DEL REY OAKS, Calif. (KION-TV)- Monterey County Sheriff-Elect Tina Nieto is trying to usher in a new era in the department. Yet, allegations of wrongdoing seem to follow her appointed staff like the previous administration.
Police Chief of Del Rey Oaks, Jeff Hoyne, had a civil lawsuit filed against him while serving as chief. He is slated to be Nieto's deputy chief when she takes over the Sheriff's Office on Dec. 30.
Sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and wrongful termination are three of the allegations against Chief Hoyne.
He’s one of four named in a civil lawsuit filed in October 2020. In it, a female employee with the Del Rey Oaks Police Department alleges she was harassed on the job—and Hoyne did nothing to stop it.
On page two of the complaint, it says, "Chief Hoyne was single and actively dating. He asked the plaintiff often about his appearance prior to going on dates when leaving the department."
The complaint also states, “since 2018, there was pornographic material (magazines, videos, and DVDs) left open in the evidence room.”
The complaint goes on to say that the plaintiff accuses a sergeant in the department of having a quote: “pattern of treating of treating plaintiff in a demeaning manner based on her gender.”
According to the complaint: in late January 2020, a letter from Chief Hoyne was given to the plaintiff. In the said letter, Chief Hoyne states. “The evidence in the investigation did not substantiate a finding of hostile work environment, bullying, intimidation, threats, and retaliation.”
A few lines down, the complaint says in part: the plaintiff alleges that she immediately reported every incident with the sergeant, and no action was taken against him to protect her.
We asked Sheriff-Elect Nieto about the allegations.
Sheriff-Elect Nieto: I mean, this case I was aware of.
KION: “I think obviously the perception from some folks at home might be, ‘well, the current Sheriff’s Office has just gone through all of these sexual allegations, and someone stepped down because of that,’ and then they might say, ‘well he’s going through this right now’.”
Sheriff-Elect Nieto: “But here’s the difference, here’s the big difference, with the Sheriff’s Office, they sustained those allegations, it did happen. In this case, Del Rey Oaks investigated and said this didn’t happen.”
KION: “So you’re saying that this case is closed?”
Sheriff-Elect Nieto: “No, I’m not because she can still file a lawsuit and say this happened even after an independent investigation.”
KION: “So let me get this straight, the independent investigation didn’t find anything?”
Sheriff-Elect Nieto: “Yes, that’s correct.”
KION asked Chief Hoyne for comment, but he declined because the civil suit is still pending. We also asked Chief Hoyne if we could see the report the Sheriff-Elect spoke about, and he said he couldn’t release that document because it is privileged and part of the litigation.
We also asked Chief Hoyne, as well as the Del Rey Oak's Police Department, for a copy of his disciplinary records and performance review. The City Manager for Del Rey Oaks responded with the following statement:
"With respect to your request for job performance records, such records are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act. (Penal Code section 832.7(a).) With respect to your request for disciplinary records, no such records exist."