From: PORAC LDF
By: William J. Hadden, ESQ., 8/1/2003
In the waning days of 2001, Pomona Detective Danny Kono found himself with a little too much time on his hands. Having been issued a copy of then-Police Chief Fred Sanchez’s year-end message to the troops, Kono decided he would create some holiday cheer for his colleagues in the Detective Bureau. After some cutting and pasting, a new “Chief’s Message” emerged, bearing little resemblance to the original. It seemed funny at the time.
It might still seem so if Kono hadn’t left a copy of the letter in a fax machine, which quickly found its way into the hands of a lieutenant, and then the chief. When Kono learned that an investigation into the identity of the letterwriter was underway, he volunteered his guilt. He immediately wrote a profuse apology to Sanchez for the letter, which even the city later acknowledged could not be seriously viewed as a personal attack on the chief. Kono, a veteran homicide investigator with outstanding evaluations and no significant prior discipline, expected to be disciplined in some way, but did not anticipate what was to come.
Ten days after the chief received Kono’s apology, Kono was placed on administrative leave which continued for approximately three weeks. The chief then gave Kono a notice telling him he was being suspended for 80 hours. In the same notice, the chief advised Kono that he was being transferred from the homicide unit, resulting in the loss of a large amount of on-call pay, as well as a take home car, a measure that the chief insisted was “non-punitive.”
Kono, represented throughout by Bill Hadden of Silver, Hadden & Silver, appealed the decision to hearing officer Sara Adler. Ms. Adler determined that Sanchez’s protestations notwithstanding, the transfer was unmistakably punitive, as it had been effectuated by “the victim” in the same letter as the suspension notification, and was appropriately subject to her review. Adler found that Kono’s laudatory past record and immediate and sincere apology militated against the necessity for any penalty beyond a 40-hour suspension, ruling that Kono should be reinstated to his homicide position, with restoration of lost on-call and overtime pay.
To forego further litigation, the city and Kono agreed to resolve the case substantially as decided by Adler, which will bring Kono about $16,000 in pay and comp time.
For Kono, who had been devastated by the taking of his badge and gun and by his banishment from the homicide unit for his misguided attempt at humor, the agreement brought an emotional chapter in his career to an end.
“When I was stripped of my police powers, I felt like I was thrown out of a close-knit family,” he said. “I am extremely grateful that the city and acting chief Lowenberg were willing to take another look at the case and put it behind us all. I am also extremely grateful to my attorney, Bill Hadden, and LDF for supporting me through this difficult time.”