The Cal Trans 5 in court

The Cal Trans 5 were in court in Salinas this afternoon, but the arraignments were continued until tomorrow at 8:30 am. An attorney for one of the defendants said it was likely not to be heard until 1:30 in the afternoon. A significant outpouring of support showed up in solidarity for the Five from the South Coast of Big Sur, including family and friends, local school officials, and other community members. All told, there were probably at least a dozen people who made the 2 and 1/2 drive to show their support. Two camera crews from local news stations also showed up to cover the proceedings.

Attorney Tom Worthington appeared on behalf of Phil Taylor, the retired Cal Trans employee. Attorney Juliet Peck made a special appearance for Cal Trans Supervisor Danny Milsap. She will also make a special appearance tomorrow. A special appearance simply means that financial arrangements have not yet been finalized between the client and the attorney. The public defender was appointed for the remaining three, but the Public Defender will only represent one of the three, and alternative defenders will be appointed to represent the other two. Those attorneys are likely to be present tomorrow.

The only surprise presented in court addressed why the bail had been set so unusually high.Tom Wothington pointed out that the standard bail schedule for these non-violent, non-serious felonies is usually $10,000 per offense charged. However in this case, a declaration was filed under seal under Penal Code section 1275.1 to allow for the extremely high bail of $1,000,000 each. None of the parties – the DA, the attorney, or the court had seen this sealed declaration.

Either a police officer or a prosecuting attorney must file a declaration under penalty of perjury that he or she had probable cause to believe that the money that may be used to post bail was obtained by fraudulent or felonious means, and therefore, it may be set much higher than the bail schedule allows.

This is just another piece of the puzzle. A million dollar bail requires $100,000 cash. That is the sum alleged to have been involved in the overtime fraud charges by ALL 5 people. So the question in my mind is how a cop or a prosecutor can claim that all four are going to use feloniously obtained funds to post bail when they collectively are only charged with “stealing” enough money to post bail for one? Since no one is yet allowed to see the declaration (although defense attorneys will get a copy) we cannot know the reasoning behind this move by the prosecution. The defendants are entitled to a probable cause hearing on the Penal Code 1275.1 declaration, as soon as their attorneys can be ready for it. In the meantime, a preliminary hearing has been set for May 18th.

This story has lots of layers, which will only be revealed over time. My fear is that the real story will never find its way into the public information system.

UPDATE: 11pm, Tom Worthington was interviewed after the bail hearing and told the reporter that in his opinion this matter was WAY over charged and that he expected these men (and one woman) to be released tomorrow. Interesting. Let’s hope he is right.

I cannot make the 8:30 time frame, but if it is held over until 1:30, I will be there and report back.

8 thoughts on “The Cal Trans 5 in court

  1. Jesse let me know that someone yesterday in Santa Cruz stabbed and killed a person in cold blood and they had bail set at $850,000! Note: it’s less than a million and someone died! And I’m still stewing about the Wall Street Banksters… not even a penny of bail…where’s the justice? I hope it’s around the corner for our crew.

  2. I just read an article in the Carmel Pine Cone regarding a lawsuit filed by Cal Trqns against a tour company and the estate of the dead bus driver for $1,000,000 – the cost of repairing the bridge he crahshed into and in which 4 French tourists died. Is this the face of the new Cal Trans? Are criminal charges and law suits the new way to finance cash strapped state agencies? Interesting juxtaposition, isn’t it?

  3. We’ve been working our way into terror of our own government and it’s agencies for a couple of decades, accelerated by 9/11. But not exclusive to it. There is way too much power in the hands of way too many incompetents and recourse is increasingly costly. What we still have is endless appeal to use. I congratulate the community rally behind its friends. Where is Sam Farr.

  4. Thanks for the update Kate. Keeping fingers crossed for today’s hearing.

  5. Possession does not necessarily = theft

    RE: Monterey paper on “theft of Cal Trans signs”

    If you have seen the dumpsters at Willow Springs, as I have, then you would know that a lot of otherwise useful stuff gets thrown out because it is damaged, obsolete, or otherwise does not meet current standards.

    I have known that retired Cal Trans worker for more than twenty years–long before he started working for the state, indeed before he was a Big Sur resident, and he was always someone who could not abide waste. He was always salvaging stuff and dragging it home.

    The signs could fall in this category.

    Salvage is a Big Sur tradition … we all do it!

  6. Today’s TV coverage seemed to indicate that they are being charged for claiming overtime to clear slides from the road at times when there “weren’t any slides.” If that is accurate, it will be interesting to see what evidence is presented to demonstrate that there weren’t rocks needing to be moved off the road at the times in question.

  7. Rocks fall constantly on the south coast of Hwy 1, year round. They may not be major slides, but they fill the shoulders and the drainage ditches as well as the roadway. From Lucia to Ragged Point is the longest stretch of the most unstable section of the Highway. I used to live on the north coast and have driven all sections of the highway for almost 40 years. The south coast requires a lot more maintenance on a daily basis than the north. I think RK would agree.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.