Thursday, March 29, 2012

Richard Salzman and other email phonies (UPDATED)

Web of Lies - The Journal

Anoint Adams - Richard Salzman/The Journal

Don't Anoint Susan - Sylvia De Rooy/Letter to Editor/The Journal

Shame on you, Richard Salzman (Mailbox, “Anoint Susan,” March 22). You told me you wouldn’t do that again and then you went and did it. You agreed that there was a question of ethics, and yet you done went and did it again. You wrote that long letter filled with your reasons to vote for Susan Adams but you left one critical piece of information out. You wrote that letter like you were just another John Q. Public voicing his free and honest opinions.

But, is it free and honest when you fail to point out that you are Susan Adams’ paid employee, her campaign manager for Humboldt County? I would like to believe that you know the answer to that, but then why did you do it? ...

Read it all - especially the response from Richard Salzman, admitting he is in fact Susan Adam's "Northcoast Field Organizer."

At least Richard is finally posting under his real name. At least sometimes.

What is he going to do for you exactly, Susan? Does it include scurrilous defamation under anonymous pseudonyms on the many forums throughout Humboldt County? Blogs? Times Standard? (Well, they kinda threw him off his game there by requiring Facebook log in… but you can bet he’s found a way around that by now.) What, exactly is he going to do for you? And are you ok with it? What names is he going to call your opponent? What lies will be offered up as fodder for voters to consider?

As far as I am concerned, any candidate who uses Richard’s services does not deserve to hold any office anywhere.

‘Surly Cur’ Salzman - Paul Hagen responds to Sylvia De Rooy's Letter

The true insult and betrayal of his pernicious conduct is that all of us are now stuck with what the son of a bitch has done to our county and, as Ms. De Rooy’s letter so well demonstrates, will shamelessly continue to do.

A pair to draw to: Peter Martin and Jeffrey 'you go' Schwartz

Arcata woman sues city, police over potless pot search; suit alleges unlawful search, rough treatment hastened husband's death - Times-Standard

The search warrant served on the Sages' home stemmed from an affidavit in support of a search warrant filed by Arcata Police Officer Brian Hoffman -- who is specifically named as a defendant in the suit -- asserting that there was probable cause to believe the Sages were committing a felony.

Acting on a tip from an unnamed “state park employee” who reported that he commonly smelled growing marijuana coming from the Sages' residence, Hoffman stated that he went down to the Sages' Zehndner Avenue home and smelled a “strong odor of growing marijuana emanating from the residence” on May 1.

Hoffman states in the affidavit that he then got a search warrant for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. records, which indicated the household's electrical usage ranged from 2,796 kilowatt hours to 5,362 kilowatt hours in each of the three prior months.

The officer submitted the affidavit -- which was signed off on by Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Max Cardoza -- and received a search warrant signed by Judge Dale Reinholtsen the same day.

When officers served the search warrant about two weeks later, they found no marijuana -- growing or processed -- and Sage claims no marijuana had been in her residence since May 5, 2011.

Sage's complaint argues that Hoffman and his fellow officers took no steps to investigate whether the Sages' grow fell within the guidelines of Arcata's medical marijuana ordinance and had no facts to suggest a felony was being committed.

I don't know about you, but I had some sympathy for these people, until I got to the part that shows who is involved here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Does this mean you can take down the cyclone fence, now? Can regular people actually walk on the lawn?

Or have the #Occupiers lost a battle but are still winning the war?

Humboldt supervisors enact 'urgency ordinance' - Times-Standard
The supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of the ordinance, with 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace dissenting (having his cake and eating it too)...

The urgency ordinance is effective immediately and restricts protest activities between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. In addition, the ordinance prohibits people from erecting structures or securing items to county property. It prohibits camping on the courthouse grounds, storing personal property, obstructing access or interfering with the passage of others, littering on, damaging or defacing county property, letting non-service animals run loose, using or interfering with county water and electrical services, operating a food facility and urinating or defecating on the courthouse grounds.
Put another way - Lovelace voted in favor of urinating or defecating on the courthouse grounds.

Good going.

Way to stand up for law-abiding citizens. Way to push for a better community.

Actually - I'm with Mark. Let 'em stay, as a shining example of your "Progressive" future.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

C'mon. Was she not married to the Bear River Tribe's Attorney? Not just a waif who fell through the cracks.

It's disingenous to bemoan her "slipping though the cracks" and not mention that fact. They weren't "poor" either, we can guess, given his political donations. Poor people don't donate $1,000 to political campaigns. ◼ (In addition to the $10,000 contribution in the name of the Rancheria, Leonard and his wife personally contributed $100, the FPPC documents show. The same documents indicate Bear River attorney Michael Acosta contributed $1,000 (to Paul Gallegos's campaign).)

Where were the protecting and nurturing arms of the loving Bear River Tribe? At one with the universe, peaceful and beautiful, are they not?

The tragic case of Maggie Jean Wortman: A woman who never had a chance gives her son the same fate - Thadeus Greenson/Times Standard
Some would say the deck was stacked against Maggie Jean Wortman from the very beginning, from the day her name was misspelled on her birth certificate.

By extension, those same people would say Wortman's son, Michael Phillip Acosta III, simply never stood a chance.

While many in the public have been quick to direct their ire at Wortman -- who was sentenced Monday to serve six years in prison for voluntary manslaughter stemming from the overdose death of her infant son -- experts feel otherwise. They say the Loleta mother's case underscores the cyclical nature of addiction, dependency and violence, and the need to better protect the nation's drug-endangered children.

After reading through Wortman's probation report, which details her broken upbringing, her addiction and ultimately her crime, experts said that, sadly, there's almost nothing unique about Wortman's story....

But there is.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Gallegos Effect

'Meaner than a pit bull'; victim recounts harrowing home invasion, torture - Thadeus Greenson/Times-Standard
”They had to have been in this house before,” Doe said, adding that she, her husband and their children just moved into the place in August.

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Detective Steve Quenell said there is some indication in the case that prior tenants of the Drake Hill Road home had a marijuana grow operation and possibly sold marijuana from the house.
Every day you see reports that show you the end result of having pot de facto legal in this community.

Every day innocent people pay the high price.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Good Ship Gallegos

Will the captain go down with the ship? Or "accidentally" fall into a lifeboat?

If he's lucky he'll get outta there before they have to cut it up for scrap...

Paul Gallegos's problem: "a dearth of attorneys with experience prosecuting violent felony cases"

Deputy DA resigns abruptly; unclear why prosecutor walked away on eve of murder trial - Thadeus Greenson/Times Standard

...Well thought of around the courthouse, McLaughlin was the prosecutor assigned to Humboldt County Drug Task Force cases and handled a variety of high-profile violent crimes....

McLaughlin's departure seems to pose a challenge for Gallegos' office, which now appears to have a dearth of attorneys with experience prosecuting violent felony cases. The issue is especially apparent now, with two murder trials currently under way and three more slated to begin in the coming weeks.

Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison is in the process of selecting a jury in Brian Cole Fiore's murder case. With Gallegos stepping in to handle the Miller case, it is unclear who will handle the murder prosecution of Leon Bigleggins, who stands accused of murdering a 4-year-old boy and whose trial is slated to begin Monday. Gallegos has been prosecuting the case.

Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neel has experience trying violent crimes, but she is currently responsible for making charging decisions. Gallegos was not immediately available to comment on the status of the cases Thursday afternoon.

Paul Gallegos lost another senior prosecutor. Reporter can't imagine why.

Deputy DA resigns abruptly; unclear why prosecutor walked away on eve of murder trial - Thadeus Greenson/Times-Standard

Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin abruptly resigned Wednesday on the eve of a murder trial he was slated to prosecute.

The reasons for McLaughlin's resignation remain unclear, but District Attorney Paul Gallegos confirmed that he was informed of McLaughlin's decision Wednesday night.

”He's a good prosecutor -- we'll miss him,” Gallegos said, declining to discuss any details of the resignation but saying he will step in to personally handle the prosecution of Joseph Eugene Miller. McLaughlin began the process of selecting a jury in the case on Monday.

McLaughlin has been trying violent felonies and other cases for the district attorney's office for more than four years and had become one of the office's senior prosecutors. Reached by email Thursday, McLaughlin declined to discuss the specific reasons for his resignation.

”I love the District Attorney's Office and the work it does,” McLaughlin said in the email. “I will truly miss working with law enforcement. They do a thankless job.”

Well thought of around the courthouse, McLaughlin was the prosecutor assigned to Humboldt County Drug Task Force cases and handled a variety of high-profile violent crimes.... Read The Rest.

OK, Thadeus. Unclear. Really?

Add Ben McLaughlin to the list: Brain Drain - wp

The only question people are asking is - what took Ben so long?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wortman gets six years in prison for son's death; leaves plea in place in methamphetamine breast milk case

Mom gets six years in prison for son's death; Wortman leaves plea in place in methamphetamine breast milk case - Times-Standard

A 27-year-old Loleta woman was sentenced to six years in state prison on Monday after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter stemming from the death of her infant son.

The conviction -- which was in doubt up until Maggie Jean Wortman agreed to leave her guilty plea in place on Monday -- is the state's first for voluntary manslaughter in a case where a woman stood accused of passing a lethal dose of methamphetamine to her child through breast milk while nursing.

Wortman's attorney M.C. Bruce pleaded with Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson to be lenient with his client, saying a grant of probation would be appropriate in the case as Wortman is a sober woman who bears little resemblance to the methamphetamine addict taken into custody.

Watson said he felt the matter warranted a prison commitment, saying it could be argued that the maximum 11-year sentence would be more appropriate, primarily because of the vulnerability of the victim in the case....

Wortman pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in February, but did so under the impression she was eligible to receive a grant of probation in the case. Under the California Penal Code, however, Wortman is statutorily ineligible for probation in the case because she committed the manslaughter offense -- which classifies as a violent felony -- while already on felony probation stemming from a May 2010 conviction for maintaining a drug house.

...”I'm asking the court not to punish her because of her addictions,” Bruce said, adding that Wortman has already suffered enough. “This lady has suffered the death of her child -- that's the most horrible thing any of us could ever suffer. No matter what this court does, that is something that is never going to go away for Maggie.”

Bruce went on to argue that a prison sentence would destroy the progress Wortman has made in the more than one year she has been in jail, during which she has been clean, taken classes and undergone psychiatric counseling.

”If this court sends her to prison for six years, we're going to lose her,” Bruce said. “We all know the prisons are full of drugs, and that's a long time to sit with nothing to do. ... If we sentence her to prison for six years, we're throwing her away.”

Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin said no one is disputing that Wortman has suffered in the wake of her son's death. But, McLaughlin said, he doesn't see Wortman's case as being any different than that of the alcoholic who gets behind the wheel of a car and causes a fatal collision.

”We're not punishing the addict,” McLaughlin told the court. “What we're doing here, your honor, is punishing the conduct.”...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Vindication: "Audit of DA's office seeks to untangle years of grant mismanagement"

Get this week's McKinleyville Press and Arcata Eye.

You do realize how far back this goes.

$150K Audit Probes Years Of Grant Bungling By DA’s Office - Daniel Mintz for The Arcata Eye
A consulting firm specializing in grant regulation compliance is reviewing management of grant funds in the District Attorney’s Office and its work has expanded to include what a county staff report describes as “all prior year grants and revenue sources.”...

Ex-BLPD Chief Gundersen Cleared Of All Felonies

Former Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen has been cleared of all major charges first filed against him in 2008. - Arcata Eye

Gundersen was originally charged with eight felonies, including spousal rape, witness tampering, possession of a machine gun and a silencer. He was also charged with three misdemeanors, including violation of a court order, possession of a controlled substance and unauthorized disclosure of information.

The rape charge and two of the misdemeanors were dismissed. After a jury trial in September, 2008, Gundersen was found guilty of the submachine gun and silencer possession felonies, plus a misdemeanor charge of violating a court order....

On Thursday, March 15, a state appeals court overturned the two felony convictions. Gundersen had contended that Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Marilyn Miles failed to adequately instruct the jury about exemptions in state law that allow regular, salaried, full-time police officers to possess machine guns and silencers. He claimed that his possession the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun and silencer were within the scope of his duties.

Through his attorney, Russell Clanton of Arcata, Gundersen argued that the prosecution was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the exemptions did not apply. He contended that had the trial court told the jury that the prosecution was required to prove unlawful possession of the weapons, it would have understood the applicable exceptions.

The appeals court’s decision cites case law which requires that juries must be properly instructed regarding burden of proof, and that the trial court didn’t indicate which party – prosecution or defense – was required to prove whether the exemptions were applicable or what the standard of proof was.

Gundersen's felonies reversed; appeals court finds court improperly instructed 2008 jury - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
A California appellate court has reversed a pair of 2008 felony firearms convictions against David Gundersen, leaving the possibility that the former Blue Lake Police chief will face another trial.

The California First Appellate District court ruled Thursday that the trial court inadequately instructed Gundersen's jury on the prosecution's burden of proof necessary to convict the defendant on charges that he illegally possessed a submachine gun and a pistol with a silencer.

”This is one of those few cases where justice delayed is not justice denied,” said Gundersen's attorney Russell Clanton. “I always felt he was innocent of those counts.”
On Sept. 24, 2008 -- after a two-month trial in which Gundersen faced more than two dozen criminal counts -- a jury convicted him of 14 charges. Of those, only a misdemeanor conviction of violating a court order stands today.

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said he's still waiting to hear from the state Attorney General's Office as to whether it intends to petition the California Supreme Court to review Thursday's ruling. If the Attorney General's Office declines to file the petition, Gallegos said he would strongly consider re-filing the firearms charges against Gundersen.

”The evidence remains what it was, and I don't believe we will have any problem trying the case again,” Gallegos wrote in an email to the Times-Standard.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Do you get the feeling the Feds are here to do the job Gallegos won't do?

Wilde to make first federal court appearance; records indicate defendant was under financial pressure at time of shooting - TS

For the first time in recent memory, the U.S. government is taking on the prosecution of a Humboldt County murder case.

Mikal Xylon Wilde is scheduled to make his initial federal court appearance today -- three days after charges were officially dismissed against him in Humboldt County Superior Court. Wilde remains held in the Humboldt County jail on a federal detainer, more than a year and a half after he allegedly shot and killed Mario Roberto Juarez-Madrid at the scene of a Kneeland marijuana grow.

When the U.S. Attorney's Office unsealed a six-count indictment against Wilde last week -- charging him with murder, drug and weapons violations -- it represented the first time in decades that the federal government has taken over the prosecution of a local murder case, according to numerous officials in the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office and local law enforcement agencies.

The situation might, however, occur more often under the direction of Northern California U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, who is in her first term after being appointed to the office by President Barack Obama in August 2010, according to Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos.

”We have a new U.S. attorney, and she's being a good partner, and I appreciate that,” Gallegos said. “I think people are going to see more federal intervention here. I'm hoping that this sends a message that the federal government is committed.”

Friday, March 09, 2012

”So with this I am suspending all efforts to do anything with the continued assault on the courthouse, the employees and the general public due to the immunity given to them by your office”

Law enforcement officials frustrated with Occupy signs; difference of opinion creates tension with DA's Office

...Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey said he encountered a situation Wednesday where he told an occupier to take down a sign and they refused, stating they didn't have to.

”I was immediately met with, 'Well, that's not what the DA told us,'” Downey said.

He said he was informed by occupiers that the district attorney had said he wouldn't prosecute people for hanging signs on the fence....

Interim Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham said his officers have indeed been hands-off on the signage issue because of the general message he's received from the DA's Office during the past few weeks. He said there were some issues surrounding the Penal Code section cited on county signs.

”I got a call from Paul, and he told me that he looked at the section and didn't think it was a good section,” Harpham said....

In a Feb. 13 email obtained Thursday by the Times-Standard, Harpham told county officials -- including Downey -- that EPD officers will no longer be enforcing Penal Code section 602f per the DA's suggestion....

In a March 8 email obtained by the Times-Standard, Downey told Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos what he'd heard from Harpham and occupiers and his subsequent course of action.

”So with this I am suspending all efforts to do anything with the continued assault on the courthouse, the employees and the general public due to the immunity given to them by your office,” Downey wrote...

”I'm not saying it's OK; it's just not a crime,” Gallegos said about the signs. “There's a lot of things out there that aren't OK, but aren't criminal.”

Gallegos said the focus needs to be on the criminal conduct that takes place -- such as smoking marijuana on the courthouse steps and disruptive behavior -- instead of the signs. He said he knows law enforcement officials are frustrated at having to utilize their resources at the courthouse.

”Everyone's over-burdened,” Gallegos said. “What we all would rather do is prosecute bad guys, dangerous people.”

Downey's email to Gallegos states things at the courthouse “will only intensify and get worse” if Gallegos chooses not to prosecute signage cases....

”The public generally is no longer in support of what's going on,” Downey said. “The public needs to give direction to the Board of Supervisors.”


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Sentencing postponed in meth breast milk case; defendant may have been misinformed by her attorney, the court

Sentencing postponed in meth breast milk case; defendant may have been misinformed by her attorney, the court - TS

The sentencing of a Loleta woman for voluntary manslaughter stemming from the death of her infant son was postponed for two weeks in order to give her time to decide whether she wants to vacate her plea.

Maggie Jean Wortman, 27, stands accused of killing her 6-week-old son, Michael Phillip Acosta III, by passing him a lethal dose of methamphetamine through her breast milk while nursing. She pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge last month. However, Wortman entered into the plea agreement under the impression she could be sentenced to probation in the case -- a sentence for which it appears she is statutorily ineligible.

On Monday, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson granted a defense motion seeking to postpone Wortman's sentencing hearing by two weeks, allowing Wortman and her attorney M.C. Bruce to determine whether she is probation eligible and, if not, whether she wants to retract her guilty plea.

Bruce said that in its pre-sentencing report in the case, the Humboldt County Probation Department advised that Wortman faces a mandatory prison sentence. Bruce disagrees, but he doesn't dispute the issue is in question under the California Penal Code Section 1203(k), which states that defendants are ineligible for probation in a case where they are convicted of committing a violent felony while already on felony probation.

When she was accused of inadvertently killing her son by nursing him after smoking methamphetamine in November 2010,

Wortman was on felony probation from a May 2010 conviction for maintaining a drug house. Voluntary manslaughter is considered a “violent felony” under section 667.5 of the penal code, which would seem to indicate Wortman is ineligible for probation and leaves her facing a mandatory term ranging from three years and eight months to 11 years and eight months in prison.

Bruce doesn't dispute that reading of the law but maintains his client is eligible for probation.