Placer county executive fired by supervisors for harassment


Placer County CEO Todd Leopold participates in a Placer County Board of Supervisors meeting in Auburn on May 10, 2022. On Friday, May 27, 2022, Leopold was placed on paid administrative leave.

Placer County CEO Todd Leopold participates in a Placer County Board of Supervisors meeting in Auburn on May 10, 2022. On Friday, May 27, 2022, Leopold was placed on paid administrative leave.

pkitagaki@sacbee.com

The Placer County Board of Supervisors has decided to fire county CEO Todd Leopold.

Leopold faced heavy public scrutiny after it was revealed he was the driver in a March crash that killed 18-year-old pedestrian Anthony Williams.

But the supervisors during a Friday dismissal hearing voted to give Leopold his 30-day notice of termination with cause — for a matter unrelated to the Rocklin crash.

Leopold was the subject of a separate workplace discrimination and harassment complaint filed last month that ended up as the reason for his firing, the board announced after returning from closed session at the county administrative office in Auburn.

The complaint was filed against Leopold on May 25. He was placed on paid administrative leave two days later.

Karin E. Schwab, the county counsel, reading from a statement on Friday said, “The board directed county counsel to transmit today a 30-day notice of termination with cause pursuant to the terms of the county’s contract with Mr. Leopold.”

Schwab said the complaint will not be released, as it is a personal matter.

“The complaint and the Board’s actions today are unrelated to the tragic accident involving Mr. Leopold and Mr. Williams on March 19, 2022.”

Placer County officials have otherwise refused to comment or respond to requests from The Bee this week.

Williams family, friends called for justice after deadly crash

The board allowed a public comment session before the closed portion of Friday’s meeting, during which Williams’ family and loved ones called for accountability in the teen’s death.

“Right now, it hurts a lot because Anthony should be graduating today,” Michelle Mendez told supervisors. “It’s been ugly and messy from the beginning. It’s like a slow, leaky faucet. I hope in the name of Anthony that we see some justice.”

Mendez, who told supervisors that she, too, works in the public sector, said, “I can’t hide behind, between the DA, the sheriff or the Board of Supervisors. I have to be held accountable.”

Erin Acosta was one of Williams’ foster mothers, she told the panel, and was one of the group of family and friends pressing Placer authorities for answers — starting with the identity of the Placer official behind the wheel that March night.

“We were left in the dark,” a tearful Acosta said. “The only sense we got (from Placer County) was to protect the driver. The community was misled by the silence. We will never get to see Anthony graduate or play basketball or get married or any other goals he’d set for himself. People are being kept in the dark for a reason.”

Williams, an Inderkum High School senior, was fatally struck around 8:30 pm March 19 by a vehicle traveling on Lonetree Boulevard, near the Blue Oaks Town Center shopping area.

In a written statement in mid-May, Leopold publicly admitted he was driving the vehicle that hit Williams.

His statement came two days after the Rocklin Police Department, without identifying the driver, announced on May 11 that it had completed its investigation and determined the driver not to be at fault in Williams’ death.

A community advocacy group calling for justice for Williams had alleged, for weeks prior to his admission, that Leopold was the driver.

Acosta said she and others had to do their own shoe-leather work to find information on the fatal accident.

“We did the work in finding out ourselves. Is it because of who Leopold is? Or who Anthony isn’t?”

Andrea Angulo’s daughter was Anthony’s girlfriend. Family members said Anthony Williams was walking to his work on Lone Tree in Rocklin when he was fatally struck. Her daughter will graduate Friday evening.

“Today is a happy day because my daughter is graduating, but it’s sad for obvious reasons,” Angulo said. Her family has lived in Placer County only a couple of years, she said, but after Williams’ death and Placer authorities’ response, she wonders aloud how long they will stay and when they will receive answers.

“What do I tell my daughter when justice keeps failing us every time?” Angulo said. “They were hiding Todd’s name. They leaked Anthony’s name, but Todd’s was hidden for months.”

The Rocklin Police Department has denied multiple requests by The Bee for the accident report, saying it would only release a report on the completed investigation to Williams’ family and those involved in the incident, citing California’s motor vehicle code.

The Placer County District Attorney’s Office has since announced that it was reviewing the findings of the police investigation and would independently decide if any criminal charges were necessary.

Police and court records show Leopold has a history of speeding and was arrested in Colorado on suspicion of drunk driving in 2015.

Leopold made $299,606 in base salary last year, earning $385,888 between salary, benefits and pension.

“We need to know what happened that night, March 19,” Nia Cooper said Friday. “You should have accountability. You took a life.”

The Bee’s Rosalio Ahumada contributed to this story.

This story was originally published June 3, 2022 1:48 PM.

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