By Jim Shilander
An Orange County Superior Court has ruled in favor of former San Clemente Police Chief Bill Hunt, restoring Hunt’s rank and back pay after a coordinated retaliation campaign directed against him by former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona.
Hunt, who had run against Carona for the office in 2006, had been demoted from Lieutenant to Deputy as a result of the campaign and resigned his position as Chief of Police Services. He ran again for Sheriff in 2010 but lost to Sandra Hutchens of Dana Point. After leaving the Sheriff’s Department, Hunt founded his own private investigation firm. As part of the ruling, he was also given back pay, as well as reimbursement of attorney’s fees.
The ruling was first reported by OC Weekly.
Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino issued a statement on behalf of the department.
“Sheriff Hutchens’ administration had no part in the disciplinary actions taken against Lieutenant Hunt,” Amormino said. “The actions described by the court’s ruling were undertaken by Sheriff Carona and his former administration. The county is reviewing the court’s ruling and weighing its various options.”
Carona is currently serving a federal prison sentence for corruption.
San Clemente City Manager George Scarborough said the city itself does not face any jeopardy as a result of the ruling.
“I’m confident the judge made a thoughtful and considered decision,” Scarborough said. “Obviously the demotion impacted him significantly, but that’s not much of a surprise.”
Current Chief of Police Services John Coppock declined to comment on the result of the suit, but did say that he and Hunt had worked together previously as part of narcotics and SWAT operations.