Tag Archives: county

Former West Sac police officer faces up to life in prison after jury finds him guilty on 18 counts

SERGIO ALVAREZ, accused West Sacramento Police Officer (booking photo, Yolo County Jail)

Former West Sac
police officer
Sergio Alvarez
(booking photo)

Former West Sac
police officer
Sergio Alvarez
(booking photo)

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — FEB 27, 2014 —

A Yolo County jury today announced “guilty” verdicts on 18 felony counts related to sexual assault and kidnapping, in a case involving former West Sacramento Police Officer Sergio Alvarez, reports the Yolo County D.A.’s office. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison.

The jury deadlocked on nine other counts.

Alvarez, 38,  was accused of taking advantage of five women he encountered while patrolling West Sacramento on the graveyard shift as a local officer in 2011-2012.  He was arrested a year ago, and pleaded not guilty.

His defense attorney conceded misdeeds by the officer, denying some charges and saying that other relationships involving the alleged victims and Alvarez had been consensual.

More in next week’s News-Ledger.

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Oscar Villegas: from council to county

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 12, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

The office of Governor Jerry Brown announced Friday that he has appointed Oscar E. Villegas to fill the remaining term as the District 1 representative to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.

That board seat was vacated in December by longtime supervisor Michael McGowan, after McGowan accepted the governor’s appointment to a special position in the Department of Motor Vehicles.

CITY COUNCILMAN OSCAR VILLEGAS said West Sacramento has carefully studied the issue before acting. (News-Ledger file photo)

CITY COUNCILMAN OSCAR VILLEGAS said West Sacramento has carefully studied the issue before acting. (News-Ledger file photo)

Villegas, 47, has been on the West Sacramento City Council since 2000. He has been a field representative for the California Board of State and Community Corrections since 2008.

Among other applicants for the vacancy on the Board of Supervisors was fellow city council member Bill Kristoff, who has served on the council since its inception in 1987.

Villegas told the News-Ledger he hasn’t heard yet when he will begin service on the board. When he sworn in, he will vacate his current city council seat (its term ends in 2016 and the council has yet to take up a discussion of how to fill the remaining part of the term).

“For me, I really feel like it’s the perfect fit,” Villegas said of the seat on the county board of supervisors. “My experience growing up in West Sacramento, my work on the planning commission and city council, and my professional day job working with probation agencies, social service agencies and other agencies all made it look like this role was the perfect fit.”

Villegas’s “day job” is with California’s Board of State and Community Corrections.

“We administer state and federal grants to local municipalities and nonprofit organizations to help those who are going to be released or who are at the risk of being incarcerated,” he said. The grants are intended to help steer people away from a life of crime or give them a “soft landing” back into society when they come out of jail or prison.

Villegas said he will switch to part-time work for the state when he takes the full-time position as county supervisor.

Does he view the county and its government as something that needs “fixing”?

“If you’d asked me that ten years ago, I would have said there were major issues,” Villegas answered. “But Mike McGowan has paved the way for a wonderful relationship between the city and county, and it’s up to me to maintain the relationship.”

Following the recession, he said, “the county is emerging in good shape, and the city is as well.”

He said he hopes to become involved in public safety issues within Yolo County, and also to help the county follow the West Sacramento city council’s disciplined practice of pursuing strategic goals. He called that “focused leadership.”

“We’ve been very fortunate in West Sacramento to have this focused leadership,” he remarked. “I can bring my experience with me. . . We say, ‘here’s where we need to go, and how do we ensure staff has the resources to get it done? How do we stay out of the way and not micromanage?’”

Villegas will fill the remainder of McGowan’s term, which is scheduled to end in December. The seat is up for election in the June primary, and Villegas intends to run for reelection.

Does he have higher political ambitions?

“Right now, I just want to focus on the task at hand,” he answered. “I don’t have the ambitions at this time for something else.”

Villegas’s appointment drew praise from other local leaders. The Sacramento Bee quoted Mayor Christopher Cabaldon as predicting he will be a “terrific asset” to the board, and said  Supervisor Matt Rexroad called Villegas a “first round draft choice.”

State Senator Lois Wolk, in a press release, said she could think of “nobody better suited than Oscar Villegas” to replace McGowan on the Yolo board:

“He is a homegrown leader who cares deeply about his community and has the skills and good working relationships in the region that will enable him to come to the Board of Supervisors and immediately get to work,” added Wolk.

Villegas’s wife, Katie, is on the local school board and serves as executive director of the Yolo County Children’s Alliance, a nonprofit organization.

The county supervisor position pays $59,004 annually, reports the governor’s office. District 1 serves Clarksburg and most of West Sacramento – excluding a slice of the “Bryte” neighborhood in the city’s northwest.

  Villegas is a Southport resident who grew up in the city’s north.  Like Governor Brown and former supervisor McGowan, Villegas is a Democrat.  Do you like what you see here?

 

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‘Neighborhood court’ coming to West Sac: model follows SF and Davis

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 29, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

The concept of “neighborhood court” is soon to West Sacramento.

Those accused of certain low-level crimes will have a chance to exchange a court appearance and possible conviction for a chance to negotiate a resolution with a group of local volunteers and a facilitator in “neighborhood court.”

JEFF REISIG Yolo County District Attorney (News-Ledger file photo)

JEFF REISIG
Yolo County District Attorney
(News-Ledger file photo)

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig told the News-Ledger that the program focuses on “restorative justice” – a concept that cuts across cultures and across the centuries. A modern version of these citizens’ courts is now in operation across the causeway in Davis. It will launch in West Sacramento during the next few months.

The Yolo County version of the neighborhood court follows San Francisco’s model. Reisig said that he has personally watched the Bay Area model in session.

“We have tweaked it a bit to make it more ‘restorative,’” Reisig said.

“Restorative justice is really just a way of having an individual accept responsibility for the harm they’ve cause to the person or community, and finding a way to make it right. It’s all about accountability – making the victim whole.”

This approach is based on “positive, not punitive,” he added.

The neighborhood court model heading to West Sacramento will involve recruiting citizen volunteers to work with a trained “facilitator.” Together, they will meet with alleged offenders and try to hammer out a deal that fits the crime.

To get to neighborhood instead of criminal court, the defendant in a low-level crime – a misdemeanor or infraction case – has to agree to go. In Davis, such cases have included those accused of public drunkenness, vandalism or simple assault.

The victims of the alleged crimes can, if they wish, show up to tell the perpetrator exactly how the crime affected them.

According to an official report of the Davis neighborhood court, victims often appreciate that opportunity. Also, allowing the victim and the offender to communicate can be an effective way to prevent new offenses. One anonymous victim was quoted in the report as saying the victim/offender conference was very satisfying:

“I enjoyed the positive outcome and insightful process,” the battery victim was quoted. “I learned a lot and it provided me with an opportunity to improve my patience.”

“The program is totally voluntary,” explained Reisig. “If somebody is arrested by the police, they can go through the normal process and go to court. Or, if this is an option, they can go to the neighborhood court. If an agreement is reached between the neighborhood court and the offender, there’s a group called the Center for Intervention that monitors the contract.”

That organization – under contract with Yolo County – monitors the deal. The offender pays a “small fee” to be monitored, but won’t be turned away from the program for being unable to pay the fee.

If the offender fulfills his obligations – say, by volunteering a certain amount of community service hours erasing graffiti – the case is closed. There’s no criminal conviction.

If the offender drops the ball, he or she can end up back in “real” court to face the charges. At the moment, reports Reisig’s office, the Davis and UC Davis communities report having held a total of 153 neighborhood court conferences. 95 of those offenders have completed their contract, 28 more are in the process of doing so, and two offenders have dropped the ball.

What kind of offenses has the Davis neighborhood court been handling?

“Keep in mind, Davis is a very different community (from West Sacramento) because of the college students,” Reisig commented. “You have a lot of alcohol-related problems. Most common, maybe, are public drunkenness and alcohol possession.”

Other offenses eligible for neighborhood court include petty theft, vandalism, public urination, noise violations, battery and resisting arrest.

For a theft conviction, says the Yolo County report, an offender might be told to write a four-page essay on the impacts of shoplifting, along with an apology to the store he or she stole from. To answer a charge of public urination, the offender may agree to spend three hours with a local graffiti abatement team.

West Sacramento may see its neighborhood court addressing a different mix of offenses, although the mix may also include alcohol, he said. To be eligible for neighborhood court, not only does the crime have to be a small one, but the offender can’t be on probation or parole, can’t have a criminal history and can’t be facing other criminal charges.

Local service organizations and nonprofits will be invited to become involved so that offenders serve their penance by performing unpaid public service.

The search for West Sacramento neighborhood court panelists and facilitators begins Feb. 20, with a public workshop from 7 to 9 p.m. at the library (1212 Merkley Avenue). Recruitment and training will follow. The volunteers will serve on a single city-wide court.

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Another biting dog sought after incident on Jefferson Blvd onramp

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — JAN 27, 2014 —

The Yolo County Animal Services Division is asking the public for help in locating a dog involved in a biting incident on the I-80 onramp at Jefferson Boulevard yesterday (Sunday, Jan. 26).

A woman was bit by the ‘pit bull’ type dog as she “attempted to contain the dog from traffic,” reports the County of Yolo’s Animal Services Division. The woman suffered a bite on her left ear.

The dog was described as “large with a stocky build, brown in color, with white markings.” It was last seen at the onramp.

If authorities can locate the dog and verify rabies vaccination, the victim can avoid undergoing rabies exposure treatment.

Anyone with information is asked to call (530) 668-5287 or email animal.bite@yolocounty.org.

Authorities announced earlier this month they were looking for a brown or ‘brindle’ boxer-type dog after a Jan. 10 bite at the dog park on Stone Blvd.  That incident was reported by the News-Ledger here.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Nominate a ‘Woman of Character’

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER NEWSPAPER —

The Yolo County Women’s History Month committee invites nominations for Yolo County women to be honored at the group’s March 6 luncheon. Nominees must have a track record of contributing to their community along the theme of “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.”

Individuals and organizations may nominate an honoree. To receive a nomination form, email kfmawdsley@ucdavis.edu or download one at www.ycwhm.org. To receive a copy by mail, leave a message with your name and address, including ZIP, at (530) 758-5093. Nominations are due by Jan. 24.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Your library card may earn you a Northern California museum discount

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

Your Yolo County library card can earn you free and low-cost passes to Northern California museums through the “Discover & Go” program. Visit www.discover.yolocountylibrary.org.

For general library information, visit www.yolocountylibrary.org or look for the library on Facebook.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Yolo deputy fires at suspect accused of pointing a gun, trying to run him down

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — JAN 6, 2014 —

A man is in custody after an incident Sunday evening in which he allegedly fled from an attempted traffic stop, then pointed a gun at a sheriff’s deputy and rammed his patrol car.

According to Yolo County spokesman Mark Persons, the events unfolded last night after a Yolo sheriff’s deputy (whose name wasn’t provided) tried to stop the suspect’s car northbound on I-5 in Woodland, after witnessing it violate traffic laws.

“The vehicle not only failed to stop, (the driver) accelerated to speeds of more than 110 m.p.h., weaving dangerously in and out of traffic while driving with a a willful disregard for the safety of the vehicles around him,” said Persons in a press release.

The deputy pursued the suspect until losing sight of him south of Dunnigan. But he soon spotted the vehicle again as it made a U-turn on County Road 8, west of I-5. The deputy again activated his lights.

“After making the U-turn, the suspect vehicle drove toward the deputy’s vehicle while the suspect was pointing a gun at the deputy,” Persons stated. “The suspect than rammed the deputy’s vehicle on the right front side before continuing eastbound on County Road 8. Believing the suspect presented imminent danger to the public, the deputy fired two rounds, striking the suspect vehicle.”

The suspect abandoned the vehicle behind a truck stop and jumped a fence onto I-5. He was spotted by a California Highway Patrol officer, and two CHP officers detained him at gunpoint before the deputy took custody. The suspect was not injured.

A handgun believed to belong to the suspect was found “along the route between where the suspect abandoned his vehicle and where he was located by CHP,” said Persons.

The arrested man was identified as John August Scrhoiff, a 28-year old transient.

He’s been charged with assault with a deadly weapon likely to cause great bodily injury,assault with a firearm on a peace officer, being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm, and evading a peace officer.

Bail was set at $280,000, and Schroiff is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014