Customs agent is awarded $200,000 “Jury says he faced bias and retaliation.”

The San Diego Union - Tribune San Diego, Calif.
May 16, 1998
Valerie Alvord

A federal court jury awarded $200,000 yesterday to an agent of the U.S. Customs Service, saying that Ricardo Sandoval faced discrimination and retaliation after he tried to report bigotry inside the agency. After the verdict, several jurors voiced personal admiration for Sandoval and said they believed that corruption and discrimination may have been systemic within the internal affairs unit where Sandoval worked in 1992. “It takes courage not to walk away when someone does something to you that’s wrong,” said juror Mike Cannon, 33, a desk supervisor for a Mission Valley hotel. “A lot of people would like to do what Ricardo Sandoval did but, unfortunately, not many do. That’s why these problems continue to exist.”

David Ross, one of two attorneys who represented Sandoval, said he expects the government to appeal the verdict, which not only gives Sandoval $200,000 but allows him to claim up to $500,000 more in back pay, expenses and attorneys’ fees.

Sandoval fought the Customs Service for six years after a promised promotion failed to materialize just weeks after he reported what he said was a neo-Nazi ring inside the agency in San Diego in November 1992. The jury never heard evidence about the ring, however.


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