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Santa Barbara police spokesman cleared of wrongdoing following investigation

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The Santa Barbara Police Department’s public information officer has been cleared of wrongdoing in an independent investigation after allegations of a conflict of interest was levied by a magazine.

Anthony Wagner, who was been with the police department since Dec. 2017, was the subject of an article written in Los Angeles Magazine, which insinuated Wagner may have been guilty of corruption while awarding cannabis licenses to marijuana dispensaries. 

Wagner was placed on administrative leave shortly after the article's publishing.

During the investigation, which was conducted by a third-party investigation firm, portions of the Los Angeles Magazine article were retracted or corrected. The results of the eight-week investigation were released Thursday, which police say cleared Wagner of any wrongdoing.

At the crux of the article was an implication that Wagner had personal ties to a company that was awarded a cannabis operating license, while Wagner was serving as a member of the city's Cannabis Application Review Team. The investigation revealed there was no conflict of interest and no preferential treatment was given to the company, police said.

In addition to Wagner, the article was also critical of Santa Barbara Police Department’s former police chief, Lori Luhnow. The investigation also cleared her of any wrongdoing in the hiring process of Wagner, as the article suggested.

In a phone interview, Wagner said, “I’m extremely pleased with the expediency and thoroughness of the now concluded independent third-party investigation, which yielded findings clearing me and others of the unsubstantiated allegations published by Los Angeles Magazine. I’m working with counsel to determine next steps.”

Wagner also added he eager to go back to work at Santa Barbara Police Department to serve Santa Barbara and its people.

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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Scott Sheahen

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