Sheriff’s detectives carry out search of ex-Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli’s home in sexual assault case
A raid by local authorities Wednesday at the home of Dominic Foppoli escalated a now seven-month investigation into sexual assault allegations made by a rising number of women against the disgraced former Windsor mayor.
The two-hour search, which began about 8 a.m. at Foppoli’s Windsor home on Merlot Way, was led by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and included members of a North Bay law enforcement task force specializing in computer evidence, officials said.
The deputies and detectives arrived in unmarked cars and declined comment as they went about their work serving a search warrant. They left the upscale suburb on Windsor’s west side after 10 a.m. with several brown paper bags filled with evidence.
It was the first warrant served in an investigation launched by Sheriff Mark Essick in April in the immediate wake of the first set of claims aired by four women against Foppoli. And though officials declined to say what items were removed from the home or what had led to the raid, they described the operation as a major step forward in a case that had fallen out of the public spotlight in recent months.
“Certainly this is a milestone or a mark of progress in the case,” Essick said.
The detectives and officers who conducted the search were from the Northern California Computer Crimes Task Force, Essick told The Press Democrat.
Known as NC3TF, the task force brings “computer forensic assistance” to law enforcement across seven northern Bay Area counties including Sonoma, according to its website.
Essick declined to elaborate on the focus, progress or timeline of the investigation but said the evidence gathered Wednesday could open new lines of inquiry for detectives.
“We’ve never stopped working this case since its inception,” he said.
Foppoli, who has denied committing any sex crimes and has not been charged in the case, did not respond to a voicemail and text message seeking comment Wednesday. 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.”
Foppoli’s family hails from Italy and owns property outside Milan.
The day marked significant progress in the case and a momentous moment for women who’ve come forward with allegations against Foppoli, Santa Rosa attorney Traci Carrillo said.
Carrillo represents seven women accusing Foppoli of sexual assault or misconduct. She voiced confidence that Foppoli would face charges.
“I’m watching for him to be paraded publicly in handcuffs and be charged with the crimes that I know he’s committed,” she said.
Among the seven women Carrillo represents are two whose allegations of sexual assault are not yet public knowledge, she said. Carrillo declined to characterize those allegations, other than to say that they were “consistent with the pattern of behavior that has been publicly discussed.”
She also declined to say when the alleged assaults occurred, but did say that Foppoli was an elected official at the time and that the alleged crimes took place in Sonoma County.
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.
Essick confirmed investigators had spoken with the two women described by Carrillo as new additions to the case against Foppoli. When he resigned in late May, nine women had publicly shared their accounts of alleged assault or abuse by Foppoli. They ranged from rape to groping and forced oral copulation.
Essick declined to say how many of those claims or individuals were a focus of the investigation.
Speaking generally, “when you’re working on an investigation sometimes you have new victims that come forward with new allegations and sometimes you have new pieces of evidence that are turned over to you from those victims that open new pathways,” Essick said.
Carrillo, who in May expressed frustration with the urgency and aggressiveness of the law enforcement investigation, said her concerns have been assuaged over intervening months.
“I have been aware of regular progress of an active and ongoing investigation,” Carrillo said.
New allegations may have broadened the investigation’s scope, she said. “It’s just the investigation took on a bigger life than initially expected,” she added.
Carrillo declined to name her other clients, saying she would honor the justice system’s efforts to keep the identities of sexual assault victims confidential even if some of the women have already gone public. One is Esther Lemus, a Windsor councilwoman and former prosecutor who left the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office in August. Lemus has accused Foppoli of sexual assault on two occasions.