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DA Launches Website to Prevent Rape
DA Honors Citizens of Courage
South Bay Gets a Day of Consumer Advice
Foster Mom Charged in Toys for Toys Thefts
'In-Law Killer' Convicted of Murder
Fake Doctor Sentenced to Prison
Consumer Alert: Swine Flu Price Gouging
Consumer Alert: Property Tax Scam
DA Case Files
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis gathered a diverse group of community leaders to launch a new website designed to prevent sexual assaults connected to drinking. "Know the Price" kicked off in April with a new website ( which includes compelling videos of interviews with sexual assault victims, prosecutors, police detectives, a sexual assault response team doctor, and college fraternity members. "There is an urgent need to provide accurate information about this specific and growing crime to people in a wide age range," said DA Dumanis. The District Attorney's Office filed rape by intoxication-related charges in 61 cases last year, a 60 percent increase from 2007.
Citizens of courage press conference
The San Diego County District Attorney's Office presented Citizens of Courage Awards to six recipients as part of National Crime Victims' Rights Week. "These individuals have shown true courage and deserve to be recognized for what they have done to pursue justice," said DA Dumanis. This year's recipients included Kelsey Hamlett, an 11-year-old witness to the multiple stabbing murder of her mother who called 911 and testified against the defendant. Eric Lotter, a developmentally disabled man who was tortured then displayed great courage on the witness stand by facing his attacker in court. Jennifer Grosso attempted to break up the beating of her boyfriend, pro surfer Emery Kauanui, who died at the hands of several attackers.

south bay consumer protection
Identity theft, immigration fraud, elder financial abuse, and foreclosure fraud were just a few of the topics covered at a free Consumer Protection Day event held in the South Bay.  About 300 residents attended the event, including many members of the Hispanic community for whom simultaneous Spanish translation was available.  "Consumers were able to get some great advice from experts in just a few hours on how they can keep themselves from becoming victims of scammers," said DA Dumanis.  The successful event, held at Chula Vista High School, was collaborative effort between the District Attorney's Office, County Office of Aging and Independence Services, Contractors State License Board, AARP, and the State Bar of California.

Toys for Tots arrest
A South Bay foster mother and president of the Latino Foster Parents Association was taken into custody in connection with the thefts of more than 11,000 toys from the popular Toys for Tots charity program and charged with selling them for personal gain. Virginia Kelly, 73, of San Ysidro, allegedly accepted donated toys during the holidays from the Toys for Tots program for the distribution to needy families. Instead, Kelly is suspected of selling the toys at garage sales for personal gain. Anyone with information about Kelly's illegal selling of toy activity, including those who sold on their behalf is asked to call (619) 531-4475.

A Fallbrook man who fatally stabbed his mother-in-law and 16-year old sister-in-law nearly three years ago was found guilty of first-degree murder and torture. Jason Duane Cooper, 27, stabbed his sister-in-law an excess of 50 times before continuing his assault on his mother-in-law, leaving her with almost 30 stab wounds. After the attack, Cooper reportedly called 911 to turn himself in, asserting mental issues. At his arraignment, Cooper pled not guilty by reason of insanity, but a jury later determined Cooper was indeed sane at the time of the murder. Cooper now faces a possible life term in prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing on July 9.

A woman who posed as a doctor in South Bay and performed abortions on several women was sentenced to more than six years in prison. Bertha Pinedo Bugarin, 49, pleaded guilty to felony charges of practicing medicine without a license and grand theft. Bugarin operated six clinics in Southern California, including one in San Diego County. Nine victims came forward and said Bugarin performed surgical or medical procedures on them. Bugarin was also required to pay $32,000 in restitution to the victims.
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis and San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith have issued a price gouging warning to retailers. "Retailers who may want to take advantage of the concern over Swine Flu by increasing prices for certain products during the current state of emergency need to know they may be breaking the law," said DA Dumanis.  "Consumers should also know their rights and legal protections in place as they shop for items such as masks and hand sanitizer." After the Governor declares a state of emergency, it is illegal for businesses to increase prices of essential goods and services by more than ten percent unless they can prove it was due to an increase in their supplier's price. The prohibition on price gouging applies to consumer food and services, supplies and medical supplies.

consumer alert box
Citizens have recently reported receiving official-looking forms by mail with the County Assessor's ID No. and the address of their real property along with the current assessed value. The notice indicates that the property is currently "over-assessed" and that a request for tax reassessment has not yet been filed. The form states that for a "processing fee," paid by a "due date," the citizen's property can be "reassessed." The letter also states that, if the fee is not received by the due date, a "late fee" will be applied. The form looks official, and includes a green return envelope to mail in the money. The envelope returns to a P.O. Box in Los Angeles. Be advised, our County Assessor's office is located at the County Administration Center on Pacific Highway and any real-property owner can request a reassessment through that agency without charge. For more information, please contact the District Attorney's Consumer Fraud Hotline at 619-531-3507.


MAX ALLEN ANDERSON, 39, was sentenced to two life terms in prison for murdering the manager of an airport parking lot and an employee during a robbery almost 10 years ago.

FREDERICK MELANSON, 46, was sentenced to 16 years-to-life in state prison for fatally stabbing his wife of 15 years after a night of drinking.

RUSSELL RENE FARBER, 53, was sentenced to 21 years-to-life in state prison for the brutal stabbing and murder of his girlfriend as her 11-year old daughter watched.

FRANKO BERNAL, 22 and SAMUEL McCAULEY JR., 25, were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the 2006 random shooting of an 18-year-old Murietta man and a 7-Eleven store clerk.
On The Record
May 2009

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