The California Attorney General’s office recently charged a former SLO County District Attorney’s Office investigator—who left his post under a cloud of suspicion—with perjury.
The office confirmed that it filed a felony criminal complaint against August Justino “AJ” Santana on July 20 in SLO County Superior Court. According to a letter from Deputy Attorney General Seth McCutcheon to Santana’s attorney, Jim Murphy, Santana is due to appear in court Aug. 12.
Santana worked as an investigator for the SLO County DA’s Office from 2007 until February of this year, when District Attorney Dan Dow announced that he was “no longer employed” with the office. At the time, Dow declined to elaborate on whether Santana left or was fired. According to a report in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Santana was placed on paid administrative leave in October 2014 amid allegations that he provided a SLO County judge with a falsified affidavit in order to search the vehicle of Tommy Pappas for drugs. The case against Pappas was later dismissed, according to The Tribune’s report.
SLO County Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham told New Times that the DA’s Office initiated the process to terminate Santana’s employment, but indicated that the matter wasn’t completely settled.
“That’s still pending on civil service appeal,” Cunningham said.
According to court documents, Santana’s alleged misconduct bled over into at least one other criminal case. In December 2014, lawyers for Rodney Jarmin, one of two North County lenders charged in a criminal fraud case, filed a motion to obtain materials and personnel records for Santana in connection with the perjury allegations in the Pappas case. In his motion with the court, attorney Stephen Dunkel stated that the material was relevant because Santana worked on the case against Jarmin, including filing warrants to seize evidence used against Jarmin and testifying at preliminary hearings against him.
“The material sought is necessary in order to properly investigate and prepare for trial in the above entitled case and is material and relevant because [Santana] is responsible for conducting much of the investigation of [Jarmin] on behalf of the office of the prosecution,” Dunkel wrote.
The case against Jarmin and co-defendant Tammy Jordan is ongoing. While the criminal case against Santana moves forward, it’s unclear just how the charges leveled against him could impact other criminal cases he investigated. Cunningham said the office reviewed such cases “a number of months ago,” but declined to say exactly how many cases, if any, were either dismissed or reopened.