The saga of Gil Armijo — former aide to 5th District County Supervisor Joe Centeno — has, after years of litigating, come to an end. Or has it?
Armijo, who for several months has been fighting a felony perjury charge based on testimony he gave related to a DUI case from December 2007, was sentenced Monday by Judge Frank Ochoa to 90 days in Santa Barbara County Jail.
As part of the no-contest plea, Armijo admitted he lied under oath during testimony before a DMV officer, which he had adamantly denied up until that point. Armijo has claimed all along he didn’t drive his car to the location where he was arrested along Carpinteria Avenue early in the morning of December 22, 2007. He says a female companion drove him to the spot, though throughout this entire legal process he has refused to say who that person was. Prosecutors, however, had a declaration from a woman who said Armijo contacted her after the DUI, asking if she would come forward as the female driver. Armijo says her story is fabricated.
In fact, he has claimed the DA’s entire case against him was fabricated, and has said he was pursued by authorities merely because of his position of power in the supervisor’s office. He resigned from his position in July 2009. Since then, he has been on a crusade against the District Attorney’s Office, claiming everything from racism to prosecutorial misconduct.
After pleading guilty in October 2009, Armijo attempted to withdraw the plea, saying he was forced into the bargain by the judge and prosecutors, and misled. He has filed petitions to the California Supreme Court, which have been denied, and notified Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa of his intent to appeal. All along, Armijo has represented himself, attempting to wade through complex legal theories. While he has been strongly advised several times by Ochoa to consult an attorney, Armijo — whom many in the political world describe as unpredictable and odd — continues to represent himself and has been through more than 16 hearings in front of several judges, consistently filing motions and briefs and documents which have led to a voluminous case file and a slow legal process.
As part of Armijo’s plea, the District Attorney agreed to not pursue other charges, charges that seem to stem from odd emails sent by Armijo to several officials, media personnel, and members of the DA’s Office. In emails to his former boss, County Counsel, and County CEO Mike Brown, for example, Armijo alleged 4th District Supervisor Joni Gray led an aggressive effort to remove Armijo from Centeno’s staff. In an email to Gray herself, Armijo calls Gray “Mrs. Stanley,” later clarifying his statement to suggest Gray has been dating District Attorney Christie Stanley’s husband Gary for a year and that the two are having a “fling.” As part of the plea, Armijo can’t have communications with judges, court employees, law enforcement officials, or employees or retirees of the DA’s Office.
Recently retired prosecutor Darryl Perlin, in a letter attached to Armijo’s probation report, doesn’t mince words when referring to Armijo. “Defendant did everything possible to avoid being held accountable for his actions,” wrote Perlin, who had been prosecuting Armijo. “He did not hesitate to portray himself as being the victim of selective prosecution and harassment. Defendant did so knowing full well he had committed perjury at the DMV hearing. He had no compunction to make in writing scurrilous accusations against District Attorney Christie Stanley, County Supervisor Joni Gray as well as others. Defendant’s behavior during the last two years has shown him to be a mean-spirited and nasty person who will say and do anything to accomplish his objective. He has a rotten attitude and has learned nothing from his experience in the judicial system. He is a volatile person who is completely unpredictable.”
Now Armijo will attempt to take his case to the federal court system. He has said he also intends to file a complaint against Ochoa for covering up “intimidating actions” from Perlin, who Armijo says coerced him into a guilty plea. Armijo also has filed a complaint against Perlin with the State Bar, and recently learned from the Bar’s Audit and Review Unit that it would look into the matter further.