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Marijuana Grower Sentenced in Sequoia National Forest Illegal Cultivation Case

Monday, March 19, 2018 / No Comments

A suspect who plead guilty to charges of conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana in the Sequoia National Forest was sentenced today in Federal Court in Sacramento. 
Alfredo Cardenas-Suastegui (Cardenas), 57, of Michoacán, Mexico, was sentenced today to five years in prison. The sentence was issued by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill also ordered Cardenas to pay $5,233 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for the damage to public land and natural resources.
Cardenas pleaded guilty on October 2, 2017. According to the plea agreement, for four months, Cardenas tended to 3,850 marijuana plants at an area known as the “Box 6” grow site in the Sequoia National Forest in Kern County. 
Co‑defendants Sair Maldonado-Soto, 22, and Coral Herrera, 21, both of Perris, Riverside County, supplied material, equipment, and personnel to Box 6 and to a grow site in the Lucas Creek drainage with a total of 10,396 marijuana plants for both sites. Maldonado-Soto and Herrera were also responsible for transporting Cardenas and co‑defendant Abel Toledo‑Villa, 35, of Michoacán, Mexico, away from the Box 6 grow site after it was raided. 
Additionally, a rifle, ammunition, and processed marijuana were seized from the vehicle occupied by the four defendants as it drove away from the Box 6 grow site.
The marijuana cultivation operations at both sites caused extensive damage to the land and natural resources. Toxic pesticides and fertilizers, miles of plastic irrigation lines, and large amounts of trash were found at both sites. 
Maldonado-Soto was sentenced to three years and four months in prison, Herrera was sentenced to five years of probation, and Toledo-Villa was sentenced to five years in prison.
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) , Southern Tri-County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force, California Department of Justice’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kern County Sheriff’s Office, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Fontana Police Department, and Victorville Police Department. 

Sacramento DA Issues Warrants For Towing Company, Employees For Alleged Illegal Vehicle Seizures

Friday, March 16, 2018 / No Comments

The Sacramento District Attorney's office issued arrests warrants against six employees of a Sacramento towing company. 

The arrested warrants were issued to six employees of Sacramento-based Davis Towing and the company's three owners. The warrants were issued for Christopher Davis, Scott Davis, and Les McKenzie, the owners of Davis Tow, Inc., of Sacramento, and Davis Tow employees Andrew Applegate, Erik Dyer, Jim Early, Drew Harless, Robert Noble, and Edmond Wilson. 

According to the District Attorney's office, the group have been charged with one count of conspiracy and 29 counts of unlawfully taking motor vehicles. It is alleged that between January 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016, these Davis Tow owners and employees illegally towed vehicles from properties near Sleep Train Arena and withheld them from the vehicles’ owners until towing and storage fees were paid. 

The District Attorney’s Office has also filed a civil case seeking an injunction to prevent Davis Tow from illegally towing vehicles, and collecting money for any illegal tows or storage of vehicles. 

Sacramento Man Indicted by Federal Grand Jury For Firearms Trafficking

Friday, March 9, 2018 / No Comments

A Federal Grand Jury in Sacramento issued a indictment yesterday against a Sacramento man alleging his trafficking in illegal firearms trafficking. The suspect, Shawn Darrell Wilson, 27, was charged with 27 counts dealing firearms without a license, possessing a firearm as a felon, and illegal possession of a machine gun. 

According to court documents, Wilson met with an undercover agent and two confidential sources on 17 occasions between September 12, 2017, and December 8, 2017, and sold them a variety of firearms, including a fully automatic machine gun, several AR-15-type rifles and pistols, and handguns. In all, Wilson sold investigators 46 firearms, many of which lacked a serial number or other identifying markings. 
Because his is a convicted felon, Wilson is prohibited from possessing firearms. This case is the joint investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with special assistance from the Sacramento Police Department and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office’s Gangs, Hate Crimes, and Narcotics unit. 
No trial date has been established and the case will be tried by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy H. Delgado. If convicted of dealing firearms without a license, Wilson faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for possessing a firearm as a felon and illegal possession of a machine gun is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

16-year old Arrested For Making Alleged Terrorist Threats Against Stockton Charter School

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A 16-year old male is in custody after he allegedly made terrorist threats against a Stockton, California school.

According to Stockton Police, officers responded to the Venture Academy on the 2800 block of Transworld Drive to meet with school staff regarding an anonymous email threat. The email stated that one of their students wanted to "shoot up the school."

The information about the threat came from a social media posting and police contacted the suspect and his parents. After questioning, the student was taken into custody without incident and charged with making terrorist threats. 

A search of the suspect's residence did not reveal any firearms. Police did not release specific details of the alleged threat. 

"Once again, we are pleased that people are coming forward with information regarding these types of serious threats," Stockton Police Department’s Public Information Officer Joe Silva said. "The Venture Academy staff did the right thing by contacting us immediately which allowed our officers to make a quick arrest.”

Chew's Reviews - A Wrinkle in Time

Thursday, March 8, 2018 / No Comments

By Gary Chew |  |

My assumption when writing a film review is that likely close to 100-percent of those who read it are adults. That's especially my sincere wish for these words about A Wrinkle In Time ... new from the Wonderful World of Disney.

Obviously, not because the picture is replete with explicit sex and coarse language, but rather … a film children should see en masse. Age suggestions from Oprah Winfrey herself, on the Stephen Colbert show the other night, are that the picture is about right for kids 6 to 14; any younger … it could scare the bejesus out of them. Thus, these remarks are meant for parents: take those kids of yours to this one … for sure.

The principal themes woven into this beloved story, originating from the American author Madeleine L'Engle, are love, diversity and respect. The script was written by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell; Ava DuVarney directed. An earlier film by DuVarney is Selma from 2014.

A Wrinkle In Time is a broad metaphor about life that makes connections in almost as many ways as there are likely to be lives lived. Meg Murry (Storm Reid) is about 14 or 15. Her father (Chris Pine) has left the family. The mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Meg's little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) are also still at home, not knowing where Mr. Murry has gone or if he's coming back. In the family's backyard, Meg, Charles Wallace and Meg's school friend, Calvin (Levi Miller) are whisked away through time and space to rescue Mr. Murry and bring him back home. The father is a gifted scientist who says he wants to “shake hands with the universe.” Unfortunately, Mr. Murry has become a prisoner of evil forces on a far distant planet.

Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) is the first of a trinity of women who make you comfortable with the idea that this film is pretty far out there. The movie has important things to say to young human beings just learning, hopefully best, how to negotiate themselves through the rest of their lives – and thus, with a certain amount of clarity. Two other important participants in the “transportation” of Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin to places they've never imagined are Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey). What one plays larger than the other two is, of course, Mrs. Which. She's the boss, but a nice one. Oprah, Reese and Mindy's garbs, coupled with their makeup are something to behold. Moreover, Reese is pretty funny ... and assisted so by wearing weird-colored lipstick.

Two more familiar faces show up for sequences of Wrinkle's wild action: Zack Zalifianakis and David Oyelowo. Respectively, the characters played by them are known as Happy Medium and The It.

(If kids have been reading this up to now, they should put it down. Stop your reading, please.)

A Wrinkle In Time is boring. Its plot is hopelessly full of holes and runs about 15 to 20 minutes longer than necessary. Young people are not likely so much tuned-in to these “issues,” but still influenced, I'm sure, by the positive examples presented, and with which their minds may play and ponder.

Leaving the cinema, I saw a small, sweet girl standing with her mother who was in line waiting to pick up her embargoed phone from an usher. I leaned over to the child, who appeared to be a preschooler, and said, “Did you like the film?” Her pretty, sparkly eyes were still quite big from seeing all the wrinkles in the movie. I inferred from her facial expression that she was continuing to wonder about what had just happened before her … there on that big screen. She cautiously nodded “yes.”

Copyright © 2018 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

Senate Confirms McGregor Scott as U.S. Attorney For Sacramento, Eastern District of California

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McGregor W. Scott was confirmed yesterday by the U.S. Senate as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California which is based in Sacramento. Scott, was appointed by President Donald Trump in November 2017.

“I am humbled and honored to be appointed by the president to lead the committed men and women in this outstanding office," Scott said. "I look forward to working with them and our law enforcement partners to keep our communities safe, to safeguard the Treasury, and to provide the United States with the highest quality legal representation in all the matters we handle." 

Scott has returned to familiar territory following his appointment by Trump. Between 2003 and 2009 he held the same position during the administration of George W. Bush.

Before working in the Bush administration, Scott was the district attorney in Shasta County. During his tenure there his office successfully prosecuted high-profile cases including the firebombing of synagogues and abortion clinics in Redding, California and the murder of a gay couple.  

After completing his first term as U.S. Attorney, Mr. Scott practiced as a partner with the law firm of Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe LLP, focusing on white-collar criminal defense and corporate investigations. Also, Mr. Scott retired in 2008 from the U.S. Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel after 23 years of service.

The Eastern District of California and is responsible for prosecuting federal criminal cases and representing the United States in civil litigation. The Eastern District covers 34 counties throughout the Central Valley and the Sierras, from the Oregon border in the north to the Los Angeles County line in the south and is staffed with 92 attorneys and 81 non-attorney staff with offices in Sacramento, Fresno, and Bakersfield.

Sexual Predator Convicted on Multiple Charges, Assaulted Victim Over Course of Several Years

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March 8, 2018 |

A sexual predator who assaulted his victim over the course of several years has been convicted by the Special Assault and Child Abuse unit of the Sacramento County District Attorney's office in a jury trial that concluded on March 7.

Javier Lopez-Diaz, 56, was convicted of three counts of lewd and lascivious act on a child under the age of 14, five counts of forcible lewd act upon a child, three counts of forcible oral copulation and two counts of forcible rape. 

According to evidence introducted in the trail, the victim was 7 years old when Lopez-Diaz started dating her older sister. Sometime therafter, Lopez-Diaz was found to have begun sexually assaulting the victim, and continued the assaults over many years. 

Eventually Lopez-Diaz‘s conduct escalated to raping the victim. The victim moved in with her sister and Lopez-Diaz during her senior year of high school, and when she turned 24 years old, she was able to leave and disclose to authroities the years long abused she had suffered. 

Sentencing is scheduled for May 18, 2018 by Judge Steve White. Lopez-Diaz faces a maximum sentence of 102 years in prison.