Plea Deal Reached in Fraud Case, but Judge Won’t Release Man before Sentencing

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By Ramneet Singh

WOODLAND, CA – Judge Doris Shockley denied a defense request for the release of Robert Lavalle here in Yolo County Superior Court this week after Lavalle accepted a plea deal.

Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira and Deputy District Attorney Frits van der Hoek disagreed on Lavalle’s relationship with his family, and the judge said more time in jail may help Lavalle.

Lavalle was charged with felonies of second-degree burglary, use of someone’s identity, “invalid access card,” and grand theft. Misdemeanors include second degree burglary, three counts of “intent to defraud” and a “prior felony conviction” enhancement.

The DDA argued “specifically, he (Lavelle) used that victim’s credit card that was issued to that person including their name on the card and used that to make a purchase in a Home Depot of gift cards.”

DPD Sequeira confirmed the issue was resolved and noted Lavalle would plead “no contest to Count two, the remaining charges would be dismissed for probation.”

She referenced a second case, which involved a felony substance possession, a misdemeanor unwanted entry, and a “prior felony conviction” enhancement, noting, it “would be dismissed for whatever appropriate Harvey waiver terms at the time of sentencing.”

During the formal plea deal explanation, the prosecution wanted Lavalle to sign under the immigration consequences part of the form for “uniformity.” DPD Sequeira contested this.

It was established before this request that Lavalle is a citizen.

Judge Shockley accepted the plea and the hearing moved to DPD Sequeira’s motion for release on own recognizance/no bail.

She noted that he had local family members and he had not failed to appear due to being “in custody pretty much the whole time.”

DPD Sequeira noted “a criminal history but the serious things were quite some time ago.”

After Judge Shockley inquired about probation reports, DPD Sequeira answered and stated, “my client admitted responsibility, is pending sentencing, and his offer’s probation…it’s gonna put him back in the community either today or four weeks from now.”

The DDA confirmed Lavalle has been in custody since Dec. 9 and said “he does have family in the area, but no they don’t want him around.” He noted that in the dismissed case, Lavalle was in his mother’s house when he was not allowed.

He continued that just because Lavelle has a family “does not necessarily mean that he’s got a place to live with that family, specifically they don’t want him at that house.”

The prosecutor added, Lavalle’s grant of probation reflects on the gap in his criminal history, but he stated there was a “relapse of criminality” as both cases happened within 12 days. He attributed it to substance abuse.

He moved to the conditions of probation, specifically treatment. He noted that with the proximity to sentencing, releasing him before without a plan “is a good remedy for him to land in new cases and just get himself in even more trouble.”

DPD Sequeira countered by stating she had been in contact with Lavalle’s mother and aunt. She noted they had cried and noted “all of the failures of the justice system and how we got to this stage.”

She stated that it’s “not 100% true what he (the prosecutor) said.”

She acknowledged it was a violation of a restraining order when the accused was seen at his mother’s house. However, she stated she has been in more contact with them “in the last couple weeks than probably his entire office has.”

She finished by noting “his mom loves him so much…she has been crying tremendously.”

Judge Shockley rejected the request, stating “he would benefit from getting clean a little longer before he has whatever community contact he might have with the support of probation and hopefully treatment, which apparently the family…not been able to accomplish up until now.”

She asked DPD Sequeira to give her regards to his family. Toward Lavalle, she said “you just be glad you have an attorney who’s trying to help you.”

The bail is at $10,000 and sentencing is set for Jan. 26.

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