Suit Targets Deputy Who Faces Charges Over Evidence

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Orange County sheriff's deputy facing criminal charges of trying to destroy evidence was accused in a lawsuit this week of false arrest and using excessive force.

The $140-million lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court, accuses Deputy George Kluchonic of using "excessive and unnecessary force" during a July 4, 2000, arrest at Emerald Bay.

Kluchonic, a 15-year veteran of the department, is facing criminal charges for allegedly asking a sheriff's employee to erase a videotape depicting a confrontation that preceded a different arrest.

In the lawsuit, Glenn Bianchi accuses Kluchonic of arresting him without cause on charges of assault on a peace officer, public intoxication and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A jury acquitted Bianchi of all charges earlier this year.

Bianchi was accused of providing beer to minors during a Fourth of July party at Emerald Bay. At trial, Bianchi proved that the beer belonged to another person, said his lawyer, George Dunlop.

Kluchonic is on administrative leave with pay, sheriff's officials said.

The criminal charges against Kluchonic spurred prosecutors to dismiss two charges in cases in which he was expected to testify and has led the county public defender to investigate other cases in which he has testified.

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