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.