Armed Theft Case
“Put your hands up and give us all your cough syrup!”
Two men wearing dark clothing and hoodies, walk into a Walgreen’s Pharmacy and demand the Pharmacist and pharmacy techs to hand over cough syrup with codeine. One man has a hand gun and takes a cell phone from a customer. He then runs with a much taller second suspect out of the store and into an awaiting get-away car being driven by a third suspect.
The three repeat this at a second Walgreen’s market across the county and are captured soon after. They are each charged with 8 counts of robbery and arming allegations. There were 4 victims at each robbery. The gunman took a plea deal to serve 10 years in state prison. That left the “getaway driver” and my client, neither of whom were armed, facing similar time for their part of the multiple count robberies.
My client was a young black man with no prior convictions. He was with two Vietnamese “wannabe” gang members. This was when it was fashionable to drink a purple concoction of cough syrup and alcohol at parties and raves. But, rather than purchase the main ingredient to this new fashion drink, our clients thought it would be easier to hold up two separate pharmacies for cough syrup held behind the counters.
My client had burned bridges with his mother and his step-father, who were unwilling to help him bail out of jail or with attorney fees. He called upon “an angel” of a woman, who was his ex-girlfriend’s grandmother, Pamela. Pamela put up a property bond for my client’s release.
A word on property bonds: Bail was very high in this matter as with any case alleging 8 counts of robbery. Bail bonds companies charge 8% to 10% of the total bail as a one-year premium on a bond. That means that if a case lasts longer than a year the bond companies charge a second premium for the client’s continued release. Bail for each defendant was about $250,000, which translates to $25,000 to a bail bond company. If someone is willing to post a property bond the cost is around $500. And the remaining $24,500 can be used toward attorney fees, drug program fees, and private counseling fees. It is a little bit of a hassle contacting a Title Insurance Company for a Title Insurance Report called a “Lot Book Guarantee,” which is about $100. And, you need a real estate appraisal by a licensed real estate appraiser. The cost varies between $350 and $500. Each can be delivered within about 3 days.
The Lot Book Guarantee shows what the purchase price of the property was and any second mortgages or liens there might be on the property. The appraisal shows the current value of the property. When you subtract the original purchase price or the amount of money owed on the property from the current value of the property you determine the “equity” of the property. If the equity of the property exceeds 200% of the amount of bail a property owner can sign property as a promise that the client will make all future court appointments.
My client’s “angel” owned a 5 bedroom 3 bathroom home with the requisite equity to post a property bond for my client. My client was released by the court and ordered to participate in a residential treatment program called, Amicus House. He also participated in private individual counseling with my favored therapist, Ken Deaver. Mr. Deaver was formerly a probation office in Monterey County with much experience in the criminal justice system.
My client did well in Amicus House. He did not do great as I hoped he would. But, he did his assignments and graduated the program. He did benefit from the counseling with Ken Deaver. My client and his benefactor (angel) gave me a photo album’s worth of pictures of my client, who was a stand-out football player for Milpitas High School. He was so good, in fact, that he was recruited to Bellermine High School in San Jose, where he played for a year before returning to Milpitas High School.
After high school, he played college football for a year before getting injured and dropping out of college. It was while in college that he began using marijuana with his teammates, all of whom lived a Rastafarian life-style. Indeed, when I met my client he had very long dreadlocks. I could not resolve how my client could have mutated into a robbery client. This time it was Mr. Deaver who uncovered that my client’s biological father was killed (murdered) at the high school graduation party of his younger brother, (my client’s uncle) when my client was 3-years old.
My client’s mother remarried when my client was 6-years old. He had a step-brother close in age. But his step-father treated him unkindly, always favoring the step-brother and putting him down except when he excelled in football. My client’s mother never intervened on his behalf related to the inequities in how the boys were treated. My client’s football injury and his subsequent marijuana abuse tore down his relationship with his parents.
Ken Deaver’s therapeutic report was amazing (as always) and was enough to convince a judge to take a risk on my client. The judge suspended 7-years of state prison and granted probation and gave him credit for time served of 78 actual days with good time work time and additional credit for the time he was in residential drug treatment.
On a side note: The co-defendant driver of the “get-away” vehicle was ready to plead no contest to at least 2 of the robberies for a 3-year state prison deal. When his attorney found out that I was hoping for a suspended state prison sentence and a grant of probation, he continued the case to trail my client’s case to wait for the outcome. Co-defendant’s attorney thought his client was less culpable than my client, who actually entered both stores. Both clients were granted probation and the co-defendant’s parents thanked my client and me for the work my client had done that clearly benefitted their son.
My client is fully employed. He is now married and he and his lovely wife have a little girl. He will soon successfully complete probation. He has reconciled with his parents. His guardian angel has maintained contact with me and with my office and “believes in miracles.”