Wednesday, 08 February 2023

Men sentenced for failing to register as sex offenders

LAKE COUNTY – Two men who failed to comply with the law and register as sex offenders with local authorities were sentenced to prison last week.


On April 27, Superior Court Judge Stephen O. Hedstrom sentenced Alberto Mendoza, 30, and Jeffery Lee Hackler-Knight, 22, to six years in prison each for violating Penal Code section 290, the sex registration statute, according to a statement from the Lake County District Attorney's Office. The cases were not related.


According to court records, defense attorney Doug Rhoades represented both men. Rhoades could not be reached for comment on the cases.


Deputy District Attorney John R. DeChaine prosecuted both defendants.


Detective Mike Curran of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigated the Hackler-Knight case, and obtained evidence that Hackler-Knight had moved from his Middletown residence to Clearlake without notifying the authorities, the District Attorney's Office reported. LCSO has jurisdiction over registrants in Middletown and should have been notified by Hackler-Knight within five business days of any change of residence.


Because Hackler-Knight was on felony probation for his underlying sex offenses at the time he violated the registration law, he also was found in violation of that probation and was simultaneously sentenced to state prison for his underlying sex crimes, according to the District Attorney's Office.


On March 9, Hackler-Knight pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender in violation of Penal Code section 290. The District Attorney's Office reported Hackler-Knight was sentenced to a total of 13 years and four months in prison.


Detective Martin Snyder of the Clearlake Police Department investigated the Mendoza case after CPD Officer Timothy Hobbs learned that Mendoza had moved into Lake County, and that he was a sex offender who was likely out of compliance, the District Attorney's Office reported.


The investigation revealed that Mendoza had been living in Clearlake for approximately eight months before coming to the attention of law enforcement. Mendoza’s violation was aggravated in that he had been registering as a sex offender in Sonoma County, but had moved to Lake County without notifying the authorities, according to the District Attorney's Office.


On Feb. 2, Mendoza pleaded no contest to violating Penal Code section 290.


Failing to register as a sex offender carries a maximum prison sentence of three years, the District Attorney's Office reported. However, because Mendoza and Hackler-Knight were each required to admit a prior felony strike conviction at the time of their pleas, each three-year sentence was doubled to six years pursuant to applicable law.


Committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14, in violation of Penal Code section 288(a), was the prior strike admitted in both cases, according to the District Attorney's Office.


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