Monday, August 29, 2016

Upland man sentenced to 106 years in state prison for sexually assaulting child

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.  An Upland man who sexually assaulted his young relative for seven years was sentenced Friday to 106 years to life in state prison.
Mario Hernandez, 59, was found guilty by a jury on June 3, 2016, of five counts:  three counts of Sodomy with a Child Aged 10 or Younger, one count of Oral Copulation with a Child Aged 10 or Younger, and one count of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child.
Hernandez, along with his wife, was the boy’s legal guardian. He began molesting the child shortly after he was placed at Hernandez’ home at age 3.  The sexual assaults continued until the victim was 10, when he finally disclosed to school friends that he was being molested.
According to Deputy District Attorney Karen Schmauss, who prosecuted the case, Hernandez withheld food and privileges from the victim unless he submitted to sexual acts, saying, “You owe me.”
“He would also refuse to sign the boy’s school planner if he did not cooperate,” Schmauss said. “As the victim grew older, Hernandez threatened harm to the boy and his brother if they told anyone.”
While sentencing Hernandez to the maximum possible sentence under the law, Judge Stanford Reichert, who presided over the trial, commented, “The crimes showed a high degree of cruelty, viciousness and callousness.”
The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s courtroom comfort dog, Lupe, assisted both the victim and his brother during their courtroom testimony. This trial was the first in the county to use the comfort dog during a jury trial.
“This defendant will never again hurt a child,” Schmauss said.  “The victim has been returned to the custody of his father and stepmother and is doing well.”

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dozer gets a taste of his first ice cream social...

The Peer Support volunteers held another Ice Cream Social today--this time for the Desert Division. Dozer from our Special Victims K-9 Unit was first in line!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Chief Deputy District Attorney Clark Hansen Retires

Congratulations to Chief Deputy District Attorney Clark Hansen for 32+ years of service to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office. Today is his last official day. Thank you for your contributions to the office and for fighting for justice on behalf of victims and the citizens of San Bernardino County.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Big 2016 Fraud Fighting Conference

Members of the SBCDA Workers Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit attended the 2016 Fraud Fighting Conference. From left to right: DDA Scott Byrd, DDA Michael Chiriatti and Lead DDA David Simon

On Thursday and Friday, the Workers' Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit, in association with the Employers’ Fraud Task Force and the law firm of Floyd, Skeren & Kelly, LLC, hosted the Big 2016 Fraud Fighting Conference at the Pala Casino Resort in Pala, California.

According to Lead Deputy District Attorney David Simon, who oversees the unit, there were approximately 150 attendees and a dozen vendors and exhibitors who attended the two-day conference.

During the conference, the Employers Fraud Task Force awarded the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office the 2016 Community Service Award for providing much-need training in order to identify and report fraud and inspiring audiences to continue the conversation about collaborative solutions to combat criminal behavior.
Approximately 150 people attended the two-day conference
Topics at the conference included a discussion by investigators, both private, local, and state, as to the nature of criminal fraud investigations; the conducting of depositions in cases where fraud is suspected; how fraud-fighting is funded on the local and state level; the “Underground Economy” and its relationship to insurance fraud; a case study of a local complex prosecution of provider fraud, and talks by some State officials as to how the fraud-fighting community can come together and achieve their goals.
Members of the Worker's Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit accept the 2016 Community Service Award

DDA Michael Chiriatti discusses the Underground Economy on Day 2 of the conference

"The participants came together with the understanding that fighting fraud in the Workers’ Compensation System requires a team effort," said Simon. "All the disparate agencies must be able to work together, with a clear understanding of the functions and responsibilities of their sister agencies, in order to most effectively and efficiently combat this serious problem in California. It was with this in mind, and to this end, that the conference was organized."

Chief Deputy District Attorney Gary Fagan was one of three keynote speakers on Day 1 of the conference who discussed how to fund the fight against fraud

Participating agencies included: Members of the San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange County District Attorneys’ Offices, the California Department of Insurance – Fraud Division, the Department of Industrial Relations, the Labor Enforcement Task Force, and other agencies, as well as several workers’ compensation insurers, including the State Compensation Insurance Fund, and their Third Party Administrators and Special Investigations Units.

Monday, August 15, 2016

IN THE COMMUNITY: Chinese college students learn about the American legal system

Deputy District Attorney Connie Lasky (pictured center) looks on as the jury is
sworn in during a mock trial Thursday.

Deputy District Attorney Connie Lasky spoke to a group of Chinese college students visiting from Northwest University in China Thursday about the American legal system.
"Students conducted a scripted mock trial where they got to play all the roles and then half of them acted as jurors and decided the case," said Lasky, who is assigned to the Lifer Parole Unit. 
Every year, students from the university travel to the United States and stay with American host families in the High Desert. They spend their two weeks here in class, learning about American careers and touring places like the City of Hope, the fire station and a 911 call center.
According to Lasky, they also perform community service at the Victor Valley Rescue Mission or Forever Wild Animal Sanctuary.

Monday, August 8, 2016

IN THE NEWS: Second Swank brother convicted of National Guardsman's murder

By Matthew Cabe Staff Writer
Posted Aug. 5, 2016 at 4:44 PM

VICTORVILLE — The man painted as the mastermind behind the 2014 murder of a Barstow National Guardsman has been convicted.

A jury found Wesley Swank, 29, guilty of murder and attempted murder Wednesday, after less than two hours of deliberation and a trial that lasted six days. Sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 30.

Swank could face life without the possibility of parole, per California law.

On Sept. 29, 2014, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials found the body of Daniel Yarbrough, 31, after responding to a report of shots heard near the 16200 block of Muni Road in Apple Valley, according to a previous Daily Press report.

Yarbrough — who lived in Victorville and served with a National Guard unit in Barstow — was discovered in a white sedan. He had gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Swank was arrested in January in Apple Valley in connection to the murder after he and his younger brother Logan were fingered as suspects by the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Detail.

Logan Swank, 21, was arrested by U.S. Marshals in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 29, 2015.

Both brothers pleaded not guilty to murder charges, as well as to attempted murder charges in connection to a previous attempt on Yarbrough’s life that took place 12 days before he was killed.

Logan Swank was convicted last November and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in February.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Ice Cream Social

There was a huge turnout yesterday for the Central/303 Division Ice Cream Social hosted by the Peer Support Volunteers. See below for future dates coming soon!

COMMENTARY IN THE NEWS: Bill gives victims better chance of justice

By Connie M. Leyva and Michael A. Ramos

Over 30 years ago, a young woman was kidnapped and violently raped in a nearby Southern California county. Though there was no known suspect for many years, a suspect was finally identified through a DNA hit, which gave the survivor hope that the rapist would finally be held accountable.

Unfortunately, by the time the rape kit was tested and the suspect identified, the statute of limitations on rape had run out — which is only 10 years in most cases in California.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only two in 100 rapists will be convicted of a felony and spend any time in prison. The other 98 percent will never be punished for their crimes. The fact that the vast majority of rapists will never see the inside of a prison cell is motivation enough for us to fight against this gross injustice and finally change this California law once and for all.

As the author and co-sponsor of the “Justice for Victims Act,” we fundamentally believe that justice for rape victims should never have an expiration date. Senate Bill 813 would correct this longstanding injustice by preventing rapists and sexual predators from evading legal consequences simply because of a seemingly arbitrary statute of limitations. It’s simple: Survivors of sexual assault should always have the ability to seek justice in a court of law, even years after the alleged crime was committed.

Prosecutors would still have to meet the very high burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict and send a rapist to prison. This bill would simply offer survivors more time to come to terms with the horrible crime committed against them, summon up the courage to reach out to authorities and then give prosecutors the time necessary to collect and prepare evidence in advance of filing formal charges against the assailant.

SB 813 is currently in the final stages of its legislative journey and will then hopefully — in the coming days — reach Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk where he will consider signing the bill into law. The “Justice for Victims Act” has earned strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and Assembly, with many legislative coauthors and committed supporters strongly backing the measure. We thank California Women’s Law Center Executive Director Betsy Butler, women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, Assemblyman Mike Gipson and countless other supporters for standing squarely on the side of justice for victims.

SB 813 solidly reinforces California’s commitment to standing with women, as they represent the vast majority of rape and sexual assault survivors. It also clearly articulates our obligation to promote public safety, protect our neighborhoods and communities and ensure justice for all. This bill has provoked strong passions and many tears along the way, but all with the ultimate hope that SB 813 will finally right this wrong that has shut the doors of justice in the face of far too many rape victims in years past.

As elected officials representing the Inland Empire, we both remain committed to fighting for safer homes and communities — and the “Justice for Victims Act” is a vital part of creating a more responsive and just legal system that fights to protect the rights of victims across our great state. State Sen. Connie M. Leyva, D-Chino, represents the 20th Senate District. Michael A. Ramos is San Bernardino County district attorney; he is president of the National District Attorneys Association and is one of three members appointed by the governor to the California Victim Compensation Board.

Do Not Drink And Drive

Great work by Deputy District Attorney Pierpaolo Repetto
who secured a guilty verdict in his DUI case!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Rialto man who sexually assaulted 15-year-old girl sentenced to 155 years in state prison

Carlos Hernandez (Booking Photo)
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Rialto man who sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl over a two year period was sentenced yesterday to 155 years in state prison.

Carlos Hernandez, 35, was found guilty by a jury on April 20, 2016, of five counts of Forcible Rape-Child Victim Over 14 Years, five counts of Forcible Oral Copulation-Minor Victim Over 14 Years, and five counts of Sexual Penetration By Foreign Object-Minor Over 14 Years.

On Oct. 9, 2013, a detective from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department met with the then 18-year-old victim in this case (who will be referred to as Jane Doe) at the Pico Rivera Police Station.

Jane Doe was there to report that she had been sexually assaulted by her older sister’s husband, Carlos Hernandez, over the prior 2 years. Jane Doe was 15 at the time the assaults began, and Hernandez was 30-years-old. A Detective from the Rialto Police Department also became involved in the investigation once Jane Doe disclosed that some of the sexual assaults occurred in the City of Rialto.

The first assault took place in Rialto on Aug. 2, 2011, when Jane Doe was staying at her sister’s and brother-in-law’s house for a couple of weeks during her summer break from high school. During that first incident, Hernandez came into the guest room where Jane Doe was staying and began rubbing her thigh.

Despite her attempts to tell him “no” and push him away, he eventually forced his hand down her pants.

“Jane Doe never screamed for fear that her young niece and nephew would walk into the room and see what their Dad was doing to their Aunt,” said Deputy District Attorney Morrissa Cardoza, who prosecuted the case. “She was too afraid to tell her sister and break up what appeared to be a happy family, so she continued to keep the Defendant’s secret.”

The next night, the Defendant came back into her room, but this time his behavior escalated. The Defendant raped Jane Doe that night, and for the next four nights. Similar sexual assaults continued until Jane Doe was approximately 17-years-old, in both Rialto and in Los Angeles County where she lived with her parents.

According to Cardoza, Jane Doe was on the stand for six days during the almost ten week-long trial, and although Hernandez took the stand and adamantly denied all the allegations against him, the jury convicted him of 15 separate counts of various sexual assaults.

This case was investigated by the Rialto Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

National Night Out

Last night, members from the Bureau of Victim Services participated in National Night Out at various locations throughout the county.

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community
partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live.