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Local News

Ex-Santa Maria Police Officer Files Lawsuit Claiming Wrongful Termination

Fired Officer Greg Wade says former police chief falsified record to get him placed on DA's 'suspect testimony' list

A former Santa Maria police officer is claiming he was fired without cause in a civil lawsuit filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Greg Wade, who was terminated in 2010, sued the City of Santa Maria, the Police Department, former Police Chief Danny Macagni and Lt. Norm Come in his suit, which alleges wrongful discipline, wrongful termination, defamation and infliction of emotional distress.

Wade’s administrative hearing — how a union member police officer can contest being fired — is almost over, which is why he’s filing the suit now, said his attorney, Josh Lynn.

“It’s very clear to me that he never should have been terminated, not even close,” Lynn said.

Santa Maria assistant city attorney Phillip Sinco said the city has not yet been served with the lawsuit.

“When it has been served, it will be reviewed, and an appropriate comment can be made at that time,” he told Noozhawk.

Lynn alleges that Macagni and his administration wrongly fired Wade and tried to make the termination stick by getting him placed on the District Attorney’s Office’s “Brady list,” which is a list of law-enforcement officers whose testimony is suspect because of past disciplinary matters. The designation exposes Wade to Pitchess motions that permit defense attorneys to delve into an officer’s personnel files during a criminal trial, Lynn said.

The District Attorney’s Office placed Wade on the Brady list predicated on false information from the Police Department, he further alleges.

The lawsuit asks for damages related to Wade’s loss of reputation and lost income from his job in the two years since his dismissal. Lynn said the suit also asks that Wade be removed from the Brady list.

“Our hope is that the city will do the right thing and talk to us,” he said.

Macagni was placed on administrative leave Aug. 1 for an undisclosed personnel issue, and he retired two days later. At least one other lawsuit was filed against the department in the same week as Wade’s.

A former Police Explorer has filed a federal lawsuit against Santa Maria, its police force and the estate of Officer Albert Covarrubias Jr., alleging that Covarrubias used his position of authority to rape and sexually harass her.

A police investigation of their relationship culminated in officers attempting to arrest Covarrubias while he was on duty at a DUI checkpoint Jan. 28. He resisted, gunshots were exchanged, and Covarrubias was shot and killed by a fellow officer.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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