High Stakes Gambling

by Bruce McEwen, September 28, 2011

A couple of white women have beent busted for embezzling money from the ShoKaWa casino on the Hopland Rancheria. Roberta L. Reeder and Mary Ann Moore got caught overriding the jackpot payouts to the tune of $7,483 for Ms. Reeder and $4,615 for Ms. Moore. This happened back in July of ’08, but justice moves slower for American Indians than it does for other Americans. And of course, this being a crime by whites against Native Americans, the punishment was minimal. Two years of informal probation each. Meanwhile a couple of other white women are ripping off Mendocino County big time — according the local Service Employees International Union members, that is.

SEIU leaders claim that Court Administrator/CEO Caryn Downing and her Assistant CEO Diane Clark are being overpaid to the tune of over $177,000 for Ms. Downing and $135,000 for Ms. Clark. The union maintains that these women are not only over-compensated, the position of Assistant CEO is wholly unnecessary.

Last Thursday some of the union members went up to the Administrative Office of the Court to discuss their concerns where they received, excuse the cliche, a rather chilly reception, so chilly it bordered on frigid. As I passed through the Courthouse metal detectors, an emergency call for bailiffs on the third floor (where the Administrative Office of the Court is) came over the radios the security personnel carry. I couldn’t help but overhear the commotion and rushed to the scene of the disturbance.

I was too late. The union reps had been taken down in the elevator and escorted out of the Courthouse by Sheriff’s deputies through one of the doors only law enforcement and judges have access to.

Back in one of the courtrooms, a couple of murder suspects were being arraigned — Schnedley and Crocker, two of the boys who are thought to have killed a man last summer at a Lake Mendocino campground. Crocker had just been apprehended. Tyrone Schnedly’s lawyer, Keith Faulder, said he had received sufficient discovery to schedule a prelim. And Crocker’s attorney, Al Kubani, said his client had been interrogated but tapes and transcripts of the interrogation were “not forthcoming.”

“Critical discovery is still missing,” Faulder said. “We’re hoping to have some answers by October 6th.”

New Assistant DA Paul Sequeira will be prosecuting the case but he wasn’t present.

“Mr. Williams, Ms. Espinoza and Ms. Bowes came into possession of some stolen property,” Deputy DA Beth Norman said. Ms. Bowes was taken care of earlier this morning and the prelim was dismissed for insufficient evidence.”

Alternate Public Defender Bert Schlosser entered a not guilty plea for his client, Thomas Williams, who was in chains and on crutches. Schlosser’s client would be “taken care of” next.

Judge David Nelson wanted to know the basic facts.

Mr. Schlosser explained: “My guy’s co-defendant found a wallet on the counter at a local business and took it. My guy was in the vehicle outside where they all rifled the wallet and found $60, so they rented a motel room. The money was recovered from the motel, as were the other items in the wallet, which were stashed in the vehicle.”

Ms. Norman offered the Schlosser’s guy 60 days in the clink.

Schlosser said, “I think 60 days is way beyond what we usually do in these cases. My guy has no record and the items were recovered. The room hadn’t been used and the manager returned the money.”

Norman said, “I’m sorry. But he (Schlosser’s guy) had a theft back in ’08, and a 245 in ‘06. Also, one of the credit cards from the wallet ended up in Mr. Williams’ possession.”

“My guy denies the felony record, and the credit card was recovered.”

“Oh, so maybe we’ve got the wrong Mr. Williams! What’s your guy’s date of birth?”

The date of birth matched; Schlosser’s guy’s hopes sank and he went down.

Judge Nelson said, “Apparently he has some record, so I think 30 days is appropriate. Also I want Mr. Williams to pay $150 in attorney fees.”

Schlosser said, “You can’t charge that much in a misdemeanor case!”

“It started out as a felony,” Nelson pointed out.

“Well. Then, yes. You certainly can… in a felony.”

During lunch break the courtroom union employees and their representatives assembled on the Courthouse lawn to update the membership about that morning's “incident at the AOC office” and discuss strategy for the afternoon.

Union reps Carolyn Lopez and Carl Carr described what happened, by turns.

Carr said, “We had a meeting scheduled today with the AOC, a meeting which had been cancelled by CEO Caryn Downing yesterday. The AOC negotiator, Ken Crouch, didn’t show. When we went up there today they told us to leave.”

Lopez said, “We went out into the public area and the deputies showed up. I went down to put my cellphone in my car then went back up. We weren’t doing anything. But Caryn wouldn’t make eye-contact; she said to come back at 2:15. Then, as we went out two deputies escorted us down and said they needed to delete the pictures of Caryn Downing from my cellphone. All I said to her was ‘Why don’t you guys ever want to meet, just talk with us?’ She pointed to the door and I took her picture. While I was detained, the deputies deleted it from my phone. That sergeant, the big guy, he said, ‘We know what you did in Sonoma. You put a different head on it.’ That’s crazy!

“We’re not going to get anything from them,” one of the members said with disgust.

“Why can’t we have an agreement?” another wondered.

“Why? I can’t answer that,” Lopez said.

“We’re done,” a third member shouted with finality.

Carr said, “We’ll be there at 2:15 this afternoon.”

“We also need to march on Judge Mayfield’s court,” a member said. “She’s the one who’s been coming down on us.”

After lunch the fetching miscreant, Miss Cleo Dumont, with her lavender hair and flouncing black-lace skirts came to court and made a positive impression on Judge Henderson, having gotten, she said, her life straightened out impressively.

Ms. Dumont, the readership may recollect with considerable admiration, won our Man Beater of the Week Sweepstakes a few months ago. She had also gotten herself entangled in some miscellaneous misdemeanor mischief with some other local molls and the back-street mutts they run with. She had picked up her first felony and seemed on her way to the Big Time. But she’s broken ranks with her lowlife associates and set a new course for her pretty self.

Deputy DA Shannon Cox said, “I’ve spoken with her probation officer. She’s apparently completed all the requirements set by the court and paid her restitution. Her fine and fees are still outstanding, but her probation officer has no objection to terminating her probation early, as she’s planning to enroll in college. We’d ask the court to convert the fines and fees to civil judgment.

Ms. Dumont wanted to have her felony reduced to clean up her record, but Ms. Cox thought that a little premature.

“After she’s enrolled in her classes and doing well, the People will have no objection to having the charges reduced,” Cox said.

Henderson said, “The court will terminate the probation as successful, Ms. Dumont, and the forms are available to reduce the felony, but it may be better for you to wait until you are in school before you file them. The protective order will be terminated; good luck to you, Ms. Dumont.”

At 2:05 I went to Judge Cindee Mayfield’s court.

Nobody home.

Upstairs at the AOC office, Judge Mayfield was just exiting the office door. Her high-heels went clicking down the hall where a couple of deputies just happened to be loitering. The hall clock read 2:10 and, right on time, here came the union reps and some of the members.

They looked at the clock and paused.

“That clock’s five minutes slow,” a bystander mentioned to them, checking his wristwatch.

As the union people approached the AOC office door, a deputy keyed his shoulder-mounted mike and whispered. The union members entered the AOC office, as three more deputies arrived on the elevator. The deputies followed the union people into the office, leaving one in the hall. More union members arrived and went in. The chief of Courthouse security came up the stairs and went in. A minute or two went by, then the door opened and the union people were ushered out.

“What happened?” a reporter asked.

“They didn’t like our smiles,” a union member replied flashing a dazzling set of teeth.

By 2:20 only the two union reps, Carr and Lopez were still in the office, along with the three deputies.

We called the Union offices and the AOC office for comment but had no responses as of press time. Ms. Downing’s Assistant said she “had no personal knowledge” of what happened and Ms. Downing would be out of the office until Tuesday.

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