A retired lieutenant who supported the runner-up to Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona in the June 6 election said he has filed a legal claim against the county, alleging that his dismissal as a sheriff's academy instructor was politically motivated.
Darrell "Guy" Poncy, who taught courses at the sheriff's academy for 15 years, said supervisors told him Feb. 22 that he could no longer teach there because of his "personal attacks against the sheriff."
"I never said anything about him that was personal," Poncy said. "How does he help the academy by firing an instructor who taught about police stress and police suicide? … There was nothing to be gained, except his own personal satisfaction that he could reach out and touch me."
Poncy's claim, the first step toward a lawsuit, comes as the sheriff is being scrutinized over his decision to suspend Lt. Bill Hunt and to demote two of Hunt's supporters. The actions were taken days after Carona narrowly [sic] beat Hunt in the sheriff's race.
(Carona didn't "narrowly" beat Hunt, he beat Hunt and narrowly avoided a run-off.)
The sheriff's department, of course, denies any wrongdoing. A spokesperson told The Times, she was unaware of Poncy's claim, but "any such claim that alleges there was political retaliation is false." The department also maintains that any claim of political retaliation in case of Bill Hunt's suspension is false as well. And as for the demotions of the other two deputies, nothing retaliatory there at all, according to the department.
Regardless of how his claim turns out, Poncy's dismissal really is a shame. You'd think that with everything that's going on with the department, the last thing the sheriff would want to do is get rid of an expert on "police stress".