Alameda County deputy fired for filing false report over furniture; hired by Pinole police

A former deputy sheriff who was fired after filing a false police report over smashed furniture was hired by another police agency more than three years later.

The Bay Area News Group first reported that Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern fired then-deputy Josh Shavies in 2015 after an internal investigation found he had filed a false police report with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department, lying about vandalism in his home. He said that his home had been broken into, the records show, but a neighbor had watched him break it himself.

A state database reviewed by the Bay Area News Group shows an officer with the same name was hired as a police officer in the city of Pinole in Contra Costa County last year. 

On Monday, Pinole Police Chief Neil H. Gang  sent out a statement saying he was aware of Shavies' past, adding the officer was "was honest and forthcoming throughout our entire hiring process." He was hired in 2018. But he said he believed in second chances.

Gang said that while he feels police officers are held to a "higher standard of accountability, we must also take into account that there is a human behind the badge; men and women who have emotions and who face the same every day challenges as the rest of society." He added that while he doesn't condone Shavies' past actions, "we certainly can understand the emotionally charged events that precipitated his actions, and it is important to understand that no criminal charges were filed as a result."

The chief said that Shavies' background review process indicated "personal growth and maturity, regret, remorse and ownership for the decisions that were made during the event in 2014; along with favorable reviews from current employment organizations during his separation from law enforcement, as well as, positive personal and professional references."

Finally, Gang said that the Alameda County Sheriff's Office's findings of dishonesty "had no relation to any members of the public or to the performance of his duties as a law enforcement officer. ..I therefore stand by my decision in the hiring of Officer Josh Shavies as I believe that there are certain situations in life where second chances are warranted."

The records were released Saturday under California's new police transparency law, which KTVU also obtained . They show that Ahern called Shavies' conduct "contrary to how a member of law enforcement should be," adding there was no choice other than to dismiss him. The firing was upheld by both a review board and the county Civil Service Commission.

Records show that in 2014, Shavies entered his home to find his wife had left him a note saying she that she had sold a dining room set and four theater chairs to a neighbor. The pictures of the furniture were included in the report. And his superiors wrote that the items were "clearly marked with notes" alerting Shavies about the sale.

Shavies then smashed four of the dining chairs on the floor, breaking them, and ripped the stuffing out of the theater chairs, the report shows. He also broke the glass in another piece of furniture.

The neighbor, who had agreed to pay $1,100 for chairs and table, was watching through the front window, though Shavies had no idea, the records show.

Shavies than made a report with Contra Costa Sheriff, saying that he returned home and found the smashed chairs and suspected that a person, whose name is redacted in the report, had entered him home and wrecked the furniture.

Eventually, Shavies admitted he filed a false police report, telling investigators "I've been going through a very nasty divorce" and became upset when he saw the note from his wife.

Ahern also noted that filing a false police report is a misdemeanor crime. The Contra Costa County Sheriff did not file charges in the matter. At the time, Shavies' attorney, Michael Rains, told Shavies' superiors that he felt the investigation was "skewed," according to the documents released, because Shavies' wife was friends with another deputy who has an "ancillary roll in the investigation." Rains also argued at the time that Shavies had been a good employee for eight years and noted that his client had apologized for originally not telling the truth.

Two years ago, Shavies wrote to an Alameda County lieutenant asking if his name would be on the "Brady Watch List," because he said he was applying for a law enforcement job elsewhere and he wanted to know if he needed to advise them that he was on the list. 

A "Brady List" is used to track officers who have been dishonest to limit or prevent their court testimony so their past history can be used to impeach or discredit their testimony. No response to Shavies' letter was included in the released documents. 

This is at least the second employee that Ahern has fired for dishonesty, according to the department's release of records under SB 1421.

In 2014, the sheriff fired Deputy Donald Couch after he was investigated for taking drugs seized during arrests. Internal Affairs investigations found that he had taken pills from evidence scenes on at least two occasions in June that year and then lied about, despite having a colleague see him stick the pills in his pocket.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.