By Royal Calkins
For the second time in two weeks, a senior Monterey County sheriff’s official has been served with termination papers for actions that could put him in legal jeopardy.
This case involves purportedly unearned overtime pay that went to the department’s highest-paid employee, Detective Sgt. Bryan M. Hoskins. Last year his pay totaled $437,000, including $263,996 in overtime, according to the Transparent California website that tracks public employee salaries.
In 2020, Hoskins was paid a total of $324,540, including overtime of more than double his base pay of $107,679. In 2019, his income totaled $335,262. The year before, the number was $367,000 and in 2017 he received $291,495, according to the website.
Sources in the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office said on Thursday that Hoskins was “walked out” of the office at the start of his shift after he had been served with a notice of proposed termination and suspension papers.
- RELATED STORIES: A history of Sheriff’s Office scandals
Last week, Commander Dustin Hedberg was served with proposed termination papers and placed on leave from his position as head of the department’s special operations section. Sources said he is alleged to have received controlled prescription drugs from Carolina Cruz Kaupp, who was regional director for Wellpath, the company that provides medical services for Monterey County Jail inmates. Kaupp reportedly was removed from her position the week before because of allegations that she had stolen the drugs from Wellpath’s supply at the jail. Hedberg has declined to comment and Kaupp has not responded to requests for comment.
The sheriff’s sources said Hoskins’ pay was investigated internally by sheriff’s investigators, likely with involvement of the District Attorney’s Office. They also said that the investigation of Hedberg may have been an outgrowth of the Hoskins investigation.
Detectives who have worked with him say he regularly said he believed that a detective’s real job doesn’t start until the end of the regular workday.
Hoskins’ heavy paychecks have been no secret in the department, largely because of the Transparent California website and because Hoskins reportedly bragged of his prowess in building big paydays. Detectives who have worked with him say he regularly said that he believed that a detective’s real job doesn’t start until the end of the regular workday.
Hoskins is probably best known for his lead role in the serial rape investigation of former North Salinas High School coach John Fickas, a Salinas-area political consultant who had worked for Sheriff Steve Bernal and numerous other elected officials. Fickas is now serving a 28-year prison sentence.
The timing of the termination notices makes them fodder for the current election contest between sheriff’s Capt. Joe Moses and Marina Police Chief Tina Nieto, who are campaigning to replace lame duck Bernal. Nieto has characterized the Hedberg matter as additional evidence of a corrupt Sheriff’s Office and Moses has said it helps demonstrate that he and the department are diligently rooting out wrongdoers. While Moses heads the county jail, there has been no indication that he initiated or participated in that investigation.
The sheriff’s sources said they believe the investigation of Hoskins stemmed from allegations made in a long anonymous letter to the Board of Supervisors early this year. That letter did point out Hoskins’ overtime pay and detailed various methods he allegedly used to pad it.
At his rate of pay, Hoskins would had to have worked about 100 hours each week to have made $437,000 last year. He made more than $100,000 more than the second highest paid sheriff’s employe. Of the top 15 highest paid county employees, he is the only one who isn’t a surgeon or hospital administrator.
Voices recently reported that Hoskins was named in racial discrimination and sexual harassment complaints filed by a former deputy who had been involved with an affair with Sheriff Steve Bernal. The woman received a $20,000 settlement from the county in 2020 in part because of offensive comments made to her by Hoskins after she broke off the relationship with Bernal.
Her complaints were filed with the county’s Office of Civil Rights and federal fair employment officials and were deemed justified. When told about what happened to Hosins this week, she replied, “Karma..”
Voices left a message on Hoskins’ cell phone early Thursday and it has not been returned.
Earlier this week, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, referencing the Hedberg case, issued yet another public statement reprimanding the Sheriff’s Office management.
“If the allegations prove true, the Board of Supervisors is calling upon the sheriff to take swift and decisive action within his legal authority and to work quickly to ensure the appropriate actions, including disciplinary consequences, are pursued,” read the statement.
The board also expressed frustration that it has no authority to discipline Sheriff’s Office personnel, but added that it has “zero tolerance for such unprofessional behavior and potentially illegal activity by any employee of the County.”
Have something to say about this story? Send us a letter or leave a comment below.