Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Man convicted for his role in the burning death of Ontario woman

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A 25-year-old man was convicted Tuesday for his role in the 2011 torture and burning death of Maria Banuelos.

A Rancho Cucamonga jury found Johnny Hernandez (pictured left) guilty of First Degree Murder of Maria Banuelos, with the jury also finding true the special circumstance that her murder was committed during the course or commission of Mayhem, as well as one count of Torture, one count of Mayhem and one count of Arson Causing Death. 

Following the death of Banuelos, investigators arrested four other suspects linked to the brutal attack: 45-year-old Hector Meza of Yucca Valley, 27-year-old Genese Ramirez of Banning, 25-year-old Robert Zapata of San Bernardino, and 30-year-old Johnathan Zuniga of Rancho Cucamonga.

On Oct. 22, 2011, officers from the Ontario Police Department arrived at an apartment complex and found residents administering aid to 34-year-old Banuelos, who was still on fire.

At the scene, the victim identified Hector Meza and three others as her attackers. While in the ambulance her dying words were: “Hector Meza set me on fire. He is abusive and obsessive.”

The Ontario resident was taken to a hospital where she died two days later.

Hours after the attack officers arrested Meza on suspicion of attempted murder.

According to Deputy District Attorney Kent Williams, who prosecuted the case, it was later determined by the coroner that the victim had been hit on the head three times with something consistent with a metal bar prior to being set on fire.

Meza was sentenced Jan. 4, 2017 to Life in State Prison Without the Possibility of Parole.

Zuniga was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison March 24, 2017.

Ramirez is due back in court later this week for a status hearing.

Zapata is scheduled to appear in court for a Pre-Trial Hearing June 29.

Hernandez faces life in state prison without the possibility of parole when sentenced Aug. 31, 2018.

This case was investigated by the Ontario Police Department.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Team Photo: Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Southern California is the largest public awareness vehicle and grassroots fundraiser with more than 3,500 officers in Southern California championing acceptance and inclusion.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is represented in all 50 U.S. states, Canadian provinces and 46 nations with 97,000 officers around the world, raising more than half a billion dollars since its inception in 1981.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run in Southern California is one of the leading programs in the world, raising $1.52 million in 2016 with participants representing 200 law enforcement agencies.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Two men sentenced to life in state prison for attempted murder of a correctional officer

Two men convicted of shooting a corrections officer were sentenced to life in state prison today.

In June 2017, a jury found 36-year-old Anthony Gomez of Riverside, and 29-year-old Christopher Marquez of Riverside, guilty of the 2013 attempted murder, and found true gun and great bodily injury causing paralysis allegations. Marquez was sentenced to 34 years to life and Gomez was sentenced to 38 years to life in prison.

According to Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cecilia Joo, who prosecuted the case, the victim was on his way to work at Chino Prison when he stopped to get gas in the city of Colton.

“The two defendants, who had been drinking at a nearby club, decided to stop at the same gas station,” said SDDA Joo.

They parked their vehicle in front of the victim’s vehicle, which was in the middle of the island. The victim was pumping fuel into his truck, when the defendants started asking him for directions.

“For some unknown reason, defendant Marquez, who was in the front passenger seat, got out and unloaded his six-shot revolver at the victim,” said SDDA Joo. “Marquez then immediately jumped back into the car driven by defendant Gomez and fled the scene.”

Both defendants were later arrested in the city of Riverside by Riverside Police officers.

Immediately following the shooting, Colton police officers were dispatched to the scene and observed the victim motionless on the ground. Despite being shot in the head, the victim managed to show the officers his Correction patches. The officers immediately transported the victim to ARMC where medical staff were standing at the ready for life saving treatment.

The victim underwent a number of surgeries and rehabilitation. He was ultimately paralyzed on his left side and had a metal plate placed in his head. He was unable to walk and speak for months. However, the victim and his wife were present during the entire trial.

The victim has since regained limited ability to walk and speak again. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Pimp sentenced to ten years in prison for human trafficking

A 29-year-old pimp from San Bernardino was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in state prison for trafficking a 19-year-old victim.

David Williams pleaded guilty May 24, 2018, to three felony counts: Human Trafficking, Pimping and Pandering.

“Thanks to the great work of our county’s Human Trafficking Task Force, we were able to take another predator off the streets and provide another victim with resources to get her life back on track,” said District Attorney Mike Ramos.

According to Deputy District Attorney Cassandra Helmuth, who prosecuted the case, in Nov. 2017, investigators with the San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force received information regarding a possible minor being posted in an escort advertisement in San Bernardino County. Investigators located the advertisement and contacted the listing. The victim was located and found to be an adult.

According to San Bernardino Police Department Detective Kim Hernandez, who is a member of the Task Force, Williams had been physically abusive with the victim and had deprived her of her liberty for the purpose of pimping and pandering.

The San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force is made up of investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office, San Bernardino Police Department, Ontario Police Department, San Bernardino Unified School District Police, Office of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Arizona man convicted of the 2015 killing of a Phelan man

An Arizona man who murdered 39-year-old Allan Godfrey Jr. has been convicted of first degree murder.

On May 11, a jury found 47-year-old Dale Brewster (pictured left) guilty of the 2015 crime, and on Wednesday, Brewster’s priors conviction for Assault with a Firearm was found to be true. Brewster faces 55 years to life when he is sentenced June 22 in Victorville Superior Court.

According to Major Crimes Deputy District Attorney Justin Crocker, who prosecuted the case, the defendant beat the victim, tied him up, and put duct tape around his mouth.

“He then strangled the victim to death and buried him in the desert fourteen miles from the defendant’s home,” said Deputy DA Crocker. “Eight months later, the victim’s body was discovered.”

During trial it was noted that the victim had lived in a trailer on the defendant’s property in Phelan. On the morning of the murder, a former business partner came to the property to serve the victim on a small claims case.

The victim was not home but Brewster was, and he listened to all the negative things the woman had to say about the victim. Brewster immediately texted the victim and told him to come home. At 2 p.m. that same day, the victim responded and said he was home.

“The victim’s phone went offline shortly after and he was never heard from again,” said Deputy DA Crocker.

The defendant’s cell phone records from the night the victim went missing showed that Brewster traveled to the remote area of the desert where Godfrey was found buried. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office MADD 2018 Prosecutor of the Year

Deputy District Attorney Jack Liu’s work this year has had a significant and lasting impact on the quality and success of DUID prosecutions throughout San Bernardino County. As our OTS/DUID grant prosecutor, Jack embarked on a yearlong campaign to provide training for our entire office on how to effectively prosecute DUID trials. His training is available on video and will be used to train a steady stream of new prosecutors every year.

He also provided our office’s first POST-certified 72-hour DRE training class, presented free of charge, to over 40 of our local law enforcement officers. Because of Jack’s dedication and hard work, we have a full contingent of prosecutors who have the knowledge and skills to effectively present a DUID trial, and we have substantially increased the number of law enforcement officers who can testify as fully certified DREs. Jack’s approach has inspired countless prosecutors and law enforcement officers to be the best they can be when it comes to DUID investigations and prosecutions. He has encouraged our prosecutors to take up the challenge of DUID trials, especially marijuana DUIDs, which are increasing at an exponential rate due to Prop. 64.

Jack’s efforts to combat DUID don’t stop there. He conducted many other law enforcement trainings throughout the year, coordinated an on-call prosecutor system to assist in major DUI cases, and held our county’s first SoCal OTS Regional Roundtable. The Roundtable brought together over 30 SoCal prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and criminalists for training and strategic planning on how to more effectively fight intoxicated driving statewide. And he did all this while personally handling a caseload of serious felony DUI cases.

Jack’s extraordinary commitment to strong and effective enforcement of DUI and DUID laws has earned him the title of MADD’s 2018 Prosecutor of the Year.

District Attorney’s Office urges opposition to Kevin Cooper’s request for clemency

Thirty-three years ago, a San Diego County jury convicted Kevin Cooper of the brutal murders of Doug Ryen, Peggy Ryen, 10-year-old Jessica Ryen, 11-year-old Chris Hughes, and the attempted murder of 8-year-old Josh Ryen.

Cooper’s case was reviewed in detail by the California Supreme Court, who determined the evidence of his guilt was overwhelming.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office agreed in 2001 to give Cooper the benefit of post-conviction DNA testing. Cooper’s own DNA expert participated in the selection of the items to be tested. The defense expert selected items that he represented had the best chance of excluding Cooper as the perpetrator of these horrific crimes.

DNA testing was conducted in 2001 and 2002. Although Cooper’s defense team claimed the DNA testing would show his innocence, it proved the exact opposite. Rather than exonerating Cooper, the results of the testing proved Cooper was in the Ryen home at the time of the murders, that he smoked cigarettes in their station wagon after he stole it, and that his blood and the blood of at least one victim was on a t-shirt found by the side of a road leading away from the murders.

Cooper’s execution was stayed in 2004 because he represented once again that a simple scientific test, and further examination of some of the evidence, would show he was innocent. Again, Cooper was given the benefit of additional scientific testing and expert examination of physical evidence collected in the case.

Despite Cooper’s claims that these tests and examination would demonstrate his innocence, a reviewing judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California determined that Cooper alone was responsible for these terrible murders.

“The guilt or innocence of any defendant charged with murder should be determined by a jury in a court of law where the rules of evidence apply, not by an uninformed or deliberately misleading editorial in the New York Times,” said District Attorney Mike Ramos.

Cooper now requests that “Touch DNA” testing be performed on one of the murder weapons, the hatchet, the hatchet sheath, the t-shirt and the prison button. These items were all collected by law enforcement, examined by experts and entered into evidence at trial. They were sent into the deliberation room without restriction, as the trial took place decades before the advent of Touch DNA testing. The hatchet, button and t-shirt were subjected to serological testing in 1983-84 and DNA testing in 2002. Additionally, the hatchet and protective sheath were touched by the owners of the hideout house, their families, visitors and guests whenever the hatchet was used to chop firewood. Consequently, many people have touched the exhibits outside of laboratory conditions. DNA data bases, unlike fingerprint data bases, contain the profiles of certain convicted felons, but not law-abiding citizens. Therefore, Touch DNA testing cannot provide relevant information in this case and cannot exonerate Cooper as claimed. It’s simply another attempt to avoid punishment.

Laws and procedures afford convicted defendants the opportunity to request post-conviction DNA testing. Cooper has already received the benefit of post-conviction scientific testing several times. Each time the testing has shown his claims of innocence are false and instead confirm the overwhelming evidence of his guilt.

“The families of the victims and the surviving victim have waited patiently for thirty-five years for justice in this case,” said District Attorney Ramos. “They have endured not only the loss of their loved ones, but also the repeated and false claims from Cooper and his propaganda machine designed to undermine public confidence in the just verdict.”

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office is opposed to any clemency or further testing for Cooper based on continued distortions and misrepresentations of the facts in this case, and asks California Governor Edmund G. Brown to respect the decisions of the jury, trial judge, California Supreme Court, United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, all of whom have concluded that the evidence in this case overwhelmingly demonstrates Cooper’s guilt. Further delay only mocks the criminal justice system and the victims and their families in their long-lasting grief, as well as the will of the voters who enacted Proposition 66.

Today, the District Attorney’s Office is filing a formal opposition to Kevin Cooper’s request for clemency with the Governor’s Office. The entire document will be released by the District Attorney’s Office later this week.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Two gang members sentenced to life for senseless shooting murder

Two criminal street gang members were each sentenced Monday to 50 years to life in state prison for the shooting murder of Guy Estrada who was riding his bicycle in Fontana. After being shot, the victim was left to die in the middle of the road.

Aureliano Mendez, 21, and David Avina, 29, both of Fontana, were each found guilty April 2, 2018, of one count of first degree murder and one count of street terrorism. The jury also found true firearm and criminal street gang allegations.

“I am proud of the work our Gang Unit is doing every day to hold these local terrorists responsible for their actions,” said District Attorney Mike Ramos. “With the help of all our law enforcement partners and the Board of Supervisors, we will continue our fight. We won’t back down.”

Since the Gang Unit’s inception in July 2005, 11,560 cases have been filed; 3 on death row; 7,195 state prison commitments; 53,956 years + 322 life terms in state prison; 3,458 gang enhancements have been found true and 458 were found guilty by jury trial.

The sentencing of Mendez and Avina today raises the number of life terms to 324 life terms.

Statement of Facts

On April 26, 2015, Victim Guy Estrada, 35, was riding his bicycle in the City of Fontana when he was shot and killed. Four days later, Avina led Fontana Police Department officers on a dangerous pursuit from Fontana to San Bernardino, accompanied by his passenger, Mendez, in his Lexus sedan. Avina and Mendez were wanted in connection with a separate murder out of Fontana, believed to be gang-related and involving the Lexus sedan, based on an April 19, 2015 incident.

According to Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Robbins, who prosecuted the case, officers located a SKS rifle in the trunk of Avina’s vehicle. Mendez and Avina were taken into custody on the April 19 case.

“During trial, it was noted that both defendants wanted to shoot the victim, a random man on a bike,” said Deputy District Attorney Robbins.

Mendez indicated that Avina first shot at the victim but missed before they ultimately pursued him in Avina’s Lexus, while the victim “rode for his life” on the bicycle. Mendez also noted that he held the steering wheel so that Avina could shoot and kill the victim.

Deputy District Attorney Robbins added that the defendant Mendez described how he and Avina laughed about the incident, before driving around the block to ensure the victim was dead. The other case for both defendants is still pending. 

Other Notable Information Related to Gang Unit

California Witness Relocation and Assistance Program

Last year, as part of the California Witness Relocation and Assistance Program (CalWRAP), our office assisted in the relocation of 24 total witnesses and family members. Eight of those cases were gang-related.

In one notable case, the defendant was living with his father and other family members, including four minor children. The defendant, a gang member, stabbed his elderly father multiple times while the father’s grandson watched. The father died as a result of this attack. Another of the four children saw the defendant after the attack, walking through the residence with blood on him and carrying a bloody knife.

First Quarter Gang Stats

The latest gang statistics for the first quarter of 2018 have been compiled by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. Statistics for the quarter of Jan. 1, 2018, through March 31, 2018, show that 100 cases were filed from all divisions. There were 116 state prison commitments obtained with a total of 1,024 years of state prison and 10 life terms. 71 gang enhancements were found true and 10 were found guilty by jury trial.

Two sentenced for fake crash insurance fraud

A Fontana man and woman were sentenced Friday for their role in a scheme to rip off insurance companies by staging a hit-and-run accident involving a 2015 Maserati. Roger Mendoza, 50, was sentenced to 240 days in county jail, three years felony probation, and ordered to pay $12,937 in restitution to the Automobile Club of Southern California, after pleading guilty to felony insurance fraud.

Violeta Alcaraz, 38, was sentenced to 120 days in county jail and three years felony probation, after pleading guilty to felony insurance fraud and misdemeanor filing a false police report.

Statement of Facts

In May 2016, RM Capital—a used car dealership owned by Mendoza—purchased a damaged 2015 Maserati Ghibli for $39,750. An August 4, 2016 sales contract showed the Maserati being sold to Violeta Alcaraz for $63,000. On August 24, 2016, Ms. Alcaraz filed an insurance claim with the Automobile Club of Southern California reporting that another car struck the Maserati in an intersection and fled.

Insurance investigators suspected fraud after examining the Maserati and referred the matter to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Automobile Insurance Fraud Unit.

District Attorney Investigators discovered that the Maserati was parked at the time of the damage, not at an intersection as claimed, and was repeatedly struck with a heavy object that transferred house paint onto the Maserati.

Investigators concluded that Mendoza, who lived in the same home as Alcaraz, purchased the damaged Maserati.

According to Deputy District Attorney Tom Colclough, who prosecuted the case, the defendant then made cosmetic repairs to hide the damage without repairing it, created a fictitious sale to Alcaraz, deliberately damaged the Maserati, and falsely claimed the damage occurred in a hit-and-run event.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Man who stabs and kills wife sentenced to prison

A San Bernardino man who stabbed and killed his wife was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison today.

In Nov. 2017, a jury found 56-year-old Duane Magee (pictured left) guilty of Second Degree Murder and found true a knife allegation. The charges stem from a Sept. 2012 incident in which the defendant stabbed his wife 24 times because they were having marital problems.

According to Deputy District Attorney Melissa Monrreal, who prosecuted the case, Magee called 911 dispatch after stabbing his wife and told them he had just killed his wife because she was cheating on him.

“When asked whether the victim was dead, the defendant responded, ‘I’m hoping she’s dead,’” said Deputy DA Monrreal. 

Second gang member in murder case sentenced to life in prison

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Pomona gang member was sentenced today to 200 years to life in prison for his role in the killing of 20-year-old Nestor Miranda of Montclair.

In December, a jury found 28-year-old Sergio Vidrio (pictured left) of Pomona, guilty of one count of Murder, one count of Attempted Murder, one felony count of Shooting at an Occupied Motor Vehicle, and one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Felon with Priors. The jury also found true multiple gun allegations as well as one Street Gang Terrorism allegation.

In December, a separate jury found 29-year-old Oscar Lopez (pictured below) guilty of the same charges and allegations. Lopez was sentenced to 151 years to life on Jan. 19, 2018.

The charges stem from a 2014 incident in which both defendants pulled up alongside another vehicle and asked the occupants: “Where you guys from?” Vidrio and Lopez, who were both wearing dark-colored bandanas covering their mouths and black gloves, immediately started shooting—killing Miranda and missing the other occupant of the vehicle.

This case was prosecuted by DDA David Collins and the West Valley Gang Unit and investigated by the Montclair Police Department, Ontario Police Department, and the Pomona Police Department.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Two defendants who murdered a Phelan man convicted

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Two men who lured a 58-year-old Phelan man from his motorhome to rob him have been convicted.
This case was tried to two juries simultaneously. On Wednesday, a jury found Jacob Bock (pictured left) guilty of Murder, First Degree Residential Robbery and First Degree Burglary, Person Present and found true one gun allegation. On April 4, a separate jury found Kyle Comrie (pictured below) guilty of Murder, First Degree Residential Robbery and First Degree Burglary, Person Present.

The crime dates back to 2015, when both defendants conspired to lure 58-year-old Louis Merrigan from his motorhome with the intent of robbing him.

According to Deputy District Kevin Christensen, who prosecuted the case, one defendant approached the motorhome and lured the victim out under the ruse of needing to use his cell phone because he crashed on his ATV. 

“Hiding in the shadows was the other defendant who initiated a violent attack with a baseball bat,” said Deputy District Attorney Christensen. “A handoff occurred allowing the other defendant to participate in the beating.”

After pummeling the victim for some time, the two defendants ransacked the motorhome and stole numerous items that included the victim's .22 rifle. As they were setting out to leave the property, Bock decided that he could not leave any witnesses behind, so he returned to the victim lying on the ground and shot him one time in the head.  

Ultimately, the investigation—which was overseen by Sergeant Mike Flores of the Victor Valley Sheriff Station—led to both defendants who confessed to the crimes. 

Bock faces 81 years to life and Comrie faces 25 years to life. Both men are scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Convicted child molester sentenced to 110 years in prison

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.  – A San Bernardino man who sexually assaulted a 13-year-old victim in 2012 was sentenced Friday to 110 years in state prison for multiple counts.

On Feb. 26, a jury found 53-year-old Stanley Williams (pictured left) guilty of four felony counts of Lewd Act Upon a Child and one count of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse.

In 2012, the 13-year-old victim was living with her family at an apartment complex in San Bernardino. Later that year, the defendant—a convicted sex offender—moved into the same complex and asked the victim’s parents if the victim could come over periodically to clean his apartment in exchange for a few dollars and the family agreed.

According to Deputy District Attorney Alicia Long, who prosecuted the case, during this time, the defendant began grooming the victim.

“He started off by holding hands with the victim and telling her that he loved her,” said Deputy District Attorney Long. “His conduct escalated from there. The defendant convinced the victim that they were in a loving relationship and that he was her boyfriend.”

In 2013, the victim’s mother discovered inappropriate Facebook messages between Williams and the victim. The victim’s mother confronted the defendant and called the police. Williams was arrested by officers with the San Bernardino Police Department and later charged.

While the case was pending, the defendant went through numerous attorneys, sending letters to the victim and attempting to arrange for others to dissuade her from testifying.  

For the past five years the victim’s family appeared at nearly every court date waiting for justice for their daughter,” said Deputy District Attorney Long. “At trial, the victim showed great strength and courage in her testimony. Thanks to her resilience on the stand, this predator will never be able to hurt another child.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Ontario man sentenced following prostitution sting conviction

A 42-year-old man was convicted Tuesday of attempting to pay for sexual acts during an undercover prostitution sting.

Defendant Poshen Wu was convicted of one misdemeanor count of Soliciting, Engaging or Agreeing to Engage in Prostitution by Providing Compensation.

During trial, it was noted that the defendant was searching on and decided to contact a prostitute for the “full experience.”

On the initial phone call he gave his name as "John" and arranged for the “full experience" at $100 for 30 minutes.

According to Deputy District Attorney Allison Fung, who prosecuted the case, once the defendant arrived at the correct hotel room, he wasted no time and leaped into the undercover deputy’s arms in an attempt to start the “full experience” by kissing her as soon as he walked into the room.

Wu was sentenced to 30 days in County Jail and 3 years of probation.

At last week’s California Hazardous Materials Investigators Association (CHMIA) annual conference Senior Investigator Steve Rivera (pictured above far left) was elected to the CHMIA Board as a regional director.
Steve has become well known in the field of environmental crimes. He has made a name for himself as a tenacious investigator and is well respected amongst his peers. His duties as a board member will include representation of the inland region which includes San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and Imperial County. He will be responsible for bringing and facilitating related trainings to our region.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Defendant convicted of fatally shooting two men at a Fontana park

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Fontana man was convicted Friday of shooting and murdering two men at a park in Fontana.

A jury found 22-year-old Roberto Colon (pictured left) guilty of two counts of murder. Victor Hernandez, 22, of Pomona, and Robert Ruiz, 22, of Upland, were both killed in the 2016 incident.

Colon faces 100 years to life in state prison when sentenced May 11, 2018 in Dept. R-4, Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court. 

In Dec. 2016, Colon found out that his girlfriend was contacted by an ex-boyfriend on social media, so he decided to confront the ex-boyfriend about the messages. The ex-boyfriend and the defendant didn’t know each other but they both sold drugs. Colon decided to set up a drug deal as a ruse to have a face-to-face meeting with the ex-boyfriend. 

According to Deputy District Attorney Cassandra Helmuth, who prosecuted the case, the defendants contacted the ex-boyfriend on the social media app, Snapchat, using an assumed identity and asked to purchase some cocaine. The ex-boyfriend agreed to sell the defendant one ounce of cocaine for $1,000.  

The following evening, the defendant went to the pre-arranged location with only $40 and a loaded gun, but the ex-boyfriend had arranged to have his friend, Victor Hernandez, sell the drugs. When Hernandez arrived, along with his friend, Robert Ruiz, Colon got into the backseat of their car.

“Four minutes later, the defendant pulled out his weapon and shot Ruiz in the back of the head and then turned to the driver and fired his weapon,” Deputy District Attorney Helmuth said. “Hernandez ducked down so the first shot missed. But the defendant fired again and hit the victim in the back of the head.”
This case was investigated by the Fontana Police Department.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Supervising DA Investigator Carlos Flores Recognized by Ontario Reign

Supervising District Attorney Investigator Carlos Flores was recognized by the Ontario Reign Friday as a Hero of the Night for his dedicated work in the area of fighting Human Trafficking. Carlos was a founding member of the San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force.

Defendant who sexually abused 2 Chino children convicted of multiple counts, faces 140 years in state prison

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Perris man who sexually abused two small children over several years was convicted Thursday.

Alberto Chavez, 29, was convicted of 1 Felony count of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child – Sodomy, 2 felony counts of Sexual Intercourse or Sodomy with Child 10 years old or Younger, 3 felony counts of Oral Copulation or Sexual Penetration with Child 10 Years Old or Younger, and 2 felony counts of Lewd Act Upon a Child.

He faces a maximum of 140 years in state prison at his sentencing June 1, 2018, in Dept. R-14, Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court.

According to Deputy District Attorney Brieann Durose, who prosecuted the case, the abuse took place over the course of an eight-year span in Chino and Perris.

The Amendment

Victim Advocates and staff from the Desert-Mountain Division attended a screening last week of "The Amendment" in honor of Victims' Rights Week. "The Amendment" is the true story of Brooks Douglass who survived, along with his sister, an unthinkable attack in his youth that claimed the lives of his parents.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Crimes Against Children Prosecutor Maryanne Choi honored for her work

Deputy District Attorney Maryanne Choi was recognized last week at the 20th Annual “Shine a Light” on Child Abuse Awards Breakfast for her 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 Maryanne Choi is assigned to the West Valley Division Family Violence Unit, where she specializes in the prosecution of felony crimes against children. She has been prosecuting Crimes Against Children cases for the past 9 years and has been a Deputy District Attorney since 2001.

As a Crimes Against Children Unit prosecutor she handles both physical abuse and sexual abuse cases. These are some of the hardest cases for a prosecutor to handle. There are some very horrific crimes. Most often the perpetrator of the crime is a family member or friend. The children in these cases are particularly vulnerable and need the help of a caring and dedicated prosecutor to navigate what can be an extremely daunting process. 

Deputy District Attorney Choi does an excellent of job of building rapport with the survivors of abuse so that they feel comfortable in what can seem like a hostile environment.

“Maryanne does an outstanding job of not only obtaining justice for child victims, but also protecting them from being further traumatized by the criminal justice process,” said Supervising Deputy District Attorney Bobbie Mann, who oversees the Family Violence Unit. “Prosecuting these emotionally difficult cases for so long takes a truly special and dedicated person. Maryanne is that person.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mother of murder victim gives victim impact statement at killer’s sentencing

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Prior to the sentencing of an Adelanto man who killed Bennett Warner after slamming his vehicle into him and pinning him against another vehicle, the victim’s mother, Vickie Turman, was present in court. The following victim impact statement was made to the court (excerpted):

Let me start with, I don’t think a parent should outlive any of their children. In 2017, you took my only son. He was 40 years old. My son Bennett… had a heart of gold. If he liked you, he would do anything for you. When he would call me, when I answered the phone, he would say, “Hello Mother.” I will never hear him say those words again. My son liked everyone he met and tried to help everyone he met. When I first heard my son was killed, I wanted to hate you, but I can’t. To hate someone takes a lot of work. I don’t think you are worth it. My wish is that for the rest of your life, however long that may be, that you have to think about what you did to my son. I wonder if now, or if ever, you will feel remorse for what you did… I feel bad for your family, because in a sense they too have lost a son. The big difference is they can talk to you on the phone or visit you in prison. When I talk to my son or visit, he is in a box. No matter what he did, or what you think he did, my son did not deserve what you did to him. You killed part of my very soul when you killed him. Rest in peace my precious son, Bennett. I love you.

In May 2017, 40-year-old Bennett Warner was riding his bicycle when he was struck by 23-year-old Raymundo Alberto Rodriguez-Cordova. Video surveillance and testimony presented at trial determined Rodriguez-Cordova accelerated his vehicle, and intentionally rammed Warner with his pick-up truck, pinning him into a parked vehicle.

In Nov. 2017, a jury found Rodriguez-Cordova guilty of murder. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Friday. This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Casey Cunningham with the assistance of Victim Advocate Denise Hanes and Desert-Mountain Division support staff.

Monday, April 9, 2018

District Attorney Ramos announces formation of Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit


SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – District Attorney Michael Ramos joined a crowd of 200-plus victims of crime, law and justice members and community leaders today in the Board Chambers at the San Bernardino County Government Center to commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. After paying tribute to crime victims, District Attorney Ramos announced the creation of the Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit.

About Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit

Public safety is of paramount importance to me as your District Attorney. Prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent of the law is what we do every day to obtain justice for victims, punish offenders, and deter others from committing crimes. However, public safety is also achieved if we can prevent a crime from occurring in the first place. The District Attorney’s Office is in a unique position to provide leadership in the community through crime prevention programs, intervention programs for appropriate low-level offenders, and community support programs.

We currently have many such programs in place, including Let’s End Truancy to encourage children to stay in school, Camp Good Grief to help support children of homicide/suicide victims, the Parent Project to teach parenting skills to parents of at-risk youth, the Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (GRIP) to immunize our elementary school students against gangs and drugs, Girls Court to give girls in the juvenile justice system the skills to get their lives back on track, RISE (Rehabilitation, Intervention, Support & Education) diversion program for first-time low level misdemeanor offenders, the Mock Trial Program to improve our high school students’ communication skills and understanding of our justice system, Veteran’s Court to address the special needs of our veterans who are in the criminal justice system, Mental Health Court to provide appropriate treatment for mentally ill non-violent offenders, and Drug Court to help rehabilitate non-violent drug addicts and thereby reduce drug-driven crimes.

As District Attorney, I recognize the importance of these programs to our public safety mission, and the need for a more coordinated county-wide approach to crime prevention and intervention, which leverages the resources of all our county law and justice agencies and the community. We will continue to ensure that we in the District Attorney’s Office are doing everything possible to not only prosecute crime, but to prevent crime. To help us accomplish these goals, I am proud to announce the creation of the Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit.

The Unit will consist of a team of seven prosecutors and support staff dedicated to reducing crime through prevention and intervention efforts, and working collaboratively with our criminal justice partners. The Unit will take a four-pronged approach to crime prevention:

Prevent our children from dropping out of school and falling prey to the criminal lifestyle, by significantly expanding our Let’s End Truancy Unit. Expand prosecutor participation in at-risk youth programs sponsored by our county law and justice partners. Studies show that 82% of incarcerated adults are high school dropouts, and raising graduation rates by 10% will reduce violent crime in our communities by 20%.

Divert low-level first-time misdemeanor offenders out of the criminal justice system and into short-term rehabilitation programs to quickly get them back on track and avoid serious negative impact to their futures. Studies show a higher success rate from this type of early positive intervention.

Support intensive court-assisted long-term rehabilitation and intervention programs, in coordination with our law enforcement and county behavioral health partners, for drug-addicted and mentally ill non-violent offenders. We must leverage our county and community resources to stop the revolving door of repeated drug-driven and mental illness-driven crimes.

Provide increased leadership and expertise to county and community partnerships that work to accomplish crime prevention goals including the San Bernardino County Gangs and Drugs Task Force, San Bernardino County Re-Entry Collaborative, San Bernardino County Treatment Court Steering Committee, San Bernardino County Behavioral Health & Criminal Justice Consensus Committee, and San Bernardino County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council.

Together the District Attorney’s Office will continue our leadership role in the criminal justice system and help prevent crimes from occurring in our community.

Monday, April 2, 2018

District Attorney's Office Co-hosts DUI Court in School Project

Supervising Deputy DA Jill Gregory and Deputy DA Don Pezza participated in a DUI Court in School Project last week at Don Lugo High School in Chino.

The DUI Court in School Project, which is a collaboration between the District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Public Health, is designed to provide a lesson to young people about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol while experiencing the judicial process of a DUI criminal sentencing based on an actual case. 

“The program had a profound impact on the student audience because they heard and saw the facts and video from a real life DUI case involving a young adult defendant and severely-injured teenage victims,” said Pezza. “They watched as the young student defendant was sentenced to five years state prison by a judge and then handcuffed by a bailiff and led offstage."

The DUI Court in School Project is an innovative strategy for helping to prevent underage drinking and driving and to save lives. This project brings to the school campus auditorium a DUI criminal sentencing proceeding based on an actual case to help students understand the legal consequences and personal loss to the victims and their families when a DUI is committed. This message takes place before prom and graduation and hopefully it will resonate with the students and their parents.

"After the sentencing, a MADD victim representative talked about the impact drunk driving has made on her life and the entire auditorium was completely silent as they listened to her,” said Gregory, who played the role of judge. “The program allows the students to see some of the real-world consequences of a decision to drink and drive.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Asst. Chief Hollis "Bud" Randles and Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope retire

Assistant Chief Hollis "Bud" Randles spoke today at his retirement ceremony.

Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope, pictured with District Attorney Mike Ramos, retired from the office after 35 years of service with the County of San Bernardino

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

In the Community: Lead Deputy DA honored by SBVC Police Academy

From left to right: SBSO Detective Doris Stuart,
SBVC Police Academy Director Jeff Klug (ret.),
Lead Deputy District Attorney Douglas Poston
and SBSO Capt. Horace Boatwright. 
Lead Deputy District Attorney Douglas Poston received a plaque Tuesday from the staff of the San Bernardino Valley College Police Academy to commemorate Poston's nineteen years of service as an instructor. 
"It's been both a privilege and an honor to instruct so many classes of fine men and women whose chosen profession is law enforcement," said Poston. "For a long time on nights and weekends I've taught hundreds of Academy trainees, but have also learned from each and every class, as well as from my fellow instructors, great people and professionals all. Recently, I learned that it is better to leave such work when you know that you will miss it rather than push it to the point when you will not. And I absolutely will remember it fondly--that walk back to the parking lot after receiving the plaque was a long one."  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit

Kristen Davis (Booking Photo)
A Hesperia man convicted of multiple counts related to pimping, assault and human trafficking of a minor was sentenced today to a maximum 31 years and 8 months in state prison.

This case was prosecuted by Deputy DA Tamara Ross and the Central Division support staff.

The investigation was conducted by San Bernardino Police Department and the District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation.

Click here to read the press release published at time of conviction.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Two gang members convicted of murder face 50 years to life in prison

Two gang members were convicted Friday in the murder of 21-year-old David Richardson, Jr., who was gunned down at a Rialto bus stop.

A jury found both 21-year-old Anthony Albert (pictured above left) of Fontana and 22-year-old Noah Davis (pictured above right) of Ontario guilty of one count of Murder and one count of Street Terrorism and found true street terrorism and gun allegations. Both men face 50 years to life each, when sentenced April 27.

On Jan. 12, 2018, 22-year-old Calvin Ranson of Fontana pleaded guilty to one count of Voluntary Manslaughter, with the Gang Enhancement, a Gun Enhancement, and Street Terrorism allegations. He faces 17 years and 8 months when sentenced next month.

The murder dates back to 2014 when all three defendants were driving through their gang’s “territory” and saw someone who they recognized as having associated with a rival gang.

As they drove past the individual, a passenger in the vehicle identified David Richardson as “the enemy.” After parking the vehicle, a passenger handed a loaded handgun back to Albert, Davis and Ransom. Albert took the gun and all three men exited the car and started walking towards Richardson.

The victim was on the phone, waiting at the bus stop to go to work, when Albert snuck up behind him and opened fire.

According to Deputy DA Mallory Miller, who prosecuted the case, the defendant fired his weapon at least seven times.

“When Mr. Albert opened fire, Mr. Richardson tried to run away from his attacker but couldn’t,” Deputy DA Miller said. “The victim was caught off-guard and the defendant, benefiting from the element of surprise, used this advantage to hit his target at least six of the seven times he pulled the trigger. One bullet hit square in Mr. Richardson’s back and another through the back of his head. He ultimately died face down in the street in a pool of his own blood, still holding his cellphone.”

After shooting the victim, Albert ran back to the other two defendants who had been waiting at a pedestrian gate, keeping it from closing until Albert returned.

The motive stemmed from a gang feud dating back to 2005. Although Richardson was not a member of a criminal street gang, the defendants believed him to be an associate of their rival gang. This case was investigated by the Rialto Police Department.