Sonoma Valley Darwin Awards, Part II

This is the second

of a two-part series

Chronic drug use is known to reduce cognitive acuity, and that appeared to be the case with a Sonoma woman arrested three times in six weeks and then twice in two weeks, apparently trying her best to test the popular definition of insanity.

The woman was arrested on Jan. 3 on drug charges and then, when she failed to make a court appearance, was re-arrested on Jan. 31, also on numerous drug charges. She then apparently failed to make her next court appearance, and was re-arrested on Feb. 13 – again on numerous drug charges.

Sheriff’s deputies then received information that the woman was at a motel in the 500 block of Second Street West so, at about 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 13, they went there and knocked on the front door. The woman in question, and three associates, decided at that moment it might be wise to exit through the back door. It wasn’t, as a Sheriff’s deputy was waiting there too.

Since the repeat offender and one associate were on searchable probation, the deputies dutifully searched the motel room and found three syringes thought to contain heroin, 2.75 grams of methamphetamine and a stolen check.

None of the four would admit to ownership of the drugs, so all were arrested.

The repeat offender was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, felony possession of a narcotic controlled substance, felony committing a felony while out on bail, a felony bench warrant and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

All four were booked into the county jail.


When big pockets are outlawed, only outlaws will have big pockets

Law enforcement officials may well be pondering the wisdom of the public popularity of big-pocket pants, especially given the things people are putting in them.

So it was that on Feb. 16 at about 5 p.m. a 21-year-old Agua Caliente man entered the Rite Aid drug store in the Maxwell Village shopping center, went straight to the liquor aisle and stuffed a 1.75 liter bottle of booze in each pants pocket. He then returned to the exit and walked out the door with his hands cupping the tops of the family-sized bottles in an unsuccessful attempt to conceal from view the cargo in his cargo pockets.

The store manager saw the man leaving the store with the highly conspicuous liquor, stopped him and said, “I can see the bottles in your pockets.”

The man tried to push past him, another employee intervened and together they detained the overly-ambitious shoplifter until police arrived.

When an officer began inquiring into the thief’s identity he proved to have no ID, no wallet and a bad attitude. Asked for his name he gave a false one. The officer ran the name, it didn’t match the suspect so he asked again. “You figure it out,” the unfriendly filcher responded.

Police finally came up with the man’s real name, reviewed the store’s surveillance video which clearly revealed the theft taking place and then booked the man into the Sonoma County jail on a charge of petty theft and a DUI probation violation.

The recovered loot was a big bottle of UV vodka, valued at $16.99, and an equally large but significantly higher quality bottle of Sausa tequila, valued at $37.99.


Brother, can you spare a spoon?

It is presumably difficult to cook heroin in the bowl of a plastic spoon. Perhaps for that reason, a 28-year-old Springs man who had locked himself in the bathroom of a local fast food restaurant at about 1:30 p.m. on May 9, emerged long enough to ask restaurant employees if he could borrow a spoon – a metal spoon.

The restaurant manager had already taken note of the fact that his bathroom had been co-opted for the purpose of what appeared to be self-medication, and he called the Sheriff’s office.

Deputies arrived on scene just as the man was leaving the bathroom again. When he saw the officers of the law, he made the spontaneous but unwise decision to run and was swiftly tackled. The man continued to struggle, perhaps under the illusion that he could somehow escape the grasp of the beefy deputies, who ultimately subdued him when they proffered a Taser.

During the subsequent search, deputies found 15 grams of heroin in the man’s possession and charged him with felony counts of possessing a narcotic controlled substance, possessing a narcotic controlled substance for sale and being under the influence. He was transported to the Sonoma county jail without a metal spoon.


The gang that couldn’t counterfeit straight - II

- or -

I’d like a pack of gum, here’s a $100 traveler’s check?

Four East Bay women with a carload of counterfeit $100 traveler’s checks made an elaborate but ultimately failed attempt to cash them in local stores while trying to purchase low-cost items on Thursday, Oct. 24.

The women, working as a team, attempted to cash the checks at the Rite Aid store in Maxwell Village shopping center, and at the Staples office supply store on West Napa Street.

But the group, three of whom descended en masse on each store and picked out cheap items to buy while proffering the bogus American Express checks, might just as well have worn T-shirts proclaiming, “We’re here to steal from you,” because employees of both stores were instantly suspicious and called police.

The caper started around 4:20 p.m. at the Rite Aid store when the trio walked in and first tried to use credit cards to purchase minor items, but in each case the cards were declined. At least one of them tried to buy a pack of cigarettes with one of the fraudulent traveler’s checks, but the clerk refused to take it and a store employee immediately called police, alerting them to look for the burgundy Cadillac in which the women had driven off.

The group next tried their luck at the Staples store, where one woman attempted to buy $10.88 worth of pens and a calculator with one of the checks, and another woman offered a bad check for a $7.50 pack of toilet paper. A clerk told the t.p. purchaser that a minimum purchase of $20 was required before she could make change, whereupon the suspect plucked a printer cartridge off the counter without even looking at it and asked, “How’s this?”

The third suspect, seeing her confederates being rebuffed, left items on the check-out counter, said “I don’t need these,” and hurried out of the store just as police arrived. A fourth woman, the presumed get-away driver, had remained in the car, and all four suspects were arrested.

The Staples store manager, a 20-year retail veteran with training in spotting fraudulent checks, told police he had seen the scenario play out before, when small groups with big checks attempt to make purchases requiring lots of change.

In the Cadillac police found numerous inexpensive items from stores located all over Northern California. They also found many more counterfeit traveler’s checks, a large number of store gift cards presumably purchased with bad checks and a large amount of cash in each woman’s purse.

Police suspect the women may have been part of a larger counterfeit ring at work in the greater Bay Area.

All four were booked into the Sonoma County jail.