Wednesday, August 12, 2015

UPDATE: New National Report on Suicide Rates in Jails

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 4:06 PM

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released a report on mortality in jails and state prisons. Its findings offer some perspective on the recent spike in suicide attempts at the Humboldt County jail, which saw 12 attempts in the last year, three times the amount of the previous two years.The statistics in the report do not include information for attempts, just deaths. Only one person has died as a result of suicide at the Humboldt County jail this year.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Yurok Tribe Swindled of $250K in Casino Push

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 3:09 PM

In working to finance the opening of the Redwood Hotel and Casino, the Yurok Tribe claims it lost $250,000 to a conman.
  • In working to finance the opening of the Redwood Hotel and Casino, the Yurok Tribe claims it lost $250,000 to a conman.

The Yurok Tribe is alleging that it fell victim to a conman who bilked the tribe of $250,000 as it pushed to finance the opening of its new Redwood Hotel and Casino in 2014.

In a letter last month to tribal members, Tribal Chair Thomas O’Rourke Sr. explained that, in an effort to fund staffing and operational start-up costs for the casino in the spring of 2014, the tribe set up an arrangement to borrow $8 million from the nonprofit Humanitarian International Services Foundation, run by Charles “Duke” Sheehan, a 70-year-old maybe doctor based in Cumming, Georgia. Under the terms of the agreement, on June 8 the tribe deposited $250,000 into an escrow account that was supposed to fund “due diligence fees” and help pay financing costs, according to the letter. The problem was that four days earlier, unbenknownst to the tribe, Sheehan had been indicted by a federal grand jury for running a fraud scheme in Georgia and Ohio.

When Sheehan failed to make good on his promise to deposit the first $1 million of the arranged $8 million loan into a tribal account, the Yurok council began making inquiries and learned that its $250,000 had been wired out of the escrow account immediately after it was deposited.

The tribe has forwarded this information on to the Del Norte County District Attorney’s Office, which has launched an investigation, according to chief investigator AC Field, who described the alleged fraud as akin to getting an email from a Russian emissary looking for help getting $50 million into the United States and asking folks via email to deposit $5,000 into an overseas account. “We’re looking into it,” Field said, adding that he’s been in contact with federal agencies about the case. “I’m going to give this 100 percent and we’re going to see what we can do. But it definitely has its challenges for a local investigator because of the jurisdictional issues that we face.”

Field said he’s not aware of any other local victims in the case.

In May, Sheehan was sentenced to serve 36 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to a single count of securities fraud in a case that saw him pilfer $1 million from Westbury Funding, a Cincinati, Ohio religious group seeking to finance a real estate project in 2009. In that case, Sheehan was acting as the principal of the nonprofit Southern Foundation for the Advancement of Arts and Education, which, according to federal tax documents, was headquartered in Sheehan’s Cumming, Georgia, condominium.

The deal was that Westbury would invest $1 million to get $40 within a year’s time. According to the documents, Sheehan claimed the foundation had about $5 billion in assets, though tax documents show it was actually more than $400,000 in debt at the time. Sheehan told Westbury that if it invested $1 million, his foundation pool that with $30 million of its funds to leverage billions of dollars in markets in London and Germany, ultimately funneling $1 million a week back to Westbury for a span of 40 weeks. Westbury never saw any of that money because, according to federal prosecutors, Sheehan immediately withdrew its $1 million, keeping $250,000 for himself and using the balance to pay various debts.

Court documents in the case indicate Sheehan strung Westbury along for more than a year, promising repeatedly that payments were imminent, contingent on some transaction processing in some far-away place.

A screen shot of Southern Foundation for the Advancement of Arts and Educations' webpage.
  • A screen shot of Southern Foundation for the Advancement of Arts and Educations' webpage.

As he allegedly did with the Yurok Tribe, Sheehan presented himself to the Ohio group as both a PhD and an MD, and, according to court documents, he insisted to federal investigators that he’d received both degrees from Douwid University in Pakistan. But the only records investigators were able to find for Sheehan show he completed just a year of schooling at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago back in 1965. Investigators' Internet searches for Douwid University brought up only a handful of references, all of which were related to Sheehan’s own claims, according to the documents. Prosecutors also note that Department of Homeland Security records indicate Sheehan only got his first passport in 1997. “Furthermore,” states a sentencing memorandum prepared by the U.S. Attorneys Office, “despite his claimed employment with various medical entities over the years and his claim that he ‘developed the first outpatient surgical center in Illinois in 1980,’ Defendant Sheehan has never been licensed to practice medicine anywhere in the United States.”

Now, none of the information regarding Sheehan’s Ohio swindle was public last spring, when the Yurok Tribe was frantically working to finance the opening of its new casino and hotel. Because construction delays stretched the tribe’s budget and pushed back the opening, the tribe needed additional money for start-up costs, which included a surveillance system and gaming machines. According to O’Rourke’s letter, the tribe was pursuing an almost $5 million loan from Pinnacle Bank that included a 90 percent guarantee from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. But the guarantee delayed the process, and the loan ultimately wasn’t finalized until September 2014. In the meantime, the tribe needed money. In May of 2014, it transferred $1.7 million in “carbon credit discretionary funds” to help get the casino up and running, according to the letter.

The tribe also “pursued loan opportunities from a number of banks and other lending institutions,” the letter states. It was during this process that tribal Vice Chair Susan Masten told the Yurok Tribal Council that she “was in the process of obtaining a personal business loan and asked the Tribal Council if they wanted her to contact the investment company she was working with to see if there was an opportunity for the tribe to secure a loan to meet the needs of (the Redwood Hotel and Casino),” says the letter.

With the council’s approval, Masten contacted Christopher Deceannett, who then introduced her and the tribal council to Sheehan. By this time, federal tax records show, Sheehan had changed the name of his Southern Foundation for the Advancement of Arts and Education, which he founded in 1998, to the Humanitarian International Services Foundation. 

When Sheehan spoke to tribal representatives, according to O’Rourke’s letter, he told them he was a retired doctor and long-time philanthropist, and that his foundation was the philanthropic arm of several companies that he held financial interests in. The foundation, he reportedly said, regularly provided 10–year loans to charitable causes, many of which would be forgiven during the loan term.  "He sounded really good," said Councilperson Mindy Natt, adding that the council felt Sheehan came referred to the tribe by credible sources and came off well in initial email and phone correspondences. "He used his Christianity, and said he had helped a lot of people, people that came from poverty. ... We thought it was a good idea, and something we'd all hoped for. We didn't know it was going to be a fraud."

Before agreeing to the deal — which would see the tribe deposit the $250,000 into an escrow account with the belief it would soon receive a $1 million installment on the $8 million loan from Sheehan’s foundation — the tribe did some due diligence, according to O’Rourke, but it was rushed.

“The Office of the Tribal Attorney did a basic review of the foundation and the loan documents, but was requested to do this quickly as the paperwork was to be submitted as soon as possible to meet the foundatin’s funding cycle,” the letter states. “The HIS Foundation was a registered nonprofit in Georgia and the attorney for the escrow account was licensed with no violations.”

With that information, the council approved entering into the loan agreement on May 28, 2014. But it seems a little more digging would have raised some red flags. Federal form 990s — annual financial statements that the IRS requires nonprofits to file — show that in 2013, the HIS Foundation reported less than $400,000 in assets, was operating out of Sheehan’s home address and listed him as the only employee or officer. It also estimated that as the foundation’s “chairman” he devoted zero hours  a week to the position. Other documents list Sheehan as the foundation’s CEO, CFO and secretary.

The foundation didn’t file form 990s for 2012, 2011 or 2010 — which may explain why its tax-exempt status was suspended briefly in 2014 — but forms for 2008 and 2009 paint a similar picture. None of the forms on record list any charitable contributions or paint the picture of a foundation with the assets to facilitate multi-million-dollar loans.

The tribe’s chances of recouping the allegedly heisted funds don't look great. Court documents indicate Sheehan has no substantial assets, and he’s already been ordered to repay the $1 million he pocketed in that deal. And it will be three years before the then 73-year-old is to be released back into society. In the meantime, the court has ordered that if Sheehan is able to secure a prison job during his incarceration, he’s to pay $25 per quarter toward his $1 million obligation. If he lands higher-paying prison work, he’s to devote 50 percent of his earnings toward the debt.

Natt said Masten — who served as the primary point of contact between Sheehan and the council — was also defrauded in the personal loan she arranged with him, losing the $5,500 she put down to facilitate the deal. Even after Sheehan's group missed its initial deadline to turn the first $1 million of the loan over to the tribe, Natt said she and the council maintained faith, which lasted for months as Sheehan "strung" them along. It wasn't until the council learned of Sheehan's indictment and pending case, Natt said, that the council finally figured it had been swindled.

If the allegations facing Sheehan are true, it would mark the second time in the last five years that the Yurok Tribe has seen someone make off with tribal funds through fraud or embezzlement. Back in 2012, the tribe was rocked with news that its now former forestry director and a local biologist successfully conspired to bilk the tribe of almost $900,000 through a scheme of fraudulent work orders and invoices. (Read more about that here.)

Moving forward, according to O’Rourke’s letter, the tribe will work to keep its members informed about the criminal investigation. “We will provide you with the policies and procedures which will prevent this type of fraud from occurring against the tribe in the future,” O’Rourke says, concluding his letter to tribal members.

Meanwhile, Field said he’s in the process of trying to secure search warrants in other states to track the movement of the tribe’s $250,000 and Sheehan’s finances. Field said he also believes there are multiple suspects in the case whose conduct needs to be investigated.

Natt said the tribe has hired a private investigator to look into the matter as well, and plans on updating tribal members on the status of that investigation at an annual meeting later this month. For her part, Natt said her confidence is shaken.

"I think it's important to note that this happens all over the world," she said. "People are getting swindled out of their money left and right. This is the first time this has happened to the tribe, and we're trying to fix it so it doesn't ever happen again. ... I was really persuaded by this guy that this was going to be an excellent thing for the tribe and I really thought it was going to happen. When I found out he'd stolen $1 million (from Westbury), I was like, 'Man, I'm never trusting anyone again.'"
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Friday, July 31, 2015

Plea Agreements Reached in Federal Murder Case

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 4:12 PM

Reetpaul Singh Rana, pictured during his time at Oregon's Reed College, where he graduated with a psychology degree before becoming a journalist. - COURTESY OF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, ERIC V. HAUSER MEMORIAL LIBRARY, REED COLLEGE
  • Courtesy of Special Collections, Eric V. Hauser Memorial LIbrary, Reed College
  • Reetpaul Singh Rana, pictured during his time at Oregon's Reed College, where he graduated with a psychology degree before becoming a journalist.
Two men accused of the 2008 robbery and murder of a San Francisco man in Southern Humboldt have reached plea agreements with federal prosecutors.

Ryan Carroll and Robert Lee, both accused in the killing of 35-year-old Reetpaul Singh Rana in a marijuana deal gone bad on Dyerville Loop Road, north of Alderpoint, each reached agreements with prosecutors this month, just weeks after a judge ruled their confessions couldn't be used against them at trial because detectives violated their rights.
Ryan Carroll
  • Ryan Carroll
Carroll, whom prosecutors fingered as the one who shot Rana, pleaded guilty to a single count of using a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence causing death (essentially the federal equivalent of a voluntary manslaughter charge). He will be sentenced to serve 15 years under the agreement, according to his attorney, Severa Keith. Lee pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and maliciously burning a vehicle, and will be sentenced to seven years under the agreement, according to court documents.

Both men are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 14 by a federal judge, who can reject the deal outright but cannot impose a harsher sentence than those negotiated in the agreement.

Keith said she’s pleased with the agreement, saying it was fueled in a large part by the recent ruling to suppress potentially incriminating statements both defendants made to investigators during interrogations in the case because Humboldt County detectives failed to advise them of their Miranda rights. (Read more about the case, the interrogations and the judge’s ruling here.)
Robert "Roots" Lee
  • Robert "Roots" Lee
Still, Keith said Carroll wrestled with whether to take the deal, under which he’s admitting to a serious, violent offense. Ultimately, however, Keith said Carroll was facing a life sentence, so the prospect of a relatively short determinant prison stint was too much for him to turn down.

With credit for good conduct, federal inmates serve 85 percent of their sentences, and Carroll and Lee will also get credits for all the time they’ve already served behind bars on this case, according to Keith. That means Carroll, who was arrested in January of 2010, could be released from federal custody in about seven years. Lee, arrested in October of 2011, could be released in two. Both men are also likely to serve the last 12 to 18 months of their sentences out of prison in federal half-way houses.

“I’m happy that Ryan is going to get his life back in a few years and be able to move on,” Keith said.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Garberville Death Ruled a Homicide; County Eclipses Grisly Record

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 3:26 PM

A forensic pathologist’s determination that a Georgia man died of blunt force injuries not consistent with a fall has morphed a suspicious death investigation into a homicide case, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office announced today. It would be the county's seventh homicide of the year.

Deputies responded shortly before 1 p.m. on July 18 to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville, where 37-year-old Khanh Lam was in critical condition, unconscious from a possible assault. Through their investigation, deputies learned that Lam had been involved in an argument with a female in downtown Garberville after attempting to remove a child from her car. During the argument, four men confronted Lam, who took off running. The men, who had dogs with them, gave chase, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

“At some point during this incident it was reported by a witness that Lam possibly fell while he was running and received a head injury from falling to the ground,” the press release states, adding that witnesses called 911 after finding Lam lying unconscious in the 700 block of Locust Street. Lam was transported out of the area to be treated for a brain injury, but was ultimately taken off life support by his family.

After recording a record 16 homicides last year, Lam's death would be this year's seventh to date, putting the county on pace to record 12 this year. As is, Lam's apparent homicide leaves the county having tallied a total 34 homicides in 2013, 2014 and thus far in 2015, eclipsing the highest three-consecutive-year tally on record. (The prior high was 33, set in 1991 through 1993.)

The sheriff’s office asks anyone with information about Lam's death to call detective Jennifer Turner at 268-3642.

The following is a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

On Saturday, July 25, 2015 an autopsy was performed on Lam’s body at the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office by a Forensic Pathologist. The results of the autopsy were Lam’s injuries were not consistent with a fall, as previously reported by witnesses. Cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Lam’s death as a homicide.
On Saturday, July 18, 2015 at 12:48 p.m. a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy responded to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville, regarding a possible male assault victim, who had arrived at the hospital by ambulance. Hospital staff told the deputy that the male victim, who had been identified as 37 year old Khanh Lam was unconscious with a severe head injury and was in critical condition. Lam was flown to an out of area hospital for treatment, because of his injuries.
Deputies and CHP Officers then responded to a possible location where Lam was injured, which was located in the 700 block of Locust Street, Garberville. Deputies spoke to witnesses who reported that Lam was involved in an argument with a female subject and attempted to remove her child from a car. At some point during the argument (4) four males subjects confronted Lam. According to the witnesses Lam took off running and the (4) male subjects, along with their dogs started to pursue Lam on foot. At some point during this incident it was reported by a witness that Lam possibly fell while he was running and received a head injury from falling to the ground. When witnesses found Lam lying on the ground unconscious they dialed 9-1-1.
On Sunday, July 19, 2015 at about 5:00 p.m. a medical doctor informed the Sheriff’s Office that Lam is currently on life support and has no brain activity. Lam’s family has been notified and is consulting with medical staff on their decision to take Lam off life support. Lam is from Atlanta, Georgia.
The Sheriff’s Office is considering this a suspicious death investigation and is asking for the public’s help if anyone witnessed this incident. They are encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office or Detective Jennifer Turner at 707-268-3642.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Motion to Dismiss Filed in SoHum Murder Case

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 1:09 PM

Ryan Carroll
  • Ryan Carroll
One of the men accused of killing and robbing a San Francisco man in Southern Humboldt seven years ago is asking a federal judge to dismiss the case against him, arguing that repeated delays have violated his rights and his ability to mount a defense.

Ryan Carroll has been behind bars since his January 2010 arrest, accused of murdering Reetpaul Singh Rana on Sept. 10, 2008  in a marijuana deal gone bad on Dyerville Loop Road outside of Garberville. His case plodded along in Humboldt County Superior Court until September 2013, when he and another defendant — Robert Lee — were indicted federally.

Last month, federal District Court Judge Edward Chen ruled that detectives violated Lee and Carroll’s rights during their interrogations, meaning incriminating statements both defendants made to investigators can’t be used against them at trial. (Chen’s ruling has been appealed by federal prosecutors.)

Now, in a motion filed earlier this month, Carroll’s attorney, Severa Keith, is asking Chen to dismiss the case against her client, alleging that the slow pace of the case, combined with prosecutors’ repeated failures to turn over evidence, has hampered her ability to defend her client. Specifically, Keith alleges that — in addition to causing undue stress and anxiety to Carroll — the delays prevented her from interviewing a confidential informant with information favorable to her client before he suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident, leaving him with substantial memory loss.

Keith’s argument is complicated but the gist is that while Carroll’s case was moving slowly through state court, federal investigators started working hand-in-hand with local law enforcement with an eye on taking the case federal. Meanwhile, former District Attorney Paul Gallegos — who was prosecuting the state case — repeatedly ignored requests, and then court orders, to turn over evidence in the case to the defense in a pre-trial process known as discovery. This, Keith alleges, kept her from learning of a confidential informant — identified in court documents as J.C. — who told investigators that he overheard Ryan Floyd, the SoHum man found with a cave full of guns and stolen property in 2013, talking about Rana’s murder with another man and instructing him to get rid of the murder weapon.

About a year after talking with investigators in the case, J.C. was involved in a motorcycle crash, which Keith alleges left him with substantial memory loss. Consequently, Keith argues, prosecutors’ delays in turning over evidence in the case prevented her from investigating and exploring J.C.’s statements and contacting other witnesses. “The indictment must be dismissed,” Keith writes. “There is no other remedy.”

In its  response , the U.S. Attorney’s Office counters that J.C. still remembers talking with investigators in the case, and some of what he told them. “Rather than suffering from complete memory loss, it appears that J.C. is now simply changing his story,” the response states. Further, the U.S. Attorney’s Office argues Keith should have learned of J.C.’s existence in the federal discovery process months in advance of his accident and, if the defense failed to interview him, that’s Keith’s problem.

Further, the U.S. Attorney’s Office argues that there was no “conspiracy” between Gallegos’ office and federal prosecutors to conceal or delay discovery in the case and that, essentially, whatever happened in Humboldt has no bearing on the federal case. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is not responsible for the purported refusal or inability of the Humboldt County DA’s Office to provide discovery,” the response states. “The material was turned over by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as soon as the office received it. … The defendant’s theory is defective.”

Oral arguments on the motion are scheduled for July 1.
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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Body Cameras Go Live in Rio Dell; EPD Eyeing Launch by End of Year

Posted By on Sun, Jun 14, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Rio Dell Police Chief Graham Hill. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • Rio Dell Police Chief Graham Hill.
If you find yourself being stopped by a cop in Rio Dell, remember to smile and maybe even fix your hair: You’ll be on camera.

After ironing out a few technical kinks, Rio Dell Police Chief Graham Hill and each of his four officers are now outfitted with body cameras to wear in the field. The department is the second in the county to fully deploy the cutting edge technology, joining the Ferndale Police Department, which made the plunge with little fanfare a few years back.

Meanwhile the county’s largest police force — the Eureka Police Department — is set to begin testing cameras in the field in the coming weeks with the hopes of outfitting all its officers with cameras by the end of the year.

The city of Rio Dell approved the purchase of the body cameras back in March, but Hill said the department only started using them in the field a couple of weeks ago, the launch having been delayed by some software compatibility issues.

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Wilde Gets Life for 'Cold, Calculated, Premeditated Murder'

Posted By on Sat, Jun 6, 2015 at 5:05 PM

Mikal Xylon WIlde
  • Mikal Xylon WIlde
An apparently defiant and unrepentant Mikal Xylon Wilde will spend the rest of his life in federal prison for the 2010 murder of one of his workers at a Kneeland marijuana farm.

Wilde, 33, was sentenced by a federal judge to serve life plus 35 years in prison after a jury convicted him on March 2 of a total of six charges, including murder in the commission of a narcotics offense and conspiracy. After the month-long trial, the jury deliberated for less than five hours before returning guilty verdicts on all counts.

Wilde was the principal owner of Ashfield Ranch LLC, which purchased a sprawling 660-acre property in Kneeland — about 11 miles from Wilde’s home — in 2009. To help tend the more than 1,500 marijuana plants spread over four garden sites on the property, Wilde hired three men: Christopher Bigelo and two Guatemalans in the country illegally, Fernando Lopez and Mario Roberto Juarez-Madrid. Wilde was essentially broke at the time and, under increasing financial pressure, told the employees a couple of months after their arrival that he couldn’t afford gas for the water truck they’d been using to irrigate the garden sites. They’d have to start watering by hand. The employees balked at this, and on Aug. 25, 2010 asked to be paid for the work they’d done and taken home. But Wilde couldn’t pay them. He was $33,000 behind on mortgage payments on his house, which already has a $16,000 lien on it from the IRS. Sending them away without paying them ran the risk of angering them and jeopardizing his grow operation, which he needed to bring to harvest to pay off his debts, including the $200,000 he owed each of his business partners.

So Wilde told the men he’d pay them and take them home, but when he returned to the property later that day he opened fire, wounding Lopez and killing Juarez-Madrid.

“The defendant hired illegal immigrants to work on his grow in the belief that they were expendable, not in a position to complain and that they might not be missed if they disappeared forever into the woods of Humboldt County,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote in a pre-sentencing memorandum in the case. “When he could not pay them, he murdered one and tried to murder the other. The defendant preyed on their status and viewed them as free labor that could not stand up to him.”

Juarez-Madrid, of Santa Rosa, Guatemala, had been living in the United States illegally for less than a year at the time of the shooting, according to Humboldt County Deputy Coroner Charles Van Buskirk. His remains were ultimately returned for burial to his home country, where he left behind a wife and two children.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Rio Dell Cop Arrested on DV, Gun Charges

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 4:55 PM

Kevin Harralson
  • Kevin Harralson
Humboldt County District Attorney investigators arrested a Rio Dell police officer today on suspicion of domestic violence.

Kevin Harralson, a six-year veteran of the force, was taken into custody without incident on two counts of battery on a cohabitant and one count of exhibiting a firearm (both misdemeanors) stemming from alleged incidents in August and March. The arrest was made with the cooperation of the Rio Dell Police Department, according to a press release from the DA’s Office.

Rio Dell Police Chief Graham Hill generally declined to comment on the situation, referring inquiries to the DA’s Office. But Hill did say his department is conducting an administrative investigation parallel to the criminal one, and that Harralson has been placed on administrative leave. Hill also clarified that none of the alleged conduct is believed to have occurred while Harralson was on duty.

Harralson was booked into the jail at some point today, with bail set at $100,000, but he had been released from custody as of 4:30 p.m., according to jail staff.

Attempts to reach District Attorney Maggie Fleming were not immediately successful.

See the full press releases from the DA's Office and the city of Rio Dell copied below:

From the DA's Office:
DATE: 06-05-15
On 06-05-15, Humboldt County District Attorney Investigators arrested Kevin Harralson for two counts of PC243(e)(1) – Battery upon a cohabitant, and one count of PC417(a)(2) – Exhibiting a firearm. Harralson, a police officer for the City of Rio Dell, was taken into custody without incident and with the cooperation of the Rio Dell Police Department . He was booked at the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where bail was set at $100,000.00. The arrest was the result of an ongoing investigation by the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office regarding incidents in August 2014 and March 2015.  
From Rio Dell:

City of Rio Dell Places Officer on Administrative Leave
On Friday June 5, 2015 investigators with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office arrested Officer
Kevin Harralson of the Rio Dell Police Department related to allegations of two misdemeanor counts of
domestic violence and one misdemeanor count of brandishing a weapon. Officer Harralson was arrested
without incident in cooperation with Rio Dell officials.
Officer Harralson has been placed on administrative leave pending a personnel investigation and the outcome
of the charges from District Attorneys Office. All questions related to criminal charges should be referred to
the District Attorney’s Office.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

UPDATE: Second Suspect Identified in Assault Homicide

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 10:02 AM


The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has identified Nickolas Ryan Joseph Johnson (pictured) as the second suspect in the April 28 assault and murder of David Dwane Ganfield. Johnson is considered to be armed and dangerous. Anyone with information as to Johnson’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office. Another person of interest, Jonas Randall Semore, was arrested May 14.

From the Sheriff's Office:

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

UPDATED: Driver Found After Fatal Hit and Run

Posted By on Sun, May 24, 2015 at 10:51 AM

UPDATE: The California Highway Patrol has located the driver and car involved in yesterday morning's fatal accident.

According to a CHP press release, the driver — 27-year-old Meredith Bayer of Rio Dell — contacted CHP at about noon yesterday, saying she thought she may have been involved in the crash. Find more information in the press release below.

From the CHP:


The vehicle and driver from this morning's vehicle versus pedestrian traffic collision have been located. Today at approximately 1215 hours, the involved driver contacted the California Highway Patrol to report she believed she had been involved in an early morning traffic collision on US-101 south of the Herrick Avenue Overcrossing. Subsequent investigation by the California Highway Patrol confirmed the involved driver was 27 year old, Meredith Q. Bayer of Rio Dell, CA, and the involved vehicle a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria. This comprehensive investigation is ongoing and more information will be released when available. 

The California Highway Patrol is looking for the public’s help finding the driver involved in a fatal accident on U.S. Highway 101 south of Eureka early this morning.

According to a press release, the CHP believes a Ford passenger car was heading south between midnight and 4 a.m. when it struck an unidentified male pedestrian and fled the scene. The pedestrian was found deceased at about 6 a.m., lying in the freeway’s center divide.

Investigators believe the involved vehicle — a “Ford passenger vehicle, possibly dark in color” — sustained damage to its front end, hood and possibly windshield. It’s also believed to be missing its left side-view mirror.

The CHP is asking that anyone with information about the accident to step forward. Find contact information for the agency and more information in the press release below.

From the CHP:


On May 24, 2015, between the hours of midnight and 0400, a male pedestrian was struck by an Ford passenger vehicle in the southbound lanes of US-101 south of Herrick Avenue Overcrossing. After the collision, the involved vehicle fled the scene in an unknown direction. At approximately 0600 hours and upon daylight a citizen passerby observed a pedestrian down in the center divide just south of the Elk River Bridge. Personnel from the California Highway Patrol - Humboldt Area responded to the scene, along with fire and ambulance personnel. The pedestrian, whose name is being withheld pending family notification sustained fatal injuries as a result of the collision.

The involved vehicle has been identified as a Ford passenger vehicle, possibly dark in color. The vehicle sustained damage to the front end, hood, and possibly windshield. The vehicle damage included broken front lighting equipment and it is missing the left side view mirror.

The California Highway Patrol is seeking information from anyone who may have information regarding the involved vehicle, the involved vehicle occupant(s), or the circumstances of the collision. Members of the public with information are requested to contact the CHP at the following numbers:

DURING REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS: Contact the CHP - Humboldt Area office at (707)822-5981.

AFTER HOURS OR ON WEEKENDS: Contact the CHP - Humboldt Communications Center dispatch at (707)268-2000.

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