Tuesday, November 25, 2014

District Attorney Ramos named statewide CNOA Prosecutor of the Year

Executive Director Joe Stewart (pictured left) and President Steve Riddle (pictured right) present District Attorney Ramos with CNOA Prosecutor of the Year Award

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – District Attorney Mike Ramos has been named statewide “Prosecutor of the Year” by the California Narcotics Officers’ Association (CNOA).
Ramos was honored Saturday afternoon at the Anaheim Hilton at the Opening Session of the CNOA 50th Annual Training Institute.
According to CNOA, the award was established to identify, recognize, and honor prosecutors throughout California who are committed to the strong enforcement of narcotic laws. This person should be selected on basis of a long-standing record of contributions, or for his or her extraordinary efforts as a prosecutor.
The award was presented by Executive Director Joe Stewart who alluded to the fact that during the early nineties, San Bernardino County was acknowledged as the “meth lab capitol” of California, and Mr. Ramos spent many of his formative years as a prosecutor learning how to try and convict narcotics traffickers and methamphetamine manufacturers. 
DA Ramos speaking to General Assembly prior to receiving award
“These experiences stuck with him during his three terms as the elected District Attorney and have influenced his current efforts to support narcotics investigators and do his part to help fight the war on drugs in San Bernardino County,” Stewart said.
Stewart also acknowledged Ramos’ efforts to combat local and transnational criminal street gangs involved in the illegal drug trade, his ongoing commitment to prevention and intervention programs and his recently-formed Crimes Against Peace Officers Prosecution Unit.
For Ramos, it was an honor to receive CNOA’s Prosecutor of the Year Award during the 50th Anniversary conference
District Attorney Ramos
“Everything we do in and out of the courtroom is based on teamwork and a shared vision of seeking justice on behalf of victims and making sure our communities our safe,” Ramos said. “This award is not only a testament to the hard work of my staff, but a reflection of the very investigations that make a successful prosecution possible in the first place. Thank you to CNOA and its members for this distinguished honor and for the work that they do fighting drug use and enforcing narcotic laws.”
The California Narcotic Officers' Association is a non-profit, corporation dedicated to providing high quality training for law enforcement professionals. Since 1964, CNOA has grown to become the largest non-profit Training Association in California, with over 7,000 members.

IN THE NEWS: Ex-teacher imprisoned for child molestation

Paul James Hultman, 58, Apple Valley
A 58-year-old pilot and ex-school teacher will be imprisoned for 48 years to life for sexually molesting three Apple Valley girls as young as 10, a San Bernardino Superior Court judge has decided.

Apple Valley resident Paul James Hultman drew the maximum term during his sentencing hearing Friday, Nov. 21, before Judge Eric Nakata.

Hultman was found guilty last April of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, molestation of a child aged 14 or 15, and two counts of molestation involving a child under the age of 14.

The girls were 10, 12 and 13 when the abuse began.

"This is every parent’s worst nightmare," Deputy District Attorney David Foy said in a written statement following the two-week trial. "The defendant befriended these girls and paid them to do chores around his house.

"Then, after gaining their trust, he paid them cash to perform sex acts."

Hultman was associated with the Sherwood Montessori School and the Sherwood Montessori House of Children, both in Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said in a written statement.

"Hultman's association with the schools stems from his previous marriage to the owner/licensee of both facilities," according to the statement.

Hultman moved to Apple Valley in 2007 and became a professional pilot, according to San Bernardino County prosecutors.

"According to trial testimony, he befriended an 8-year-old girl and her younger brother in 2009, buying them clothes and food, and paying them to do chores around his house," DA's spokesman Christopher Lee said in a written statement after Hultman's conviction. "In 2011, he asked the girl to introduce him to some of her friends."

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2014 Management & Leadership Academy Graduates

Congratulations to all of our 2014 MLA graduates for their accomplishment in completing the Management & Leadership Academy. This year-long course provides supervisors with the skills and knowledge needed to successfully transition into management positions, as well as opportunities to develop professional and personal leadership skills.
From Left to Right: Chief Deputy District Attorney Bruce Brown, Asst. District Attorney Mary Ashley, Supervising Deputy District Attorney David Hidalgo, Supervising Victim Advocate Barbara Rivera-Loa, Supervising Office Assistant Marcus Thomas, Chief Asst. District Attorney Michael Fermin, Supervising Deputy District Attorney William Lee, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Britt Imes, and Supervising Office Specialist Ann Marie Dunbar
From Left to Right: Chief Deputy District Attorney Bruce Brown, Asst. District Attorney Mary Ashley, Chief Deputy District Attorney Simon Umscheid and Chief Asst. District Attorney Michael Fermin

Office Assistant Organizes Holiday Donation Drive in Victorville

Tana Montgomery, who has been with the District Attorney’s
Office for 8 years, stands beside donated items.

When Office Assistant Tana Montgomery received the invitation offering staff a chance to participate in a holiday donation drive for those less fortunate, she jumped into action.

Montgomery, who is currently an OA III felony clerk assigned to Departments 2 and 4 and Animal Cruelty, started collecting a variety of items a month ago, and credits her success to the staff in Victorville.

“It warms my heart to help people during the holiday season,” Montgomery said. “There are a lot of homeless people without families to help them, so it’s great to get together as a team and help out those less fortunate.”

Montgomery collected items such as pet food and supplies, toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothing and food—all of which will be donated to two charities: Time for Change and the Helping Hands Pantry.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Chief Deputy District Attorney John P. Kochis retires after distinguished career with the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office

The Kochisean World Paradigm
Kent Williams

Deputy District Attorney

What I will always remember about John Kochis is his sense of diplomacy.  He has been a distinguished prosecutor for almost 40 years, but I think his real calling was in diplomacy.  He would have been an equal or better to James Baker or Madeline Albright.  It’s too bad our office doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Middle East—John would have everyone behaving in no time.  John generates this positive aura by displaying respect for everyone—yes, sometimes even for people who don’t fully deserve it.  But he always presumes the best about everyone and he gives everyone the benefit of the doubt.  When presented with information to the contrary, John takes it with a grain of salt.  His trademark phrase is “Well, the flip side of the coin is…”  John never made rash decisions.  He liked to mull things over and talk to just about everyone involved before he reached any conclusion—and even then his conclusions were often tentative.  He corrected issues by gentle nudges and by talks that were typically more encouraging than reprimanding.  John pretty much has lived by the axiom of “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.”  There has never been anything malicious in John’s character, but more importantly, there has never been anything petty.  He is a man of substance.  Every discussion was couched in a constructive, often humorous, light.  His was a reign of charisma rather than terror.

The essence of all of this was that everyone knew that John Kochis was absolutely going to preclude anything unfair from happening.  No one was going to get unfairly vilified or railroaded under his watch.  He never threw the baby out with the bathwater.  That’s an extremely important element to have in a chain of command. John exhibited maturity and confidence.  He had no need to make any personal statement or show of ego. Occasionally we wished he addressed issues more aggressively.  But, as with anyone, you have to take the good with the  bad.  With John, the good outweighed the bad by a factor of ten.  John enjoyed rigorous dissent, he was not threatened by it.  I don’t recall him ever becoming defensive, even when someone adamantly disagreed with him.  Actually, his main response to vocal dissent was to smile.  He liked “lightning rod” attorneys, as long as they were willing to try cases.  John was “old school” in that regard—active willingness to try cases was the currency of the kingdom for him.

John was a workaholic.  He was the classic “first in, last out” type of Supervisor and Chief.  John was never just “kicking back.”  He has been dealing with one major issue or another for as long as I’ve known him, and there was a visible intensity to his work.  But all you had to do was stick your head in his office and ask if he had a moment.  He would break free from his thought processes, smile, and invite you in.  He was never in the least sanctimonious or austere.  In fact, he was casual and warm. The most serious of conversations were augmented with anecdotes about families and movies and the condition of slopes and waves.  I appreciated my early discussions of cases with him. He really likes his lawyers to articulate their analyses rather than just operate off of generalities, instinct or hunch.  He expected us to comprehensively know the facts of our cases.  At the end of the discussion he was typically deferential to the line lawyer’s views and recommendations.  He readily acknowledged the assigned lawyer’s feel for their cases.  He ended every conversation with “Okay, go have fun.”  In his mind, the work we do here is not conventional, plodding work.  Seeking justice is fun.  You seek justice, and then you go surf or you go ski.  That’s pretty much the Kochisean World Paradigm.

When Jim Hackleman left a few years ago, someone mentioned the wealth of “institutional memory” he took with him.  The same thing is true now with John’s departure.  I was a sophomore in high school when John started with this office.  That seems like a lifetime ago to me.  He has seen countless twists and turns since then here in San Bernardino County.  Not the least of those twists and turns were Kevin Cooper and Phillip Lucero.  I saw John’s penalty-phase opening statement in Lucero—it was as meticulous as a Swiss watch and as potent as a missle.  It has set the standard in my mind for the balance of my career.

We knew it was just a matter of time before he departed.  He’s “been working for free,” as the saying goes, for quite some time.  John assures us that we’ll be fine with Bruce Brown and Bob Bulloch, and we will.  But I think we all know that the amazing “institutional memory” will now be on the slopes or the waves, instead of in that northwest-facing office waiting to untangle the latest issue or debacle.

Top Flight Prosecutor
 by James Hackleman
Assistant District Attorney (Retired)

You know that little guy in the tuxedo that they put on top of wedding cakes.  Few people know that John Kochis was the model for that fellow next to the gal in white.  John has always looked the part.  And in the courtroom, it was ever obvious who was the prosecutor.  Jurors paid attention to this good-looking, impeccably dressed attorney whose easy demeanor and command of the facts and the law resulted in their complete trust in him.  He developed into one of the Office’s top flight prosecutors.  He became an expert in Grand Jury procedures and has death penalty convictions to his credit, including Kevin Cooper, a case he continues to monitor and to tirelessly work on through all of its post-trial machinations.  When a critical case had to be won and done right, elected DAs turned to John.  He never let them down.

John was an obvious selection for supervision.  And as a Chief Deputy he successfully ran Central and then the West End for many years.  That trust that jurors gave him was the same trust he engendered with judges, police chiefs, public officials, and the citizens that he dealt with on a daily basis.  He was not an “office” Chief but was in the courthouse, in the trenches with his deputies, and had personal contact with the public and police.  With management he often presented unique insights that got us all to ponder, and his dry wit often got the better of us.  He was always a willing hand and carried many an important Office project to completion.  And from his first days in the Office until his last day today, John could pick up any file and present a beautiful case in the courtroom.  It is hard to picture a career as a prosecutor that could have been done better or a retirement better earned.  Along with my congratulations and best wishes, John has my sincere admiration.      

The Man Behind the Yellow Legal Pad
Karen Schmauss
Deputy District Attorney

I have known John Kochis for 36 years.  I started out covering his murder trials at the old courthouse in Ontario when I was a newspaper reporter.  After I joined the office in 1984, I began working for him.  The best lesson I learned from him is there is no substitute for preparation, preparation, preparation.  That is how cases are won – not so much by brilliant advocacy but by meticulous and thorough preparation. 

I can close my eyes and visualize his  “John writing,” in his neat, compact hand, as he filled yellow legal pad after yellow legal pad with notes and indexed them for use at trial.  He was a trial lawyer before there were personal computers, and his method served him well.  

As a supervisor and as a chief deputy, he was an excellent leader and role model, although it could be difficult to get an audience with him because he was so busy – after all, he’s been working on the Kevin Cooper capital case for 31 years!  His advice was always excellent.  I never saw him get angry or raise his voice at anyone.  John is truly an institution at the DA’s office and he will be very missed.

Monday, November 10, 2014

City of Highland honors Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Brooks

On March 9, 2005, Deputy DA Jennifer Brooks
was killed in an automobile collision in Highland while on her way to
work. Today, the City of Highland dedicated the new bridge over the
Santa Ana River on Greenspot Road in Jennifer’s name.
Highland Mayor Sam Racadio and members of the Highland City Council cut the ribbon on the new bridge

Native Sons of the Golden West Junior Past President Jim Smith and District Attorney Mike Ramos standing on the new bridge with the old bridge pictured in the background

District Attorney Ramos standing before the granite plaque chiseled with Jennifer Brooks' name

The mortar used to officially seal the plaque in Jennifer's name

DA Ramos speaking on behalf of the District Attorney's office about Jennifer's contributions to the office

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Welcome to our Newest Deputy District Attorney

Welcome to Pierpaolo Repetto, our newest Deputy District Attorney, who was sworn in this morning by Assistant District Attorney Michael Fermin.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

District Attorney's Office and the Sheriff's Department Receives CSAC Award for Campaign to End Human Trafficking

Sheriff John McMahon and Assistant District Attorney Gary Roth accept CSAC Award for Campaign to End Human Trafficking

Eighteen counties in California are being recognized this year with Challenge and Merit Awards.
The annual Challenge Awards program was created by CSAC in the mid-1990s. Since that time, it has grown in popularity.

The award-winning programs are just a sampling of the creativity and leadership demonstrated each day by our counties. More than entries were evaluated this year by an independent panel of judges closely affiliated with California counties and the programs and services they deliver.

The campaign strengthens the County’s zero-tolerance policy on Human Trafficking by creating a vertical prosecution unit and countywide task force and promoting awareness.

Problem or Challenge
Human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation have been a hidden plague on our county, state, and nation for many years.  In 2013 it became clear that the District Attorney’s Office needed to focus efforts on more effectively investigating and criminally prosecuting these ruthless exploiters. With the passage of Prop 35, which increased the penalty for human trafficking from an average of 6 years in prison to 15 years-life, the District Attorney had every intention of fully implementing the new law while holding those who were driving the demand for sexual exploitation accountable.

On January 18, 2013, the District Attorney’s Office announced several directives to strengthen its zero-tolerance policy on Human Trafficking at the premiere of a 45-minute documentary aimed at generating awareness about the sexual exploitation of minors:
  • Creation of Human Trafficking Vertical Prosecution Unit within the Office of the District Attorney comprised of 1 Deputy District Attorney, 1 Investigator, and 1 Victim Advocate.  
  • Formation of a countywide Human Trafficking Joint Investigative Task Force with the Sheriff’s Department that consists of a Senior DA Investigator and a Sheriff’s Deputy.
  • Implementation the “Stop-the-John” Project in which the District Attorney’s Office releases and posts online the names and photographs of defendants convicted of solicitation.  
  • Outreach with community members using the 45-minute documentary.