Ex-Broadmoor police chief pleads no contest to conflict-of-interest charge

BROADMOOR – The former police chief of Broadmoor has pleaded no contest to one conflict-of-interest charge stemming from allegations he illegally remained on the town’s police commission while applying for the chief job, participated in the selection process and voted on his own raise, according to prosecutors.

In June, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office charged 56-year-old Michael Patrick Connolly with three misdemeanor violations of government codes prohibiting a public officer from having a financial interest in a contract they are deciding on, and influencing a governmental decision while having a personal stake.

Prosecutors said two of the counts were dismissed Monday as part of a negotiated plea. Specifically, Connolly pleaded no contest to “voting on a governmental decision in which he had a financial interest.”

Connolly’s attorney, Stephen Sutro, declined to comment on the plea.

The court placed Connolly on one year of probation contingent on 30 hours of public service work and ordered him to pay $235 in fines and fees. In addition, he is barred from holding elected office or acting as a lobbyist for a period of four years.

As chief, Connolly served as one of eight full-time officers for the town of roughly 5,000 people. Surrounded by Daly City and technically an unincorporated part of the county, the town is the state’s last remaining jurisdiction that uses a special tax-funded police protection district, which in Broadmoor is overseen by a three-member commission consisting of town residents. Connolly resigned as chief in June.

The criminal investigation was triggered in part by a state Fair Political Practices Commission complaint that alleged Connolly routinely engaged in abuses of power and cronyism. Prosecutors, however, focused on his actions while he was on the police commission, as a resident of the town and a recently retired deputy chief for the San Francisco Police Department.

In a previous interview with this news organization, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said the charges stemmed from Connolly’s failure to step down from the commission in March 2019 once he decided he was interested in the chief position.

Connolly also participated in search and selection discussions and advocated for a non-agendized vote on the decision that would result in his appointment. That was a violation of the Brown Act, which governs, open public meetings for legislative bodies and mandates that the public is given adequate notice about issues up for a vote.

A month after the rest of the commission voted 2-0 to make him chief but before he formally took over the job, Connolly remained on the commission and participated in discussions that involved increasing the police budget, including his salary.

Wagstaffe said the investigation ultimately concluded Connolly did not intentionally break the law.

“I think it was done in ignorance,” Wagstaffe said about Connolly’s actions. “But ignorance of the law is not an excuse.”

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Author: Jason Green, Robert Salonga