Ontario child molester sentenced to 22 years

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA — An Ontario man who confessed last year to molesting eight young girls over a 12-year span was sentenced today to 22 years in state prison.

Jack Edward Andrews, 59, admitted in an interview with police last year that he molested girls who lived in his Mountain Avenue apartment complex, as well as friends of his young daughter.

Prior to Andrews’ sentencing in West Valley Superior Court, one of his victims read a statement in court. The 22-year-old woman said Andrews molested her when she was 7 or 8.

“Hopefully it will eat at you little by little until you can’t stand it anymore,” she said. “I am glad you are going to prison and thank God that you are one less sick man in this world, and won’t be able to hurt anyone anymore.”

Andrews pleaded no contest to eight felonies in March as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors that carried a 22-year sentence.

After entering into the agreement, Andrews tried to have the deal nullified. He said the sentence was too long, and claimed he was poorly represented by the attorney who negotiated his plea bargain.

A request to have the agreement set aside was rejected this month by Judge Jon D. Ferguson.

In an interview with a San Bernardino County probation officer, Andrews admitted he was guilty and said he “did not like what he was doing,” according to a pre-sentencing report written by a probation officer.

“He is glad he was caught because now he has been stopped,” the officer wrote.

Several of Andrews’ relatives sent letters to Ferguson prior to sentencing pleading with the judge for leniency.

Andrews’ wife, Debbie Andrews, said: “To me, punishing him to almost a lifetime behind bars is a sentence that doesn’t match the crime.”

She said her husband is remorseful and remains well-loved by his family.

“He is a good man, constantly offering his assistance at church work day, to friends and neighbors that need help, and performing painting projects or splitting wood at his dad’s house in Big Bear,” Debbie Andrews wrote.

Rhonda Scheuplein, one of Andrews’ sisters, said 12 years would be an appropriate sentence for her brother.

“Twenty-two years is almost unthinkable,” she wrote. “I believe the people who live in the legal world forget about the individual person and lose sight of (the) difference between someone who is a career, repeat offender and someone who is troubled and needs help.”

Andrew had no criminal record prior to his molestation case.

Before his arrest, Andrews worked as a painter for the Chino Valley Unified School District. According to police, none of his victims were connected to the district.

Man found guilty of pimping out 13-year-old girl

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A 47-year-old parolee was found guilty today of having sex with an underage girl and pimping her out on Holt Boulevard in Ontario.

The verdicts against Reginald Edward Christopher stem from a three-week period two years ago when he pimped and had sex with a runaway girl from San Bernardino who was then only 13 years old.

When he was arrested for pimping the girl in October 2008, Christopher had been out of prison for only about two months.

He spent about 26 years in custody for a kidnapping, rape and robbery in the early 1980s. That period of incarceration was followed by two short prison stints for parole violations, said Deputy District Attorney Karen Schmauss.

A jury of six men and six women deliberated for about three hours before reaching their verdicts.

The seven felonies include one count of pimping a minor under 16, three counts of committing a lewd act upon a child, and three counts of oral copulation with a person under 14.

“Obviously it was the appropriate verdict based on the evidence,” Schmauss said.

Christopher is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 3 in West Valley Superior Court. He potentially faces a prison sentence of nearly 500 years to life, Schmauss said.

In an interview after the verdicts were reached, Christopher’s father, Lawrence Christopher, said his son doesn’t deserve do die in prison for his conduct with the girl.

He said the girl told his son she was an adult, and lied on the witness stand this week when she claimed she admitted to Reginald Christopher that she was underage.

“I’m positive,” Lawrence Christopher said. “I believe my son when he said he did not know how old the little girl was.”

Christopher’s attorney, Gary Olive, said that ignorance about a child’s true age is not a valid defense against charges like the ones Christopher faced. Olive did not call any witnesses during the defense portion of the trial.

In testimony this week, the girl — identified in court as Jane Doe — said she worked as a prostitute after running away from her grandmother’s home in September 2008.

She said she met Christopher soon after she ran away, and made an agreement with him the day they met for him to act as her pimp.

She agreed to split her prostitution proceeds with Christopher in exchange for clothes and protection, she testified. In the three weeks before Christopher’s arrest, the girl said he had sex with her every day.

Christopher’s prior convictions stem from a 1981 incident — when he was 16 — in which he kidnapped a woman at Valley College in Los Angeles, then raped her, robbed her and stole her car, Schmauss said.

He was sentenced to 7 years to life for the incident, and was repeatedly denied parole until 2007, Schmauss said.

After Christopher was found guilty Friday, Judge Mary Fuller raised his bail from $500,000 to $1 million.

Schmauss said she believes Christopher is a flight risk because of the lengthy prison sentence he faces.

Man sentenced to prison for attack on ex-girlfriend

FONTANA — A man convicted of attempted murder for throwing a knife at his ex-girlfriend was sentenced to seven years in state prison Monday in Fontana Superior Court.

Humberto Araujo Jr., 20, of Fontana, was accused of attacking the woman Jan. 3 after he saw her sitting in the driver’s seat of a car that was stopped at a red light at Sierra and Randall avenues in Fontana.

According to police, Araujo, who was standing at a corner of the intersection, threw a knife through the woman’s open window, hitting her in the cheek and leaving a two-inch gash.

Araujo pleaded no contest to attempted murder in September as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Ontario priest pleads not guilty to molestation

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA — An Ontario Catholic priest has pleaded not guilty to eight felony counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts with a 12-year-old boy.

Jose Alejandro Castillo, who worked as a priest the last seven years at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Ontario, entered his pleas Tuesday in West Valley Superior Court.

Castillo, known to parishioners as “Father Alex,” was arrested Monday at a parishioner’s home in the 600 block of W. Zenia Court in Ontario.

Ontario police, who began investigating abuse allegations in July, accuse the 57-year-old Castillo of committing eight sex acts with the boy. Castillo could face up to 22 years in state prison if convicted.

During Castillo’s arraignment Tuesday, which was conducted through a video link between the court and West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Commissioner Ronald J. Gilbert appointed the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office to represent Castillo.

Castillo remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail. He is next due in court Nov. 1. A preliminary hearing, in which prosecutors must present evidence for a case to proceed to trial, has been scheduled for Nov. 4.

Softball coach accused of kissing underage girl pleads no contest

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA – A girls’ softball coach accused of kissing a 13-year-old girl on his team last year pleaded no contest Tuesday to a misdemeanor count of battery.

Frank John Castellanos, 49, of Rancho Cucamonga, was sentenced in West Valley Superior Court to one day in jail and placed on four years’ probation.

He must stay away from the girl and register as a sex offender while on probation, and pay restitution to cover the girl’s counseling expenses, Deputy District Attorney Jason Anderson said.

“This is something that was acceptable to all sides,” Anderson said.

The prosecutor said the plea agreement came after a “collaborative process” between his office and the girl’s family that was aimed at “obtaining what was appropriate, rather than putting their daughter through a trial.”

Castellanos, who coached a team in Rancho Cucamonga, was accused of kissing the girl Feb. 11, 2009 while sitting with her in a parked car. He denied the allegation in an interview with San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies.

Castellanos pleaded no contest to battery rather than the misdemeanor that was first filed by prosecutors – annoying or molesting a child. That charge was dismissed Tuesday as part of Castellanos’ plea agreement.

Closing arguments heard in trial for deputy’s alleged assault

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INDIO – A jury began deliberating this afternoon in the case of a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy accused of holding a gun to a man’s head in an alleged fit of off-duty road rage.

Richard Charles Heverly, a 43-year-old La Verne resident, is charged with four felonies for his Aug. 10, 2008 dispute with a tow-truck driver on the 10 Freeway about 50 miles east of Indio.

In closing remarks to jurors at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, a Riverside County prosecutor called Heverly a “rogue, so called police officer” who drilled a pistol into the tow-truck driver’s head when the driver blocked a lane to divert traffic around a burning big rig.

“Cops are supposed to be the ones that protect us, not the ones that assault us, as the defendant did on this day,” said Deputy District Attorney Amity Armes.

A defense attorney countered that Heverly, who works at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, was attempting to control traffic and followed his training as his dispute with the driver escalated.

According to attorney Michael Schwartz, Heverly was using his gun “as a tool to gain compliance.”

“My client was acting as a police officer,” Schwartz added.

Today’s closing arguments came after the seven-woman, five-man jury heard three days of testimony at Larson Justice Center in Indio.

Heverly’s current trial is his second. In his first trial in April, a mistrial was declared after a jury deadlocked in its deliberations.

On the day of the incident, the tow-truck driver, Roger Gilstrap of Blythe, came across a burning big rig on the westbound 10 Freeway. He maneuvered his truck to block the shoulder and right lane of the two-lane road.

Heverly, who was in traffic nearby with his wife, son and brother, left his vehicle and confronted Gilstrap.

According to the prosecution, Heverly, who was wearing a tank top shorts, flashed his sheriff’s badge and told Gilstrap, “This entitles me to do whatever the (expletive) I want.”

“He was acting out of anger, not out of a duty to act,” Armes said.

He then allegedly forced Gilstrap out of his truck, held a pistol to his ear and threatened to kill him. He bound one of Gilstrap’s wrists with handcuffs, and released him only when a California Highway Patrol officer arrived, according to prosecutors.

“This case is about the defendant’s abuse of his power,” Armes said.

According to Schwartz, Heverly was trying to get Gilstrap to move his truck. Gilstrap ignored Heverly’s demands – which Schwartz called lawful orders from a police officer – so the deputy responded by detaining the tow truck driver, Schwartz said.

When Heverly held the gun to Gilstrap’s head, he did so only because Gilstrap reached for an object in his pocket. Gilstrap was reaching for his cell phone, but Heverly is trained to respond as if the movement could be a threat, Schwartz said.

“He was doing what he was trained to do the entire time,” Schwartz said.

The four felonies Heverly faces are assault with a semiautomatic firearm, assault under color of authority, criminal threats, and false imprisonment.

The Sheriff’s Department placed Heverly on paid administrative leave after he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting Gilstrap. He returned to duty at the West Valley Detention Center on Nov. 4, 2008, and he remains assigned to the jail, a sheriff’s official said today.

Chino woman sentenced for importing counterfeit exercise gear

LOS ANGELES — A Chino woman convicted of bribery and trafficking in counterfeit exercise equipment was sentenced today to 41 months in federal prison.

A jury found 47-year-old Chunchai Yu guilty in July of two counts of bribery and six counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Yu, also known as Katherine Yu, imported about $581,000 worth of counterfeit Malibu Pilates and Bowflex exercise gear from China, according to the news release.

The gear was seized by U.S. Customs agents in July 2009. Yu later paid a $12,000 bribe for release of the goods to an undercover agent of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement who was posing a Customs official, according to the news release.

Yu was sentenced in a downtown Los Angeles federal courtroom by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, according to the news release.

‘Senseless’ murderer gets 91-to-life for Montclair killing

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A man convicted of murder for a shooting called “completely senseless” by a judge was sentenced Friday to 91 years to life in state prison.

Jose Ramon Lopez, 26, was convicted last month of murdering 38-year-old George Salsgiver following a brief argument between the two men last year near a Montclair supermarket.

Lopez, of Montclair, will not be eligible for parole until 2100. He will need to live well into his 100s before he has an opportunity to be released from prison.

Salsgiver’s father, George Salsgiver Sr., said after the hearing in West Valley Superior Court that Lopez’s sentence exceeded his expectations.

According to testimony during Lopez’s trial, Salsgiver and Lopez did know each other prior to the July 24, 2009 shooting near Stater Bros. at Central Avenue and Palo Verde Street.

Witnesses said Salsgiver and Lopez argued briefly in the parking lot as Salsgiver walked past Lopez’s car. Lopez then left the car and opened fire on Salsgiver, of Ontario, who was pronounced dead in the parking lot.

Police identified Lopez as Salsgiver’s killer with the help of a woman who witnessed the shooting and wrote down the first six digits of Lopez’s license plate.

Before he sentenced Lopez, Judge Stephen G. Saleson told the accused gang member he had no reason to kill Salsgiver, who had a wife and children.

“There’s no question that this crime was completely senseless,” Saleson said.

Several of Salsgiver’s family members spoke in court before Lopez was sentenced.

Kendra Salsgiver, Salsgiver’s wife of 12 years, said: “We didn’t even get to say goodbye or tell him we loved him.”

“It doesn’t matter what sentence you get,” she added. “It will never be enough for me and my children.”

Salsgiver Sr. called his son’s killing a “senseless, cold-blooded act of murder.”

“Our home is a little quieter without George’s laughter and his sense of humor,” he said.

A jury convicted Lopez of first-degree murder last month following a 10-day trial. They also found true several “special allegations” that lengthened Lopez’s prison sentence.

Lopez, a former Ontario resident who allegedly maintained membership in an Ontario gang, had two felony convictions before Salsgiver’s killing: for assault with a firearm, and for carrying a concealed weapon.

Lopez’s girlfriend, who was with him during the shooting, is scheduled to be sentenced next month after pleading guilty to acting as an accessory to Salsgivers’s killing.

She faces up to three years in state prison for lying to detectives about the shooting, and for trying to craft an alibi for Lopez.

Former Pomona school employee charged with statutory rape seeks plea agreement

POMONA — A former school employee charged with statutory rape is seeking an offer from prosecutors for a plea agreement, a prosecutor said this morning.

Benjamin Chavez, 40, a former security guard at the Pomona Unified School District, is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old girl.

Chavez, of Pomona, made his second appearance in his criminal case today in Pomona Superior Court. An arraignment was postponed to Nov. 8 at his attorney’s request.

Chavez was arrested last month after he allegedly had sex with the girl Sept. 4 at the Lemon Tree Hotel in Pomona. He later resigned from the school district, where he also worked as a baseball coach at Garey High School.

Ira Kwatcher, Chavez’s attorney, told Judge Mike Camacho today that it’s likely there will be a “disposition” in Chavez’s case, such as a plea bargain. He also said he’s discussed the possibility of a plea agreement with Deputy District Attorney Adam Chang.

Chang said in an interview after the hearing that he has not yet offered Chavez a plea bargain. “They are seeking an offer and I need to clear it with the appropriate people,” he said.

Chang said the “appropriate people” include his supervisors in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, as well as the 17-year-old girl and her family.

Drunk driver sentenced to three years for fatal crash

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Pictured: Paul Martin (left) and Albert Ruiz.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A 23-year-old drunk driver who killed a man in a June traffic collision apologized to the man’s family today before being sentenced to three years in state prison.

Before Albert Gilbert Ruiz’s sentencing in West Valley Superior Court, family members of the man he killed — 64-year-old Paul Martin — spoke about Martin’s loss and about Ruiz’s sentence, which one person called an “insult.”

“You have no idea the pain you have caused,” said Erika Giffing, Martin’s daughter. “You get to go home. My dad doesn’t.”

Ruiz, of Rancho Cucamonga, drank an estimated seven beers while watching a Lakers game with friends June 13 before getting behind the wheel.

Near the intersection of Church Street and Elm Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga, Ruiz’s Nissan Sentra crossed a landscaped median into opposing traffic, where he struck the driver’s-side door of Martin’s Hummer.

Martin, of Rancho Cucamonga, was pronounced dead the night of the crash at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland.

Ruiz, whose blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.16, pleaded no contest to a felony DUI charge last month as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Izadi said she agreed to the plea bargain because Ruiz had no prior criminal record, and the maximum sentence he faced if convicted in trial was likely no more than six years.

Izadi said she came to the decision “after speaking with (Martin’s) family and looking at the case. And he was willing to take responsibility for his actions.”

“We believe justice was served in this case,” Izadi said.

Ruiz’s attorney, Richard Escobedo, read a statement in court on Ruiz’s behalf.

In the statement, Ruiz said he will never forgive himself for Martin’s death. He called his decision to drive drunk “the most horrible decision I’ve ever made.”

“No one in this world deserves to feel the pain I have caused by my actions,” he said.

Martha Martin, Paul Martin’s wife, cried in court as she spoke about the close bond she had with her husband of 29 years.

“I will never find that kind of love again because of you — because of your selfishness,” she said.

She said her husband was a Vietnam War veteran and a recipient of the Bronze Star.