Back in 2012, Spencer “Kyle” Scarber was the California Highway Patrol assistant chief in the Fresno area. When his son Spencer Scarber was on trial for rape, his father helped him escape to Mexico. The CHP boss served no prison time and now seeks to augment his $125,000 state pension under CalPERS.
In February of 2013, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims announced “the arrest of Spencer Scarber, the 20-year-old convicted rapist who fled the United States prior to the end of his criminal trial.” Scarber was arrested in Mexico and also arrested were “his father, 49-year-old Sheldon Kyle Scarber, his mother, 51-year-old Gail Lynne Scarber of Squaw Valley, and his sister, 33-year-old Crystal Diane Reynoso, of Fresno.”
As Roberto Rodriguez of the Merced Sun-Star noted, the day Spencer was reported missing, Gail Scarber and Crystal Reynoso crossed the border. The fugitive Spencer Scarber “dyed his hair, grew a goatee, used fake identification,” and his parents, “lied to investigators, saying he’d been kidnapped.”
Kyle and Gail Scarber were ordered to perform 500 hours of community service and pay $10,000 in restitution to the state of California. Once they paid up and completed their community service “Kyle and Gail Scarber’s felony conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor and Reynoso’s conviction was dismissed.”
Judge John Gallagher also gave Kyle and Gail Scarber six months of misdemeanor probation, from July 19 to Jan. 1, 2020. The former CHP boss, who served no jail time, then set about bulking up his state pension.
As Wes Venteicher of the Sacramento Bee notes, after his son’s escape, Scarber’s doctor ordered him removed from duty due to “work-related injuries.” Scarber used the accrued sick leave and vacation days and retired in October 2013. The former CHP boss requested a disability pension, “more generous than a typical pension because it is tax free.”
CalPERS charged that Scarber left work due to misbehavior, and rejected the disability pension. Then in 2017 CalPERS reversed that decision on the grounds that the CHP allowed Scarber to retire “without discipline.”
As Veinteicher reports, CalPERS removed the credit he had accrued from the date of his son’s escape to his retirement in 2013 and “CalPERS slightly reduced Scarber’s $125,000-per-year pension.” Scarber is appealing the reduction to the CalPERS board, and he believes his son never got a fair trial.
According to Pablo Lopez of the Fresno Bee, Scarber said in court papers that DA Elizabeth Egan should not have prosecuted his son because Kyle Scarber once had an affair with her. The former CHP assistant chief also contended that he planned to run against Sheriff Margaret Mims, so it was “unfair” that the Sheriff’s office investigated his son.
Spencer Scarber was charged with raping a housekeeper at a neighbor’s home and sentenced to 35 years to life. His father Kyle Scarber is not the first CHP boss to be embroiled in scandal.
Chris Reed of CalWatchdog recalls the CHP’s “good-old-boy culture of tolerating internal misconduct.” By 2004, 55 of the 65 of the CHP’s highest ranking officers filed workers’ compensation claims entitling them to “lucrative disability settlements and medical pensions with tax-free income.” The central figure in the “Chief’s Disease” scandal was CHP top boss Dwight “Spike” Helmick.
The CHP retaliated against whistleblowers such as Art Acevedo, who objected to the pension spiking. Acevedo made a made a persuasive case to state officials “of mass perjury among top CHP officials” but the criminal investigation by Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully was stymied. As her office reported, top CHP officials were “unable or unwilling” to testify about details related to the mass pension spiking.
According to Venteicher, the CalPERS board will make a decision on Scarber’s case next week.