Davis Man Faces Charges in “Phantom” Drug Case

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methYolo County Judge Janet Gaard held Davis resident Paul Delgado to answer, in a preliminary hearing for two felony charges of attempting to sell meth, despite the fact that there is no evidence that he ever possessed the drug that he allegedly offered to sell to an undercover agent of YONET.

Mr. Delgado is being prosecuted by Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Michael Vroman.  The evidence presented, at the preliminary hearing on Wednesday, was based solely on the word of Officer Ryan Bellamy of the Davis Police Department, acting as a supervising agent for YONET.

In his testimony on Wednesday, Officer Bellamy said that they had received complaints about people acting under the influence of narcotics at the fire dancing shows in the E Street Plaza in Davis.  There, street performers draw a crowd of anywhere between 20 and 50 people.

Based on these complaints, YONET apparently initiated Operation Fire Dance and one of the agents involved was Jeff Moe.

On the night in question, he estimated a crowd of 30 to 40 people attended the show, and there was spillover of people into a nearby alley.  It was there that Agent Moe contacted Paul Delgado, who was said to be pushing another subject in a wheelchair.

Upon contact, Mr. Delgado allegedly told Agent Moe he could smoke him out – referring to marijuana, but Agent Moe wanted something “harder” – crystal meth.

Mr. Delgado allegedly told the agent that if he brought him two beers, he would get meth from a guy named “Wedo.”  They agreed to meet at the benches across from Woodstock.  Agent Moe brought the beer, but Mr. Delgado did not have any meth.

He allegedly told the undercover agent that he could not find Wedo.  He went looking for him again and said they could talk later.

Over the next few days they played this cat and mouse game, but Mr. Delgado never produced the drugs.

A few days later, Officer Bellamy testified that Mr. Delgado talked again with Agent Moe.  This time, the agent asked Mr. Delgado if he could hook up directly with “Wedo.”

Agent Moe allegedly said, “If you hook me up, I’ll split with you the profits.”  They made arrangements to meet in West Sacramento, and while Mr. Delgado seemed interested, he never put Agent Moe in contact with “Wedo” and never himself had possession of meth.

Under cross-examination, Officer Bellamy said there was never a point in which the conversations were recorded.  During some of the contacts, he said that Agent Moe was working this case on the weekend when other agents were off.

Public Defender Dean Johansson asked Officer Bellamy who initiated these contacts, and he acknowledged that Agent Moe had contacted Mr. Degaldo every time, even though he knew there was no recording device available.

According to Officer Bellamy under direct, there was never any meth found on Mr. Delgado.  They were never led to an individual with meth.  There was no physical evidence of meth and no observation with meth.

Apparently Wedo is a known individual to YONET, whom they know to be Jonathan Abshire, known to be some sort of drug dealer.  Although Mr. Delgado himself denied this was the same individual, it does lead to a puzzling question as to why they needed to get Mr. Delgado involved at all, as he appears not to be an individual dealing drugs.

Mr. Delgado took the stand and gave a very rambling account.  He claimed to have just had a job with Comcast.  He was also a caregiver to the gentleman in the wheelchair who is blind.  He identified the individual as Patrick, who had a Prop. 215 card (for medicinal marijuana).

Mr. Johansson argued that there is no evidence that a crime actually occurred here.  There was no meth, no known connection between Mr. Delgado and anyone with meth, no evidence that he ever attempted to obtain meth.

He called it a “thought” crime, at best.  He said he has never put a client on the stand before, and Mr. Delgado has a very scattered memory, at best.

Mr. Vroman argued that, looking at jury instruction, the law is very clear that there is an intent to follow through and so long as there is intent, there is no need to prove that there actually was meth.

Mr. Johansson argued that, according to the testimony of Mr. Bellamy, Agent Moe did the offerring to his client, rather than the other way around.

Judge Gaard ruled that, based on the evidence, there is enough evidence to hold him to answer for those charges.

Mr. Delgado was ordered to remain in custody and was visibly distraught over that.

I feel compelled to offer up several points about this case because, frankly, it is so absurd.  We have a prosecutor and a sheriff that have complained about changes in state law and bed space at the jail.  What purpose does it serve to hold Paul Delgado in custody?  What danger does this guy represent?

The unique thing about this case is that our entire account is based on the officer’s side of the story.  Mr. Delgado’s account is frankly a bit too scattered to really get a sense of what happened.  So let us take the officer’s account as true and accurate.

Mr. Delgado was not out there attempting to sell drugs.  At best, he was talked into an attempt and approached by the YONET agent.  He is not a drug dealer.  He is not an individual who was out looking to sell drugs.

He didn’t have any drugs at the time and over the next four or five days was unable to obtain them.  So why is the DA’s office and YONET out to get Paul Delgado?  If you are concerned about drug use around the fire spinning, this does not seem to be an individual likely to have contributed to the problem.

Not only that, but the work done here is sloppy.  You basically have one undercover agent, who, through a quirk in the law, does not even have to testify at a preliminary hearing.  He has no recording to account for their conversation.  No evidence of meth ever existing.

There is no evidence at all that a crime even occurred.  This is how YONET and the Yolo County District Attorney’s office desire to spend taxpayer money at a time that they are crying poverty?

This is a farce.  There is no jury that is going to convict in this case, particularly now.  Technically speaking, perhaps the judge can justify holding Mr. Delgado to answer on the charges, but somewhere, somehow, someone has to put an end to this so we can all focus on real crimes and not what appears to be a completely fabricated matter that never would have occurred without the intervention of Officer Moe and YONET.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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28 thoughts on “Davis Man Faces Charges in “Phantom” Drug Case”

  1. Ryan Kelly

    YONET is losing its funding and should be disbanded soon. I don’t think we will see any impact on the community. I have not been impressed with YONET’s responses to problems in the community and this case is just another example of it.

  2. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Upon contact, Mr. Delgado allegedly told Agent Moe he could smoke him out – referring to marijuana, but Agent Moe wanted something “harder” – crystal meth.[/quote]

    There was information that drugs were being dealt at the festivities. Delgado was a known drug dealer. Officer approaches Delgado and strikes up a conversation. The question is who initiated the discussion about drugs? If Delgado, I wonder if the idea here is to let Delgado know he is being watched by Yonet? I feel as if we are not being given all the facts here, or are missing something…

  3. David M. Greenwald

    “Delgado was a known drug dealer.”

    Where did you get that from? Wedo may have been a known drug dealer – if it is the guy that Bellamy claimed it was and Delgado denies it was – and of course the police have no way of knowing who it was since they never made contact with Wedo. Delgado was clean since some possession charge in 2004.

  4. STORMY

    Pre crime! We need access to the minority report… There is so little here to warrant even an arrest much less trial and potential confinement. Is there nothing else to do here but try to validate an investigative waste of time and money. This officer was working by himself? This whole story sounds like a CYA waste of assets.

  5. JustSaying

    [quote][i]”I feel as if we are not being given all the facts here, or are missing something…”[/i][/quote]Come on, Elaine, does this surprise you?
    1.) David always writes as though a preliminary hearing is a trial and feigns surprise and outrage every time when the case isn’t proven beyond reasonable doubt.
    2.) David always writes as though the case is non-existent if it’s based on alleged acts he doesn’t think should be illegal (even though they are).
    3.) David always writes as though law enforcement built the case on loopholes, quirks or other evasions of law instead of faithfully following the law (even though they are).
    4.) David always writes as though a defense question about lack of a specific type of evidence (DNA, video or audio recording, fingerprint, eye witness report) is a fatal flaw rather than simply a tactic the defense routinely uses to raise doubt.
    5.) David always writes without reporting on important facts (such as the rationale for keeping Mr. Delgado in confinement) and acting as though it’s a failure of justice rather that a failure in reporting or analysis.
    6.) David always writes with sweeping untruths or unprovables (no jury will convict particularly now) that seem more aimed at the jury pool than anyone else.
    7.) David always writes to connect fairly routine happenings as though they are local examples of national miscarriages of justice without evidence that they qualify.

    I could go on, Elaine, but you know what I mean. It’s discouraging that the [u]Vanguard[/u] has become so formula-driven.

    It’s becoming impressively more ambitious without growing in important ways. The [u]Vanguard[/u] would be more educational if accuracy and completeness meant more. It could be more influential if the sky wasn’t falling at every turn.

  6. David M. Greenwald

    Just Saying: That is just a huge load of crap. I never once said that the allegations here had to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but I do evaluate the cases laid out in a preliminary hearing to see if there is a reasonable chance it can be proven in trial and in this case there is none. They laid out the evidence, it was a joke. Defend. All you have done here is turn me into the message because you cannot defend a single thing that the authorities have done here.

  7. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]ERM: “Delgado was a known drug dealer.”

    Where did you get that from? Wedo may have been a known drug dealer…[/quote]

    Had to go back and reread, my mistake…

  8. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Just Saying: That is just a huge load of crap. I never once said that the allegations here had to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but I do evaluate the cases laid out in a preliminary hearing to see if there is a reasonable chance it can be proven in trial and in this case there is none. They laid out the evidence, it was a joke. Defend. All you have done here is turn me into the message because you cannot defend a single thing that the authorities have done here.[/quote]

    I think the frustration of some of us on this blog is how agenda driven YJW has become. It is not even remotely about objectivity, but more about how to get the DA fired from office, and cast as much mud as possible at law enforcement to see what sticks, while lauding the Public Defender no matter what. I know I would feel a whole lot more comfortable if you would state the facts as you know them, then give your opinion at the end. But instead your version of the facts is interlaced with all sorts of one-sided and predictable opinion, and we know exactly what direction that opinion will be – it is a foregone conclusion. You never knew a defendant you didn’t feel sorry for…

    Many of the criticisms you aim at the DA or law enforcement are more a product of the legal system itself, a system which I as an attorney even acknowledge is highly flawed and imperfect. Yet you talk about the imperfections as if it was the fault of the DA/law enforcement. Your complete lack of objectivity can be very frustrating. Your dismissive attitude towards any criticism is also equally frustrating, especially because you seem to be setting yourself up as judge, jury and executioner when it comes to evaluating cases. You of all people should know cases are not always what they seem on the surface. Almost any trial will result in many surprises…

    Nor are trials ever perfect, nor arrests, nor the collection of evidence. To expect perfection, constantly raising the bar, is just not realistic, and is an unfair tactic frequently used by the defense. If perfection is required in every case, we would never convict defendants who are guilty of criminal activity…

  9. Superfluous Man

    ERM,

    “To expect perfection, constantly raising the bar, is just not realistic, and is an unfair tactic frequently used by the defense.”

    Casting doubt re: the prosecution’s case is an “unfair tactic?” Isn’t that the duty of the defense? Or just “a product of the legal system itself,” I guess.

  10. AdRemmer

    DG asked:

    [quote]AD: What evidence is there that he attempted to sell meth? And how can you attempt to sell something that you never had? [/quote]

    From your “Story” – [quote]The evidence presented, at the preliminary hearing on Wednesday, was based solely on the word of Officer Ryan Bellamy of the Davis Police Department, acting as a supervising agent for YONET.[/quote]

    And: [quote]Judge Janet Gaard held Davis resident Paul Delgado to answer, in a preliminary hearing for two felony charges of attempting to sell meth, [/quote]

    David: although people convicted of attempts may face the same sanctions as if convicted of the principle offense. The prosecution thereof, may differ, in some respects.

    Here’s a little morsel for your consideration:

    The elements of a criminal attempt are “[(1)] a specific intent to commit the crime, and [(2)] a direct but ineffectual act done toward its commission.” Id. at *2 (citing Penal Code § 21a; People v. Toledo 26 Cal. 4th 221, 229 (2001)).

  11. AdRemmer

    JS: lol…

    DG opined: [quote]They laid out the evidence, it was a joke[/quote]

    “…It was a joke….”

    The lay opinion of authority said it, therefore, it must be true…

    Despite experienced, trained officers & a Charging Deputy DA’s opinion

  12. David M. Greenwald

    And the problem is that you have to prove that Delgado had an intent to sell the guy drugs. I don’t think there is any evidence to prove that even if you accept the officer’s testimony told second hand as completely true.

  13. E Roberts Musser

    From wikipedia:
    [quote]An Impossibility defense is a criminal defense occasionally used when a defendant is accused of a criminal attempt that failed only because the crime was factually or legally impossible to commit.[1] Factual impossibility is rarely an adequate defense at common law. In the United States, thirty-seven states have ruled out factual impossibility as a defense to the crime of attempt. This is not to be confused with a ‘mistake’ of fact defense, which is always considered as a defense to criminal charges.[/quote]

    To dmg: you are confusing the defense of impossibility with the crime of attempt…

  14. ReformedDavisite

    Might want to brush up on your H&S Code if you want to be a real journalist:

    H&S 11379

    (a) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (b) and in
    Article 7 (commencing with Section 4211) of Chapter 9 of Division 2
    of the Business and Professions Code, every person who transports,
    imports into this state, sells, furnishes, administers, or gives
    away, [b]or [u]offers[/u] to transport, import into this state, sell, furnish,
    administer, or give away, or attempts to import into this state or
    transport any controlled substance[/b]… shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a period of
    two, three, or four years.

  15. AdRemmer

    DG: [quote]I don’t think there is any evidence to prove that even if you accept the officer’s testimony told second hand as completely true. [/quote]

    The officer(s) observations, testimony and the like, memorialized in reports, IS evidence.

  16. JustSaying

    David does not look at investigators’ testimony as evidence, even though it is evidence. He does not consider circumstantial evidence as evidence. He walks into the courtroom denying that law enforcement could be engaged in anything other than overt, outrageous attacks on poor, minority defendants. From that point, it’s all downhill from the DA’s standpoint.

    In the Topete case, he declared the enhancements unworthy of pursuit and unproven a week into the trial. When cautioned to wait until the prosecution presented all evidence, he stated the case was essentially completed so he was justified in jumping to conclusions, Of course, it took the DA weeks more to complete his case. Since then, no amount of evidence could sway him.

    He will stand up for the “rights” of a rapist father, a murderous gangster, a drug-peddling hoodlum long after everyone else has carefully considered the case and moved on. He will attack the “justice system” long after it’s done its job and moved on. He calls the lawful actions of authorities as wrong, misdirecting the issues’ concern toward law enforcement instead of the laws with which he disagrees themselves.

    He demands full disclosure from the DA at a preliminary hearing or claims “there’s [u]no[/u] evidence–suggesting he has no concept of the purpose of such a hearing (when it’s obvious he has adequate knowledge of how that part of the system works).

    He inadequately covers hearings and trials and/or cherry-picks facts based on his preconceived attitudes about authority. His word choices and descriptions constantly reveal his bias. He joins local stories with national and other causes and stories when connections are so minimal as to be nonexistent.

    It’s a shame that–after many devoted readers pointing out these problems for years–David seems unable to even consider there are improvements that he could make. In fact, our suggestions seem to have skewed him even farther out.

    It’s a shame that Judicial Watch cannot come close to being a “watchdog” anymore, now that it’s devolved into a rabid dog.

  17. David M. Greenwald

    “The officer(s) observations, testimony and the like, memorialized in reports, IS evidence. “

    Understood, here’s the problem in this case:

    1. Officer at best only observed the dialogue he had with the defendant. The defendant himself had a very different interpretation what happened.
    2. No recording of conversation
    3. No drugs
    4. No evidence that defendant actually spoke with person who was supposed to have the drugs
    5. Officer seems to admit that the officer approached the defendant and attempted to get the drugs

    So basically you have a case of some guy who is hanging out, is contacted by the police to sell them drugs, he’s obviously not a drug dealer because he neither has drugs nor a clear ability in a five days to get drugs, it’s not clear the defendant even understood what the officer was asking, but at any rate he’s going to be taking up bed space at the jail for the next month while they try to sort this out.

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