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September, 2002
Investigations Multiply Around Deceased Cop's Dismissal

By Jim Scanlon

Several agencies have opened, or reopened, investigations into a variety of charges including harassment, lying, negligence, incompetence, retaliation and discrimination on the basis of national origin directed towards Ric Alvillar ("the nicest cop in Fairfax") who died suddenly at the climax of dismissal proceedings against him by the Town of Fairfax last March. (See Coastal Post April 2002, "No Investigation Of Improprieties In Fairfax Cop's Dismissal")

The Town of Fairfax has opened an internal investigation into complaints by Therese Alvillar, Ric's widow, that Town officials, including the police chief and a police supervisor harassed Ric, made false statements about him, and created a hostile workplace for him.

In early June 2002, Therese Alvillar made a complaint to Fairfax Town Administrator Alan Bengyel who refused to consider her complaint. She appealed his decision and Bengyel refused to pass on her appeal. She then wrote directly to the Town Council and she received a letter from Bengyel, speaking for the Council, rejecting her complaint.

In late July, her attorney wrote directly to the Council and in a letter dated July 19, Thomas Bertrand, the Town's attorney, answered that the Town would open "... an internal affairs investigation of your client's [Therese's] complaints against Chief Hughes and former Sgt. Providenza. The Town desires to clear the air once and for all of the many charges leveled by your client even if certain of them were encompassed in the prior investigation."

Fairfax is in the process of hiring an independent investigator, presumably from outside the town. There was no indication when, or if the Town's Council acted on the complaints or the new investigation or if it acted at all, and did not announce it's actions as required by law.

Separately the Town's Chief of Police wrote directly to Therese Alvillar concerning other complaints of untruthfulness, negligence and incompetence against the Sergeant and officer who responded to her home to attend to Ric as he lay in bed after suffering heart dysrythmia. It was alleged that they failed to administer CPR and did not know how to use a defibrillator.

The Marin County District Attorney's Office is also looking into aspects of the above complaints against Fairfax Officials and, although it could not be confirmed, the FBI and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were also looking into complaints of retaliation and discrimination on the basis of national origin. The FBI does not comment on ongoing investigations.

It also appears likely that regardless of the outcome of the above investigations, a civil rights law suit will be filed.

 

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