Friday, May 25 , 2018, 12:08 pm | Partly Cloudy 64º


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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >