After a mystifying delay, on Monday the City of Santa Clara finally released a June 2021 report about an investigation of former police officers Brian Gilbert and Phil Cooke. The pair were convicted in a cyberstalking and harassment conspiracy that included a plan to enlist a Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) officer into misleading federal and state law enforcement.
The City’s notice that the report had been released arrived at 6:15 p.m. on March 20 — 15 minutes after Asst. Chief Wahid Kazem provided the report to The Weekly.
The Weekly made its request on Feb. 28, and it was forwarded to the police department on March 9, according to the police public records request system.
Then on March 13, the City emailed The Weekly requesting another 14 days to “search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments that are separate from the office processing the request.”
The police department approved release of the report last week — as the City was sending this email.
Further perplexing, another request for the investigation report was made on Jan. 1. That requestor received this reply: “The City has determined that there are no responsive records and no nonexempt records for this request.”
All of this happened in the first three months of 2023, more than 18 months after the independent investigator hired by the City of Santa Clara completed his investigation into Gilbert and Cooke and released that report to the City.
No Wrongdoing Found
The investigation was conducted by Howard Jordan, former Oakland Police Chief from 2011 – 2013, who retired in 2013. Jordan’s company has worked with the City previously. He was hired by Santa Clara in 2018 to evaluate public safety at Levi’s Stadium and was paid about $90,000 for this work.
To date, the City’s website does not list details of the RFP issued and filled for the Gilbert and Cooke investigation.
Jordan’s investigation found no evidence that Gilbert or Cooke used their positions within SCPD to gain post-retirement employment at eBay. It also found no evidence of any misdoing by Gilbert or Cooke while they worked for Santa Clara.
Further, Jordan’s report said, “There was no evidence to suggest that either Gilbert or Cooke had subsequent contact with current members of the Police Department in furtherance of their eBay-related conduct. Any communications between Gilbert or Cooke and the Department consisted of the usual communications between the City and retirees, and witnesses saw Gilbert and Cooke at social events, but did not engage with them in conversations about what was happening at eBay.”
Gilbert and Cooke “declined to speak formally” with Jordan, but Gilbert claimed that his idea of using a “local cop” was a “‘throwaway’ comment or just ‘an idea.’”
The federal indictment narrative suggests it was more than a “throwaway” idea.
A portion of the indictment included a conversation between Gilbert and Cooke that read: “‘Good plan and cover. Brian, important to be convincing so they don’t start looking to find video of who purchased the gift cards. Don’t think they would go that far but is a little concerning. If I was the Detective, I would ask you for a local PD context to go get video. Might want to have a friendly in mind.’ Gilbert replied: ‘I was thinking the same thing. If they bring it up, I might volunteer to assist with that. Then we can control the local cop and maybe provide a video from a different Santa Clara Safeway.’”
Then-City Manager Deanna Santana reportedly recused herself from the City’s investigation into Gilbert and Cooke.
You can read the report issued to the City of Santa Clara by the investigating agency here. [2021-06-29 (2990-010) Executive Summary of eBay Investigation]