OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday that a veteran Oakland homicide detective who had his girlfriend help him by transcribing audio recordings in major cases didn’t engage in any criminal misconduct or compromise any prosecutions.
The District Attorney’s Office said Sgt. Mike Gantt “may have violated internal departmental policy” but no criminal conduct occurred because there is no provision in the state penal code that prohibits engaging third parties to act as transcriptionists.
The District Attorney’s Office said it has “no reason” to believe that Gantt mishandled investigations “in any way that compromises past or current criminal prosecutions.”
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It said, “We stand behind the integrity of each of these criminal cases.”
The investigation into Sgt. Gantt, who has been with the Oakland Police Department for more than 20 years, was announced by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth last week, although they didn’t disclose his name.
The District Attorney’s Office said it investigated allegations that Gantt “involved a third party in the transcription of certain audio recordings that were part of criminal investigations.”
Prosecutors didn’t disclose the name of the third party, but Gantt’s attorney, Michael Rains, said it was Gantt’s girlfriend.
The District Attorney’s Office said the “third party” transcribed audio recordings for Gantt between May 2013 and January 2014.
It said during that time frame Gantt was involved in investigating seven cases that have since been resolved by way of a jury trial or guilty plea and three that are still pending.
The most well-known of those three cases is that of reputed gang members Stephon Lee, 25, and Mario Floyd, 23, who are charged with murder for the shooting death of 66-year-old anti-crime activist Judy Salamon in Oakland’s Maxwell Park neighborhood in broad daylight on July 24, 2013.
The DA’s Office said its investigation disclosed that Gantt would bring his girlfriend CDs of audio recordings and she would transcribe verbatim the recordings in a Word document on his laptop.
It said, “She was only given the CDs and never saw any other documents or paperwork including the police report, any criminal history, any state Department of Motor Vehicle information or Sgt. Gantt’s notes” or any finished police reports.
Prosecutors said that after Gantt’s girlfriend transcribed the recordings on his laptop, he would take the computer and CDs with him when he left.
They said Gantt’s girlfriend typed the information onto his computer only, never used any other devices or flash drives and never discussed the cases with Gantt.
The DA’s Office said Gantt’s girlfriend couldn’t state the exact number of cases on which she transcribed verbatim recordings so it reviewed all the cases he was involved in during the time frame she described.
It said it “pulled each of those case files and thoroughly reviewed all reports and audio recordings to make certain that all evidence was complete and that both the DA’s files as well as all discovery provided to the defense was complete.”
The DA’s Office said it is “certain that the defense received all discovery” in the cases, including all source audio recordings as well as written summaries and transcriptions that may have been created by the investigating agency.
The DA’s Office said, “The defense attorneys on all of these cases, both concluded and pending, have been notified by written letter of this issue and our findings.”
However, Lee’s attorney, Darryl Stallworth, said Thursday night that he hasn’t received any notice of the DA’s findings, even though Lee is the defendant accused of fatally shooting Salamon three years ago.
Rains, who said on Tuesday that he expected Gantt to be cleared of any wrongdoing, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the DA’s investigation.
Rains said the reason that Gantt had his girlfriend help him transcribe three recorded witness statements in the case against Floyd and Lee because he was under pressure to complete his report on the case quickly.
But Rains said Gantt he didn’t share any police reports or documents with her.