Montandon files claim against D.A. By Quintin Cushner/Staff Writer Recently departed Santa Maria City Attorney Art Montandon this week filed a claim against the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office, alleging mistreatment and requesting damages. The claim, filed Monday, alleges that District Attorney’s officials were “discriminatory, abusive, defamatory (and) negligent” when they accused Montandon of interfering with a prostitution case they were prosecuting. He claimed loss of reputation, income and property, and that he suffered both mentally and physically from their accusation. Montandon named District Attorney Tom Sneddon, Assistant District Attorney Christie Stanley, Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Smith, investigators David Saunders and Dave Tonello, and other staff members in the claim, in which he requests unspecified damages. The District Attorney’s investigation into Montandon first became public through court papers filed Dec. 29. The District Attorney’s office claimed Montandon proposed dropping prostitution charges against two Santa Maria sisters – April and Irene Cummings – in exchange for a video allegedly depicting former Police Chief John Sterling entering or exiting the women’s massage business.
As city attorney, Montandon had no official authority to drop charges filed by the District Attorney’s office, and his alleged deal for the supposed tape was called a possible “bribe” in the investigation. Montandon has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the matter, and in his claim accuses the District Attorney’s office of obstructing an investigation he was conducting for Santa Maria. He alleges that staff at the District Attorney’s office engaged in a “conspiracy” to harm his reputation by distributing copies of the court documents to his co-workers and the media. “They’re very serious allegations against employees of the district attorney’s office,” said Steve Underwood, chief assistant county counsel in charge of litigation, who said the county would thoroughly investigate this matter as it does all claims against the county. District Attorney’s officials could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. Montandon, whose last day as Santa Maria City Attorney was Wednesday, said he would not comment on the claim at this point. He has accepted a job as legal counsel and assistant general manager for the Cambria Community Services District. In order to file a lawsuit against the county, one must file a claim within six months of the date the claimant claims injury. The county then has 45 days to act on the claim. If no action is taken, the claim is considered denied and Montandon would have two years to file a lawsuit. If a denial is issued, he would have six months to file suit. Alternately, if the county believes the claim has merit, it may consider a settlement. * Staff writer Quintin Cushner can be reached at 739-2217 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. July 1, 2004 :nav Source: [url=http://www.santamariatimes.com/?search=go&l=25&q=Montandon]http://www.santamariatimes.com/?search=go&l=25&q=Montandon[/url]