|Local Residents Honored for Bravery, Courage
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis honored nine local recipients with "Citizens of Courage" awards for either surviving a violent crime and then testifying in court or for helping crime victims.
"This ceremony gives us the opportunity to thank them as we maintain our commitment to helping crime victims as well as prosecuting criminals," said D.A. Dumanis.
Among this year's recipients:
Sandy Vinge, who survived being bound, gagged, beaten and left in the trunk of her car after she was kidnapped from her La Mesa home.
Deborah Carr, who was severely beaten and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend in a domestic violence attack. She then testified against him in court.
Jennifer and Matthew Loveless
Matthew Loveless was shot five times by his wife's ex-boyfriend in a domestic violence altercation. Despite her husband being wounded, Jennifer braved through the emotional trauma and testified in court.
Rodil and Caridad Razon survived a home invasion robbery and attack after being held hostage, suffering numerous injuries. They both carry scars from injuries inflicted by their attacker.
Melanie Cruz awakened to an intruder straddling her in bed with a knife to her neck and suffered numerous cuts, bruises and swelling from the struggle.
Dory & Paws'itive Teams -- Dory is a facilities dog who works with children and mentally disabled adults who have been victims of assault. She provides comfort and emotional support to fragile victims and to their families. Lynn Chavez is a San Diego Police Officer who is assigned to the District Attorney's office as a liaison.
|Walmart Ordered to Pay Record Fine for Dumping
DA Bonnie Dumanis and 18 other District Attorneys throughout the state announced that a $27.6 million settlement has been reached with Walmart for violations of environmental laws and regulations.
It is one of the largest settlements of its type in U.S. history.
Walmart employees were improperly storing, handling and dumping hazardous waste-- including pesticides, chemicals, acid and motor oil.
"This should serve as a warning to all companies doing business in the state and in San Diego County that they will not be allowed to flaunt environmental laws in place to keep our communities clean and safe-- no matter how large or small the coroporation," said DA Dumanis.
The San Diego DA's Office filed a civil complaint in April, alleging that each of the 236 Walmart and Sam's Club Stores and related facilities in California were in violation of environmental laws and regulations.
Gardner Sentenced to Two Life Terms with No Parole
John Albert Gardner pled guilty and was sentenced for the murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois. He was sentenced to two life terms in prison without the possibility of parole and he has waived all of his rights to appeal.
The investigation and prosecution of Gardner was a collaborative effort including the FBI, other federal agencies, most of our local law enforcement, search and rescue teams and the community.
Deputy DA Kristen Spieler, Sheriff Bill Gore and DA Bonnie Dumanis discuss the case at a news conference.
Deputy District Attorney Kristen Spieler successfully prosecuted the case, working closely with District Attorney Investigator Harold Eisenga.
Nothing can replace the lives of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, but the sentencing was another step as their families come to terms with their loss. Our hearts go out to them - and to our community deeply affected by these crimes.
|DA Gets Money Back for Victims of Investment Fraud
More than $1 million in restitution playments were distributed to victims of an investment fraud scam who each lost between $10,000 and $100,000. Deputy DA Anna Winn personally presented some of the checks to the victims, most of whom are elderly.
The defendants pled quilty to cheating investors out of about $1.8 by selling phony certificates of deposit. The pair was charged with more than 100 felony crimes.
The DA's Restitution and Victim Services Division
reached more than 16,000 victims of crime in San Diego County last year. The division provides a wide range of assistance to victims of crime from emotional support, court liaison, and application with the State Victim Compensation Program, to obtaining restitution orders upon defendants' convictions.
|DA Joins U.S. Attorney to Announce Child Porn Sweep|
Twenty men accused of downloading and checking out child porn are now behind bars as part of a local law enforcement crackdown called "Operation Artemis."
The U.S. Attorney's Office and San Diego District Attorney announced the sweep. U.S. Attorney Karen Hewitt says the images were shocking. Besides owning the child porn, Hewitt says one man went on MySpace, lured a child, took pictures of her naked and threatened to post them if she wouldn't have sex with him.
"These latest arrests show two things," said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. "There continues to be no shortage of internet predators trying to connect with, and victimize our children online. But law enforcement is online too, policing cyberspace and pulling the plug on these online predators."
If convicted, some of the defendants face up to 15 years in federal prison.
|DA's Office and "Take Your Child to Work Day"
The District Attorney's Office participated in national "Take Your Child to Work Day." Dozens of employees brought their sons or daughters to the office where they met the District Attorney and got an inside look at where their parents work.
DA CRIMINAL CASE FILES
JONATHAN SCOTT FRENCH, 41, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his on-again, off-again girlfriend who was a court reporter at the Vista courthouse. The defendant faces 26 years to life in prison upon his sentencing on July 12
RAYMOND LEWIS FIRTH, 39, was sentenced to four years in state prison for fondling two girls who were students in his second-and-third grade classes. The defendant was a teacher at Pacific Rim Elementary School in Carlsbad.
HECTOR MARTIN PEREZ, 28, was sentenced to 16 years-to-life in state prison for stabbing his estranged wife's boyfriend outsider her Fallbrook apartment. The defendant was convicted on charges of second-degree murder.
STEPHEN DARIEN RICHARDSON, 34, was sentenced to 75 years-to-life in state prison for raping five women in their beds during 2000 and 2001. The defendant pled guilty last month to five counts of forcible rape as well as an admitted multiple victim allegation.