Ex-police detective's informants file claims against city of SLO

April Stewart
April Stewart

Two informants of a former San Luis Obispo Police Department detective who extorted sources while working on a narcotics task force are seeking an undisclosed financial settlement from the city.

Kip Holland and his girlfriend, April Stewart, who aided former detective Cory Pierce in acquiring cash, oxycodone and heroin, allege that they were forced into indentured servitude, which included being kept addicted to drugs and engaging in dangerous and illegal activities.

The claims, both filed by attorney Stephen Dunkle of Sanger Swysen and Dunkle in Santa Barbara, will be discussed by the San Luis Obispo City Council in closed session Tuesday night.

The council will assess the merits of the claims and evaluate the options related to the case. If the council denies the claims, a lawsuit may follow. The council can also direct staff to negotiate a settlement or defend the case in court should a lawsuit be filed.

Dunkle declined to comment because the case is pending.

Both claims were filed as unlimited civil cases seeking more than $25,000 each.

“We don’t have a clear demand from them in terms of what the dollar amount they are looking for is,” said Christine Dietrick, city attorney.

Dietrick said claims such as those filed by Holland and Stewart alleging abuse of authority are rare and that she does not anticipate any other claims related to Pierce’s actions to be filed against the city.

In December, Pierce, 40, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for extorting sources he cultivated while working on the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office narcotics task force. He is scheduled to begin serving his sentence Jan. 27.

Pierce, who joined the San Luis Obispo Police Department in 2006, was arrested by FBI agents in February and indicted in March by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on one count of bribery and one count of extortion. He pleaded not guilty to bribery but pleaded guilty to extortion as part of a plea bargain.

Pierce admitted that while assigned to the Sheriff’s Office narcotics task force, he cultivated Holland, who had been arrested for heroin possession, and Holland’s girlfriend, Stewart, as his sources.

Pierce obtained painkillers from the pair in exchange for providing them with placebo oxycodone pills they could sell.

Holland and Stewart, who is in County Jail on several charges including grand theft and receiving known stolen property, cooperated with the FBI’s investigation by recording conversations with Pierce that led to his arrest. Pierce’s illegal activities allegedly continued for as long as two years. Stewart told investigators that Pierce gave her methamphetamine on several occasions, sometimes still in the evidence bags.