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 who have come from near and far to help fight our recent forest fires.
Our Superior Court has continued to operate effectively and efficiently during the pandemic and local forest fires. Modifications to calendar times and the use of video for in-custody arraignments have been utilized to make sure constitutional and statutory requirements are met. In the DA’s office, we have been able to meet all obligations while staying open for the public and maintaining our regular office hours. Unfortunately, during these challenging times, we are seeing upticks in cases involving substance abuse, mental health and family violence.
Below is a sampling of recent cases. I appreciate my obligation to do my best to keep Plumas County updated on criminal cases. With a review of over 1,000 cases a year, space and resources prevent coverage of all cases, but we have tried our best to follow-up on those cases which have previously been covered by Feather Publishing (Plumas News) or have been the subject of inquiry by the public.
- Travis Kennedy Bok (case # F15-00036), age 27 of Blairsden, was sentenced to three years in state prison on September 18, 2020 following his conviction for a DUI crash while Bok was on felony probation for hit and run. CHP Officer Wilmer did an excellent job in responding and investigating.
- Melanie Dawn Burton (case # F20-00024), age 54 of Chester, was convicted of felony discharge of a firearm with gross negligence stemming from an incident when, while under the influence of methamphetamine and hallucinating, she fired a shotgun in her residence. Burton will be sentenced October 23, 2020. Deputy Joshua Moffett handled the call well and provided a thorough investigation.
- Alan Richard Cardoza ( case # F20-00571), age 64 of Crescent Mills, was convicted on September 18, 2020 of being a felon in possession of a firearm and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 30, 2020. Cardoza was arrested following an incident where he had been drinking and appeared to be suffering from mental health difficulties when he threatened others and fired a shotgun into the air. Deputy Jesse Leiss was the responding deputy and did an exemplary job investigating the scene and assisting in a subsequent search warrant.
- Jenna Evans (case #s F19-00880, F19-00552), age 25 of Westwood, was sentenced to three years in county jail on September 18, 2020 following her convictions for second degree burglary and possessing a controlled substance in jail. Evans and a co-defendant were caught breaking into a shed and garage in the Lake Almanor area and, later, was found to be in possession of heroin while in jail. Deputy Johnny Cervantes and Detective Kris Frazier did an outstanding job investigating a very difficult cold burglary and Officer Heather Willis and other correctional staff did a really good job quickly detecting and seizing the contraband in the jail.
- Branden Charles Johnson (case # F20-00429), age 41 of Greenville, was sentenced to 16 months in state prison on August 28, 2020 following his conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Johnson was arrested following a “road rage” type incident in Johnsville. Deputies John Fraga and Tom Klundby responded and did a remarkable job with a large crime scene and volatile situation.
- Eric Charles McDowell (case # F20-00383), age 27 of Beckwourth, was sentenced to two years in state prison on August 21, 2020 following his conviction for assault with a deadly weapon stemming from an incident where McDowell drove his vehicle at his ex-girlfriend. Deputy Spencer Brubaker and CHP Officer Seth Preston both responded and did a first-rate job conducting a thorough investigation.
- Thomas Max Morgan (case # F20-00462), age 43 of Quincy, was convicted of felony domestic violence and will be sentenced on October 30, 2020. Morgan was arrested following a dispute at the Snake Lake campground where he sprayed his girlfriend with bear spray. Deputy Christina Ross responded did an excellent job in controlling the scene, investigating the crime and writing a thorough and well-reasoned report.
- Charmaine Lynnette Smith (F20-00328), age 31 of Quincy, was convicted of possessing methamphetamine for sale on September 4, 2020 and will be sentenced on October 16. During a search in an unrelated case, Deputy Rob Gott found Smith to be in possession of 17.8 grams of methamphetamine, a scale and empty plastic bags. Smith said she purchased the methamphetamine with her Covid-19 stimulus check. Deputy Gott did an exemplary job during the search and investigation.
- James Woodrow Swangler (case # F20-00133), age 24 of Portola, was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in state prison on August 7, 2020 following his conviction for felony domestic violence with a prior conviction and false imprisonment. I very much appreciate the victim for her patience and persistence during this prosecution.
- Mark Wayne Salter (case # F20-00365), age 51 of Portola, was sentenced to 4 years in prison on September 18, 2020 following his conviction for theft of an access card with a “strike” prior. Salter ended up with the victim’s debit card and, without permission, spent the entire balance. Deputy Spencer Brubaker did an outstanding job investigating the case.
- Allen Mitchell Winap (case # F20-00230), age 37 of Greenville, was sentenced to 16 months in county jail on September 4, 2020 following his conviction for felony resisting an executive officer. Winap was contacted following a call for service concerning a prowler. Winap, who had been drinking, attempted to fight with the deputy. Deputy Jesse Leiss took a skilled approach bringing a violent encounter to a relatively peaceful conclusion.
Cases of Interest
There are a number of upcoming cases of interest. Some include:
People v. Karen Schwamb (triple homicide DUI incident on Hwy 70; October 2, 2020 set jury trial dates);
People v. Zora Holt (homicide; November 6, 2020 arraignment)
People v. Nicholas Phillips (arson/homicide; January 11, 2021 Jury Trial).
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.