police Department in Northern California.
“She used to be San Leandro’s chief constable. When she left, she was accused of having sex with her subordinate and giving him benefits in exchange for those sexual favors, “a lawsuit filed by BHPD officer Scott Dibble in March alleged.
“Employees who had sexual relations with the chief were promoted. Those, such as the plaintiff who refused the consideration, were retaliated, discriminated against and harassed. ‘
In multiple lawsuits, Spagnoli was accused of cheating on her husband with subordinates of the Beverly Hills Police Department and her previous job as a chief of the San Leandro Police Department in Northern California. She is accused of an affair with San Leandro Sergeant Joe Molettieri (photo), then promoted to lieutenant. Sergeant Molettieri did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment
Spagnoli’s husband Paul (left) stayed in Northern California after taking up her high-flying job in Beverly Hills. Spagnoli has a son Nicholas (middle), early twenties, with Paul, a mortgage advisor and former police officer with the San Jose Police Department. A source told DailyMail.com that the couple broke up over claims that Spagnoli cheated, but in a 2019 statement, Spagnoli declined to reply when asked if she filed for divorce
According to the Beverly Hills Police Department, in a statement emailed to DailyMail.com this month, “The chief has denied inappropriate sexual relations with employees,”
In court papers, Dibble alleged that Spagnoli was having an affair with San Leandro Sergeant Joe Molettieri and then promoted him to lieutenant. Sergeant Molettieri did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Dibble also alleged in lawsuits that Spagnoli had “marginalized” another officer named “Luis T” only when he “refused her for sex.”
San Leandro police did not respond to a request for comment and made no statement on behalf of Lieutenant Molettieri
Officer Dibble also claimed in legal documents that Spagnoli was also having an affair with BHPD assistant chief Marc Coopwood, who told DailyMail.com that the lawsuits were ‘defamation and utterly false’ allegations that he was having an affair with Chef Spagnoli. .
Officer Dibble claimed that Coopwood “benefited from his sexual contacts by being hired as an assistant chief of the Beverly Hills Police Service, rather than older, more experienced applicants who did not” beat the chief. ‘
Dibble claimed that both Spagnoli and Coopwood “divorced through their extramarital affair.”
Spagnoli’s husband stayed in Northern California after taking up her high-flying job in Beverly Hills.
Spagnoli has a son Nicholas, in his early twenties, with husband Paul, a mortgage adviser and former police officer with the San Jose Police Department.
A source told DailyMail.com that the couple broke up over claims that Spagnoli cheated, but in a January 2019 video deposition as part of the Moreno case, Spagnoli declined to answer when asked if she had filed for divorce. “I don’t answer personal questions,” she said.
The chief doubled her refusal to answer when questioned whether her “divorce” paperwork said anything about her behavior while she was at Beverly Hills PD.
The chief is also accused of an affair with BHPD officer Marc Coopwood (left), who “ took advantage of his sexual contacts by being hired as assistant chief of Beverly Hills PD, rather than older, more experienced applicants who are not “Bang the chief” according to a lawsuit filed by Agent Dibble. Assistant Chief Coopwood told DailyMail.com that the claims that he was having an affair with Chef Spagnoli were “defamatory and utterly false.”
Dibble also appointed a fourth officer on the alleged chain, claiming that Scott Dowling was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant after having sex with Spagnoli – despite being accused of making “ numerous racist remarks against African Americans. ”
Dowling told DailyMail.com that he denied any wrongdoing and said that all charges against him were “grossly inaccurate and without merit.”
In his lawsuit, Dibble claimed that Spagnoli would make inappropriate sexual comments about officers.
“A male sergeant was riding his bicycle to work,” the lawsuit claimed. Spagnoli commented on his body parts, including his genitals in the revealing cycling shorts. Another male employee was wearing a tight uniform. The chief seductively rubbed the employee’s biceps and made comments about his body.
“In a recent meeting of the chief of police, Spagnoli was called a sexual predator,” the legal documents filed March 30.
Dibble, who is married, claimed that he himself was “subject to unwanted sexual advances” from Spagnoli, and she refused him a promotion after he turned her down.
Spagnoli sent Dibble (and other male employees) several provocative text messages to trick them into having a sexual relationship to fulfill Spagnoli’s lust, his legal documents alleged.
Some officers “beat the chief” as they put it. They were rewarded. Others, like Dibble, refused, they were punished. ‘
Dibble claimed that Spagnoli initially “prodded an interest” in his career, but then began to inquire about his “private life, including the status of his marriage, any marital problems and other private matters.”
BHPD officer Scott Dibble (pictured) filed a lawsuit against Spagnoli claiming she had made unwanted sexual advances on him. Dibble, who is married, said she refused him a promotion after he turned her down. Spagnoli sent Dibble (and other male employees) several provocative text messages to trick them into having a sexual relationship to fulfill Spagnoli’s lust, his legal documents alleged.
The police chief listens to the country song she sent Dibble in a video statement about Dibble’s suit. In an excruciating exchange, Gage Spagnoli asks if she thought it “appropriate” for the police chief to send a love song to a subordinate
Lyrics to the song van zangeres Easton Corbin (foto), die Gage voor Spagnoli speelde op een laptop tijdens haar video-opname, inclusief: ‘love me baby, kom op, kom op, kom op. Sla gewoon je armen om me heen ‘
De officier beweerde dat Spagnoli hem ‘s avonds laat zou sms’en, hem een liefdeslied van het land had gestuurd, genaamd Are You with Me, en hem gevraagd naar haar huis te rijden.
Lyrics to the song van zangeres Easton Corbin, die Gage voor Spagnoli speelde op een laptop tijdens haar video-opname, inclusief: ‘love me baby, kom op, kom op, kom op. Sla gewoon je armen om me heen. ‘
De politiechef luistert naar het countrylied en in een ondraaglijke uitwisseling vraagt Gage Spagnoli of ze het ‘gepast’ vindt dat de politiechef een liefdeslied naar een ondergeschikte stuurt.
Ze antwoordde dat zij en agent Dibble liedjes zouden uitwisselen omdat ze een ‘gemeenschappelijk belang’ hadden.
‘We hebben een paar nummers uitgewisseld en die betekenden niets en voor iemand om daar in te lezen, is het jammer’, zei ze.
‘Nadat hij de ongepaste communicatie van de chef had stopgezet, besloot Spagnoli wraak te nemen op Dibble’, beweerde de officier in zijn rechtszaak.
‘Sindsdien is hem verschillende keren de promotie geweigerd, aanvankelijk tot sergeant vanwege zijn weigering om een seksuele relatie met de chef te hebben als onderdeel van een claim van intimidatie, discriminatie en vergelding. Degenen die wel seks hadden met de Chief, werden gepromoveerd of ingehuurd voor banen ‘, aldus de juridische aanvraag.
Spagnoli en de stad Beverly Hills hebben geen officieel antwoord op de rechtszaak ingediend, die op 30 maart in Los Angeles County Superior Court is aangespannen. De rechtbanken zijn momenteel gesloten voor niet-noodgevallen vanwege de sluiting van het coronavirus.
Spagnoli werd door verschillende BHPD-functionarissen beschuldigd van leeftijdsdiscriminatie in hun rechtszaken.
Agent David Brandon beweerde in zijn rechtszaak dat Spagnoli hem tijdens een bijeenkomst in september 2016 vertelde dat ‘ze wist dat hij’ ‘de pensioengerechtigde leeftijd’ had ”.
‘Spagnoli bedreigde eiseres dat hij, als hij er niet mee instemde onmiddellijk met pensioen te gaan, zou worden onderzocht en gedisciplineerd wegens beschuldiging van intimidatie door een medewerker die op dat moment al acht jaar oud was, eerder was onderzocht en werd ontslagen bij gebrek aan bewijs, ‘beweerde Brandon.
Officer Clark Fogg, 58, (pictured) had been working for BHPD since 1984. He launched an age discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the city in 2018, claiming Spagnoli ‘regularly made disparaging remarks about Plaintiff’s age to Plaintiff and subjected him to a barrage of adverse employment actions based on his age’
The officer said in legal documents that Spagnoli pressured him ‘three or four more times’ over a week to take retirement, threatening a 15 percent pay cut.
When Brandon, a black man, retired soon after, his lawsuit said he was replaced by a ‘significantly younger’ white officer.
Brandon’s case is still pending, and has been delayed due to the coronavirus shutdown of LA courts.
Officer Clark Fogg, 58, had been working for BHPD since 1984. He launched an age discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the city in 2018, claiming Spagnoli ‘regularly made disparaging remarks about Plaintiff’s age to Plaintiff and subjected him to a barrage of adverse employment actions based on his age.’
Fogg claimed that in April 2016, the chief asked him ”When are you going to retire? Don’t you think there are other people that want to promote to your position?” and then demoted him.
In legal documents, Fogg claimed Spagnoli also told him: ‘You have worked for the Department a long time and that someone my age (she brushed her side of her head- indicating my grey hair on my side burns) should retire and let someone younger take over the supervision of the lab.
”’Why do you have a hard time dealing with the subject of retirement – seems that it’s not a hard decision – you should really consider moving on”,’ he claimed she said.
The City settled with Fogg for an undisclosed sum.
In Dibble’s lawsuit he claimed Spagnoli said Beverly Hills traffic control officer Pat Hamilton was ‘too old or too gray to be directing traffic’. After Hamilton retired, she placed a cone saying ‘Caution Slow Senior Old Zone’ near to his desk, the court filing claimed.
Spagnoli was also accused in legal documents of complaining another officer was ‘driving like an old man’ and that he ‘would never be promoted as her executive officer because ”he couldn’t drive”.’
Despite the claims of affairs at her previous police chief job in Northern California, it appears nobody in Beverly Hills saw the multi-million dollar controversy coming when Spagnoli was hired.
After the department announced its new chief in 2016 – the force’s first female Chief of Police – glossy fashion magazine Vogue ran a glowing feature and glamorous photoshoot on Spagnoli, describing her as a ‘veteran known for her high ethical standards’.
The article gushed that the new chief followed her father’s values to, ‘treat people fairly and don’t abuse that power’, and described her intent to break the ‘glass ceiling’ ever since she joined the police force as a cadet.
After the department announced its new chief in 2016 – the force’s first female Chief of Police – glossy fashion magazine Vogue ran a glowing feature and glamorous photoshoot on Spagnoli, describing her as a ‘veteran known for her high ethical standards’
And some of the highest-ranking City officials still went to bat for the embattled police chief even as the lawsuits against her piled up.
Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch came to Spagnoli’s defense last year in a statement to a local newspaper.
‘It’s very difficult for some people to deal with a female police chief,’ Mirisch, who was then Vice Mayor, told the Beverly Press. ‘There are also people who are being egged on because they see money. We live in a very litigious society.
‘That’s not to say we don’t take a troublesome work environment very seriously, but there comes a point when people are trying to shake down the city. It smacks of political opportunism and support for an agenda.’
However, the announcement made last week that Spagnoli is quitting the force may not stop the tide of legal claims.
Attorney Gage, 60, a successful trial lawyer with more than 20 settlements that were $1 million plus under his belt, told DailyMail.com he will keep fighting for clients he believes have been wronged.
‘I don’t think the problem has gone away, which means the lawsuits will continue,’ he said.
‘Just because they throw everything at me and spend millions and millions of dollars of attorney’s fees doesn’t mean I’ll be deterred.’
And despite the stack of lawsuits costing the city in excess of $8 million, Gage said it only put a small dent in the giant pot set aside for potential claims.
‘The City had, I was told, an $80 million fund to defend these cases, pay the lawyers and pay any clients. Beverly Hills is quite rich, and when you’re that rich you can afford to do what you like,’ he said.
‘But it’s not the money of the city council or the chief of police at stake. It’s the taxpayer’s dollars, or the insurance company.
‘And so there’s really no personal accountability. They get to just do what they want. It’s like a fiefdom. And if they get caught, so what? It’s not coming out of their pockets.’
Gage estimated that Spagnoli will retire with a generous pension of ‘between $400,000 and $500,000 a year.’
‘She stands to make between $16 million and $20 million, leaving the city in the lurch that she left them in,’ he said.
‘She’ll wind up with more money than my clients, more money than the lawyers all combined for both sides.’