Newspaper Archive of
Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
December 26, 2001     Feather River Bulletin
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December 26, 2001

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Progressive, Record, Reporter out back, and it, and it had not taken apart. And then went. That was one of was "What is going on?" So, a lot of peo- out and looked. People were tak- of it. Yeah. There on that to take it apart. discussion took about whether Gardner about the contents of Gardner said he not know the specifics, that it had been rebuilt L better engine.) think we've established that you engine. I think issue, not whether high performance or It has been in- regardless of the rumors are, the D.A. | I didn't do anything counsel said I do anything wrong, than give a perception t I did do something :. And, for that, I cer- r feel bad about. And, Lknow, I apologize to this and I apologize for making it I gave the percep- | that I screwed up, that I wrong. And I responsibility for that. think he is now dis- Nothing has changed, than this stuff was in personnel file (at the department) and it's " Bergstrand said. "I to go up to human re- to find it. Luckily, r had it. Bergstrand al- Gardner's claim t he had his support when with an inmate be- closed doors. the opposite, said. went to him and told him I thought it was very for him to have closed- with an inmate, what was going ' Bergstrand said. also denied that had his support the sheriff wrote a let- asking for the early re- from jail of inmate Her- Spliethof, the convicted who removed an engine a police car engine on said that he opposes the release of jail inmates. said that Gard- story about trying to with him differs. happened on occa- rather than the several Newspaper: Did you ever engine from you?" say to (the businessman who I said, "I can't buy it from bought and sold the engine to the county, but can I buy it Gardner), though, "There'sfrom you?' this engine. I need you to buy this, or however this conver- Newspaper: So, you knew sation went, and I want this you couldn't buy it from the engine, but I can't directly county?. Let me ask you: Why write a check for it myself to did you think you couldn't the county of Plumas. So, I buy it from the county?. need you to act as the middle- Gardner: I just felt I man." couldn't. Not that I had seen Gardner: No, no, no, no, any policy or anything on it. I. no. I didn't say that. I'll tell just felt I couldn't. you exactly what I said. (Gardner and DeCrona ex- When I fn'st--flrst I called plained the department pro- him up because I asked (a cedure that allows deputies staff person) to find out how to buy the agency's old we go about getting rid of this weapons through a dealer.) thing. She called. She told me it had to get on the boardNewspaper: So, you did agenda. That's what we did. say something like that to I called the wrecker and I(the owner)? Did you think it said, "We have this wrecked was a policy? car. We need you to come Gardner:. I didn't know. down and give us a bid on it, Like I say, I haven't seen a to get rid of it." policy. I just didn't think I And he knew exactly which could. one I was talking about. I thought he had towed it inNewspaper: So, you had a here (after the car was general feeling that it was wrecked). Come to find outagainst the rules or some- later he didn't. It was (anoth- thing like that? er business) that came in.Gardner: Well, I just didn't I think maybe a month-- think I could. maybe two months--I'm not Then it was dropped. There sure--went by. Terry and Iwas no discussion on how were out doing something much. There was no discus- one day, and we stopped bysion on "You do this for me." the shop (of the business And that's the way it was in- owner who bought the engine sinuated in the paper. We and sold it back to Gardner). didn't have that. And I asked the (owner), By the time it all came "You going to give us a bid on around, things had changed. I the engine?" didn't really want it. He said, "Oh, I forgot. I'll (Further discussion about do that." the engine. Nothing new was I said, "OK. Can I buy thediscussed.) instances Gardner recalls, not pressure Gardner to fire Bergstrand said, "He came him, as the sheriff claims. into my office once, and he When Gardner did fire said, 'I'm praying for you to him, Bergstrand said he was be reconciled.' And I looked upset because he didn't be- at him and he said, "And I lieve he was getting a fair want reconciliation between shake after working for the our two offices.' I said, 'OK.' department for 22 years. And he walked out. That was Bergstrand said he told the one and only time he ever Gardner, "Len, you're mak- approached me." ing a big mistake." About a week later, Bergstrand said Gardner Bergstrand .said, he ap- did not call him back for two proached Gardner and told hours, not the 20 minutes the him that he, too, wanted to sheriff is claiming. work out a solution. After the dismissal was re- It was at that time, scinded, Bergstrand said he Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2001 3B (A discussion occurred in In a short period of time, I mittee for the (California which Gardner said the calculated, a little overState Sheriffs Association.) I newspaper inaccurately stat- $500,000. That's sending them have made numerous trips to ed that the depaTtment had to the academy and the train- Sacramento. I have partici- sought to reclagsify DeCrona ing and everything., pated. I've gotten to know all as undersheriff. Gardner said And I thought that was way those people down there. So, paperwork was fried with the too much for those people to when I went up for the grant, county, stating that DeCrona spend that kind of money for one of the guys I know pulled was working out of class as them to take off. It was like me aside and said, "Sheriff, acting undersheriff.) we were a revolving door. So, we don't have money this (Another discussion oc- I changed my mind on that is- year, but we have money left curred in which Gardner and sue. And I began to campaign over from last year, and we DeCrona allege that at the service groups, telling can get you this grant." Well, Bergstrand offered to rehire the groups to talk to thewe got it. We got (the vehicle) Greg Hagwood as an investi- board, that deputies needsitting over there in the ar- gator ff Hagwood promised more money, mory. It's a fabulous ma- not to run for sheriff. They al- When I tried to get before chine. so alleged that Bergstrand the board, I was not allowed And don't think it didn't asked a department employee on the agenda. So, I went up upset some other sheriffs be- to ask a deputy not to accept to public comment, and I put cause they have been trying, a promotion to detective in my idea to the board, and here comes a rookie into order to allow Bergstrand to As a result, they opened up the sheriffs office. reinstate Hagwood in the po- negotiations with the associa- One sheriff told me, "The sition.) tion, and they got an addi- only reason you got that is tional 8 percent for the because you're sucking up to Newspaper: (Gardner is deputies, the dispatchers and those guys in Sacramento." asked about his accomplish- the correctional officers. Well, I was participating. I'm ments). Now, I don't think we've very proud of the fact that we Gardner: Before I got into had the turnover like we've got something for our county office, I was approached by had before. It has helped, that we can use in search and some deputies who wanted to (Gardner also added that rescue and going up on top of know if I would get involved the department has increased the hill and fixing repeaters in helping them get a raise, the number of positions, in- and that sort of thing. I told them, "No, I will not, cluding K-9 units. In addi- Just to give you an because I believe that's be- tion, the department changed overview: high technology tween the association and the its uniforms. Gardner's exact grant; the block grant; cops county. And I should not be words do not appear because in school; school-based part- sticking my nose into it." they were not recorded.) nership; ADA; rural funding After I came into office and The grants, the past three for law enforcement; and I got out all the figures and years, we have brought inboating and waterways. found out how much money over $1.5 million. If I hadn't worked so hard that this county and this de- Just to give you a littleto get these funds in here, we partment was putting out to idea, there's OHV. (Off-High- wouldn't be having this stuff go through the entire process way Vehicle agency). We are for the citizens. That's the of hiring deputies, putting the first sheriff's department way I look at it. them on the street, keeping to get a snowcat from OHV. Another thing we took them for a year and then they That's because, I believe, I over--the animal control. took off for another agency, am on the stakeholders com- See Gardner, page 11B iff's claim that he never Bergstrand said he fears was illegal and unethical and warned Gardner against buy- Gardner because of his anger urged Bergstrand to take a ingit, and desire to get even with stand. When he told Gardner people who cross him. As a result, Bergstrand about his concerns, But others at the sheriffssaid, he contacted the district Bergstrand said, the sheriff department apl~roached attorney, who investigated told him he had "checked it Bergstrand because they the matter but never official- out" and that buying the en- thought the sheriff's pur-ly determined whether any gine was not a legal problem, chase of the engine was not laws were broken. Though Bergstrand was legal. "Len had told me from day skeptical, he was reluctant to They asked him to try to do one, 'Hold me accountable, mention it again because he something about it, prompt- Whatever I do, hold me ac- feared Gardner's retribution, ing him to contact a mentor, countable, hold me account- "I've been scared of Len The mentor told able.' So, that's what I since I started working for Bergstrand he thought Gard- him," Bergstrand said. ner's purchase of the engine See Bergstrand, page 1441 Bergstrand said, that hetold the sheriff, "Thank you, I asked Gardner for his author- appreciate that." ity. Bergstrand said he was ap: However, unlik~ Oarchl~r's "~preciative because the dis- avowal, Bergstrand claims he missal "put me under a lot of never told Gardner that he stress." would not supervise employ- When Bergstrand returned ees in dispatch, the jail and to Quincy days later, he said the investigations unit. he contacted attorney David "That doesn't make sense, Adrian and met with Gard- for asking for my authority net. back," Gardner said. Bergstrand said that Gard- Bergstrand's version of net admitted to him during how he was f'med by Gardner the meeting that he had fired differs in some ways from the him because he went to the sheriff's version. Plumas County District At- He said he did contact torney with information Gardner after hearing from about the police car engine. sources that the sheriff was Gardner told Bergstrand trying to oust him from the that he would have preferred department, it had Bergstrand gone to the Bergstrand said that, while California Attorney General, he did tell Gardner he had because it would have kept had a job offer on the East the issue quiet locally, Coast, it wasn't a serious of- Bergstrand said. fer. On the issue of the engine, Bergstrand said he also did Bergstrand disputes the sher- Dental Care is just a phone call at the newly reopened O ,000 ,, Q t get save up extra day 31% ! FREE! 257-6144 - 550 Ash St. 283-1014 20 Crescent St. We'll help you from planning to painting. 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