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UPDATE: Purvis Attorney Fires Back at Peterson, Says 'Payment by City Proves There Were Problems'

Banning councilman Don Peterson, right, before a meeting Oct. 15, 2013. Banning-Beaumont Patch photo by Guy McCarthy.
Banning councilman Don Peterson, right, before a meeting Oct. 15, 2013. Banning-Beaumont Patch photo by Guy McCarthy.
Update 4:05 p.m. An attorney for former Banning police Chief Leonard Purvis has responded to Councilman Don Peterson's statement earlier Monday Dec. 30, in which Peterson touted a city insurance attorney's finding of no wrongdoing by Peterson in connection with a claim filed by Purvis.

Peterson also said Purvis's accusations were "completely fabricated and false."

Purvis said by phone Monday afternoon he could not comment due to terms of a $300,000 settlement he reached with the City of Banning, and deferred to his attorney, Bradley Gage of Woodland Hills.

"There was a settlement in the lawsuit where the city paid a substantial sum of money based on the allegations of our lawsuit," Gage said Dec. 30 in an email to Patch. "The claims included actions by Peterson.

"If the city did not realize there were problems with the case they would not have paid so much money early in the litigation," Gage said. "To say that Peterson was cleared of wrongdoing because of a release demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how lawyers craft settlements.

"It is common when a city pays large sums of money because of the wrongdoing of its employees for the plaintiff to dismiss individual defendants," Gage said.

"There was neither an 'investigation' nor discovery that was provided in the lawsuit to absolve anyone from the city of wrongdoing," Gage said. "The large Payment by the city proves there indeed were problems with the way the city treated chief Purvis. Purvis is a good man that did a great job for the city. He does not deserve to be mistreated by the city or its council."

Purvis first filed a $250,000 claim against the City of Banning in July, alleging misconduct violations by Peterson that occurred in December 2012 and March 2013. The city settled with Purvis in November, and Purvis was rehired by the Sheriff's Department earlier this month.

Posted 2:05 p.m. Banning City Council member Don Peterson released a statement Monday touting a city insurance attorney's finding of no wrongdoing by him in connection with a claim filed by former Chief of Police Leonard Purvis.

Peterson also said Purvis's accusations were "completely fabricated and false."

Purvis and his attorney, Bradley Gage of Woodland Hills, could not be reached to comment for this report.

Purvis filed a $250,000 claim against the City of Banning in July, alleging a "culture of retaliation" against him and misconduct violations by Peterson that occurred in December 2012 and March 2013.

Purvis went on voluntary paid leave effective Oct. 5. The City of Banning reached a $300,000 settlement with Purvis in November. He was rehired earlier this month by the Sheriff's Department.

Here's Peterson's statement released Monday Dec. 30:

On July 1, 2013, former Chief of Police Leonard Purvis filed a claim for money damages with the City of Banning, alleging that Council member Don Peterson had engaged in certain instances of improper conduct.

The lead attorney for the City's insurance carrier, ERMA, has concluded that "no findings of wrongdoing" were made in regards to Council member Peterson's conduct towards former Police Chief Purvis.

The attorney's memorandum was submitted via email on December 30, 2013, by ERMA lead counsel Melanie M. Poturica.

Don Peterson states: "The memorandum confirms, what I have maintained all along: former Chief Purvis’ accusations were completely fabricated and false. I always acted within the scope of my elected duty."

Peterson's statement included the Dec. 30 email from Poturica, which was copied to City Manager Andy Takata and City Attorney Dave Aleshire. Here's the email verbatim:

Dear Don,

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with notice that there have been no findings of wrongdoing against you in connection with the Purvis claim.

The City and Purvis specifically disclaim any liability to, or any wrongful acts against each other, or against any other person or entity, on the part of themselves, any related person or any related predecessor corporation or its or their agents, representatives or successors in interest and assigns.

Once again, there have been no findings of wrongdoings by you, and now that the claim has been withdrawn, we consider it closed as to you. There remain conditions for the City and Purvis to fulfill under the terms of the Settlement Agreement and General Release.

Take care and my best to you in 2014. Happy New Year!

Melanie

Melanie M. Poturica | Partner

6033 W. Century Boulevard, 5th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90045

For background see:

City of Banning's $300K Settlement with Former PD Chief Purvis: The Fine Print

Purvis Rehired by Riverside County Sheriff's Department

UPDATE: Banning Police Have No Chief, Purvis on Voluntary Paid Leave

Banning Police Chief Files $250,000 Claim Against City
Libi Uremovic December 30, 2013 at 05:30 PM
a letter from the insurance company stating no one did anything wrong ....yet purvis had already strolled off with a suitcase full of money.... that ain't right....
Dex December 30, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Soooo, no one did anything wrong, but the taxpayers get hammered for 300K. Purvis and Peterson should have just gone at it in a boxing ring, and left the taxpayers out of it. They should both be embarrassed that this cost the citizens a humongous chunk of change because they couldnt settle their personal issues. Neither one of them should be allowed to hold public office ever again.
ATC December 30, 2013 at 08:40 PM
"The City and Purvis specifically disclaim any liability to, or wrongful acts against each other..." That is directly from the settlement, word for word, and contradicts what Purvis' attorney is now trying to publicly claim. In fact, his public statement here seems like it might violate the terms of that very settlement. A good lawyer should know better, and keep his mouth shut. ***** The settlement means only that it was cheaper than going to court, nothing more. Purvis would have received his generous $166,000 severance no matter how he left; an additional $134,000 was a cheap way for the city to cleanse itself of a chief who was spending more than that every year just to investigate his own officers.
David Harwood December 30, 2013 at 08:44 PM
I moved to the Banning area about 8 mo. ago and began reading, occasionally, the articles in the paper concerning Purvis and Peterson. The first thing that stood out to me when the settlement was announced was that BOTH sides, the city and Purvis, agreed to NEITHER doing wrong to settle the case. I think this is standard language in this type of settlement. So, for Peterson to say he was cleared of wrongdoing would be exactly the same as if Purvis were claiming no wrongdoing as a result of this law suit. What I have questions about is Peterson's claim of being in Law Enforcement himself. I admit, I do not have access to all of the information as Patch does, so, I challenge Patch to look into the claims made by Peterson. I am working only off of my memory of an article I read in the paper of Peterson's claims of being the Asst. Chief of Police at a College Campus. When I searched the web I found a private vocational school ( not an accredited college or a recognized campus Police Dept. by the state) plus, the security for the campus only consisted of two people, a self proclaimed Chief and Assistant Chief. This does not translate to a Police Officer position to me. Lastly, the paper said Peterson had been a Trooper, or something like it, in another state. I doubt seriously that state has the same laws as California. In the articles I have read it sure seems the reporting has been slanted. Towards whom, you can make your own choice. I am only curious about the claims Peterson makes of being a former officer and the validity of those claims.
Shirley Almeida December 30, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Sounds like Peterson was a rent a cop or security guard like Sun Lakes hires. He makes a habit misrepresenting himself. He needs to go.
Jeremiah December 30, 2013 at 11:12 PM
I see the "sour grapes klan" is still alive and about their business. You guys have done more to convince me Purvis was right and Peterson has escaped scot-free, leaving the city and the citizens to pay for his actions. ATC has commented about the money Purvis spent investigating his own officers - isn't that what you do when you are hired to clean up a police dept and raise the quality of the policing? His job wasn't to run a popularity contest and gain support from his officers - his job was to straighten out the dept and weed out bad officers and hire new ones (which the city prevented him from doing. After this MRAP craziness of Phillip Holder and another officer picking up a vehicle they weren't licensed for and driving it much faster than it was rated directly out of storage and losing control and wrecking a private vehicle, maybe he was right to investigate these officers. **** Oh, by the way, the boo-birds here didn't reveal the part of the settlement which states that the city has not ever found a single problem with Purvis and the Internal Affairs Dept and even includes a section requiring Purvis to stay on board with any internal affairs investigations he began until they are concluded. **** ATC - you know Peterson well and even talk to him about privileged closed meeting stuff most people consider Brown Act violations - maybe you can tell us where your friend was a police officer? I'm not doubting he was - surely no one would lie that transparently - but since he isn't answering maybe you could spill the beans for the people who are inquiring? **** Good to see there are other people here who can read between the lines and who aren't fooled by the 4 or 5 sour grapers who never miss a chance to demean someone. **** Jeremiah
ATC December 31, 2013 at 01:18 AM
Ah yes, it's never over till the fat lady, errr...Jeremiah, sings. Happy New Year to you too, JP.
Jeremiah December 31, 2013 at 01:48 AM
In all fairness I must let everyone here know that I do not have a negative or positive opinion of Don Petersen - I do not know him and I think he ought to have a fair chance with a newly comprised council to show what his agenda for Banning's citizens is. There is an issue between ATC and I which caused me inadvertently to make a statement about allowing Banning citizens to pay for his mistakes. I retract that - not knowing the man I have no right to make that assumption simply because ATC aligns himself with him and defends him as I defend my friend Leonard Purvis. I hope I have cleared the air of any impression I made negatively without the right to do so. Happy New Year to everyone. **** Jeremiah
Carol Stull December 31, 2013 at 02:36 AM
ATC - you certainly are correct regarding the city money Chief Purvis spent on private investigators to look into citizen complaints. Banning PD's internal affairs officer, Lt. Phil Holder, a Brady list cop, can't be trusted to tell the truth so someone else needs to come up with "unfounded complaint" findings. And it's shouldn't be a real surprise that these "investigators" are retired cops that have a new found career - "private investigator."
haden ward December 31, 2013 at 04:06 AM
The dollar amount does seem high, so let’s see what’s up. First off, there is no such fantasy as voluntary paid leave, it sounds nice though, and second, he was paid out the rest of his contract which would have also included sick time and vacation time. (He makes more money as a chief.)Now this guy gets rehired by the sheriff as a sergeant without a background check within a 45 day time frame and with the previous bullshit claim he was stressed out and suffering from anxiety……….talk about slapping the sheriff’s rank and file guys in the face who are trying to promote………
Alexander Cuttleworth December 31, 2013 at 05:26 AM
We will probably never know the entire story. Purvis may not be legally allowed to go into detail and Peterson won't. Pretty bad smell around town these days and it's not all coming from the council chambers. BTW, anyone notice that Miller is not included in this particular often used photo?
a litttle justice December 31, 2013 at 10:39 AM
If Purvis couldn't comment because of the terms of the settlement agreement, why could Peterson? It looks like he has re-opened the legal floodgates. "Completely false and fabricated?"
Dex December 31, 2013 at 11:48 AM
A good example of why 'contract' employees are a bad idea. If these two had problems with each other, then they, and they alone should be responsible for any money awarded to the other. Whats to prevent this from happening again? This will continue to happen in the future if neither party is held financially accountable. Do you think either of these guys would have pursued a lawsuit if they would have been left holding the bag? But since the taxpayers are responsible for these guys behavior, they get to pay the bill. There needs to be some consequences for a government employee bringing up a lawsuit on the publics dime. And one of those consequences should be NEVER being allowed to hold a public office again. Peterson may be a stand up guy....Purvis may be the best police chief ever....we will never know all the details. But these clowns need to think long and hard about the consequences before ever bringing up a lawsuit that the public has to pay for.
Patch Reader December 31, 2013 at 12:17 PM
@Shirley you are absolutely right Peterson does have a very bad habit of misrepresenting himself but he also misrepresents others......in my opinion and my opinion only Don Peterson is the WORST thing that ever came into Banning!
a litttle justice December 31, 2013 at 06:22 PM
ATC, " A good lawyer should know better, and keep his mouth shut." I believe you are right in this statement, but according to the article the attorney for Purvis made his comments as a result of a letter to Peterson from the Insurance Companies lawyer that Peterson published. After the settlement was agreed to, wouldn't it be appropriate for both sides to move on? I can't believe that Peterson would be allowed to publicly comment if Purvis is not allowed to comment because of the terms of the settlement. The insurance company, in my mind should have never sent a letter like this to Peterson. This could very easily open this case back up and cost the City even more!

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