Subscribe

Authorities seized computers, other electronics in search of Dominic Foppoli’s Windsor home, court records show

Sonoma County sheriff’s investigators were seeking two photos of women who say they were sexually assaulted by former Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli when they served a search warrant at his home last week, according to court records.

The Nov. 10 search warrant return, a document detectives filed with Sonoma County Superior Court after serving a search warrant that day, says they were specifically looking for two images that they believe are evidence of a felony, one from 2002 and another from 2017.

“The search of the aforementioned items is for the photograph taken of Jane Doe 1 in 2002 and of the photograph taken of Jane Doe 5 in 2017,” the document states. “The date range for the search of the above items would be from 12/01/2001, when Jane Doe 1 began dating Foppoli, to when the warrant is signed.”

From the Merlot Way house, deputies seized 10 items, including two laptops, a Sony Ericsson cellphone and three iPads.

Foppoli, reached by email Tuesday, said he wasn’t troubled by the search, which came months after the first allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him surfaced.

“I respect the Sheriff's Office’s diligence but I haven’t done anything wrong so there is nothing for them to find,” he wrote. “The most unfortunate part of this is the massive amount of taxpayer dollars and law enforcement hours that are being spent to have experts watch hours of my videos from high school and search though my college class papers on my laptop.

“The only silver lining in this is that hopefully this extremely thorough investigation process will allow the public to feel even more confident in my innocence when the investigation is over.”

Foppoli, 39, resigned in mid-May, bowing to vocal demands from fellow lawmakers and constituents that he step down amid the rising number of complaints about his reported behavior toward women.

In all, nine women have given public accounts of their allegations against Foppoli, including rape, groping and forced oral copulation. The allegations span from 2002 to 2021.

Two additional women have since come forward to law enforcement, according to sheriff’s officials and Traci Carrillo, a Santa Rosa attorney representing seven of the women with allegations against Foppoli.

The seized items, which also include a recorder, a Canon 35mm camera, a “DVD/CD floppy disc,” and a USB drive, were taken after deputies executed a search warrant signed by Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Shelly Averill on Nov. 3.

In the affidavit seeking the warrant, sheriff’s detective Michael Sealock asked Deputy Attorney General Geoffrey Lauter for permission to look for “evidence that tends to show a felony has been committed.”

Sealock was granted access to search Foppoli’s home as well as a white 2017 Tesla and a red 2010 Ford F-150 and any electronic devices owned by the former mayor inside the home, vehicle or in his possession.

Foppoli wasn’t present at the time deputies raided the home.

Had he been, Averill’s order would have allowed deputies to force Foppoli to open any devices that require fingerprint or facial recognition biometrics to access.

Foppoli didn’t respond to follow-up questions about whether he would voluntarily grant detectives access to his electronic devices.

The warrant sought any disposable cameras or film, all electronic storage devices, computers, phones, smart devices, gaming systems, SIM cards or other media capable of holding electronic data.

It also sought any internet activity, browser history and cookies, bookmarked or favorite web pages, search history, emails, texts, voicemails, attachments and metadata that would indicate any ownership of the items by Foppoli.

Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Juan Valencia said detectives had to prove to the judge that they had enough evidence to justify the warrant. Part of the document that included one of the women’s names remained sealed.

He said the two photos specified in the warrant were “part of the focus” of the investigation.

“We have to show the judge, and get permission from the Attorney General’s Office and have the judge sign off on it,” he said. “We have to show probable cause that we’re investigating this crime and we believe evidence of the crime could be located in these items.

“It’s not just a fishing expedition.”

The two-hour search was led by the Sheriff’s Office and included members of a North Bay law enforcement task force specializing in computer evidence.

The raid stemmed from the first warrant served in an investigation launched by the department in April in the immediate wake of the first set of claims aired by four women against Foppoli.

The California Attorney General’s Office is overseeing the case after District Attorney Jill Ravitch recused her office following allegations made by Windsor Councilwoman Esther Lemus, who accused Foppoli of sexually assaulting her. Lemus at the time was a deputy district attorney in Ravitch’s office.

Foppoli, a member of a wealthy local wine family, has denied committing any sex crimes and has not been charged in the case.

A woman who identified herself only as a tenant at his home told The Press Democrat that Foppoli had told her he was going to Italy and would be there for “several months.”

The sheriff’s investigation is one of two looking at potential criminal conduct, the other in Florida.

Valencia said the warrant was another step forward in Sonoma County’s potential case.

Detectives were seeking evidence that might corroborate what witnesses or alleged victims have told investigators, Valencia said. He declined to describe the photos, saying the investigation is still ongoing.

“We are at the point of our investigation where we have enough information to write a search warrant for evidence that a crime has been committed or evidence that a crime hasn’t been committed,” he said.

Carrillo, the Santa Rosa attorney representing women who’ve accused Foppoli of sexual assault and abuse, has said the search warrant service was an important step for the women.

The sexual assault allegations of two of the women she represents are not yet public knowledge.Those allegations stem from time when Foppoli was an elected official and occurred in Sonoma County, she said.

Foppoli was elected to the Windsor Town Council in 2014 when he was 32, becoming the youngest council member in the town’s history. He first served as the town’s appointed mayor in 2018 and won its inaugural race for a directly elected mayor’s post in 2020.

He announced his resignation May 21 after reality TV star Farrah Abraham accused him of sexual assault during an encounter in Palm Beach, Florida, at the end of March. Police there are conducting a separate investigation in that state.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter. You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.

Nashelly Chavez

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, The Press Democrat 

Who calls the North Bay home and how do their backgrounds, socioeconomic status and other factors shape their experiences? What cultures, traditions and religions are celebrated where we live? These are the questions that drive me as I cover diversity, equity and inclusion in Sonoma County and beyond.   

 

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette