SB County’s top prosecutor seeks greater partnership with feds

RIVERSIDE — District Attorney Michael A. Ramos announced plans Wednesday to strengthen his office’s partnership with federal prosecutors.

Ramos told members of the Inland Empire Chapter of the Federal Bar Association that he plans to cross-designate one of his local prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ramos revealed the plan while discussing a host of top issues affecting public safety, such as street gangs, medical marijuana and mortgage fraud, alongside Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach and U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. during a meeting at U.S. District Court in Riverside.
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County prosecutors union wins round in battle with Cooley

By Rick Orlov Staff Writer
Created: 10/06/2011 06:00:16 PM PDT

The union representing Los Angeles County prosecutors won a major round this week in its battle with District Attorney Steve Cooley, with a tentative settlement granting it a permanent injunction and $575,000 in penalties.

The deal calls for the county to pay $125,000 to the Association for Deputy District Attorneys and $450,000 to Deputy District Attorney Marc Debbaudt, who had alleged retaliation for his union activities.

The settlement, still subject to Board of Supervisors’ approval, also made permanent a temporary court injunction ordering Cooley to refrain from harassing or intimidating ADDA members based on their union membership.
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Vagos gang crackdown nets arrests, weapons, drugs

By Mike Cruz, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 10/06/2011 03:46:10 PM PDT

Hundreds of weapons, including an anti-tank gun and a rocket launcher, methamphetamine and cocaine were seized Thursday when several members of the Vagos motorcylce gang were arrested during a seven-county sweep across Southern California.

State agents say 52 search warrants and 12 arrest warrants were served Thursday, resulting in nine actual arrests and targeting the “upper echelon” of the Vagos. Five of the arrests occurred in San Bernardino County.

At a news conference at San Bernardino Police Department, law enforcement officials said the investigation started 18 months ago when they began looking into a narcotics trafficking ring.

That investigation grew to include other alleged crimes by Vagos members, such as solicitation of murder, receiving stolen property, auto theft, perjury, extortion, robbery and rape, state agents said.
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Assistant AG Schons to retire, take new job

Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/06/2011 07:11:55 PM PDT

Senior state Assistant Attorney General Gary Schons will retire at the end of the month and will begin a new job at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, officials from both offices said.

San Bernardino County Assistant District Attorney Jim Hackleman also is retiring. His last day is Friday.

Schons and Hackleman oversaw the prosecution of Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum and three former county officials in a sweeping corruption scandal tied to a $102 million legal settlement between the county and Burum’s development consortium, Colonies Partners LP. In a joint prosecution, the District Attorney’s and state Attorney General’s offices allege the settlement was tainted by bribery and extortion.
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No charges will be filed against grandmother for leaving child in car

Prosecutors have decided not to file charges against a Victorville grandmother and her friend, who were arrested last month after her 11-month-old grandson was found inside a hot car they drove to a wedding reception.

The decision not to file criminal charges against Maria Davila, 56, came Friday from prosecutors at the District Attorney’s Office in Victorville.

“There was insufficient evidence to support the filing of charges,” said Chris Lee, a District Attorney’s spokesman. He could not say anything further about the case.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Davila and her friend, Margarita Simbana, 51, of Los Angeles, on Sept. 3 on suspicion of child cruelty after the little boy was plucked from a car seat inside the sweltering vehicle.

The outdoor temperature that day was about 97 degrees, and the grandmother had been entrusted with watching with the little boy, say sheriff’s officials.

Davila and Simbana were attending a reception at the Social House in the 12100 block of Cottonwood Avenue. Deputies say the child’s parents were also at the reception.

Lawyer James Terrell accompanied Davila and the child’s mother, Alma Medina, on Wednesday while she said the incident was a miscommunication and that Davila did not know the child was placed in the car, according to a report in a High Desert newspaper.

Terrell did not return a phone call nor email requesting comment.

Decision expected soon in case of Victorville grandmother

Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/29/2011 04:46:49 PM PDT

Prosecutors in the High Desert could reach a decision as early as today about whether to charge a Victorville woman accused of leaving her 11-month grandson in a hot car while she attended a wedding reception.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Maria Davila, 56, on Sept. 3 on suspicion of child cruelty after the little boy was plucked from a car seat inside the sweltering vehicle.

The outdoor temperature that day was about 97 degrees, and the grandmother had been entrusted with watching with the little boy, say sheriff’s officials.

The decision whether to charge Davila could come today or Monday, said Supervising Deputy District Attorney Jim Hill.
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Burum attorney argues DA has conflict of interest in corruption case

Alleging a conflict of interest exists, the attorney for Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum wants the district attorney recused from prosecuting his client.

The alleged conflict stems from conversations the pair had before conspiracy charges were filed against Burum, said attorney Stephen Larson.

Larson also said Tuesday in San Bernardino Superior Court that District Attorney Michael A. Ramos had appointed Burum to his advisory committee.

The relationship between the pair, says Larson, results in a conflict for Ramos in the prosecution of Burum.
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Lawyers for Old Fire suspect seek to get indictment dismissed

Defense lawyers for Old Fire suspect Rickie Lee Fowler have filed a 170-page motion seeking dismissal of the Grand Jury indictment against him.

The motion alleges prosecutors failed to present exculpatory evidence – evidence that tends to show a person should not be indicted – to a criminal Grand Jury that was assembled in August 2009 to hear witness testimony about the 2003 deadly and devastating wildfire.

The motion from lawyers Donald Jordan and Michael Belter, which was authored by Jordan, was briefly discussed Monday at Fowler’s scheduled appearance before Judge Michael Smith in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Read the actual defense motion here or here.
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DA to bulk up on cold-case, environmental prosecutions

Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/30/2008 09:39:05 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – Despite a tight budget, District Attorney Michael A. Ramos said he plans to expand a few key areas of his office, including the Cold Case Unit and environmental- fraud prosecution, with existing resources in 2009.

Like other San Bernardino County department leaders, Ramos has had to find ways to address a growing list of needs with manpower he already has in a tough economic environment. Adding more people isn’t an option.

Ramos announced a hiring freeze three weeks ago but has avoided layoffs, he said in a telephone interview last week. Nevertheless, the county’s top prosecutor believes he already has the people to tackle new goals in the new year.
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23 new Riverside County prosecutors sworn in

By Stacia Glenn on December 1, 2008 1:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) |

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has sworn in 23 new prosecutors.

“I am excited to welcome this new group of attorneys into our office,” District Attorney Rod Pacheco said in a written statement.

“I also wish to thank the Board of Supervisors for their continued dedication to public safety. Their foresight in granting these positionsshows both a fiscal responsibility with an understanding that public safety is still atop priority for the County,” said Pacheco.

All 23 new prosecutors are former law clerks and have participated in the DA Office’s academy, said spokesman Ryan Hightower.