An investigation by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office into an incident that occurred after a Lathrop City Council meeting earlier this month between the former Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief and a council member has concluded.
And currently, the agency is not recommending that the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office pursue charges in the matter.
It will be up to the DA’s office whether to follow that recommendation with the information that is contained with the agency’s final report.
The incident allegedly occurred after the conclusion of the council’s meeting on Oct. 11 inside of the council chambers between former Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely and current council member Minnie Diallo.
Besides Diallo, Neely, and Neely’s wife Rozelle, the only other person in the room at the time that the incident occurred was Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal.
Neely – who retired from the district earlier this year after being placed on administrative leave – was in attendance because the council was voting on his application to be a part of Lathrop’s Measure C Oversight Committee.
He was the lone applicant for the open position.
Neely was at the helm of the district when the decision was made by the Lathrop City Council to put an initiative on the ballot that would raise the sales tax in the city by one percent to benefit essential city services. Through an agreement between the fire district and the city, the district would receive 40 percent of the revenue generated by Measure C, estimated in the first year to be about $2 million – $800,000 of which would go to the fire district.
The agreement remains in place, and the district has used its portion of Measure C funding to pay for staffing, apparatus, and the soon-to-be-unveiled paramedic program that will allow Lathrop firefighters that are certified as paramedics to deliver advanced life support care to those that they encounter while on the job.
The conversation that provoked an investigation by the sheriff’s office – there was no representative from the agency in the building at the time the incident occurred despite the city’s contract calling for police presence – centered on a video that was shared with the members of the council prior to the meeting.
The video, which was taken by Neely’s wife, encouraged the people to whom she sent it to closely follow the district’s response times and showed a housefire where no engine had arrived the resident was trying to use a garden hose to battle the blaze.
Diallo mentioned the video as the reason why she was voting no on Neely’s appointment, which was passed 4-1 – formally placing him on the commission.
The incident that prompted the investigation occurred when Neely attempted to seek clarification after the meeting about what video she was speaking about.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.