Phone scam costs Sonoma man $4,200

A Sonoma resident is out $4,200 after being victimized by a phone scammer.


A Sonoma man is out $4,200 after being victimized by a phone scam.

The man, a resident of the 400 block of San Lorenzo Court, received a call on July 14 from somebody who was pretending to be the man’s son. The fake offspring told the man he had been arrested and needed bail money. The fake then handed the phone to somebody who said he was an attorney and the best way to arrange the bail was purchasing $4,200 in Best Buy gift cards.

This unusual request evidently failed to raise red flags as the 79-year-old man went out and purchased the gift cards and called back to give the faux attorney the card numbers. At that time the “attorney” told the man that the judge had issued a gag order so the victim couldn’t tell anyone.

That raised the man’s curiosity and he tried calling his son who answered and denied that he was in custody. But it was too late to do anything about the gift card numbers the victim had given over the phone.

Deputies who investigated found the phone number was in Canada.

In other incidents reported recently to Valley law enforcement:

Saturday, July 1:

6:08 p.m. – During a welfare check at a residential care home in the 17000 block of Carriger Road, a deputy found the resident caregiver acting strange and found the resident he was checking on was in the restroom. The deputy found the caregiver was apparently under the influence of pain medication and was neglecting the residents. The deputy immediately sought a protective order and contacted Adult Protective Services. The deputy arrested Gabrielle L. Brown, 53, of Agua Caliente, on charges of felony cause harm to an elder or dependent adult and being under the influence of a controlled substance and transported the woman to jail.

Monday, July 3:

2:30 a.m. – A deputy responded to an alarm in a building in the 900 block of West Napa Street. The deputy discovered that someone had apparently cut through the back fence and broke into a storage building on the property. When caught, the man told the deputy that he was just looking for a place to charge his phone, although he didn’t have a charging cord in his possession. The intruder also told the deputy he didn’t know anything about the computers that had been removed from their boxes and moved. The deputy ended up arresting Daniel Espenlaub, 33, of Sonoma, on charges of felony burglary and an outstanding bench warrant for possession of stolen property, and transported him to the county jail.

Tuesday, July 4:

6:30 p.m. – Deputies responded to a domestic violence incident in the 100 block of Chase Street. When they arrived, they found the victim bleeding from his face and forearm from when his girlfriend had reportedly struck him during an argument. The man declined medical attention, but his girlfriend, Leanne Verbish, 53, of Sonoma, was arrested on charges of felony domestic violence assault, and was transported to the county jail.

6:45 p.m. – A traffic collision in the 700 block of West Spain Street resulted in one of the drivers charged with driving under the influence. During the investigation, a deputy detected the smell of alcohol and asked the driver to perform field sobriety tests, which she performed poorly. A preliminary alcohol screening was .19 and a breath test at the police department was .20 and .18 so deputies filed driving under the influence charges against Lachele Plaskett, 37, of the Springs. She was cited and released to family members.

9:03 p.m. – Another traffic collision, in the 500 block of Second Street East, resulted in another DUI charge. One of the drivers smelled of alcohol, couldn’t remember her date of birth and did poorly on the field sobriety tests. A preliminary alcohol screening was .22, and breath tests at the police department were .24 and .23. Rosemary Gordon, 75, of Sonoma, was charged with DUI and released to a friend.

Thursday, July 6:

6 p.m. – Deputies responded to a domestic disturbance in the 16000 block of Highway 12. The victim told the deputies that her ex-boyfriend had tried to strangle her and took her car keys. The couple had apparently argued about money as she paid for his vehicle to be released from storage. She wanted her money back and was going to keep his keys until he paid her back. That’s when he tried to strangle her, grabbed her wallet and took a set of keys from the wallet. But the keys weren’t his keys, they were hers. The deputies arrested Jose A. Rodriguez, 28, of Sonoma, on charges of felony robbery, felony domestic violence assault by strangulation and a probation violation, and he was transported to jail.

Friday, July 7:

1:37 p.m. – An industrial mower was reported missing from a vineyard in the 3000 block of Napa Road. The mower, which attaches to the back of a tractor, was last seen around July 1. The value of the mower was estimated to be between $2,500 and $3,000.

7 p.m. – A resident in the 100 block of Laurel Avenue reported that sometime that afternoon while she was away from the residence, an unknown someone entered the residence and took her wallet and some prescription medications.

7:15 p.m. – A four-vehicle chain-reaction collision on Fifth Street West and West Napa, landed a Sonoma resident in jail on charges of driving under the influence. Deputies administered field sobriety tests to Mark Anderson, 52, of Sonoma. Anderson didn’t do well on the FSTs so deputies administered a preliminary alcohol screening which registered .16. Anderson refused a second PAS as well as a breath screening at the police department. He was transported to the hospital for a blood draw and was then transported to jail on charges of driving under the influence.

Sunday, July 9:

1 a.m. – Deputies responded to a call in the 1100 block of Bonneau Road after a 14-year-old girl reported that her mother’s boyfriend had touched her inappropriately. The teen told her aunt who called the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies arrested Juan Hernandez, 39, of Sonoma, on charges of felony lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under 15 and felony penetration with a foreign object. He was transported to the county jail.