Will Atwater’s Police Chief Have His Day In Court?
By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Founding Publisher
August 23, 2018
One would think after all this time, Atwater
Police Chief Sam Joseph would have his day in court. He
has been waiting since last January to hear what charges
are being made against him. He has not been charged.
Police Chief Sam Joseph is still a fully paid employee of
the City of Atwater so he cannot speak in his own defense.
His attorney broke the silence last week with an interview
in the Merced Sun-Star for there were many questions, and
many more questions not asked.
One thing is known and that is Chief Joseph did not want
to automatically increase the rank of five Atwater Police
officers who were promised by Police Chief Frank Pietro
that they would get a raise when the city had the money.
The city has never had any money and is in debt up to its
Still the police officers union insisted these people be
advanced. Chief Joseph wanted to allow all officers to compete
for any increase in rank. His decision was overruled.
When he was put on administrative leave with pay, the interim
City Manager Art de Werk stated that his decision to put
Joseph on adminstrative leave was because of the police
union’s vote of no confidence.
De Werk, a man who was fired as City Manager of Ceres with
a non disclosure agreement, actually made the decision to
put Chief Joseph on administrative leave before the union
took a vote. Repeated questions about the vote have gone
unanswered, such as how many officers voted and what kind
of pressure was put on the other officers in the department
to go along with the vote.
De Werk said he wanted to clear his name and be open with
the public so at a meeting of the Atwater City Council he
approved having a POST investigation by a private investigator.
Before that investigation was submitted to the City Council,
De Werk resigned.
City Attorney Doug White said since the investigation was
incomplete, none of the information could be released to
the City Council or the general public. He said he only
talked to the investigator on the phone to know what was
in the report.
That report remains in wraps. The city even refuses to say
how much it paid for the report.
That report could show exactly what was going on in the
city and the Atwater Police Department.
Thus far, the City of Atwater has had several investigations
paid for by taxpayers and it is assumed that their purpose
is to show that Sam Joseph is guilty of some wrong doing
that would warrant his removal as police chief.
Those investigations now center on the evidence room —
an area which if not handled correctly can cause many problems
for attorneys and prosecutors. De Werk hinted that somehow
Police Chief Sam Joseph handled the evidence room incorrectly.
Apparently, that information was forwarded to both District
Attorney Larry Morse and County Sheriff Vern Warnke several
months ago. No action was taken against Chief Joseph. Why
Was anything done to ensure that the evidence room was secured
at that time and no unauthorized person could go into the
Now there are rumors that there have been problems in Atwater’s
evidence room dating back to the time of Richard Hawthorne
as police chief. Both he and Police Chief Frank Pietro were
retired with high honors for doing an excellent job.
Atwater Police Chief Sam Joseph wants his day in court.
We believe him to be a man of integrity whose name has been
smeared by three members of the Atwater City Council —
Cindy Vierra, Brian Raymond and Paul Creighton, and with
the help of City Attorney Doug White and Art de Werk.
Where is the evidence of his wrong doing?
Now it is time to put up or shut up.