Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

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Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault
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Salvador Vargas (left) and Gabriel Castro (right) [Photos: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office]

Source: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

This morning, Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested two employees for suspected crimes committed against inmates while they were in custody. The arrests stem from a lengthy investigation that began in August 2018, with a report from an inmate. In the months that followed, the Sheriff’s Office initiated an internal investigation of two employees that subsequently developed into two separate criminal investigations. The investigations were for criminal activities that occurred around the same time with intertwined witnesses.

The suspect in one case is 34-year-old Salvador Vargas of Santa Maria, who was hired in April 2018, as a Social Worker and was assigned to the Main Jail as a Discharge Planner. The suspect in the second case is 47-year-old Gabriel Castro of Ventura, who was hired in July 2002, and worked as a Custody Deputy at the Main Jail. Both suspects have been on administrative leave since September 2018.

During the investigations, detectives identified an extensive list of possible witnesses and attempted to identify additional potential victims. This follow-up required interviews of numerous inmates, some of whom had been transferred to custody facilities throughout the state. The investigations for both individuals were turned over to the Office of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney in September 2019, for their review. The District Attorney’s Office filed charges on February 20, 2020, and arrest warrants were issued on that day for both suspects.

Vargas was arrested at his home today and was booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail on a warrant for forcible oral copulation (felony), and sexual activity with a person in custody (felony) with a bail amount of $100,000.

Castro surrendered to detectives today at the Ventura County Jail and was booked on a warrant for forcible sexual penetration by a foreign object (felony), and sexual activity with a person in custody (felony) with a bail amount of $100,000.

The Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to thoroughly investigating allegations of misconduct by employees and does not tolerate the victimization of inmates who are entrusted in our care. The alleged actions of these employees violate the Core Values of the Sheriff’s Office, in addition to the law, and are intolerable.

Anyone with any information relating to these investigations is asked to please contact the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Division at (805) 681-4150.

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FredMertzEE Feb 22, 2020 07:36 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Plus, this:

"Both suspects have been on administrative leave since September 2018."

Does that mean they have been getting paid and receiving benefits for the last year and a half while not working due to these allegations (which apparently have enough supporting evidence to merit criminal charges)?

yin yang Feb 23, 2020 01:06 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Yup. As always, if you don't like it, you have to lobby our lawmakers to change the legislation that governs the applicable law. It's a hell of a hard job, thus few do it. (Law in this case referring to admin leave while under investigation.) Social /civil life is So Dam Complicated! I marvel every day, reading the news, my utility bills, my bank statements, at the insane way we human animals live. A certain level of acceptance is very good for one's blood pressure and depression level/mental health, I've found. ;-)

Deeker Feb 22, 2020 07:49 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

I completely agree with D8VANILLA & FREDMERTZEE - I wonder why on earth it would take 18 months to conduct this investigation. Bureaucracy is likely at least part of the answer. And “Administrative Leave” often equates to paid leave, which is infuriating given the length of time for this investigation, particularly if these two government employees (whose salary is paid by our tax dollars) are guilty. I happen to suspect that they are guilty and I think that the bail amounts listed in the article are a joke. I’ve seen higher bail amounts for much less serious crimes. I’m repulsed by people like this who get into a position of power when they have absolutely no ability to wield that power in a constructive or helpful way. The article states that Vargas was hired as a “social worker”. I’m beyond befuddled by that detail and hope that information is not entirely accurate. I cannot imagine a licensed social worker who has years of education and training to serve his fellow human beings with compassion and kindness would engage is such vile and unethical behavior. What is this world coming to???

yin yang Feb 22, 2020 10:33 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

I agree with you. I hope I made some sense in my recent posts about this case. The length of time is ... well, it's unforgivable for our local agencies, and it is a feature of bureaucracy. The same could be said of school cases, tax-paid and so crucial. I mean, people care a lot more about school kids than jailed people! Sigh. Stuff happens. And my school law tales are 30 years old. We did such important work, including on statutes of limitations, back then. All this is why I'm not anti-lawyer, let alone my lifetime support of civil rights lawyers. ---------------- Also agree that Vega got to me more than the other guy. A discharge planner?! A social worker?! Specifically labelled and trained to aid in assistance and transition! Huh, a type of teacher, if you will...

yin yang Feb 22, 2020 10:40 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

I must add that without intensive, expensive, fully documented investigation backed up by written documentation including sworn affidavits and other witness statements, there is no reason to go to DA's office. My field was administrative law, a step below court law; our cases would've been appealed to Superior Court. But without a case, a real, legal, quality case, there is no reason to go to the DA. ---------------- I mean, there's no upside to saying to any agency, or to the public, "hey, we got a problem, but we're working on it, but we still have 6 or 12 months of investigation to complete first." ----------- If you've never been part of such an investigation, or have no legal knowledge, please don't be outrageous in your criticisms. One who criticizes effectively has some knowledge of what they're criticizing.

Roger Feb 22, 2020 08:08 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

When you are sentenced to do time in jail or prison you are there to do time not be some scum bags sex slave...The judge sentences you to time he or she doesn't say "Your going to do a year and your going to be raped also." I hope if these people get time in prison they get it in population more than likely they are in PC in county they will be in PC, or Protective Custody... anywhere else and they will get probation too and half to register to be a sex offender for life..I recall a case many years ago where 3 Custody Deputies transporting female inmates in a van raped them and got no time at all...All sex offenders ought to do time in State prisons so they can experience being hunted and stalked in the same way they hunted and stalked their victims before striking. If things were done the old way we would not have so much crime. But then no one would make any money......

Concerned4Calif Feb 22, 2020 09:21 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

I agree, how did it take 18 months to investigate this just to get to an arrest. Maybe the Sheriffs department should not be the ones to investigate the Sheriff's department. It seems like a windfall to get 18 months of paid vacation while their pensions continue to grow with seniority. I often wonder if anyone really wants to finish these investigations as they do not like the negative publicity. They will probably serve less time ( if any) than the 18 months.

a-1582405567 Feb 22, 2020 01:06 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

How did it take so long? Really, now! It's the SBSO we're discussing. They never solve crimes in a timely manner, especially when it's one of their own. What about the mug shot of the custody officer that got in the crash on the 154? Hmmmm

a-1582417006 Feb 22, 2020 04:16 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Ditto. That’s a mighty s-l-o-w investigation for such serious crimes. And a loong taxpayer-paid vacation. Disgusting abuse of power & breach of public trust.

a-1582418299 Feb 22, 2020 04:38 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Terrible behaviour indeed. One thing for sure is that these guys aren't going to be eating Big Macs in prison, or those delicious criss-cut waffle fries from Chick-fil-A anytime soon!

a-1582418813 Feb 22, 2020 04:46 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

No kidding! The one porker, sans glasses, appears to have eaten more than his fair share of the fast food. It's going to be mac & cheese & beans & frank bits for a long time hopefull - WITHOUT FULL PAY!

a-1582420489 Feb 22, 2020 05:14 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

FYI...the mac and cheese at Chick-fil-A is better than any I have ever had. We expected it to be like KFCs version...but it was more like my Grandnanner's Gold Medal winning recipe!!! Sorry Grams...but it is truuuuUUUeeee...

a-1582419494 Feb 22, 2020 04:58 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Salvador Vargas: Taxpayers paid in 2018 $89,563 (Transparent California): Salvador Vargas Jr
Regular pay: $55,546.89
Overtime pay: $0.00
Other pay: $3,527.73
Total pay: $59,074.62
Benefits: $30,489.01
Total pay & benefits: $89,563.63

a-1582419668 Feb 22, 2020 05:01 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Gabriel Castro: Taxpayers paid $117,867 in 2018. (Transparent California) Gabriel Castro
Regular pay: $57,473.68
Overtime pay: $2,620.82
Other pay: $3,040.71
Total pay: $63,135.21
Benefits: $54,732.55
Total pay & benefits: $117,867.76

macpuzl Feb 22, 2020 05:08 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

When evaluating claims like this, you should consider the source, which is neither transparent, nor California.

"Transparent California" is just one of the many names used by the tax-exempt "free-market think tank" Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI). NPRI refuses to divulge its own funding sources, stating, “NPRI respects the privacy of our donors, which includes the amount of a donor’s gift”.

NPRI's primary funding source, as determined by The Conservative Transparency Project, is Donors Capital Fund, a dark-money source of funding for conservative groups. Its donors also include The Cato Institute, co-founded by the Koch brothers, and organizations affiliated with the climate change denial movement.

NPRI spends 75% of its revenue on six-figure salaries and benefits. Its goal is to undermine support for employee unions nationwide, thereby decreasing salaries and increasing corporate profits.

a-1582436849 Feb 22, 2020 09:47 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Transparent California, which is a privately funded website, uses data on file with the state treasurer's office submitted by each government agency. Their value-added presents this public information in an easily searchable format. Thank them for bringing this public data to light, since it has been intentionally buried in the past. Recently Transparent California have also broken down the benefits into (1) pension obligations and (2) other benefits such health insurance premiums. Track this annual pension contribution amount since it is rapidly growing each year taking more and more out of each agency's operating budgets, leaving less and less available for present benefits to non-employee residents and taxpayers. Transparent California provides an excellent public benefit.

a-1582449730 Feb 23, 2020 01:22 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

When I worked for SB County I thought it would be my last job. And it was, but not liek I planned. I know that overall I was in great, extraordinary shape, due to my county benefits. Underpaid? Yes, by dollars by the hour. Abused by the public? Yes. By department personnel? Yes, colleagues and bosses. Did my direct colleague literally walk out? Yes. Did I quit? Yes, before he did. I gave notice. At one time, I hired my own attorney to review my defense work and accompany me at a Skelly hearing, after doing all my own prep. The union was USELESS when I went over my issues/complaints with them. There was a LONG long-term employee because of whom several people had quit. I heard he retired recently, that was always his goal. Great. He won. So did I, by salvaging my mental health. These "good jobs" are not always worth it!

a-1582450214 Feb 23, 2020 01:30 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Dammit, my point is yes gov't employ is a dam good job. Get it, keep it, suck it up or quit. The union kept the devil employee employed, and obviously bosses didn't care. I had one boss tell me early in my career that devil employee had caused someone to walk out. Funny, it was repeated, twice, when I was there. I had at least 6 bosses in 5 years. One picks ones battles. Not the first job I had where people sucked it up for the benefits, for their kids.
Get the job, it IS competitive. You do have to test in. Once you got it? Shut up and love it! You're lucky to be making good money and benefits. My point of view is from bottom of the rung, obviously.

Dlino_89 Feb 22, 2020 09:31 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Salvador was not hired in 2018 that’s a lie he was there prior to 2018 from what I can remember he worked there before May 5 2016 I was in custody then and he was working then

a-1582487472 Feb 23, 2020 11:51 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

DLINO: Salvador Vargas has SB County employment compensation records posted on Transparent California for 2016, 2017 and 2018. No data for 2019 posted yet.

yin yang Feb 22, 2020 10:09 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Ah, thank you Edhat denizens, of which I am one, for your consistency in a troubled world. I read this article on another news site early this a.m. It was posted here in the 11 p.m. hour of Feb. 21, but I got to see it here with no comments, which let me imagine what they would be. Consistency reigns. ------------ A few questions: If you were accused, would you want the appropriate investigatory and judicial steps taken? Wouldn't you plead not guilty to any arrest so that you could utilize (AKA "take advantage of") your constitutional rights? I could go on. I sure knew their administrative leave would be criticized. ------------------------
Look, I agree they're probably guilty. I'm disgusted and enraged. But please, especially in this day and age, seek to support fairness and the rule of law that all citizens are literally entitled to! It may well redound to your benefit in reality instead of just as an ideal, THE ideal that we as Americans say we uphold. No one ever said being a citizen, or a human, was easy. In corollary, rights come with obligations. One of those should be striving to uphold our shared national ideals. One should be striving to uphold the idealistic notions expressed in our founding and in our most idealistic and inspiring documents. All these documents uphold the rule of law and an absolutism that stems from that and Not from personality.

a-1582440835 Feb 22, 2020 10:53 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Yin Yang- To follow your logic Edhat and other media should not even be posting these stories for us denizens to comment on until their trials are over. But that’s not how this world works. Ideals are just that, we don’t live them even if it’s something we strive to do. Human nature always wins out. Thus the reactions you see here.

yin yang Feb 23, 2020 12:49 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Pe... I do not like this glitch or feature where names are displayed. Thank you for your part in the discussion. I do not see how my statements about the process of investigation carry over to thinking I don't want media coverage. I never intend that. ---------- paragraph break ---------- I subscribed to national papers after the 2016 election so I'd have full access and to support their missions. I'm all for transparency and a free press! I see you might think I'm saying that the suspicions of problems shouldn't be publicized. Well, they never were, so moot point. Coverage might've urged the investigation on, to be more prompt. I do wish that had happened. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is my main point: I was emotional. I was, and am, mostly trying to defend law enforcement, in this case. And in this day and age, and in general, the rule of law, a term we hear a lot these days. I figured LE/Sheriff's dept would catch hell here for doing too little -- even though they're usually lauded and glorified here. I am very glad this case was publicized and that charges were filed. SB Sheriff Dept has obviously done the right thing! I wrote about my long-ago work experience in order to help illuminate what it takes to make a valid case.

yin yang Feb 23, 2020 01:02 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Feb. 22 10:53 p.m.: Do you think that because I addressed the Edhat comments that I expected to see that I don't want this site to be open to every comment I expect (and those I don't)?! LOL! How long have YOU been reading Edhat? :-)

yin yang Feb 22, 2020 10:20 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Also, I used to work in a local law practice whose focus was to dismiss incompetent public school teachers. I guess every citizen (except law enforcement and social services, gov't & non-profit, oh, and medical personnel, and the list just grows!) would be shocked to know what goes on in the world. Your world, the world your kids live in. For instance, when I mention "incompetent teachers," you think of those you don't like. No, we're talking all the coaches and band leaders who have a new high school girlfriend every year; those who do drugs with kids; those usually male authority figures who groom young females in order to do or have them. This case is just another example. Don't act all shocked. School employee cases also take a long time to document. The employees are put on leave, police are called if there's enough evidence; if there's need. Glad I know not of home /family cases. Didn't happen to me or my closest, didn't have to deal with them medically or legally. Please put your outrage energy into helping people. (I workded in legal field decades ago and not in this county, so don't worry about what I say. Of course awareness has grown, things ARE better, due to grassroots organizing and real people, like #metoo. Just don't act all surprised this crap occurs. If you think it doesn't happen here and everywhere, please pull your head out of the sand!

Alexblue Feb 23, 2020 11:35 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Yep--it is shocking the way that we as a society put our most vulnerable at risk.

And how about the "Police Officer" at San Marcos High School who has apparently been stalking students and rather than be fired has been reassigned.


yin yang Feb 22, 2020 11:01 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Let's all be real, we'll forget about this case until the next time it comes up in the news and we can rail against our chosen targets, just like I'm more interested in violence against women, currently Brittany Smith in Alabama who's visible, and LA's misuse of the CA gang database -- Yes, that's for all you who supported a SB Gang Injunction. There is So. Much. Injustice. No Way to Get Ahead of It. -------------------------------(insert paragraph breaks here lol) ---------------------------------------- Some further detail, they all say basically the same thing: (insert paragraph breaks here lol) -------------- ----------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------

yin yang Feb 23, 2020 03:22 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Yes, I misspoke terribly, as this local case IS violence against women. There are so many cases. And so many organizations to support. Modern life is a mess of choices and handling input. Good luck to us all.

Mesarats Feb 23, 2020 08:13 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

The people would be better served, if independent oversight of criminal acts within enforcement agencies was the norm and not exception.

To change the environment, change the leadership. I don’t understand why Bill Brown keeps getting elected, even after his decision on the mandatory evacuation zone for the mudslide.

Bob Wilson Feb 23, 2020 08:57 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Why is it that no one in county government has ever addressed the sheer negligence by both the OEM Director and the Sheriff when it comes to the debris flow evacuation???

PitMix Feb 24, 2020 09:05 AM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Brown was just following the advice of his experts, one of whom is retired now, probably because of this. Luckily the County has immunity from lawsuits or they would be bankrupt now.

ChillinGrillin Feb 23, 2020 01:38 PM
Sheriff's Employees Arrested for Sexual Assault

Another symptom of incompetence and a lack of oversight at the top of the SBSO. If the Feds or state did a full investigation of the Sheriff's office instead of these token internal investigations, the extent of the corruption and backward behavior would be baffling. Most people work in law enforcement with the best intentions but those only go so far in an organization that is poorly led, poorly trained, and isn't accountable.

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