Officials check on San Diego County probationers; results mixed!
Under California's "realignment" program for its overcrowded prison system, nonviolent offenders are being sent back to their home counties on probation -- more than 2,000 in the past year to San Diego County.
County probation officials say they are concerned that these former prisoners are frequently more criminally sophisticated and at greater risk to re-offend than other people on probation.
To see how well former state prisoners and other high-risk probationers are behaving, a team of 85 sheriff's deputies, local police and armed probation officers paid unannounced visits this week on 75 individuals in eastern San Diego County.
Of the 75, 10 were arrested for violating the terms of their probation by possessing weapons, drugs and/or drug paraphernalia, officials said. Five others were arrested on suspicion of new crimes.
Knives, firearms, ammunition and quantities of methamphetamine and marijuana were seized, officials said, along with marijuana "bongs."
In one case, a sex offender was found holding a baby, prohibited by his probation terms. The child was not harmed, according to chief probation officer Mack Jenkins.
More unannounced compliance checks are planned, Jenkins said.
A judge on Thursday rejected a San Fernando councilwoman's bid to move her trial on battery and vandalism charges out of the city due to media publicity.
Maribel De La Torre, 41, is accused of attacking her ex-lover, former Councilman Mario Hernandez, during an argument at his home on June 28.
The two had been dating for months, a relationship that they say began after Hernandez separated from his wife.
De La Torre's attorney argued that media coverage of the case would make it impossible for her to get a fair trial in San Fernando, and asked for the cause to be transferred to a downtown Los Angeles courthouse.
But Superior Court Judge Lesley Green countered that the San Fernando courthouse draws jurors from a 20-mile swath of Los Angeles County.
Green also said that changes of venue are usually granted for very serious crimes, not for misdemeanor cases such as De La Torre's.
Outside the courtroom, De La Torre said she wants the case heard in front of a jury.
"We want to take this trial … so that the real story can be told and so that I can be exonerated of the charges brought before me," she said.
Hernandez told police that De La Torre came to his home on June 28 and slapped, punched and choked him. He also said she smashed a picture frame and slammed his laptop on the floor.
After the June incident, both De La Torre and Hernandez took out restraining orders and accused the other of being the aggressor.
But in a turn of events, the two dropped their respective restraining orders and Hernandez asked prosecutors to drop the charges. Hernandez reiterated Thursday that he would not testify against De La Torre.
It is the latest turn in a tempestuous relationship first revealed by Hernandez last November when he announced at a City Council meeting that he and De la Torre were having an affair. He made the announcement while his wife was sitting in the front row at the council meeting. Since then, the pair — along with Mayor Brenda Esqueda — have become the targets of a recall election, which was placed on the ballot for Nov. 6.
The Lomita restaurant owner who said he cooked his wife for four days after finding her dead one morning also told detectives during an interrogation that she had been using drugs and he suspected her of stealing money from their restaurant.
David Viens has pleaded not guilty to killing his wife, Dawn, who was 39 when she vanished in October 2009. In 2011, after Viens learned investigators suspected that he had played a role in her disappearance, he leaped off an 80-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes — feet first, arms raised, screaming.
On Tuesday, jurors heard two interviews with Viens, 49, that he gave to sheriff’s detectives from his hospital bed.
In one, he explained how he disposed of his wife’s remains by cooking them in a large barrel for four days and dumping some them down a grease pit at their restaurant, Thyme Contemporary Café, on Narbonne Avenue. Other remains were packed into garbage bags and chucked in a Dumpster. He told investigators that his wife’s skull he hid in his mother’s attic, though when they checked the attic they found nothing.
During the interviews, he said the couple had been fighting because he believed she’d been stealing money from their restaurant, and that the night of her death they had used cocaine together and she kept pestering him while he was trying to sleep.
He told detectives in the taped interview that he taped her mouth and bound her hands and feet, something he’d done twice before to keep her from "driving around wasted, whacked out on coke and drinking."
Then Viens fell asleep. When he awoke the next morning, he said, “I panicked.”
"Why — why did you panic?" one of the detectives asked.
"She was hard," Viens said.
Don't let anything crazy happen to YOU!.. Check us out today in any county in California!
The arrests seem to be piling up at an unusual pace.
weeks ago, a six-year employee of the Los Angeles County Probation
Department was charged with persistently filing false workers'
Earlier this month, police arrested a
probation officer for allegedly shooting a man in a Covina bar. Those
cases came on top of the dozens of drunk driving, drug possession and
theft arrests that seemed scattered throughout the 6,500-employee
On Monday, FBI
agents arrested the highest-ranking member of the department yet — Carl
Edward Washington, a division chief of intergovernmental relations and
former state legislator.
Washington, 47, was taken into custody
about 10 a.m. He is accused of defrauding a bank and two credit unions
by falsely claiming to be a victim of identity theft. He was released on
$25,000 bond after a hearing in federal court and could not be reached
Washington was one of at least 40 county probation
employees arrested in the last 12 months, 32 of whom were sworn law
"They shouldn't have 40 arrests in any
department," said Connie Rice, a prominent Los Angeles civil rights
attorney and law enforcement monitor who has been critical of the
department. "If you have 40 arrests, that ought to be a sign that
something is very wrong. It's like: 'Houston, we have a problem.' "
officials quickly held a news conference, saying that Monday's arrest
was part of an internal crackdown on misconduct in the department, which
is responsible for supervising about 80,000 criminals who have been
released from jail or juvenile detention.
Chief Jerry Powers said
he was aware of other investigations and had begun to institute new
policies, such as requiring potential hires to undergo polygraph tests,
to root out the problem.
"There will be arrests in the future as
we continue to rid the department of these employees," Powers said.
"This is a very painful process but a necessary one."
Powers said he was particularly concerned with the level of crime found within the department.
have been doing this for 28 years and this is the largest [probation]
department in the country so I would expect some employees arrested for
driving under the influence," he said. But "I am particularly alarmed at
the number of high-level fraud [and] drug offenses."
some employees abused their county positions, Powers said, none harmed a
minor, misused public funds or compromised department operations.
the arrested employees, 20 were accused of driving under the influence;
seven of theft or fraud; five of violent crimes and three of drug
offenses. Information on the other arrests was not available.
was appointed chief last year by a Board of Supervisors that is eager
to reform a sprawling 30-office agency that has seen a revolving door of
leaders and is under federal oversight for misuse of force against
In a 2010 investigation, The Times identified at least
11 Los Angeles County juvenile probation officers who had been convicted
of crimes or disciplined for inappropriate conduct involving current or
former probationers, including several cases of molesting or beating
youths in their care.
Donald Blevins, who preceded Powers as
probation department chief for about two years until leaving under
pressure from county supervisors last year, said he was not surprised by
the number of arrests given the turmoil that the department has faced.
said that to comply with federal mandates to increase the number of
caseworkers, the department had to hire some employees without doing
proper background checks.
"We had people working for us who should
have never been hired in the first place," he said. "You look at this
as a cleansing process.... If you can't avoid getting arrested you have
no business being in law enforcement."
A six-year county employee, Washington is an ordained minister who was once an aide to retired Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke.
Did you all preorder the I-Phone 5!... these guys thought jail and a large bail was a small price!
Thanks to a quartet of Los Angeles thieves, we now know that the front end of a BMW X5
can make an effective battering ram against a Apple Store, which they
looted after busting through the front window, swiping as many i-goods
as possible and then fleeing. This is not how you pre-order an iPhone 5.
Police in Riverside County were holding Equonne R. Howard, 22, on
$600,000 bail and three theft charges, after he was apprehended
Wednesday morning hours after the attempted BMW-Apple integration.
According to police, the group hit the Santa Monica, Calif., Apple Store
about 5 a.m. on Sept. 6, in an attack that lasted less than two
minutes, using a 2003 BMW X5 as a door knocker.
State registration papers list Howard as the owner of the X5, and
police say he ditched it a couple of hours after the robbery due to two
flat tires; you can see in the video where the X5 repeatedly rams the
Apple Store's security gate and takes out some display tables trying to
escape. According to The Press-Enterprise, Howard is also accused of swiping a can of fix-a-flat from a 7-11 in a bid to reboot his getaway.
The three other Steve Jobs fanboys who lept from the SUV to swipe the
devices remain at large. Had they waited a week, they would have known
the iPhones they committed a felony to steal had their prices cut by
more than half with the introduction of the new iPhone 5 on Wednesday.
If caught, these geniuses will likely spend time behind a different set
CHULA VISTA, CA — BailNowSanDeigoCounty.com and BailNowBailBonds would like to report and inform our vistors of new crime updates in San Diego!...
A 22-year-old gang member suspected last week of trying to run down a Chula Vista police officer, who shot at him, has been arrested, authorities said Thursday.
Gerardo Rodriguez-Meza /Chula Vista Police Department
Gerardo Rodriguez Meza, 22, of Chula Vista, was taken into custody about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at a relative’s apartment in Colton in San Bernardino County where he fled after the Sept. 5 assault, Chula Vista police Lt. Lon Turner said.
He is suspected of trying to run down patrol Officer Glenn Gossett after Gossett tried to pull him over about 11:35 p.m. near Third Avenue and G Street, Capt. Gary Wedge said.
Meza pulled into an alley where he crashed into a wall, then made a sweeping U-turn and struck Gossett’s car, Wedge said.
He then revved the engine and aimed the Nissan Sentra directly at Gossett sped toward him, the captain said.
Gossett fired several shots at the vehicle, which was found abandoned about a block away.
No one was injured in the incident.
Two men and a 15-year-old boy were taken into custody. The men were later released and the teen was taken to Juvenile Hall and charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, Wedge said.
Meza is being held on $500,000 bail on charges of attempted murder of a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon, and weapons charges. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.
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