Tag Archives: San Bernardino

DA Finds Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting in Chino Justified

Staff Reports

SAN BERNARDINO – The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has completed its review of the fatal officer-involved shooting of 56-year-old Stephen Austin of Chino by Chino Police Officer John Burg, Coproral Margarito Jacquez and Sergeant Nicholas Marotta by on March 9, 2016.

Based on the facts presented in the reports and the applicable law, the use of deadly force utilized by all three officers was a proper exercise of their right of self-defense and the defense of others and therefore their actions were legally justified.

The report of the written case evaluation is available at http://www.sbcountyda.org by selecting Press Releases under the Newsroom tab at the top of the home page.

Contact: Christopher Lee, Public Affairs Officer (909) 382-3665 or via email at clee@sbcda.org or via text at (909) 782-5559



Mother Kills 2-Year-Old; Sentenced To Life

Photo courtesy: SBSD

By Marissa Mitchell

San Bernardino, California – Last week a mother who physically assaulted her 2-year-old with what would become fatal injuries was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.

On May 12, Hesperian mother Jaimi Roberts, 24, was sentenced for the crime she had been found guilty for on March 22 of this year: involuntary manslaughter and assault on a child causing death. Her son, Grant Dunn Jr., died of complications due to the injuries she inflicted upon him. Superior Court Judge Eric M. Nakata in Victorville imposed the term.

During the trial, jurors witnessed Roberts’ video-recorded statement, in which she admitted she “dropped elbows” on her son’s abdomen. After autopsy, it was found these stomach blows had ruptured his intestines and brought about his death two days later. She also re-enacted striking the child with her elbow in the video.

Judge Nakata stated, “For you to sit here and tell me this was an accident is outrageous.” Roberts had claimed both in court and during interview that she was “play-wrestling” with her son, and that his death was an “accident.” She claimed no prior child abuse and insisted that they “play-wrestled” on April 22, 2014.

The prosecutor Deputy District Attorney David Foy indicated to the court that Roberts did not procure medical care for the 2-year-old for two days after the injury, even though the toddler was vomiting, could not stand, and felt cold sensations in his legs.

Quoting a probation report, Judge Nakata said: “The crime involved great bodily harm and/or other acts disclosing a high degree of cruelty, viciousness and callousness in that the victim suffered for an extended period of time after the defendant struck him, and made a conscious decision to avoid medical attention for him until after he lost consciousness.”

Paramedics had gone into the Hesperia home of Roberts (then age 21) in the afternoon after the child had lost consciousness. The child was then hospitalized, but died later that afternoon from sepsis in the bloodstream – what occurs once internal organs have been ruptured.

Roberts will serve her sentence in state prison.

Gang Member Sentenced To 80 Years To Life For Murder


SAN BERNARDINO. – 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 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.

Illegal Marijuana Plants Seized

Staff Reports

San Bernardino- A search warrant was served on August 9 at 8068 Sunnyside Avenue in San Bernardino for the cultivation of marijuana. Deputies from the Central Station responded to calls for service in the area and discovered the illegal marijuana growth when they notified the Gangs/Narcotics Division.

Once the search was conducted, suspect Camilo Farias-Rodrigues, 33-years-old, was found in the rear yard tending to the marijuana plants.

Once Farias-Rodrigues was detained, deputies secured the area and began an investigation. According to SBSD, “He was being paid to care for the plants by an unknown individual. Investigators seized over 2300 marijuana plants in various stages of growth from the location.”

In the investigation, it was determined that Farias-Rodrigues had been hired to care for the plants and was staying on the property to do so.

It was also found that the suspect was not in compliance with the California medical marijuana laws and local ordinances. The County of San Bernardino has an ordinance prohibiting marijuana dispensaries, mobile marijuana dispensaries, delivery services, and outdoor cultivation of marijuana within the unincorporated areas of the county.

Farias-Rodrigues was booked into the Central Detention Center for Cultivation of Marijuana and given a bail of $25,000. The property owner may also face civil and/or criminal charges at a later date.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Gangs/Narcotics Division at (909) 890-4840. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can call the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463), or you can also leave information on their website at http://www.wetip.com.

SB County DA Named President

Staff Reports  

Photo Courtesy: San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office

Photo Courtesy: San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office

San BernardinoOn July 18, San Bernardino County released that District Attorney Mike Ramos was sworn in as President of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA).

This ceremony was held in Boston, Massachusetts and Ramos was honored during the NDAA’s 2016 Summer Conference and National Victim’s Right Summit.

The former NDAA President, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, administered the oath of office to Ramos and the Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was a main speaker for the ceremony and conducted the “Passing of the Gavel.”

As Ramos made his inaugural speech, he states, “I am honored to have earned the support of my colleagues and given the opportunity to represent the thousands of elected District Attorneys across our great nation,” and also stating, “My intent is to work with my fellow District Attorneys and utilitize this position to continue to fight for justice and victims’ rights at a national level.”

According to SB County District Attorney’s office, Ramos also promised to continue working cooperatively with all local, state, and federal partners in the law and justice community and to help further develop the functions and valuable services NDAA has to offer.

His previous leadership roles for the organization have included vice president and current co-chair of NDAA’s Training and Education Committee. He currently is serving his fourth term as District Attorney of SB County and previously served as president of the CA District Attorneys Association, as well as currently one of three members appointed by the Governor to the CA Victim Compensation Board.

Memberships include District Attorneys from across the United States for NDAA, formed in 1950 and represents the interests of prosecutors and influences federal and national policies affecting law enforcement and prosecution across the country, which is based in Arlington, Virginia.


Three Arrested In Connection To San Bernardino Terrorist Attack

Three People Connected to Shooter in San Bernardino Terrorist Attack Arrested on Federal Conspiracy, Marriage Fraud and False Statement Charges

By Thom Mrozek, Public Affairs Officer of the United States Attorney’s Office
RIVERSIDE, California – Three people with family connections to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the perpetrators of the December 2, 2015 terrorist attack at the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center (IRC), were arrested this morning on federal conspiracy, marriage fraud and false statement charges.
A five-count indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury charges three defendants in a marriage fraud conspiracy that involved making false statements under oath for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits for one of the defendants.
The three defendants arrested this morning are:
• Mariya Chernykh, 26, of Ontario, who, according to official records, is married to Enrique Marquez, Jr., who is awaiting trial on charges of conspiring with Syed Rizwan Farook in 2011 and 2012 to provide material support to terrorists;
• Tatiana Farook, 31, of Corona, who is Chernykh’s sister; and
• Syed Raheel Farook, 31, of Corona, who Tatiana Farook’s husband and Syed Rizwan Farook’s brother.
The indictment charges all three defendants in a conspiracy to knowingly make under oath a false statement with respect to a material fact in an application, affidavit, and other document required by the immigration laws and regulations of the United States. This charge carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
The indictment also charges Chernykh with fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents; perjury; and two counts of making material false statements to federal agents. These four charges carry a combined statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison.
When Marquez was indicted by a federal grand jury at the end of 2015 with conspiring with Syed Rizwan Farook to provide material support to terrorists, he was also charged with entering into a sham marriage with Chernykh in November 2014 and illegally signing an immigration form that falsely declared he was living with her (see: http://go.usa.gov/cuKEm).

“This is the latest step in the comprehensive investigation into the horrific attacks in San Bernardino last year that took the lives of 14 innocent Americans and deeply affected so many more,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “As I have said previously, we owe the victims, and the entire community of San Bernardino, a thorough investigation that uncovers all criminal activity surrounding these events. Today’s arrests open a new phase in the process of bringing to justice all individuals who allegedly committed crimes that were uncovered during our exhaustive investigation. The charges also reflect the importance we place on statements made to law enforcement officials during a terrorism investigation. Those who lie to or conceal material information from law enforcement officers investigating terrorist acts will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Acting Assistant Director of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, James Struyk, said, “Members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force worked around the clock in an attempt to find immediate answers in the days and weeks following the December murders in San Bernardino to ensure no additional threats to the community were present. As proof of our enduring commitment to the victims and their families, the FBI and our partners will continue to pursue all leads developed in this matter to build cases when evidence of a crime is revealed.”
Joseph Macias, Special Agent in Charge U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Los Angeles, stated: “Last year’s tragedy in San Bernardino showed yet again how our nation’s legal immigration system can be subverted and exploited by those intent on doing this country harm. As the second largest presence on the nation’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, HSI special agents, in collaboration with their JTTF partners, are using their unique skills and authorities, including their immigration expertise, to pursue individuals and organizations that pose a threat to domestic security. As this case underscores, that vigilance extends to those whose actions directly or indirectly put our communities and our country at risk.”
The case against Chernykh and the Farooks stems from the overall investigation into the IRC terrorist attack. While investigating the terrorist attack, federal agents obtained official records showing that Marquez, a former neighbor of Syed Rizwan Farook’s, is married to Chernykh. The investigation determined that Marquez agreed to marry Chernykh so she could obtain immigration benefits that were not available to her because she is a Russian citizen and did not have legal status in the United States. The indictment alleges that Marquez received money from Chernykh to enter into the sham marriage.
In furtherance of this conspiracy, both Marquez and Chernykh signed immigration documents, under penalty of perjury, that included information that they lived at the same address, when they did not.
Syed Raheel Farook and Tatiana Farook participated in the conspiracy by, among other things, witnessing Marquez and Chernykh’s wedding, taking staged family pictures of Marquez and Chernykh, establishing a joint checking account for Marquez and Chernykh, and creating a back-dated lease for Marquez and Chernykh to create the illusion that they shared a marital residence with Syed Raheel Farook and Tatiana Farook.
FBI agents interviewed Chernykh as part of the investigation into the IRC terrorist attacks, and she allegedly made false statements that she lived with Marquez at Syed Raheel Farook and Tatiana Farook’s residence in Corona.
All three defendants are expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
Today’s operation is the result of an ongoing investigation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes partners with HSI, the San Bernardino Police Department, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the Ontario Police Department, the Riverside Police Department, the Corona Police Department and the Chino Police Department.

FBI Unlocks Terrorist’s iPhone

Staff Reports

SAN BERNARDINO– The government has asked a United States Magistrate Judge in Riverside, California to vacate the order that would have compelled Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhone 5C that was used in the San Bernardino terrorist attack last year. With the recent assistance of a third party, the Department of Justice is now able to unlock that phone without compromising any information on the device.

Government officials had sought an order compelling Apple to help unlock the phone of terrorist Syed Farook, who along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, shot and killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015.  The DOJ wanted Apple to help the FBI unlock the phone by building a new version of iOS that would have bypassed iPhone passcode restrictions.  Apple had steadfastly refused to comply with the court order, saying that it would set a dangerous precedent for future device security.

United States Attorney Eileen Decker released the following statement, “We sought an order compelling Apple to help unlock the phone to fulfill a solemn commitment to the victims of the San Bernardino shooting – that we will not rest until we have fully pursued every investigative lead related to the vicious attack. Although this step in the investigation is now complete, we will continue to explore every lead, and seek any appropriate legal process, to ensure our investigation collects all of the evidence related to this terrorist attack. The San Bernardino victims deserve nothing less.”

Sex Offender Living With 5 Kids Arrested

Photo courtesy of San Bernardino Sheriff’s Dept.  Keith Dewayne Lavinge arrested in San Bernardino

Photo courtesy of San Bernardino Sheriff’s Dept.
Keith Dewayne Lavinge arrested in San Bernardino

Staff Reports

SAN BERNARDINO-  A convicted sex offender who had five children living in his home in San Bernardino has been arrested.

Keith Lavinge has been convicted twice for the sexual assault of a child under the age of 14, and he is required to register his home address with authorities.  Investigators found that Lavinge has been registering as a “transient” in the City of San Bernardino, and has not been honest with law enforcement about his residency.
Sheriff’s detectives were contacted by social workers from the Department of Children and Family Services, who are mandated reporters. During the course of the social worker’s investigation, it was determined that the children’s biological mother & biological father are incarcerated, and all 5 children were living with the mother’s boyfriend, Keith Lavinge.
On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, members from the Sheriff’s Specialized Enforcement Division assisted detectives in serving a search warrant at Lavinge’s residence in the 200 block of East 2nd Street in San Bernardino.  Lavinge was contacted at that location, along with the five children. Evidence was located at the residence to prove that Lavinge had been living at the location with the children for over a year. Lavinge was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender. He was transported and booked into the West Valley Detention Center, where he is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
All five children were placed into protective custody. Further investigation is being conducted into the welfare of the children during the time they were living with Lavinge.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact Detective Donald Patton or Sergeant Dana Foster in the Specialized Investigations-Crimes Against Children Detail at (909) 387-3615.  If you choose to remain anonymous, call WeTip at 1-800-78-CRIME or www.wetip.com

CarMax Crash Fugitive Sought

Photo courtesy:  San Bernardino County Sheriff  Fugitive Alex Demetro sought

Photo courtesy: San Bernardino County Sheriff
Fugitive Alex Demetro sought

Staff Reports

SAN BERNARDINO-  A Union City, CA  man charged with killing a CarMax salesman has been declared a fugitive.

Alex Demetro, 28, allegedly crashed a Corvette into a tree during a test drive around 12:45 p.m., February 23, on Mercedes Lane in Ontario.  Witnesses told police that the driver was traveling at a high rate of speed, possibly as high as 70 mph, when he lost control of the car and crashed.

After the collision, 43-year-old Warren Smale of Montclair, a CarMax employee, was taken to a hospital in critical condition.  He was later pronounced dead as a result of his injuries. Smale had worked at the CarMax dealership since October 2013, and was the first CarMax employee to die during a test drive, according to the company.   He grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to California to find a good job.

Demetro was released from jail February 24 after posting $100,000 bail.

On March 7, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office charged Demetro with one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, one count of driving while under the influence of a drug causing injury, and one count of driving when privilege suspended or revoked with priors.  When Demetro did not show up for his court hearing, a warrant for his arrest was issued.

The case is currently under investigation by the Ontario Police Department.  If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Alex Demetro, please contact Ontario Police Officer Brian Olivo at (909) 395-4646 or callers wishing to remain anonymous can dial WeTip at (800) 78-CRIME.

San Bernardino County Jail Prisoners Sue Over Jail Conditions

Staff Reports

SAN BERNARDINO- Two prisoners in the San Bernardino County jails filed a federal class action lawsuit today, claiming that conditions in the jails are unconstitutional. George Topete and Zachary Shovey claim that the jails are depriving them of basic medical and mental health care, and protection from harm.  They also allege that the jails are denying them reasonable accommodations for their disabilities. The prisoners are seeking an order from the court requiring county officials to improve jail conditions in order to comply with constitutional standards.

The suit alleges that prisoners do not have timely access to physicians and mental health clinicians, that they are victims of excessive force and violence from other inmates, and that they do not receive reasonable accommodations for their disabilities.

George Topete, 50, who has been convicted of attempted murder and robbery, alleges that he has difficulty walking and using stairs due to a physical disability.  Topete is alleging that the jail system has refused him access to a cane, which he needs to walk.   Topete is also alleging that the jail gave him a wheelchair, but he is not able to use it because he is not located in a wheelchair-friendly cell block.   As a result, he has fallen and is at risk of falling when trying to access the visiting area, his cell, and the toilet.

Zachary Shovey, a pretrial detainee at the West Valley Detention Center, has no violent criminal record. He does have an extensive psychiatric history that includes multiple suicide attempts, psychiatric medications, and a nine-month stay in a state psychiatric hospital. Shovey is alleging that the jail failed to provide him mental health treatment and psychiatric medications for one year after his arrest despite symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, anxiety, and insomnia.  He is also alleging that the jail has failed to provide him with timely medical treatment for his seizure disorder.

“These people are entirely dependent on the jail for their health care and well-being – they have no other options,” said Kelly Knapp, Staff Attorney at the Prison Law Office.

The lawsuits stem from a lengthy investigation undertaken by the Prison Law Office into conditions in the jails.

“Sheriff John McMahon has been transparent about the conditions in the jails and has cooperated fully with the investigation,” said Donald Specter, Executive Director of the Prison Law Office. “We expect this cooperation to continue during the litigation and hope that the case can be resolved as quickly as possible,” said Specter.

The county denies that conditions in the jails are unlawful and believes that health care provided to inmates is of high quality, that inmates with disabilities are accommodated and that prisoners are housed in a safe and secure environment.

Even so, Sheriff McMahon noted that, “Since realignment, counties, including San Bernardino, have faced significant challenges in housing more inmates for longer periods of time than they have historically.”

The county has devoted significant resources over the last several years to ensuring that conditions in the jails meet all relevant constitutional, statutory and regulatory standards. As part of that ongoing effort, the county has been working cooperatively with the Prison Law Office for more than a year in an effort to address the claims that have been made in the lawsuit.

“We have appreciated the willingness of the Prison Law Office to work constructively with the county on these issues, look forward to continued cooperative discussions, and are optimistic that the case can be resolved amicably” said Sheriff McMahon.

San Bernardino Co. Sheriff Helps Out Homeless Vet

Photo courtesy: SBCS Jack gets a new start through the HOPE program.

Photo courtesy: SBCS
Jack gets a new start through the HOPE program.

Staff Reports

San Bernardino – Jack was lying on a piece of cardboard in Perris Hill Park when San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputy Collins and Jones approached him one afternoon.

Once a decorated Vietnam veteran and business owner, Jack had hit rock bottom and given up on life after his wife’s death in 2010. He had been living on the streets for over a month. He turned to drinking heavily and ended up on the streets. He did not want to bother or worry his two adult children and decided to live in the park. Jack told deputies that he did not know how to get off the streets, but was willing to do whatever was necessary to get into housing.

After contacting Veteran Affairs, deputies discovered that Jack had earned five Medals of Valor during his service in Vietnam.

His day was about to change for the better. On Feb. 23, Jack was given a fresh start on life and offered assistance by the Sheriff’s HOPE (Homeless Outreach Proactive Enforcement) team.

Jack was very eager to get out of the park and agreed. He had an honorable discharge and a copy of his Together with Veteran Affairs (VA) and Knowledge & Education For Your Success, Inc. (KEYS), deputies helped Jack put a roof over his head.

Jack was extremely happy and appreciative of the assistance provided to him by HOPE, and repeatedly thanked and shook the team’s hands, with tears in his eyes, deputies said.

“It was truly a pleasure to help a national hero get back on his feet and restore some dignity to his life,” Jones said. “The HOPE team is pushing to end veteran homelessness in San Bernardino County.”

This is just one of the many success stories of the SB County Sheriff’s HOPE program.

HOPE was developed in 2014 to balance proactive outreach with enforcement of the law, while connecting members of the homeless population with resources that may help them transition from homelessness. The deputies even appear less threatening sporting polo shirts and khaki pants.

According to the HOPE webpage, the ultimate goal is to reduce the rate of recidivism and reduce the current costs associated to homeless related crime.

How can you help? Deputies encourage the public to give donations to organizations that assist homeless persons, not panhandlers. Statistics show that most panhandlers are not homeless, and most homeless do not panhandle.

Photo courtesy: SBCS

Photo courtesy: SBCS


Shooting in Chino Hills Ruled Justified

Staff Reports

SAN BERNARDINO– The fatal officer-involved shooting of Peter John Oien, 47, of Chino Hills, by three San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies on Nov. 18, 2013 was justified Tuesday by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.

According to the police report, on Nov. 18, 2013, at approximately 7:52 p.m., Chino Hills Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a disturbance call at 157 Tern Street, in the city of Chino Hills. The reporting party, (“RP”) advised dispatch that her boyfriend, Peter John Oien was stabbing himself in the chest with a kitchen knife. She also advised that Oien may be high on methamphetamine.

Upon arriving at the location, deputies contacted RP down the street, and she informed them that Oien was last seen inside their bedroom, and was stabbing himself in the chest with a kitchen knife. RP gave the deputies a key to the residence and gave them verbal permission to enter.

Deputies Hendrix, McChristian and Tobar walked to the front door area of the residence and tried to make contact with Oien, who was believed to still be inside the residence. Deputies called out to Oien that they were there to help him, and that fire department and ambulance personnel were at the scene as well. They instructed Oien to drop the knife and come out of the bedroom without any weapons. McChristian looked down the hallway from the living room and saw Oien standing in a bedroom approximately 12 yards away holding a knife in each hand. Oien was covered with blood from his neck down to his waist. Deputies instructed Oien to drop the knives several times, but Oien instead ran at the deputies while holding a knife in each hand. Deputies again ordered Oien to drop the knives, but Oien raised his hands with the knives while still charging at the deputies and closing the distance on them. In fear for their safety and their lives, and for the safety and lives of their fellow deputies, the deputies fired their weapons at Oien as he continued to run toward them. After being struck by the gunfire, Oien fell to the ground and landed near McChristian’s feet.

The crime scene was secured and Oien was transported to Chino Valley Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.

According to County D.A. officials, the deputies’ use of force was in response to an immediate threat of great bodily injury or death to themselves and their fellow deputies present at the scene.

Inland Empire: Man Sentenced to 135 Years

Photo courtesy of San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office Edward Thomas Booking Photo

Photo courtesy of San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office
Edward Thomas Booking Photo

Staff Reports

SAN BERNARDINO- After jury deliberations that lasted less than an hour, a Michigan man was found guilty last month on nine counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. Edward Thomas, 53, was sentenced for his crimes at the West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga on January 19.

Thomas received 135-years-to-life in state prison for the sexual assaults of his biological daughter that took place over a ten-year period between 1995 and 2005.  Each count carried a 15-year-to-life sentence.

The charges stem from multiple incidents dating back to when the victim, Jane Doe, was approximately 5 years old and living in Fontana. The abuse went on until she was approximately 15 years old, but Jane Doe never told anyone, including her mother, Lucy.

“Due to fears that there could potentially be more victims, Jane Doe was finally able to disclose the terrible abuse she endured for over ten years,” said Deputy District Attorney Morrissa Cardoza, who prosecuted the case.

In 2013, Jane Doe disclosed the abuse to her mother.  Her mother then wrote the defendant a letter confronting him about the allegations.  Thomas responded by apologizing for everything and begging for forgiveness.  The mother, Lucy, then contacted the Fontana Police.

According to DDA Cardoza, the defendant was living in Michigan when the case came to light, so detectives from the Fontana Police Department flew out to interview him, and again, the defendant confessed.   He was arrested in March.

“However, he was unwilling to plead guilty because he was charged with aggravated sexual assaults, and he always maintained that none of the molestation was forcible,” DDA Cardoza said.

The victim, Jane Doe, is now 25 years old and is serving as an active member of the United States Army.

Catholic Church Tagged by Vandal

Photo by: John P

Photo by: John P

Staff Reports

San Bernardino – County Sheriffs are searching for a male suspect after a Catholic church was tagged with graffiti last Friday, Jan. 8.

In black paint, the suspect spray painted offensive symbols including swastikas and pentagrams on the outside walls and front entrance doors.
Last Friday at approximately 2:25 a.m., deputies responded to a report of vandalism in progress at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church located at 6885 Del Rosa Ave. in the county area of San Bernardino. The suspect fled the location prior to deputy arrival, department officials said.
Witnesses described the suspect as a male Hispanic adult wearing a blue jacket and dark pants, the authorities said in a statement released on Monday.

Church volunteers worked into the evening painting over the graffiti, according to parish officials.
There are no leads as of Monday, Jan. 11. Sheriffs are investigating the incident, and are asking the public to help with any information by contacting the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office.  Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or the WeTip website at www.wetip.com.

Inland Empire: 32 Honored for Saving Lives

Deputies honored for their life-saving actions pictured with Sheriff McMahon.

Photo courtesy: SBCSD
Deputies honored for their life-saving actions pictured with Sheriff McMahon.

Staff Reports

San Bernardino County –The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on Friday, Dec. 18, recognized 32 personnel and citizens whose actions contributed to saving many lives.

Sheriff John McMahon presented the individuals with the awards and praised their heroic deeds at the event.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the professional character displayed by all 32 individuals awarded,” McMahon said. “Without hesitation, citizens and employees from various agencies stepped in and gave so many people their life back.”

Among the stories of the heroic acts, here are a few shining examples:
Deputy Will Fifita was honored for saving his father’s life while off-duty. On Thursday, Oct. 1, Fifita was off-duty at LAX Airport waiting to pick up family members. Suddenly, Will’s father, Eddie Fifita, fell to the ground and stopped breathing, possibly in cardiac arrest. Will quickly began assessing his father’s needs and was assisted by Customs Agents Phillip Gaff and Kevin Mahoney. The three officers began CPR and after several minutes, Will located a pulse and his father began breathing. Eddie Fifita was transported to a nearby hospital.
Highland resident Micheal Ruth helped save an injured driver on June 19.  At about 11 p.m., a traffic collision occurred on Boulder near Pacific. Ruth witnessed a car crash into a tree and become fully engulfed in flames. Ruth ran to the vehicle, saw the injured driver in the backseat, reached into the burning vehicle and pulled the driver to safety. After rescuing the driver, Ruth stayed with the driver until he was transported to a local hospital.
Deputy Daniel Smith was honored for saving his partner Deputy David Franquez’s life earlier this year.

In January of 2015, Deputies Daniel Smith and David Franquez were assigned as partners for the day on routine patrol in Rancho Cucamonga. They stopped for a quick bite to eat before their first assignment. Smith was researching the subjects they were going to contact when he looked at Franquez and realized he was choking. Franquez’s face turned red and he was no longer breathing. Smith got Franquez out of the patrol car and immediately began the Heimlich maneuver. The one hard compression dislodged the food from his airway and he began breathing on his own.

The Day San Bernardino Stood Still

Photo courtesy: SBCS In memory of the victims: Shannon Johnson, 45, Los Angeles (DOB: 03/06/70), Bennetta Bet-Badal, 46, Rialto (DOB: 03/08/69), Aurora Godoy, 26, San Jacinto (DOB: 02/01/89), Isaac Amanios, 60, Fontana (DOB: 06/29/55), Larry Kaufman, 42, Rialto (DOB: 08/12/73), Harry Bowman, 46, Upland (DOB: 06/08/69), Yvette Velasco, 27, Fontana (DOB: 04/03/88), Sierra Clayborn, 27, Moreno Valley (DOB: 06/15/88), Robert Adams, 40, Yucaipa (DOB: 05/02/75), Nicholas Thalasinos, 52, Colton (DOB: 10/14/63), Tin Nguyen, 31, Santa Ana (DOB: 04/06/84), Juan Espinoza, 50, Highland (DOB: 06/24/65), Damian Meins, 58, Riverside (DOB: 02/02/57), Michael Wetzel, 37, Lake Arrowhead (DOB: 04/29/78)

Photo courtesy: SBCS
In memory of the victims: Shannon Johnson, 45, Los Angeles (DOB: 03/06/70), Bennetta Bet-Badal, 46, Rialto (DOB: 03/08/69), Aurora Godoy, 26, San Jacinto (DOB: 02/01/89), Isaac Amanios, 60, Fontana (DOB: 06/29/55), Larry Kaufman, 42, Rialto (DOB: 08/12/73), Harry Bowman, 46, Upland (DOB: 06/08/69), Yvette Velasco, 27, Fontana (DOB: 04/03/88), Sierra Clayborn, 27, Moreno Valley (DOB: 06/15/88), Robert Adams, 40, Yucaipa (DOB: 05/02/75), Nicholas Thalasinos, 52, Colton (DOB: 10/14/63), Tin Nguyen, 31, Santa Ana (DOB: 04/06/84), Juan Espinoza, 50, Highland (DOB: 06/24/65), Damian Meins, 58, Riverside (DOB: 02/02/57), Michael Wetzel, 37, Lake Arrowhead (DOB: 04/29/78)

By Monique Valadez

SAN BERNARDINO – On the morning of Dec. 2, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, of Redlands, who worked as an inspector with the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, attended an employee holiday gathering at the Inland Regional Center. According to police, Farook left the gathering abruptly and returned with his wife Tahfeen Malik, 27. Witnesses said the couple opened fire, massacring 14 coworkers and wounded 21 others.

Some call it the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was overwhelming and surreal,” Fontana Police Officer Scott Snieder, a first responder on the scene last week, said. “Immediately, it hit home that this was not a training drill. It was one of the worst things I’ve had to experience in my entire career.”

Despite this tragedy and loss, all communities in the county are stronger than ever.

“The real heroes are those who were in the room that day who protected others and pulled injured out of the building,” McMahon said during a press conference. “They acted selflessly and courageously not thinking about what would happen to them but what they could do to save someone else.”

Many took to social media to post their support and well wishes to first responders and local law enforcement.

“This shooting has caused each victims family, friends and co-workers, along with the first responders, to suffer an enormous personal tragedy. We must stand strong and offer support to each individual affected by this senseless attack”, stated San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon.

County Sheriff’s Department has kept the community abreast on the investigation through their Facebook page. They reassure resident’s that their safety is of utmost importance.

“As we continue to mourn with ‪#‎SanBernardino and the entire world, we know that despite it all our communities are strong,” the sheriff’s department posted on their Facebook page. “Rest assured that all agencies in San Bernardino County’s main priority is to protect the citizens.

Law enforcement continues to ask the community to be cautious and report any suspicious behavior to the authorities.

“We ask that you stay vigilant, be aware of your surroundings and most importantly if you see something, say something,” authorities said on Facebook.

At this time, investigators are still trying to piece together profiles of the couple who killed coworkers and died in a gun fight with police last week. Local agencies will continue to work with the FBI.


Food Drive Benefits Riverside & San Bernardino Counties

Local Efforts in Inland Empire Part of Nationwide Goal to Provide 2 Million Meals To Feed Children Over Summer Month

Information courtesy of Kim Kimbriel 

RiversideKnowing that kids can’t have summer fun on an empty stomach, Caliber Collision is launching its 4th annual Rhythm Restoration Food Drive from June 8th through June 26th to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Riverside & San Bernardino.

Caliber Collision has set up food collection bins at each of its 17 centers in the Inland Empire and urges customers and the public to drop off food items or cash donations at local centers.

The local Caliber locations are part of a company-wide national food drive that last year provided more than one million meals for children in need of food.  The annual food drive is a grassroots, volunteer effort by Caliber teammates who have challenged each other to break 2014’s record and have set a nationwide goal of 2 million meals this year for at-risk children and families.

According to a recent report by Feeding America, despite the economic recovery, 1 in 5 children in the U.S. continue to struggle with hunger.  Chronic illness is reported to be higher among children living in food-insecure households and the lack of adequate nutrition can literally change the structure of a child’s brain and affect learning.

“For too many children, no school means no lunch,” said Steve Grimshaw, Caliber Collision’s Chief Executive Officer.  “Local food banks need extra help during the summer to ensure that those in need don’t go hungry. We are committed to doubling our efforts this year to restore the rhythm of regular meals to children in each of the communities that Caliber serves.”

In addition to the food items, Caliber Collision has also committed to a corporate matching contribution for local food banks based on the amount collected by Caliber teammates locally.

Non-perishable food items or cash donations can be dropped off at any of the Caliber Collision locations listed below. The food bank cannot accept glass or open containers, perishable or homemade items.


68-945 Perez Rd., No. 7

Cathedral City, CA 92234



14622 Ramona Ave.

Chino, CA 91710



15120 E. Valley Blvd.

City of Industry, CA 91746



2542 N. Towne Ave.

Pomona, CA 91767



433 E. San Bernardino Rd.

Covina, CA 91723



11182 “I” Ave.

Hesperia, CA 92345



82-279 Ave. 44

Indio, CA 92201



2000 S. Four Wheel Dr.

Norco, CA 92860



200 S. Wineville Ave.

Ontario, CA 91761




9490 9th St.

Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730



450 Nevada St.

Redlands, CA 92373



421 W. Rialto Ave.

Rialto, CA 92376



6634 Indiana Ave.

Riverside, CA 92506



1197 E. 3rd St.

San Bernardino, CA 92410



1841 Tyler Ave.

South El Monte, CA 91733



2110 Aviation Dr.

Upland, CA 91786



20601 E. Valley Blvd.

Walnut, CA 91789



About Caliber Collision Centers

Caliber Collision Centers is one of the largest collision repair companies in America with 297 I-CAR Gold Class Professional certified collision repair centers across 13 states. Caliber is consistently ranked among the highest customer satisfaction scores in the industry and backs all repair work with a written, lifetime warranty available at any of its 297 repair centers.  For more information about Caliber Collision, please visit our website at www.calibercollision.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Chino: City Seeks Volunteers For Annual Homeless Count


Chino – The City of Chino and the San Bernardino County Homeless Partnership are seeking volunteers to help count the homeless population in Chino. The count is an annual event that will take place on Thurs., Jan. 22, 2015, from 6 to 10 a.m.

Volunteers will be grouped into teams of three and assigned to a deployment center located in Chino. Team members will then be escorted around the City to locate and count homeless individuals and families who are considered unsheltered. The count will also include a survey to determine risk factors contributing to homelessness.

The count is part of a Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development mandated program that allows communities to better understand the number and characteristics of people sleeping on the street, or in other places not meant for human habitation. Communities around the country must participate in this process in order to apply for federal homeless services grant funding. Federal grant funds are the largest source of homeless services funding in San Bernardino County.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the count may register at www.sanbernardinocountyhomelesscounts.com. For questions regarding volunteer opportunities, please contact Josh Munch, Community Services Coordinator at (909) 334-3488.


San Bernardino County: Massive Outdoor Marijuana Cultivation Seized



Outdoor Marijuana Cultivation (Photo Courtesy: San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department)

Outdoor Marijuana Cultivation (Photo Courtesy: San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department)

San Bernardino County – The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBSD) has issued an advisory that on August 20 and 21, Enforcement Team Deputies conducted investigations resulting in the service of nine search warrants at residential properties in various unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County, including the communities of Joshua Tree, Landers, Bloomington and Helendale.

The locations were found to have large-scale outdoor marijuana cultivations. The marijuana plants were growing in unsecured fenced in areas, commonly referred to as “Plywood Grows.” The investigations revealed all of the marijuana cultivation operations were illegal and not in compliance with California medical marijuana laws.

The investigations resulted in total seizures of 5,557 marijuana plants, 171.5 pounds of processed marijuana, four firearms, a large quantity of Hydrocodone pills – and the arrest of 14 suspects.

Suspects Carlos Gonzales, 41 of Los Angeles; Angie Colindrez, 19, of Los Angeles; Manuel Perez, 48, of Los Angeles; Andres Marquez, 29, of Los Angeles; Jose Rascon, 60, of Bloomington; Thonekeo Sounannavong, 55, of Fresno; Alex Aphayboun, 46, of Sacramento; Xayadeth Kayavong, 38, of Fresno; Athith Kayavong, 35, of Fresno; Phouthone Khaithianthong, 52, of Porterville; Lee Callan, 58, of Landers; Aquilino Villasenor, 50 of Mexico; Roberto Zavala, 44, of Bakersfield; and Manuel Madrigal-Castillo, 21, of Mexico, were all arrested.

The large amount of marijuana seized at the individual locations suggests the suspects had no intention of abiding by the states medical marijuana laws and were strictly for-profit operations. Many of the suspects were utilizing fictitious medical marijuana recommendations in an effort to deceive law enforcement personnel into thinking the operations were legitimate.

The County of San Bernardino has an ordinance prohibiting outdoor marijuana cultivations. San Bernardino County Code Enforcement personnel assisted with the cultivation investigations for administrative enforcement of County Code violations. The Sheriff’s Narcotics Division will continue to enforce California marijuana laws as well as the San Bernardino County Ordinances regarding marijuana cultivation and distribution. Persons found to be violating state marijuana laws and county ordinances or utilizing medical marijuana recommendations under false pretenses are subject to fines, prosecution and seizure of property.

Anyone with information regarding the above investigations or other illegal cultivation locations is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Narcotics Division at (909)890-4840. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463), or you may leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at www.wetip.com.

San Bernardino: Shootings Rampant



San Bernardino – A multitude of shootings have occurred in the City of San Bernardino in the last week, making local citizens fearful and concerned that they are not safe even in their own homes.

Shootings in San Bernardino

The week started out with a smoke shop that erupted in gunfire on Mon., July 7. In what appeared to be a gang-related drug deal gone badly, Orlando Wayne Hunt, Jr., 24, from Banning, was found dead, along with four others that were injured, at the corner of East Baseline Street and North Waterman Avenue.


Police Department new release information states that the shooting occurred at around 11 p.m., possibly inside and outside the shop. Hunt was found in the parking lot, three other injured victims were found inside, and the fourth victim was found in a nearby grocery parking lot. All injured persons are described in stable condition.


Police questioned multiple witnesses at the scene; the shooters are described as two African American males.


The very next day, on Tues., July 8 at approximately 9:45 p.m., police responded to reports of a shooting at an apartment complex in the 2600 block of South Copper Lane. At the scene officers found Phillip Andre Jacobs, Sr., 45, in his doorway; he was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers also found the victim’s 18-year old daughter, who had also been shot; she was rushed to a local hospital in good condition.


It is reported that authorities say it may be a gang-related payback killing, as Jacob’s son, Shazad Mohammad Khan, is a gang member, with the gang allegedly targeting his family for something that he did. Khan is wanted for questioning by police. He is reported as 5’ 10” tall, weighing 140 pounds.


And just one day after Jacob’s shooting death, another shooting took place in a San Bernardino strip mall, leaving 27-year old Juan Carlos Villapudua dead.


On Wed., July 9, in the 2800 block of West Rialto Avenue, Villapudua made contact with an unknown person in a white car (possibly a newer model Nissan, according to reports). Someone in the vehicle fired at the victim and drove off heading east on Rialto Avenue. Villapudua was pronounced dead at the scene, and leaves behind five small children.


These three recent shooting deaths push the total of homicides in San Bernardino to nearly 30 this year, as reported by The Sun. Police are searching for all suspects involved and anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. Gary Robertson at (909) 841-5361.