Gerry Serrano, the controversial Santa Ana police union leader who once threatened to “burn the city to the ground unless he gets what he wants,” has lost another battle with top City Hall officials.
This time, California Attorney General Rob Bonta declined to file criminal charges against Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin, after Serrano sent five letters to Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer requesting he initiate a criminal investigation into Valentin, in January of last year.
According to a police department news release, Spitzer had cited an unspecified conflict of interest in the case, then referred the matter to Bonta’s office.
A spokesperson for Spitzer’s office declined to comment on the specifics of that conflict of interest on Wednesday.
On July 14, Bonta’s office “sent official written determination that criminal charges are not warranted and that the OAG would take no further action,” reads the police department’s news release.
Requests for comment from Serrano went unreturned on Wednesday.
The police union leader has fueled a fierce department loyalty battle with the police chief and top city officials over his search for a pension boost over the last few years.
Under Serrano, the union also launched recall efforts against two members of the elected City Council, over their votes for a labor contract that gave officers a 3% pay raise but fell short on the pay raise amount the police union originally requested.
The new contract also slashed a controversial arrangement for Serrano, of full-time release from police work while he steered the association.
One of those recall efforts, against Councilmember Jessie Lopez, is advancing to an election, the date of which may be set by City Council members at their regular Aug. 1 meeting.
The police union-sponsored effort to unseat Councilmember Thai Viet Phan, on the other hand, has yet to turn around the needed signatures for an election.
In his fight with City Hall, Serrano has also filed lawsuits alleging impropriety and illegal conduct by Chief Valentin, the City Manager and City Attorney.
But each of those cases have not gone Serrano’s way, most recently with OC Superior Court Judge Erick Larsh, who dismissed with prejudice one of the police union’s lawsuits on July 18.
The police union has also been ordered to pay hefty court fees to the city as a result of claims that were found to be “frivolous.”
In addition to dismissing the police union’s claims in a related case, Serrano and the union were ordered to pay attorneys’ fees and costs of $41,600 on February 23.
And due to what city officials called the union’s “failure” to pay the award for over four months, the police union ultimately paid $43,129.13 in that case, which included interest of $1,437.66, according to an email from city spokesperson Paul Eakins.
In total, the union has had to pay the city more than $68,000 for its losses in court.
On top of that, Serrano and the union face an additional city request for over $20,000 in “additional monetary sanctions for their failure to properly respond to the City’s discovery requests,” Eakins said in his email.