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Embattled Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero fires back at critics

Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero is denying allegations of incompetence and unethical behavior raised by critics seeking to unseat him a recall election.

"Based solely on inaccuracies and mistruths, this recall petition unjustly nullifies the will of the people and your vote to end corruption," Rivero wrote in his formal response to the recall effort filed with the county registrar of voters Thursday.

A coalition of critics, including some former officers of the department, filed preliminary paperwork to recall Rivero on March 25. Rivero had a week to issue a response.

Organizers will need to collect more than 7,000 signatures in order to force a recall election. If they are successful, that vote could be as early as November.

They say that Rivero has "dishonored the office of sheriff" with his combative behavior. He has feuded over a variety of issues with other elected officials, including District Attorney Don Anderson and the Board of Supervisors, which earlier this month unanimously voted to ask for his resignation. He has also been at odds with other law enforcement chiefs in the county.

The critics point particularly to a recently released report by Anderson that says Rivero lied about his involvement in a 2008 shooting incident while he was still a deputy in the department. That finding could compromise Rivero's court testimony in any future case where he is a key witness.

Rivero, however, has insisted that he is the victim of a vendetta by an "old boys network" intent on foiling his campaign pledge to root out corruption. He reserves particular venom for Anderson, who was a political ally during their 2010 election campaigns.

The report about the 2008 shooting "is politically motivated, violates due process and has serious negative implications for law enforcement," Rivero wrote in his response.

Rivero's supporters, meanwhile, have gone on the offensive against Anderson, publishing online copies of a 2011 report by a private investigation firm that suggests, in part, that Anderson's investigators acted improperly in accessing and changing information in the sheriff's criminal information database, known as RIMS.

"I fully expected them to prosecute these characters," but nothing was ever done, Rivero said of the investigators in a call to The Press Democrat on Friday.

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