Tea party-backed school board candidate remains on probation after paying a portion of DUI-related fine
A tea party-supported candidate for the Pasadena school board remains on probation for a nearly 3-year-old DUI-related offense, even though an unpaid fine that led to the issuance of a warrant for his arrest has been partially paid, the Pasadena Weekly has learned.
On Friday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Collette Serio ruled Sean J. Baggett violated his probation by not paying the $1,486 fine — part of a plea agreement on a May 2008 drunken driving offense in which Baggett was ultimately found guilty of reckless driving.
In that case, court documents show Baggett was granted a 60-day extension to pay, but did not show up in court on July 16, 2009. At that time, Judge Gus Gomez issued a $30,000 warrant for Baggett’s arrest. Court records show that Serio lifted the warrant after Baggett paid $400 to the court on Friday. The judge, however, reinstated Baggett’s probation. His next payment to the court is due June 27.
In other election news, the Weekly has learned that Michael T. Alexander, a Baggett supporter and one of the architects of current conservative campaigns for local office, resigned from practicing law with disciplinary charges pending in 1989 after the California Supreme Court found he committed acts of “moral turpitude and dishonesty” by accepting money from four clients, then working against their best interest or not performing any work at all.
Head of the Pasadena Patriots, the local faction of the tea party, Alexander was suspended by the court from practicing law for one year, ordered to return more than $1,000 to two clients and serve five years probation, but he resigned less than a year later instead. Alexander, who was featured in a story that appeared in the Aug. 19 edition of the Weekly, did not return calls seeking comment. (Please see “Tempest in a teapot,” HYPERLINK "http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/more_than_a_tempest_in_a_teapot/9145/" http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/more_than_a_tempest_in_a_teapot/9145/)
In an email, Baggett, who on Friday also did not return multiple calls, wrote that the Weekly’s story, also published on Friday, was false and demanded that it be taken off the paper’s Web site. (Please see “Wanted: Sean J. Baggett,” HYPERLINK "http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/wanted_sean_j_baggett/9934/" http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/wanted_sean_j_baggett/9934/) and “Not Wanted: Sean J. Baggett,” HYPERLINK "http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/update_div_not_wanted_sean_j_baggett_div/9935/" http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/update_div_not_wanted_sean_j_baggett_div/9935/
“I made payment on the fine this morning [Friday] and the bench warrant was lifted. Please immediately correct your story which is posted on the Internet,” wrote Baggett, who faces Board of Education incumbent Tom Selinske in the April 19 runoff election.
On March 23, the Pasadena Star-News reported on some of Baggett’s other problems with the law — a charge of urinating in public at the Rose Bowl, a claim which he admitted to but was later dismissed, a petty theft conviction and other driving-related convictions in the early 1990s, all dug up by public school parent and licensed private investigator Larry O’Brien, who was not identified in that story.
The paper did not report on either the warrant or an unpaid civil judgment of nearly $14,000 imposed on Baggett in 2008 by a San Diego civil court, which O’Brien also uncovered.
In a telephone interview Monday morning, Baggett again claimed the Weekly’s story about his warrant was false because he paid part of the fine the previous Friday morning, just prior to publication of the Pasadena Weekly’s story around 4 p.m. This newspaper’s story was based on court records and the word of Pasadena police, the arresting agency in the DUI case, which still regarded Baggett’s warrant as outstanding when the story was published online.
At that time, Pasadena police Lt. Phlunte Riddle confirmed there was still a warrant out for Baggett’s arrest and that he could be taken into custody if stopped by an officer. Riddle urged Baggett to turn himself in.
“The story you posted is false, when you posted it, it was false,” Baggett said of the coincidental timing of publication of the story on the same day that he decided to finally start paying his fine and clearing the 20-month-old warrant.
When asked how he paid the fine, Baggett said he used personal funds. He then refused to answer any more questions. He said he would bring documents clearing his name to the Weekly’s office in Old Pasadena, but he never showed up.
During the March 8 election campaign, a reporter asked Baggett to his face if he had ever been arrested or charged with a crime, and Baggett answered no. The Weekly asks that question of all candidates for public office, following up on those who seem suspicious in their answers, a test that Baggett — and his opponent — apparently passed at the time.
Baggett has also been deceptive about his career. For instance, he claimed that he worked as a track and field coach at Caltech, when he was really a volunteer. He’s also said that he worked as adjunct professor at Pasadena City College, which is untrue, and that he is currently employed at Cal State Sacramento, which he is not.
Baggett has also been deceptive about his political alliances, claiming he was not affiliated with the tea party, when, in fact, Amy Ellison, the director of media relations for TeaPAC, the fundraising arm of Alexander’s Pasadena Patriots, serves as media director for Baggett’s campaign.
In the Weekly’s story about Alexander last summer, the ebullient 24-year-old Ellison was enthusiastic about the tea party getting involved in local politics, saying the organization would be aiming for seats on the school board and City Council.
“We will be very involved in the local elections,” Ellison said. “We will be running our own candidates for a bunch of the city positions.”
Click on links to view court documents.