April 2021 Newsletter

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Newsletter  |  April 22, 2021


Victim services representatives who took part in National Crime Victims’ Rights Week events included (clockwise from the top left) Jacqueline Sotelo, Ashley Jones, Eder Hernandez, Claudia Vila and Monica Gutierrez.

LADA Marks Crime Victims’ Rights Week

The District Attorney’s Office observed National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with a series of virtual panels.

“Now more than ever, coming together, exploring how to help one another and being trauma-informed have taken a new importance in everything we do,” District Attorney George Gascón said during an April 19 virtual conference with Bureau of Victim Services Director Michele Daniels and others that opened the week’s activities.

The panels took on topics such as parole hearings and victims’ rights. That discussion featured Supervising Victim Services Representative Ashley Meyers and Victim Services Representatives Alberto Herrera, Jonathan Ormasa, Tracey Ruby, Saeko Tew, and Sindy Var.

In another event, Victim Services Representatives Eder Hernandez and Ashley Jones discussed working with elder abuse victims.

A hate crimes discussion featured community members, including Skipp Townsend, who is part of the office’s Crime Victims Advisory Board, and Deputy District Attorney Paul Kim of the office’s Hate Crimes Unit. The panel was moderated by Supervising Victim Services Representative Monica Sebastian, who was responsible for coordinating the office’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week activities.

Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Jodi Link, Supervising Victim Services Representative Maria Alonso and Victim Services Representatives Monica Gutierrez, Rosario Mariscal, Betzy Portillo and Brenda Romero discussed working with victims of human trafficking and sex crimes and the families of homicide victims.

Victim services representatives who work in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach and Pomona branch offices and the handlers of the office’s facility dogs took part in panels, as did individuals based in sheriff’s homicide units and paralegals and others who help victims receive compensation and restitution.

The District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Victim Services has 84 victim services representatives and 15 paralegals in more than 40 locations.

To learn more about the Bureau of Victim services, visit http://da.lacounty.gov/victims. For information about members of the Crime Victims Advisory Board, visit

District Attorney Gascón Issues Statement on
Derek Chauvin Verdict



Project LEAD Reaches Out, Teaches Virtually

Despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic, Project LEAD instructors are bringing the office’s law-related educational program to more than 1,300 students this school year.

Instructors are using video-meeting platforms to reach 45 classrooms in 30 schools in Los Angeles County. One hundred and eighteen volunteers, including prosecutors, investigators and other professional staff from the District Attorney’s Office, are teaching fifth-graders about the criminal justice system.

The 20-week curriculum, developed in partnership with the Constitutional Rights Foundation, focuses on the benefits of staying in school and out of trouble. Project LEAD also teaches students techniques for resolving conflicts and resisting peer pressure. Other lessons promote tolerance and respect for diversity.

The Project LEAD experience often includes a visit to the Museum of Tolerance where they connect historical events to contemporary issues related to respect and responsibility. The program is working with the museum to offer a virtual experience for students this year, which will include personal testimony from a Holocaust survivor.

To learn more about Project LEAD, watch this video. You also may watch testimonials from Deputy District Attorneys Colby Cano, Tina Hooks, and Guillermo Santiso.

DA-NL202104-Child Abuse Prevention Month

Prosecutors Craft Juvenile Three Strikes Reform Legislation


To Deputy District Attorney Michael Mallano, it just seemed wrong for youths to face California’s Three Strikes Law without being given the same rights as adults.

So Mallano and Deputy District Attorney Katharine Yaske proposed a way to right that wrong.

With the assistance of Special Advisor Alisa Blair and the office’s Legislative Advocate Daniel Felizzatto, they drafted legislation that would stop strikes committed by minors from later being used against them in adult proceedings.

Assembly Bill 1127 also would allow people to petition the court for resentencing if their prior juvenile adjudication was used to enhance an adult felony conviction.

A 30-year veteran prosecutor, Mallano said when a youth faces a strike conviction, which likely will affect them for the rest of their lives, he or she does not have the right to a jury trial – only a bench trial before a judge.

“It just seems unfair to impose this incredibly serious consequence on them without the right to a jury trial when adults have that right,” he added.

Under current law, after a judge finds charges against a juvenile true, that finding is prohibited from being considered a conviction for a crime for any purpose. The law “is completely inconsistent with allowing it to be used as a strike,” said Mallano, deputy-in-charge of the Compton Juvenile Office.

“This is an issue of fundamental fairness,” Yaske said.

“By eliminating juvenile strikes, AB 1127 will take much-needed steps to reduce mass incarceration in our state and allow California to lead the nation in addressing the disparate impact that juvenile strike laws have on people of color,” said District Attorney George Gascón at an April 9 news conference, announcing the legislation. The bill was authored by Assembly Members Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and Bill Quirk (D-Hayward).

To read more about the legislation, click here. To watch the news conference, click here.

DA-NL202103-Sig Cases

Mother Charged With Murdering Her 3 Children

Former Catholic Priest Charged With Decades-Old Sexual Assault of Four Children

Altadena Man Charged With Killing Mom, Uncle

Ex-State Employee Charged With Misappropriating Public Funds


DA-NL202103-LADA in the news

LA County Supervisors Approve Gascón’s Request for Special Prosecutor – The Antelope Valley Times

District Attorney Announces Reorganization, Renaming of Hardcore Gang Division – Pasadena Now

New Polling Reveals a Majority of Victims Want Rehabilitation and Crime Prevention Over Incarceration – The Davis Vanguard

New Study Finds That Prosecuting Non-Violent Misdemeanors Significantly Raises the Odds for Rearrest – Witness LA


DA-NL202104-Telemedicine Scams