Tony Beard, who has served as chief sergeant-at-arms for the California Senate’s in-house law enforcement unit for 34 years, announced his retirement Tuesday amid news that he had not informed Senate leader Darrell Steinberg that one of his employees had used cocaine on a night he was a part of a gunfight leaving three people injured and one dead.
Sergeant-at-Arms Gerardo Lopez had been fired by Steinberg last Thursday after the Senate leader read in the Sacramento Bee that the toxicology report showed Lopez had used cocaine and marijuana the night of the gunfight. Lopez was off-duty at the time. Before Steinberg fired Lopez, he met with Beard, who informed him that he had known of the drugs used by Lopez but had not mentioned it because he thought he would be disclosing confidential information.
Steinberg spokesman Mark Hedlund said, “He thought at the time that he couldn’t disclose the information because he heard it through the process of a confidential investigation. He understands that he made an error in judgment on that.”
Beard, 64, had served in the state Senate for 46 years, and will retire later this summer. He wrote Steinberg that he had “always acted with integrity, dedication and the utmost loyalty to the state Senate and the people of California. To leave a lifelong career is not an easy decision. But nature itself suggests to us when it is time to go. A new eye is needed. A fresh start is necessary.”
According to prosecutors involved in the Lopez gunfight case, Lopez’s home was invaded; three men are being charged with robbing his house. The gunfight followed a party at the home of Lopez and his wife, Jennifer Delao, who works in Steinberg’s policy unit.
Steinberg’s office released a statement, saying:
Tony Beard has served California’s Legislature with great distinction and honor for more than four decades. Throughout his tenure as Chief, he has raised the standards of the Senate Sergeants-at-Arms office and brought more diversity to his staff. His exemplary service deserves recognition and celebration, which we will do at the appropriate time. With Tony’s pending retirement, I am asking that effective immediately, Deputy Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Katrina Rodriguez become the interim Chief until such time as the Senate Rules Committee elects a new Chief Sergeant-at-Arms.