A former Fullerton police sergeant was charged Tuesday with filing a false report in connection with a 2016 drunken driving crash involving then-City Manager Joseph Felz.
Rodger Corbett, 45, of Corona, faces a felony count of making a false report by a peace officer, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.
The situation unfolded in the early morning hours after the November 2016 election when Felz, who was Fullerton’s city manager at the time, drove over a curb and crashed his car into a tree in a neighborhood. A witness called police, and officers found Felz, who they suspected was intoxicated, attempting to drive his disabled vehicle away from the scene of the crash, according to prosecutors.
The officers called Corbett to handle the investigation because of Felz’s position in the city.
Prosecutors say Corbett conducted a “cursory examination” of Felz, wrote in his police report that the city manager was not under the influence of alcohol and gave him a ride home in a patrol car.
Fullerton police transferred the case to the district attorney’s office for further investigation and legal review. The district attorney’s office launched a probe into the conduct of responding officers and Corbett.
Felz retired as city manager in December 2016 and a year later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of reckless driving involving alcohol. He was sentenced to three years’ probation, restitution and community service, according to Orange County Superior Court records.
Corbett has not been employed with the Fullerton Police Department since March 8, 2018, according to the city’s public information coordinator, Stephen Hale. It is not clear whether Corbett was fired or quit.
Hale wrote in a prepared statement that the police department’s professional standards bureau and an independent firm investigated the actions of officers involved in the months following the incident. The outcome of those investigations is not clear.
“The Fullerton Police Department recognizes public trust is at the core of what they do, and the actions that form the basis of the District Attorney’s criminal charges are not tolerated,” Hale wrote. “As this is still a personnel and, now criminal, matter, the city is not able to comment further.”
Corbett is expected to be arraigned in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana on Sept. 18.