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Santa Barbara PD selects private firm to investigate critical claims made by magazine article against employee

Scott Sheahen / KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Police Department announced they have selected a third-party investigator to look into the claims made by a critical magazine article against the department's spokesman earlier this month.

In the Los Angeles Magazine story, SBPD employee Anthony Wagner became the focus of an article titled "In Sleepy Santa Barbara, a City Hall Insider Is Raising Eyebrows." The author raised several questions about how Wagner was hired and the role he played in the city’s marijuana licensing process.

The police department said they have hired the Sintra Group to conduct this investigation.

Sintra Group Professional Investigations was founded in 2002 and specializes in public safety administrative and pre-employment background investigations.

The group is owned by Steve Bowman who spent about 28 years serving the Ventura Police Department, ultimately retiring as Assistant Police Chief. He is also an attorney at law. The firm is currently staffed by other honorably retired law enforcement personnel who have experience conducting investigations.

The Santa Barbara Police Department said they will not be releasing further comment on this investigation until it is complete which should take no more than six weeks.

So far, Wagner, the current police chief and several Santa Barbara city officials have commented on the situation. Wagner said he is in full support of the investigation and expects it will clear his name. He has since been placed on paid leave.

A cannabis fact sheet was also released by the city to shed light on how certain decisions were made that were brought up in the critical magazine posting.

EDITORS NOTE: On Friday February 25, 2022, Los Angeles Magazine removed articles referenced in this story. In an unsigned email, the following note was sent to the News Channel: “Articles posted by your organization will no longer redirect the user to the articles because the articles have been removed from the Los Angeles Magazine website,”  This updated story reflects the current status of a legal complaint filed against the magazine by former Santa Barbara Police Spokesman Anthony Wagner.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.


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