Former Broadmoor police chief and SFPD deputy chief Michael Connolly, who faced conflict-of-interest charges for illegally installing himself as police chief in 2019, reached a plea bargain today and was sentenced this afternoon during a pretrial conference in South San Francisco.
Connolly will serve one year of probation, pay a $235 fine, and is prohibited from holding an elected office or acting as a lobbyist for four years, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, who brought the charges against Connolly in late June. The probation period is the maximum amount permitted, Wagstaffe said.
Shortly after the three misdemeanor charges were announced, Connolly originally pleaded not guilty to all of them: Two counts that he became financially interested in a contract he was involved in making, and the third that he attempted to use his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he had a financial interest.
As part of today’s plea bargain, Connolly entered a “no contest” plea for the third count, and the first two counts were dropped. His attorney, Stephen Sutro, did not immediately return a request for comment.
“It’s a just outcome,” Wagstaffe told Mission Local. “I’m sorry that any law enforcement breached their duty, even though we know this one was not intentionally done. But we have very strict laws in California about conflict of interest, and he violated them … People often say police aren’t held accountable — and, in this case, a police chief was held accountable.”
Connolly retired from the SFPD after 29 years in 2019, where he served as the head of the “Principled Policing Bureau.” Before leaving the SFPD, he began serving on the police commission in Broadmoor, a small, unincorporated town in the middle of Daly City.
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While sitting on the Broadmoor Police Commission, Connolly allegedly expressed his interest in becoming the police chief there, presided over the meeting in which he was voted in, then also voted on a future budget that determined his salary as future chief.
Shortly before the charges were officially brought against him in June, Connolly resigned as police chief before the police commission, which expressed their unhappiness with his departure.
Connolly was also accused of retaliating against whistleblowers in the police department while serving as Broadmoor’s police chief, showing favoritism to colleagues he hired from his SFPD days, and using department funds for his and his allies’ personal use. The whistleblower complaint filed in Aug. 2020 is what originally brought Connolly’s conflicts of interest to the district attorney’s attention.
Since his resignation, Connolly’s former second-in-command – and also formerly with the SFPD – Patrick Tobin has been serving as Interim Chief of Police. Tobin also has a problematic history, though he hasn’t faced criminal charges: He has been disciplined in the past for violence against youth, and was also accused of harassing a gay SFPD officer for his sexuality.