Porn Ring May Cost Taxpayers $5 Million

Updated: May 22, 2018


An attorney who represented a former California Department of Transportation employee who reported her boss for having pornography on his work computer is requesting millions of dollars in legal fees from the state.


John Shepardson, who represented former Caltrans employee Rachel Elizondo in a case involving a salacious porn-sharing ring in the Stockton district office, is asking the state for $4.6 million in legal fees.


Elizondo sued Caltrans for violating the Whistleblower Protection Act by not protecting her anonymity, and by retaliating against her after she reported finding porn on her boss’ computer in 2009 while retrieving other information at his request. She won a $605,000 award in November.


Elizondo said that after her request for anonymity was ignored, she was passed over for promotions, her colleagues isolated and intimidated her, a gunshot was fired at her home, her car was vandalized twice, and a dead rat was hung outside her home.


“It was brutal,” she said. “It was very hard to go to work being in that type of environment.”

Caltrans affirmed her complaint, finding that a group of more than 20 employees at the Stockton office acknowledged sharing or receiving pornographic material and other unprofessional messages during work hours.


Shepardson’s $4.6 million request includes a multiplier on his fees “because of the complexity of the case and because it exposed government waste.” Caltrans spokesman Matt Roco called the request “excessive.” Shepardson and Caltrans attorneys have been negotiating a settlement. (Source: The Sacramento Bee, March 15.)

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