Monday, August 27, 2007

Another plea deal. Another light sentence for a child molester.

A brave victim willing to testify. Deals made anyway. The pattern continues... What you have now is an alleged repeat offender who will serve less time in prison than his victims will spend in high school. He'll get out, he'll do it again, only next time he may not want to leave any witnesses behind.

Child molester is given a three-year sentence in plea deal

...Todd William Gonsalves was sentenced to three years in prison as part of a negotiated agreement.

Gonsalves pleaded guilty to a single count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child younger than 14, with a stipulated sentence of three years in prison, of which he must serve at least 85 percent. (30 months)

In exchange, two identical charges were dropped, and sentences for unrelated misdemeanor cases will run concurrent with the three-year term.

Additionally, Gonsalves must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Going into the sentencing hearing, (the victim's mother) expressed displeasure with the handling of the case by the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

She said she had helped track down an alleged previous victim living in another jurisdiction, and could not understand why the case did not proceed to trial on the original charges — which could have resulted in a sentence of 24 years.

“I asked on numerous occasions,” (she) said, “‘Don’t you think we have enough evidence to go to trial? Don’t you think this is an injustice?’ — and (the deputy district attorney) said she’d rather have a small win than a big loss.”...

Deputy District Attorney Kelly Neel, who handled the case,
claimed that she was aware of another potential victim, but that her office was unable to confirm that she was a victim or make contact with her.

“At this point, I’m just glad it’s over,” (the victim's mother) said. “I’m fine with the outcome. I’m fine that she doesn’t have to go through it anymore.”

Note: Kelly Neel is one of the new DDA's, was in the Del Norte County DA's Office in January 2007;
Kelly Neel has four years experience as a public defender and three years experience as a prosecuting attorney for
various agencies.
No mention of what those agencies were.

Additional discussion on Eric's blog


  1. This plea never would have been acceptable 8 years ago.

    There is a previous victim? That would be previous to the current Victim, who is 17 and 9 when first molested. That would make the previous victim's molestation more than 8 years ago! The little win vs big loss is troubling. A reasonable plea bargain is good for everyone, the victim, the suspect, and the court. But three years. I'd rather take him to court and lose than let him get away with 3 years (he'll be out in less than TWO years). And with credit for time served he may not actually have to go to prison at all!

    This is just taking the easy way out. In three or four years the next victim will be the one to suffer.

    Any plea to avoid going to trial is the culture of the DA's office under PVG.

  2. And which one of PVG's buddies was the defense lawyer? Clanton? Sanders?

    This is pathetic. But, it's what
    the voters asked for. Hope they're happy to be rid of Wade, Jackson, and the CAST staff.

  3. According to the California State Bar site, the DDA in this case, Ms. Neel, was admitted to practice on June 26, 2006. Why is an attorney who has only been admitted to practice a tad over a year handling a case of this nature? How could she possibly have the experience to assess this case?


    found it for myself -

    just a year out of law school. Does she even have any prior experience or is this it.

    And Gags considers this so little of a priority to him that he relegates it to a midemeanor deputy.

    Now thats illuminating!

  5. I would like to know who the defense attorney was.

  6. Def. Atty. McCrone

  7. A monkey could defend cases in this county and win!

  8. You don't have to defend anything, just threaten to go to trial and then say you'll plead to a misdomeanor if they drop the sales of meth, or the possession of a 45 and some heroin, or molesting a nine year old. And so on and so on.

  9. Hey, remember when the baby DDA's used to get crap in the media for letting tree-sitters plead to infraction trespass? Sigh.

  10. A year in the office and she couldn't find the other victim that a civilian located. So practicing law makes you stupider? Or just if you practice under PVG?

  11. I think practicing law with PVG makes you stupider.

    This is disgusting.

  12. 8:07 - she hasn's been in the office for a year. She passed the bar a year ago.

    She has only been in the office a few months. Wow - 2-3 months experience in Gags's incompetent view of the world qualifies you to even comment on a serious felony. What the crap is going on there?

  13. Actually - I checked her out. Evidently she was practicing in missouri since 1998 and moved here. The missouri bar has her in Crescent City and in Fortuna. Could this be one of Del Norte County's rejects that Paul picked up?

  14. Yeah it looks like it 9:43. A review of the Del Norte Board of Supes agenda in December or 2006 shows the following when the DA up there wanted to hire her full time instead of part time.

    "Kelly Neel has been working for this office at range 63 step D. It is our desire to hire her full-time now at the most comparable rate to her experience. Kelly Neel has four years experience as a public defender and three years experience as a prosecuting attorney for VARIOUS agencies."

    Looks like another reject who can't keep a job anywhere else.


  15. Other than being a former public defender I wouldn't blame her. The direction from the top (re: is to get a conviction mo matter how insignificant, even if it is for a reduced charge or a reduced sentence. This is a management problem or issue. Gallegos is a trainwreck as a manager and administrator. The is nothing PVG could do to become a leader! The lack of leadership has and is dragging that office down.

    Of course this is nothing new. Why even talk about it, nobody cares. Marijuana, meth, and heroin are out of control, who cares? Cash contributions, political favors (and former friendhips) run the DA.

  16. Gallegos justified paying Schwartz more because of his "CAST" duties - why then was he not assigned to this case? He is still in the office and could have certainly handled a plea deal - he's proven that. Did he set up this deal and Neel is taking the fall for it?

  17. And wouldn't it have been Schwartz's job to have tracked down the other victim?

    Is Neel the new head of CAST? Has she been assigned to this?

    From the looks of hte TS article Gallegos isn't forcing Maggie Flemming to take CAST back, looks like he has her on white dope - though it was child abuse and asset forfeiture... or is anyone assinged to anything anymore?

  18. Rose - CAST is dead in this county. The anti's don't give a shit about kids or anything else. ...they are too one issue. Who ok’d this plea bargain? Neel or Schwartz. If it was Neel, how many child molest trials and cases has she ever had in the approx. three years of VARIOUS different jobs? Probably none, so how can she evaluate anything rationally? We know about Schwartz - he NEVER had a child abuse case before this assignment and even with it never once went to trial on a child abuse case. The bottom line is that this stuff just doesn’t matter to the current inept administration.

    But the larger question is what as a community are we willing to do to stop this injustice?

    BTW what day is it on Cheri Moore? 502 or something. And since Gallegos isn’t in trial and is planning yet another vacation to start in the next two weeks, will the TS or any other paper get on this little tid bit and make his life miserable about it. He keeps on saying he doesn’t have the time because of the bottleneck in his office, but it seems that he has taken 5 or 6 different vacations already this year.

    Paulie - quit goldbricking, quit playing Sara Bernhardt, quit taking more vacations then goddamn Congress and make a goddamn decision in Cheri Moore.

    Just a thought.

  19. It's not like PVG went to trial on Kesser. Monty Monty Monty ..... what's behind door # 3 ??

    If it wasn't for Fleming those Mexican heroin dealers with the two POUND's of heroin would have got probation, credit for time served, and deported so they could come back and start over again.

  20. your point?

  21. When was the last time any of you commentees tried a child molestation case? Silence. That's what I thought. Maybe when you have some experience in analyzing cases, you will understand why the case turned out the way it did.

  22. Don't jump to conclusions 7:13. There are visitors here from law offices all over the country.

    And - people talk. There are people watching and talking here who do know something about many of the cases that get mentioned. Victims and victims' families talk. Other lawyers talk. Friends and family members talk, Neighbors talk.

    Alot of people talk in confidence - and there are facts that don't get added to the blog.

    There are serious, serious problems - and, it seems, no resolution in sight.

  23. When was the last time the D.A.'s office tried a child molestation case? In the last year? two years? five years 7:13? Silence. That's what I thought.

  24. Be fair, 8:31, Ms. Fleming recently convicted a child molester in a jury trial. Now, if you asked when's the last time PVG or anyone he has hired tried a molest case, well, then the answer is NEVER.

  25. Holy mackerel, you're right. No PVG hire has gone to trial on a CAST case, including yougo, PVG's "CAST" deputy.
    And uh, 7:13, there are several experienced child abuse prosecutors who show up here from time to time. Or so I'm told.
    Hey, 7:13, give APD a jingle.

  26. In the last three years...2 guilty verdicts. Isaac got one and Fleming got the other.

    and you are correct 8:04 - PVG and his annointed brown nosers plead everything out because they are just too hard to prove. (Too hard to prove if you are a lazy ass.)

  27. 7:13 PM "when was the last time" I tried a molester case? Maybe it was just after I tried Julius and Ethel! You (7:13PM) are a moron.

  28. Here's the deal. The People have to prove everything beyond a reasonable doubt. Then you have defense bar say, "beyond a reasonable doubt is like having the certainty that your parachute will open when you jump out of a plane." This kid sits on the stand an says, "well maybe uncle Johnny touched me." And the a SARTS exam wasn't done. And he statement is impeached with the prior statements he gave to the ten other agencies. These are the cases that settle. Because who would jump out of a plane with evidence like that?

  29. I'm sorry, but another victim - that victim should have been contacted, if it meant Miss Neel driving (or flying, or boating or hiking) over there WITH a DA investigator, and/or a CAST member, that should have been done.

    You don't have to have ANY experience to know that.

    That may have led to other victims.

    If the Mom could find the other victim, the DA's office with full investigatory powers, should have been able to do so.

  30. And, by the way, 10:16 - Your example is PRECISELY why the CAST Team was formed, and why it is SO important, and why its dismantling is so tragic. More than anything else, it speaks to who Gallegos is, where his priorities are, and - - - I better stop now, before I say something I might regret about just how despicable he is.

  31. 10:16pm Who would plead guilty to 3 years in prison with evidence like that?

  32. 10:13 is not and never has been a trial lawyer, unless it's yougo.

    CAST cases are hard. But with time, patience, compassion, ruthless dedication to finding the truth, exhaustive preparation, and by earning the trust and confidence of the victim/witnesses, they were, once upon a time, won almost every time in Humboldt.
    Not every time, but the vast majority, even without SART exams, even with old allegations, even with
    "continuing relationships". What didn't happen was quick deals for mininum time without even finding, much less interviewing, potential other victims.
    This DA's office has never gone to trial with a rape or a CAST case unless the prosecutor was one of the old hands. PVG is not there for sex crime victims.

  33. 10:16 - I agree with the other don’t know squat and are probably Schwartz trying to deflect people away from your own incompetence.

    This wasn’t a case with an inarticulate child who didn’t know what happened.

    Also dumbshit - kids aren’t interviewed by 10 different agencies and forced to face inconsistencies. You wouldn’t know that Jeffey because you never got off of your lazy butt and did anything at CAST.

    Glad to see you go....

  34. OK, who knew that this was a triable case which had a good chance of resulting in a conviction? John McCrone, the defense attorney. That is the only reasonable inference from the fact that he pled his client out to a 288(a) for a certain prison term, a violent felony (so a strike and with the credits limited to 15%)and 290 registration. If the case was as weak as Ms. Neel apparently thought it was, why would Mr. McCrone plead it out? Mr. McCrone is nobody's fool and not shy of taking a case to trial. The only thing his client got out of the deal was a substantial break in CDC time (he was looking at 12 years max and got a 75% discount). Which is part of the problem with that office - most cases settle, so DDA's have to able to effectively negotiate. If your adversary thinks you are too chickenshit to go to trial then you will never get appropriate pleas. That means doing trials, even on borderline cases. And again, even if Ms. Neel thought this was a weak case, Mr. McCrone and his client did not.

  35. So the consensus is that DDAs should take potentially loser cases to trial in order to gain street credit in future cases?

    If Ms. Neel had taken the case to trial and lost, would you still be this upset with her?

  36. Did we read the same article? Are we talking about the same case? Wasn't there a victim with the courage to stand up in court and address the man who abused her, demonstrating clearly that she was willing and able to testify against him? It is not unusual for people to wait years before coming forward in cases like these, so your argument that this weakened the case doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

    The most telling statement is that the prosecuting attorney did not get in touch with the other witness even though she has at her disposal the DA's investigators, who are supposed to be able to handle that for her. And if they can't handle that most basic task, well, that's another topic altogether.

    But in answer to your question, I guess we will never know, will we?

    By some accounts, Ms. Neel is a thoughtful DDA, much harder working than Schwartz. According to the documents from Crescent City, she has experience - it won't take her long to realize there are deep and severe problems here. I feel very sorry for her for what she has walked into.

  37. 6:57, you miss my point. That was not a loser case; it was not even a borderline case. If it was a loser case and J. McCrone pled his guy out then J. J. McCrone is an incompetent boob. McCrone is NOT an incompetent boob. Ergo it was not a loser case. And credibility is important to any prosecutor. If a defense attorney does not believe you have the stomach for trial you will never get any pleas. Clearly by my argument Ms. Neel has some credibility because she got a fairly decent plea - she kept the 288(a) (I daresay Mr. Schwarz would have made it a 647.6 misdemeanor to avoid a trial) with all its ramifications. And yeah sometimes to maintain crdibility you have to try borderline cases. Your job description is trial attorney and if you can't hack that you should go into probate law.


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