A former Alameda County deputy sheriff fired for dishonesty in 2015 after he filed a false police report that was related to his divorce is now working as a police officer in Contra Costa County, public records show.
Alameda Sheriff Gregory Ahearn terminated then Deputy Josh Shavies on Jan. 22, 2015, after an internal investigation found that Shavies had filed a false police report with another police agency, lying about vandalism in his home, according to records released Saturday under the state’s new police transparency law.
Ahearn called Shavies’ conduct “contrary to how a member of law enforcement should be,” adding their was no choice other than to dismiss him. The firing was upheld by both a review board and the county Civil Service Commission, records show.
A state data base shows that an officer with same full name and state identification number was hired as a Pinole police officer last year, after not working in law enforcement for nearly three years.
Shavies is one of the first officers found in records released under the new law, Senate Bill 1421, to have been fired from one law enforcement agency and subsequently hired by another. Neither Shavies nor Pinole Police Chief Neil Gang responded to messages Saturday.
Records show that in the midst of a divorce in 2014, Shavies entered his home to find his wife had left him a note saying she that she had sold a dining room set and four theater chairs to a neighbor. Shavies then smashed four of the dining chairs on the floor, breaking them, and ripped the stuffing out of the theater chairs. He also broke the glass in another piece of furniture.
The neighbor, who had agreed to pay $1,100 for chairs and table, was watching through a window, unbeknownst to Shavies.
Shavies than made a report with Contra Costa Sheriff, saying that he returned home and found the smashed chairs and suspected that a person, whose name is redacted in the report, had entered him home and wrecked the furniture.
Eventually, Shavies admitted he filed a false police report, telling investigators “I’ve been going through a very nasty divorce” and became upset when he saw the note from his wife.
Ahearn was highly critical of Shavies, a seven-year veteran.
Shavies’ “conduct constitutes serious misconduct in that you lied to a fellow law enforcement agency and took up valuable law enforcement time and resources in reporting a false claim of vandalism,” Ahearn wrote in a termination notice. “Your poor behavior reflects negatively on our agency and on law enforcement in general.”
Even though Shavies was going through a difficult time in his personal life he was “still expected to maintain the highest standards of behavior on and off duty.” Ahearn also noted that filing a false police report is a misdemeanor crime. The Contra Costa sheriff did not file charges in the matter.
Shavies, in a 2017 letter to Alameda County after his firing was upheld, wrote that he was looking for another job in law enforcement. He was concerned about whether his name had been placed on a list officers found to have committed dishonesty related offenses.
Known as a “Brady List,” it is used to track officers who have been dishonest to limit or prevent their court testimony so their past history can be used to impeach or discredit their testimony. No response to Shavies’ letter was included in documents released Saturday. The name comes from a U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland, in which justices found that criminal defendants have a right to information that could question the credibility of police officers.
The records involving Shavies are the second showing a dishonesty termination that the Alameda Sheriff’s Office has made public under SB 1421, which requires the release of dishonesty and sexual abuse discipline as well as use of force incidents resulting in great bodily injury and all instances where an officer fires a weapon at a person.
The other involved former Deputy Donald Couch, who was fired in 2015 after being suspected of taking drugs seized during arrests. Like Shavies, he blamed the stress of a difficult divorce for his behavior.
Unlike Shavies, he has not returned to law enforcement. He taught in the San Ramon Unified School District in Contra Costa County between June 2015 and December 2017, before leaving that job.
Police personnel records were secret at the time and district officials didn’t know when they hired Couch that he had been fired, district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich wrote in an email. He passed a routine background check, she said.
“Our understanding is that he was seeking a change in career,” Graswich wrote. “We have nothing to indicate that he had been terminated from a previous employer.”
This story was produced as part of the California Reporting Project, a collaboration of more than 30 newsrooms across the state to obtain and report on police misconduct and serious use-of-force records unsealed in 2019.