Garry Bredefeld speaks at a news conference Friday. Image via screengrab

published on May 13, 2022 - 12:49 PM
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Councilmember Garry Bredefeld held another explosive press conference Friday, accusing Council President Nelson Esparza of attempted extortion against City Attorney Doug Sloan. 

Sloan is currently transitioning to the same position for the City of Santa Monica.

Bredefeld detailed at the press briefing that on April 21, the Fresno City Council held a closed session regarding Sloan’s job performance and possible raise. Bredefeld said that on April 22, Esparza met with Sloan alone in his office. 

During that meeting, he told Sloan that from that point forward, Sloan was to do four specific things, Bredefeld said, recalling the direct conversation he said he had with the City Attorney. Sloan was to solely be working for the council majority now, he added.

Bredefeld refers to that majority as “the corrupt gang of four” — Esparza and Councilmembers Miguel Arias, Tyler Maxwell and Esmeralda Soria. Bredefeld says Sloan was told not to work with any of the remaining three Councilmembers Luis Chavez, Mike Karbassi and himself. 

“When either myself, Chavez or Karbassi requested the city attorney to do any work for them, the city attorney was not to do it and report back to Esparza what we had entrusted him to do,” Bredefeld said. 

He also explained in the press briefing that Esparza was the only thing stopping Sloan from being fired by the council majority. 

He says he spoke personally several times with Sloan, however Sloan was not invited to the press conference to share his perspective, Bredefeld said.

“He expressed that he felt this was an extortion attempt by Esparza,” Bredefeld said at the press briefing. 

Bredefeld characterized the alleged extortion as “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” leading to Sloan leaving Fresno.

Efforts to reach Sloan for comment were unsuccessful Friday morning.

When asked why Sloan wasn’t present talking about the incident, Bredefeld responded, “I don’t want to speak for Mr. Sloan,” and encouraged reporters to let him speak for himself.  

On Bredefeld’s Facebook page leading up to the briefing, he posted, “The corruption at City Hall has just gone to a new disgraceful and disgusting level and it will be exposed at a press conference today. This corruption and unethical behavior must end and I won’t stop exposing it until it does. Period!”

Bredefeld warned of implications of this extortion attempt, explaining the citizens of Fresno would have been adversely impacted if it had been successful or not revealed to the public.

“[Esparza] will lie again rather than admit his wrongdoing,” Bredefeld said. 

Bredefeld said that law enforcement has been informed about the incident, but added he didn’t know if there is an active investigation. When asked which law enforcement agency has been informed about the private conversation, and whether he filed a report with the District Attorney’s office, Bredefeld would not comment further. 

Esparza released a statement Friday morning, adding that he has not been contacted by law enforcement on the matter.

“Councilmember Bredefeld continues to demonstrate why he has been passed over for Council Leadership positions three times over his last five years on the City Council,” Esparza said.

“Unsurprisingly, Bredefeld is again making allegations that are false, unsubstantiated, and lack evidence. This latest tantrum comes with the irony that Bredefeld is the only Councilmember who has knowingly weaponized City Staff and resources, including the City Attorney’s Office, for political gain and media attention.” 

He added that this “latest charade” will muddy the waters before a new city attorney steps in — and ultimately shrink the talent pool. 

“He has only served to further isolate himself and cast doubt upon the good work being done at City Hall by so many of us that spend our time in productive ways,” Esparza concluded. “The Council President will not expend any further taxpayer time responding to this baseless matter.”

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