By Anna Zheng
SACRAMENTO, CA – Bill Gordon Schellenberg appeared in front of Judge Geoffrey Goodman at Sacramento County Superior Court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing regarding the unlawful possession of a controlled substance, forgery, and counterfeiting.
Schellenberg’s partner, Gary Wayne Solomon, was charged as well for the unlawful possession of a controlled substance—methamphetamine was discovered at the couple’s residence.
It all began at a Walmart, according to Officer Levi Pond, who said Schellenberg was accused by an employee of using fake $100 bills for a purchase.
Schellenberg insisted that he had no prior knowledge of the $100 bills being counterfeit, stating that he had received them from Chase Bank and believed they were real.
Upon Pond’s arrival, the manager showed him where they indicated the bills as counterfeit by using a counterfeit bill marker.
Officer Pond then conducted a search of Schellenberg’s persons, where he “found approximately five and half grams of presumptive positive methamphetamine in an orange prescription pill bottle located in his pocket.”
Schellenberg was then held for arrest for the possession of methamphetamine and for the use of counterfeit money.
When Officer Pond arrived at Schellenberg’s residence, he met the defendant’s partner, Solomon, and found “a black zipper bag underneath a chair on Solomon’s side of the bed. Inside that bag, there was a larger zip lock bag that contained five other zip lock bags. The small zip lock bags contained approximately 3.5 grams of methamphetamine each [totaling to a weight of 22 grams].”
When Officer Pond approached Schellenberg for consent to access to his safe, he noted that “Schellenberg spontaneously stated that he was going to be in jail for a long time because of what was in the safe.”
Officer Pond ultimately “discovered one quarter pound of methamphetamine, where [he] also located one small storage case that contained 200 smaller zip lock bags, which were similar to the baggies located in the black zipper bag.”
“I also located several working digital gram scales, which are commonly used by methamphetamine users and drug sellers to weigh accurately what they’re selling or purchasing,” officer Pond added.
In the Schellenberg’s memorandum statement, “he advised the officer that he was selling methamphetamine. He advised that the price at which [he] said the 8 ball or ball of methamphetamine was $75. He also told [the officer] that he had also been selling methamphetamine for approximately 6 months and that Solomon was aware of him selling methamphetamine.”
Ashley Brackett, a police officer who assisted Officer Pond, was called to the stand, where she testified about a conversation she heard from the two defendants in the patrol car.
The conversation was recorded, and another officer stated that she heard Solomon say “the officers are going to find something… underneath the chair.” To which Schellenberg responded, “What chair?”
Solomon told Schellenberg that “it was in the bedroom and that [he was] f**ked if officers found something under the chair.”
During closing remarks, Assistant Public Defender Joshua Kurtz said, “I think the fact that my client mentions to the co-defendant that there was a bag [that read like an advertisement] under the chair… it would make sense that my client would know that the co-defendant left something out of its safe on the chair.” Kurtz explained.
Kurtz further stated, “The whole notion of one side of the bed [being] safer territory for one marital person than the other side of the bed is… to me, [it] doesn’t make much sense. And that seems to be the main argument from the prosecutor as to why Solomon [was] charged or involved with this.”
“I don’t see the evidence to be as strong for Solomon. It’s just that there happens to be some item that is on his side of the bed, instead of the other side of the bed. That’s it,” Kurtz argued.
Kurtz then used an analogy to further support his point: “If my wife was selling meth, I’d probably be aware of that, too. If I saw a bag of meth that was labeled $75 balls in a bag in the room, I’d probably tell her ‘yeah, that’s a problem’…and if she’s telling me ‘we’re both going to jail,’ and I’m saying ‘we’re gonna lose the house, the car. We’re f**ked,’ that’s a general statement.”
“The prosecutor is trying to make this seem like very probative evidence. It’s speculation. And whether Solomon was involved or not, nothing about the evidence is going to change that it would be merely speculation,” PD Kurtz concluded.
Judge Goodman found that there was sufficient cause and evidence to find Schellenberg and Solomon guilty, and set a Sept. 7 trial date.
With respect to Solomon, Judge Goodman stated that “it is a close case. And in the absence of the testimony from Officer Brackett, my inclination may have been not to hold him to answer, but… I think the statement by Solomon… I see why not to take it at face value. There is a reasonable inference that it is an acknowledgement that both [are] aware of it and may have had something to do with it if he believes he was using the f-word based on it being found.”