The acting police chief in the city of San Fernando has been placed on administrative leave during an investigation into an allegation that he fixed a traffic ticket for Fred Flores, an aide to Rep. Howard Berman. A YouTube clip based on police car video reportedly shows Flores getting the ticket, then alleges that Flores made a call to the acting chief, Jeff Eley, soon after. Subsequent courthouse inquiries have found no record of the ticket. Flores is reportedly on medical leave and the Daily News reports that a Berman spokeswoman declined to discuss the allegation.
[* 4:35 p.m. update: Berman says through a rep: "I'm told that there has been a request that the sheriff's department open an investigation into this matter, which i support wholeheartedly, and if it that investigation shows wrongdoing on the part of a member of my staff, we will deal with it immediately." For what it's worth, Sheriff Lee Baca has endorsed Rep. Brad Sherman, Berman's opponent this year.]
Here's the YouTube clip.
Now some backstory. Eley is the acting chief only because the real police chief, Tony Ruelas, was put on administrative leave in February "amid allegations of an affair with a police cadet," the Daily News says. Ruelas is burning off unused vacation and officially retires Monday. In a larger sense, at least two factions appear to be vying for political control of San Fernando, the tiny city surrounded by Los Angeles in the Valley's northeast corner. Elected officials in and out of San Fernando, appointed city officials, the police and the local newspaper, the San Fernando Sun, are all engaged in the untidy and very personal little war.
In November, San Fernando's mayor Mario Hernandez stunned a City Council meeting when he announced that he had lost his business and filed for bankruptcy — and that he was having an affair with City Councilwoman Maribel De La Torre. All eyes in the room swung to the mayor's wife, sitting in the front row. Since then, more dramas have ensued.
La Opinión posted a story in Spanish on the ticket-fixing charges last night.
Steve Greenberg skewered San Fernando with an LA Sketchbook cartoon last month. See it inside.