Police Bulletin | November 4, 2022 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Community Pulse - November 4, 2022

Police Bulletin

Pennsylvania man pleads guilty to threatening Rep. Swalwell

A young man from Pennsylvania accepted a plea deal in federal court last Friday for threatening to kill Tri-Valley Congressman Eric Swalwell in a series of "terrifying" phone calls two months ago.

Joshua Hall faces a maximum of five years in prison after pleading guilty for the threatening calls across state lines that prosecutors say occurred while the 23-year-old man from Mechanicsburg, Penn., was out of custody pending sentencing after admitting to wire fraud for impersonating then-President Donald Trump's family members online to trick people into donating money to a fake political organization.

"I am deeply grateful to the FBI, U.S. Capitol Police, Yonkers Police Department, and the U.S. Department of Justice for taking these threats -- and the safety of me and my staff seriously -- and for seeking accountability," Rep. Swalwell (D-Livermore) said in a statement.

"Politics can be polarizing, but we must never normalize or tolerate death threats. Today, MAGA political violence is at peak level in America and it's going to get someone killed. I urge GOP leaders to denounce the violence," Swalwell added.

The plea deal for the threats against Swalwell and his office came on the same day that Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), was seriously injured in an assault by a Richmond man whom authorities say broke into the couple's San Francisco home around 2 a.m. Friday seeking to kidnap and injure Speaker Pelosi -- who was in Washington, D.C. at the time -- and hit 82-year-old Paul Pelosi in the head with a hammer.

Swalwell has become a lightning rod figure of sorts in the U.S. House of Representatives in recent years as a vocal critic of congressional Republicans, Trump and his supporters.

The Tri-Valley Democrat, who was raised in Dublin, sued the former president and others including Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) in 2021 for inciting the violence in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The civil case is set for oral arguments in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 7.

"Joshua Hall made terrifying threats to the staff of a United States Congressman whom he disliked rather than attempting to effect change through any of the freedoms of expression that all Americans enjoy," said Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which prosecuted the case against Hall.

"These threats of violence endanger our public officials and thwart common decency, which is why this Office will continue to prosecute crimes like those committed by Joshua Hall," Williams added.

According to prosecutors, Hall made a series of calls from the Yonkers, N.Y., area on Aug. 29 to congressman's office and "conveyed threats to kill the congressman to at least three different members of the congressman's staff". The federal press release did not identify the victim, but Swalwell confirmed he was the targeted congressman in question.

In one exchange with Swalwell's staff, Hall stated "that he had a lot of AR-15s; that he wanted to shoot the congressman; that he intended to come to the congressman's office with firearms; and that if he saw the congressman, he would kill him," according to prosecutors.

Hall also threatened to beat up Swalwell, to find Swalwell wherever he was and hurt him, and to come to Swalwell's office and shoot him to death, according to prosecutors.

Hall was arrested and detained on the same day he made the threats, according to prosecutors.

At the time of his arrest, Hall was out of custody on pretrial release pending sentencing for a fraud scheme in which he had already pleaded guilty for posing as Trump family members, including the then-president's teenage son Barron, among others. He duped hundreds of people via social media to provide thousands of dollars to a fictitious political organization to support Trump's reelection bid, prosecutors said.

For the Swalwell case, Hall faces up to five years in federal prison for one count of making interstate communications with a threat to injure. For the fraud scheme case, Hall faces up to 20 years in prison for one count of wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods on Dec. 8.

-- Jeremy Walsh

In other news

* Nelson Chia -- who was arrested last Friday for allegedly murdering his girlfriend, prominent Oakland dentist Lili Xu -- died by suicide later that day at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, officials said.

Alameda County sheriff's public information officer Lt. Ray Kelly said Chia, 73, was being processed around 2 p.m. Friday and was in a single-person holding cell awaiting further processing and assignment to a housing unit when deputies found him unresponsive.

Kelly said medical staff and emergency responders immediately went to Chia's aid but were unsuccessful in reviving him.

Sheriff's office detectives are investigating, but Kelly said there were no indications of foul play or other unusual activity.

Chia, an Oakland resident, was arrested Friday along with 33-year-old Hasheem Bason of Stockton for allegedly killing Xu in August. Investigators allege she was killed for money.

Alameda County prosecutors were expected to file charges against both men Monday and both were expected to appear in court Monday or Tuesday.

"This is not a case about race," Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said at a news conference Friday, alluding to prior speculation in the public about the motive for the fatal attack on Xu. "This is a case about greed."

Xu was killed on the afternoon of Aug. 21 in the 1000 block of Fifth Avenue in the city's Little Saigon neighborhood. She was 60 years old and had an adult son, police said.

She was shot multiple times by someone who was waiting nearby in a white, older Lexus, Armstrong said. Besides a video capturing the suspect vehicle and the slaying, police received dozens of tips from the community, the chief said.

-- Tony Hicks, BCN Foundation

* A former correctional officer once employed at the Federal Correctional Institute facility in Dublin pleaded guilty in federal court last week to abusive sexual contact with a female prison inmate.

On Oct. 27, Enrique Chavez admitted in his plea agreement that in October 2020 he met the female victim in the food service pantry at the Dublin facility. After they met in the pantry, Chavez locked the door. With the lights turned off, Chavez admitted to putting his hand inside the victim's underwear and touching her genitals. Chavez also admitted to touching the victim's breasts.

According to the plea agreement he entered today, Chavez, 50, formerly of Manteca, was employed in October 2020 as a correctional officer at the Dublin prison, a correctional institution operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons that houses female prisoners. A female prisoner identified only as Victim 1 in the plea agreement was in detention there. Victim 1 was under Chavez's supervision and disciplinary authority at the time.

Chavez pleaded guilty to one count of abusive sexual contact with a prisoner.

The count carries a maximum statutory sentence of two years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, with a minimum period of supervision following release from prison of five years and a maximum of a lifetime of supervision. However, any sentence following a conviction would be imposed by a court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers set a sentencing hearing for Chavez on Feb. 2, 2023, at 3 p.m.

Chavez remains out of custody on bond while awaiting his sentencing hearing.

He was at least the fifth former worker at FCI Dublin indicted in connection with alleged sexual abuse against inmates at the female prison since 2020.

-- Bay City News Service

* A former inmate at Santa Rita Jail is being sent to prison for seven years for distributing fentanyl that killed a fellow inmate at the Dublin facility.

A federal judge last Friday sentenced Kameron Patricia Reid to 84 months in prison following a written plea agreement entered earlier by Reid, 38, of San Leandro, describing the events that led to her fellow inmate's death on May 16, 2021.

At the time, Reid was incarcerated at Santa Rita Jail, and she admitted that during her incarceration she distributed fentanyl within the jail, hiding the fentanyl from correctional officers by concealing it in a cavity of her body.

On May 16, 2021, Reid provided fentanyl to two inmates, identified in the plea agreement as Victim 1 and Inmate 2. Reid said she saw both inmates ingest the fentanyl, each becoming visibly intoxicated. Reid suspected Victim 1 was overdosing.

In Reid's plea agreement, she admitted not calling for assistance for fear of getting into trouble. Instead, she flushed the rest of her fentanyl down the toilet. Another inmate called for assistance, but Victim 1 died. Reid admitted in her plea agreement that she then lied to investigators about her role in Victim 1's death.

The government described in its sentencing memo filed for Friday's hearing that Reid distributed fentanyl to multiple inmates at Santa Rita Jail from approximately April 23, 2021 -- when Reid was arrested by San Leandro police officers and found with fentanyl -- until her release in May 2021.

The day before Victim 1's death, Reid distributed pink-colored fentanyl to Victim 1 and Inmate 2. After learning the pink fentanyl created little effect on the inmates, the next day -- May 16, 2021 -- Reid provided Victim 1 and Inmate 2 with white-colored fentanyl. According to the government's sentencing memo, Reid knew the white-colored fentanyl was stronger and referred to it as the "big dog."

The sentencing memo further describes that once Victim 1 ingested the white fentanyl and showed signs of overdosing, Reid checked on the victim multiple times but never summoned help. Hours later another inmate summoned assistance, and a half hour after that Victim 1 was pronounced dead. The government argued in its sentencing memo that Reid's distribution of fentanyl was reckless and her failure to summon help was callous, selfish, and cruel.

In addition to the 84-month sentence, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar ordered Reid to serve a three-year period of supervision once she completes her sentence.

Reid was in custody at her sentencing hearing and began serving her sentence immediately.

-- Bay City News Service

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