Hacker, Fagundes enter into battle royale for Kings County DA

There was “a lot of negativity and viciousness going on when (Greg) Strickland and (Sarah) Hacker (were)  in (the) DA’s office.”

—Keith Fagundes, incumbent Kings County District Attorney

“This type of office should be upholding the law. My goal, if elected…is to get rid of retaliation and hostility and harassment, to insert an environment of cooperating and independent thinking.”

—Sarah Hacker, attorney, running to be next Kings County DA

 

A drone photo of the Command Center in Kings County DA Fagundes driveway.

In what is shaping up to be a bitter campaign in the Kings County District Attorney’s race, embattled, incumbent Keith Fagundes and challenger Sarah Hacker are trading barbs accusing each other of fostering a poisonous office environment harmful to the effectiveness of the DA.

“It is really shocking to see how she operates,” said Fagundes, a two-time incumbent seeking a third term in the June 7 primary. There was “a lot of negativity and viciousness going on when (Greg) Strickland and (Sarah) Hacker (were) in (the) DA’s office,” he said.

For her part Hacker said Fagundes was a “vindictive” manager and there has been “a huge rate of turnover in the DA’s (office). Only a handful of people are left since I started. It’s a priority for me to build confidence in the DA’s office.” Hacker worked for Fagundes for six weeks as part of her nine-year stint as a deputy DA under Ron Calhoun and Greg Strickland.

“This type of office should be upholding the law. My goal, if elected…is to get rid of retaliation and hostility

And harassment, to insert an environment of cooperating and independent thinking,” said Hacker.

Under Fagundes’ watch the county is being sued by a former investigator in the DA’s office alleging sexual harassment by Fagundes, prosecutorial misconduct, favoritism toward certain clients among a laundry list of allegations. The suit said Fagundes was sexually attracted to Robert Waggle and sent hundreds of texts to him, many of them sexually-oriented.

Fagundes has called Waggle’s claims “completely unfounded” adding that Waggle was just a disgruntled employee that Fagundes was trying to get to do his job. Waggle, said Fagundes, is also looking for a payout from the county.

But Hacker, a 42-year-old attorney with Dias Law Firm in Hanford, said Waggle also accused Fagundes of manipulating evidence to get a guilty verdict. She accused Fagundes of leniency toward clients and unfair prosecution of others.

The issue of prosecutorial favoritism surfaced January 21 when Superior Court Judge Robert S. Burns ordered the state Attorney General’s office to assume seven of Fagundes’ cases because the defendants were represented by John Sarsfield, who is also representing Fagundes in a lawsuit against the county.

Fagundes is suing the county for refusing to pay his legal expenses in the Waggle suit.

One of those cases involves Sarsfield’s client Aavron Bernard Manning. “The problem is it appears to me the District Attorney should be doing something about this and they’re not,” said Burns according to November 16, 2021 transcript of a pretrial conference with attorneys. “So if he (Manning) gets an acquittal what do you do with the allegations because the DA didn’t present evidence they had?”

Hacker says that the transcript demonstrates how Fagundes is soft on crime despite campaigning to the contrary.

According to the transcript Judge Burns said, “when you (Sarsfield) represent the District Attorney and you have cases for which there is no resolution reached for two years, and then suddenly 50-to-life becomes six years, or four life terms becomes ten years, the public is going to look at that and say what is going on over there. That looks like there is favors being granted, right?”

Fagundes said concerning the light sentences, one being a gang member, that Sarsfield’s defendant entered into a plea agreement and that the sentence was enforced by the judge not him.

Burns, addressing Melissa D’Morias, deputy district attorney, said, “People should have stepped away from this case in my opinion, as soon as you (John Sarsfield) represented Aavron Manning. As soon as you represented Mr. Fagundes.”

When Sarsfield told the judge that he didn’t talk to Fagundes about the Manning and Galvan cases, the judge replied that the “…impropriety isn’t you (Sarsfield) talking to him (Fagundes) about that, it is him sending a favor your way whether it was discussed or not discussed.”

Fagundes said he has the right to have his own attorney to litigate the matter of the county not providing independent legal representation to his office. This is why Fagundes retained Sarsfield, Fagundes said.

“It is starting to look like judge (Burns) is trying to influence a political position,” Fagundes said. “We agreed to allow AG (attorney general) to handle the matter because the judge speculated someone would criticize…but nobody did until election season.”

In another allegation of impropriety Hacker said Fagundes is keeping a “District Attorney Mobile Command Center” trailer at his house rather than on Kings County Government Center grounds.

Fagundes said the Mobile Command Center is indeed being kept at his house.  Fagundes explained that the county tried three different locations on county property to park the trailer and that the trailer was broken into and vandalized. He said the safest place to keep the trailer is at his house where he is capable of towing it, maintaining it at his own expense and providing free storage to the county.

But Hacker’s main beef with the trailer isn’t its location, though it may be illegal to keep county property at your house, it’s the fact that command center was a waste of Kings County tax payer’s money. Not only does the county not need the expensive trailer said Hacker, but there is no place to safely put it.

Fagundes defended the purchase saying that the state forced the county to buy the trailer to handle emergencies and natural disasters.

Another allegation raised by Hacker involved Fagundes’ $1,000 contribution to the Republican Party of Kings County and then using DA investigators on the county payroll to provide dignitary protection for the party’s Reagan-Lincoln Dinner.

The donation from Fagundes’ campaign was reported on Fagundes’ state Fair Political Practices Form 760 and the dignitary protection is listed in an October 14, 2021 Kings County District Attorney Operations Plan.

Fagundes said dignitary protection is also given to Democrats when they hold events. When T.J. Cox, a Democrat, visited Kings County he was given dignitary protection, Fagundes said.

Fagundes said he is running because his leadership cleaned up a backlog of 3,900 cases left by Strickland and Hacker. “We have not had a backlog year (in) over (a) year,” he said. The office maintains a backlog of less than 100 cases, Fagundes said.  The office is much more efficient now because the cases are reviewed by attorneys and processed by clerks.

He also said the office has more legal experience with fewer attorneys, he created a victim witness division, digital case processing. The office has an actual leadership team with good structures, Fagundes said. When Strickland was in charge, Fagundes said, he was never there.

For her part Hacker said she doesn’t want the problems with Fagundes to be the focus of her campaign rather, she said, she is running to promote public safety and justice for all.

A key issue in criminal justice, she said, is theft. The laws have been made so weak, Hacker said, that it encourages people to steal.  “Many of the theft cases that would have been previously prosecuted have been directed to pre-trial diversion programs where the violations are treated as misdemeanors.” She pledged that for those theft cases where crimes do not fall under diversion, the suspects will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Kings County Sheriff David Robinson has endorsed Hacker while the Hanford Police Officers Association has endorsed Fagundes.

41 thoughts on “Hacker, Fagundes enter into battle royale for Kings County DA

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  1. It doesn’t matter anyway when California politicians influence Judges! There is another case I’m the news about another valley mother killing her baby with an OVERDOSE! Derek Chauvin was found guilty of all counts of murder! One third degree and two second degree! She should be charged with four counts of murder! Make one stick! DON’T ACCEPT A PLEA DEAL!!

    • What’s your point? The attempted murder charge was dismissed based on a lack of probable cause.

      • By a judge when the assistant DA recommended a something different. The bullet found in the home was the same bullet type the suspect was firing. My point is the judges control the charges. No the DA

  2. These candidates need to stop this petty bickering back and forth and focus on the real issues. Bottom line is who is best for the job? That’s what I want them to prove.

    • It doesn’t seem like bickering to me. There’s serious allegations against the incumbent and those allegations should be known by the public. Sounds like Fagundes is getting aired out for all the dirty stuff and can only talk about what some former DA was doing 7 years ago. How pathetic.

      • ALLEGATIONS! INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY! AND HE ADDRESSED THE TWO ISSUES SARAH WENT LOW ON. CALIFORNIA JUDGES RUN THE COURTS AND WHEN SOMEONE IS ABOVE YOU THEN THAT PERSON CAN ONLY GO LOW. WHAT HAS SARAH DONE IN HER CAREER?

        • well according to the article she has worked as a prosecutor in this county before, and she is a member of a high profile law firm in private practice. If we are being entirely honest chad, don’t you get a little tired of all the inconsistent prosecutions and backdoor favoritism. Plus maybe Fagundes is innocent, maybe not. According to the complaint, there is a substantial amount of incontrovertible evidence that he behaved improperly. I don’t really know the candidates, but it seems pretty clear to me that Hanford, and Kings County in general needs a change. I cannot in good conscience vote to allow the current trends to continue.

          • Need a change? Why because some guy who worked at the department for years and said nothing until the end. Question is Keith being sued directly? No! Because you always go for the deepest pockets when you are money hungry. It was the department for not doing anything about if it was reported. But it never was. I know cellphones. You can block people’s number but the guy didn’t. You can’t claim to be a victim when you reply friendly responses back

        • I’m pretty sure innocent until proven guilty is a criminal standard, and Keith’s case is civil. The argument that “WHAT HAS SARAH DONE WITH HER CAREER” is also pretty dumb, although maybe it seems more convincing to you because its in all caps. The fact is that all Keith has done by comparison is embarrass the county and eat a lot of pineapple. You want to talk about someone going low, you should read those court papers.

          • YOU’RE RIGHT. CIVIL CASES MEAN NOTHING! JUST LIKE CIVIL LAWYERS ARE A JOKE! SARAH WENT FROM WORKING AS ASSISTANT DA TO WORKING FOR A CIVIL LAW COMPANY. HOW PATHETIC. CIVIL LAWYERS ARE SCUM OF THE EARTH!!

  3. Strickland was never there because he was always running around Short Acres without a shirt on. He has more hair on his back than the top of his head.

    • Maybe but I’d put money on Strickland that he could outrun Fagundes. At these functions Fagundes looks like he can barely walk. Probably his guilty conscience eating away at his health. Strickland is taller too. In fact, I think Hacker is taller than Fagundes too and she could also outrun him. How Pathetic.

  4. Hacker and Sheriff Robinson are both liberals. We already have Rudy Salas. We don’t need more liberal politicians in power.

    • Funny how Keith’s relatives are on here calling Hacker and Dave liberals; obvious smear tactic. It reminds me of what leftist do to their opponents when they are losing an argument. Did the Fagundes clan think Keith’s improprieties would never come to light? At the end of the day, KF is dishonorable. If the farmers with signs in their yards actually read the Waggle complaint, they’d puke.

      • I’m far from family and not a farmer. Waggle is suing the district attorney’s office because he wants the most money! If you read the complaint tell me why it took years for him to report it the actions after going on for so long? If you know so much tell us the date of first accusation and date it was first reported.

  5. It will all come to light. ….pretty sure Keith and daddy were both Dems before ran for office. Only reason they changed was to fool the community. Fagundes’ days as DA are numbered if anyone can put 2 and 2 together. True a person is “presumed” innocent until proven guilty. But add it up….Sexual harassment lawsuits (read the complaint), hundreds of texts, conflicts of interests called out by local judge (read the story), storing county property at his house (admits and drone), and on and on. So judge, accuser in lawsuit, AG, and everyone is just wrong and picking on the good guy huh? get real. you know there’s more out there too. And this guy points the finger claiming he’s “shocked” at how the challenger Hacker “operates”. good grief this guy sounds like a time bomb of liability if there ever was one. and what has hacker done with her career? seems legit and pretty sure she hasn’t caused these types of concerning issues nobody would want in a DA…I’m following the Sherif on this one.

  6. Hacker is a liberal claiming to be a conservative. Want proof? Her own campaign announcement sings the praises of the uber-liberal attorney general of California, and in the same breath then claims to be a Kings County conservative. She’s lying about who she is just to get elected. Hacker is for infanticide and partial-birth abortion. That’s all I need to know.

    • What’s with the antisemitic positions here?

      Why would you have the law prevent Jewish women from being able to exercise their First Amendment rights to be guided by the tenets of her faith when it comes to deciding whether or not they should be pregnant at that time, and instead use the power of the law to force them to behave as a hypothetical Christian woman would in similar circumstances?

      Is that how votes are earned in King County?

        • Truth is Hard, you have no idea what you’re talking about. If you actually care and aren’t just one of Keith’s minions, go speak to Hacker yourself instead of spreading rumors.

          • Quoting her announcements; “The California Attorney General’s Office has denounced these prosecutions because the laws against murder were never intended to impose an unreasonable burden of care on pregnant women.” In other words, she likes the Calif AG and is for (supports) abortion/infanticide.

  7. Fagundes has little monkeys on here slinging mud and lies as a distraction . this is the mentality of the DA’s office. proofs in the pudding. monkey see monkey do.

      • It is 100% you don’t know Hacker at all. I know her well. She’s far from liberal. The liberal lie was started by Keith. He’s been telling everyone that garbage wherever he goes. Just part of the political game I suppose. He’s scared of losing and he should be.

        • True of false, Jimbo. Hacker’s campaign announcement was commending the liberal Calif AG?

          • False. She stated that you can’t prosecute crimes that don’t exist. In CA there’s no crime against killing your fetus (unborn child). Keith made a plea deal that he couldn’t legally make; that’s why the judge tossed it. Should it be a crime? I think so, but CA doesn’t. Hacker was noting that Fagundes doesn’t even know the law…If he prosecutes for murder that will get tossed as well. It sucks and that lady should be prosecuted and I’m sure she’ll be judged someday but in CA what she did is not a crime.

  8. It is 100% you don’t know Hacker at all. I know her well. She’s far from liberal. The liberal lie was started by Keith. He’s been telling everyone that garbage wherever he goes. Just part of the political game I suppose. He’s scared of losing and he should be.

  9. Worked with both Hacker and Fagundes. Most accusations against Fagundes are true… seen and heard things that should never happen. If you disagreed with him, he made your life miserable. Corruption in disguise. He lies and lost integrity.

  10. Looks like several Fagundes “supporter” posts were removed. If they are this devious and hostile over the internet just imagine being stuck in the workplace environment everyday. No wonder Mr. Waggle had a difficult time coming forward with what happened to him. This group will certainly continue to show relentless vindictiveness moving forward. Ms Hacker will receive the same hostility from them for challenging Fagundes. Oh my goodness!

  11. No Supporter posts for Fagundes were removed. Three of Chad’s comments were removed because he was dominating the conversation and they didn’t add to the debate.

  12. THANKS VALLEY VOICE FOR DELETING COMMENTS! KEEP SHOWING HOW YOU WANT TO CONTROL THE NARRATIVE! WHY HAVE A COMMENT SECTION ANYWAY!!! DISGUSTING NAZI TRYING TO CONTROL THE SPEECH OF CITIZENS!!

    • Chad, I don’t think your comments were removed in order to favor Ms. Hacker, the next DA. I think they were removed because you make no sense. You post comments that sound like you may, or may not have made it through 2nd grade. You are really not helping Fagundas, and I love that! I say let Chad, Fagundas’s biggest fan and supporter, keep posting his comments. He’s only helping Hacker and the citizens of Kings County get rid of a corrupt DA.

  13. The Fagundes supporters are real charmers. One shamelessly calls the nice lady derogatory foul names. Just imagine what they have in store for challenger Ms Hacker. No respect for women or common decency.

    • There’s nothing decent about partial-birth abortion. It’s an abomination and needs to be stopped.

  14. Law enforcement apparently supports Hacker. The turnover at the office is so extreme it will take a while to fix the office.

  15. Currently the DA’s office is ineffective. My Uncle (Kenneth Lawrence Coyle) was murdered four years ago this month (April 2018). The current DA is not “upholding the law.” His current office is nothing but delays and excuses while the people who allergy murdered him sits in jail. At this rate, the murderers will get release for lack of “speedy trial.” What laws are they “upholding?” D.A. Fagundes allows his office to avoid calls, does not answer all questions of the victim’s family. I believe at this point two terms IS enough. Hanford needs a change and more effective leadership.

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