It continues to be a privilege to serve as your district attorney. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with a talented and hard working staff in serving the citizens of Plumas County.
Plumas County remains a safe and beautiful place to live, work and play. During this remarkably challenging time for public safety, we continue to recognize the importance of putting forth the effort each day to assure we maintain a safe and just community. This goal is not without its difficulties. We are currently feeling the full effect of AB109 (criminal justice realignment shifting state obligations to the counties) and are starting to see the impact of Prop 47 (reducing the severity of theft and drug offenses) while navigating prior years of shrinking budgets.
This past year brought the conclusion to a First Degree Murder case broadcast on national TV, a conviction and ten year sentence in the largest public funds embezzlement case in Plumas County history, and a just conclusion to Plumas County’s second officer involved shooting in the last fifteen years. As we enter 2015, our challenges have not lessened. We currently are working on three pending murder cases while pursuing ten pending sexual assault cases – ranging from a forcible rape in Chester to a case involving unlawful sex with a 12 year old in Greenville. In meeting these challenges, members of the DA’s office continue to work hard and effectively to create an office and product of which our citizens can, and should, be proud.
The District Attorney’s Office
As your DA, I maintain the felony calendar, juvenile calendar, drug court calendar, in-custody and felony charging and administration of office responsibilities. This daily lead role as both prosecutor and administrator has included trying felony cases, maintaining 24-7 on-call availability to law enforcement, attending parole hearings throughout the state and serving as co-chair for the California District Attorneys Association Elder Abuse Committee.
Two longtime employees of the Plumas County District Attorney’s Office, Deputy District Attorney Gary McGowan and Fiscal Officer Barbara Palmerton, retired this year after serving with dignity and distinction for nearly two decades. More than 100 friends joined this past April to recognize their careers at a celebration in Quincy. Following their departure we welcomed Alexis Klein as a new DDA and congratulated Sheri Johns on her promotion to fiscal officer. Both Alexis and Sheri have done a tremendous job in meeting the high standards set by Barbara and Gary.
Deputy District Attorneys Joel McComb and Alexis Klein have set an outstanding example for our office and community with their dedicated work and excellent results. Both are passionate about improving our community by taking aggressive stances on quality of life crimes, driving under the influence and domestic violence.
Our Investigators, Supervisor Jeff Wilkinson and Specialist Jessica Beatley, continue to excel in their expanding roles. They have served as the primary investigators in a series of significant cases and have provided outstanding work in an officer involved shooting investigation as well as trial preparation in both felony and misdemeanor cases.
The front office staff (Legal Assistants Kelly Wilkinson, Arin Meisenheimer and Julie Tanaka) continue to provide excellent support for the office and service to the community. Kelly, Arin and Julie have taken a lead role in keeping victims informed of the status of cases as well as continually improving our case management logistics.
Sheri Johns, our fiscal officer, has proven a quick study in navigating the challenges present in the resources we receive from the general fund and a variety of grants. Maintaining the fiscal health of the DA’s office during what continues to be a difficult economic environment has allowed our office the ability to maintain high standards in seeking justice for the citizens of Plumas County.
Alternative Sentencing Manager Stephanie Tanaka and her team (Lori Beatley, Kristie Rood and Shaundell Wingfield) continue to do an incredible job evolving the Alternative Sentencing Program (ASP) to meet the increasing and changing needs of our community and the state’s legal landscape. The ASP has proven successful in assisting court-mandated clients realize a productive and law-abiding life and, in turn, producing real savings for our community by lowering the recidivism level.
We are committed to the community in which we serve. We work with Plumas County youth through volunteering in activities, sports and specific programs such as the high school senior and law school mentoring programs, various guest speaker appearances and field trips, and the Every 15 minutes program.
For the community at large, we have distributed a monthly criminal case update keeping citizens apprised of the status of significant cases, presented at and attended various group and town hall meetings, hosted an annual community supper in Quincy, and provided the tree and served as master of ceremonies for the Christmas Community Sing at the courthouse.
Significant Felony Convictions
We strive to provide a dedicated and earnest approach to the prosecution of crime on a daily basis. These small, daily successes continue to provide the basis for significant victories in our efforts to assure justice is served. This past year we successfully prosecuted many crimes including violent felonies, sexual assaults, burglaries, domestic violence, embezzlement, driving under the influence, fraud, theft and myriad of drug offenses.
In 2014, we filed 835 criminal cases (186 felonies, 395 misdemeanors, 2 infractions and 252 probation violations). These criminal cases were predominantly DUIs, property offenses, assault and battery (including domestic violence) and drug cases. Based on these filings, the district attorney’s office made 6,708 court appearances in our pursuit of justice.
Public Safety Partners
In realizing our past and ongoing success, I continue to be thankful for the outstanding efforts of our public safety partners. In particular, Sheriff Greg Hagwood, CHP (Quincy) Lt. Joe Edwards and CHP (Susanville) Cpt. Joe Micheletti and their staffs continue to impress with their commitment and professionalism in providing safety to Plumas County in a reasoned and appropriate manner. State agencies such as Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also have contributed with outstanding efforts. Both our Probation and Alcohol and Drug Departments, led by Dan Prince and Louise Steenkamp, have put forth an incredible effort in reviving their departments and undertaking the daunting challenge of returning each to its important role in our criminal justice system. Mental Health’s intern assigned to the criminal justice system has been remarkable in working with an unimaginably large caseload in a compassionate and effective manner while collaborating with the public safety partners and reporting to the Superior Court.
New and Expanding Programs
In the next few months we will be implementing FACT (Financial Awareness Community Training) to create a community outreach program designed to prevent financial crimes in our community. We have grown to appreciate the futility in investigating telephone and internet fraud scams – the perpetrators, generally, are from a different country beyond the reach of our limited resources. We have determined a far better approach is to engage in community outreach to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place. The FACT program will feature a series of training programs throughout the county, a fraud hotline and a monthly fraud alert update.
We will also endeavor to make greater strides in keeping the victims of crime updated at each stage of the proceedings. I am grateful for the initiative demonstrated by our front office staff is accepting this task in addition to their many, normal duties.
This March we will be reorganizing our Bad Check Diversion Program so it is administered from our office rather than an out of state company. This change will provide a faster response time and more immediate attention as we help our merchants avoid the harm to their business inherent in being the victim of a worthless check.
Finally, we will be working closely with the Superior Court, defense bar, Alternative Sentencing Program, and our many other criminal justice partners in an effort to evolve our current drug court model to that of a Community Justice Court. The Community Justice Court will direct governmental resources toward defendants with substance addictions, those with a mental illnesses, and those who are veterans .
While the upcoming year is filled with challenges to our public’s safety, I cannot imagine a better place to live, work and play than Plumas County. I am honored to have been re-elected as your district attorney this past year and am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve and do my best to further the high standards we have established the past four years.
Plumas County, California