and Katie Nelson
PLEASANTON -- A father in a bitter custody battle has filed a $3 million lawsuit against Alameda County, the city of Pleasanton and others, claiming a deputy and a police officer abused their power by planting evidence, giving his ex-wife confidential information and filing a false police report.
In the suit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District court in Oakland, Pleasanton resident Brian Lancaster claims Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Silcocks illegally used law enforcement databases to collect personal information on him and gave it a San Ramon lawyer, who sent it to Lancaster's ex-wife.
The District Attorney's Office filed charges in June against Silcocks and attorney Lesley Regina.
Silcocks is accused of three misdemeanor counts of improperly accessing data from a county law enforcement database and sending it to Regina, who was not authorized to have it.
Regina is charged with a misdemeanor count of knowingly receiving the records. The two are due back in criminal court Nov. 15.
According to the lawsuit, in an email to Regina dated Jan. 23, Silcocks wrote: "You didn't get this from me and if you forward, cut and paste into a new email. This is all confidential info."
That same day, Regina forwarded it to another person, asking them to keep the message confidential, the complaint says. In forwarding that email, Regina neglected to remove Silcocks' name from the email chain, disclosing his involvement to all email recipients, according to the suit.
Lancaster believes it was all part of a complex plan engineered by his ex-wife to deprive him of the custody of his children.
Also in the suit, Lancaster claims an unwarranted traffic stop was made Jan. 16 and a false police report was filed by Pleasanton police Officer Tim Martens at the behest of Louis Secord, the husband of the ex-wife and a friend of his.
"Martens falsely accused (Lancaster) of unlawfully possessing illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia," the suit said, adding that on Jan. 23 the ex-wife, Lisa Secord, and Louis Secord asked Martens to amend the arrest report to say he had found ammunition in Lancaster's car.
Ultimately all criminal charges arising from the arrest were dismissed by the district attorney.
Although the county and the city deny any wrongdoing and Lancaster's claim that little attention was paid to his complaints, he is eager for his day in court.
Though he has to wait until January for his first court date on the suit, and the custody fight for his children is still playing out in the courts in Washington state, where his ex-wife lives, he said he doesn't mind the wait. He believes he is finally on a path toward shedding some light on the truth.
"There have been some wrong things done. A policeman broke the law, and he should be subject to the law same as everyone else," Lancaster said.
Lancaster's ex-wife's attorney, Katy Banahan, said via email that her client had been granted a domestic violence order for protection and that "while Mr. Lancaster has made numerous misrepresentations about these issues, neither my client nor I have any further comment on this otherwise private matter."
Although Martens and the city attorney refused to comment on the lawsuit, City Attorney Jonathan Lowell said via email that Martens had never been placed on administrative leave and that "Officer Martens remains employed by the city of Pleasanton in good standing."
Attorney Jeff Hubins, who represents Lancaster, said the leaked privileged information led his client to lose custody of his sons. The two are pressing complaints against both the Alameda County Sheriff's department and the Pleasanton Police department, claiming the two agencies failed to conduct a thorough investigation, supervise their officers, or discipline them in any way.
Silcocks has been on administrative leave for several months while the criminal and internal investigations continue, said Sheriff's Department Spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson.
"We have had situations in the past where there has been unauthorized access to our computer databases," Nelson said. "The punishment for someone who is found to have done something like that can include termination. They could be fired."
Lancaster's attorney, Hubins, said the civil suit may be the only way to get justice.
"Pleasanton PD ... had more than enough evidence to forward for prosecuting criminal charges. There has been no discipline. It is disappointing, but kind of what we expected ...
"The only way we can get some sort of compensation for what happened is through money," he said. "We don't have the authority to give (Lancaster) his kids back. We cannot force anyone to apologize."
Contact Erin Ivie at 925-847-2122. Contact Katie Nelson at 925-847-2164.