- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Central Valley judge who hatched a deceptive scheme to woo his court clerk and showered her with gifts that included a car was ordered removed from the bench Tuesday by the state’s judicial disciplinary commission.

Tulare County Superior Court Valeriano Saucedo violated numerous canons of the judicial code of ethics, acted in bad faith and brought disrepute to his office through willful misconduct, the Commission on Judicial Performance said.

“The deceitful, calculated, and unseemly nature of the judge’s misconduct, compounded by his lack of candor in response to the commission’s investigation and untruthful testimony under oath … compels our decision to remove Judge Saucedo from office,” the commission wrote.

The misconduct began in September 2013 when Saucedo wrote an anonymous letter accusing his court clerk in explicit details of having an affair with a bailiff. The letter, which arrived at Saucedo’s house marked personal and confidential, was addressed to the woman’s husband at the medical center where he worked.

After privately sharing the letter with the clerk, Priscilla Tovar, the judge said he had intercepted it at the hospital before her husband saw it. Tovar wanted to report it to court administrators or police, but the judge persuaded her to keep quiet, saying she could lose her job if anyone found out.

Saucedo used the letter to try to pressure Tovar into having a “special friend” relationship, the commission said.

Over the next two months, he gave Tovar approximately $26,000 in gifts that included a BMW, a Disneyland trip for her family and legal advice for her son. He also sent her nearly 450 text messages.

When Tovar told the judge she was going to request a transfer, he deposited $8,000 in her bank account and then accused her later that day of extortion to intimidate her and keep her quiet, the commission said.

The commission dismissed the explanation that Saucedo, who is married, was trying to be a mentor to the mother of four.

It also rejected his plea for a public censure of him, which would have allowed him to keep his job. The commission said his testimony wasn’t credible and he failed to take responsibility for his actions.

He is the first judge in three years to be removed from office by the commission.

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