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Case Studies

A Misdemeanor in the Haight 

July 26, 2001:  Officer flagged down by victim Joshua D.  Said he had just been assaulted. Showed officer bite on his neck. Pointed out man at Haight and Belvedere. Officers apprehended man in Golden Gate Park, tried to talk to him. He wouldn't. They asked if he was ill. Man nodded. Need medical attention? “I need the cure. I need blood.”

Joshua D. said he had picked the man up hitchhiking on his way back from Santa Cruz. No problems driving to SF. He parked pick-up truck in Haight. Defendant reached over and gave him a hug for the ride. Started biting his neck. Harder and harder, reaching and piercing the jugular vein. Struggled for a few minutes. Joshua D. managed to flee. Treated at UCSF for a “severe human bite.” 

Arraignment today.  Joshua D. requesting a test for HIV. 

August 31: A San Francisco jury found Eric David Knight, 39, guilty of misdemeanor battery, false arrest, and resisting arrest. He was acquitted on a charge of assault with intent to cause great bodily injury. The conviction carried a maximum of 18 months in jail. Following the verdict, Superior Court Judge Patrick Mahoney told the probation department to suggest “a sentence appropriate to the condition.”  I was quoted in the Mercury-News saying, “Up and down the state there is a lack of facilities for people who are nuts but may or may not be criminals.”

Abalone Sale Leads to Charges

Sept 4, 2001: San Francisco resident Woo Hyung Youn, 43, was arraigned today in Superior Court on charges of illegally selling abalone, a violation of section 7121 of the California Fish and Game Code. Arraignment of the purchaser, Sang Yin Kim, 39, scheduled for this morning, was put off until September 20 after Kim requested a Korean interpreter.

The illegal sale of abalone, although a misdemeanor, carries a statutory minimum fine of $15,000 and a maximum fine of $40,000. If convicted, Youn will have his sport fishing license revoked.

Sportfishing of abalone is legal, but the divers are limited to four per day, and they cannot sell them. Acting on a tip, Fish & Game wardens in June 2000, observed members of the Northern California Korean scuba association, including Youn, taking excessive amounts of abalone out of the ocean near Albion, in Mendocino County. The wardens followed Youn back to San Francisco and saw him sell one of his abalone to Kim. The sale was recorded on video tape. Youn is also being prosecuted in Mendocino County for possessing abalone in excess of the legal limit.

Lieutenant Nancy Foley of the California Department of Fish & Game described the Northern California coast as “one of the last self-sustained abalone resources in the world. We don't want to lose it.”

A Suave Come-on

The actor Don Johnson played Nash Bridges, a swashbuckling Inspector with the SFPD's mythical ”Special Investigations Unit” on a popular TV show. In January 2001 the show was taping its sixth and final season. On January 27 a 36-year-old woman from San Jose walked into Northern Station to file a complaint against Johnson for sexual battery. The alleged incident occurred in San Francisco the previous Saturday night. Officer Joann Walker wrote in an Incident Report (in which V stands for victim and S for suspect):

“V told me that she had just finished having dinner at Mas Sake, located at 2030 Lombard Street. V left her table in order to go to the restroom prior to leaving the restaurant. At the time, the restaurant was full of people. (S) Don Johnson was standing near the women's restroom. As V approached the women's restroom Johnson reached out and grabbed her right arm and said 'Do you know who I am?' V replied 'Yes I do.' S added 'You really have nice tits. They're real, aren't they? You know, it's all in how they feel.' V pulled away from S, backed up and said, 'You're a disgusting pig.' S grabbed V's left arm, pulled her close to him, put his mouth on V's left ear and said, “How would you like to suck my cock?” V smelled a strong alcoholic beverage on S's breath. V replied, 'What, are you asking every woman in this place?” S said 'No, most of the women in this place are whores. You wouldn't take them home. You, I can take home.' V pulled away from S and said 'You're going down.' V then turned and walked as fast as she could towards the front of the restaurant. In the process V slipped and fell, bruising/scratching her left knee and left elbow.

“V stated that after she returned to the members of her party, she proceeded to tell them about the above-mentioned incident. The men in the party made their way to the rear of the restaurant in order to find S. who they said they saw flee through the kitchen and out the back door. After the men returned to V's location, they went to the owner of the restaurant and told him what had occurred...

“I took four pictures of V's injuries and booked the pictures as evidence at Northern Station. It should be noted that V went to the San Jose Police Department to report this incident and they told her to return to SFPD. V advised me that this was the first opportunity she had to return to San Francisco.”

Don Johnson hired a top-notch legal team — attorney James Brosnahan and private investigator David Fechheimer — to interview witnesses to the encounter with V. Fechheimer also called on four other women who had threatened civil suits in connection with Don Johnson's crude courtship technique. I had worked with Fech in the '70s and knew him well. He had done yeoman work for Patrick Hallinan over the years and Terence liked and respected him. The evidence Fech compiled on Johnson's behalf was decisive.

“After reviewing the evidence personally,” Jaxon Van Derbeken reported in the Chronicle, “District Attorney Terence Hallinan said the case 'just wasn't there.'

“'I think it was fair to say that he didn't conduct himself like a gentleman, there were allegations of comments that were discourteous,' Hallinan said, 'It was just a confusing situation, and there was no clear evidence of a violation by him.'

“Johnson's attorney, James Brosnahan, said he was delighted with the outcome. 'He got exactly what was fair, no charges,' Brosnahan said. 

“Three similar accusations by other women came too late during the police investigation, but two of the women involved did not want to press charges. Hallinan said his assessment of the four incidents took into account the reluctance of the women to press charges and the sometimes unclear nature of the facts surrounding the other incidents...

“Brosnahan said the decision by Hallinan should give pause to the women who talked about asking for civil damages. 'If an official has looked at their comments objectively and decided not to proceed, I would hope that would be the end of it.'“

There are limits to what even the most skillful investigator with an unlimited budget can accomplish. In 2001 the federal government executed a celebrity client Fechheimer had taken a liking to: Timothy McVeigh. 

Calls from Fech

• July 8: Wealthy client of David Fechheimer, Tracey Freedman 3680 Jackson St. owner of the Freedman-Hackett gallery on Sutter Street. Half a million worth of contemporary California art stolen when she was having her mansion renovated in February 2000. Yesterday a gallery in NYC received an email from SF man named Peter Davis 52 Parnassus offering for sale a painting by Leonard Anderson which the gallery in New York recognized as having been stolen from Freedman

Inspector Balodich was handling it for SFPD. David told Freedman to contact Balodich. She was informed that he was taking time off and was about to retire. She got the impression he would not be coming back to work. Also, a beat cop told Freedman it was very unlikely that SFPD would get involved in helping her get the paintings back. There were 24 pieces. “Don't expect any help,” she was told.

David wondered if SFPD investigators would want to pursue. SFPD case number 000216. Please advise, or call David directly.

• July 11 David Fechheimer called to ask whether John Burton — in taking $43,000 from a would-be pier developer for about five minutes' work — had violated any laws. Seth Rosenfeld wrote three pieces about Burton's services rendered for IGT (Slot machine manufactures headquartered in Nevada) and a Wisconsin Indian tribe with gambling interests (whose payments he refunded after Seth exposed them).

A Misdemeanor in Chinatown

May 16: District Attorney Terence Hallinan announced today that Wo Tang Huang, 36, pled guilty to practicing dentistry without a license. The Board of Dental Examiners had received a complaint that an individual was using his residence at 1018 Powell Street to practice dentistry on elderly patients in Chinatown... Both SFDA and the US Department of Justice conducted an investigation. An agent from the DOJ arranged with Huang's wife/receptionist to have a possible root canal procedure. Once he was in Huang's residence, investigators from the District Attorney's Office, the DOJ and the Board of Dental Examiners entered with a search warrant and seized a large quantity of dental equipment.

Huang was charged with practicing dentistry without a license, a misdemeanor. He was also charged with endangering the health of an elderly individual. Huang was placed on probation for three years. He was ordered to perform community service and to pay a $5,000 fine. Terence Hallinan said, “This individual posed a health risk to people who came to him. He exposed seniors in the Chinatown area to the possibility of diseases such as hepatitis and HIV, not to mention the risk of complications that he was totally unprepared to handle.”

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