By Gina Kim
MODESTO, CA – After allegedly threatening a neighbor with a handgun, a man was later found transporting several ounces of fentanyl in a car with another drug dealer and two children present, according to police testifying here in Stanislaus County Superior Court last week at a bail hearing.
Brett Everett-Fierro and Jacquelynn Curtis were being held on felony charges for child endangerment, as well as the sale and transportation of narcotics as noted in a pre-trial hearing. Only Everett-Fierro faced the additional felony charge for assault with a deadly weapon.
Assistant Public Defender Reed Wagner emphasized how his client, Curtis, had no criminal record—only two arrests in her prior history with no convictions.
Curtis was employed up until two years ago when she and her husband agreed for her to stay at home with the children while he worked. But after being found transporting fentanyl in the car with her kids, a protective order was put in place since Feb. 4, prohibiting Curtis from contacting her children. This left her husband at home and unable to work.
A financial declaration was presented to the court, adding up to $3,800 a month of expenses for the family of six—the accused’s husband’s income coming in just $200 short. So far her husband has accommodated through working overtime, as well as borrowing from friends or family. Still, their financial situation remained incredibly tight, the defense stated.
Rather than allow the Curtis family to risk losing their residence, Wagner proposed his client’s bail be reduced to $10,000 for her release so that she may help relieve her family’s financial situation.
But Deputy District Attorney Patrick Hogan stressed to the court not to consider this incident as one “in a vacuum.” Officers who’ve interviewed the children at the scene reported the two were in the car by themselves while the accused adults stayed outside, the DDA argued.
Most concerningly, police claim there was a backpack in the backseat carrying multiple packages of fentanyl, all of bright different colors: a blue powdered substance of 7.45 grams, a white powdered substance of 18.5 grams, a white powdered substance of 9.47 grams, a purple powdered substance of 7.09 grams, a green powdered substance of 11.37 grams, and a blue powdered substance of 5.68 grams.
There were also additional white crystal and black rock substances, 12 pills, 12 oblong pills, 6 blue pills, and 4 white pills.
The prosecution noted that in recent years, law enforcement found fentanyl’s various colors were utilized as a sort of “marketing technique.”
“When fentanyl is brightly colored, it almost looks like Play-Doh,” stated Hogan. “Like the colors of candy, bright oranges and bright blues.”
On the day of the arrest, officers from Modesto Police Department interviewed the older 10-year-old child witness at the scene. The child stated his mother consistently left him at home to watch over his younger two-year-old sibling and didn’t go to school often because of it. After searching the cell phone of the accused, officers reported text messages between Curtis and other subjects.
“It seems clear that while the children were at home alone, she was with the male defendant in this case and they were selling drugs together,” Hogan stated.
In regard to the accused’s lack of convictions, the prosecution noted the separate arrest from Oct. 1 of 2021, when Modesto police reports indicated Curtis assaulted her husband in their home with no other victims present. Despite the displayed injuries, the victim chose not to press charges.
The prosecution concluded that the evidence of this case indicates the accused had not been watching her children.
“Fentanyl is probably one of the most dangerous narcotics we’ve ever seen in terms of its distribution…and when we’re talking about leaving brightly colored drugs that could obviously kill someone in a backseat with children, I think that is something worthy of a great amount of concern,” Hogan said, warning the court not take the accused’s statement at face value.
In response, the defense clarified certain details from the police report, including the statement that officers observed Curtis “preparing to get into the car.” Though acknowledging such information might not be too important in the grand scheme of the case, PD Wagner emphasized that the children were not “abandoned” in the car, as his client was right beside them.
Wagner reminded the court that the central issue in hearing was not his client’s supposed pattern of conduct, as described by the prosecution, but whether or not the set amount of bail was appropriate for charges currently alleged. “Not the charges Mr. Hogan thinks may have happened months prior, or the charges he thinks he may add,” Wagner stated.
DDA Hogan continued to stress the dangerous consequences of stored fentanyl, suggesting that merely opening a bag can be sufficient to cause an overdose if the powder dissolves.
At this point, the codefendant, Everett-Fierro, shook his head from behind the stand.
“I see Mr. Everett shaking his head,” DDA Hogan remarked. “But that is exactly how fentanyl works.” The prosecution further cited instances in the past when police officers overdosed after coming in contact with fentanyl, rendering it especially potent for children.
Due to Everett-Fierro’s conduct, Judge Dawna Reeves asked authorities to escort Everett-Fierro out of the courtroom for the remainder of Curtis’s hearing.
The court reduced Curtis’s bail from $200,000 to $150,000 if she continues to comply with court orders, including the protective order already in place.
After his client returned, Defense Attorney Jacob Benguerel asked the court to consider how Everett-Fierro was the primary caretaker of his mother and grandmother fighting cancer. Benguerel then corrected Hogan’s earlier description of the facts, stating that the backpack was in the front passenger seat, not the backseat.
Moreover, the child endangerment charges related to items later found in Curtis’s house—foil containing substances within the children’s’ reach—did not pertain to his client. “My client did not have access to his codefendant’s house, and could not have been a part of that,” Benguerel stated.
As for the charge of assault with a deadly weapon in a separate incident, Benguerel elaborated that his client had acted in defense on behalf of a 10-year-old neighborhood child. Upon seeing the child’s mother slam her son’s head into the ground, Everett-Fierro stepped in with a “BB gun” to defuse the situation.
“From my client’s perspective this was a nonviolent offense,” Benguerel stated, requesting the court release Everett-Fierro on his own recognizance.
DDA Hogan noted that Bengueral had two prior misdemeanors of assault with a deadly firearm and battery of a police officer from 2015, banning him from possession of firearms.
But officers who searched the accused’s residence did not find the BB gun Everett-Fierro claimed to have used. Instead, two handguns were allegedly recovered from a safe in the bedroom, both without serial numbers. Authorities also found an additional supply of narcotics, as well as a magazine loaded with ammunition.
Reiterating his earlier argument against Curtis, Hogan stated Everett-Fierro evidently transported narcotics for sale, and while doing so, endangered children by placing them near multiple brightly colored packages of fentanyl.
Hogan argued the defense’s earlier suggestions of the accused taking care of his mother and grandmother did not hold up to police reports. Upon interview, the mother of the accused stated her son spent most of his time inside his bedroom, did not work, used drugs, and sometimes brought Curtis into the house to stay overnight.
The prosecution referenced video footage of the accused rapping a handgun then pointing it at the head of his neighbor’s mother, inciting the victim to call 911. This would eventually lead to authorities locating Everett-Fierro with Curtis in the car full of fentanyl.
“I don’t know of any BB gun that allows you to rap the slide,” stated DDA Hogan.
Judge Reeves decided not to release Everett-Fierro, keeping the set bail amount of $370,000 given the dangerous implications of firearm use in his community.