Law enforcement leaders across the county, including Sheriff Stan Sniff, have withdrawn their endorsements for District Attorney Paul Zellerbach in the wake of Indio police recommending six criminal charges be filed against Zellerbach in a campaign-sign tampering case.
Two of the requested charges, embezzlement and theft of public funds, are felonies. Zellerbach has said he has the “utmost faith” that the state Attorney General’s office will “conclude no crime was committed.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Zellerbach’s campaign website listed only one active police chief, Hemet’s David Brown, as endorsing him.
Along with Sniff’s name, gone from the list are chiefs of police from Beaumont, Blythe, Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, Palm Springs, San Jacinto, and Temecula.
Zellerbach had announced their support in a Feb. 27 news release. Also gone from the list was the endorsement of the California Police Chiefs Association.
On Wednesday, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, a State Senate candidate, withdrew his support of Zellerbach.
“While Mr. Zellerbach has done excellent work on behalf of the County and its citizens over the past three years, the allegations against him are serious enough to cause concern,” Stone said in a statement.
Zellerbach and his campaign did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Indio Police Chief Richard Twiss disappeared from Zellerbach’s endorsement site a short time after his detectives began investigating a complaint that Zellerbach had pushed over campaign sign of his opponent, Mike Hestrin while putting up one of his signs at an Indio intersection.
Zellerbach at the time explained he accidentally knocked the sign over. Hestrin said the sign had been set in post holes to stay up in desert winds and would have been difficult to knock over casually.
Zellerbach and an aide were also using a county-issued car at the time of the April 23 incident. Zellerbach wrote a check to repay the county.
The other charges sought by Indio police against Zellerbach include petty theft, vandalism under $400, trespassing to place unauthorized signs, and trespassing with intent to cause damage, all misdemeanors.