Some dirty faxes have led to the possible criminality of one man and an investigation into police misconduct.
On June 10, 2002, two detectives from the UC Police Dept. served a search warrant at the Sierra Madre home of 38-year-old Sydney Potter. The UCPD obtained a search warrant for Potter’s home after several obscene faxes were sent to fax machines on campus and to a fax machine at UC Riverside.
Deputy District Attorney Greg Boller said Potter will be charged with 12 misdemeanor counts.
Potter said he faxed the obscene material because of a late night telephone call he made to Chancellor Henry T. Yang’s office in which he claims Yang was rude and said some derogatory things to him. He said he called the chancellor because he received a letter from the admissions office telling him to call an administrative office regarding his application.
“It was an amazingly weird conversation, and [Chancellor Yang] was exceedingly rude,” he said. “I said to him at one point, ‘Maybe I ought to send you some pictures like this,’ and he said, ‘Why don’t you go ahead and do that?'”
A representative from the campus museum, who wishes not to be named, claimed to have received some of the obscene faxes, which consisted of a one-page biography of Yang and another page with nude pictures on it.
Yang said that when they received the faxes, they immediately turned the situation over to the UCPD for investigation and have not dealt with the matter since.
Although Potter will appear at the Santa Barbara County Court today to face his charge of 12 misdemeanor counts for annoying telephone calls, he is also awaiting a pending investigation into the conduct of the UCPD when they served the search warrant. Potter said the police violated his rights and therefore any items obtained can not be used as evidence against him.
“The officers — especially the one officer — were very hostile, very aggressive and very unprofessional,” Potter said. “[UCPD Sgt. Mark] Vellekamp said usually he’ll tear a place apart at his discretion when he serves a search warrant.”
UCPD Capt. Bill Bean said the evidence obtained at Potter’s home, which includes computer components and a fax machine, were recovered because the officers believed they were items used to commit the alleged crime. However, because Potter’s official letter to the UCPD alleged misconduct, the UCPD has sent the complaint to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. so that it can handle an investigation into the incident.
Among the complaints listed in Potter’s letter to the UCPD, he alleges the two officers acted outside the scope of the original search warrant, violated his Miranda rights and used inappropriate force when entering his home.
Sierra Madre Officer Stephen Abernethy was at Potter’s home when the UCPD conducted the search. He said that the officers did not act out of the warrant’s scope, the officers were not hostile and that the officers did use force when they opened Potter’s door, but only because he would not open the door after they announced who they were.
Potter said he is surprised the incident has reached this level, and he thinks that both the university and the UCPD have taken it to far.
“They rarely ever file cases like this,” he said. “The first count that they originally charged me with didn’t even stick, so they picked a broader, overzealous charge.”