Thursday, January 28, 2016

DA's Office hosts Terrorism Liaison Officer Training by JRIC (Joint Regional Intelligence Center)

PICTURED LEFT: JRIC Instructor Hal Kempfer and SBDA Terrorism Liaison Officer Phil Suchowski at TLO Training Course at DA Headquarters on 01/27/16.

"The partnership between the public safety agencies in our region became very evident in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015," said Senior Investigator Phil Suchowski, who helped set up the training. "Our DA and our agency has remained committed to the Terrorism Liaison Officer Program and the expansion of those partnerships in the mission against terrorism. We are proud to have hosted this training with the Joint Regional Intelligence Center and to support all of our partners in the protection of our communities."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hemet man arraigned on workers’ comp charges

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Hemet man was arraigned on insurance fraud charges Thursday following an investigation conducted by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit.

Raymond Chastain, 23, is charged with one felony count of Insurance Fraud.

On Oct. 26, 2012, Chastain filed a workers’ compensation claim alleging that he sustained injuries while performing his job duties as a worker for TPG Staffing.

“Our investigation revealed that Mr. Chastain failed to report additional earned income while receiving total temporary disability benefits,” said Senior District Attorney Investigator Rodney Tamparong, who is assigned to the case.

After obtaining an arrest warrant, investigators arrested Chastain at his place of residence in Nov. 2015. He was booked into the West Valley Detention Center on $50,000 bail.

This case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Scott Byrd.

If you suspect Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud or believe you are a victim of workers’ compensation insurance fraud in San Bernardino County, contact the District Attorney’s Office at or call (909) 891-3523.

Monday, January 25, 2016

IN THE NEWS: Ontario man sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for killing girlfriend’s 2-year-old son

By Beatriz Valenzuela, San Bernardino Sun

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> An Ontario man was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Thursday morning for the beating death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son while the man was caring for the ill child.

“I don’t wish physical harm to Michael Lucero, I don’t wish death on him,” said Cynthia Taccati, grandmother of Xzavier Taccati, the child Lucero was found guilty Sept. 21 of killing in April 2013, in a victim statement before the court. “But what I do wish for is that he never forget Xzavier. ... I want him to remember everyday why he was convicted.”

Taccati and her daughter, Xzavier’s mother Olivia Taccati, stood side-by-side in the West Valley Superior courtroom with a friend as Cynthia Taccati gave her victim impact statement. The three women held each other as Lucero, seated with his lawyers – one of whom is his father, Michael Lucero, Sr. — stared blankly and showed little emotion during the sentencing hearing.

A jury had deliberated for five hours before finding Lucero guilty of the crime, officials said.

Lucero was brought into the courtroom wearing a green jumpsuit — an indication he’s in protective custody — for the proceedings.

“Instead of planning his third birthday, we were planning his funeral,” Cynthia Taccati told the court.

“They say time heals all wounds. It doesn’t. It really doesn’t,” she said. “Pain is the only feeling left on most days.”

“I think evil came into our lives in the form of Michael Lucero,” Taccati said. “Xzavier would’ve been in first grade this year.”

Tears made her stop.

Taccati said Lucero’s sentence is nothing compared to the ones he hand-delivered to her and his mother, she said.

She added that she wants Xzavier’s picture to hang in his cell so the 22-year-old former Marine reservist could remember the little boy he killed, a little boy she and other family members said was full of life and always had a large smile and fistbump for everyone he met.

“I have never met a child so charismatic, unique, intuitive and happy,” said Xzavier’s godmother, Heather Maroj.

At trial, Deputy District Attorney Karen Schmauss presented evidence that Lucero took care of the boy while his girlfriend was at work, a situation that appears to have caused some tension. In the days leading up to Xzavier’s death, Lucero complained in text messages about having to clean up after the ill child when he threw up. He was also angry at the mother for staying at work later than he wanted her to, a reoccurring theme in their relationship.

In April 2013, Xzavier was taken to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Ontario after he lost consciousness at his home in the 1100 block of East Philadelphia Street, according to police reports. He was later transferred to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he died following emergency surgery.

Investigators determined the boy had been hit in the head and stomach, officials said. Dr. Frank Sheridan, the county’s chief medical examiner, testified that Xzavier suffered a skull fracture with a subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhage to the brain, causing his brain to swell, according to a statement from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.

Sheridan testified Xzavier was either hit with a heavy object or had his head slammed against something. Xzavier also suffered a previous injury, a laceration of the pancreas and damage to his bowel, caused by blunt force from a strong blow to the abdomen.

It also came to light during the trial that Lucero had physically attacked and threatened Olivia Taccati.

According to the probation report, soon after Xzavier was taken to the hospital, Lucero told the young mother to tell police she had “punished him.”

Schmauss said she didn’t see “one speck of remorse” from Lucero during the trial.

Click here to read the full story.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Michigan man sentenced to 135 years in state prison for multiple counts of child sexual assault

Edward Thomas (Booking Photo)
A Michigan man was sentenced yesterday to 135 years to life in state prison for sexually assaulting his biological daughter.

After deliberating for less than one hour, a jury found 53-year-old Edward Thomas guilty last month of nine counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child.

The charges stem from multiple incidents dating back to 1995 when the victim, Jane Doe, was approximately 5 years old. The abuse went on until she was approximately 15 years old, but Jane Doe never told anyone, including her mother, Lucy.

“Due to fears that there could potentially be more victims, Jane Doe was finally able to disclose the terrible abuse she endured for over ten years,” said Deputy District Attorney Morrissa Cardoza, who prosecuted the case.

When Jane Doe finally disclosed to her mom in 2013, Lucy wrote the defendant a letter confronting him about what Jane Doe told her, to which he responded by apologizing for everything and begging for forgiveness.

According to DDA Cardoza, the defendant was living in Michigan when the case came to light, so detectives from the Fontana Police Department flew out to interview him, and again, the defendant confessed. 

“However, he was unwilling to plead guilty because he was charged with aggravated sexual assaults, and he always maintained that none of the molestation was forcible,” DDA Cardoza said.

The victim, Jane Doe, is now 25 years old and proudly serving as an active member of the United States Army.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

San Bernardino County’s fight against Human Trafficking began in early 2009, after District Attorney Mike Ramos answered a local news reporter’s plea to help young victims of child exploitation.

“He said he had heard enough of my harping for a leader to come forward in the campaign against child sexual abuse, so he decided to be that leader,” said San Bernardino County Sun staff writer Wesley G. Hughes.

In Feb. 2009, DA Ramos sent the following email to Hughes:

“… Wes, Thank you for keeping this issue on the front burner. We have been fighting this issue for months and you have noted my lawyers take this very serious. I had a meeting with all my staff involved including my Chief Deputies Friday and we are meeting with the Board Chairman today. I am going to use all my DA's resources to get all county government agencies involved.”

The following month, the first public meeting of the Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) took place and the county has been going strong ever since, tackling this problem at every level.

While there are several countywide agencies committed to combatting human trafficking, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office strengthened its zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking in Jan. 2013.

Following the premiers of a 45-min. documentary aimed at generating awareness about the sexual exploitation of minors in San Bernardino County, DA Ramos announced the formation of the Human Trafficking Vertical Prosecution Unit and the implementation of the “Stop the John” Project, in which the office posts online the names and photographs of those defendants convicted of solicitation in San Bernardino County.

In 2014, District Attorney Mike Ramos and Sheriff John McMahon also created the county’s first Human Trafficking Joint Investigative Task Force. The Sheriff provided the infrastructure and a Detective for the Task Force, and the District Attorney’s Office provided a Senior Investigator from our Bureau of Investigation. To date, the task force has made over 300 arrests and assisted 75 victims.