Whistleblower Returns to Sheriff's Office
March 1, 2011
A whistleblower sued former Sheriff Mike Kanalakis in December, alleging he retaliated against her after she raised concerns regarding handling of forensic evidence. In the newest chapter of her embattled questions about laboratory conduct, Georgine Scott-Codiga says she was terminated, but subsequently rehired in mid-February, under the new sheriff, Scott Miller.
Scott-Codiga says although she was subject to ostracism and an unfair internal affairs investigation, she is excited to be back at work as a forensic evidence technician and is optimistic that Miller will audit the crime lab and improve messy evidence handling practices. “I wanted to go back to a place where I was encouraged things would change,” she says.
Sheriff’s office spokesperson Commander Mike Richards would not comment on Scott-Codiga's allegations regarding evidence handling, but says, “Sheriff Miller has committed to auditing every aspect of the sheriff’s office, not just the lab. The lab is not the primary focus, but one of many focuses.”
Richards would make no comment on personnel matters, and would not confirm or deny whether there was disciplinary action against Scott-Codiga. Scott-Codiga says while she wasn’t at work, her files were cleaned out and she locked out of her computer system. Upon returning, “It was as is I didn’t exist before.”
Scott-Codiga says she complied with the Kanalakis’s internal investigation, but the information she provided to the investigator was used against her to make the case for her termination. Upon examination of a copy of the notice of disciplinary action Scott-Codiga received, it appears that she was not actually terminated, but was required to take involuntary leave without pay while the sheriff's office considered her case.
“It’s a victory for workers who feel that they can get a fair shake in the public employment sector,” says Scott-Codiga’s attorney, Charles Bonner of Bonner & Bonner in Sausalito.
As to the ongoing federal lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, “We are going to be amending our complaint based on the conduct that came out of her termination,” Bonner says.
This post was revised from its original version.