Theft: The Offspring Of Addiction
by Bruce McEwen, March 2, 2016
Rehab cut in half; property theft doubled; junkies and tweakers back in the 'hood, often as the homeless, and the promised millions for "Safer Neighborhoods" still being pumped into the prison system. But hey, it's only the first year. Give Prop 47 some more time.
Sheriff Allman passes along some interesting (and telling) statistics that the combined prison "reforms" of AB 109 and Prop 47 clearly have led to an increase in property crimes — thefts mostly. They amounted in value to $240,893 in 2014 but as the "reforms" kicked in, Mendocino County reported a whopping increase in property crimes in 2015, almost double to $441,437.
And possession of methamphetamine is no longer a crime. It gets you a citation, if that.
On the ground here in Mendocino County, the reforms look like this:
Long-time meth addict and suspected crank dealer, Brandi Jo Adkins-Casey, of Ukiah, is also a recent victim of Deputy DA Elizabeth Norman's attempt to “bootstrap” her into a felon, which might be a good thing for Brandi Jo because if she went to prison she might get off death's fast track. As it is.....
Bootstrap was defense lawyer's Keith Faulder term for the DA's transformation of a theft of about $700 in forged checks into a felony by charging the forgeries as identity theft. Brandi Jo needed the money for dope.
Brandi Jo's victim was Peter Good. Brandi Jo had forged checks stolen from Good to buy her dope.
Ukiah Police Officer Maxwell Brazill was called out on December 1st to the MendoLake Credit Union by the assistant manager, a Mr. Chavez, who reported that two people, Kenneth Parsons and Patricia Moore, were trying to cash some checks belonging to Peter Good, who just happened to be present himself and, presumably, astounded at these developments. No, Mr. Good had not given permission to these people to cash the checks, nor had he written and signed them. Officer Brazill, a rookie, called in Detective Isabel Madrigal to assist his investigation.
Deputy DA Norman put Detective Madrigal on the stand.
Norman: “Did you contact Kenneth Parsons?”
Madrigal: “I did.”
Madrigal: “At the police department.”
Norman: “Did he tell you how he came into possession of these checks?”
Madrigal: “He did. He said he got them from his friend Brandi Adkins.”
Norman: “What was the nature of the transaction?”
Madrigal: “He said she owed him about $700 from a drug transaction, but he didn’t want to get into any of that. He said she took three checks from her purse, turned them over and signed them, then handed them over to him.”
Norman: “Did you contact Ms. Adkins?”
Madrigal: “I did, on December 7th.”
Norman: “Where was that?”
Madrigal: “At the Sunrise Inn.”
Motel 6 used to be the most popular venue for drug deals and prostitution, but the Sunrise, across from the Ukiah Safeway on State Street, has made certain competitive inroads, shall we say, and while the price of a room is attractive at $60 a night, you have to go to the office and beg for a butt roll of toilet paper and a sliver of soap. And you can forget the little bottles of shampoo or the mint on the pillow — those niceties aren't part of the Sunrise experience.
Norman: “Did she use Mr. Good’s name on these checks?”
Madrigal: “She said she did.”
Norman: “Did she go to the bank with Mr. Parsons and Ms. Moore?”
Madrigal: “Yes, that’s what she said. They went first to a bank near the courthouse [Savings Bank of Mendocino, where they were turned away], then they went to the MendoLake Credit Union.”
Norman: “Did she go inside with them?”
Madrigal: “No, she said she stayed outside to do a drug transaction with another person.”
Here we see two expressions of the casualness meth users are now noted for. A kind of neo-brazenness. First, the mindless loquacity, the uninhibited yet incriminating prattle of the tweaker; and second, the blatant scofflaw audacity of admitting all this to a cop, relaxed in the assurance that only an hour or so of detention will result — if that — but more likely a ticket will be written — and subsequently discarded. In fact, Adkins had an active warrant for her arrest because she’d disregarded other pending legal matters and failed to appear in court.
Mr. Faulder on cross: “Did you record your interview with my client?”
Madrigal: “I did.”
Faulder: “Was it at the Ukiah Police Department, or at the Sunrise?”
Madrigal: “It was at the Sunrise, but she had an active arrest warrant so we eventually went to the police department.”
Faulder: “But that was for something else, wasn’t it?”
Madrigal: “Yes, that’s correct.”
Faulder: “And you never actually showed the checks to her, did you, Detective?”
Madrigal: “No, that’s correct.”
Faulder: “She told you she looked at the check to see the name, but she didn’t actually tell you she signed it…?”
Madrigal: “Yes, she did.”
Faulder: “It’s your recollection she said she signed it?”
Faulder: “Was my client in possession of any identification of Mr. Good’s?”
Faulder: “That’s all I have.”
Judge Ann Moorman: “Does anyone wish to argue?”
Ms. Norman read some case law on the requirements for felony identity theft, concluding with this assertion: “The law doesn’t require people to walk in and say, ‘Hi, I’m Peter Good.’ If you cash his check, you’re stealing his identity. It puts him in jeopardy so I’m going to ask for a holding order on identity theft, a felony.”
Faulder: “If you believe the evidence that my client signed that check, then it’s forgery, a misdemeanor, not a felony. What prosecution is trying to do is bootstrap this obvious misdemeanor into a felony.”
Ms. Norman then read a list of drug and forgery priors for Ms. Adkins, a pioneer tweeker going back eons, all of which, under the retroactive mandates of Prop. 47 must be reduced to misdemeanors.
Judge Moorman said she would have to have some time to think this one over, and the implications being what they are, the judge's pause to mull them over is understandable.