Crime

Ex-investigator at DA's Office is charged with perjury

A former investigator with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office who left in February following allegations of falsifying court documents has been charged by the California Attorney General’s Office with a felony count of perjury.

August Justino “A.J.” Santana had been an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office since November 2007.

He ended his employment with the District Attorney’s Office on Feb. 14. District Attorney Dan Dow has declined to say whether Santana resigned or was terminated, citing “applicable employee privacy concerns.”

An arraignment is scheduled in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Aug. 12.

San Luis Obispo County Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham on Monday referred all questions to the Attorney General’s Office.

The District Attorney’s Office would not typically file charges against a former employee because of a potential conflict of interest, Cunningham said.

Santana was placed on leave Oct. 17 while under investigation for allegedly supplying a judge with a false affidavit in order to search a drug suspect’s home and car while Santana worked on behalf of the District Attorney’s Office in the anti-narcotics unit of the county Sheriff’s Office. Santana had been assigned to the unit since September 2013.

The investigation was spurred after Santana allegedly filed the document in San Luis Obispo Superior Court and petitioned a judge to seal the document, blocking the information from public scrutiny. He claimed its release would jeopardize an ongoing drug investigation.

An affidavit is a legal document that explains to a judge why probable cause exists to authorize a search of a person’s property.

Charges against the suspect in the investigation, Tommy Pappas, 44, of San Miguel, were later dismissed, but not before he served more than a month in jail, according to court records.

Dow headed the internal investigation with assistance from the Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the County Counsel.

During his local career, Santana investigated a number of high-profile cases, including the successful prosecution of disgraced Grover Beach financier Al Moriarty in 2014.

He previously served 10 years as an officer with the Pismo Beach Police Department.

Santana could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

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