A former employee of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office believed she was doing the right thing by assisting YONET (Yolo Narcotics Enforcement Team) Agent Gary Richter, a deputy sheriff in Yolo County, apprehend her boyfriend on charges of drug dealing. But she found herself in jail and charged with transportation and sale of a controlled substance.
As a result, she had to resign from her position at the sheriff’s department and enter into a Penal Code section 1000 diversion program after pleading guilty to a felony 11379(a), Transportation for Sale of a Controlled Substance.
The woman, whom the Vanguard will refer to as “Sandra,” believes that she was misled by Deputy Gary Richter, with whom she meticulously cooperated, only to end up with charges herself.
Sergeant Matt Davis, the spokesperson for the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, could only confirm that Sandra was an employee of the department and ended up arrested when the investigation showed she was an active participant.
Sandra maintains in an interview with the Vanguard that her participation was the result of coercion on the part of her former boyfriend.
The story begins with her boyfriend, “Sean,” being on probation with Yolo County, at which point in time he started using methamphetamine on a regular basis. Sean had missed two appointments with probation which put him in violation of probation.
She received a call from a person claiming to be his new probation officer, stating that Sean had been assigned a new probation officer, and who started asking her questions about whether she had concerns and questioning “where he hangs out,” “who he hangs out with,” etc.
She had just given birth to her son, she had never been in trouble and, in fact, had worked for the sheriff’s office for some time, so she was cooperative with the person she thought was a probation officer and she believed Sean was in violation of probation – and she wanted him to be picked up and taken into custody before things got worse.
The probation officer, however, never called Sean. He continued to ask her questions, “questions that a probation officer really wouldn’t ask you.”
He then threatened her with “multiple things” if she didn’t drop off some meth to someone. She explained, “I was very vulnerable and very weak at the time and I did it, because I was afraid. I was in tears, crying on the phone, because I didn’t want to do this.”
She got into a car, “and I immediately recognize (the occupant) and I recognize him as one of the undercovers (from the sheriff’s department).”
In the meantime, she was trying to get the probation officer to take Sean into custody, given his violations of probation. She said she found needles and evidence. “I was confused as to why no warrants were being put out,” she told the Vanguard.
She would later find a firearm in Sean’s backpack. “At that point I was desperate. I was stressed out. This whole situation had gotten out of control,” she explained. “I took the opportunity, the fact that there was a firearm and I texted the supposed probation officer and said he’s here and he has a gun here. Can you come and get him?”
At that point, the probation officer claimed he was in Woodland, he said to let him finish up there, then they would head over to her place.
She was relieved that finally they were going to take this matter seriously. She texted the supposed probation officer, saying that Sean could not find out she was the one telling them about his activities.
“The people he was hanging out with, I was afraid of them,” she explained. “I don’t know what these people are capable of doing.”
She asked, “Are you sure he’s not going to find out?”
He said, “I swear he’s not going to find out unless you tell him.”
He asked her who was in the house. He instructed Sandra to have her sister and niece leave the house. He then instructed Sandra to take her baby and leave the house with Sean as well.
As she was leaving, West Sacramento PD pulled up behind her with the lights on and pulled her over. “I was not expecting this,” she said. Eight different vehicles surrounded her truck, yelling to stick her arms out of the window. She freaked out not knowing what was going on. They each carefully got out of the vehicle. They put Sean in a patrol car.
One of the YONET agents arrived and pulled up his mask. “I immediately recognized him as (Gary) Richter,” she said.
He said, “I need you to play the part. He’s not going to find out you did this. Just keep playing the part.”
The person she had thought was the probation officer was Agent Gary Richter.
She was cuffed and put in the back seat of her truck. He asked where the gun was, and she said in the backyard in a backpack. At this point Agent Richter informed her that they needed to search the whole house in order not to make it obvious that they knew about the gun. She consented.
They searched the house with canines. Sandra and her boyfriend both sat on the couch, in cuffs for “at least an hour.” They found the gun.
YONET took Sean into custody. Sandra was still nervous and asked Agent Richter, “He won’t find out I did this?”
Agent Richter said, “He won’t find out unless you tell him.”
She told him, “I’m afraid of the people he’s hanging out with.” She said, “I gave them a lot of information.” She said that Sean would do meth for days and when he started to crash, she would pump him for information and he would come forward with it. She wrote all of it down. All of this information she gave to Agent Richter.
That was September 26, 2016.
The morning of October 6, 2016, at 8 am, she heard knocking on the front door. She saw two men with masks, and it was YONET. “I’m confused as to why they were here,” she explained. She was asked if she were alone, and it was just her and the baby. They asked her about August 30.
They were asking her about driving to the Raley’s parking lot and meeting someone. She was forthcoming with the information. She told them, “My ex-boyfriend told me that I needed to drop drugs off to someone. He was threatening me with multiple things, I have nothing to hide. I wasn’t going to lie. I told them the truth – I did it because I was afraid of all of the threats.”
They told her that she would have to go with them.
“I was immediately – I felt betrayed, I felt used, lied to,” she said. “I had worked for the sheriff’s office for a long time. I had always been loyal to that job. I have always been a straightforward person.”
They told her they didn’t want to get Child Protective Services involved and told her to get someone who could watch the baby so they didn’t have to put the baby with CPS.
While she was waiting for her sister to arrive from Winters, she said, “They asked me, are you still willing to help us with the investigation?” She said, “I said, absolutely, of course.”
They asked her for additional information. She said, “That’s when I remember I had bought my ex-boyfriend a tablet for Father’s Day.” She gave it to them and said that he used it for GPS, that they could find what addresses he went to.
She told the Vanguard, “Richter said I really don’t want to cuff you, but I’m going to have to because there are other people in the van.” He explained “There are people in the van who are not very happy with (Sean). We’re going to have to cuff you.”
“Even though we were all cuffed, I was afraid because the people in the van, I was afraid of,” she said. “I was afraid the whole ride there.”
Sandra spent her time calling the bail bondsman who informed her “everything’s ready to go, but they’re telling me you can’t leave yet.” An hour later the bail bondsman told her he was at the jail and ready, but they still weren’t ready to release her.
Even though she wasn’t technically a law enforcement officer, to the people in the jail, “I was automatically seen as a cop.” She said, “I was sitting there in booking, and people are recognizing me. I was getting scared.”
People were saying, “Why is there an f-ing cop in here?”
An officer she recognized for years saw her, did a double take, and said, “What are you doing here?”
Eventually, he got them to put her in a cell, still in booking, and put paper over the window so people can’t see her. She was in there at least three hours. Eventually, Sgt. Davis came in with papers that cited the codes that she had allegedly violated and had her sign the paperwork.
It got late enough that they “housed” her, put her in a jumpsuit, put her in a cell in the women’s ward, and by then it was dark.
Someone told her she’s leaving over the intercom in the cell. As she was leaving, “I see my ex-boyfriend sitting there on a chair.” She said they threw her into another room: “It was pretty obvious that we weren’t supposed to see each other.”
Finally she ended up in the main lobby where her mother and bail bondsman were waiting. By now it was 9 pm, and the bail bondsman had been there all day.
Earlier, when she had seen Agent Richter, he instructed her to text him when she got home. She informed her attorney, James Granucci, of this, and he instructed her not to text him and, if he calls, not to answer the phone. He said, “Don’t talk to anybody.”
On Monday, she had an interview with Sgt. Davis, which her attorney attended. “He didn’t look very happy (to have my attorney attend with me),” she said.
They were “going to order me to talk. They were going to terminate me.”
Her attorney stated, “She’s not going to talk and she’s going to resign right now.” They typed up a letter of resignation, she signed it, and that was it.
According to Sandra, her attorney talked to Agent Richter and she told the Vanguard that “he admitted that she was completely innocent and a victim in this situation.” She said, “He specifically told my attorney, I’m going to help her out as much as I can.”
She said that Mr. Granucci told her, “He used you for information.” However, the Yolo County DA’s office charged her with felonies in the matter.
She ended up, in addition to resigning from her position, having to do the PC 1000. She said, “I still feel this was unfair because I was threatened or forced to deliver or drop off the drugs and I gave them a lot of information that I didn’t have to. Because of the information I gave them, they were able to track someone down.”
They got that person for drugs and guns because of the information that she provided. Her attorney attempted to get everything dropped, but the “DA wouldn’t budge.
“I honestly feel like my life is ruined,” she said. It is getting expunged, but she said, “It’s still there.”
The Vanguard attempted to get additional information but Sgt. Matt Davis did not get back to us as of press time.
—David M. Greenwald reporting