Governor Newsom Reverses Cop Killer's Parole

Governor Newsom Reverses Cop Killer’s Parole

Governor Gavin Newsom has reversed the Parole Board’s decision to grant parole to Jesus Cecena, 57, who killed San Diego police officer, Archie Buggs, in 1978. The Governor’s decision, on January 18, reverses the Parole Board’s grant which occurred in August. Cecena’s next parole hearing is in February 2020. [TWEET THIS]

DA Stephan urged Gov. Newsom to reverse the Parole Board’s decision in a letter, saying his parole would jeopardize public safety because Cecena minimized the true execution nature of his killing. Governor Jerry Brown previously reversed the Parole Board’s grants in 2014, 2016 and 2017. DA Stephan and Deputy DA, Richard Sachs, represented the Buggs family in a parole hearing in August of 2018, in which they described Cecena’s brutal and cold-hearted murder.

Officer Archie Buggs, 30, was shot four times after he stopped a car driven by Cecena, a gang member in the Skyline neighborhood who was 17 years-old-at the time. Cecena fired five times at Buggs, then paused, walked toward the fallen officer and fired a final bullet into his head at point blank range. The officer died on the street, his hand still on his service revolver.

“This defendant killed an on-duty police officer in cold blood and in spite of his claims to the contrary, he still lacks honest insight and remorse into this heinous crime,” DA Stephan said. “We appreciate the Governor’s thoughtful analysis and ultimate decision to reverse parole and safeguard the public. Officer Buggs was one of the first African-American police officers in San Diego and he was a hero to his family, his law enforcement colleagues and to the entire San Diego community. We will continue to fight for justice.”

Cecena was granted parole in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018 and each time the grant was reversed. Cecena’s parole also continues to be opposed by San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit and the San Diego Police Officers Association.

“Despite his many years of incarceration, Mr. Cecena has not sufficiently explained his callous actions on the night of this crime,” Gov. Newsom wrote in his decision. “Until he demonstrates that he fully understands how he came to commit this crime and is capable of refraining from similar behavior in the future, I do not believe he should be released from prison.”

Cecena was convicted of murder and was sentenced to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole on August 22, 1979. Because Cecena was 17 at the time he killed Officer Buggs, his sentence was reduced to a seven years-to-life term in March of 1982. Cecena’s unstable social history continued during his incarceration; he received more than 10 violation reports for misconduct while in prison.[TWEET THIS]

[RELATED: SDPD Officer Archie Buggs Dedication Ceremony]

New Human Trafficking Prevention Programs In Public Schools

New Human Trafficking Prevention Programs In Public Schools

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan  announced a coordinated trio of new programs that aims to bring human trafficking education, prevention and awareness training into every public school in San Diego County and protect children from exploitation under the umbrella of the newly-established San Diego Trafficking Prevention Collective. The announcement comes during national Human Trafficking Awareness Month and responds to FBI data showing San Diego ranks as one of the top 13 worst regions for human trafficking.[TWEET THIS]

The Collective obtained a three-year grant to fund the critical training, helping school districts comply with a law passed in 2017 requiring schools to provide a human trafficking curriculum. This first-of-its-kind public-private partnership will bring three unique programs to schools under the Collective’s umbrella: PROTECT, Project ROOTS, and kNOw MORE.

The Collective empowers students in elementary, middle and high school and teaches them about human trafficking in schools and neighborhoods, through a three pronged approach: in-school prevention education, after-school intervention, and interactive multimedia training.

The grant has been funded by the UBS Optimus Foundation, which identified San Diego as a region with opportunities to augment its approach to human trafficking prevention and education.

“Combatting human trafficking and protecting children from falling victim to this terrible form of modern-day slavery is one of my top public safety priorities,” DA Stephan said. “Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world in which traffickers profit by preying on unsuspecting children, luring them right out of their schools and homes with deception and lies. This first-of-its-kind human trafficking prevention education collective will arm our kids with the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves and to engage with trusted adults to help them remain free of abuse and exploitation.”

[WATCH VIDEO OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT]

Recognizing the unfunded legislative mandate that schools must provide human trafficking education, DA Stephan worked to secure a public-private partnership to properly fund the curriculum and she coordinated with various San Diego County school districts to implement the three programs included in the Collective’s programming.

“UBS Optimus Foundation is proud to be a founding partner in this effort,” said Sally Faiz, Program Director of Child Protection for UBS Optimus Foundation. “Trafficking is a horror affecting over 400,000 people in the U.S. We see prevention as the most ‎desirable point to intervene, giving children the skills and knowledge they need to protect themselves from threat and keep safe. This collective, as a partnership of San Diego law enforcement, schools, philanthropists, business, universities and community nonprofits, builds a strong and resilient community. UBS is honored to be part of this group here in San Diego and to continue its active work supporting human-trafficking prevention across the U.S. and across the world.”

San Diego County ranks in the top three areas in the state for human trafficking and research estimates an underground sex economy worth $810 million a year. Victims can be anyone – women, men, children, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals. However, in the area of sex trafficking, minors are particularly vulnerable targets. Social media is one way traffickers access and exploit children.

“This investment allows the San Diego Unified School District to make sure our middle and high school teachers are fully informed and prepared for the fight against human trafficking,” said San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten. “We are deeply grateful to District Attorney Summer Stephan for supporting our efforts to keep students safe. Human trafficking is an issue San Diegans must confront together, and that is why we are proud to take part in this unique interagency effort being announced this morning.”

The ugly truth is that schools across San Diego County have confirmed that traffickers actively recruit children on or near school campuses and use social media to lure and manipulate victims. In fact, 90 percent of high schools studied in San Diego County identified cases of human trafficking involving students, according to a 2016 study done by Point Loma Nazarene University and the University of San Diego.

“We know that young people are especially vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking, which means schools must play an important part in addressing it,” said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. “The San Diego County Office of Education is dedicated to supporting local school districts in prevention and intervention best practices to address the potential or actual victimization of our students. By taking a proactive approach to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children, we are more likely to reduce the incidents of human trafficking in our schools.”

So far, the school districts are using the free curriculum include the San Diego County Office of Education, The San Diego Unified School District, Sweetwater Union High School District, Escondido Union High School District, San Dieguito Union High School District, Poway Unified School District and San Pasqual Union Elementary School District.

“The San Diego Trafficking Prevention Collective and our schools are working toward reducing the vulnerability of children in our schools through trauma-informed education and training,” said Don Buchheit, the Regional Collective Director for San Diego. “Combating exploitation and protecting children takes an entire community. In San Diego, we are blessed to have our community working side by side under the leadership of the District Attorney’s Office. An educated child is a protected child.” [TWEET THIS]

[Leer en Español]

Jorge Duran Appointed New Chief Investigator

Jorge Duran Appointed New Chief Investigator

District Attorney Summer Stephan has appointed Jorge Duran as new Chief Investigator of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, the law enforcement arm of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. The Bureau is made up of eight divisions, including 130 District Attorney Investigators—who are sworn peace officers— as well as Process Servers, Paralegals and Investigative Technicians. [WATCH THE VIDEO OF HIS SWEARING IN CEREMONY, HERE]

“We are thrilled to have Jorge’s extensive experience, proven leadership, and innovative approach to community outreach heading our investigative team,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “Jorge’s exemplary character and record of outstanding public service have defined his career and I know he will bring a fresh perspective to management of the Bureau of Investigation and to building safe and healthy neighborhoods in partnership with the communities we serve.”

During his time as a Captain at the San Diego Police Department, Duran initiated and implemented the “Better a Block” community outreach program in the Southeastern Division communities. He partnered with local Pastors to host block parties to foster better relationships between his law enforcement officers and the communities they served and to build trust from the top down.  The program served to reduce gang violence in these neighborhoods, and improved community relations so significantly that it is still active today.

“I am very excited and looking forward to working with the Bureau’s dedicated professionals who are committed to providing the highest quality service and building positive working relationships with the communities we serve,” said Chief Investigator Jorge Duran.

Chief Duran served six years as a squad leader in the United States Marine Corps Reserves before joining the San Diego Police Department in 1987.  He was promoted to Detective in Narcotics, Sergeant at the Western division, then Internal Affairs and later Cold Case Homicide, where he provided guidance and had oversight of the investigations into more than 100 cold cases.  He was then promoted to Lieutenant and led the Central, Watch Commander, Gangs, Internal Affairs and Homicide Divisions. He also achieved the rank of Captain where he led the Southeastern Division and Operational Support Divisions.

Twenty of Jorge’s 29 years at SDPD were spent in a leadership capacity as Sergeant, Lieutenant and Captain, and he attended the POST Supervisory Leadership Institute.  While at SDPD, Duran successfully reduced gang-related murders by 80%, initiated problem solving meetings in underserved communities, developed contingencies for planned and unplanned critical incidents such as fires and protest demonstrations, supervised SWAT, Canine, and the Homeless Outreach Team/PERT, he managed the department’s body worn camera program including training, maintenance, inventory and storage of over one thousand body worn cameras, participated in monthly community walks in neighborhoods to learn more about and address public safety concerns, and supervised the allocation of more than 1,000 patrol officers citywide.

After serving more than 29 years at SDPD, Duran joined the District Attorney’s Office in 2017, where he has served in our Superior Court and Special Operations Divisions.  He consults for the US Department of Justice to guide innovative and progressive police policies, and contributed to the publication of Homicide Process Mapping, a widely used DOJ-sponsored guide for optimizing investigation procedures and successful prosecutions.

In addition to Chief Duran’s 31 years of law enforcement experience, he has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration from San Diego State University, a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Chapman University, and has attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia where he received a Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice Education from the University of Virginia.

[WATCH THE VIDEO OF HIS SWEARING IN CEREMONY, HERE]

Prosecutor Summer Stephan Promises Fair and Fair Justice During Swearing-in Ceremony

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, who grew from a young prosecutor’s attorney to the top law enforcement authority in San Diego County during her 29-year career with the Attorney General’s Office, vowed to protect children and their families and bring justice to the voiceless and most vulnerable during his swearing-in ceremony today at the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. In front of an audience including County officials, dignitaries and family members, Prosecutor Stephan was sworn in, administered by Chief Justice of the Superior Court, Peter Deddeh. [COMPARTE EN TWITTER]

“I am very honored to be the District Attorney for this county,” said Attorney Stephan. “We are going to seek fair and just justice. We are going to push back bullies and we are going to defend vulnerable people. If they touch our children, we will go after them, if they threaten our schools, they will be held accountable, and if they hurt our seniors, they will face justice. “

Prosecutor Stephan said her office’s approach will be balanced with programs that recognize and address the root causes of crime.

“If you are a young person who has committed non-violent crimes, if you are a human being who has weaknesses, vulnerabilities, mental health problems, addictions, we are going to use a fair justice system but also one that is not one size fits all”, He said, “One that looks at underlying issues and offers second chances.”

Stephan identified several areas he plans to focus on during his tenure, including mental health, human trafficking, elder abuse, and juvenile justice. Noting the nexus between criminal justice and homelessness, mental health and substance abuse, Stephan said he is creating a new position in his office to work with community stakeholders to address the problem.

“We have to be able to balance compassionate treatment of people with mental health problems while protecting the rights of crime victims,” Stephan said.

Recognized as a national leader in the fight against human trafficking, Stephan vowed to continue working to prevent and prosecute the sexual exploitation of youth in the county.

In an effort for transparency, Stephan said it would shed a light on the rare cases where the police cannot stand up to the level of trust the public deserves.

“Without the truth, you cannot build trust with the community,” he said.

Attorney Stephan runs an office of more than 1,000 employees who protect public safety, seek justice, and support victims throughout San Diego County. The term of office of the District Attorney is four years. [COMPARTE EN TWITTER]

Prosecutor Summer Stephan Promises Fair and Fair Justice During Swearing-in Ceremony

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, who grew from a young prosecutor’s attorney to the top law enforcement authority in San Diego County during her 29-year career with the Attorney General’s Office, vowed to protect children and their families and bring justice to the voiceless and most vulnerable during his swearing-in ceremony today at the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. In front of an audience including County officials, dignitaries and family members, Prosecutor Stephan was sworn in, administered by Chief Justice of the Superior Court, Peter Deddeh. [COMPARTE EN TWITTER]

“I am very honored to be the District Attorney for this county,” said Attorney Stephan. “We are going to seek fair and just justice. We are going to push back bullies and we are going to defend vulnerable people. If they touch our children, we will go after them, if they threaten our schools, they will be held accountable, and if they hurt our seniors, they will face justice. “

Prosecutor Stephan said her office’s approach will be balanced with programs that recognize and address the root causes of crime.

“If you are a young person who has committed non-violent crimes, if you are a human being who has weaknesses, vulnerabilities, mental health problems, addictions, we are going to use a fair justice system but also one that is not one size fits all”, He said, “One that looks at underlying issues and offers second chances.”

Stephan identified several areas he plans to focus on during his tenure, including mental health, human trafficking, elder abuse, and juvenile justice. Noting the nexus between criminal justice and homelessness, mental health and substance abuse, Stephan said he is creating a new position in his office to work with community stakeholders to address the problem.

“We have to be able to balance compassionate treatment of people with mental health problems while protecting the rights of crime victims,” Stephan said.

Recognized as a national leader in the fight against human trafficking, Stephan vowed to continue working to prevent and prosecute the sexual exploitation of youth in the county.

In an effort for transparency, Stephan said it would shed a light on the rare cases where the police cannot stand up to the level of trust the public deserves.

“Without the truth, you cannot build trust with the community,” he said.

Attorney Stephan runs an office of more than 1,000 employees who protect public safety, seek justice, and support victims throughout San Diego County. The term of office of the District Attorney is four years. [COMPARTE EN TWITTER]

DA Appoints David Greenberg as New Assistant DA

DA Appoints David Greenberg as New Assistant DA

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan appointed David Greenberg as the Assistant District Attorney following Jesus “Jesse” Rodriguez’ retirement last month. Greenberg has been a prosecutor for the San Diego District Attorney’s Office rising through the ranks for over 32 years. For the last 8 years, he served as Chief Deputy District Attorney overseeing various divisions within the DA’s Office, including Family Protection, Case Issuance, Gangs, Superior Court, Collaborative Courts and Information Technology. [TWEET THIS]

As Assistant DA, Greenberg will serve directly under the elected DA and direct all prosecution, investigative and support operations. He will oversee, with the DA’s administrative team, an agency-wide staff of more than 1,000 employees and a budget of $193 million.

“Dave brings his exceptional leadership and prosecutorial experience, sound judgment and unique expertise in leveraging technology innovations to this critical public safety position as second in command in our office,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “I look forward to working alongside Assistant DA Dave Greenberg to fulfill our mission of pursuing a fair and equal justice for all, protection of victims of crime, prosecution of those who harm our neighborhoods and smart crime prevention.”

During his distinguished three decades serving our region, Greenberg handled and tried serious felony cases, including murders with special circumstances and sexual assault cases. He has served in leadership positions within the DA’s Office that have included Chief of the South, East and North County Branches, Central Pretrial and Superior Court. In 2009, he worked as an Assistant San Diego City Attorney in charge of the Criminal Division.

He graduated with a History Degree from UCLA and received his Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego. [TWEET THIS]

Warning About Cocaine Mixed With Fentanyl

Beware of Scammers Pretending to be from Social Security

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is warning San Diegans on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission of a scam in which callers targeting the San Diego area are pretending to be from the Social Security Administration in an attempt to obtain social security numbers for financial crimes. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to this scam and have been a main target. [TWEET THIS]

There are multiple versions of the rip-off. For example, in some cases the caller may say your social security number has been linked to a crime and has been blocked, but that for a fee it could be reinstated. The caller will then ask you to verify your social security number. Another variation involves the caller saying that your social security number has been used to apply for multiple credit cards, which could cause you to lose your social security benefits. Or the caller may say that your bank account is on the verge of being seized and that you must withdraw all of your cash, which the caller will conveniently tell you he or she can keep safe.

“All of these are scams,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said. “Do not provide your social security number or banking information to any caller, even if the caller ID shows Social Security’s 1-800 number. Instead, hang up and call Social Security to verify. Unfortunately, scammers use technology to make any number they want appear on a caller ID.” [TWEET THIS]

The Social Security Administration’s phone number is 1-800-772-1213.

Assistant DA Jesus Rodriguez to Retire, Recognized for Outstanding Leadership

Assistant DA to Retire

Assistant District Attorney Jesus “Jesse” Rodriguez, 67, who has been the second in command at the DA’s Office for nearly 16 years, will be retiring at the end of December. Rodriguez was recognized today by the County Board of Supervisors with a formal proclamation, presented by Supervisor Greg Cox, for his numerous and outstanding contributions to the County of San Diego.

Rodriguez became the first Hispanic Assistant District Attorney in the County of San Diego when he was appointed by former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in January 2003.  As Assistant District Attorney, he serves directly under the elected DA and directs all prosecution, investigative and support operations. Rodriguez oversees, with the DA’s administrative team, an agency-wide staff of more than 1,000 employees and a budget of $193 million. Rodriguez has been responsible for the development of numerous county-wide crime prevention strategies, innovative prosecution programs, and a victim services unit that serves some 15-thousand crime victims each year.

“The Honorable Jesse Rodriguez has devoted his life to public service and has been an icon in the legal profession,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “His exceptional contributions to criminal justice span more than 41 years of service as a Deputy Attorney General, a Superior Court Judge and the Assistant District Attorney. As an immigrant and as the first Hispanic to hold this high public safety office, Jesse has served as a role model and a beacon of inspiration when it comes to the values of diversity and inclusion.  I join the residents of San Diego County in expressing our gratitude to ADA Rodriguez, who is both an exceptional professional and human being.”

Before joining the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, Rodriguez was the Supervising Judge of both the San Diego Superior Court South County and Central Criminal Divisions for 13 years and also served as a Municipal Court Judge.  Prior to becoming a judge, he was an attorney in the Criminal Division of the California Attorney General’s Office in San Diego.

Rodriguez was born in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, and became a United States citizen at the age of 14. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of San Diego and received his Juris Doctorate from the University of  San Diego School of Law.

Rodriguez has also devoted his time as a member of various organizations, including the San Diego and California Judges Associations has served on the Board of Directors for the National Center for State Courts and the Advisory Board to Casa de Milagros, a recovery home for Hispanic women with alcohol problems.  He is a current member of the California District Attorneys Association.

Assistant District Attorney Jesus Rodriguez’ last day in office will be on December 28, 2018.

Deputy DAs and Investigator Honored for Extraordinary Work

Deputy DAs and Investigator Honored for Extraordinary Work

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors honored five prosecutors and an investigator from the District Attorney’s Office with proclamations recognizing their outstanding contributions to public safety over the past year. The awards were presented at Wednesday’s board meeting. The prosecutors were selected for the awards by the San Diego Deputy District Attorneys Association after being nominated by their peers for their extraordinary work. [TWEET THIS]

“I’m honored to work with and lead such outstanding Deputy District Attorneys and investigators who deliver justice every day on behalf of crime victims in San Diego County,” DA Summer Stephan said. “They truly represent the dedication and quality of our entire prosecutorial team.”

The Board of Supervisors honored the following DA employees:

Deputy District Attorney Stewart David Bost

David Bost, who has worked as a gang prosecutor for almost his entire career, prosecuted two gang members over the course of four murder trials in front of five juries. For more than 23 years, he pursued justice for the 1995 unsolved gang-related murder of 18-year-old Crystal Odom. The gang members’ target was Ms. Odom’s gang-affiliated boyfriend, Curtis Harvey. After three trials and almost 23 years after Skyline gang members shot and killed Ms. Odom, the jury convicted the killer of murder. In another murder case, gang member Christina Daniels attacked and stabbed Jasmine Ruiz to death inside of a car. After stabbing her, Daniels ran Ruiz over and left her pinned under the car where she bled to death. A jury convicted Daniels of murder.

Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey

Makenzie Harvey has tried nearly 50 felony jury trials during her tenure in the Superior Court Division of the District Attorney’s Office, including eight homicides. As a team leader, she has mentored many young prosecutors. In addition to her team leader assignment, Harvey is the crime lab liaison to law enforcement agencies. Most recently, she tried a homicide case in which a recently-retired school teacher was murdered by her son. The defendant stabbed his mother multiple times and used a Taser gun during the attack. He was convicted of first-degree murder.

Deputy District Attorney Marnie Layon

Marnie Layon, a prosecutor in the Family Protection Division, handles some of the most difficult cases in the DA’s Office. In the last year, she successfully prosecuted several tragic cases that highlight her extraordinary skills. The cases involved murder, rape, domestic violence and child sexual abuse. She is the epitome of the professional, career prosecutor.

District Attorney Jalyn Wang

Jalyn Wang’s work in the last year has been extraordinary. One of her cases included a murder in which the defendant beat his cellmate to death. The case had significant legal issues, including a mental health-related defense. Wang’s cases also involve a series of home invasion robberies and residential burglaries. A true testament to her dedication to the victims in her cases is demonstrated by the cards, flowers, and expressions of gratitude she receives.

Deputy District Attorney Claudia Plascencia

In just six years, Claudia Plascencia has distinguished herself as an outstanding prosecutor. A perfect example includes her prosecution of Salvador Sanchez in the case known as the Snapchat Murder. Her preparation and passion for her work resulted in a first-degree murder conviction and a sanity verdict. This case presented difficult and complex legal issues that forced her to get into the mind of the killer to make sense of the senseless for the jury. She presented a clear, concise, well-organized case that enabled the jury to quickly reject the defense contentions in both phases of the trial.

District Attorney Investigator Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson was a police officer, gang detective, and sergeant for the Oceanside Police Department for 30 years. He brought his extraordinary skills to the DA’s Office, where for seven years he has been assigned to the Gangs Division in North County. Anderson was instrumental in investigating the case of three gang members who killed a man in Fallbrook who was walking home in 2016. During last year’s trial, he ensured that reluctant witnesses came to court and closed any gaps in the case that came up. In another case involving 15-year-old Annabelle Flores, who was killed by gang members while playing on a structure at an Oceanside park, Anderson tracked down difficult witnesses and got them to court for the jury trial. The victim’s family was distrustful of law enforcement and even though they were reluctant to cooperate, Anderson ultimately gained their trust. They remembered how he treated them with respect and kindness when he arrested their own family members. Because of that trust, Anderson worked with the family to generate leads that helped solve the case.

Anderson was then assigned to Economic Crimes Division where he went straight to work in a complex embezzlement case. He interrupted his own vacation to obtain evidence that greatly strengthened the case. Anderson truly embodies excellence and commitment. [TWEET THIS]

Target to Pay $7.4 Million for Environmental Violations

Target to Pay $7.4 Million for Environmental Violations

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, along with 21 other California District Attorneys, the California Attorney General and the City Attorneys in San Diego and Los Angeles today announced a $7.4 million statewide settlement, including enhanced environmental compliance measures and injunctive terms, with Minnesota-based Target Corporation (Target). The settlement resolves allegations that Target violated state laws and injunctive terms from a 2011 stipulated judgment regarding the company’s handling and disposal of retail hazardous waste. [TWEET THIS]

“This settlement holds Target accountable for this second violation of environmental laws that involve the improper disposal of a long list of hazardous materials,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “This case serves as a reminder to corporations of the importance of environmental protection laws that safeguard the public’s health and that violators will be held accountable.” [TWEET THIS]

The current settlement comes as a result of investigations of Target’s conduct alleging that between 2012 and 2016 the company committed violations by improperly disposing hazardous waste into landfills across California and here in San Diego County. The waste included items such as electronics, batteries, aerosol cans, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and medical waste including syringes, over-the-counter and prescribed pharmaceuticals, as well as confidential medical information from its customers.

“We are confident that with these strong injunctive terms and penalties, Target will implement meaningful changes to prevent this from ever happening again,” said Attorney General Becerra. “However, the wise move for all companies is to abide by the law and employ proactive training and processes to help ensure that hazardous waste violations are avoided in the first place.”

This is the second settlement resolving allegations of Target’s hazardous waste compliance violations. In March 2009, the California Department of Justice and several local prosecutors filed a complaint against Target alleging that it violated state statutes and regulations governing the handling and disposal of hazardous waste. As part of the final settlement in 2011, Target agreed to pay $22.5 million for penalties, attorneys’ fees, and funding for supplemental environmental projects, and to comply with injunctive terms. These included annual compliance audits by an independent contractor and terms forbidding Target from disposing or causing the disposal of hazardous waste from any Target facility to any unauthorized location, landfill, or transfer station.

Throughout 2012 and 2014, representatives of district attorneys’ offices along with local regulatory agencies inspected Target’s trash compactors, finding many instances of additional violations. The prosecutors alleged that during that time, Target unlawfully disposed of a total of 2,038 items of hazardous waste, 175 items of confidential medical information of customers, and 94 items of medical waste. After notifying Target of the violations found, the People entered into an agreement with the company to revise the judgement entered as part of the 2011 settlement to resolve the violations detected by the prosecutors’ post-judgement investigation. [TWEET THIS]

The revised final judgement terms approved by the Alameda County Superior Court include:

  • $3.2 million in civil penalties;
  • $300,000 for funding of Supplemental Environmental Projects undertaken by entities other than Target, including $50,000 to conduct education classes and programs for owners and operators of small businesses located in low income and minority areas in California;
  • Additional requirements that Target expend at least $3 million to conduct three annual inspections and audits of 12 facilities, and provide reports to the Attorney General and local prosecutors, and create and implement a customer trash receptacle inspection and management program; and
  • $900,000 for attorneys’ fees, and costs of investigation and enforcement.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s office will receive $300,000 in civil penalties and $43,330 in enforcement costs. Joining the DA’s Office in filing this settlement are the Counties of Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, Fresno, Humboldt, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare, Ventura, and Yolo; and the Cities of Los Angeles and San Diego.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Environmental Protection Unit is part of the DA’s Economic Crimes Division which is responsible for prosecuting a wide variety of wrongdoing, including computer intrusion, identity theft, investment scams, embezzlements, real estate matters, counterfeit goods, environmental crimes and the theft of public assistance funds. The division also acts to protect consumers and businesses by successfully filing numerous civil cases to prohibit unfair business practices within the marketplace. [TWEET THIS]