Courts & Crime

Sheriff's deputy's attempted rape report found untrue

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Nearly four years ago, Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Lisa Gargano called a fellow deputy to report a man had broken into her Carmichael home and attempted to rape her, according to sources. The call prompted a full-scale department response — involving more than a dozen patrol units, one of which crashed on the way — and an exhaustive investigation.

Ultimately, law enforcement souces told The Sacramento Bee, detectives found no evidence the crime had occurred. Gargano admitted she had been under the influence of prescription drugs at the time of the call, the sources said, and could have hallucinated the entire episode.

Gargano, now 37 and still a sheriff's deputy, was arrested this week on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription drugs after police said she slammed her sport-utility vehicle into a Natomas Starbucks, injuring an elderly woman and an employee. She was off-duty at the time.

Gargano remains on paid administrative leave from her position as a patrol deputy in north Sacramento County. The Bee's efforts to reach her have been unsuccessful.

Law enforcement sources said earlier this week that Gargano had been using prescription drugs for years, following several on-duty injuries. At least once, they said, department officials required her to attend a drug rehabilitation program.

On Wednesday, three additional law enforcement sources told The Bee that Gargano's prescription drug use appeared to be at the root of the incident four years ago, when the deputy – off-duty at the time – reported she had been attacked. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity, citing medical and personnel privacy issues.

The sources said Gargano called her then-boyfriend, a fellow sheriff's deputy who was on duty that night in October 2005, and said someone had broken into her home, tried to rape her and was still at large. The boyfriend and his partner immediately headed for Gargano's Carmichael home and radioed for help.

The response was massive. A helicopter, K9 units, sexual assault detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, then-Undersheriff John McGinness and a throng of patrol units – including deputies assigned to the Rancho Cordova Police Department – sped to scene, according to the sources. They said one deputy was injured when he crashed his patrol car on his way there.

A perimeter was established, and deputies combed the neighborhood in search of a suspect matching Gargano's description of her attacker. Deputies questioned and released a man who fit the description, one source said.

But in the course of the investigation, detectives found no evidence to support Gargano's claims, according to two of the sources. She eventually told them she had been using prescription drugs, including the sleep-aid Ambien, and could have been hallucinating, the sources said.

Read the full story at