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District Attorney provides criminal case updates

By David Hollister

Plumas County District Attorney

Thank you all for your support and efforts in making Plumas County a safe and just place to live, work and play. I am especially grateful for the tremendous efforts of those throughout our community who continue to work so hard and make so many sacrifices to keep Plumas County safe during these challenging times.

Staffing throughout the county remains dangerously low (as of Friday afternoon, April 21, the county’s website lists 53 job openings – roughly ¼ of all county positions) with remaining workers shouldering unsustainable workloads. I am exceptionally grateful for the incredibly hard work undertaken by so many of these public servants.

Nowhere is our recruitment and retention more challenged than at our Sheriff’s Office. Impacted staffing with the Sheriff causes me concern in a number of areas and creates many hard questions, such as: is there staffing to adequately respond to and investigate a major incident (something like the Wallin-Reed murder at Antelope Lake or the Steward murder at Buck’s Lake or, heaven forbid, an act of violence on a school campus)?; will we be able to retain the deputy or detective, who has worked for many years to achieve their position, but is indefinitely assigned to work in the jail or in dispatch – especially when they can move to a different county where they will be paid more and work in the position for which they were hired?; how do we protect the safety of our citizens if there are not dispatchers to answer 911 calls or correctional officers to guard inmates?; and what has the county prioritized over the last year in lieu of the recruitment and retention of our deputies, detectives, dispatchers and correctional officers?

At the DA’s Office, we continue to be hard at work addressing our mission and helping other agencies out where we can. In addition to prosecuting crime, we continue to collaborate with the Superior Court on our successful Community Justice and Mental Health Courts for those committing low-level crimes due to substance abuse and/or mental illness, we work closely with all Plumas County schools on our truancy prevention program, we mentor our youth with efforts in the High School Senior Project and our summer internship programs, we are participating in the Adopt-a-Highway program, and have been working, internally, on our threat response as well as taking First-Aid, CPR and Narcan delivery classes.

While we are fortunate not to see the quantity of cases in more urban areas, we still contend with the occasional noteworthy crime. As a sampling, here are some recently prosecuted cases which have drawn public inquiries and provide a flavor of the types of cases we are seeing in court.

People v. James Swangler (F22-00223)

On January 20, 2023, James Woodrow Swangler, age 26 of Portola, CA, was convicted of three felony crimes – residential robbery, the unlawful taking of an automobile, and resisting an executive officer. Swangler was sentenced on April 14, 2023 to seven years and four months in state prison. Swangler committed, on May 16, 2022, a hit and run in Quincy. The next day Swangler, while armed with a hammer, entered a Quincy residence and took car keys and a car from the owner. Swangler then crashed the stolen car into a nearby fence before leading police on a foot chase causing Quincy Elementary School to be locked down. Swangler was subsequently arrested and charged. At the time of the incident, Swangler was being supervised by Probation on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) which was terminated as unsuccessful at sentencing. This was an exceptionally serious and scary incident for the residents of the neighborhood where the pursuit took place. I want to thank the residents for their assistance with law enforcement and their patience as well as all of the responding law enforcement officers for their efforts in bringing a dangerous situation to a quick resolution.

People v. Thomas Gilliam (F22-00373)

On August 2, 2022 Thomas Lee Gilliam, age 39 of Quincy, CA, was charged with attempting to bring an 8 inch long ice pick into the Plumas County Courthouse. At that time the felony calendar was being heard in Department One. On January 20, 2023, Gilliam was convicted of a felony violation of possessing a weapon in a courthouse. Later, on February 24, 2023, Gilliam was sentenced to two years in state prison. I want to thank the security detail at the Courthouse for their vigilance in this case. There are not many reasons for a person to bring an 8 inch long ice pick into Plumas County Superior Court’s felony calendar on a hot August day in Quincy. Courthouse security, as they demonstrated here, does an excellent job keeping workers and folks doing business at our courthouse safe.

People v. Robert Appley (F22-00435)

On January 6, 2023, Robert Edmond Appley, age 34 of Quincy, CA, was sentenced to three years in county jail following his November 18, 2022 felony conviction for possessing methamphetamine for sale and misdemeanor conviction for driving with a license suspended for a DUI conviction. On August 31, 2022, deputies observed Appley  in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. A vehicle search later occurred finding over an ounce of methamphetamine. I wanted to thank Dep. Chandler Peay and Sgt. Mike Meisenheimer for their work in this case. This easily could have an investigation ending with a ticket for driving with a suspended license. Instead, officers took the initiative and ended up with a case taking over an ounce of methamphetamine (and whatever dangerous substance it might have been “cut” with) off of Plumas County streets.

People v. Robert Moore (F22-00410)

On February 17, 2023, Robert Joseph Moore, age 31 of Quincy, was convicted of a felony violation of Section 11378 of the Health and Safety Code – possession of methamphetamine for sale. Moore is scheduled to be sentenced on April 28, 2023 when it is expected he will receive a term of two years in county jail. In August 2022, deputies noticed a high amount of foot traffic at the defendant’s residence. Deputies confirmed the defendant was searchable pursuant to a term of release in an unrelated case. When the search was conducted, deputies found the defendant to be in possession of approximately four ounces of methamphetamine. I want to thank the involved deputies for their efforts and persistence in removing a large amount of methamphetamine from our community.

People v. Jeffery Iversen (F22-00603)

On December 16, 2022, Jeffery Michael Iversen, age 64, now of Florida, was charged in a one count criminal complaint with felony embezzlement. Iversen is alleged to have embezzled $302,395.70 from the Bucks Lake Fire Department Inc., and Bucks Lake Volunteer Firefighters Inc. On March 3, 2023, Iversen personally appeared in court and entered a plea of not guilty and waived his right to a speedy trial. Iversen’s case is next scheduled for a pretrial conference on May 19, 2023 as the discovery process continues.

Thank you, again for your support and efforts. Should you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact me at the DA’s Office.

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