Thursday, April 27, 2017

Big Lots Stores, Inc. to pay $3.5 million to settle hazardous waste violations

District Attorney Mike Ramos, together with 34 other California District Attorneys and 2 City Attorneys, announced today that San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Bryan F. Foster has ordered Ohio-based company Big Lots Stores, Inc., and its subsidiary corporations, that own and operate Big Lots stores and a distribution center in Rancho Cucamonga, to pay $3,507,500 in civil penalties, costs, and supplemental environmental projects.

The judgment is the result of an investigation into Big Lots Stores’ unlawful disposal of hazardous waste at its distribution center and into trash bins at the 206 stores in California.

According to Deputy District Attorney Dan Lough, who was assigned to the case, Big Lots failed to properly handle hazardous waste at both the stores and distribution center.

“The hazardous waste included ignitable and corrosive liquids, toxic materials, batteries, electronic devices and other e-waste,” Deputy DA Lough said. “In some instances, the hazardous waste was the result of overstock or expired merchandise. In others, it was the result of spills, damaged containers, and customer returns.”

Instead of being transported to authorized hazardous waste facilities, the waste was deposited into the trash and illegally transported to local landfills not permitted to receive the waste.

"Companies that deal with hazardous waste are expected to fully comply with the rules and regulations that are meant to protect our citizens and the environment,” District Attorney Mike Ramos said. “Thanks to hard work and dedication of our Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit, we were able to once again hold another corporation accountable for their negligent actions and bring them into compliance with California’s environmental laws.”

Prosecutors alerted Big Lots to the violations, and the company was cooperative throughout the continued investigation. Under the settlement, Big Lots must pay $2,017,500 in civil penalties and $336,250 to reimburse the costs of investigation.

An additional $350,000 will fund supplemental environmental projects furthering environmental enforcement and consumer protection in California. Big Lots will also fund hazardous waste minimization and enhanced compliance projects valued at $803,750, and has adopted and implemented new policies and procedures and training programs designed to properly manage and dispose of hazardous waste.

The hazardous waste is now being collected by state-registered haulers who transport it to authorized disposal facilities, and disposal is now being properly documented.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Congratulations to Certificate of Excellence Recipient Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus

Debbie has tried all types of cases including murders and gang cases. But her passion is animals. She works tirelessly to prosecute those who hurt and abuse them. She has been the lead attorney of the office’s Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit since it was formed in April 2016, traveling all over the county to appear on her cases. She is also part of the County’s task force on animal abuse.

In 2016, she fought for a 16-month state prison sentence for a man who beat his girlfriend’s 8-week old pit bull puppy to intimidate her. She prosecuted one of the first cases in the country against a slaughterhouse that tortured cows before butchering them. She has handled numerous cock-fighting ring and dog-fighting cases, as well as horse neglect and animal hoarding. Among her cases that made the news was a man who fatally beat and dragged a Rottweiler on a leash and another who slammed wild rabbits to death.

Debbie frequently teaches other prosecutors, police and animal care officers on the subject of animal abuse. As well as the link between animal and domestic abuse. Animals cannot defend themselves, but they have Debbie on their side!

Monday, April 17, 2017

San Bernardino gang member sentenced to 80 years to life for murder

Juan Fuentes (Booking Photo)
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A documented gang member with a prior strike conviction has been sentenced to 80 years to life in state prison for the murder of 25-year-old Roy Craddock.

Juan Fuentes, 26, of San Bernardino, was sentenced Friday at the San Bernardino Justice Center by Superior Court Judge J. David Mazurek after being convicted of one count of Murder on March 27, 2014.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Jill Gregory, who was formerly assigned to the Central Division Gang Unit, prosecuted the case.

Prior to sentencing one of the victim’s family members addressed the judge:

“We do not understand how another human being, who 
Roy Craddock
bleeds just as we do, could be so quick to pull the trigger and take the life, the very last breath, last drop of blood from the most kind-hearted and loving human being to walk this earth… While we were standing over his casket waiting for him to wake up, give us a hug and tell us it was just a dream, his body never moved. After a while, we were all forced to realize that we were living in a nightmare.”

Statement of Facts

It was a rainy Friday morning—November 4, 2011. The body of a young man was found lying near the entrance of Muscoy Elementary school, with six close-range gunshot wounds to the head.

A custodian at the school came upon the scene of the crime just before school started and alerted authorities. The victim was identified as 25-year-old Roy Craddock, a lifelong resident of Muscoy, who had attended that very elementary school.

“Through interviews with the victim’s family, we were able to find out that the victim had called the night before just after eleven o’clock, asking to be picked up in the vicinity of the school,” said Gregory. 

Gregory added that although family members drove to the location immediately to pick him up, they were unable to locate him and he was not responding to repeated phone calls.  

Surveillance video from the school showed that the victim had passed by the front of the school at 11:19 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2011, and then doubled back towards the flagpole in front of the school as though two individuals there caught his attention.

“The shooting itself was caught on surveillance, although it was shadowy and dark enough to provide only a bare outline of what had occurred there,” said Gregory.  

After a month-long investigation by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Homicide Team, then-Sgt. Brad Toms and Detectives Landaeta, Johnson, Peterson and Cannon, questioned Fuentes, who was 20-years-old at the time.

Fuentes later admitted to investigators that he shot the victim, claiming self-defense.

According to Gregory, the surveillance video proved helpful in casting doubt on the defendant’s claim, as it showed the defendant’s contact with the victim to be under forty seconds in length.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fontana man sentenced to 42 years to life in prison for child sexual assault

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Eduardo Manila of Fontana was sentenced Tuesday to 42 years to life in state prison for multiple counts of child sexual assault related to three victims.
“My assault will be a part of me for the rest of my life, even though it might be done,” Jane Doe told Judge Mary E. Fuller at the sentencing hearing for 52-year-old Manila. “I will always have the reoccurring nightmare of the defendant touching me. I will have to live my life in a way now that I have the recurring question of, ‘Will I ever be able to trust anyone again?’”
On Feb. 9, 2016, a Rancho Cucamonga jury found Eduardo Manila guilty of 8 counts of Lewd Act Upon a Child and found true multiple victim allegations. The case dates back to Sept. 2014 when the 13-year-old victim (Jane Doe) disclosed to her grandparents that the defendant had fondled her when she spent the night at his home.
According to Deputy District Attorney Teresa Smith, who prosecuted the case, Jane Doe was friends with the defendant’s fiancĂ©’s 14-year-old daughter (Janet Doe) at the time the touching occurred.
“It was at that point, Janet Doe disclosed that she, too, had been touched by the defendant,” Smith said.
During the investigation of the case conducted by Fontana Police Department, it was discovered that similar accusations had also been made by the defendant’s stepdaughter, Mary Doe, several years before these accusations came to light.
“I stand here today to tell everyone and my offender that I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor,” Mary Doe said during her victim impact statement prior to sentencing. “I stand here today to take a stand for girls going through this, for girls that have gone through it and for girls who will go through it.”

Certificate of Excellence Recipient - Lisa Muscari

Lisa covers critical responsibilities within the Joshua Tree Office. In addition to handling felony calendar position to include case filing duties. She also handles all felony Crimes Against Children cases, Major Crimes Against Children cases, most felony sexual assault cases and at least half of the homicide cases.

Lisa is an experienced prosecutor who draws high praise from the victims and families of victims for cases that she handles. She has strong and effective working relationships with law enforcement, the defense bar and the bench.

Lisa is able to draw upon her extensive experience as a Marine to help navigate the hierarchy and jurisdictional issues inherent in handling criminal cases that either occurred on the Marine Base or that involve enlisted Marines as victims, witnesses or defendants.

Lisa maintains a leadership role within the office, serving as a mentor to new members of the office who look to her as an example of a professional prosecutor. We are thankful to have Lisa as a member of the Joshua Tree family, and wish her many more years of continued success.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Crimes Against Children Prosecutor David Foy honored for his work

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.  Deputy District Attorney David Foy was recognized last week at the 19th Annual “Shine a Light” on Child Abuse Awards Breakfast for his dedication and commitment as a Crimes Against Children prosecutor. The annual event, hosted by Children’s Network, is held in April as a kick-off for Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month.
Deputy District Attorney David Foy is a 15-year veteran prosecutor assigned to the Desert-Mountain Division Family Violence Unit, who specializes in the prosecution of felony crimes against children.

There is a heavy responsibility in handling such violent cases,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Julie Peterson, who oversees the Desert-Mountain Division. “Mr. Foy accepts that responsibility and takes it very seriously.  Every day, he consistently does what he can to hold people accountable for their horrific actions against children.” 
Examples of significant cases handled by DDA David Foy include:

Freeway Jumper Convicted of Child Molestation sentenced to 158 years and 8 months to life in state prison:
A child molestation suspect who led police on a high-speed pursuit that ended with him trying to jump off a freeway overpass in Ontario was sentenced to 158 years and 8 months to life in state prison today, for molesting his three nieces. According to testimony during a seven-day jury trial, Daniel Cortez Bernal sexually assaulted one niece two to three times a week from 2002 to 2007, when she was ages 6 to 11, while she lived with him in Garden Grove. The family moved to Hesperia in 2007, and the sexual assaults continued on her until she was 13, in 2009, she testified.

Former school employee sentenced for molesting three Apple Valley girls: Paul James Hultman was sentenced to 48 years to life for molesting three Apple Valley girls. “This defendant befriended these young girls and abused his position of trust repeatedly molesting them over a period of years,” Deputy District Attorney David Foy, who prosecuted the case, said.

Father and Girlfriend Found Guilty of Torture and Child Abuse
: Erik Austin Flores and Mariah Rita Sugg were sentenced to 20 years to life in state prison for their roles in starving Flores’ children, ages 4 and 5, when they were removed from their home. “I am so grateful that the jury took care to find justice for these children,” Deputy District Attorney David Foy said. “These kids were starved to the point where witnesses described them as looking like concentration camp survivors and zombies.”

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

In the News: San Bernardino County commemorates National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun

Former San Bernardino Police Officers Gabe Garcia and his father Ron Garcia, talk with San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos at the conclusion of the fourth annual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Memorial on Monday at San Bernardino County Government Center. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is from April 2-8. JOHN VALENZUELA — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

SAN BERNARDINO >> National Crime Victims’ Rights Week opened Monday with a somber ceremony hosted by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.
The ceremony symbolizes the focus that the criminal justice system should have 52 weeks a year, said District Attorney Michael A. Ramos.

And it’s a promise to anyone affected by crime, he said.

“Stay strong,” Ramos said. “When you have that anxiety-filled moment when you feel like you can’t breathe, think of us — think of today. We will never stop seeking justice for you.”
Former San Bernardino police officers Gabe Garcia and his father, Ron Garcia, both attended the ceremony and shook hands with Ramos.
On Aug. 22, 2014, Gabe Garcia and his trainee, Officer Marcus Pesquera, came upon a group of people gathered around a car. Both officers stepped from their patrol car to see what the group was doing when one of the men opened fire, felling Garcia.

Pesquera returned fire and killed the gunman, Alex Alvarado, 38. Pesquera received the Medal of Valor from the Police Department and Gov. Jerry Brown for his actions.
Crime victim Kermit Alexander, a Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back for the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s and 1970s, was also at the ceremony.In 1984, Los Angeles gang members went into a house two doors down from the one they were looking for. They murdered Alexander’s mother, sister and two nephews.

The experience propelled the family into fighting for victims’ rights, said Tami Alexander, who accepted an award from Ramos alongside her husband.

“We do this for all victims,” she said. “This is the one area — victims’ rights — that crosses color barriers, age, Democrats and Republicans.”

Click here to read the entire story.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Another successful operation for SANCATT

Another successful operation for SANCATT who assisted the Rialto Police Department with a search warrant at a Chop Shop. They recovered a chopped Harley Davidson and arrested the suspect.  
In 2016, SANCATT conducted 705 investigations which resulted in the following 213 arrests and the recovery of 550 vehicles and components.

During the course of their investigations, they uncovered and closed down 39 chop shops, which is a place where stolen vehicles are dismantled so the parts can be sold.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

District Attorney’s Office releases Sexual Assault PSA

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – In December 2016, a brave female survivor stood in a courtroom before the man who raped her when she was 12-years-old and read the following victim impact statement:

I feel robbed of my childhood and experiences. There is a sense of damage I feel whenever I think about what has happened to me. Being a victim of rape makes me think I am weak. Some days I don’t want to do anything. It is crippling to wake up every day and have to face the world with this burden. I look at my family and I feel like a disappointment, I look at myself and I don’t know who I see. The amount of time that he gets in jail is not equal to the damage he has caused to myself and my family.

To celebrate the courage of this young girl, also known as Jane Doe for privacy reasons, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office created a 60-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) for sexual assault survivors. The PSA is inspired by the words of the young survivor in case that was prosecuted by Lead Deputy District Attorney Kathy DiDonato.

“This young girl’s case shows how many of our victims suffer so much beyond just the physical aspects of the crime,” said DiDonato, who oversees the Family Violence Unit in the Victorville Division. “They are also forced to deal with mental anguish that can last a lifetime. If nothing else, I hope other victims in a similar situation will see this and feel empowered by the strength of Jane Doe who faced her accuser in court and chose to seek help.”

The aim of this PSA is to connect young victims of sexual assault in San Bernardino County with the necessary services they need. Help is available, and survivors are encouraged to contact the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Bureau of Victim Services at (909) 382-3846.

The defendant in this case was sentenced to 30 years in state prison for the atrocious crimes he committed against Jane Doe.

“While the damage this defendant committed will always be a memory for Jane Doe, her words and bravery in the face of evil will be an even bigger force to empower other victims in similar situations,” District Attorney Mike Ramos said. “We have a trained staff of caring advocates ready to connect victims of crime with the services they need to get their lives back on track.”

To view the PSA on YouTube click on the following link:

District Attorney Mike Ramos met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions to push public safety and victims’ rights

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos and members of the NDDA executive committee met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions today to push public safety and victims’ rights.

In the meeting, Attorney General Sessions and District Attorney Ramos—who is also the current president of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA)—discussed further strengthening the relationship between elected District Attorneys and the Department of Justice.

According to Ramos, this joint effort has become even more necessary following the December 2nd terrorist attack in San Bernardino and similar attacks across the nation. 

“Today’s meeting with the Attorney General was productive and left me feeling optimistic about the future of law enforcement and public safety,” said Ramos. “During the course of our conversation Mr. Sessions not only indicated his intentions to protect our peace officers, but he said that he would like to see our county’s Crimes Against Peace Officers Unit protocol and potentially use it at the federal level to protect federal peace officers.”

In addition, District Attorney Ramos and Attorney General Sessions spoke specifically about reducing gang violence and the drug epidemic across America.

“Now, more than ever, is the time that we as members of the justice community need to stand up and strengthen our resolve to protect the rights of our victims and public safety.”

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Moreno Valley man sentenced in the shooting death of a 4-year-old boy in Highland

Daniel Munoz
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Moreno Valley man was sentenced today for the 2015 shooting death of 4-year-old Daniel Munoz of Highland.

San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Ronald M. Christianson sentenced 22-year-old Darron Daniels to 78 years to life in state prison.

The victim’s parents and sister read impact statements prior to the pronouncement of judgement today. The following are excerpts from each statement:

“This is a terrible pain for me,” said Oscar Munoz, the victim’s father. “Once you lose him you will never get him back, but the image of my son will never be erased from my mind.”

“I was not able to celebrate his fifth birthday, or any upcoming birthdays,” said Yuliana Morales, the victim’s mother. “I will not see him go to junior high school or high school or college because of this man’s actions.” 

Holding up a photo of Daniel at his preschool graduation, his mother added: “This is the last graduation of his I will ever attend.”

In Nov. 2016, a San Bernardino jury found Daniels (pictured right) guilty of one count of second degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. The jury also found true multiple gun allegations.

According to Supervising Deputy District Attorney Jill Gregory, who prosecuted the case, Daniel was the unintended victim of a dispute that occurred between a drug dealer and other men who were gathered across the street from where he was staying at a relative’s house. 

“At the time Daniel was shot and killed, he was in the front yard playing with a stuffed animal,” said Gregory.

This case was investigated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff Homicide Division.

Maurice Kelley, 27, of San Bernardino, was sentenced Dec. 7, 2016 to 6 years in state prison for his role in the murder.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Breaking the Cycle: District Attorney’s Office Works at National Level to Combat Domestic Violence

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.  – Working in conjunction with the Women Prosecutors Section of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office assisted in developing a Best Practices Guide aimed at combatting domestic violence.
According to Assistant District Attorney Mary Ashley—who is currently vice-chair of the Women Prosecutors Section (WPS) alongside Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey—the newly-released National Domestic Violence Prosecution Best Practices Guide is aimed at informing and recommending practices that are effective and consistent throughout the nation. 
“On this surface this guide is about best practices, but deep down, it’s about reducing violence against women,” said Ashley. “It’s about combatting the issues of sexual assault and human trafficking and all crimes against children—and it’s about empowering victims to break the cycle of abuse. These are problems that plague our county as well as victims across the state and nation.”
Ashley added, in 2016, there were over 3,100 domestic-violence related cases filed in San Bernardino County. During that same time frame, 271 defendants were sentenced to state prison for a total of 1,296 years and 1,744 defendants were sentenced to County Prison and County jail for a total of 696 years.
The primary goal of drafting and releasing this resource is to increase victim safety, offender accountability, and community accountability by challenging prosecutors to aggressively prosecute domestic violence cases when the evidence supports prosecution and promoting multidisciplinary, multi-agency collaborations and co-located service models, such as family justice centers and similar multi-agency approaches and coordinated community responses. 
Among the key items covered include:
·         Strategies for the successful prosecution of cases even when victims are unable or unwilling to participate in prosecution. 

·         Ways prosecutors can play a valuable role in advocating for community-oriented interventions to help support survivors and their children in breaking the vicious, generational cycle of family violence.

To view the entire document, visit:
“As a representative of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, it is an extraordinary opportunity to be at the table on these vital issues whether it be through training, seeking additional government resources and funding for our county, advocating for victims’ rights, and sharing best practices,” said Ashley.
The goal of the WPS is to promote mentorship and leadership for women across the country in prosecutor’s offices and building a culture of women leaders in the criminal justice system. The WPS creates opportunities to address issues such as Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse at a national level and create partnerships and materials to assist prosecutors in handling these cases. 

Hesperia mother faces life in prison after being found guilty of child homicide charges

Jaimi Roberts (Booking Photo)
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.– A Hesperia mother who attacked her 2-year-old child faces life in prison after being found guilty Wednesday of child homicide charges.

Jaimi Roberts, 24, was found guilty of assault on a child causing death, and a separate charge of involuntary manslaughter, in connection with the April 24, 2014 death of her son, Grant Dunn Jr. She faces 25 years to life when she is sentenced May 12 by Judge Eric Nakata in Superior Court in Victorville.

“We are very pleased that little Grant Jr.’s killer is being held responsible,” Deputy District Attorney David Foy, who prosecuted the 10-day trial, said. “The defendant deserves every day of her prison sentence.”

Paramedics went to the Hesperia home of Roberts, then 21, in the afternoon after the child had gone unconscious. Roberts and her boyfriend had described to San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies how the child had been throwing up since the day before, but had gotten progressively sicker the next day, and finally stopped breathing and lost consciousness.

Roberts told deputies she had “play-wrestled” with him MMA style on the evening of April 22, 2014, and had elbowed him in the abdomen, but he seemed fine afterward.

The child was hospitalized but died later that afternoon.
According to Foy, an autopsy showed he died from a severe blow to the abdomen, consistent with a punch or elbow, causing the lower intestine to rupture and spilling waste into the abdominal cavity, resulting in peritonitis and then sepsis that spread through his bloodstream and shut down vital organs.

The next day, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s homicide detectives questioned Roberts again. After an hour of denying inflicting any hard elbow strikes during the “wrestling,” she finally admitted she elbowed the boy hard twice in the abdomen, and demonstrated on video.

Roberts also admitted doing Internet searches for the terms “abdominal trauma,” “broken rib” and “appendix injury” an hour before 911 was called. She also admitted inflicting a severe bite wound on the child’s shoulder on the day of the “wrestling.”

During the trial, the victim’s father testified that after he broke up with Roberts, he witnessed her punching the child in the stomach and physically attacked her to break up the assault on his son. That incident was not reported to police.

Roberts testified at trial that she falsely confessed, and never actually elbowed the child to the stomach. She told the jury he never showed signs of serious illness until just before he lost consciousness on April 24, 2014. She denied the prior child abuse as claimed by the boy’s father.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Victim Advocate Alma Arenas honored by the International Footprint Association for her commitment to victims of crime ‬

Alma Arenas is a Victim Advocate at the Victorville District Attorney’s Office. She is mainly assigned to assist the victims and families of Homicides, Gang cases, High Profile cases, and Cold Cases. In assisting these victims and families, Alma keeps them updated after each court date and patiently explains the criminal prosecution process. She also provides support to these victims and families when they attend the proceedings.

Recently, Alma assisted on a particularly challenging High-Profile Homicide case, the People vs. Christopher Lee. During the course of the of the case, Alma kept the family of the victim, Erin Corwin, updated after each court date and explained the process. And when time came for the trial, Alma traveled daily to San Bernardino, where the trial was held. Not only did she provide support to the family on an incredibly emotional case, but she also skillfully helped the grieving family avoid the probing questions of the media that consistently flooded the courtroom & court hallways. This was also a particularly lengthy trial; testimony lasted for about a month.

During that month, Alma also managed to continue to keep the families on her other cases updated as well. This meant daily running back to the Central DA’s Office during the lunch recess’ to make as many quick phone calls as possible. Her dedication was admirable.

Not only does Alma serve the victims and families she works with well, she is also a major asset to her fellow Advocates in the Victorville Victim Services Unit. It doesn’t matter if they need her to cover one of their cases, help brainstorm ideas on solving challenging situations, or cover the Victim Services reception desk. Alma is always there with a good attitude and willingness to help.

Friday, February 24, 2017