LONG BEACH — A former city employee who prompted a political dogfight at City Hall last month by raising allegations of mismanagement at the Long Beach Airport said police recently searched his apartment for airport computer tapes.
G. Jeffery Pappas, a former airport noise specialist, said two Long Beach police officers conducted a 45-minute search of his Redondo Beach apartment April 6.
Police officials refused to discuss whether officers searched the apartment. Sgt. Soeren Poulsen, head of the department's Administrative Security Section and one of two officers Pappas maintains conducted the search, said he would not comment because the matter "is part of an ongoing investigation." Chief Charles Ussery also refused to comment.
But sources within the department said police searched Pappas' apartment in an effort to find missing computer tapes that are used to record noise data on airplanes using the Long Beach Airport.
Pappas Denies Wrongdoing
Pappas said police did not find anything during the search and denied any wrongdoing.
"Make no mistake about it, they're trying to discredit me," Pappas said. "They're fishing for anything they can hang their hat on."
He maintained that the search took place because City Manager John Dever ordered it.
"My honest feeling is it's just partly revenge on the part of John Dever," Pappas said. "What I had to say caused some embarrassment and concern on his part. This is an effort to discredit and intimidate me."
Dever said he had no hand in the matter, maintaining it was turned over to police when airport officials determined that the computer data tapes were missing.
A month ago, Pappas charged that several airlines at Long Beach Airport had violated noise standards nearly twice as often as city officials reported to the City Council.
That resulted in a battle between Councilman Edd Tuttle, a long-time airport noise critic, and council members supporting Dever and the city airport staff.
Ultimately, the matter was defused when airport officials conceded that the "noise incidents" had occurred, but were often ignored because the violations came during a 10-day grace period airlines get after a first or second noise citation is issued.
In an interview this week, Pappas said he has given up "trying to fight a one-man battle" over the airport noise violations.
"Right now, I'd just as soon see the whole matter dropped," Pappas said, adding that he fears press accounts of the search could cause police "to come back."
In early February, Pappas lost the temporary job he held as airport noise specialist when a selection panel picked another candidate to hold the post on a permanent basis. As noise specialist, Pappas was responsible for determining whether airlines violate airport noise standards and citing offenders. He currently is unemployed.
Pappas said that two hours before the officers arrived at his apartment April 6, police mistakenly served a search warrant on a Lawndale house where his girlfriend's mother, sister and brother-in-law live. Pappas said he uses the house as a mailing address.
After learning that the former city employee lives in Redondo Beach, they drove to his apartment, Pappas said. When Pappas answered the door, the officers told him they had a search warrant, he said. Under state law, a search warrant is good only at the address for which it is issued.
"I was under the impression that if I didn't give them permission, they would give me the warrant, so I figured I might as well let them in," Pappas said. "They led me to believe they had a warrant that was good for wherever Jeff Pappas lives."
Police have yet to return a search warrant to the clerk of the Long Beach Municipal Court. State law requires that a warrant be filed with the clerk only if something is seized during a search.