Friday, November 17, 2017

Animal Cruelty Conviction

A Fontana man who beat, tortured and poured hot water on his girlfriend’s blind pit bull was convicted of 2 counts of felony animal cruelty. He faces 7 years and 4 months in state prison. This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus and the West Valley Division support staff.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Storytime at the Library!

Story Time at the San Bernardino Public Library this morning was so much fun! Dozer and Lupe were even issued their own library cards.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office Awarded Special DUI Prosecution Grant

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Those arrested for DUI in San Bernardino County, especially repeat offenders and those involved in fatal or injury crashes, can expect to face highly trained, specialized prosecutors, funded by a $211,883.00 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). The grant to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office will fund a Vertical Prosecution team that will work cases from arrest through conviction and sentencing.

"I will always remember CHP Officer Ruben Rios who lost his life to a drunk driver while on duty protecting the public," said District Attorney Mike Ramos. "Officer Rios had spent so much of his time as an officer educating the community about the dangers of drinking and driving. We can’t say or do anything to bring him back, but we can carry on with the work that was near and dear to his heart. This grant will allow us the chance to add more resources to protect our citizens and ultimately hold those who decide to drink and drive responsible for their actions.”

In 2015 there were 85 deaths and 1,997 serious injuries as a result of DUI crashes in San Bernardino County. Funding from this DUI Prosecution Grant will aid the San Bernardino County Attorney’s Office in handling cases through each step of the criminal process from crash scene to sentencing, prosecuting both alcohol and drug-impaired driving cases.

Prosecution team members will work with California’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Training Network to expand knowledge and resources in the office by obtaining and delivering specialized training, including the emerging problem of drug-impaired driving. Team members will share information with peers and law enforcement throughout the county and state. 

“Vertical prosecution teams working serious DUI cases get the positive results needed,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the Office of Traffic Safety, will be working to help keep the streets across San Bernardino County safe for everyone.”

While alcohol remains the worst offender for DUI crashes, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office supports the new effort from OTS that aims to drive awareness that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” Prescription medications and marijuana can also be impairing by themselves, or in combination with alcohol, and can result in a DUI arrest.

Funding for the program comes from a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Deputy District Attorney Jack Liu is currently assigned to the unit.

Since his assignment in the Fall of 2015, DDA Liu has trained over 600 police officers regarding the investigation and enforcement of DUI/DUID cases. More recently, in an effort to combat the rise in opioid and marijuana use by drivers, DDA Liu spearheaded an effort by the District Attorney’s Office to bring Drug Recognition Expert training to the county. 

On Oct. 16, 2017, DDA Liu co-hosted the county’s first ever DRE training at the Ontario Police Department, which allowed over 40 police officers to be trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Meet Dozer and Lupe at the San Bernardino Public Library

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- As part of county’s ongoing Vision2Read program, K9 Dozer and K9 Lupe will participate in the San Bernardino Public Library’s upcoming story time.

Lupe and Dozer are both black Labrador Retrievers who were selected as district attorney facility dogs based upon their temperament and interaction with children. Both dogs went through extensive training at the nationally-accredited Assistance Dogs of the West, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Lupe was born Oct. 4, 2013, and Dozer was born April 11, 2013.

Lupe is assigned to the West Valley Division and Dozer is assigned to the Central Division.

As part of the District Attorney’s Special Victims K9 Unit, their primary mission is to comfort child victims and reduce the understandable fears they have about having to go through the court process as a victim and/or witness. Most recently, Dozer and Lupe travelled to Nevada with their advocate handlers to assist in comforting the victims and family members of the Las Vegas shooting. 

“We are excited about this upcoming event with the city library,” said District Attorney Mike Ramos. “It gives our office the chance to interact with our young readers and focus on the importance of reading!”

The free reading program will take place on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 10:30 a.m. in the Children’s Room at the Feldheym Central Library, 555 W. Sixth Street. For more information call the library at (909) 381-8235 or visit their website at or on Facebook at

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Scenes from last night's Mock Trial competitions

Deputy District Attorney J. Crocker presiding in San Bernardino.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Britt Imes presiding in Victorville

DDA Kathleen Fultz and DPD Paul Henderson scoring

Witness for Encore High School taking stand, being sworn in by bailiff for Silverado High School

The Honorable Harold T. Wilson presiding

DDA Casey Cunningham and DDA Leonard Chang scoring

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

DDA Rick Lal Selected by the EPA to Teach Advanced Environmental Crimes Training Program

DDA Rick Lal was recently selected by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be one of only 6 prosecutors from around the State to teach at their prestigious Advanced Environmental Crimes Training Program in Central California.

This intensive program brings together sworn law enforcement and peace officers along with environmental regulators as part of an Environmental Crimes Task Force that over the course of two weeks works on every aspect of a hazardous materials investigation including interviews, surveillance, inspections, operations planning, and executing a search warrant at a mock HazMat site (see below). 

As one of the EPA’s most popular instructors, DDA Lal instructed students in small groups on both federal and California environmental law, with drafting detailed environmental search warrants, operations planning, and executing an environmental search warrant – ultimately culminating in a jury trial to demonstrate how events in the field translate into evidence inside a courtroom.

Monday, November 6, 2017

SBCPAA Donations Drive to Benefit Our Veterans

In honor of all of the brave men and women who have served the various branches of our military, the San Bernardino County Public Attorneys Association (SBCPAA) will once again host a donations drive to benefit the Vietnam Veterans Association (VVA) and the California Disabled Veterans Association (DAV).

Friday, November 3, 2017

Magician convicted of murder of Big Bear Lake man

A Big Bear Lake man was convicted by a jury of first degree murder Monday for shooting and murdering a man.

On April 12, 2016, 55-year-old Frank Popovich Jr.—a magician who owns the Black Fox Trading Co. in Big Bear—went to a local nightclub in Big Bear and saw the victim, 42-year-old James Clark, in the back parking lot.

According to Deputy District Attorney Larissa Ruescher, who prosecuted the case, Popovich and the victim knew each other as friends and the victim had even worked in the defendant’s business.

After less than three minutes, Popovich started shoving the victim and pointing his finger in the victim’s face. The victim did nothing to defend himself and showed no signs of aggression towards the defendant. 

Popovich was not visible for ten seconds and then a flash of a gun muzzle went off and the victim’s body dropped to the ground. 

“In a scene that was captured on surveillance video, the defendant then walked over to the victim’s head area and slapped the victim in the head,” DDA Ruescher said. “The defendant then walked to the feet of the victim, took the cigarette from his left hand, and continued to smoke it for a full thirty seconds while standing over the victim’s body.” 

Popovich faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison when sentenced next month.

Rancho Cucamonga man sentenced to state prison in odometer-rollback scheme

A Rancho Cucamonga man was sentenced to six years in state prison today after admitting his involvement in auto insurance fraud schemes by manipulating used car odometers and vehicle titles to make the vehicles appear more valuable and then using false identities of other victims to sell those cars on Craigslist and Auto Trader to unsuspecting customers.
Hani Abujudeh, 55, of Rancho Cucamonga, pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of Auto Insurance Fraud, Money Laundering, Perjury, False Impersonation and Grand Theft.
According to Deputy District Attorney Karen Parker-Parent, who prosecuted the case, Abujudeh was required to pay in court today the full amount of victim restitution in the amount of $189,475.22. The victims included 15 individuals and 4 insurance companies who appeared in court today to receive their restitution checks. 
Parker-Parent added at least one of the victims has been unable to buy another car since the defendant sold her a car which was actually owned by someone else.
The defendant’s scam was discovered by investigators with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) who were looking into a number of potentially false claims associated with Abujudeh’s businesses.
“The schemes started unravelling when vigilant insurance investigators began noticing an unusual number of questionable insurance claims from the ‘Perfect Auto Detailers’ auto body repair shops in Rancho Cucamonga which the defendant owned,” said Parker-Parent.
She added that local law enforcement agencies were receiving reports from various victims of identity and sales frauds who had either sold or purchased cars from a man who gave them false identities.
A multi-agency fraud investigations team headed up by the CDI served a search warrant at the defendant’s home and discovered 25 fake drivers licenses (pictured below) as well as evidence of the various fraudulent insurance claims and vehicle sales. By following the title transfers on each of these vehicles, the team began to unravel the complex web of fraud involving Abujudeh and his co-defendants.
Parker-Parent, who is assigned to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office Auto Insurance Fraud Urban Grant Unit, commented on the elaborate scam and how investigators and prosecutors were able to shut down his illegal operations.
This prosecution is a prime example of how much can be accomplished when our law enforcement agencies network their information and resources,” Parker-Parent said. “Because Mr. Abujudeh used so many different identities in the many various auto insurance fraud schemes he committed, it would’ve been difficult for any one agency alone to identify the perpetrator.”
The case was the result of a multi-agency fraud team consisting of investigators from the California Department of Insurance, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, California Highway Patrol, San Bernardino County Sheriff, Homeland Security Investigations, Department of Motor Vehicles, and San Bernardino and Riverside County District Attorney’s offices.
“California is ground zero for auto insurance fraud, which paid for by consumers when insurers pass along their fraud losses through higher premium,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Thanks to the hard work of our investigators at the Department of Insurance, our taskforce partners, and the San Bernardino District Attorney's office, Abujudeh's crimes were exposed and he was successfully prosecuted."
Eduardo Hernandez, 27, of Rancho Cucamonga, pleaded no contest to Insurance Fraud and was sentenced to 365 days in County Jail.  
Francisco Aguilera, 26, of Santa Paula, Calif., is charged with Defrauding an Insurer - PC 548(a), Insurance Fraud - PC 550(a)(1), and False and Fraudulent Claim – PC 549. Dane Santibanez, 29, of Rancho Cucamonga, is charged with Defrauding an Insurer - PC 548(a) and Insurance Fraud - PC 550(a)(1). Both men are scheduled to appear in Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court Nov. 7.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Desert-Mountain Division Gang Unit secures conviction

Saffar Williams of Barstow has been convicted for his role in a violent 2016 Apple Valley home-invasion robbery. He faces life in prison when sentenced.

This case was prosecuted by the Desert-Mountain Division Gang Unit and investigated by the Apple Valley Police Department.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

In The News: San Bernardino County mock trial teams prepare to square off in court

 When mock trial powerhouse Redlands High School met Cajon High School in the county championships last year, it was a true Rocky v. Apollo-style match-up.

But like Rocky Balboa, the underdog lost in the final round.

This year, both schools hope to return to the finals in the San Bernardino County Mock Trial competition, which begins Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Cajon, in San Bernardino, has its sights set on a state title but it will face strong competition again this year — not only from RHS but 32 other teams participating countywide.

What to expect

More than 400 students will represent 34 teams from 30 high schools in the 2017-18 mock trial competition, according to a county news release.

The preliminary round of competition takes place Wednesday, Nov. 1, and Nov. 8, 15 and 29 at three locations: the county courthouse in Victorville, the Foothill Law and Justice Center in Rancho Cucamonga and the San Bernardino Justice Center in downtown San Bernardino.

The top four teams will advance to the semi-finals at Dec. 5-6 at the San Bernardino Justice Center.

The final two teams meet Dec. 9 in Rancho Cucamonga, with the winner moving on to state. The winner is announced the same day.

All rounds are open to the public at no cost. The competition is sponsored by the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. To learn more, go to

To read the full story, click here.