Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager is the subject of an ongoing federal criminal investigation, criminal defense attorney and DA candidate Frank Carson claims.
The allegation came during a press conference held in Modesto’s Tenth Street Place Thursday night. Carson says Fladager attempted to cover up the fact that one of her investigators provided an informant with weapons taken from federal custody, and then told the informant of an impending federal search.
Fladager said the claims are a “Flat out lie.”
According to Carson, Aaron Gallagher, who was then a Stanislaus County District Attorney investigator, tipped off an informant of an impending federal weapons and drug search in 2008. The DA's office had been notified of the search as a courtesy, Carson said.
Gallagher allegedly provided those weapons, comprising of one or more firearms, to the informant. According to Carson, Gallagher stole the weapons from federal custody.
Because of Gallagher's tip, the informant allegedly had time to hide the weapons and drugs. Carson said the federal investigators were “very upset” they did not find the weapons and drugs they were looking for.
Regardless, the federal investigators launched an investigation into the informant, as he allegedly sold drugs to undercover agents in the past. During a debriefing, the informant allegedly admitted that Gallagher had given him firearms taken from federal custody, and that Gallagher had tipped him of the impending search.
“This is verified by a debriefing transcript I have personally read,” Carson said. He said he would provide TurlockCityNews.com with a copy of the transcript, but it was not immediately available.
According to Carson, Fladager then “headed off” a federal investigation, intervening on Gallagher's behalf. Fladager allegedly said that a federal investigation would devastate the District Attorney’s Office.
Fladager then allegedly contacted the the Modesto Police Department, asking them to conduct an independent investigation. It allegedly declined. She turned to the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, but it, too, allegedly declined.
Ultimately, the California State University, Stanislaus Police Department agreed to perform an independent investigation, Carson said.
Gallagher was eventually released by the DA's office in 2010, nearly two years after the alleged incident. He never faced any charges due to Fladager's cover-up, Carson said.
“A bad apple is possible in any organization,” Carson said. “But sometimes the whole barrel is rotten.”
Carson also says Fladager should have known of Gallagher's issues before the incident occurred.
A March 31, 1999 Modesto Bee article alleges that Gallagher took part in the “gungate” of the late 90s, when MPD officers allegedly took more than 100 handguns from custody for their own use. Per the article, Gallagher allegedly gave a 9mm Beretta handgun to a man as a gift, who then lost the handgun. It was later recovered by the Sacramento Police Department.
Gallagher had been employed by the District Attorney’s Office since 1999. Fladager took office in 2008.
Federal investigators are continuing to work on the case, Carson said.
Carmen Sabatino, a former Modesto mayor who is backing the “Recall Birgit Fladager” signs seen about town, says that he and Carson are aware of more serious allegations facing Fladager as well. Those allegations will be revealed at a later date, said Sabatino.
Sabatino was previously prosecuted by Fladager for 10 felonies alleging that, while mayor, he failed to disclose loans and gifts, employed city staff for personal concerns, and voted on issues where he had financial conflicts of interest. The case ended in a mistrial, after jurors deadlocked when some said there was not enough evidence to convict Sabatino. Carson served as Sabatino’s defense attorney during that trial.