The detective can’t detect

Man sues county and sheriff’s department for case of mistaken identity

Surveillance images posted on Crime Stoppers
  • Surveillance images posted on Crime Stoppers

Aaron Calcagno fit the description: he is white, has sideburns, and is in his 30s. Aside from those similarities, claims Calcagno in a federal lawsuit that he filed against the County of San Diego and a sheriff's detective, he had little else in common with the man who snuck into the men's locker room at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa on May 21, 2014, and stole a $60,000 Ulysse Nardin Santana watch.

Calcagno claims he is 15 pounds lighter and four inches shorter than the suspect's description. Lastly, the cars used in the robberies weren't similar to those owned by Calcagno and his wife.

Despite the discrepancies, on the evening of June 20, 2014, deputies arrested Calcagno — a Sharp Grossmont nurse — in front of his children before they looked for items to link him to the crimes. They found nothing.

Calcagno claims detective-in-charge Kurt Cartie was overzealous in his hunt for the robbery suspect.

On June 14, photos of the suspect were posted to the San Diego Crime Stoppers website. Soon after, an anonymous tip was phoned in suggesting that Calcagno may be the man.

Calcagno claims that in obtaining the search warrant, Detective Cartie ignored differences, including the comparison of photos of the suspect with Calcagno's DMV pictures.

"Following the search [on June 20], Defendant Cartie asked to speak to...Calcagno’s wife, outside the house. Defendant Cartie knew [she] was an analyst with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Defendant Cartie showed her surveillance photographs of the suspect. Mrs. Calcagno immediately pointed out the obvious differences in appearance between the photographs and her husband. The suspect had a long and pointy nose that was substantially narrower than Mr. Calcagno’s. Defendant Cartie told Mrs. Calcagno that they found no evidence from the burglaries or clothing worn by the suspect in the home. Defendant Cartie then told Mrs. Calcagno that he had probable cause to arrest Mr. Calcagno based on the fuzzy photographs from the videotape surveillance."

Calcagno was later arrested; however, no charges were ever filed against him. He is asking that a judge award him punitive damages.

Because of the ongoing litigation, Detective Cartie was unable to comment. It is unknown if a suspect has since been apprehended.

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And you wonder why most San Diego area cops think the Sheriffs office is a joke. Hope he wins a boat load of (taxpayer) money.

If the cops who are putting the Sheriff's office down belong to the SDPD, that's an example of the pot calling the kettle black. Both forces have their good days and bad, but the continuing embarrassment is the SDPD.

Nope not SDPD but others especially those officers who live in the County and have had experience with SO. There is the wide spread practice of blowing off calls.

Interesting. I think what you said is that various city cops who live in the unincorporated areas of the county occasionally have reason to "call the cops" themselves, and come up disappointed. As in the deputies just don't respond. Is that what you meant? If so, can you add some further commentary? We'd all be interested to know about it, and what it implies about that police force.

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