Former Siskiyou undercover deputy Earl Klapperich arrested

Skye Kinkade
Former Siskiyou County Sheriff's deputy Earl Klapperich was arrested May 11, 2012 and charged with Arranging a Meeting with a Minor for the Purpose of Engaging in Lewd of Lascivious Behavior.

A Butte County Sheriff’s deputy who once posed as a high school student in Mount Shasta was himself arrested last week as part of an undercover operation.

Earl Klapperich, who was part of the 2008 undercover operation that resulted in the arrest of former Mount Shasta City Councilor Katrina Howard, has been charged with Arranging a Meeting with a Minor for the Purpose of Engaging in Lewd of Lascivious Behavior. He was released on bail and is scheduled to appear in court June 1.

The 27 year old former Siskiyou County deputy was arrested May 11 after investigators, posing as a 14 year old girl in Chico, received inappropriate text messages from Klapperich, according to a press release from Butte County law enforcement.

Klapperich was arrested when he showed up at a Chico location where he believed the 14 year old girl was waiting, Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey reported in the press release.

Klapperich’s arrest was the culmination of an investigation that began on April 14, when the Butte County Sheriff’s Department received a complaint concerning the manner in which he handled a call involving two underage girls, ages 14 and 16, who had been reported as runaways, said Ramsey.

Ramsey said his office worked with the Butte County Sheriff’s Office on the undercover operation.

“Investigators posing as the 14 year-old girl initiated contact with Klapperich via text messaging,” Ramsey said. “A number of text messages were exchanged between Klapperich and the investigators. The text conversation turned sexual in nature and Klapperich asked the ‘girl’ to send a nude picture to him.”

Eventually, a meeting was proposed and Klapperich agreed to meet the “girl,” Ramsey said. When he arrived at the location, Klapperich was taken into custody by investigators from the DA’s office.

“Klapperich told investigators his intent in meeting with the girl in Chico was not to have sex with her, but to counsel her,” Ramsey said.

After his arrest, Klapperich was booked into the Glenn County jail instead of the Butte County jail for security reasons, Ramsey said.

“He has been removed from duty and his peace officer powers have been suspended pending the completion of an internal affairs investigation,” Ramsey said.

“I am disheartened by this arrest, but the Sheriff’s Office takes allegations of misconduct on the part of employees very seriously,” said Butte County Sheriff Jerry Smith in a statement Monday. “Complaints are thoroughly investigated and if wrongdoing is discovered, appropriate action will be taken regardless of whom is involved.”

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey, who was not Sheriff when Klapperich was a Siskiyou County deputy from 2008 until 2010, said Klapperich “had an excellent record” with the department.

His undercover work posing as high school student Connor Williams resulted in the arrest of 33 people in the Mt. Shasta and Yreka areas on Jan. 14, 2009, as well as the eventual prosecution of Howard, who was a Mount Shasta City Councilor at the time, for possesion of marijuana for sale.

In an interview with a Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers reporter after that bust, then 22 year-old Klapperich said one of the trickier things he had to deal with while undercover at the schools was being an adult in the company of underage girls.

“I didn’t socialize out of school, and I created a girlfriend and I tried not to socialize with girls too much,” Klapperich said at that time.