Paul Greco, the prosecuting attorney who runs the North County District Attorney’s Office in Santa Maria, was placed on medical and administrative leave this week after the smoldering remains of a workplace romance — reportedly six months dormant — reignited in a highly combustible manner.
Greco, who is married, had a months-long affair with a younger prosecutor, also married, whom he supervises. The woman’s husband recently found out about the relationship and put what Greco described as a threatening note on his car windshield. Just prior to getting the note, Greco told others in the department the woman’s husband had pulled a gun on her, demanding she tell him the details of their relationship. Greco reportedly heard this from her. In reaction, Greco alerted a friend who works for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, who in turn alerted a superior. That took place November 30. A warrant was issued and the woman’s husband arrested.
The prosecutor with whom Greco had a relationship reportedly did not confirm her husband threatened her with a gun. Instead, she reportedly said, he threatened to kill himself — while brandishing a gun — unless she stopped her romantic involvement with Greco. Her husband was released and not charged. Greco, in the meantime, went missing. He was reportedly distraught, armed with a gun, and expressing suicidal intentions. Sheriff’s deputies managed to track him down by pinging his cell phone. A mental health evaluation was conducted, and it was determined Greco posed no imminent threat to himself or others.
The DA’s Office has asked another law enforcement agency to investigate whether Greco committed any administrative violations. The department has no policy prohibiting supervisors from engaging in relationships with subordinates. Such conduct, however, is known to be potentially disruptive, and Santa Barbara County employees are warned in training seminars that such relationships are vulnerable to accusations of coercive engagement. All deputy district attorneys are required to undergo this training. “Harassment on the basis of sex is unlawful,” said District Attorney Joyce Dudley. The younger prosecutor, reportedly, has made no such complaint. Greco — who has run the Santa Maria office for about a year — could be subject to disciplinary action or termination.
The Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation of potential criminal wrongdoing by Greco and forwarding their results to the California Attorney General’s Office. In the meantime, Tim Covello was appointed to be the acting chief deputy district attorney to assist Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola in running the Santa Maria office. Dudley issued a cryptic press release December 17 shortly before an article appeared in the Santa Barbara News-Press stating Greco had been placed on leave but that no further details would be released. In an email exchange, she said it remains uncertain how long Greco will remain on leave.