John Wallace pleads no contest to criminal conflict of interest charges

Former South County Sanitation District administrator John Wallace pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor conflict of interest charges Tuesday as part of a plea deal that will allow him to avoid a trial on four felony charges.

Wallace was also ordered to pay $59,721 in restitution and serve up to six months of bench probation, that will end after the restitution is paid. Because of statutes of limitation, the restitution is based on payments made to Wallace under his administrative contracts for charges from Jan. 24 through Feb. 28, 2013 at the South County Sanitation District, and from June 6 through Oct. 31, 2013 at the Avila Beach Community Services District.

“This prosecution illustrates the very technical nature of California’s conflict of interest law and serves to place special districts statewide on notice that this business model poses an inherent conflict of interest and puts ratepayer’s money at risk,” said SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow.

In Jan. 2017, the SLO County District Attorney’s Office charged Wallace, 73, with three felony and two misdemeanor conflict of interest charges for allegedly using his positions as a government administrator to funnel money to his privately owned engineering company, The Wallace Group.

Wallace’s attorney Kenneth White said during a preliminary hearing on Monday that he planned to use a statute of limitation defense. In addition, Wallace’s attorneys had also argued that because sanitation district board members and the districts legal counsel approved of the conflicts of interest, Wallace was not at fault.

“The resolution of the case was made in light of Judge Staffel’s statement regarding the statute of limitations, and equitable considerations, including the fact that attorneys for the districts had at various times indicated that a conflict did not exist and a 1993 Grand Jury finding that Mr. Wallace’s similar arrangement at the San Simeon Community Services District did not constitute a conflict,” according to the district attorney’s office.

For years, government employees, members of the public and a grand jury found conflicts of interest in Wallace using his government administrative position to generate jobs for Wallace’s private engineering firm.

In 2011, the Grand Jury found that the district board failed to recognize the conflict of interest and to eliminate or, at minimum, mitigate the conflict of interest and that Wallace’s contract had never been competitively bid as required by law.

San Luis Obispo County Auditor Controller Jim Erb was assigned to look into the Grand Jury’s conflict of interest allegations. Erb found no wrongdoing, he later reported, allowing the conflicts of interest to continue.

Several former sanitation district board members including Matt Guerrero, Tony Ferrara and John Schoals voted in support of many of Wallace’s questionable actions and verbally condemned several people who asked the district attorney to investigate Wallace.

Because of these actions, prosecutors did not file charges against Wallace until many of his conflict of interest actions were protected by the statute of limitation laws.

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19 Comments about “John Wallace pleads no contest to criminal conflict of interest charges”

  1. PORAC says:

    Remember nearly all the former staff in the DA’s office are now for Covello and Cummings for DA not one wants Dow re-elected….

    All the current sitting Jurist or Judges want Dow again……………….According to several of his former classmates from UC Santa Clara Law School support Dow. Even members of the DA’s Office do not support Dow any more.

  2. PORAC says:

    Tell me why are so many staff in the entire DA’s office going for a new DA, due to misconduct

  3. Otis says:

    Given that Wallace admits his guilt in a Plea Deal, where is District Attorney Dan Dow’s judgment of Sanitation District Board Members Matt Guerrero, Tony Ferrara and John Schoals who voted as fiduciaries supporting Wallace’s questionable actions? They opposed the concerns of Board Members Debbie Peterson and Jim Hill. Peterson and Hill have been subsequently politically condemned for insisting that the district attorney investigate Wallace. As fiduciaries Guerrero, Ferrara and Schoals share in Wallace’s misdeeds. That is a fact that has not been adjudicated!

    1. seeker says:

      Good point, Otis. The other malfeasant is Bill Nicolls, board member with Ferrara and Wallace 2008-2012, three as chair, and who reported that his wife, Barbara Nicolls sits on Grover Beach city council to carry out his wishes. Barbara has three times publicly admitted she has “a vested interest” but the Grover Beach City Council still insists that she should sit in his place on the South San board, which she now occupies as Vice Chair. Vice – appropriately stated.

  4. perk o late says:

    Add Dan Dow to bucket of disappointments we’ve elected in SLO county. He’s too chummy with Parkinson (corrupt and not so bright) and those apples don’t fall far from Gibson & Hill (more corrupt?). We need to toss out the whole bunch and start fresh.

    1. William J Sidis says:

      Gibson and Hill are mortal enemies of Dow. Any time people like Hill and Gibson dislike you, you HAVE TO BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT!

      Statements like yours need some shred of evidence to back them up…or don’t make them.

  5. William J Sidis says:

    Why does everybody jump on the DA in cases like this? He filed the charges against Wallace. The judge was questioning the veracity of the felony charges before even going to trial. In that case, it would be a waste of time to go forward when the judge is NOT going to be helping your case at all. Given these facts, and the probability that he would nit get convictions on the felony charges, he would be negligent to press forward with a trial. It would be a huge waste of taxpayer money.

    Some of you really should do a little more research and educate yourselves on some of these things before posting.

    1. seeker says:

      Because the DA was very weak at trial. That is a reflection only on the DA, not on the reflectors.

      1. William J Sidis says:

        It never went to trial, so how could he have been “weak at trial”?

        And, in case you didn’t know…if there WAS a trial, the DA himself is not in court himself.

        1. seeker says:

          You are parsing words. The DA was weak at PRE-trial. Maybe not Dow himself, but these were his staff and the buck stops with him.

    2. PORAC says:

      I think that there have been so many Innocent people wrongly charged and many more found factually NOT GUILTY speaks volumes of injustice. I reviewed those Deputy DA’s who jumped on the Dan Dow wagon in lieu of Tim Covello now i see most of them including a New Judge and former DDA in Dow’s office, that being Judge Jesse Marino who does NOT support Dow any longer, Kelly Manderino and many others who once supported Dow no longer and now support Covello that speaks volumes of the many serious issues within the DA’s office.

      Today’s Tribune hits it out of the ball park the DA’s office is in CHAOS, NOT 1 of our judges or commissioners support the DA Dow that too tells we the public something is seriously wrong in the DA’s office. I was told of numerous flawed and bogus cases that the DA’s office wasted not just (Our Money) but discharged overcharged and charged innocent people.

      Cases in point, John Black elderly man alleged to have committed a misdemeanor offense, this man was dying of cancer, the DA’s office pursued a dying man when the Judge asked the Defense Lawyer where is the defendant ?

      Answer he is Dead, he died this is a case of DA miscondut and waste of money, then you have Corrupt Officer Kevin Wadell who was finally fired for stealing while on duty grand theft ? Dow refused to charge him ? oh he was a supporter of Dan Dow , corrupt cop goes free, then you another X SLO PD officer and supporter of Dan Dow Russ Griffitsh video tapped molesting, touching, strangling a Mission Prep youth, not charged by Dow since he is a friend and supporter of Dow, yet the school’s Dioceses had to settle for the misconduct.

      Then you have a DA Investigator who got caught , lying, altering evidence perjury etc.. he got off free as well, then you have another corrupt lying officer, Aaron Schafer, Sgt Chad Pfarr who got caught in wrong doing yet not charged as he too is a friend of Dow’s
      they you have a local businessman who is wrongfully charged in a fake Sexual assault case, her name is Denise Macias who made false allegations yet the DA’s office filed charges several years later at a cost of big tax payer $$$ the facts were always present.

      DDA Dunn lost the case the fake victim lied, perjured, and the DA lost the case and yet never charged her with Perjury, evidence tampering etc. ? another blow to real Justice, i cojuld go on with over 102 cases that were tracked by a group of Lawyers, retired Investigators, Victims, witnesses in a collaborative study.

      102 cases in 3+ Years under DA Dow felonies and Misdemeanors all either dropped after a long process, all others found NOT Guilty. There are so many more matters within the DA’s office that the press does not know, but show a pattern of a very systemic problem, that is why so many in his office have left, retired, quit or left legal work. To know he has the worst records of prosecution, wrongfully prosecutions, Prosecution misconduct and out right misconduct speak to we the people.

      He has become a Politician not a Prosecutor of the people for the people but a stepping stone to a higher office. I can recall many statements he made about his belief of biblical teaching, I do not judge anyone who has faith, but to say things like Gay/GALA is “Evil” and that he is 100% against Homosexuals, Lesbians LGBTQI people is odd in that he says the SLO Chief of Police an admitted lesbian whom Dow calls privately evil and Biblical yet loves getting his photo taken with her to promote his agenda to get votes .

      Seems like a “Wolf” in “Sheep’s Clothing” so in short to see factually not 1 local Jurist/Judge is supporting him , matter of fact several have said someone needs to remove him, facts of low morale in his officer, DA’s fleeing like no other, internal strife and illegal charges filed against Innocent people .

      As for your dislike of my spelling well you got the message, but try as a elderly partially blind and damaged hands i will type and not use grammar or spell check either read the comments of not. Facts are still the same, we the people need a NEW DA and I will vote the facts and evidence and vote for Judge Mike Cummins

      1. seeker says:

        The Trib argument has merit except that the judges of SLO County are considered to part of, or at least sympathetic to the corrupt cabal.

    1. ArroyoGrande2000 says:

      I’m sure DA Dow will count this as a win, in his mind he got a conviction, but as to protecting the ratepayers who had their money stolen by John Wallace, DA Dow has failed, again.

      1. seeker says:

        Tens of millions were deflected from rate payers straight into the pockets of Wallace and cronies. It is sorely disappointing that this holds no interest for judges in either San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria Counties. Time to replace some judges, starting with Guererro.

      2. William J Sidis says:

        If you ever talked to Dow, he would tell you that any DA who cares only about conviction rates is not being honest. I have heard Dan say numerous times that he only cares about truth and justice, NOT conviction rates.

        1. PORAC says:

          You are correct, Except that Mr. Dan Dow only cares about the numbers, I have seen his staff count them, as well if he cared about Justice he would not have had so many wrongly convictions, fake cases, factually NOT GUILTY and an office full of disappointment as pointed out in today’s front page paper.

          This is the man who says Marijuana is a Gateway drug to Cocaine, Heroin, Methamphetamine etc. he is so full of himself, it is a valid medical and recreational use just like the Alcohol he drinks that was once illegal.

          He is a pure politician no a honest or ethical DA, remember when he got his elderly supporter Eddie Knight 88 year old widow charged with using her cell phone in a election area ? serious this is the big case ??

          All while child molesters friend of his go free ? corrupt cops get off free ? then he violates the election law himself as was recently exposed by the FPPC, SOS, Election codes and more.

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