Sunday, 21 July 2024


LAKE COUNTY – Last week Lake County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) deputies and members of a recently formed task force conducted an operation to make sure convicted sex offenders are following registration requirements.

A report from LCSO Det. Mike Curran of the said that on July 23 and July 24, a sex registrant compliance and enforcement sweep was conducted by the Region II Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force in the City of Clearlake and south Lake County.

The Region II SAFE Task Force is funded through a grant from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and covers 12 counties along the North Coast from Monterey County to Del Norte County.

Approximately 130 registrants were contacted to ensure that they are in compliance with their sex registrant requirements, in particular that the registrants are residing at the address given during registration, Curran reported.

Registrants with parole and/or probation search terms were also subject to search conducted at the time of contact. Several arrests were made and additional investigations were initiated as a result of alleged registration violations.

Staffing shortages at the sheriff’s office have created a real challenge for the patrol and investigations divisions to perform brief quarterly compliance checks, reported Curran, as well as initiating investigations on registrants known to be out of compliance with their sex registration responsibilities. Periodic compliance/enforcement operations such as the one just completed will take place on both ends of Lake County.

Agents assigned to the task force coordinate with agencies within their respective counties for operations such as the one just completed in Lake County, and also assist agents within the region with operations in their own respective county, according to Curran's report.

SAFE Task Force Agents from Santa Clara County, Humboldt County, Del Norte County and Napa County participated in the operation, Curran reported.

Additional agencies involved in the operation were the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Clearlake Police Department, Lake County Probation Department, Lake County District Attorney’s Office, Lakeport Police Department and State Parole. Curran, a Lake County SAFE Task Force agent, coordinated the operation.

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith submitted the grant for the task force, which was approved and funded by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Service, Curran reported.

Smith’s desire to pursue a regional task force has added a seriously needed tool for law enforcement not only for her county, but for every county, especially the smaller ones covered within the grant boundaries that allows funding and staffing for sex registrant compliance/enforcement operations, according to Curran's report.

Thanks to Smith's innovative efforts, LCSO – which might otherwise not have been able to carry out such an operation due to a lack of available funding – is able to participate in this most-needed aspect of protecting the public, Curran reported.

Sheriff Rod Mitchell expressed his gratitude to Smith for including Lake County in the grant funding, and said he applauded her for her initiative and innovation.


A Cal Fire air tanker drops fire retardant on a fire behind Robinson Rancheria Saturday. Photo by Dave Hendrick.


NICE – Firefighters are battling a fire that has reached 50 acres in size close to Robinson Rancheria.

Suzie Blankenship, a Cal Fire fire prevention specialist, said the fire was reported at 3:45 p.m. It broke out in steep, rugged terrain behind the playground, which is located behind the main area of the rancheria.

Northshore Fire Protection District, Cal Fire and the Lake County Sheriff's Office were among the agencies at the scene. Blankenship said seven engines, four dozers, three fire handcrews, one air attack, five air tankers and three helicopters were on scene, along with two officers on the ground helping an incident commander organize the effort.

Blankenship said firefighters were having difficulty fighting the fire because of high-tension power lines in the area.

“They have to work around those,” she said.

The power lines were limiting the use of air crews, Blankenship added.

No structures currently are threatened, said Blankenship.

The cause of the fire, said Blankenship, is under investigation.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The Ely Stage Stop was moved from its original site on Thursday in preparation for cross the highway Sunday. Photo by Kim Clymire.



KELSEYVILLE – The historic Ely Stage Stop took the first step in its move to its new home on Thursday.

The building was moved from its original site to a staging area near the S Bar S Ranch, where it will cross Highway 29 at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, according to county Public Services Director Kim Clymire, who was at the scene of of the move Thursday morning.

On Sunday, AT&T and Pacific Gas & Electric will move their lines along the highway to allow the building to pass. The highway is expected to be closed from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. that day.

Once it arrives at the other side of the highway, the building will stay there overnight. On Monday, crews will continue guiding it overland to a new site donated by Beckstoffer Vineyards, located along Soda Bay Road. Clymire estimated the move will take until later in the week, depending on conditions.

The stage stop is believed to be one of the county's oldest stick-built structures, dating from the late 1850s.

The Ely Stage Stop Museum will be owned by the county but run by the Lake County Historical Society, which will have its headquarters there. It also will feature several historic barns slated for relation to the site, historic implements and displays.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




The stage stop will move to the location of a new museum along Soda Bay Road. Photo by Kim Clymire.

A Cal Fire air tanker drops fire retardant on a fire that began behind Robinson Rancheria Saturday. Photo by Dave Hendrick.


NICE – Northshore firefighters took on their largest wildland fire of the season so far, battling a Saturday afternoon blaze that burned 128 acres near Robinson Rancheria.

Suzie Blankenship, a Cal Fire fire prevention specialist, said the fire was reported at 3:45 p.m. It broke out in steep, rugged terrain behind the rancheria's playground, which is located behind the main area of the rancheria.

Witnesses at the scene said the fire then burned up into the hills toward Nice.

Northshore Fire Protection District, Cal Fire and Lakeport Fire Protection District responded to the scene, said Northshore Chief Jim Robbins. The Lake County Sheriff's Office also was at the scene to control traffic.

Blankenship said Cal Fire sent seven engines, four dozers, three fire handcrews, one air attack, five air tankers and three helicopters, along with two officers on the ground helping an incident commander organize the effort.

Another five engines from Northshore Fire responded, said Robbins, along with two four-wheel drive attack units, he and a battalion chief. Lakeport Fire also sent an engine.

Blankenship said firefighters had difficulty fighting the fire because of high-tension power lines in the area, which limited the use of air crews.

The fire was contained at 7:15 p.m., said Blankenship.

However, the fire was far from out at that point, said Robbins.

“There's still a lot of hot spots,” he said from the scene.

Because of the need to monitor the area, Robbins said crews were being ordered in overnight.

No single family dwellings were threatened, said Robbins, although a few small sheds that were buried in the remote area's brush were destroyed.

There were no injuries to area residents or firefighters, said Robbins.

Robbins said it was the biggest blaze that Northshore Fire has had to fight so far this season.

The wind helped the fire spread rapidly, said Robbins.

“We went from 20 acres to about 60, 70 acres in less than 20 minutes, it had such a good westerly wind on it,” he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, said Robbins. A Cal Fire official was at the fire scene Saturday evening in an effort to determine the source.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LUCERNE – An early morning house fire in Lucerne on Friday revealed a marijuana cultivation operation that officials are now investigating.

Sheriff Rod Mitchell said Friday that fire officials and sheriff's deputies responding to the fire, located in a home along Foothill Drive, discovered a large number of marijuana plants.

Mitchell said the Lake County Narcotics Task Force also responded to the scene, where they seized approximately 70 marijuana plants.

An undisclosed number of plants were left behind as a certain number of those plants were deemed by the agents to growing in accordance with the provisions of Proposition 215, California's medical marijuana law, said Mitchell.

An investigation into the cultivation of the seized marijuana is under way, Mitchell added.

Mitchell deferred questions about the cause and origin of the fire to Northshore Fire Protection District. However, a call to Northshore Fire Chief Jim Robbins for more information about the fire was not returned.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LUCERNE – Vandals are causing significant damage to new improvements at Alpine Park in Lucerne, and the county's top parks official said it's becoming a costly concern.

Kim Clymire, head of the county's Public Services and Parks and Recreation Departments, said Thursday that vandals have been destroying upgrades to the park almost as quickly as county park staff can complete them.

As examples, Clymire said that since the new $200,000 restroom facility at Alpine Park was completed a few months ago, it has already been vandalized several times, with graffiti painted on the walls and the restroom doors pulled off the hinges.

Then, on Wednesday night, vandals broke off 17 pop-up sprinkler heads in the park's lawn area, the sod for which recently was placed.

“I have six people running 19 parks and trying to build three,” a frustrated Clymire said Thursday morning. “We can't even keep up with what we have to do.”

In his 30 years working in public parks, Clymire said he's seen a lot of vandalism, which unfortunately comes with the territory. He said it's usually a very small group who try to ruin it for the community at large.

Park vandalism is a countywide problem, Clymire said, but it's especially troublesome when it follows so closely on park improvements.

“This is our biggest hit,” he said.

Another serious recent incident involved Nice's Hinman Park, which is still under construction. Clymire said they had concrete forms prepared and a cement truck bringing wet cement to pour into them for park improvements.

When the crews got to the park site, half of the costly forms had been ripped out and broken, said Clymire. The crews had to hustle to try to get what forms they could back in place while trying to keep the cement wet.

Summer usually sees increased vandalism, said Clymire, because more people are out and have more idle time.

“I can't understand the mindset of some of these people,” he said.

Repairs at Alpine Park will be delayed, said Clymire. His staff is busy with new park construction projects at Hammond and Hinman Parks in Nice, Lucerne Harbor in Lucerne and the new Nylander Park in the Oaks, and he's told his staff to stay focused on those new projects.

In the meantime, he said they'll try not to let Alpine Park's new lawn die.

Clymire said he has asked the Lake County Sheriff's Office for more patrol around the Alpine Park area at night, when most of the activity seems to be happening.

So far, they have no tips on who might be doing the damage, and Clymire is asking the community to keep an eye out and call the sheriff's office if they see any suspicious activities around Alpine Park or any other county facilities.

He said he hopes that the vandals will leave the new parks alone.

“I'm optimistic but I'm not naïve,” he said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The US Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Department says it will reexamine several endangered species decisions that may have been interfered with by a former assistant secretary.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced July 20 that it will reconsider eight decisions involving endangered species that were overseen by former Assistant Secretary of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald.

MacDonald was a Bush appointee who joined the Department of the Interior in July 2002. She resigned April 30 following an investigation by the Department of Interior’s Inspector General that found she had used her position to violate the Endangered Species Act, rewrote scientific reports, browbeat agency scientists and colluded with industry lawyers to generate lawsuits against the Fish and Wildlife Service.

During a July 2 Congressional hearing in Vallejo, MacDonald's role in influencing environmental decisions in the Bay-Delta came to light in testimony given by Steve Thompson, manager of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife's California/Nevada Operations Office, as Lake County News previously reported.

Congressman Mike Thompson questioned Steve Thompson about if the agency had been under political pressure to change science used for decisions in the Bay-Delta, similar to how Vice President Dick Cheney used political influence in a decision last year that resulted in the death sof 70,000 salmon in the Klamath River.

Steve Thompson said MacDonald had shown interest in the agency's work on delta smelt, a seriously threatened fish that calls the Bay-Delta home.

But he said he couldn't discuss the issue further, as another Inspector General's investigation is under way into the matter.

Growing concern over the role MacDonald might have played in compromising science in the name of politics has resulted in calls for Fish and Wildlife to reconsider decisions that may have been tainted by her influence, as well as Congressional hearings on the matter.


Red-legged frog decision slated for reconsideration 

The final critical habitat designation for the California red-legged frog is one of the endangered species decisions that will be re-examined because the decision was potentially tainted by MacDonald, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that helped bring MacDonald's actions to light.

The red-legged frog was made famous in Mark Twain's 1865 short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

The frog once ranged across most of California, according to a Fish and Wildlife report. In the late 1800s and early 1900s it was harvested excessively for food, and today only occurs in about 10 percent of its historic locations.

The frog is found in 238 streams and drainages in 23 counties statewide, including Lake County. Project documents from the county's proposed Middle Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project state that the red-legged frog is among several “special-status wildlife species” that the plan could help by creating additional wetland, riparian habitat and open space. Other county planning documents reveal that major projects must ensure that they don't impact the frogs.

In 2006 the Fish and Wildlife Service slashed the critical habitat protection for the red-legged frog by 90 percent, which the center called “a giveaway to the development industry” and which conservation groups called “a recipe for extinction of the frog.”

The service cited a biased and controversial economic analysis as justification for cutting the original designation from 4.1 million acres to 450,288 acres of critical habitat, according to the center. The final critical habitat designation excluded much of the areas the service had previously determined are necessary for the long-term survival and recovery of the frog.

The other species which will get another look from Fish and Wildlife include:

  • White-tailed prairie dog;

  • Preble’s meadow jumping mouse;

  • 12 species of Hawaiian picture-wing flies;

  • Arroyo toad;

  • Southwestern willow flycatcher;

  • Canada lynx.

The Center for Biological Diversity issued a statement in which it said that, while it's glad these species will receive consideration for additional protection, but that the effort falls short of what's needed to address MacDonald's damage to endangered species protections. The center added that it appears to be more a token effort to deflect criticism.

“Fish and Wildlife’s reconsideration of eight decisions tainted by former assistant secretary Julie MacDonald is a day late and a dollar short,” said Noah Greenwald, conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Despite no scientific training, MacDonald interfered in dozens of scientific decisions concerning endangered species--only a full and transparent accounting of all the decisions tainted by MacDonald’s malignant influence can undue the damage she has done.”

The center said the list fails to include decisions to not list the Mexican garter snake, to potentially delist the marbled murrelet, and to sharply reduce critical habitat for the bull trout, even though regional directors of the Fish and Wildlife Service specifically requested that these decisions be reconsidered because of MacDonald’s influence.

The list also fails to include reconsideration of critical habitat for the Sacramento splittail, even though a story by the Contra Costa Times revealed that MacDonald may have illegally limited designation of habitat to avoid an 80-acre farm she owns in Dixon.

The center reported that MacDonald is known to have been involved in reversing numerous other decisions by agency scientists to protect species, including decisions over Gunnison sage grouse, Montana fluvial arctic grayling, Mexican garter snake, Southwestern bald eagle and many others. These decisions should also be reconsidered.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


CLEARLAKE OAKS – A Friday afternoon collision may have been caused by driving under the influence.

The California Highway Patrol incident logs reported that a collision between a semi truck and a small pickup took place at about 2:18 p.m. on eastbound Highway 20 at Keys Boulevard.

The CHP reported there were major injuries involved in the crash, but it was not clear how many people may have been injured or were transported to area hospitals.

At least one subject was transported to Redbud Hospital, where a forced blood draw – usually done when alcohol or drugs are suspected – was to have taken place, according to the CHP logs.

No further information was available from CHP Friday evening.


WASHINGTON, The U.S. Senate approved a provision late Thursday night to help National Guard and Reserve physicians maintain their practices during lengthy overseas deployments.

The bill that was passed, HR2429 originally authored by U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Sam Johnson (R-TX) is the House companion to S.1767, which was introduced by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and U.S. Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) earlier this month.

The measure will temporarily exempt physicians serving in the Armed Forces overseas from a Medicare law that currently places a 60-day restriction on the amount of time a physician can fill in for a colleague who is on a leave of absence.

This limit creates serious hardship for physicians in the National Guard and Reserves, who are absent from their practices for longer than 60 days when they are called for active duty. Sens. Wyden and Lott and Reps. Thompson and Johnson are confident that they will be able to enact a permanent exemption later this year.

"Our legislation will help the nearly 3,000 medical professionals who are putting their lives and careers on hold to take care of our troops overseas," said Wyden. "After their sacrifices for our country, these brave men and women deserve to find their medical practices waiting for them when they return home."

"Our men and women serving in the Armed Forces deserve more than bureaucratic red-tape, and this bill will help ease some of the strain placed on health care providers serving our country in uniform," said Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott of Mississippi. "When doctors go overseas, their patients are often left without a primary physician. Our legislation, passed by unanimous consent, will allow patients to continue visiting the offices of their citizen soldier doctors."

HR2429 passed the House of Representatives in May by a vote of 422-0. Wyden and Lott and Thompson and Johnson have also introduced legislation to make the exemption permanent for National Guard and Reserve physicians serving overseas. Last night, the permanent exemption was included in the House healthcare package, HR 3162.

"When physicians are deployed, they leave behind families and jobs just like any other person in the Reserve or Guard," said Vietnam veteran Congressman Mike Thompson. "But they also leave behind their patients. Doctors who care for our troops overseas shouldn't have to worry that their patients and practices aren't being cared for here at home. This legislation changes Medicare policy, ensuring that the patients and practices of thousands of doctors in the Guard and Reserves will be cared for when their doctor is called to active duty."

"When you're a doctor serving in a war, the last think you want to worry about is your patients not getting the care they need because no one can help them. Our bill changes that," said the 29-year Air Force veteran, U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson.

Medicare currently allows physicians to enter reciprocal billing arrangements, whereby replacement physicians can care for the absent physician's patients and bill Medicare accordingly. However, these arrangements cannot last longer than 60 days. After that, a second replacement must be found. Securing replacement physicians is an expensive and difficult process, especially for practices in remote and rural areas.

Physicians who cannot secure multiple replacements during their absence can either lose their patients to other doctors or their patients must go without care.

The legislation suspends the 60-day cap for physicians filling in for members of the National Guard and Reserves who are called for duty through the rest of the calendar year.

This bill has been endorsed by the American Medical Association and is supported by the Reserve Officers Association.


LAKE COUNTY – The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is advising California residents to be aware of people soliciting donations on behalf of the department’s members.

Officer Josh Dye of the Clear Lake CHP office said he was recently notified that a local woman had received a call from someone claiming to be a CHP officer from the local office who was seeking donations for a charity.

Dye reported that the woman later received a letter that looked official and had instructions for where to send her donation.

“The CHP does not seek out donations in this manner,” Dye said in an e-mail message.

Dye said that the local CHP office has participated in the local “Tip A Cop” fundraiser, as well as activities for Special Olympics, but, he added, “We will never call seeking funds.”

CHP headquarters in Sacramento also reported that many people around the state in recent weeks have reported receiving letters and phone calls requesting the donations to the “American Association of State Troopers” that support their CHP members.

The CHP warns that these letters and calls are not from representatives of the California Highway Patrol or its retirees.

“The CHP, its officers, its unions, our Widows and Orphans Fund, and The 11-99 Foundation never solicit funds from the general public by phone, mail, Internet or in person,” stated CHP Commissioner Mike Brown. “If anyone contacts you claiming they represent CHP officers or their families and seek contributions, tell them no.”

The 11-99 Foundation is a nonprofit organization of individuals who contribute to CHP employees and their families in time of need. 11-99 is the CHP radio code for officer requiring help in an emergency. Information about the CHP’s 11-99 Foundation is available by visiting .

As per the CHP’s written request in November 2006, the American Association of State Troopers agreed to discontinue using the department’s name in soliciting donations. However, it appears letters and phone calls are again surfacing. Anyone with questions or concerns please contact your local CHP office.

“We appreciate the public’s desire to help our families in their time of need, but I want to emphasize that we are not and have not been soliciting funds,” said Commissioner Brown.


LAKE COUNTY – A report from the office of District Attorney Jon Hopkins states that five registered sex offenders who failed to register according to law have been sentenced to prison terms over the last three months.

Prosecution of sex offenders in Lake County remains a top priority for the District Attorney’s Office, according to a statement from Hopkins' office.

From April 27 through July 27, five registered sex offenders were sentenced to lengthy prison commitments for failing to comply with registration requirements. William Leland Fred, Clarence McCarty, Charles Sparks, Alberto Mendoza, and Jeffery Lee Hackler-Knight each violated Penal Code section 290, the sex registration statute, and received prison sentences as a result.

Deputy District Attorney John R. DeChaine prosecuted each of the five defendants, with help in several of the cases coming from Det. Mike Curran of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Fred sentenced to four-year term

On July 27, Judge Richard Martin sentenced William Leland Fred, age 51, to four years in state prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

Fred is required to register pursuant to penal code section 290 as a result of a felony 1976 conviction, because he was found guilty of rape in concert with others while armed with a knife.

He pleaded guilty on June 29 to one felony count of failing to register as a sex offender, in violation of Penal Code section 290(a)(1)(D) and the District Attorney’s Office required that he admit that he had suffered a prior strike conviction.

The court sentenced Fred to two years in prison for failing to register. However, because he was required to admit the prior strike conviction, his prison sentence of two years was enhanced to a total of four years.

The admission of the prior strike conviction also mandates that Fred will not be eligible for parole until he serves at least 80 percent of his prison commitment. Had he not been required to admit his prior strike conviction, he would have been eligible for parole after serving only 50 percent of his time.

Prior to being sentenced, Fred was held in custody with bail set in the amount of $50,000.

Det. Curran of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case with the assistance of Deputy Fidjeland.

McCarty sentenced to five years

On July 2, Judge Arthur Mann sentenced Clarence John McCarty, age 36, to five years in state prison for failing to register as a sex offender. McCarty is required to register pursuant to penal code section 290 as a result of a felony sexual battery conviction in 1999.

McCarty pleaded guilty on Feb. 23 to one felony count of failing to register as a sex offender, in violation of Penal Code section 290(a)(1)(D).

A felony penal code section 290 violation normally exposes the perpetrator to a maximum prison commitment of three years. However, McCarty admitted at the time of his guilty plea that he had previously served two prior prison terms and had not remained free of prison custody for more than five years between each prior prison commitment.

McCarty's admission to both prior prison terms was that his prison sentence of three years was enhanced to five years.

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Judge Mann remanded the defendant into custody.

Curran investigated the case with the assistance of Deputies Chwialkowski and Hall.

Sparks sentenced to four years

On June 22, Charles Henry Sparks, Jr., age 40, was sentenced to four years in state prison for failing to register as a sex offender. Sparks is required to register with law enforcement as a result of a rape conviction in 1995.

Sparks pleaded guilty on April 6, to one felony count of failing to register as a sex offender, in violation of Penal Code section 290. He had been registering at one address but the investigation revealed he had in fact been spending significant time at a second address and not registering at the second address. Sparks had been out of custody on bail of $15,000 throughout the prosecution of the case.

Pursuant to Penal Code section 1203(e)(4), probation cannot be granted to an individual who has two or more prior felony convictions unless the court first determines that the particular case is an unusual one and that the interests of justice would best be served by a grant of probation. The District Attorney’s Office alleged such a probation limitation against Sparks and probation was subsequently denied.

Because Sparks admitted to having served a prior prison term at the time of his plea, his prison commitment was increased to a total of four years.

Judge Martin presided over the taking of Sparks’s guilty plea as well as the June 22 sentencing hearing. Curran investigated the case.

Mendoza sentenced to six years

On April 27, Judge Stephen O. Hedstrom sentenced Alberto Mendoza, age 30, to six years in prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

Det. Martin Snyder of the Clearlake Police Department investigated the Mendoza case after Clearlake Police 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 investigation revealed that Mendoza had been living in Clearlake for approximately eight months before coming to the attention of law enforcement. His 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.

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

The District Attorney’s Office required Mendoza to admit that he was previously convicted of committing a lewd and lascivious act with a child under 14, in violation of Penal Code section 288(a), which served to double his sentence to six years pursuant to applicable law.

Hackler-Knight receives 13-year sentence

On April 27, Judge Hedstrom sentenced Jeffery Lee Hackler-Knight, age 22, to six years in prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

Det. Curran investigated the Hackler-Knight case. In doing so, Curran obtained evidence that Hackler-Knight had moved from his Middletown residence to Clearlake without notifying the authorities. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction over registrants in Middletown and should have been notified by Hackler-Knight within five business days of any change of residence.

On March 9, Hackler-Knight pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender in violation of Penal Code section 290. He also was required to admit a prior felony strike conviction at the time of his plea, which doubled the sentence 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 Hackler-Knight admitted.

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.

In total, Hackler-Knight was sentenced to 13 years and four months in prison.



LAKEPORT – A lawsuit filed against the City of Prineville, Ore., includes claims that two of its employees were laid off in retaliation for telling then-Assistant City Manager Jerry Gillham that he was not adhering to city and state policies.

Gillham has since been hired as Lakeport's city manager.

“Anybody can make an accusation of any kind they want, I guess,” Gillham told Lake County News on Tuesday.

He added the allegations in the suit are “blatantly false.”

James Mole Sr. and Samanthia Waltjen filed the case, which last week was scheduled for a pre-trial conference on Sept. 25 in Crook County Circuit Court. The case was first filed April 5, with the City of Prineville filing its response June 22.

Mole, Prineville's former director of Public Works, and Waltjen, formerly Mole's administrative assistant, claim they were discharged in retaliation for telling Gillham that “he should comply with public policy and not violate state law or city policies,” according to the suit, a copy of which Lake County News obtained.

The suit focuses on Gillham's alleged actions during his brief tenure as assistant city manager in Prineville, where court documents say he was hired Sept. 5, 2006, and held supervisory authority over both Mole and Waltjen. No other city officials or individuals are mentioned in the suit.

In its formal response to the case, the City of Prineville denied any wrongdoing, saying the positions formerly held by Mole and Waltjen were eliminated “as a result of an administrative and budgetary departmental reorganization in mid-January, 2007,” and that both were laid off.

Mole joined Prineville in February 2003, with Waltjen hired July 24, 2006, according to court documents.

The suit explains that Mole and Gillham had regular weekly meetings after Gillham joined the city in September, 2006. Mole asked Waltjen to accompany him to those meetings to take notes.

During one such meeting last November, the suit alleges that Gillham said he planned to hire a public works inspector, to which Mole claims he responded that the city budget didn't contain the salary for such a position. Gillham said he would transfer money from one of the other city accounts to cover the salary.

“Mole communicated his belief that such a transfer without city council approval would violate city policies,” the suit states. “Gillham then expressed his intent to transfer money without obtaining city council approval.”

Two months later, in January, during another of their weekly meetings, Gillham and Mole had another exchange in which Gillham is alleged to have discussed his plan to divide up a $1 million public works project into smaller parts. That, the suit alleges, was so Gillham could award the contract to a particular company, which wasn't named, without having to go through the competitive bid process.

“Both Mole and Waltjen expressed their opinion that such practice would violate state statutes establishing bidding procedures for public works projects,” according to the suit.

The following day, Jan. 18, Mole alleges that Gillham informed him that his position as Public Works director was being eliminated. The day after that, Gillham reportedly told Waltjen that she too was being laid off.

Gillham is not being sued in the case.

Mole and Waltjen are asking to be reinstated to their jobs and for economic damages and wages exceeding $25,000 each, with the approximate amounts to be calculated at trial. They are also asking for $150,000 apiece for the “mental, emotional and physical distress” they say their wrongful termination caused them, attorney's fees and other costs related to filing the suit.

Their attorney, Roger Hennagin is on vacation this week and could not be reached at his Lake Oswego, Ore., office.

Gillham resigned from his Prineville post in February. The Central Oregonian of Prineville reported that his resignation followed Mole's controversial dismissal.

The City of Lakeport hired him officially at its May 1 meeting. The terms of his contract state he is on a probationary period until Sept. 30.

In the case of Mole and Waltjen, Gillham said, “Understand I was just the assistant city manager at the time.”

He worked for City Manager Robb Corbett, who remains in that position with Prineville.

In doing his job, Gillham said he had to lay off the two staffers as part of a “typical city restructuring,” and that the suit arose because they weren't happy with that process.

The Central Oregonian reported that Mole's job was replaced by a superintendent position.

Gillham, who said he didn't know if he would be deposed for the case, refused to speculate on other motivations for the case.

“I didn't do anything wrong,” Gillham maintained.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Upcoming Calendar

07.23.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
07.24.2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ReCoverCA Homebuyer Assistance Workshop
07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.