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Ghigliotti Faces Arraignment, Accused of Filing False Claim

Defending himself against a misdemeanor charge will cost $50,000, outspoken former attorney says.

At the urging of Novato police, the Marin County District Attorney's office plans to arraign an outspoken former attorney on a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report to the police.

Jerome Ghigliotti, who ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Novato City Council in 2011 and was once arrested for disrupting a council meeting (see video), has a Dec. 20 court date and claims it will cost him about $50,000 to defend himself from the charge.

"I have no idea what they're talking about," Ghigliotti said of the accusation in an e-mail to Novato Patch.

Novato Chief of Police Jim Berg said typically a claim can be filed if a claim of a crime committed turns out to be false after a police investigation. He did not want to address Ghigliotti's case specifically.

"If it's something that costs us a considerable amount of personnel time and that the person knowingly filed a false claim, we can pursue charges," Berg said.

Berg said he believes Ghigliotti knows why the charge is being pursued. If not, he will be entitled to obtain police reports about the incident when he is arraigned, according to Chief Assistant District Attorney Barry Borden.

Ghigliotti, a 41-year Novato resident who worked in the restaurant industry for many years before becoming a lawyer, has sued the city of Novato, members of the Novato City Council, former police chief Joseph Kreins and the county of Marin for various reasons over the past few years, and he hints that this misdemeanor charge is a way for them to get even.

Ghigliotti, an advocate of staunch immigration laws, tried in vain over three years to force the E-Verify citizenship documentation system to be used by any company doing business with the city of Novato. His intent was for those companies to only hire United States citizens.

In May 2010, more than 3,500 people signed a petition and the voter initiative was approved by the Marin County Registrar's Office based on having enough verified signatures to qualify. But the Novato City Council followed the advice of City Attorney Jeffrey Walter and did not act upon the referendum.

Ghigliotti challenged the city's inaction in Marin County Superior Court and lost, but then appealed. In May 2012, the First Appellate District of the Court of Appeals ruled that the case against Ghigliotti was moot because of a recent law that had been passed.

In September 2010, Ghigliotti was arrested during a Novato City Council meeting for disrupting a public meeting and escorted out of Novato City Hall by Kreins. Ghigliotti said his First Amendment rights were violated and filed suit in federal court against Kreins and the members of the council at the time —Madeline Kellner, Jeanne MacLeamy, Pat Eklund, Carole Dillon-Knutson and Denise Athas.

Ghigliotti said the pursuit of a misdemeanor is going to cost him a lot of money because a public defender can obtain a civil judgment and seize  assets of anyone he represents.

"The police department and the district attorney's office have unlimited taxpayer funds to prosecute, and attorneys in California will not prosecute a wrongful arrest for a Caucasian client," Ghigliotti wrote. "... I am both proud and troubled that my predictions about the breakdown of our society have been proven.

"This just goes to prove that you can't fight City Hall."

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Steven Norwin December 10, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Shame on Marin County. The County is the guilty one for not upholding the immigration laws. What is with Marin county's "Do as I say, Not at I Do" Mentatlity.
Eric Winkler December 10, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I believe Gloria Allred is between cases right now. I'm sure she'd do it for half price if you promise her a television interview.
Craig Belfor December 10, 2012 at 05:06 PM
This is interesting in that in all other cases like this, the charges are very well described, as are all of the allegations, facts, and particulars. Why has the Novato Police department not released the details of these charges? In all other cases, we get to know the name, age, address, criminal history, and specific details of the incident
NovatoCitizen December 10, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Is Mr. Ghigliotti facing charges because he wanted Novato to use E-Verify and prevent the hiring of illegal aliens? If so, I am trying to understand how persecuting him this makes any sense. And I believe that those who immigrate to this country should do so LEGALLY. And that those who drive should be here legally and have insurance and a license. And that those who live/drive/work here should be here legally. And no, I am not a racist. And I think that it's so twisted that people who feel this way --- that the immigration laws should be followed and enforced --- are called racists by some.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) December 10, 2012 at 06:27 PM
The contents of official police reports do not get disseminated to the media unless they are part of the documents released in a courtroom action. Until then, the PD can reveal information but doesn't have to show all cards. I always appreciate the info they share with me — the stuff that I can then share with you.
Kevin Moore December 10, 2012 at 07:31 PM
After reading the article, it is still not clear the actual charge is directly related to his arrest during the city council meeting or if it is related to some other charge. You give so much background, but don't point out the specific incident.
Kevin Moore December 10, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I think she is busy doing broom flying in the Geico commercials. If this is about the arrest in the City Council chambers, the ACLU should be supporting him. His method of free speech was to turn his back on the city council and address the People of Novato. For that and refusing to turn around, he was arrested. Turning off the cameras while he was being arrested had it's own set of excuses. Leave the cameras rolling, let a judge and jury see clear evidence. It was a dumb move, excused as "we turn off the cameras for breaks".
Anthony December 10, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I am not a "racist" but I do agree with some (NOTE: "SOME") of the things that Jerome fights for. Sure, he makes comments on Patch and the IJ that are somewhat racist in a lot of cases, but as NovatoCitizen said, people that are here driving, living, working etc.. should do so legally.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) December 10, 2012 at 08:41 PM
@Kevin: Excellent point. I tried to make it clear in the story that neither side seems willing to explain what the charge stems from, and it won't be made public until the arraignment. If Jerome shares that info with me, I'd be glad to pass it on.
Steve December 10, 2012 at 09:51 PM
The article says he is being charged with filing a false police report, so it probably has nothing to do with his ill-informed effort to create a Novato Immigration Policy. While Mr. Ghigliotti says he doesn't know what this is about, unless he files so many reports with the police that he can't remember them all, I suspect he knows very well what this is about.
Kim December 10, 2012 at 11:11 PM
This all sounds a bit ridiculous to me. This sounds like just what he said, "the city getting even". Sure, Jerome is a bit outspoken but last time I checked, we still had freedom of speech in this country, or have the idiots that run this town taken that away also. And also, some of what Jerome has said over the years has turned out to be exactly spot on.
DC December 11, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Jerome: Its premature to complain to the public about the cost of defending yourself when you do not state to the public exactly what you are defending yourself against. If you are being treated unfairly, there will be public outcry upon revealing the details. What's up?
Gram December 11, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Agreed!
Gram December 11, 2012 at 03:59 AM
I believe it is absolutely unethical, at best, for the Police Dept to set out to "get even", especially with this gentleman who only wants the best for his town.
Novato Native December 11, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Are you kidding me??? Our city council felt it too much to enforce e-verify, the easiest of any online app offered by the Feds? Also, if a contractor isn't willing to verify whether or not someone is here legally what liability does that expose our city to in potential labor violations for wage and hour complaints and meals and rest periods??? Dear City Vouncil, do as you are told by those who voted or hired you for you position!
Dave Robertson December 11, 2012 at 06:32 AM
Yes, this article could have been better written. It is not clear what this man is being charged with - or going to be charged with. If that information is not available, it sounds awfully odd to make statements that someone will be charged. And yes, if this is really a charge that had to be "dug up", not recent, and is subject to police discretion whether to prosecute - then it sounds even more suspicious.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr December 11, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Actually, I think that the article is fairly written. My only correction is that the court of appeal did not rule against the E-Verify citizen initiative. They ruled that the issue was moot, as a law had been passed almost a year after the council refused to place the initiative on the ballot that made mandatory use of E-Verify illegal; which means that the initiative WAS legal when it went before the council. Assemblyman Fong authored the bill and said that we should wait for a system that was more accurate. In fact, the E-Verify system is 100% accurate as used in California. Not any person entitled to employment was denied employment. It is emphatically clear to me that my characterization of former chief Kreins as a television cartoon character is the basis of this vendetta. Mr. Kreins resigned or retired from the Novato position and is currently working as chief in Vallejo. In fact, I have requested the details of the charge and I have not had a reply. Thomas Jefferson said, "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people there is liberty." I did consult with Gloria Alred's office and they were not interested. The SF ACLU said that they do not represent Caucasians in civil rights actions.
Cindy December 11, 2012 at 02:30 PM
The idiots of this town are just trying to silence him because he is very vocal and he does push the limits a bit, but isn't that what citizen rights are all about? E-Verify needs to be enforced whether this is about that or not! I too felt that his arrest for turning his back to the council was ridiculous, he was speaking his mind and I support him in doing just that!
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) December 11, 2012 at 04:12 PM
@Dave: Please see the comment above as to why the story was so vague (because the sources were).
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) December 11, 2012 at 04:13 PM
NPD and Ghigliotti have offered additional information in this case, so keep your eye out for a follow-up story later today.
Steve December 11, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I await your reporting with interest. At least then we will know the basis for the charge and won't have to speculate whether its all just a vendetta against Mr. Ghigliotti. (Although from most of the comments above, it seems that some folks don't need to know the facts to make up their minds about where the truth lays.)
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr December 12, 2012 at 02:34 AM
As I recall, Gail Meyers was cited by the city for having weeds that were too high in her yard. She has been the conscience of Novato for years. When you speak up against the city council or police chief, they have ways of making your life miserable. How many of you have $50,000 disposable cash in your checking account. Even defending an unjust claim can be devastating to those who are living paycheck to paycheck. It is a very emphatic means of silencing protests, using handcuffs instead of tear gas and truncheons. It is called making an example.

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