FORMER ORANGE COUNTY ASSISTANT SHERIFF CHARGED WITH MULTIPLE COUNTS OF MISUSING PUBLIC FUNDS AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST

OCDASeal

Orange County District Attorney
Press Release


Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
September 30th, 2004
Contact:Mark Macaulay
(714) 347-8405 (O)
(714) 323-4486 (C)

Santa Ana – Former Orange County Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo, 44, of Dove Canyon, was charged and arraigned in the Central Justice Center yesterday for multiple counts of misappropriation of public moneys and conflict of interest charges surrounding his involvement in a laser technology company called CHG Safety Technologies, Inc. (CHG).  His wife’s younger sister, Erica Hill, 33, of Orange, was also charged with felonies for helping him. 

For his involvement with CHG from July 26, 2000 to June 21, 2002, Jaramillo was charged with six (6) counts of felony misappropriation of public moneys and 4 counts of misdemeanor conflict of interest.  If convicted of all charges, Jaramillo faces a range of punishment from probation to 9 years in state prison.  For her involvement with CHG from October 15, 2000 to spring of 2002, Hill was charged with three (3) counts of felony misappropriation of public moneys.  If convicted of all charges, Hill faces a range of punishment from probation to 6 years in state prison. 

Jaramillo is accused of using his position of Assistant Sheriff and the respect that position carries with it to benefit personally.  With that power and prestige, Jaramillo is accused of ordering a unit of the Sheriff’s department called Neighborhood Enhancement Team (NET) on August 30, 2000, September 13, 2000, January 4, 2001, April 26, 2001, April 8, 2002, and June 21, 2002 to demonstrate CHG products.  These actions resulted in a monetary loss to Orange County because deputy sheriffs and County equipment were misused to perform tasks that were done for the benefit of CHG. 

Hill is accused of helping Jaramillo misappropriate public moneys for personal benefit through her position as a CHG employee.  Hill is accused of knowing that Jaramillo was a paid consultant to CHG and using County resources to benefit Hill and Jaramillo. 

Jaramillo and Hill will be in court on October 6 for pretrial and October 12 for preliminary examination in Central Justice Center, Department C-55. 

PROTECTING THE PUBLIC PURSE
“In order for our government to work, the public must be able to have confidence that their leaders, especially its law enforcement leaders, will put the public’s interest above their private pocket books,” said Orange County District Attorney (CODA) Tony Rackauckas.  “George Jaramillo, with the help of Erica Hill, is accused of violating that sacred trust so he and his family members could make money.  Sheriff’s deputies, patrol cars, and County equipment were taken away from protecting the community and used to market CHG products.  This is truly a sad day for the People of Orange County.”

INVESTIGATION
These charges are a result of an exhaustive, 10-month investigation by the CODA into many allegations surrounding this matter.  At relevant times during the course of the investigation, other governmental agencies including the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Attorney General’s offices were consulted. 

RELEVANT TIME LINE
March 16, 2000 (El Toro) — Sheriff Michael Carona authorized a product demonstration using department resources to test and evaluate a laser technology designed to help law enforcement to stop high-speed pursuits.  These products were manufactured and marketed by a company called CHG owned by Charles Gabbard.  Sheriff Carona did not authorize any further demonstrations.

July 26, 2000 — A “Confidential Disclosure Agreement” was signed by then-Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo and Gabbard/CHG. 

August 30, 2000 (O.C. Fairgrounds)–Jaramillo is accused of using his position of Assistant Sheriff and misusing NET to demonstrate CHG products in order to financially benefit himself and his family. 

September 13, 2000 (near Irvine Regional Park and 241 Toll Road) — Jaramillo is accused of using his position of Assistant Sheriff and misusing NET to demonstrate CHG products in order to financially benefit himself and his family. 

October 23, 2000 – Jaramillo got Hill a job working for CHG.  Initially, Hill was hired as a secretary.  She subsequently moved up in the company as the Director of Product Development and Marketing and then to Chief Operating Officer.

October 15, 2000 – Gabbard/CHG wrote check #1708 to Jaramillo for $10,000.  Gabbard/CHG then voided that check and wrote check #1709 for $10,000 to Lisa Jaramillo. 

November 3, 2000 — A “Consulting Agreement” was signed between Jaramillo and Gabbard/CHG.  Gabbard/CHG paid Jaramillo $8,000.

November 6, 2000 – County counsel spoke with and wrote a legal opinion informing Jaramillo the law on conflict of interest and that he cannot participate in any dealings between the company from which he receives more than $300 and the County or the Sheriff. 

January 4, 2001 (O.C. Fairgrounds) — Jaramillo is accused of using his position of Assistant Sheriff and misusing NET to demonstrate CHG products in order to financially benefit himself and his family. 

January 31, 2001 – Jaramillo ordered a deputy sheriff to run a criminal record check on Gabbard, which revealed his violent felony history.  Jaramillo believed Gabbard could not successfully market CHG products as a result.

February 1, 2001 – Gabbard/CHG paid Jaramillo $7,000 as it was outlined in the 11-3-2000 “Consulting Agreement.”

March, 2001 – An “Executive Investment Committee” document naming Jaramillo is drawn up contemplating Jaramillo’s compensation in the event of sale of CHG.  This document stated that Jaramillo could personally receive more than $640,000 personally if CHG were to be sold. 

April 26, 2001 — (O.C. Fairgrounds) — Jaramillo is accused of using his position of Assistant Sheriff and misusing NET to demonstrate CHG products in order to financially benefit himself and his family.  Hill is accused of helping Jaramillo by using her CHG position to misappropriate public moneys for personal benefit.

April 8, 2002 — (O.C. Fairgrounds) — Jaramillo is accused of using his position of Assistant Sheriff and misusing NET to demonstrate CHG products in order to financially benefit himself and his family.  Hill is accused of helping Jaramillo by using