Fired SLO officer sues to get his job back

Daniel McDow was fired for violation of prescription drug law; he says he was denied due process

acornejo@thetribunenews.comAugust 19, 2013 

The San Luis Obispo police station at Santa Rosa and Walnut streets.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The former San Luis Obispo police officer who pleaded guilty three years ago to transporting misbranded prescription drugs across the border from Mexico is suing the city to get his job back.

Daniel McDow, 35, who worked for the San Luis Obispo Police Department for seven years before being fired in August 2010, filed a claim in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on July 31 seeking not only his old job, but back pay.

McDow’s attorney, Michael Morguess of Lackie, Dammeier and McGill in Upland, claims that McDow’s due process rights were violated.

Neither Morguess nor McDow could be reached for comment.

McDow previously appealed his termination, and an independent hearing officer later suggested that he be returned to duty as a police officer under a “last-chance agreement,” among other findings. However, the City Council upheld his termination May 2, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges the city’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious.”

In addition to full back pay, McDow is seeking seniority, rank and all other benefits of employment and wants the city to remove all references of the discipline from his personnel file.

McDow, who pleaded guilty to the federal misdemeanor charge of transporting misbranded prescription drugs across the border and possessing methylphenidate and diethylpropion, was one of two San Luis Obispo officers involved in the case.

Former officer Armando Limon also pleaded guilty to possession of several pharmaceuticals, including methylphen-idate, sibutramine and diethylpropion.

The seized drugs, used to stimulate the central nervous system, are used for treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and management of obesity.

Limon did not appeal his termination, said City Attorney Christine Dietrick.

Combined, the officers had more than 850 pharmaceutical capsules in their possession when stopped by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Neither of the men had prescriptions for the medications, according to a plea agreement.

The two officers were on paid administrative leave from September 2009 to August 2010 while the city conducted a personnel investigation required by the Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights. In that time McDow was paid $150,530.

The City Council will discuss the case in closed session today. A case management conference is scheduled for Sept. 16 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Follow her @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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