CSLEA Salutes Governor’s Medal of Valor Recipient CSLEA President honored to be a member of the Medal of Valor Review Board
Lifeguard David Wilson and Alan Barcelona
SACRAMENTO – An Oceanside Fire Department lifeguard was the sole recipient of this year’s Governor’s Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Awards. Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra presented the Medal of Valor award to Lifeguard David Wilson at the State Capitol on Monday, September 25, 2017.
“This year the review board considered 21 nominees, all of them exhibited bravery and put their safety second behind those they rescued,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. Barcelona proudly serves as a member of the Medal of Valor Review Board. “Lifeguard Wilson was awarded the Medal of Valor for his bravery, heroism and courage as he rescued a nearly unconscious boater, whose vessel crashed in Oceanside Harbor. The boater’s legs were trapped between two boulders and Lifeguard Wilson was able to dive underneath the water, in a pounding surf, and free the man’s legs.”
Wilson attended the ceremony with his parents and a family friend.
The Governor’s Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Award is presented to recipients once a year. Typically, there are numerous recipients from throughout the state. This is the first time in recent years in which just one recipient was chosen to receive the award.
CDFW Wardens Arrest Four for Commercial Sale of Sport Harvest Abalone
CDFW Warden and CSLEA-RPOA Member Akiko Mandell
SACRAMENTO - On September 20, 2017, California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers arrested four suspects who allegedly harvested abalone with a recreational fishing license then sold it on the black market for profit.
The arrests followed a five-month investigation of the suspects, some of whom have been previously convicted of similar violations. Arrested were Thepbangon Nonnarath, 48, of Oakley, Dennis Nonnarath, 45, of El Sobrante. and Thu Thi Tran, 45, and Cuong Huu Tran, 42, both of San Jose.
The group came to the attention of CDFW wildlife officers in November 2016, when Thepbangon and Dennis Nonnarath and two associates were cited for multiple abalone violations at Moat Creek which is a popular recreational abalone fishery in Mendocino County. Thepbangon Nonnarath had previous abalone poaching convictions and the wildlife officers suspected the group may be engaged in the commercial sale of recreationally harvested abalone, which is unlawful.
Dive gear seized as evidence on Sept. 20, 2017
Beginning in May 2017, wildlife officers observed suspicious activity by the same group of suspects in several popular recreational abalone diving locations in both Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Further investigation revealed an extended group of people who were harvesting abalone and allegedly selling it on the black market.
The five-month investigation uncovered evidence of various poaching crimes among the group, including unlawful sale of sport caught abalone, take of abalone for personal profit, commercial possession of sport caught abalone, exceeding the seasonal limit of abalone, falsification of abalone tags and conspiracy to commit a crime, among others.
“The collective efforts of these suspected poachers show a blatant disregard for the regulations designed to protect California’s abalone resources,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “Whether it be California abalone or African ivory, wildlife officers will not tolerate trafficking of our wildlife resources.”
The alleged abalone poaching crimes occurred at a time when abalone are facing significant threats to their populations due to unprecedented environmental and biological stressors. As a result, the California Fish and Game Commission has re-adopted an emergency abalone regulation to continue the restriction of the annual abalone limit to 12 abalone per person and continue the reduced open season which is limited to May, June, August, September and October.
DMV Investigators Investigate Couple Allegedly Selling Vehicles They Didn’t Own
CAMARILLO – On September 14, 2017, investigators from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Camarillo Police Department, the Ventura County District Attorney's Office, and the Ventura County Auto Theft Task Force (VenCATT), culminated an investigation that led to the arrest of Bridgette Loraine Gallo and Richard Cory Neal, both of Camarillo, for fraudulently selling vehicles they did not own. A search warrant was also served at the couple's residence.
“California DMV investigators are a great resource for local law enforcement agencies in cases involving the illegal sales of vehicles,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) Alan Barcelona. “DMV investigators work to protect consumers from schemes and illegal activity that end up costing the consumer money. They are sworn peace officers and the DMV has investigation offices throughout California.”
The investigation began on July 25, 2017 after Camarillo Police Department detectives received information that Gallo and Neal were allegedly selling vehicles they did not own. According to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the couple would advertise the vehicles on Craigslist or other internet locations. One tactic the couple allegedly used involved offering to write down a lower purchase price on the Bill of Sale in order to reduce the sales tax owed by the victim.
The suspects typically offered to forward the title to the victims at a later time, but when the suspects contacted the victims later, they would explain the title was not clear and there was actually a lien holder for the car. The suspects would offer to return the amount on the written receipt to the victim; however, this amount was usually thousands of dollars less than what the victim had actually paid. Some of the victims actually took the suspects to civil court and won judgments against the suspects, but this did not stop the suspects from continuing with their alleged illegal transactions. Camarillo detectives know of at least two separate incidents where the same car was sold to a victim, re-possessed, and then re-sold to a separate victim within days.
Investigators have identified six victims who had been sold vehicles under false pretenses and defrauded out of about $40,000.00. Detectives believe there may be additional victims.
California Alcoholic Beverage Control Agents Proud Partners of Pink Patch Project
SACRAMENTO – The California Alcoholic Beverage Control Agents (CABCA) Board of Directors is proud to announce, that this October, California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents will join more than 190 public safety agencies across the country that have proudly partnered with the Pink Patch Project.
The Pink Patch Project is a national movement to raise awareness and money to help in the fight against breast cancer.
“This is a great way for all of us to show we care and that we are willing to take the extra steps to raise and donate money to help in the fight against a cancer that affects the women we care about,” said CABCA President Kevin Highbaugh. “Our moms, our wives, our sisters, our daughters, our aunts, our nieces – who wouldn’t want to help out?”
CABCA purchased the patches and ABC has agreed that, during the month of October, agents may wear the patches under their tactical vests and sell the patches to agents and non-sworn personnel in the department.
“We are very excited to partner with the Pink Patch Project,” said CABCA Vice President Jeff McKay. “October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we are going to do our part to show we care, we want to help, and we want to raise awareness.”
ABC personnel interested in purchasing a pink patch for $10.00 each, should contact Agent Jeff McKay at Jeff.McKay@ABC.ca.gov. Those purchasing an ABC pink patch are invited to send photos of themselves wearing the pink patch to email@example.com for possible use on CSLEA website and social media.
Proceeds from CABCA’s partnership with the Pink Patch Project will go to Pink Heals Inc.
California Alcoholic Beverage Control Agents Patrol 2-Day Nocturnal Wonderland Event Individuals arrested on drug and alcohol related charges
DEVORE – California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents teamed with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on September 15-16, 2017 to protect the more than 37 thousand attendees at the Nocturnal Wonderland event at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in Devore. Nocturnal Wonderland is an electronic music festival.
“ABC agents work these events to keep a lid on underage drinking, illegal drug use, the use of fake IDs and any other illegal activity,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “This police work contributes to the safety of law-abiding attendees and the surrounding community.”
Via twitter, California ABC reported that ABC agents arrested 21 people and seized fake IDs, illegal drugs and money associated with the sales of illegal drugs.
Orange County Physician Assistant Convicted for Illegal Prescriptions California DOJ assisted in investigation
SANTA ANA – On September 18, 2017, a federal jury convicted a physician assistant who worked at a Fountain Valley medical clinic for writing prescriptions for dangerous and addictive narcotics without a medical purpose.
“This case is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Fountain Valley Police Department and the California Department of Justice,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “It is going to take this type of teamwork among the local, state and federal investigative agencies to get combat this troublesome trend of unscrupulous medical professionals contributing to the prescription drug addiction problem that our country is seeing.”
Kaitlyn Phuong Nguyen, 32, of San Jose, was found guilty of 10 counts related to the illegal distribution of oxycodone, methadone and alprazolam. The jury heard evidence that four “patients” died of drug overdoses after obtaining prescriptions from Nguyen.
According to court documents and evidence presented during Nguyen’s trial, Nguyen issued prescriptions without a medical purpose in exchange for cash and insurance payments. “Many of the patients…had ‘red flags’ in their patient files, indicating that they were abusing their pain medication and should not have been given prescriptions,” according to a brief filed in relation to Nguyen’s trial.
Nguyen, who worked at the clinic in 2012, performed only cursory examinations on most “patients” prior to prescribing them narcotics. According to a trial brief, despite having a license to write prescriptions herself, Nguyen usually used a prescription pad pre-signed by Dr. Victor Boon Huat Siew, the doctor who oversaw the clinic, to prescribe addictive substances such as oxycodone, methadone and alprazolam.”
On the eve of Nguyen’s trial, Siew, 66, was sentenced to 70 months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance by a practitioner. When he pleaded guilty earlier this year, Siew admitted to illegally prescribing oxycodone, methadone and alprazolam from his clinic from the beginning of 2009 through early 2015.
Nguyen will face a statutory maximum penalty of 140 years in federal prison when she is sentenced on January 22, 2018.
A third defendant in the case – physician assistant Thanh Nha T. Pham, 31, of Fountain Valley, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 29, 2018.