By Kate Mather
6:34 PM PST, December 30, 2013
A judge dismissed Monday all claims made against the cities of Los Angeles and Riverside by a camp ranger seeking reward money offered during the search for ex-LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White determined that Richard Heltebrake's claims were without merit. Heltebrake was also ordered to pay $15,050 in attorneys' fees to the city of Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles city attorney's office.
The decision is the latest development regarding the roughly $1 million offered during the February hunt for Dorner, who killed four people and wounded three others after vowing "unconventional and asymmetrial warfare" against police.
The search for Dorner, which stretched for days across Southern California, ended near Big Bear when he shot himself during a fiery standoff with police.
His death sparked a months-long debate over what to do with the reward, as it was initially offered for information leading to Dorner's "capture and conviction" — criteria that became irrelevant with his death. Multiple municipalities and other entities contributed funds, and roughly a dozen people claimed they were owed money.
In an initial filing, Heltebrake said it was his 911 call — made after Dorner stole his truck near Big Bear — that helped authorities pinpoint the fugitive's location.
But the three former judges tasked with divvying up the funds disagreed, saying in a report that Heltebrake's call "did not lead to information leading to Dorner's capture." Officers had already spotted Dorner in the white pickup, the panel wrote.
Instead, the judges determined that four other people would split the reward: a couple held captive by Dorner, a ski resort employee and a tow truck driver.
Karen and Jim Reynolds, the couple who were bound and gagged after discovering Dorner in their Big Bear cabin, were awarded the majority of the money — 80% of the reward — because they provided information that "directly led to the hot pursuit and capture of Dorner," according to the panel's report.
Heltebrake took his case to court, and tried to block the distribution of the funds. His attorney argued in court papers that his client should receive a "sum not less than $1 million" along with "special damages."
Heltebrake's claim against Riverside County, which had also contributed to the reward, was tossed out earlier this year. A motion to dismiss his final claim, against the city of Irvine, was scheduled to be heard March 10, City News Service reported.
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