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District Attorney’s Office Clears Mayor of Influence Allegations in Police Review

The Orange County district attorney’s office has cleared Mayor John W. Hedges of allegations that he improperly influenced an independent board that was reviewing two police officers accused of drinking on duty.

In a letter to City Manager Kevin J. Murphy this week, supervising Deputy Dist. Atty. Guy N. Ormes said his office had “developed no evidence of criminal activity which would warrant further involvement by his office.”

Hedges has said throughout the investigation that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

In March, members of the Newport Beach Police Management Assn., which represents the 31 command-level officers, had asked their attorney to investigate whether Hedges and Police Chief Robert J. McDonell may have tainted the impartial review process.

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Hedges and McDonell were accused of contacting the city’s Civil Service Board--a citizens panel--after the board overturned the department’s discipline of one officer. Under state law, it is illegal to tamper with impartial panels.

An independent investigation commissioned by the city vindicated McDonell in May.

The allegations made against the mayor were referred to the district attorney.

Two officers had been disciplined after an internal investigation revealed that they were at a bar before their shifts had ended.

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Both officers appealed to the Civil Service Board, which found in favor of one. The other, a sergeant, is awaiting a hearing.


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