Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Issue 42, Volume 14.
RIVERSIDE – A bail bondsman who allegedly abducted a customer at gunpoint and held him until he paid off a debt pleaded not guilty today to felony charges.
Damion Paul Perkins, 36, is charged with kidnapping for ransom, assault with a deadly weapon and using a firearm during a felony.
He’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
Perkins appeared today with his attorney before Riverside County Superior Court Judge James T. Warren, who set a felony settlement conference in the case for Nov. 2.
An investigation into the alleged abduction was initiated last month by the California Department of Insurance, which licenses bail agents.
Officials said that in July of this year, Riverside-based Bail Bonds United, co-owned by the defendant, posted a bond for a man who failed to pay the up-front premium on the surety after being released from jail.
With the help of an unidentified male accomplice, Perkins went to the customer’s residence on Aug. 9 to collect the debt and allegedly ordered the victim out of his home at gunpoint in front of his children, authorities said.
Perkins allegedly handcuffed the man and placed him in the back of his vehicle, then drove around, demanding that the victim come up with assets to satisfy the unpaid premium, according to the DOI.
The man eventually obtained additional money and illegal drugs from his family, which he turned over to Perkins as payment, prompting the defendant to release him, officials alleged.
If convicted, Perkins could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“Bail bond agents must abide by the law when they collect payments from customers — and they definitely may not kidnap their clients at gunpoint, or else they will wind up behind bars, requiring the services of their own bail bond agent,” California Advertisement
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said earlier this week.
California governor allows warrantless search of cell phones
- Governor vetoes a bill requiring police to get a warrant to search an arrested person’s phone
- Authorities could search someone’s texts, chat logs, photos, search history and more
- California legislators must wait a year before reintroducing the bill
Editor’s note: Amy Gahran writes about mobile tech for CNN.com. She is a San Francisco Bay Area writer and media consultant whose blog, Contentious.com, explores how people communicate in the online age.
(CNN) — California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have prohibited police in that state from conducting warrantless searches of the cell phones of people under arrest.
“This measure would overturn a California Supreme Court decision that held that police officers can lawfully search the cell phones of people who they arrest,” the governor’s brief statement said. “The courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizures protections.”
The veto dismayed privacy advocates and others who said it could allow overzealous authorities to trample citizens’ constitutional rights.
California Sen. Mark Leno, who sponsored the bill (SB 914), responded: “This veto is very unfortunate. The message from the governor was rather incoherent. When you consider all the information that is accessible on one smartphone, if that same information was contained anywhere else police would need a warrant to search for it. So it makes no sense to carve out a legal exception for smartphone searches.”
According to California Assembly rules, state legislators must wait a year before attempting to reintroduce this legislation.
Over the summer, SB 914 unanimously passed the California legislature. The bill would have protected against the warrantless search of personal and private information contained in the cell phones of people who have been arrested.
This bill was inspired by a California Supreme Court ruling in January in the case of Gregory Diaz. After his 2007 drug-related arrest, an officer with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department checked the text messages on Diaz’s phone and found incriminating messages.
That state court ruling has privacy implications that reach far beyond text messages. It allows police in California to access any data stored on an arrestee’s phone: photos, address book, Web-browsing history, data stored in apps (including social media apps), voicemail messages, search history, chat logs, and more. Also, depending on the use of location-enabled services or apps that store data on the phone, the police might also be able to infer the arrestee’s past whereabouts.
On October 3, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition to hear the Diaz case. So with the governor’s veto, the state court ruling stands as law in California.
In a blog post about the California veto, law professor Orin Kerr contended that “Governor Brown has it exactly backwards” because legislatures tend to move far more quickly than the courts — an important advantage when dealing with issues that involve fast-changing technology.
Kerr also pointed out that there’s a conflict of interest when the executive branch, which oversees law enforcement in the state, is in a position to block laws that would limit the powers of law enforcement.
What happens next? Hanni Fakhoury, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (which has been supporting the California bill, and following this issue nationwide) expects an increase in law enforcement “fishing expeditions” involving cell phones.
“I think we’ll probably start to see more questionable searches of cell phones in arrests that have nothing to do with cell phones,” he said.
He cited a recent case before California’s 6th Appellate Court in Silicon Valley, where police pulled over a driver expected of driving under the influence. Once they’d arrested the suspect, they searched his cell phone and found evidence indicating possible drug trafficking activity that was unrelated to the original arrest premise. The court supported this search, so evidence from the phone was legally used in the case.
Aside from Fourth Amendment concerns about self-incrimination, Fakhoury and Leno both observed that this veto poses clear concerns for First Amendment and press freedoms in California — and perhaps elsewhere, as other state governments and courts decide what to do about warrantless cell phone searches.
Noting how much the Occupy Wall Street protestors are using cell phones to organize and publicize the demonstrations spreading around the United States, Fakhoury said, “California police might decide to arrest you for disturbing the peace, or illegal camping, and then check your phone and see messages coming through from organizers.”
Said Leno, “Reporters who are covering protests and other events that attract police attention should be concerned about getting arrested and then having the info they gathered, including info about sources, ending up in police hands.”
Since several states are wrestling with this issue, Fakhoury expects it will likely end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
But in the meantime, if you’re in California and are concerned about privacy and your constitutional rights, it’s a good idea to protect your cell phone and other electronic devices with a password or encryption.
In our January story on warrantless cell phone searches, Catherine Crump of the American Civil Liberties Union told CNN that if you keep your phone locked, “The police can ask you to unlock your phone — which many people will do. But they almost certainly cannot compel you to unlock your phone without the involvement of a judge.”
The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of Amy Gahran.
O.C. woman accused of sex with 12-year-old boy
A 43-year-old Fountain Valley woman was charged with having sex with a 12-year-old boy who was her son’s friend, authorities said Thursday afternoon.Patricia Ann Serrano is charged with three felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 with a sentencing enhancement for substantial sexual conduct with a child, the Orange County district attorney’s office said. She is scheduled for a continued arraignment Friday.
In October, Serrano allegedly had sex with the boy twice — in a car and in her home, according to the district attorney’ office.
The boy’s mother discovered Serrano in a room with the victim. Serrano had allegedly been kissing the boy, but the mother did not observe any wrongdoing, the district attorney’s office said. The mother became suspicious and alerted police.
Serrano was arrested Tuesday by Fountain Valley police officers. Serrano, who was being held in lieu of $100,000 bond, is scheduled to appear tomorrow at the West Justice Center in Westminster.
Prosecutors said the case is ongoing and asked anyone with information to call Investigator Lou Gutierrez at (714) 347-8794 or Det. Jesse Hughes at (714) 593-4480.
November 3rd, 2011, 2:14 pm · · posted by Andrew Galvin
Santa Ana Superior Care, a marijuana dispensary at 321 W. Seventeenth St., has been closed since sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant last month.
According to an affidavit by sheriff’s investigator Howard J. McCulloch, the dispensary on two occasions sold marijuana to an undercover officer who had a doctor’s recommendation, without telling the officer to perform any duties or to participate in cooperatively or collectively cultivating marijuana.
Distribution of marijuana to an individual who has a recommendation but no other relationship with the distributor amounts to an illegal sale of marijuana, which is not permitted under California law, McCulloch wrote.
Sheriff’s Capt. Adam Powell said deputies are continuing their investigation and will forward their findings to the District Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution.
Residents have complained about a proliferation of marijuana dispensaries along Seventeenth Street.
Such dispensaries are prohibited in Santa Ana by a city land-use ordinance. However, there are dozens of dispensaries operating in the city. Enforcement of the ordinance is handled by the city’s code enforcement staff. Persistent violators are referred for possible civil or criminal litigation.
“We’ve tried to be more efficient in our enforcement by first issuing administrative citations to the business owner and landlord, rather than hauling every dispensary into court, which would be costly and time consuming,” said Jay Trevino, executive director of the city’s Planning & Building Agency, which handles code enforcement. “Our approach often results in quicker compliance – one dispensary closed the same day.”
“Our experience is that landlords are often unaware of the real nature of the business who rented their building – and when they find out after getting an administrative citation from the city will frequently ask the tenants to leave,” Trevino said.
“Administrative citations begin with a firm warning, but quickly escalate into $100, then $200 and then $500 daily fines if the tenant and landlord do not comply,” Trevino said.
However, Trevino said, “Like many cities, we sometimes find dispensaries that, once we’ve closed them down, just open again in another location.”
The investigation into Santa Ana Superior Care began as “something that we came across” during work on similar investigations in Orange County, Powell said. “It happened to cross jurisdictions,” he said, because the shop is located in Santa Ana, which has its own police department.
Santa Ana police typically don’t investigate marijuana dispensaries because it is a zoning issue handled by code enforcement staff, said Santa Ana Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
According to McCulloch’s affidavit, one of the operators of Santa Ana Superior Care was Hank John Cousine, 51. Cousine is a former Los Angeles police officer, Powell said.
A Hank Cousine, a 15-year LAPD veteran, was fired for allegedly participating in a pyramid scheme in 1998, according to a 2004 article by the Los Angeles Times. In 1991, a Hank Cousine had been identified as one of the LAPD’s 44 “problem officers” by the Christopher Commission on the basis of citizen complaints, shootings, and other criteria, the Times said.
The other operator of Santa Ana Superior Care was Ryan Aparicio Mondragon, 29, according to McCulloch’s affidavit.
Attempts to reach Cousine and Mondragon for comment were unsuccessful.
In their Oct. 21 search of Santa Ana Superior Care, deputies seized marijuana, records, and $16,728 in currency, according to the warrant.
–Register intern Kjellrun Owens contributed to this report.
Published: Nov. 3, 2011 Updated: 3:25 p.m.
Man suspected of running over officer sought
By DENISSE SALAZAR and SALVADOR HERNANDEZ / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Officers have been looking for Gonzalez since the incident occurred at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, when the motorcycle officer pulled over the green Infiniti with no plates near 13321 Brookhurst Ave.
Garden Grove police Lt. Jeff Nightengale said officers checked a residence in Orange County and one in the Inland Empire but did not find Gonzalez.
Authorities said they did not know what caused Gonzalez to flee. Investigators have searched his record and have not found any warrants or obvious reasons why he would have fled, Nightengale said, adding that the Infiniti he was driving was not believed to be stolen.
The 35-year-old officer, a 10-year veteran of the Garden Grove Police Department suffered moderate injuries and remained hospitalized as of 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nightengale said.
The incident began when the motorcycle officer pulled over Gonzalez and noticed he was not wearing a seat belt. The officer was writing a ticket when he observed Gonzalez acting strangely, Nightengale said.
“The guy starts acting nervous, so (the officer) asked him to step out of the car,” he said.
The driver’s behavior led the officer to believe something else might be wrong, and the officer patted down the driver after he got out of the car, Nightengale said.
While the car was stopped in the parking lot of a shopping center, the officer radioed for backup when the driver ran back toward the car’s open door and got into the vehicle.
“They start struggling at the door,” Nightengale said.
As the two men struggled at the driver’s side of the car, the driver was able to put the car in reverse, Nightengale said. With the door open, the car knocked down the officer as he tried to get the driver to stop.
“Then he put the car in drive and drives over the officer’s legs,” Nightengale said.
Anyone with information was asked to call police at 714-741-5704.
Contact the writer: 714-704-3709 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 31, 2011
Use of Drunk Driving Suspect’s DNA Not a Search, C.A. Says
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Police who used a drunk driving suspect’s DNA sample to tie him to a string of burglaries did not violate his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled Friday.
Div. Four affirmed Troy Corsby Thomas’ conviction and 17-year sentence for residential burglary. Thomas pled no contest to a single burglary count under a plea agreement following the denial of his motion to suppress.
Prosecutors charged Thomas with six counts of residential burglary following a 2008 traffic stop. Evidence presented at the suppression hearing established that he consented to a breath test, and passed all sobriety tests and was released.
Police, however, preserved the mouthpiece of the testing device; testing of the mouthpiece linked Thomas—who had previously been placed under surveillance as a result of an anonymous tip and whose photograph was identified by a witness to a burglary—to two burglaries and led to his arrest.
Following the arrest, police obtained another DNA sample, which linked him to three more burglaries. They also obtained a warrant to search his home, finding additional evidence.
Based on the DNA evidence, and the photographic identification, Thomas was charged with six burglaries.
Appealing his conviction following the plea, he argued that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Antonio Barreto Jr. should have suppressed the DNA and all resulting evidence. He argued that police violated his reasonable expectation of privacy in the saliva he deposited on the mouthpiece of the PAS breath testing device.
But Presiding Justice Norman Epstein agreed with the trial judge that Thomas had no such expectation of privacy because he did not ask the police to give him the mouthpiece and did not ask what they intended to do with it. The sample was voluntarily given, the jurist said, and its subsequent testing was not a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.
The presiding justice cited People v. Gallego (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 388, holding that a murder suspect lacked a reasonable expectation of privacy in a DNA sample obtained from a cigarette butt because the defendant had abandoned it by tossing it onto a sidewalk.
Thomas, Epstein said, similarly abandoned any reasonable expectation of privacy in his saliva “when he failed to wipe it off” the device. Instead, he left it on a device belonging to the police, and thereby made it accessible to them, rendering any privacy expectation unreasonable, the presiding justice wrote.
Epstein distinguished cases in other states holding that genetic testing of blood samples, given by drivers under implied consent laws similar to California’s, is not permitted. Those cases, the jurist explained, are based on the premise that testing exceeds the scope of the driver’s consent or the scope of the statute.
In Thomas’ case, however, the testing of his saliva was “a mere incident to the PAS test,” and was not dependent on express or implied consent, Epstein said. He added that this was not a case of “fraud and deceit,” as the defense contended, because Thomas took the test voluntarily, was lawfully stopped, and knew that he was dealing with the police and giving them a breath sample in connection with a possible criminal investigation.
Attorneys on appeal were Ralph H. Goldsen, by appointment, for the defendant and Deputy Attorneys General Susan Sullivan Pithey and Mary Sanchez for the prosecution.
The case is People v. Thomas, B228049.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company
DUI Checkpoint on Sunset Blvd & Bronson just east of the 101 8p-2a
Corner of Baker & Bristol
Jurors are usually sympathetic toward police officers and even when prosecutors get a conviction, the sentence may be reduced.
Murder charges against on-duty police officers — such as the one announced by Orange County prosecutors in the Fullerton beating case — are rarely filed, and successful prosecutions in such cases are almost unheard of in California.
Legal experts said jurors who are naturally sympathetic toward law enforcement are not easily persuaded that an officer has committed the ultimate crime, even after seeing video of the death.
There will be a DUI checkpoint Friday night in San Juan Capistrano.
From 6:30 p.m. until 2:30 a.m., the Orange County Sheriff’s Department will also be on the lookout for unlicensed drivers.
Chad the Bail Guy
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