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."