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San Mateo County DA Renews Criminal Inquiry Following Release of Police Misconduct Records

The San Mateo County District Attorney said Tuesday that he is considering reopening a criminal investigation into a fired Burlingame police officer after new information about his misconduct was made public under a new state transparency law designed to shine light on bad cops.

The former officer, David W. Granucci, offered to help a woman he arrested under suspicion of drunken driving last March, if she had sex with him. The woman rebuffed and reported his solicitation. After he was fired, two other women came forward with similar stories.

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But District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said his staff was not aware of the other allegations until they were reported Monday by KQED and the Bay Area News Group after Burlingame provided records under the new law in one of the first releases of disciplinary documents in California after decades of secrecy.

Wagstaffe didn’t fault Burlingame police for not forwarding additional information after the district attorney’s office decided not to bring criminal charges against Granucci for the march incident because it was a basically a he said, she said situation. But he praised the new law as a vehicle for potentially bringing corrupt police officers to justice.

“If there are police agencies around this state that have not been turning over potentially criminal conduct and just kept it behind closed doors, then this law is going to be a very good sunlight provision,” Wagstaffe said.

If not for that law and reporting that uncovered additional information, “I can’t think of the circumstance in which it would have come to our attention,” Wagstaffe said in an interview Tuesday morning. “I think reporting that we had from (KQED and the Bay Area News Group) is what has prompted us at least to reopen the inquiry.”

With two other instances where Granucci asked women for sex in exchange for using his authority to help them, Wagstaffe said it’s possible that Granucci, solicited bribes.

Granucci could be reached for comment.

A Burlingame police officer since 2000, Granucci was fired in June after an internal investigation found he “surreptitiously obtained” the phone number of a woman he had arrested under suspicion of drunken driving, according to the records. He went to her house the next day, after she was released from a “sobering center.”

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The Police Department presented information about the case to prosecutors, but the district attorney’s subsequent criminal investigation found no provable charges, and the case was closed in April.

Granucci led a woman arrested in 2015 to believe she had been released “because he did her a favor (untrue),” a summary of the investigation says, “and he used this as leverage to solicit a sexual relationship with the woman,” who refused.

He met another woman in 2017 while trying to arrest her son, according to the records, and maintained a sexual relationship with her for several months.

Wagstaffe said Tuesday that the additional cases could change his calculous on whether prosecutors can prove criminal charges against Granucci. He said those could include charges for soliciting bribes or illegally accessing and misusing confidential law enforcement information, as well as “any other criminal violation that may have occurred.”

“When we did our investigation the beginning of 2018 it was word versus word,” Wagstaffe said. “Multiple victims give strength to the case.”

He said his investigators could have reviewed Granucci’s past arrests to try to uncover additional victims or witnesses, and that didn’t happen. He said he’s unsure how the women were identified.

“It’s a good question,” he said, “and it’s one I’m interested to get an answer to also.”

UC Berkeley graduate student reporters Susie Neilson and Josh Slowiczek contributed to this story.

This story was reported in collaboration with the Bay Area News Group and Investigative Studios, an independent nonprofit news organization affiliated with the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley.

Copyright 2019 KQED