Committee of Vigilance Against Corruption

In Your Court! Just Compensation? This Could Be You! What Is Your Verdict? Tell Your Story!


Corruption Exposed – Victims In Our Community

Under Cover Surveillance of Political Opponents At Taxpayer Expense

There are dozens of clubs and organizations representing wholesome recreational activities and popular
hobbies meeting regularly throughout El Dorado County.  Several host candidate forums during election
years.  In 2010 the Modified Motorcycle Association, a statewide organization comprising individual
recreational motorcycle clubs hosted two candidates forums to hear the views and stances of six and later
two candidates for the important office of County Sheriff.  Their first forum was held during the June
Primary Election and four of the six candidates participated.  Their second forum was held during a runoff
election between Sheriff’s Captain Craig Therkildsen, who was strongly backed by both District Attorney
Vern Pierson and County Auditor Controller Joe Harn, and John D’Agostini who was an outsider to El
Dorado County government at that time.  Candidate D’Agostini accepted the local club’s offer and spoke
while candidate Therkildsen, with DA Pierson’s blessing, sent an undercover surveillance team
of officers to secretly record D’Agostini. Edited excerpts of the surveillance recordings were then
leaked to the news media in an attempt to damage D’Agostini’s campaign.

Shortly following the leak of the Therkildsen/Pierson undercover surveillance recording to the news media,
representatives of the victimized local motorcycle clubs and D’Agostini’s campaign consultant attended the
El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting to request a formal investigation.  During that meeting
they presented the Board with Code Sections in State Law they believed had been violated and formally
asked the County and the District Attorney (who was present) to investigate this incident. Instead, the
District Attorney, Vern Pierson, chose to do nothing and cover-up the matter to protect the Sheriff
candidate he was backing.  Several weeks later D’Agostini was elected County Sheriff. 

Creating a Climate of Fear and Intimidation With County Employees

I am a CPA, was a Scout Master for the Boy Scouts and a previous employee of El Dorado County.  I live in 
El Dorado County.  What I am about to describe about Joe Harn is based on my own experience.

One of my duties at the county made it necessary that I work with a woman in Joe Harn’s office on budgets (her name 
is withheld to protect a victim).  While doing this work I found some strange and unusual things 
had happened in this budget area in the past.  After working on this issue for a few weeks 
I suddenly could no longer get the woman to return my calls.  Since I just worked across the street, 
I walked over to find out why she was not taking my calls.  The woman told me Joe 
had instructed her that I could no longer talk with her.  She had been told by Joe Harn that if I came to her 
office, she was to call him. 

Joe Harn (dressed in his usual morning sweats) came right down from his office  upstairs and started 
yelling at me about a variety of nonsense none of which was true.  While yelling he came 
closer and closer pointing a finger in my face.  I had never had a conversation with him before this.  I was 
shocked and surprised by this very unprofessional behavior.  It was then I realized that the stories might
be true that Joe Harn had had a sexual relationship with this woman.  I could only guess that he 
was giving me a message not to mess with his “lady”.  My suspicions were confirmed as I found out that this 
woman had taken a temporary assignment with the Tax Collector’s office during a cooling off period after the relationship 
with Joe Harn went bad.  By the way, this woman was one of the highest paid employees of Joe Harn’s and still is.  There 
have been other women in Joe Harn’s office with whom he has forced a relationship.  They are victims.  Joe might argue it was 
their choice, but what do you do when your boss makes you choose between feeding your family and doing what you 
would never want to do.  It is a real shame.  In describing this yelling incident to others, I found out that Joe had done the same
thing to more than a few people as a way to intimidate them.  Also, after this incident, Joe Harn instructed his staff that they 
were no longer to communicate with me and that I had to go through him personally for all work.  When I tried to work directly 
with Joe, he refused to respond and tried to pressure my boss to fire me, which my boss refused to do.  Joe also had a 
yelling session with my boss to try to intimidate him.

While working at El Dorado County I had many experiences where Joe Harn directed his staff to waste taxpayer’s money by 
questioning over and over items that were less than $5.00 and re-writing contracts to change one word at the cost of thousands
of dollars to us taxpayers.  Joe Harn has instructed his staff not to help any other department in financial matters so 
that he can look like a hero when things fall apart in the various departments so that Joe can claim that he 
uncovered the problems when in reality he has helped cause the problem by not doing his job to help the departments with 
training and mentoring.

If you have any trusted friends working at the county who have interaction with Joe Harn, ask them what they think of 
Joe.  You will be surprised that most people see Joe as a major source of wasted money and ineffective government 
while he forces his agenda on the other leaders and employees of the county.  Having spent most 
of my career in private industry, I was very disappointed that all this was going on in my county.

Chris McCaffree, CPA
Former El Dorado County Employee
Fiscal Administrative Manager

Fraudulently Using The Grand Jury To Destroy Political Opponents

Between 2008 and 2010 a local political consultant, Dan Dellinger, worked on three campaigns for
candidates strongly opposed by both District Attorney Vern Pierson and County Auditor-Controller Joe
Harn. Despite the best efforts of Pearson and Harn to elect their chosen candidates, all three of Dellinger’s
clients won election -

2008   Coalition Building Consultant for Congressional Candidate Tom McClintock

2008   Principal Consultant for Supervisorial Candidate Ray Nutting

2010   Principal Consultant for Sheriff candidate John D’Agostini

In early 2011 Dellinger project partnered with another local consultant, Cris Alarcon, to help the cash
strapped Pioneer Fire Protection District educate their constituents about the District’s looming financial
crisis, assist the District with election related legal filings and procedure compliance, and advise them on
passing a parcel tax requiring a 66.67% vote. Due to PFPD’s financial hardships, Dellinger and Alarcon
agreed to receive 45% of their fee in late 2011 and the remaining 55% when the new parcel tax revenue
would be collected in early 2013. PFPD has an administration services contract with the El Dorado County
Auditor-Controller’s Office. Several months into their work for PFPD Auditor-Controller Joe Harn held
up their payments due and demanded that Dellinger and Alarcon’s contract with PFPD be re-written.  With
Harn’s active collaboration, Dellinger, Alarcon, and the PFPD Board re-wrote the contract and Harn issued
the two checks due the consultants in 2011.  Dellinger and Alarcon successfully completed their work
California State law prohibits government organizations and agencies from spending tax money to expressly
advocate for or against candidates or ballot measures. To ensure compliance with State Law, prominent
community members formed a Political Action Committee with the Fair Political Practices Commission and
raised private money from community donations to pay for election related advocacy.  In November 2011,
PFPD’s Measure F passed with nearly 77% of the vote.  

In early 2012 Dellinger began working on the election campaign of superior court judge candidate Warren
Stracener and soon began appearing as the information contact on official news releases.  Sometime in or
around March, 2012 both DA Pearson and A-C Harn publically endorsed Stracener’s opponent, Joseph
Hoffman and began actively campaigning on Hoffman’s behalf  Fully aware of Dellinger’s success record
against their political friends, Pierson and Harn try to create a scandal to discredit Dellinger and his clients.
In April, 2012 Harn and Person bring allegations against Dellinger before the Civil Grand Jury and threaten
to sue, with the unlimited resources of County Government, both Dellinger and his business partner on the
project for all of the money they earned in 2011 and the balance of PFPD’s debt owed them in 2013 unless
he forfeits his money still owed and lie about violating the law. Dellinger refused their unjust demands.
With great publicity, DA Vern Person filed a civil suit against Dellinger and Alarcon alleging that they (who
were the recipients of District money) had somehow expended District funds for advocacy, funds that can only
by dispersed by Auditor-Controller Joe Harn. In addition, DA Pierson strategically chose to bring this
unjust lawsuit under a State Code Section that prevents victims of false litigation from recovering their legal
expenses - even if they prevail over the District Attorney in court.

Judge Stracener was elected in November 2012. Person and Harn’s manufactured scandal plan did not elect
their political friend but it has proved exceptionally costly for Dellinger to continue his legal defense.

Arbitrary And Capricious Treatment Of Local Agencies - Abusing The Grand Jury For Publicity

At the insistence of Auditor/Controller Joe Harn I agreed to accept a seat on a fire district board that no
one else would fill. Unfortunately, Mr. Harn made my four year term very unpleasant.
    For whatever reason, he had developed a dislike for the district and its staff. During my term,
disagreements with Mr.Harn and his staff became almost a weekly occurrence. The parameters of his
antagonism stretched from a $32 pair of shoes that were part of a clothing allowance to an effort to
withhold $131,000 of Aid to Fire funds. This effort followed an overreaching misinterpretation, on the
auditor’s part, of an internal district contract. This game of one-upmanship, on the auditor’s part, created
havoc with our budget and set in motion the termination of two paramedic/firefighters, putting the lives
and property of our citizens in jeopardy.

    The district became accustomed to late or insufficient pay checks, following never ending inquiries and
holdups while contracts, that in fact were none of the auditors business, were picked over. Inquiries and
clarification of out-of-the-blue changes in the auditors policies and procedures, which applied only to our
district, were often answered with, “if you don’t like it, do it yourself” or “ask Joe”.

    All this foolishness allowed the auditor’s office to shirk some of the services they were required
to provide us, not to mention our increased cost to do business with each other. This was, and is, an
unnecessary drain of taxpayer’s funds and services.

    Mr. Harn saw to it that many of his vindictive issues became fodder for the press and television news
requiring many of our board and staff members having to appear multiple times before the Grand
Jury. Eventually all these issues were resolved and everyone was paid. This points out that all this
unprofessionalism on the auditor’s part was nothing more than ongoing harassment of our district and its

    Now I watch the ongoing harassment from Mr. Harn creep into other areas of the county.  I could
describe in more detail many more antics produced by Mr. Harn, however, this would require innumerable
pages. Suffice to say that when you consider that the auditor, while filling the role of treasurer for our fire
districts, is required to work under the direction of these district boards, I believe that Mr. Harn has neither
the temperament nor the aptitude to maintain this Auditor/Controller position.

    We have seen, on the federal level, the use of the IRS to run audit’s on those who do not toe the
sitting party line. That having been said, could it be that the harassment and nitpicking, emanating from
the auditor’s office, is also being applied to those who have not fallen in line with whatever agenda is on
the front burner. It is not required that the auditor, whose legal staff is provided by we the taxpayers, be
victorious in his accusations, only that the target suffers a monetary setback and a loss of respect among the

    Mr. Harn’s costly effort to discredit those involved with our “first responders” is a delusion
masquerading as a taxpayer’s crusader, when in fact Mr. Harn’s $250,000 income for creating tumult and
mistrust amongst our citizens is a taxpayer’s worst nightmare.      

R Smith
Director, Garden Valley Fire Protection District (Ret.)

Abuse of Office – Failing to Investigate or Prosecute Crimes and Malfeasance of personal and political friends, representitives of the Carson City Courts.

My name is Ty Robben. On October 18, 2012 I had three armed men break into my home
claiming to settle a civil dispute. The 3 men were bounty hunters who crossed state lines
from Nevada in South Tahoe California. I was not a fugitive. My front door was bashed in, I
was shot 3 times with taser guns and they slashed my car tires.

What happened to me was true assault, battery, home invasion, kidnapping, vandalism and
bounty hunters from Justin Brothers Bail Bonds acting as mercenaries and "state actors" on
behalf of the Carson City, Nevada Government.

I filed a report with the South Lake Tahoe police who were actually at the crime scene and
participated and aided the bounty hunters since the bounty hunters were acting on a
nonextraditable arrest warrant from Nevada. Since the bounty hunters used the "warrant" as an
excuse and used law enforcement in the process, they were "acting under the color of law"
and they crossed State lines making matter worse.

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department (SLTPD) initially tried to cover-up, white-wash
and stonewall the matter and would not release police reports, etc. I protested the SLTPD in
January 2013 and had the press file California public records demands for said police report.
Ultimately, with the pressure from the high profile outrage, SLTPD produced the police
report and the El Dorado County District Attorney did file charges against one of the four
perpetrators.  However, the DA did not charge the main perpetrators who conspired and
participated in the crime. The DA also watered down the charges to misdemeanors and
offered a simple plea bargain to the one person, Douglas Lewis, whom they charged.

The DA Vern Pierson and his assistant became the defense counsel for the Justin Brothers
(Dennis and Richard Justin) and make up false reasons for not charging them including
stating they were not at the crime scene when Dennis Justin clearly admits in the deposition
he was in fact there.

I protested DA Vern Pierson’s office and filed a writ-of-mandate in the El Dorado County
Superior Court, South Lake Tahoe office. A hearing is scheduled for July 19, 2013.

Ty Robben

Abuse of Office - Bullying

On October 17, 2008, I met with Mr. Joe Harn.  I initially believed this was a team
building meeting to improveour relationship.  Upon meeting Mr. Harn sometime after
11:00 am, Joe asked me to follow him out of the building.  I initially thought this to
be unusual but continue on and followed him out to a bench in the Veteran Memorial.  After
sitting down,Joe raised the issue of concern.  I and my FAM, Chris McCaffree had not responded 
back to one of Chris’s workers, _______, who had sent an email stating that she did not believe that
General Service FAM had sufficient resources to get the monthly EID bill paid on time.  Joe
believed that by stating this, Chris or I would not be able to discipline her performance,
if needed.  I told Mr. Harn that I had seen the email and did not believe it was disrespectful
or unprofessional and therefore, did not really warrant a response.  Joe was not happy with
my response and became visibly agitated.  At that point, I did not say anything about it.  The
discussion continued and he explained that he thought Mr. McCaffree was getting to close
to his staff and would not be able to discipline them.  I assured him this was not true.  Then,
Mr. Harn asked if I knew how Mr. McCaffree became the General Services FAM. I said I did not.  Mr. Harn
explained to me that he was asked to pick a new GS FAM, which I thought was strange.  He then said he
could have him fired.  I asked him who Mr. McCaffree worked for. “Did he work for you, Joe.”  Joe responded
that he did not and that Mr. McCaffree worked for me.  I assured Mr. Harn that Chris
was an exceptional employee and that he would remain the GS FAM.  I don’t believe he liked my
answer. Then, Mr. Harn asked me if I knew that he had worked the media to force the BOS to fire
one of the past General Services Director.  I told him I did not.  He then proceeded to ask me to respond to
_______’s email telling her that we in fact had the resources to do the job.   He said it was inappropriate for ______ to put this in
an email.  This continues on -- at least six more times he asked me to address this email.  He become
even more agitated so that I had to ask him why he was so visibly irritated.  He said he was
not irritated.  In the interest of working together, I finally agreed that I would
have Mr. McCaffree address the email as he wished.  He then explained that he was
now more comfortable that we would get the job done. 

It has become clear to me that this was a carefully orchestrated meeting of intimidation, 
that I was a threat to him, this was a power struggle and he was letting me know I would do his bidding, and if not
he certainly had the ability to work the media to force the BOS to fire me.  Mr. Harn 
was trying to intimidate me and wanted me to be fearful of him.  He was also threatening that he could 
get me fired. This was both bizarre and crazy – I would suggest that this man may be unbalanced.

I believe this to be totally unprofessional, against County policy, and believe Mr. Harn should be 
admonished for this behavior.

Tom Heck