Morning Report: Explosive Account in Jail Death Case - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Explosive Account in Jail Death Case

Heron Moriarty was the “quintessential family man,” attorneys for his wife Michelle say, before a psychotic break landed him in the Vista jail, where he died by suicide in May 2016. / Photo courtesy of the Moriarty family

A medical records clerk at the Vista jail said she was threatened with retaliation if she told anyone that she’d confronted a jail sergeant who’d refused to put a man on suicide watch, who later committed suicide, according to a court declaration.

Attorneys for the man’s wife, who is suing the county over her husband’s suicide in the Vista jail, say county lawyers knowingly failed to disclose the name of a witness because her testimony would undercut their defense, reports VOSD contributor Kelly Davis.

In a declaration filed last week, the clerk, who’s worked for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department for 15 years, said she lives “with guilt and remorse for staying quiet” about the events leading up to Moriarty’s death on May 31, 2016.

Because the deadline for gathering evidence in the case has passed, a judge will need to decide whether the clerk can be deposed as a witness.

The wife’s attorney told Davis that it was “unconscionable” that the Sheriff’s Department and county lawyers withheld the clerk’s name, which is a potential violation of court rules.

Ash Street Scandal Goes Batshit

NBC 7 broke big news Thursday after being apparently the first reporters to see the report of an independent investigation into the city’s purchase of 101 Ash Street. That and other documents suggested officials overpaid for 101 Ash St., knowing the building was not worth the cost that officials had already agreed to. 

The report included email communications from a top city manager and the Real Estate Assets Department — both of whom were forced out of their jobs over this ongoing scandal — acknowledging the price disparity. One email that NBC 7 published even suggested that officials had intentionally inflated an appraisal to get it closer to the sales price. 

Then things went from kinda crazy to completely bonkers.

That was all interesting stuff but there was another part of the story that said the investigation had found that a City Councilmember had misrepresented the deal to his colleagues and the public. It was in a footnote of the report and it said that person was Todd Gloria (who is running for mayor) but the city attorney had blocked investigators from interviewing him

Hours after the story ran, City Attorney Mara Elliott, though, tweeted a letter from the outside law firm investigating the 101 Ash St. debacle, that claimed that whole footnote was a complete fabrication. Brain Pierik, a partner at Burke Williams & Sorensen, wrote that they had no knowledge of the things the footnote said.

Gloria sent out a statement condemning NBC.

“I look forward to hearing from NBC about how they intend to make this right,” he wrote. The NBC reporters said the report came from a reliable source.

Census Countdown

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Sept. 30 counting deadline is approaching.

San Diego’s coastal cities have the lowest self-response rates, NBC 7 reports. Del Mar is the lowest at 56.7 percent. Coronado and Imperial Beach follow with 61.6 and 64.7 percent, respectively. San Diego County’s overall rate is 72 percent.

Meanwhile, advocates and community organizers are concerned and confused about recent statements from Census Bureau officials indicating they may stop door-knocking operations in the San Diego area on Sept. 18 — 12 days earlier than the Sept. 30 deadline to complete the 2020 Census, the U-T reports.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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