Jan 28, 2015

Criminal justice reform brings together unlikely alliances

http://news.yahoo.com/unlikely-bedfellows-unite-on-criminal-justice-reform-230726294.html

$100,000 bail set for "Creeper" aka Anthony Burgess who responds "Oh F...k" when criminal gang association charge is read

Today, Judge John Feeney appointed Ms. Heidi Holmquist, from the Public Defender's office, for Anthony Manuel Burgess. He read the charges during this arraignment hearing, which are listed below.

Bail was set in one case for $50,000 and the other for $100,000. When the criminal street gang association charge was being read, Burgess said, "Oh Fuck." Ms. Holmquist "waived OR without prejudice." His case in on for intervention on February 2 at 3 p.m. and the preliminary hearing was set for February 10 at 8:30 a.m because he did not waive time.


On January 26, EPD arrested Burgess and he was booked into jail for he was booked  with charges for  being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, carrying a concealed firearm, felon carrying a loaded firearm in public, felon in possession of a stun gun, participation in a criminal street gang, resisting/obstructing a peace officer, fleeing the scene of a collision, committing a felony crime while out on bail, and possession of a
loaded firearm while under the influence of a controlled substance.

This is not his first brush with the law.
Previous post (with EPD release and other background):

http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2015/01/creeper-aka-anthony-manuel-burgess-has.html


"In the Stiglich case, they charged him with voluntary manslaughter claiming it was a crime of passion. In that case, the victim did not even have a firearm. In our case, the victim had a firearm and it was basically a home invasion."

 An offer was made in the Benjamin Carter case; he is the suspect that called LOCO on the lam instead of his defense attorney and is charged with the murder of Zachery Chapman.

Please see post below for details and background. If you want the gist, I explain the offer below.

I spoke with Mr. Michael Acosta, Carter's defense attorney outside the courtroom, after today's court hearing .No other media was present in the courtroom or has this letter.

Mr. Acosta said that the defense has made an offer that Carter would plead guilty to PC 141 tampering with evidence and PC 148 delaying the investigation and obstruction of justice. Mr. Acosta said that Carter did "commit homicide, but not malicious homicide, which is what murder is," he said. As to burning Chapman's jacket and tampering with evidence, Mr. Acosta said that they acknowledge Carter did these things; and that "he did leave the County when he ran" but in his client's defense said, "he panicked." Mr. Acosta said his client was acting in self-defense.

Mr. Acosta compared the charging decisions made in this case with another high profile case, that of Judson Stiglich, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter.

"In the Stiglich case, they charged him with voluntary manslaughter claiming it was a crime of passion. In that case, the victim did not even have a firearm. In our case, the victim had a firearm and it was basically a home invasion."

"The new administration did not charge Ben's case, that was Paul's administration," said Mr. Acosta. "We want Ms. Fleming to have an opportunity to review the charges in this case. If they end up losing this trial, it will be very costly for the County."

Offer made by defense in Benjamin Carter case for District Attorney to review

This afternoon in Courtroom 1, a disposition and reset hearing was scheduled for Benjamin Carter, the suspect charged with the murder of Zachery Chapman. Carter is the murder suspect who called LOCO instead of his attorney while on the lam.

Today, Carter's defense attorney, Mr. Michael Acosta spoke briefly with Carter before his case was called and Carter, who was sitting slumped in the chair in the "box" sat up and said "ok." Carter's family members, including his sister-in-law who previously testified for the prosecution, were present in court.

When his case was called, Mr. Acosta told Judge John Feeney that the defense had made an offer in the case. Until now,  DDA Luke Brownfield has been prosecuting the case. Today DDA Roger Rees was in Courtroom 1 for the People. He acknowledged that the People had receibved the offer and asked Judge Feeney for another disposition and reset hearing in a week so that his office could look at and discuss the proposed offer. I have included the text of Mr. Acosta's letter below. The next court date is February 4 at 2 p.m.

I spoke with Mr. Acosta outside the courtroom.No other media was present in the courtroom or has this letter, yet.

Mr. Acosta said that the defense has made an offer that Carter would plead guilty to PC 141 tampering with evidence and PC 148 delaying the investigation and obstruction of justice. Mr. Acosta said that Carter did "commit homicide, but not malicious homicide, which is what murder is," he said. As to burning Chapman's jacket and tampering with evidence, Mr. Acosta said that they acknowledge Carter did these things; and that "he did leave the County when he ran" but in his client's defense said, "he panicked." Mr. Acosta said his client was acting in self-defense.

Mr. Acosta compared the charging decisions made in this case with another high profile case, that of Judson Stiglich, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter.

"In the Stiglich case, they charged him with voluntary manslaughter claiming it was a crime of passion. In that case, the victim did not even have a firearm. In our case, the victim had a firearm and it was basically a home invasion."

"The new administration did not charge Ben's case, that was Paul's administration," said Mr. Acosta. "We want Ms. Fleming to have an opportunity to review the charges in this case. If they end up losing this trial, it will be very costly for the County."

Links to last post (includes links to previous posts on this case):


http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-body-has-been-cremated-so-there-is.html

Text of Mr.Acosta's letter to the District Attorney's office:


January 27, 2015

Ms. Margaret M. Fleming, District Attorney
Mr. Andrew L. Isaac, Deputy District Attorney
Mr. Luke R. Brownfield, Deputy District Attorney
County of Humboldt District Attorney’s Office
825 Fifth Street
Eureka, CA 05501

RE:     People .v. Benjamin Jasper Carter, CR1402688

Ms. Fleming:

I am writing, per your office’s request through Mr. Luke Brownfield, to convey an offer to settle the above-entitled matter. As the original complaint in this matter was filed before you took office as our new District Attorney, Mr. Carter, his family, his supporters, and I are very happy that you have decided to review some of the  more cost-ineffective charging decisions of the previous administration.
As you know, Mr. Carter was originally charged in Count I with  PC 187 (murder) and in Count II with PC 451(c) (arson).  As there was no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Carter set fire to or caused the burning of the trailer in question, the Honorable Judge Dale Reinholtsen did not hold Mr. Carter to answer the arson charge at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, and it was not charged in the Information.  What was added in its place as County II was PC 12021 (Possession of a Firearm by a Felon).  While this new Count II is at least partially grounded in fact (as Mr. Carter is a felon and had, at least momentarily, possessed a firearm in circumstances which Mr. Carter and I believe to be clearly both self-defense and defense of others (“others” being his wife and sister-in-law). the new Count II is not supported by law.  (See People vKing (1978) 22 Cal.3d 12, 24-26.) in which the California Supreme Court held  that in enacting section 12021 the Legislature did not intend to deny persons described by that section the right to use a concealable firearm in defense of self or others in emergency situations,  I say this even though Mr. Carter’s original offer to settle this matter (before the preliminary hearing)  was a plea to PC12021 with a stipulated term. Therefore, it would be in the interest of justice to require him to plead guilty to the new Count II.
I believe a fair resolution of this matter would involve the Defendant accepting responsibility for two of his actions.  First, Mr. Carter moved Mr. Chapman’s body, and that constitutes a violation of PC 141 Tampering with Evidence.  Second, Mr. Carter left Humboldt County without reporting the homicide (though he left Mr. Chapman’s body to be found in an obvious public place out of grief for the death of this best friend and, more importantly, concern for Mr. Chapman’s mother,  The latter makes him culpable of a PC 148 offense, of delaying the investigation and obstructing justice.  Those two charges, in an amended pleading, and on an open plea basis, are Mr. Carter’s current offer to settle.
    We look forward to your reply.



Jan 27, 2015

"A lot of times, their basic needs are not met, so they re-offend and steal"; pilot project at local jail initiated by HCSO staff member aims to help inmates turn their lives around


Lesa Christensen, currently the Administrative Supervisor for civilian jail staff, remembers the old jail facility. "It was very reactive."  Lt. Marco Luna and Captain Ed Wilkinson took the initiative and researched modern jail facilities. They toured direct supervision facilities and Ms. Christensen became one of the trainers for the local jail facility.

Back in March this year, I did a post:
http://johnchiv.blogspot.com/2014/05/jail-is-not-all-about-incarceration-we.html

In that post, I interviewed Lt. Marco Luna, who is the Operations Lt, in charge of the custody division. That post explains the contrast between the old facility and the new facility and goes into detail about direct supervision.

"Lot of our officers had a hard time adjusting," said Ms. Christensen. "Lot of officers left because they didn't believe in the new philosophy. This new mindset involved officers not reacting but being in the same units as the inmate and interacting with them--direct supervision.

"I am a huge proponent for direct supervision," Ms. Christensen told me this afternoon when I interviewed her at the Inmate Programs Office, where she currently has her desk. "You get to talk to people, why they get into trouble, you hear their story and you get to learn about the individual circumstances that brought them to this point."

Ms. Christensen was the first female officer to work in a 64 male inmate dorm. As Lt. Luna mentioned in March, it takes a special person to work in this type of environment. Ms. Christensen reiterated that point. "You have to be confident but you cannot be arrogant. It is a teacher-student type of relationship. We have had bad things happen such as officers getting attacked; you have to be prepared."

Here is a link to a video explaining direct supervision and the transition of the local jail to a new modern facility
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Correctional Career

"When AB 109 and Prop 47 came through, CCP, the organization that decides where funds for county jails are allocated told us "we weren't prepared, we need to improve."

Humboldt County Correctional Facility adminstration representatives met with College of the Redwoods, Mental Health, DHHS and they started brainstorming.

Ms. Christensen researched and found in addition to the current inmate programs offered, Humboldt County inmates could benefit from classes offered by the National Institute of Corrections. These classes on cognitive, re-thinking therapy, thinking for change are "designed to help people who make bad decisions make good decisions."

Ms. Christensen looked at other counties and what they were doing.She was very impressed with a Marin County inmate re-entry program that helps inmates integrate into society after re-incarceration and change their lives for the positive and be successful.

Ms. Christensen is writing a proposal for a pilot project that has to then be approved by Captain Wilkinson. The proposal will initially "interview all people who will be released within 30 days and assess them for the risk of re-offending." Eventually, Ms. Christensen would like to expand this to include people being released in 60 days, 80 days and those who are in jail long-term.

"A lot of times, they don't have their basic needs met, so they re-offend and steal," said Ms. Christensen. "I want to ask them before they are released: What is your plan? Where will you live? Are you homeless? Are you a Vet? What do you need?"

Then she will help them get in contact with agencies and get them the basic tools they need so they have something set up before they leave the jail. Teen Challenge is now working on transitional housing for women; Ms. Christensen is working with College of the Redwoods to see if people can get financial aid if they want to continue beyond the general education they get in jail.

"We have always waited for people to ask for help, I'm going to be pro-active."

In order for this to be successful, Ms. Christensen said that the community needs to get involved. If there are job opportunities people can let her know; she also said that DHHS and Mental Health will be crucial for this to work.

"The only way this can be successful is if people want to change."

Ms. Christensen is only in her current position until March 1. She will then be transferred back supervising officers but she is passionate about helping those who want to change their life. Even while she waits for this project to be approved, she intends to reach out to inmates.

Trial setting for former assistant court manager charged with allegedly embezzling approximately $100,000 from local court's operation department

A trial setting was scheduled this afternoon at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 5 for Socorro Maria Cervantes, former assistant court manager, who is charged with allegedly embezzling almost $100,000 from the Humboldt County Superior Court's operations department.

The Public Defender's office is representing Cervantes. Today, the attorney representing her was not in court but Ms. Jennifer Dixon, on behalf of her colleague told Visiting Judge Arvid Johnson that they had a petition to compel discovery. DDA Zach Curtis said "my office received a motion today, we are requesting time to respond." Judge Johnson said that the People's response needed to be filed by March 20. The next court date is March 17 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 5.

There has been no follow-up on this case in the media.

Link to Times-Standard 2013 article:

http://www.times-standard.com/general-news/20131007/fortuna-woman-pleads-not-guilty-in-100k-court-embezzlement-case

Text of the article from 2103 by Thadeus Greenson

Some five years after the alleged act, a criminal grand jury has indicted a Fortuna woman for allegedly embezzling almost $100,000 from the Humboldt County Superior Court's operations department.

Socorro Maria Cervantes, the former assistant court manager, appeared in court Monday and pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of embezzlement, stemming from allegations that she stole cash payments made to the court's operations department over the course of 2008.

Cervantes, who was indicted Friday in a secret proceeding that saw 13 witnesses testify before the grand jury, was released on her own recognizance after being booked into the jail. Because Cervantes was a public officer at the time of the alleged thefts, she is not eligible for parole and faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison if convicted.

A criminal investigation into the thefts began after a $2,400 payment to the court disappeared in late October 2008. A subsequent audit revealed that almost $100,000 in fines and fees paid to the court went missing between January and October of that year.

The investigation handed over to the state Department of Justice's Redding office in January 2009 took a turn after state budget cuts shuttered the office in July 2011, leaving the case's future unclear.

At the time, DOJ Bureau of Investigations and Intelligence Special Agent Supervisor Jeff Lierly, who headed the Redding office, said he would "try to live up to the personal commitment" he made regarding the case, but that he didn't know what the future would hold.

Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Christa McKimmey said the DOJ turned the case over to the DA's Office Investigative Bureau in November 2011. Citing laws protecting the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, McKimmey said she couldn't comment on what evidence links Cervantes to the missing funds.

In October 2008, the court's operations office relied on two separate case management software systems to track court cases and payments, according to Court Executive Officer Kerri Keenan. She explained in a previous interview that the system used in the court's civil and family divisions worked well, leaving a clear audit log of payments received. The system used to track traffic and criminal cases and payments was antiquated, and didn't include an accounting component. That left payments coming in for court fees and traffic fines to be logged with hand-written receipts, which were later logged into a computer system.

When court administrators discovered that someone might have been stealing payments, management immediately notified the police and began the audit, which focused solely on 2008.

Keenan said Monday that it remains unclear if any of the missing payments affected court cases. She said, to her knowledge, there haven't been any complaints of payments not being credited to accounts. Some have questioned whether criminal and traffic cases accompanying the vanishing payments may have also disappeared from the system, and Keenan said that can't be ruled out as a possibility.

It's also unclear if the alleged embezzlement stretches back further. The Administrative Office of the Courts' audit only focused on one year. Keenan said there was no telling if, or how much, money is missing from previous years.

McKimmey said the question of funds missing from prior years remains under investigation.

"The investigation of thefts occurring in other years and by whom is still being looked at," she said.

In the wake of the missing funds, the court operations division put a number of checks in place to prevent thefts from occurring in the future, including the installation of surveillance cameras, the assigning of permanent cashiers to limit the number of people handling payments, and switching all criminal and traffic cases to a more modern system, which logs every transaction and who entered it.

Cervantes, who resigned her position with the court in July 2009, is due back in court Nov. 18 for a pre-trial hearing. Her attorney Patrik Griego declined to comment.

As a condition of Cervantes' release, visiting Superior Court Judge Garrett Olney ordered her not to leave the state without the court's permission. Olney said he didn't see Cervantes as a flight risk, noting that the defendant was aware of an investigation targeting her in 2009.

"The time to have left would have been 2009, and here we are four years later and she's still here," Olney said.

Jan 26, 2015

Floyd and Betty Squires owner of Blue Heron Lodge to face closure for failure to secure a valid lodging permit

On February 4th, 2015 the City of Eureka will execute a warrant for closure of the Blue Heron Lodge
located at 2245 Broadway. The owners, Floyd and Betty Squires, have failed to secure a valid lodging permit for two consecutive years as required by the City’s motel ordinance, which was adopted by the City Council in October 2013.
The Blue Heron continues to place a disproportionate burden on the City’s emergency services,
averaging more than six calls for service (CFS) per room annually for violations such as disturbing the peace, drug dealing, and fights. The 15 room Blue Heron Lodge has been at or near the highest
CFS/Room ratio of the 32 motels in the City with a ratio of over 6.4. Analysis shows that the Blue Heron has 1% of the motel rooms in Eureka and generates 11% of the total calls for service. (See table below)
Data gathered since adoption of the motel ordinance show that the ordinance is having the intended
effect of convincing motel owners to manage their properties in a way that minimizes impacts on first
responders and the surrounding community. The Blue Heron is the only motel in the City currently
operating without a valid permit.
The property continues to have numerous building code violations ranging from broken heaters to
cockroach infestation and the owners have failed to make substantive changes despite multiple
warnings from the City.
The City recognizes that the occupants of the Blue Heron and similar motels are often our most
vulnerable residents. As a result, staff from local agencies and nonprofits have already contacted the
occupants to help them find alternative housing and other assistance as necessary in the lead up to
closure.

"Creeper" aka Anthony Manuel Burgess has not learned from his 2012 arrest except for wearing a wig to avoid being arrested

EPD Press Release (today):

On 1/25/15, at about 11:20 AM, Eureka Police Department officers were dispatched to a
suspicious persons call at the rear of a residence on the 900 block of G Street, Eureka.
One of the involved subjects was reported to have left on a bicycle after jumping a
backyard fence.
A responding officer saw a male matching the suspect’s description riding a bicycle away
from the vicinity of the call. The officer attempted to stop the male after he failed to stop
for the stop sign located on westbound 9th Street at G Street. The subject, later identified
as Anthony Manuel Burgess (age 22 of Eureka), then fled from the officer on his bike.
During a brief ensuing pursuit, Burgess failed to stop at the stop sign located on
northbound B Street at 7th Street. He was struck by an eastbound vehicle on 7th Street
and ejected from the bike. Burgess then jumped to his feet and ran into the parking lot of
a nearby business where he was subsequently taken into custody by officers without
further incident.
During a search incident to Burgess’ arrest, a loaded .357 handgun and a stun gun were
found in a bag he was carrying. Burgess was also wearing a wig. Officers suspect the
wig was an attempt on his part to avoid detection from law enforcement.
At the time of his arrest, Burgess was out on bail following an incident in early January
where he dropped a loaded firearm while fleeing from a different EPD officer.
Additionally, EPD responded to another incident involving Burgess last week where he
reportedly brandished a firearm at an individual during an altercation. Burgess
successfully evaded apprehension in that case after he fled from an officer who spotted
him in the vicinity.
Burgess was transported to a local hospital where he was treated for minor injuries he
sustained during his collision with the vehicle. He was then transported to the Humboldt
County Correctional Facility where he was booked on numerous fresh charges including:
convicted felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, carrying a
concealed firearm, felon carrying a loaded firearm in public, felon in possession of a stun
gun, participation in a criminal street gang, resisting/obstructing a peace officer, fleeing
the scene of a collision, committing a felony crime while out on bail, and possession of a
loaded firearm while under the influence of a controlled substance.
Additionally, officers contacted the on-call magistrate and requested a bail enhancement.
His bail was subsequently increased to $250,000.00 and he remains in custody as of the
time of this release.

EPD Press Release (from 2012):

According to a news release from the Eureka Police Department, dated Feb. 3, 2012:
On Feb. 1 through Feb. 2, 2012, investigators and agents from multiple federal, state, and local agencies participated in a two day anti-crime/anti-gang sweep in Humboldt County.  The operation was planned and coordinated by the FBI’s North Bay Regional Gang Task Force under their Safe Streets Violent Crime Initiative. (“SSTFs focus primarily upon street gang and drug-related violence and address specific violent crime problems through the teaming of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors.”).

The operation was hosted by the Eureka Police Department and the teams were led locally by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office’s Community Response Unit (CRU) and the Eureka Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit (POP).  Approximately 22 agents and investigators with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Parole (CDCR), Humboldt County Probation Department, U.S. Marshall’s Office, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, and Eureka Police Department participated in the gang task force sweep.  Over a two-day period, the task force executed a series of parole and probation searches at various locations within Humboldt County primarily targeting previously identified members of violent street and/or prison gangs.  These targeted searches were designed to gather intelligence, identify gang members and gang associates, and make arrests as appropriate.

During the course of the operation, a total of 15 suspects were arrested for various offenses ranging from misdemeanor and felony warrants, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance (heroin and methamphetamine), possession of marijuana for sale, and parole and probation violations.  Approximately 10 of those arrested were documented gang members.  Those arrested during the gang sweep include:

Jeremy Dean Wildman (moniker: Looney”), age 35 of Eureka, was arrested for possession of marijuana for sale after investigators found nearly 5 pounds of processed marijuana and multiple digital scales in his apartment on the 100 block of West Del Norte Street, Eureka.
Scott Ryan Campbell (moniker: “Droopy”), age 35 of Eureka, was arrested for a felony warrant alleging violation of his post release community supervision.  Campbell was contacted with Wildman at his West Del Norte Street residence.
Anthony Manuel Burgess (moniker: “Creeper”), age 19, was arrested for violation of his probation at a cottage on the 2900 block of California Street, Eureka.
Corey Allen Cole (moniker: “Sinner”), age 29, was arrested for violation of his parole at the same cottage where investigators encountered Burgess.
Zachery Jacob Chapman, age 34, was arrested in McKinleyville for a violation of his parole.
Michael Thomas Meyers (moniker: “Flaco”), age 34, was arrested for violation of his parole at an apartment on the 700 block of 10th Street, Eureka.