Alameda DA Public Accountability Unit Levels Criminal Charges at Three Law Enforcement Officers

They Are Among the First Employees Charged by the New Alameda County Unit

Special to the Vanguard

Oakland CA – Three county employees are facing felony criminal charges in three separate cases, ranging from falsification of records to performing sex acts on a minor under 16 years old. The law enforcement officers have been charged by the Alameda County Public Accountability Unit, created by District Attorney Pamela Price in January 2023.

Nicole Perales, 50, has spent more than two decades as a Juvenile Institutional Officer in the Alameda County Probation Department since 2001. She is accused of unlawfully participating in an act of oral copulation with a minor under the age of 16, whom she met when he was in custody at the Alameda Juvenile Justice Center and while he was under her supervision and care in violation Penal Code Section 287(b)(2). The conduct allegedly took place from August 27, 2004, through August 26, 2005. As an employee who works with children in the criminal justice system, Perales is characterized as an officer in “a position of trust.” She also faces charges of willfully and unlawfully performing a lewd and lascivious act upon the same child, who was 15 years old during that time period in violation of Penal Code Section 288(c)(1).

If the Public Accountability Unit (PAU) secures a conviction against Perales for these offenses, she could face up to three years and eight months behind bars. Perales also would be required to register as a sex offender throughout the rest of her life.

Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sheri Baughman, 49, and Deputy Amanda Bracamontes, 30, are charged with committing falsification of records in connection with a suicide at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in violation of Government Code section 6200.

On April 3, 2021, Vinetta Martin hung herself with a bedsheet in her cell. The deputies were supposed to conduct direct visual observation checks every 30 minutes on Ms. Martin. Ms. Martin was a “special management inmate” who told staff she was planning to commit suicide three weeks before her death. Ms. Martin was discovered unconscious and slumped on the floor. She was pronounced dead at Stanford Valley Care Medical Center in Pleasanton.

Deputy Baughman and Deputy Bracamontes are accused of doctoring the logbooks to make it appear as though they followed the procedure for direct visual observation. Video evidence shows that they repeatedly failed to check on Ms. Martin for extended periods, sometimes as long as one hour and 47 minutes, contrary to their certifications.

Ms. Martin had been in custody since July 5, 2020, when she was arrested for an alleged assault. On July 24, 2020, the court declared a doubt about whether she was competent to stand trial and suspended the criminal proceedings. At the time of her death almost a year later, she was still in custody at the jail, awaiting evaluation and transfer to the Department of State Hospitals-Napa. Ms. Martin was 32 years old.

District Attorney Pamela Price created the PAU in January. Its mission is to restore public trust by holding law enforcement and public officials accountable for misconduct. The new unit is under the umbrella of the Civil Rights Bureau. It also handles Brady compliance and Racial Justice Act cases.

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