CHP chief, accused felon, still drawing paycheck

March 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A California Highway Patrol assistant chief now facing felony charges in the disappearance of his son is still being paid from state coffers.

The CHP confirms there is an internal affairs investigation into Kyle Scarber's role in his son Spencer's escape to Mexico in the middle of the son's rape trial.

CHP says the assistant chief is on leave, but still collecting a paycheck. Caution seems to be the driving force behind the delay in discipline.

"This is a sensitive case," said ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "Both sides are being very careful. The attorney general's being very careful and the CHP's being very careful in how they're treating this person."

A lot of current and former CHP officers tell Action News they would've already been terminated if they were in Scarber's shoes. But several attorneys say that's not the case, and it could be a long time before he's punished, if he even did anything wrong.

Kyle Scarber stood before a judge Wednesday an accused felon. With his wife and her daughter at his flank, the assistant chief delayed entering a plea because his family members haven't hired attorneys yet.

Meanwhile, prosecutors gave Kyle Scarber's attorney about 800 pages of discovery -- the evidence they've built to prove the entire family participated in a conspiracy to smuggle Spencer Scarber into Mexico to avoid a rape conviction and life sentence.

"I need to see what the status of their evidence is," said Kyle Scarber's attorney, Marshall Hodgkins. "This is the way I conduct every single case and I will do that. I will painstakingly go through the discovery. I will summarize it. I will compare it. I will chart it. I will timeline it and we will see where we are."

Hodgkins also represents Scarber in his CHP internal affairs investigation. Scarber's been on leave since his son disappeared in December. CHP won't discuss the investigation, leading some to accuse its investigators of dragging their feet. Capozzi says that's possible, but the slow response may simply be borne out of an abundance of caution.

"You know, he may be getting some special treatment because of his position," Capozzi said. "I think someone in the lower ranks may have already been dealt with at this point, but again, these are serious charges and it really hasn't been brought to any judicial proceedings to determine whether or not there's probable cause."

Prosecutors accuse Kyle Scarber of lying when he reported his son missing. They also say the family altered a birth certificate and created a phony Texas ID for Spencer in the name of Brandon Smith.

The Scarbers haven't commented on the case publicly, but family members have contacted Action News to say we've unfairly made them look like villains and distorted the facts.

Hodgkins says the truth is just beginning to come out.

"For me, it's the embryo stages of the case, but for them, they are fighting mad," he said.

Kyle Scarber, Gail Scarber, and Crystal Reynoso are now due to enter pleas in two weeks.

Spencer Scarber is set to be sentenced on his rape conviction the week after that.


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