United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
US Attorney's Office Observes National Crime Victims' Rights Week
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
CONTACT: Lauren Horwood
April 13, 2011
PHONE: (916) 554-2706
U. S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE OBSERVES NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMS' RIGHTS WEEK
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that two individuals were honored today in a ceremony at the U.S. Attorney's Office in conjunction with the observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 10 – 16. This year's theme, "Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past," recognizes that every day, crime victims bravely face the task of reshaping their lives after victimization. It also highlights the importance of honoring the victims, victim advocates, and criminal justice professionals who have fought for heightened awareness of victims' issues and secured increased participation of victims in the criminal justice process.
The recipients of this year's victim recognition awards were Sergeant David Martin and Deputy David Woginrich of the Lassen County Sheriff's Department. Both men were wounded in a 2009 shootout at a marijuana garden on federal land in Lassen County. Sergeant Martin sustained permanent injuries to his hand, arm, and shoulder as a result of the exchange of gunfire. He has undergone multiple surgeries to repair the injuries. One man was killed, and two survivors who were taken into custody at the scene were prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
On June 16, 2009, Martin and Woginrich, accompanied by two U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rangers, and a Susanville Police Department officer, were investigating large outdoor marijuana grows on BLM land in Lassen County. They encountered a camp outside a marijuana garden with a tent atop a small hill. A boulder had been placed at the entrance to the tent as a barricade. Inside the tent, suspect Juan Carlos Herrera-Chavez was armed with an AK-47 rifle and a loaded, high-capacity 30-round magazine. Near the tent were two other individuals. Sergeant Martin and Deputy Woginrich drew their firearms and ordered Herrera-Chavez to drop his weapon. When Herrera-Chavez pointed his AK-47 at the deputies, they opened fire, and Herrera-Chavez also fired. Herrera-Chavez was killed, Sergeant Martin was injured by a bullet that struck his hand, arm, and shoulder, and Deputy Woginrich was wounded by a bullet fragment in the thigh.
The two other marijuana growers present, Jose Alfredo Zepeda, 20, of East Palo Alto, who was the brother-in-law of Herrera-Chavez, and Clemente Ferrias Arroyo, 63, of Morgan Hill, did not participate in the shootout. Evidence at their later trial established that Zepeda carried a loaded SKS semi-automatic rifle, and Arroyo carried a loaded Smith & Wesson 9 mm semi-automatic pistol to protect the marijuana growing operation, but neither of them turned the weapons on law enforcement officials that day. Both were subsequently convicted of manufacturing more than 1,000 marijuana plants and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and were sentenced in 2010 to 15 years in prison. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Wong.
U.S. Attorney Wagner said: "Members of law enforcement can be victims of crime just as members of the public can be, and anyone who thinks that the marijuana cultivation trade is a harmless pursuit or a victimless crime should think again. Confronting armed marijuana traffickers who occupy public lands is a dangerous business, and the public should recognize the valor of law enforcement officials whose duty requires them to confront armed men in remote locations. Sergeant Martin carries the permanent effects of his encounter with armed marijuana growers. It is appropriate that we recognize Sergeant Martin and Deputy Woginrich as part of National Crime Victims Week."
Last year during Crime Victims Rights Week, the U.S. Attorney's Office honored a Fresno area store owner who was shot and wounded during a robbery by a violent gang. He testified at the trial of the robbers, who were convicted in U.S. District Court and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. That case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kim Sanchez and Kathy Servatius.
The Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA), enacted in 2004, grants victims in federal criminal proceedings certain enforceable rights, including the right to be reasonably heard at public court proceedings and to receive full and timely restitution as provided by law. The Eastern District of California has a dedicated Victim Witness Unit that serves federal crime victims across the District's 34 counties. Members of this unit notify victims of significant case events through the U.S. Department of Justice's Victim Notification System (VNS). Such notice enables victims to participate in court proceedings and make their voices heard. According to Department of Justice Statistics, in Fiscal Year 2010, the U.S. Attorneys' offices provided notice of almost eight million case events, including notices regarding criminal charges filed, plea hearings, bond hearings and sentencing hearings.
Notification of significant case events leads to increased victim participation in court proceedings. In FY 2010, Victim-Witness personnel in the United States Attorney's offices accompanied more than 19,000 victims to court hearings and trials. Court accompaniment helps ensure that victim participation in court proceedings is meaningful as Victim-Witness personnel can answer questions and explain the federal judicial process. In addition, in FY 2010, the office's Financial Litigation Unit collected $ 3,302,911 in restitution for victims in federal criminal cases.
In addition to notification and court accompaniment, the Eastern District of California's Victim Witness Unit provides essential services to victims, such as making referrals for counseling, securing temporary housing, assisting with access to victim compensation funds, and accompanying victims to court to provide support and guidance during the proceedings. These services provide tools victims need to reshape their futures.
Further information about National Crime Victims' Rights Week is available at http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/.
Giving Back to the Community through a variety of venues & initatives.
Afraid your child is being bullied or is bullying others? Find helpful resources at: www.stopbullying.gov