‘Anonymous tipster’ in Lamphier case reveals identity
The “anonymous tipster” who reportedly sparked the criminal investigation into child porn that derailed Terry Lamphier’s political career has stepped forward, admitting to dropping off a letter at the Rood Center, in an Other Voices column to be published by The Union.
But Steve Enos — a former Grass Valley city council member who worked with Lamphier in the past — insisted that the letter was intended for Lamphier’s eyes only, and that his actions were not spurred by any political agenda.
Enos wrote that he had stayed quiet since news of the criminal investigation broke because he “felt it improper to make a statement while former County Supervisor Terry Lamphier’s investigation was underway. I felt it improper to comment while Terry’s court case for multiple counts of possession of matter depicting minors engaging in sexual conduct is ongoing.”
What spurred his decision to go public, he said, was a recent blog post on Sierra Foothills Report in which Lamphier, while not naming Enos, alleged that the tipster was motivated by politics. The statements, Enos said, were “false, libelous, defaming comments about me and my initial involvement in this incident.”
The timing of the criminal investigation, just a week before the Nov. 4 election, was controversial. The news in late October that a search warrant had been served on then-county supervisor Lamphier’s Grass Valley home by Nevada County Sheriff’s detectives in the Major Crimes Unit leaked after a public works employee at the scene contacted city staff. Sheriff Keith Royal said the detectives tried to execute the search warrant in a low-key manner, and needed to act promptly due to concerns about the destruction of evidence.
The investigation reportedly was sparked by Enos’ letter, and investigators found images of “very young girls” on Lamphier’s workplace computer, Royal said. The files were sent to the Sacramento Valley High Tech Crimes Task Force to review and analyze and quantify the extent of the photo collection.
The criminal complaint subsequently filed against Lamphier alleges three counts of having or possessing digital obscene images of a person younger than 18. He faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail on each count, and potentially could be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Lamphier has maintained he “has not proactively and knowingly ‘clicked on, visited or downloaded’ any inappropriate material from sites.”
He won a seat on the Grass Valley City Council in November and was sworn in Jan. 5 amidst protests. He resigned two days later.
Enos called his decision to deliver a letter to Lamphier “agonizing,” but did not detail what led to the decision being made last fall. He said he dropped the letter in an envelope addressed to Lamphier on the counter, adding that it was sealed and he didn’t expect anyone other than Lamphier to open it.
Enos also said that while he disagrees with Lamphier on some issues, his motivation was not political and that his note was personal.
Enos declined to divulge the contents of the note, saying only that it did not make any specific allegations.
“I … made no allegations to the county, to law enforcement, to the District Attorney, to the Grand Jury, to the FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Fish & Game or to the Vatican,” he wrote in an email.
“Some, including Terry, want to claim this was some grand conspiracy, a political vendetta, some evil plot to unjustly discredit a sitting county Supervisor,” Enos continued. “Some have made outlandish claims it’s an orchestrated plot involving computer hacking, planting of evidence, framing, the County IT Department, the Sheriff, NCSO, the State computer crime lab, the DA, the judges and Elvis. The reported facts make it clear the only person using Supervisor Lamphier’s computer was Supervisor Lamphier. The conspiracy theorists are wrong, Elvis is not alive and living in Bakersfield and Terry Lamphier is not the victim here.”
In a subsequent interview, Enos would not elaborate on his Other Voices column.
Questions left unanswered include the contents of the note and why it would trigger an investigation, and whether it alluded to the presence of child pornography on Lamphier’s computer.
Also unanswered is the question of how and when Enos acquired any such knowledge — and the timing of his note.
From Enos’ perspective, speculation about his identity and motivations are a distraction from the issue at hand — Lamphier’s possible culpability.
“This shouldn’t be about me,” he told The Union. “Shouldn’t the (child porn investigation) be what this about? That’s what the focus should be on. … There’s disinformation going on.”
Enos maintained his involvement should — and did — end with the letter to Lamphier, which he insisted was never intended to be opened by anyone else.
“I don’t open other people’s mail,” he said, adding that mail addressed to him when he was a city council member or served as a county planner was never opened by staff.
Enos said that he “absolutely will not discuss what led to” the letter, adding, “It would be simply wrong to go ahead and talk about this during the criminal case …. Pending the legal matter, I am trying to be fair to everybody.”
The Sheriff’s Office had earlier investigated Lamphier in a limited scope regarding a similar allegation around May, but reportedly found nothing to suggest anything inappropriate at that time.
Enos denied involvement, saying he did not send any prior communication to Lamphier or to anyone else.
Lamphier’s claims that he was motivated by political gain are particularly galling to Enos, who says he is a smart growth planner whose current focus is on brownfields and redevelopment projects, including a parcel next to the Providence Mine Road business park.
Some have suggested that Enos was attempting to keep Lamphier off the Grass Valley City Council due to Lamphier’s opposition to the potential shopping center proposed at the Dorsey Drive interchange by developer Russ Jeter. Enos specifically denied working for Jeter, saying he has refrained from being involved in Grass Valley politics by design.
“People can question anyone’s motives about anything,” Enos said, pointing to his championing of the Dorsey Drive interchange since 1999. “There’s no conspiracy — this has been in the works for 30 years.”
Enos expressed a wish for Lamphier to make a more public statement, and added that he hopes the criminal case goes forward without a plea agreement.
“The troubles Terry Lamphier faces are of his own making, not mine or anyone else’s,” Enos said.
Lamphier’s case is set for a pretrial conference on March 23.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User