CHP serves search warrant at home of former fair CEO

The California Highway Patrol served a search warrant at the home of former Colusa County Fair CEO Jonathan Howard on Friday.

The warrant was served in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation, said Calvin Robertson, Public Information Officer for the CHP’s Northern Division. Robertson said that he could not provide any further details.

No arrests relating to the search warrant were made as of Tuesday morning, according to the booking sheet from the Colusa County Jail.

“From my understanding, the search warrant is sealed, and will remained sealed until the resolution of the investigation, and that might be a while,” Robertson said.

The California Highway Patrol has jurisdiction over the Fairgrounds, which is a State facility. The 44th District Agricultural Association’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to part ways with Howard on Oct. 19. He was previously placed on administrative leave on Sept.

28. At the time, the fair board and their legal counsel declined to offer a reason for Howard’s firing, citing the issue as a personnel matter.

Both a CHP officer on scene and Colusa County District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp – who said he reviewed the warrant – said that the search was a follow-up to Howard’s termination as the Colusa County Fair CEO.

On Friday, multiple CHP units – including several marked cars, at least three unmarked pickups, and a helicopter – were used in the execution of the search warrant, which caused a stir around the City of Colusa. The large CHP presence – particularly the helicopter – was widely being discussed on social media on Friday. CHP officers, some dressed in tactical gear, could be seen standing outside Howard’s residence on Friday morning. One officer was observed taking photos of the interior and engine compartment of a Ford Bronco parked outside the residence.

Robertson said that the number of officers and the resources used during a search warrant is situation-dependent.

“It depends on the situation of what they’re dealing with. It can change from scenario to scenario. In this particular instance, it was deemed necessary,” Robertson said. “I would guess in a small community, it was probably quite the show.”

Local law enforcement agencies did not participate in the search warrant, and were not notified of it until after it had been executed. The lack of a heads-up rankled the top brass at the Colusa Police Department, which received calls from concerned residents regarding the helicopter hovering near Egling Middle School.

“We had no clue until the school called us and asked us what was going on,” said Colusa Police Chief Josh Fitch. “We didn’t know anything until the helicopter started scaring the school kids.”

Whether CHP notifies other agencies of an upcoming search warrant is also dependent on the circumstances of a particular situation, Robertson said.

“It really depends on what we’re dealing with in terms of prior notification to other agencies,” Robertson said.

A request for comment from Jonathan Howard was unreturned at the time of publication. ■

SHARE
avatar

Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net