Stockton, CA — Today, June 30, 2022, the 2021-2022 San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury released its final consolidated report. The final consolidated report contains investigative reports, findings and recommendations developed in the 2021-2022 term. Civil grand jurors examine and investigate local governmental activities within San Joaquin County. The responsibilities of the civil grand jury encompass the examination of all aspects of county government, including school and special assessment districts, to ensure that the county is being governed lawfully, efficiently and that public monies are being handled appropriately. The grand jury may conduct investigations of public agencies and the administration and affairs of any city within the county.

Hon. George J. Abdallah, Jr., Supervising Judge of the San Joaquin County Grand Juries commented on the 2021-2022 Civil Grand Jury’s work, saying, “The Judges of the Superior Court of California and the citizens of the County of San Joaquin thank and commend the 2021-2022 Grand Jurors for their conscientious efforts on behalf of all San Joaquin County citizens. The Grand Jurors undertook and completed their duties with great industry, intelligence and care in keeping with the long tradition of San Joaquin County Grand Juries.”

Today, also marks the day the members of the 2022-2023 Civil Grand Jury will be selected and sworn in. The selection and swearing in will take place in Department 3D at 3:00 p.m. The Civil Grand Jury is comprised of 19 citizens who are impaneled annually for a one-year term. The 2022-2023 term begins July 1, 2022.

The public is encouraged to read the final consolidated report by visiting the Grand Jury’s website.


2021-2022 San Joaquin Civil Grand Jury Release Report on Lathrop-Manteca Fire District

Stockton, CA — On June 23, 2022, the 2021-2022 San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury released its report investigating the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District (LMFD) in San Joaquin County. The Civil Grand Jury’s duty is to address citizens’ concerns regarding the operation of local government entities.

The LMFD became the focus of public scrutiny following media reports alleging misconduct at a training retreat held in Napa in February of 2021. These media reports detailed instances of inappropriate behavior and the improper use of the district’s credit card for personal services and items prohibited under the district’s credit card policy. When the LMFD Board of Directors learned of these issues, a third party was employed to investigate complaints and personnel issues related to the off-site retreat. The Fire Chief, as Chief Executive Officer of the LMFD, retired from the district at the conclusion of the third party’s investigation and an interim Fire Chief was appointed. The Grand Jury decided to open an investigation after receiving a written complaint and reviewing subsequent media reports of questionable expenditures by LMFD management.

In its investigation, the Grand Jury conducted interviews with key district leadership figures, reviewed the district’s governing rules and regulations, and analyzed staff complaints to determine the depth and accuracy of the allegations against the LMFD. The Grand Jury found the Board of Directors lacked training in government oversight and district polices, inadvertently, granting the former Fire Chief near autonomous authority over the district without including a system of checks and balances or an oversight function by the Board. This lack of Board oversight contributed to a hostile work environment and exposed the LMFD to potential liability including financial penalties.

The Grand Jury’s report details the complete findings of the investigation into allegations of misconduct in the LMFD under the former Fire Chief and provides the Board of Director’s with the framework to conduct the search and screening process for hiring the permanent Fire Chief. The LMFD improvement process is a work in progress but, with a committed Board of Director’s, an opportunity exists to restore trust following the turmoil and upheaval created under previous management.
The public is encouraged to read the complete report by visiting the Grand Jury’s website.


2021-2022 San Joaquin Civil Grand Jury Releases Report on Cyber Security in San Joaquin County

Stockton, CA —  On June 20, 2022, the San Joaquin County 2021-2022 Civil Grand Jury released its report investigating cybersecurity in San Joaquin County.  Cities and local  governments store sensitive information digitally making them vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches that can be disruptive to essential service systems.

In its investigation, the Grand Jury sought to understand the cybersecurity landscape and local governments’ management of their cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities. Through research of relevant materials and guidance from information system experts, the Grand Jury was able to provide a framework for evaluating the current state of security and disaster preparedness of the Information Technology systems of San Joaquin County and the seven incorporated cities within the county.

The Grand Jury surveyed San Joaquin County IT department heads and the City Manager or City Administrator of each of the seven cities in the county, and interviewed several  other recognized IT experts, to develop nine defined expectations for adequate cybersecurity ranging from organizational charts to cyber event insurance and ransomware policies. Each agency was then evaluated and the results were tabulated to indicate whether an agency met, did not meet, or was in the process of meeting the nine defined expectations.

In this investigation, the Grand Jury found San Joaquin County to be a model agency in the realm of information technology and maintenance of cybersecurity and learned from cybersecurity experts that three key elements lead to maximum agency cybersecurity:

•    A dedicated information security position within each organization.

•    A “seat at the table” with other agency department heads in regular meetings.

•    A rigorous employee education and training program in cybersecurity matters.

The public is encouraged to read the complete report by visiting the Grand Jury’s website.


2021-2022 San Joaquin Civil Grand Jury Releases Report on SUSD: A Failing Grade in Public Trust

Stockton, CA — The 2021-2022 Grand Jury received complaints alleging the Stockton Unified School District’s (SUSD) management and Board of Trustees were not adhering to policies and procedures regarding financial transactions and funds were not being used in the best interest of students, families, staff, and district. An investigation into these allegations was opened and the Grand Jury’s report was released on June 17, 2022.

The Grand Jury focused the scope of its investigation on SUSD’s financial management, Board transparency, and Board duty of care. To gain an understanding of the issues presented in the allegations against SUSD, the Grand Jury conducted more than 30 interviews, attended virtual Board meetings, and reviewed relevant documents, websites, and newspaper articles.

Stockton Unified School District has served students and families since 1852 and is the 15th largest school district in California. The Business Services Department (BSD) is directly responsible for all financial management of the district including accounting, budgeting, investments, and compliance with State and Federal reporting requirements. Due to the retirement and separation of numerous long-term employees in the past year, the BSD was not staffed to operational levels necessary to insure proper fiscal management. Deficiencies in training, experience, and knowledge of the requirements for financial reporting resulted in missed opportunities to secure grant funding, inconsistent implementation of the district’s financial policies and procedures, and a projected budget deficit by fiscal year 2024-25, if not sooner.

The Board of Trustees often made crucial decisions with minimal data, knowledge, and consideration and showed consistent disregard for Board Bylaws. The Grand Jury found a lack of transparency and apparent conflicts of interest exist that undermine the Board’s credibility, thereby, reducing public trust and confidence in the district. These failures by senior leadership and the Board of Trustees in SUSD has put the district’s future solvency at risk and drastic changes will need to be implemented to avoid financial catastrophe.

The public is encouraged to read the complete report by visiting the Grand Jury’s website.


Public Notice: Beware of Telephone Scams

There have been numerous telephone scams over the past year involving individuals identifying themselves as representatives of the Superior Court or other public agency. In these scams, citizens are contacted by phone by someone claiming to be with the court, sheriff, or other affiliated public agency. The person is either told they are late paying a court fine, have an open warrant, have failed to report for jury duty, or something else related to the court system. Victims are being told that if they do not pay the caller (via credit card, Apple iTunes cards, or bank routing number, etc.) they will have additional penalties added or go to jail. Calls sometimes come from various 800 numbers that when used appear to duplicate a public agency’s phone system in order to give the impression of credibility.

Please note that these calls are fraudulent and have no connection to the Superior Court. Court personnel will never ask for personal information over the phone such as social security numbers, credit card accounts, or bank routing numbers. If you receive a phone call from someone making these claims and asking for personal or financial information, hang up and immediately report the situation to local law enforcement.

Additional information related to telephone and email fraudulent activity is available on the FBI’s public website at https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes

If you get such a call, report it to your local law enforcement agency and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/