A love triangle involving police officers from two different departments could put San Diego taxpayers on the hook for sizable legal damages.
The case stems from a cellphone hacking that San Diego Police Department (SDPD) officials knew about.
The plaintiff in the case, Giocanda Hychko, is a police officer in the city of Riverside.
Her lawsuit says her then-husband, former San Diego police officer Kevn Hychko, was romantically involved with a fellow officer SDPD officer, Stephanie Audette.
Also being sued along with Audette and the city is Verizon Communications -- Audette,'s former employer -- and a current Verizon employee identified only as J.D., described as a friend of Audette's who hacked into Hychko's phone.
Verizon had blocked her phone and her husband's upon Hychko's request after she learned of the affair.
Once it was unblocked, according to the complaint, Audette accessed her home address, calling and message histories and billing information.
The lawsuit says she found out about all that from records in an SDPD disciplinary hearing into the affair, in which Audette confessed under oath to the alleged misconduct.
According to a report from the city attorney’s office, Kevin Hychko was recommended for termination from the force “based on allegations he fostered separate relationships with three women, including Audette … and that he was dishonest in response to questioning from his superiors”.
Giaconda Hychko's lawyers say the department knew what was going on long ago and hadn't put a stop to it.
“The city could find itself culpable for some of these actions,” says Chris Morris, a former assistant San Diego city attorney who’s overseen and handled numerous police misconduct cases.
"This is strange,”, Morris told NBC 7 in an interview, “only because when you take the step of actually accessing personal information from somebody who's involved in a love triangle -- now you're really going beyond the pale of what we've typically dealt with. So having it escalate to this level is not something that's typical."
On Thursday, the City Council voted unanimously not to pay for Audette's representation in the lawsuit.
The city attorney's office had recommended against it, saying her actions were "outside the scope" of her employment.
"As a plaintiff's lawyer,” Morris observed, “even though the city may be saying 'You're on your own’, the plaintiff's lawyer is definitely going to be steering the liability ... towards where the money is."
Ironically, Verizon is the city's communication provider for its employees.
As co-defendants in the case, it's not clear whether their interests might wind up at cross purposes.