Aug 5, 2016

"I think your failure to take accountability was reprehensible because your fellow workers were under suspicion"

On Friday, August 5, former assistant court operations manager, Socorro Cervantes was sentenced by Visiting Judge Leslie Nichols this morning.

Besides court staff, four family and friends of Cervantes, I was the only media present for the hearing that lasted over an hour.

The Judge, the District Attorney's Office and Probation Department took into account mental health issues.

Five years supervised probation, restitution of $95, 064 to Humboldt Superior Court and 365 days in jail.

Ms. Cervantes was cuffed and taken into custody in court right now.

Deputy District Attorney  Nina Elisseou
asked both for maximum jail time allowed and that  Cervantes be remanded into custody today.

Judge Nichols summarized the plea, made comments about the probation report and went over all the terms and conditions of probation in detail in open court today.

Jun 5, 2016

"Ms. Cervantes will not go to state prison but I want to be clear what my expectations are; choices were made; consequences will follow."

Retired and Visiting Judge Leslie B. Nichols made it very clear to Socorro Cervantes that the June 3 plea was conditional. He took his time and meticulously went over her rights, despite the fact that she had signed a plea form, he answered Probation Officer Jeanne Kirke's questions about the probation report she will prepare and complimented Cervantes' attorney Mr. Glenn Brown, telling Cervantes, "she has a very capable attorney."

He asked Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees questions about the negotiated plea. Deputy District Attorney Nina Elisseou negotiated the plea. The resolution addressed two cases, one from 2013 with the embezzlement charge and another from 2015, a misdemeanor. drunk in public.

The motion to dismiss this case that was scheduled for the afternoon on June 3 was officially dismissed. Judge Nichols said that Cervantes was pleading guilty to Count 2 in the embezzlement case. Special allegations for that count were dismissed, Count 1 was dismissed and the misdemeanor was dismissed, all these were dismissed with a Harvey reservation.

A Harvey waiver allows the court to consider dismissed charges during sentencing in a criminal case. Absent a waiver by defendant, a sentencing court is not permitted to rely upon information relating to counts dismissed in accordance with a plea bargain. The name originates from a California case, People v. Harvey (1979) 25 Cal.3d 754.

The maximum punishment for what Cervantes plead would be four years in state prison, could not be served in a local jail, and usually, the defendant is ineligible for probation. Judge Nichols explained PC 654 which was taken into consideration for the plea and according to that penal code, you cannot be punished for the same crime, twice.

He said that these were "serious charges of embezzlement of public funds" and stated on record that there was stipulation by both parties that there were "unusual circumstances."

Judge Nichols stated on record that the plea had to be guilty, not no contest. Cervantes also had to waive her right to appeal. He addressed Cervantes saying that while the negotiated plea states that "she would not work as a public servant for the period of probation; " it was his discretion to make that "a lifetime bar."

Cervantes plead guilty. He said that there had been a written statement submitted by Cervantes "apologizing for her misconduct."

"After the probation report, the Court has a right to reject the plea," said Judge Nichols.

DDA Rees askedit be stated on record that "since the People are striking the special allegations, that Count 2 is  a state prison offense."

Mr. Brown responded, "Ms. Cervantes understands that if there is a violation of probation that there will be no reinstatement of probation and time will be served in state prison."

Cervantes cannot possess any firearms or ammunition for a lifetime.

There were will be no Alternate Conflict Council office after June 2016 and Mr. Brown told Judge Nichols that he is going to "stay on as counsel for" Cervantes "on his own time" until the sentencing.

Judge Nichols made some remarks to Cervantes about his feelings about the plea, "Not to put you downward spiral but to address the gravity of the situation."

He mentioned Andrew Lund's testimony from the grand jury, in which Lund claimed that when he told Cervantes about an upcoming visit from the Administrative Office of the Courts, her response to him was, "I don't want to go to prison."

Judge Nichols said that the allegations were made in 2008, it was 2013 when the case against Cervantes was filed and it was 2016, until the case got resolved.

He said that sometimes defendants come forward and admit and make restitution for the damage they have caused. He said he did not see that there was any financial stress or reason for Cervantes not admitting guilt until now. "Eight years is a lot of time to think about financial responsibility."

"Ms. Cervantes will not go to state prison but I want to be clear what my expectations are; choices were made; consequences will follow," said Judge Nichols.

"To make substantial payments is an actual demonstration of remorse," said Judge Nichols.

"While there is no prior crimonal record; this is a longtime court employee who was in a position of trust," said Judge Nichols. "I want there to be some measurable punishment."

Expressing some frustration about changes in law, Judge Nichols said that the legislation makes law, so even if a Judge makes a decision, "the person walks out because of overcrowding."

Jun 3, 2016

Felony probation instead of state prison for former assistant court operations manager who plead guilty to embezzlement

That plea was entered and it is a conditional plea for felony probation instead of state prison.

Cervantes plead guilty to a single count of PC 504, embezzlement. Count 1 was dismissed, all special all special allegations were dismissed with a Harvey Reservation and the 2015 misdemeanor case was also dismissed with a Harvey reservation..

Sentencing is on August 5 at 9 a.m.. Time was waived for sentencing.

Visiting Judge Leslie Nichols accepted the plea. Cervantes was present in court with her attorney, Mr. Glenn Brown. Ms. Jeanne Kirke was present from Probation. Judge Nichols gave her some feedback on what information he needed in the probation report.

Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees was present in court for the plea today but he told me that "other attorneys in his office have worked on this case" and "all have put in a lot of hard work."

No other media has followed this case for the last year and no other media was present in court this morning. There were two family members in the audience, myself and Humboldt Superior Court CEO Ms. Kim Bartleson.

I will have a detailed post on the hearing for plea in which Judge Nichols made some very specific points about this resolution, accepting the conditional plea, what he advised Cervantes and explaining in detail for the public's benefit the process and what went into this decision.

He made it clear that he would look at the probation report before making any final decision and the severity of the charges.

Jun 3, 2016

Former assistant court operations manager to enter change of plea in $100,000 embezzlement case

The hearing for a motion to dismiss has been vacated for this afternoon in the Socorro Cervantes case.

Instead, Cervantes is expected to enter a change of plea at 9 a.m this morning.

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1 comment:

  1. How is it that someone that stole $$ is sentenced to jail time and someone whom killed a passenger in his vehicle while driving under the influence gets probation? SERIOUS QUESTION HERE......IS OUR SYSTEM CORRUPT???