TC Sheriff’s Office and DA accused of Selective Prosecution

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and the Tulare County District Attorney’s office have been accused of giving preferential treatment to two major political donors, Casey and Morris Tharp, owners of EM Tharp Inc.

EM Tharp Inc. is a family owned trucking business operating in Porterville since 1935.

Kevin Rooney, of the Hammerschmidt Law Corporation, represents Donald Clinton who is accused of nine counts of grand theft from his employer, E.M. Tharp Inc., and of filing false income tax returns.

A motion filed in late June requesting discovery documents states, “Mr. Clinton has been subjected to selective and discriminatory investigation and prosecution. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office undertook and prioritized the investigation, asset seizures, and recommendation for prosecution, because the alleged victim E.M. Tharp and its owners Morris and Casey Tharp, are political supporters of the Sherriff and the District Attorney.”

Page 3 of Clinton - Motion to Compel Production of Discovery

Contributed to DocumentCloud by Tony Maldonado (Valley Voice Newspaper) • View document or read text

As evidence to his allegation of preferential treatment Rooney provided the campaign documents showing that Casey and Morris Tharp and their company gave “over $4,000 in campaign donations to the Tulare County Sherriff between 2013-16 and approximately $600 donated to the current District Attorney’s campaign in 2018.”

Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward’s office filed a response to Rooney’s motion saying that the donations to the Sheriff’s Department and the DA were made mostly before Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and DA Tim Ward were campaigning for office.

Page 4 of Clinton - Opp DA 7.14.22

Contributed to DocumentCloud by Tony Maldonado (Valley Voice Newspaper) • View document or read text

Rooney’s motion added, “Counsel is informed and believes the Sheriff and the District Attorney have also politically benefited from the Tharps’ participation in activities such as the Businessmen’s Lunch in which favored candidates are invited to meet with prominent community members.”

Rooney also alleges that while his client is being prosecuted for filing false tax returns, the DA’s office “ignored” evidence of tax offenses by family associates of EM Tharp.

The DA’s office responded by saying that the alleged tax evasion by the Tharp family was revealed during a contentious divorce and happened many years before either Ward or Boudreaux were elected. It added that it is unlikely the DA’s office was aware of the tax fraud allegations against the Tharp family.

While reviewing the facts of the case against his client, Rooney told the Voice he was shocked how quickly the sheriff’s department responded to a phone call made by the Tharp company alleging embezzlement.

“The sheriff’s department responded with lightening speed,” he said, showing in up in under an hour in one instance just to review documents.

“The sheriff’s office leapfrogged its investigation into Mr. Clinton over numerous other matters and handled the Clinton investigation with much greater urgency than an ‘ordinary’ investigation,” stated the motion.

A quick response is expected for violent crimes, he said, but unheard of in financial matters.

The DA did not address the unusual speed in which the sheriff’s office responded to EM Tharp’s complaint. But their response did established that Rooney needed to demonstrate how his client was discriminated against and not just provide evidence of possible preferential treatment of EM Tharp.

“The United States Constitution mandates discovery in support of a discriminatory prosecution claim only when the defense provides some evidence tending to show the existence of each essential element of the defense-discriminatory effect and discriminatory intent,” sai the DA’s motion.

The DA concluded, “In the present matter, Defendant has done nothing more than levy accusations of misconduct labeled as “some evidence.” Defendant has made no factual showing of misconduct beyond his speculation and conjecture.”

The court agreed.

In a hearing on July 21 at the Tulare County Superior Court in Porterville, Judge Kathryn T. Montejano denied Rooney’s motion without explanation.

Though disappointed in the decision, Rooney said he wasn’t surprised.

A favorable ruling in a case of selective prosecution involving political favoritism is extremely hard to get, he said. Selective and discriminatory investigation and prosecution is a serious allegation and if proven, the entire case is thrown out.

The issue of preferential treatment will not be broached in the trial but could be use it in the event of an appeal.

A preliminary hearing date will be decided when the two sides meet again in court on July 29.

20 thoughts on “TC Sheriff’s Office and DA accused of Selective Prosecution

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  1. It wouldn’t be the first case where EM Tharp, Casey Tharp, Morris Tharp were shown preferential treatment. Hard to fight when you’re money runs out. And what about the absence of a statutory rape charge against Casey?

  2. Read about our Tulare County Justice system simply by googling Casey Tharp divorce. The usurping of Justice regarding the EM Tharp family membersgoes way back, is disgusting, and continues to this day. We need the state attorney generals office to review the local sherriff, DA and judge for this case and other cases. It’s time for a new sherriff and a new DA. We need to get rid of the ‘good Ole boy’ system in Tulare County, or as some would say, clear the swamp!

    • I highly recommend reading the legal proceedings of the Tharp divorce online. Consider it a cautionary tale and a nugget of accountability for Casey Tharp and Judge William Silveira, Jr.

    • I read it and it is shocking. How can someone (Casey), who was sanctioned by the court, lied a about the existence of a premarital agreement, was seen in bed by his 7 year old daughter with their 16 year old babysitter, be considered a credible person/witness/complaintant in any legal proceeding. Not to mention that the case was removed from Judge Silviera for blatant preferential treatment/rulings for Casey where the appeals court actually said that the judge abused his power.

  3. Look at past Valley Voice articles regarding DA Tim Ward and and Setton farms, a contributor to his campaign, for similar pay to play politics. Word is that DA Ward will have a challenger next term, who is well qualified. It happened in Hanford in June. Tulare County is next for a new administration. Stay tuned.

  4. There is a long history of corruption within the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and the DA. Just look at the fiasco surrounding the investigation of the Donna Richmond murder and the subsequent “framing” of Oscar Clifton. That poor girl and her family deserved actual justice and Oscar Clifton and his family had their lives destroyed all while allowing an actual serial rapist/murderer to continue a decades long crime spree. The lives lost are on the heads of these two corrupt departments. May the ghosts forever haunt those responsible. This should be a lesson/example of how bad an outcome can be when you decide in favor of corruption.

  5. Let’s not forget Tulare Hospital’s Benny Benzeevi, who donated thousands to Ward’s campaign. Ward refused to investigate the millions of dollars that went missing until he was called on it by an opponent. Now Benzeevi is arrested yet out free and his case is lingering under DA Ward. Ward needs to go. Recall.

  6. Ward insulates himself with his administration. He’s out of touch with justice and is merely a puppet master politician. Word is there a well qualified challenger waiting in the wings who is an experienced litigator and supported by law enforcement. The same thing happened in Hanford with that creepy DA. Wards office is in shambles and morale plummeting into the netherworld. Stay tuned.

  7. There is all kinds of favoritism at TCSO. I know of deputies who have pulled over fellow deputies or friends for drunk driving and have called a wife or girlfriend to pick them and their vehicle up, but the next unknown guy gets arrested and his vehicle impounded. Crooked all the way around.

  8. The DA’s office did not prosecute Dona Shores who embezzled from the Visalia Public Cemetery, the trial kept being postponed for one reason or the other until Mrs. Shores passed away.

  9. Thank you Valley Voice for have the guts to print an article that potentially exposes TCSO and the Tulare DA’s ongoing corruption and a family, the Tharps, so protected that their own crimes are never investigated or prosecuted. Hopefully you don’t have to endure any of the backlash from them that we know they are very capable of. Watch your six!

  10. All these comments about the Tulare County DA and Sherriff mean absolutely nothing to law abiding citizens when you disguise yourself as some ridiculous alias. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone to replace either of these men through an election or a recall.

    This article headline is so incredibly misleading. But I will give you one thing, it’s not wrong. They were accused….BUT THE JUDGE DISMISSED THE CASE DUE TO UNFOUND EVIDENCE! This paper is such a s#!+ stirrer, it infuriates me. Congratulations.

    Lastly, how do you know what detectives have going on at the time? When I call into law enforcement for a problem, I expect someone to show up to my location for a report that day and preferably within the hour. Mr. Rooney/Mr. Clinton, did you ever stop to think that it’s possible both individuals you name in your lawsuit are actually doing an excellent job by providing these services in lightening speed despite the pathetic job performance the state of CA has come to expect in regards to crime? Tulare County has the best run Sherriff and District Attorney division in the state, and quite possibly the nation. Work on cases that actually mean something and quit being shady like the commenters and journalist who wrote this article.

    • If Tulare County has the best run Sheriff’s Office and DA in the State/Country then we are in a world of hurt. I suggest you read Twelve-Twenty Six-Seventy Five to find out what kind of people they really are. And believe me, people would be well advised to conceal their identity for their own safety when making a negative comment concerning these two departments

  11. I don’t know about the current Sheriff & DA but people in law enforcement in Visalia & Tulare co have been accused of things in the past and cost the city & county money sexually harassing women etc and act like it was nothing. And, people do nothing and throw felonies against them and act like their John Dillinger and they go to jail and lose there jobs. Go have a talk with that woman who said that sheriffs Sgt harassed her.

  12. They couldn’t catch one of the biggest serial killers in the nation who started in Visalia the Golden State killer (who was a former Exeter cop) for over 40yrs. But, they had time to go to some prayer breakfast? There should be no cold unsolved homicide cases in Tulare co. Solving cases should be top priority not reading the Bible.

  13. What’s great about the Presidency is a Democrat or republican comes in for 4 or 8 years than a new guy has a chance. usually the sheriff and DA stays in for 20yrs. its not fair for others to not get a chance to move up the ladder. It was rare for Kings co to defeat there DA. There needs to be term limits.

  14. The Tulare DA (Tim Ward) will be voted OUT next term. He’s got a great opponent to face. Support is building within the law enforcement community and multiple major endorsements.

  15. The Infamous Jose Martinez the drug cartel hitman who got away with murder after murder for over three decades. A book was made “The devils Harvest “by Jessica Garrison

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