If you have already read “The Story” the latest entry was made on June 3, 2013. Scroll down to the bottom to see that entry.
Drew Rosenberg, 25, was killed by an unlicensed driver who was in the U.S. under a program called Temporary Protective Status. Attempts at obtaining justice for this crime have thus far gone unheeded. Here is a detailed account of what has transpired.
The Call No Parent Should Ever Receive
At 6:00 pm on November 16, 2010 we received the call that all parents dread. San Francisco General Hospital told us our son Drew had been killed in a car accident. Drew was a 25 year old second year law student. We rushed to the Los Angeles airport and caught a flight to San Francisco.
The next morning we met with the police inspector on the case. He told us that the driver of the car, Roberto Galo was unlicensed, in the country illegally and after killing Drew tried to flee the scene. A few days later the inspector called to tell us there was a mistake and Galo was in the country legally. Drew was on his motorcycle coming home from school traveling south on Harrison Street. Roberto Galo was travelling north on Harrison and had stopped at 16th street to make a left turn although he did not have his blinker on.
Trying to beat the oncoming traffic he quickly made a left hand turn colliding with Drew. Drew and his bike went flying over the front of Galo’s car. Instead of stopping Galo accelerated and his right front tire drove over Drew’s abdomen. Drew’s helmet flew off. Some eyewitnesses said his helmet wedged under the cars tire stopping its forward progress others said it was the bike. Galo backed up driving over Drew a second time.
He then drove forward, attempting to flee, only stopping because the driver of the car on 16th street had gotten out of his car and bravely stood in front of Galo’s car with his hands up. Galo stopped with his right front tire on Drew’s abdomen. Five men had to lift the car off his body.
Initial Police Comment
The inspector told us it was a slam dunk felony vehicular homicide. There were no skid marks from Galo’s car as he never attempted to stop. He also told us that Galo had been caught driving without a license, driving the wrong way on a one way street and driving without insurance in June 2010. The case would now be in the hands of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
The San Francisco District Attorney
While nothing could be worse than losing your child the SF DA’s office have tried their very best to do just that. We received a letter telling us that Galo’s preliminary hearing was scheduled for Monday December 6 but that it was likely to be on a different date. They told us they would contact us to let us know. On Friday December 3 at approximately 5:30 pm we received a call telling us that the public defender (PD) had a conflict and the Monday preliminary hearing would be continued. We were told not to come to San Francisco on Monday and we would be contacted with a new date. Monday at 6:30 pm I received a call from Assistant District Attorney Maria Shih. She told me she was very sorry but at the preliminary hearing retired Judge Philip Mascone had reduced the charges to a misdemeanor because he thought it was just an accident.
She said the courtroom erupted because the decision was so outrageous. Of course I said, “What preliminary hearing?” We were told that the hearing was being continued. She said that the Public Defender decided to go forward with the hearing. I asked why weren’t we told and that we wanted to be there and wanted to speak.
“Nothing She Can Do”
She told us she thought we weren’t coming (yes because they told us not to) and that we wouldn’t have been able to speak anyway. (As we learned later California has a constitutional provision called Marcy’s Law that allows victims to be at and speak at every hearing). I also asked her what we could do to reverse this decision. We were told nothing. The judge had the right to do this and there was nothing we could do. ADA Shih told us that she was going on vacation and we could speak to her boss Asst. District Attorney David Merin the next day.
I spoke to ADA Merin the next day. I again asked him how the hearing could go on without us and that we wanted to speak and what could we do to reverse this decision. He repeated that we didn’t have to be there, we wouldn’t have been allowed to speak and there was nothing we could do. He then told me that Assistant District Attorney Victoria Baldachi would now be handling our case.
I called ADA Baldachi on Wednesday. She returned my call around 6:30 that evening and I missed the call. I called her back Thursday. She finally returned my call later that evening only to tell me that she was going on vacation and that she wouldn’t be handling the case but if I had a question I could call Layla Morris. They would soon be assigning someone to the case.
I was given the name of an attorney in San Francisco who I contacted on December 23, 2010. In a strange quirk he was aware of our case. Not because of any publicity the case generated which was none but his wife was the court reporter that day. He said that when she came home that evening she told him about the latest absurd decision by Judge Mascone. She validated the comment made to me by ADA Shih. Little did I know that this would be one of the last true statements made by the San Francisco DA’s office.
More Details Revealed
As we also learned when Roberto Galo was caught driving in June his car had been impounded. The law very clearly states that when an unlicensed driver’s car is impounded it must stay impounded for 30 days. San Francisco, in violation of the law, normally does not impound cars.
They either park the car or allow a licensed driver to come and drive the car away. In this case there was no place to park the car and Galo couldn’t get a licensed driver to get the car. So the policeman who caught Galo had to call the station and get their permission to follow the law.
His car was impounded sometime after 2:00 on June 14, 2010. Galo who had purchased the car in August 2007 signed the title of the car over to Digna Guzman and by 12:01 am on June 15 she had insured both herself (she has a drivers license) and Galo and later that day got the car out of impound. By her own statement to the police she immediately gave the car back to Galo.
Within 30 days the billing for the insurance had been changed to Galo’s address. When Galo struck and killed my son before getting out of the car his wife (we think) called Guzman first.
Defendant in Court
On July 27, 2010 Galo appeared in traffic court for his June 14 charges. The DA’s office had cut him a deal. Plead guilty to driving the wrong way on a one way street and the charges for driving without a license and driving without insurance would be dropped. At this point Galo had already been driving again for 45 days. Of course he took the deal. The DA’s office refuses to tell us if he ever paid the ticket for the wrong way violation.
On January 27, 2011 my wife and I met the following people at the District Attorney offices. Sharon Woo, Chief of the Criminal Division, David Merin, Victoria Baldocci, ADA Laura Zunino (introduced to us as their 22 year employee and an expert on writs), ADA Angela Pierce (who was now assigned to our case) and victim advocate Jean Hassett.
We urged them to file a writ of appeal of Judge Mascone’s decision. They told us that the appeal had to be based on an error in law or an irrational decision. It took about 5 minutes to discover the error in the law. Judge Mascone had concluded that Drew may have been at fault as well as he may have been in the intersection when the light turned yellow. First, that is not a violation of the law. Second and more importantly even if the light was red Drew had the right of way and was not at fault at all. We were told that they wanted to discuss and we would get their decision the next day. At this point I had tried to read the transcript of the preliminary hearing a few times but wasn’t able to get past the eyewitness testimony. I wish I had although as you will see it wouldn’t have mattered.
The next day we were told that they would file the appeal but not to be optimistic. They were also arguing that day at a hearing to combine the two cases – Galo and Guzman so that the evidence that someone had been killed could be entered as evidence in the Guzman case. ADA Pierce making the argument did not know the facts of the case. Judge Angela Bradstreet could not see the connection between the two defendants. I actually got up and whispered in the ear of ADA Zunino explaining the connection and she whispered in the ear of Pierce who still couldn’t explain the simple facts. Guzman took title to the car, got it out of impound and gave it right back to Galo. Bradstreet denied the motion. As Guzman walked out of the courtroom she leered at my wife (essentially saying “fuck you”).
We urged the DA’s office to add fraud charges against Guzman for aiding and abetting in the death of our son and criminal fraud perpetrated on the city of San Francisco. She knowingly, intentionally defrauded the city by taking title to the car for the sole purpose of getting the car out of impound and turning it over to Galo. We were told that the Special Prosecutor’s Office would investigate.
The next hearing was scheduled for February 10, 2011. On Friday February 4 we were informed by ADA Pierce that the public defender assigned to Guzman would not be available on the 10th and that her hearing would be moved to February 17. We asked that Galo’s hearing also be moved to February 17. We live in the Los Angeles area and have a minor daughter.
We did not want to have to travel to San Francisco two weeks in a row and leave our already traumatized daughter twice. We were told by ADA Pierce that Galo’s date couldn’t be changed. It was our choice if we wanted to attend.
So what happens when the case gets called on February 10? First Judge Little questioned why the two cases (Galo and Guzman) weren’t combined. Unbelievably, when ADA Pierce tried to convey to Judge little the ruling from two weeks ago she misstated the facts again. She said Guzman was in the car with Galo. As Pierce tried to explain, Judge Little grew impatient and said that even if the cases weren’t combined why weren’t the hearings on the same day?
Told To “Get Over It”
During a break in the proceedings we went into the court corridor. My wife and I conferred with ADA Pierce and ADA Vicky Baldocchi. We conveyed our anger at all of the incompetence (but there was so much more to come) along with the way, commencing with the first hearing on December 6th, when we were told not to come to San Francisco because Galo’s hearing would not go forward, continuing on to the point where we are today. ADA Baldocchi then had the audacity to tell us we needed to “get over it.” Was she implying that we needed to get over the death of our son two months ago, or the fact that her office had been so incompetent every step of the way? ADA Baldocchi had the audacity to tell us that we were making this “personal”. Isn’t the death/killing of our son “personal”?
Isn’t the District Attorney supposed to be the voice of the “people”? Is that us? Yes, this is very personal to us. Unfortunately, we can’t hire our own criminal prosecution team, and have to rely on the District Attorney’s office. We thought we would be treated with dignity and respect. We were clearly wrong. As we were walking back into the courtroom, we overheard ADA Baldocchi say to ADA Pierce, “I’m so sick of those people……….” She continued to say something but I couldn’t hear the rest of what she said.
It’s About the Budget??
I asked for an immediate meeting with Sharon Woo. The first thing I asked her was, “What is the DA’s policy regarding prosecuting drivers caught without licenses (that haven’t caused a death or been involved in a violent accident)?” She said the DA’s office doesn’t have a policy. I asked her how many of those kinds of unlicensed drivers have been prosecuted in the past year. She said she couldn’t tell me. I said does that mean that none have been prosecuted?
She started telling me about budget issues. So, essentially the District Attorney’s Office does have a policy and does not prosecute anyone caught driving without a license, although it’s against the law. I asked her if she was aware of the death and destruction caused by unlicensed drivers. She did not have any response.
Under Reported Statistics
I’ve been researching the issue and the data and statistics are astounding – fatalities caused by unlicensed drivers are just below the number of fatalities caused by drunk drivers.
The conversation began to deteriorate when I questioned Woo why an unlicensed driver is immune from the law and appears to have more rights than honest drivers with licenses. For instance, if I had been caught driving the wrong way down a one way street, I would have been ticketed and would have had to attend remedial drivers’ school for several hundred dollars or the DMV would have reported this infraction to my insurance company, thereby increasing my insurance rates. Additionally, I would have had points added to my license and eventually could have my license revoked. Conversely, Galo, an unlicensed driver, did not have to go to driving school because he doesn’t have a license. There is no report made to an insurance company, because he didn’t have any (at that time). So, why did the District Attorney’s Office drop the charges against him in June for driving without a license? ADA Woo’s response was inadequate – she suggested that perhaps if I appeared before a judge for the same incident, I too, could receive a reduced penalty.
We’re Now the Adversaries
The conversation continued to deteriorate when we asked who would be the ADA for the trial, and we were told ADA Pierce, as she “was one of their best”. When we informed ADA Woo that Judge Little questioned Judge Bradstreet’s denial of the motion to consolidate, she said on the spot, “Maybe we should ask the Judge to reconsider?” Was this a novel thought two weeks later? The conversation had so deteriorated that we walked out of the office. I was convinced there will be no further action taken by the DA’s office in this case, as we have now become the adversaries. Apparently, if these two matters remain unconsolidated, the fact that Guzman’s actions led to the death/murder of our son Drew will never be admitted as evidence. Her charge of giving “her” car to an unlicensed driver is left as a stand-alone charge, independent of the repercussions that ensued as a result of her knowing deceit.
In early March I was speaking to the inspector on the case. Since we were not permitted to attend the preliminary hearing we did not know who testified. The inspector told me that the DA’s office never called him to testify although he was there and he was furious. We immediately contacted ADA Merin and asked him for an explanation as to why the inspector on the case would not be called as a witness. He told us, “For evidence to be admissible, or for any witness to testify at a preliminary hearing, there must be sufficient foundation for such testimony.”
He continued to explain (in writing) that the inspector would not have been allowed to testify on Galo’s intent or state of mind. He then stated that, “All facts supporting reasonable inferences of flight were before Judge Moscone when he reduced the felony charge in your son’s case.” Either this man is totally incompetent and has no business being a district attorney or he wanted this case dropped to a misdemeanor so he wouldn’t have to deal with it. The inspector told me that in his 30 years he had testified at preliminary hearings about 1000 times. The inspector’s testimony would have focused on the fact that at no time did Galo ever attempt to stop. There were no skid marks from his car.
In fact at preliminary hearings hearsay evidence is admissible.
In February the DA’s office filed the appeal of Judge Mascone’s outrageous decision. About 10 days later we received the response from the public defender. He never challenged anything that was said in the appeal. Instead his response was limited to a few sentences. One of which was that the appeal was filed in the wrong court. My wife contacted Sharon Woo who assured us that everything they did was correct. I contacted a professor at my son’s law school who had been helping us. About a week later she responded back that she believed the public defender was correct.
In mid–April, late on a Friday I received an email from Sharon Woo telling us that the appeal had been denied on “procedural grounds”. My wife called her to ask her what that meant. She said that they had just received the court’s opinion and they were studying it. We asked for a copy and received it on Monday. First, the DA’s office received the opinion the prior Monday so they had a week to “study” it. Second, the rejection said very simply that their court did not have jurisdiction to consider the petition. Yes, the District Attorney’s office did not know in which court to file an appeal of a preliminary hearing. Remember, we had been introduced to Laura Zunino, there 22 year expert on writs and they filed in the wrong court. To this day they continue to call it a procedural error and will not admit that they filed in the wrong court.
The Delayed Response – Clueless
Everything you’ve read here has been sent to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón in letters and emails. We have asked to meet with him at least five times. Despite the ineptitude of his staff he has never acknowledged any of our correspondence and of course has refused to meet with us. In February 2011 I sent a letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris explaining some of what had happened to that point ( Harris was the DA when Drew was killed. She left the office in early January after getting elected as the Attorney General in November 2010). When I finally got as response 8 months later from one of her assistants it was essentially, “We spoke to the DA’s office and they tell us everything is fine.”
After the appeal debacle I summoned up the courage to read the preliminary hearing transcript. Besides the issue of not knowing the traffic laws Judge Moscone does not know the purpose or rules of a preliminary hearing. Not that it would have mattered since they filed the appeal in the wrong court but they could have also appealed on the grounds of the decision being irrational for the following reasons. At one point Judge Moscone said that he had been in an accident and he knew of the confusion that ensues after a collision. So the judge was making a decision that although Galo drove back and forth over my son three times it must have been that Galo was confused. Because he was in an accident at one time and was confused. The defense never allowed Galo to testify that he was confused. That “evidence” was entered by the judge.
SMOKING GUN EVIDENCE – DISALLOWED
Furthermore the California Judges Bench guide says the following regarding evidence at a preliminary hearing. “Evidence that will support a prosecution need not be sufficient to support a conviction. There must merely be some rational ground to assume the possibility that an offense has been committed and the defendant is guilty of it.” So the judge decided that driving back and forth over someone three times did not constitute the possibility that the driver was trying to flee. Then in what can only be described as the smoking gun to the judges irrational behavior he said referring to Galo’s driving behavior, “unfortunately we may never know the answer to that issue – in an effort to mitigate the damages. “
So since the fiasco with the appeal both cases, Galo’s and Guzman’s became a game of stall. In November 2011 at hearing to set a trial date for Guzman she decided to plead guilty to knowingly giving a car to an unlicensed driver. The maximum penalty was 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The judge fined her $300 much of which was court fees.
In April 2012 the defense filed a motion for dismissal. It appears that the San Francisco Police Department accidentally released Galo’s car and my son’s motorcycle from impound as evidence for a trial. Both items were bought last July. The judge denied the motion.
THE TRIAL IS SET
The trial is now slated to start on July 6, 2012. The maximum penalty that Galo can receive is 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The defense will argue that the evidence is gone and I am sure that one juror will refuse to convict and Galo will go free.
We are now on our 6th DA. On June 18 DA Angela Pierce (now Fisher) informed us that she was going on leave and we would be contacted by a new DA who would try the case.
If you can call it good luck the replacement for Angela Fisher was ADA Michael Maffei. My first call with ADA Maffei and I could instantly tell something was different. He was intelligent, he was sharp and he actually cared. He knew more about the case in a week than anyone else from the DA’s office in 18 months. Despite only having a few weeks to prepare I felt for the first time that we might actually win. The case which had been butchered by everyone else who had touched it before (to be fair to Angela Fisher by the time it got to her it had already been destroyed) was now a misdemeanor meaning Galo, if convicted could be sentenced to no more than a year. However, to see him just walk would probably have been more than I could handle so I really needed a conviction. Additionally, a conviction on both counts which were both misdemeanors would mean that under the rules of Temporary Protective Status Galo would be deported.
My son Evan, accompanied me to San Francisco for the trial and wrote a daily blog of the trial. You can read his blog at http://drewstrial.blogspot.com/ or click on “The People of the State of California vs Roberto Galo on the web site www.unlicensedtokill.org.
The people had to prove that Galo drove without a license and was negligent in killing my son. The defense of course stipulated that Galo was driving without a license. The legal definition of negligence in California is:
“Ordinary negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to oneself or someone else. A person is negligent if he does something that a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation or fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation.”
By that definition the case should have been over before it started. Are we to believe that a reasonable careful person does not know you cannot drive a car without a license? Obviously in California, at least in the legal system, we do not. So let the trial begin. [Please read the daily details from the blog].
There was definite proof that Galo had owned a car for three years and that he had driven without a license for three years. IINADMISSABLE. There was definitive proof that Galo had driven the wrong way down a one way street before he killed my son. INADMISSABLE. There was definitive proof that Galo had driven without a license after he was caught but before he killed my son. INADMISSABLE. Despite the fact that Galo’s wife brought one of their children each day to the trial in full site of the jury when the ADA wanted to show a picture of Drew alive during his closing argument it was of course INADMISSABLE.
And finally what I had been trying to find out since days after Drew was killed was why didn’t Galo have a driver’s license? He had a California ID issued by the DMV. Since he entered the country under the TPS program he was eligible for a driver’s license. I knew that the answer to that question would be important to this case. For months the DA’s office just ignored my request for that information. Then they told me that the DMV wasn’t responding. Then I was told the DMV did not keep those kinds of records. I knew that was a lie and later had it confirmed by an executive at DMV that they essentially keep records in perpetuity.
After the sentencing hearing a few weeks later my wife and I took ADA Maffei to lunch. A DMV representative had testified in the trial but all he testified too was that Galo did not have a driver’s license and never did. We started discussing that issue and Maffei told me that he had found out that the reason Galo did not have a driver’s license. Before he was caught in June 2010 driving without a license he had tried twice to get a license and failed both times. After he was caught he tried again and failed. I asked him why that was not presented as evidence and of course it was INADMISSABLE. (Maffei was unaware of my attempts to get this information so when the judge told him it would be inadmissible he didn’t even mention it to me.) I asked him how hard it was to get this information. His answer…”I called up DMV and they told me.”
Had that evidence been obtained after the preliminary hearing they could have re-charged Galo. It was now apparent that Galo had no regard for our driving laws. He was going to drive no matter how many times he was told he couldn’t. And they had to spend 8 days and who knows how much money to prove he was negligent. It is my belief that at some point early in the case but probably after it was too late to re-charge Galo the district attorney’s office obtained this information and not only withheld it from me but buried it.
August 16, 2012 21 months to the day that Drew was killed was the sentencing hearing. As I said the maximum sentence for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter is 1 year in jail. However, killing someone with your car is not considered a violent crime so because of prison overcrowding the most Galo would serve if sentenced to a year is 6 months. If sentenced to the maximum he also could not be put on probation. So the judge sentenced him to 6 months and three year’s probation. To the judges credit she did say she wished she could do more. She did remand him immediately. You would have thought he had been sentenced to death as his family started crying profusely never once apologizing to us for what their “patriarch” had done to my son.
But of course in what we like to call the “best legal system in the world” it’s never over. A few weeks later I find out that if Galo behaves himself he will get a day served for each day of good behavior. If he’s a good boy he will be released on November 16, 2012 the second anniversary of him killing my son.
SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY GEORGE GASCÓN
My wife and I sent many letters and emails to District Attorney Gascón starting in February 2011 explaining and complaining about the way his staffed was not just destroying this case but actually being abusive to us. We were even told that after one letter he instructed everyone, including our victim’s rights advocate, to not speak with us. So much for victim’s rights. He never responded once. After ADA Maffei did a fantastic job and got a conviction on both counts I only thought it fair to let Gascón know. I sent him an email not only praising Maffei’s prosecution skills but how he was the only DA in the case who really cared. Of course two days later Gascón responded (for the first time).
September 20, 2012
Dear Mr. And Mrs. Rosenberg,
I appreciate you taking the time to recognize Michael’s work. He’s a true professional and your words of appreciation mean a great deal to both of us.
I know that there is nothing that I can say to ease your pain and frustration. Nevertheless, I wanted to take this opportunity to express my most deepest sympathy.
Serving you and your family, as well as every other family victimized by criminal behavior is a duty I take very seriously.
City and County of San Francisco
850 Bryant Street, Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: (415) 553-1742
A week later I wrote him back:
Dear District Attorney Gascón,
It’s really not good form to chastise someone when you are then going to ask them for something but I would not be true to myself if I didn’t. I am amazed that when I send a complimentary email to you I get a response yet you ignored all of my emails and letters for 19 months as your office took what should have been a Murder 2 charge and turned it into a simple misdemeanor that would have ended up an acquittal had it not been for Mr. Maffei. I’m not sure I can believe your last comment about serving me and my family.
That said, I want your office to bring fraud charges against Roberto Galo and Digna Guzman. After Galo’s car was impounded on June 14, 2010 they conspired to commit fraud in order to get the car out of impound. That act led to the death of my son.
Needless to say I have not had a response and I don’t ever expect to get one. This man is not fit to be a meter maid. (No offense intended to meter maids.)
As previously mentioned under the TPS program if you receive two misdemeanors you are to be deported. When I believed that Galo would spend 6 months in jail I met with my congressman, Henry Waxman to discuss his deportation. I wanted to make sure that the moment Galo stepped out of prison he would be held by ICE until he was deported. I wanted the congressman to contact Secretary Napolitano to make sure that Galo never spent another moment as a free man in the United States.
When I found out that the six months in jail would probably be closer to three I contacted the congressman’s office to let them know that time was short. Last week (October 11, 2012) I received a call from the congressman’s office. They told me they contacted ICE in San Francisco and that they would not be detaining Galo and that they would not be deporting him. Needless to say I am not accepting this answer. I have now told the congressman that I want a meeting with Napolitano and I want it now.
It has become apparent to me that the only people who have to obey the law are citizens. If you are in the country illegally (see what is now happening in Los Angeles) or if we are generous enough to allow you in under our TPS program not only do the laws not apply but we go out of our way at tremendous taxpayer expense to protect you.
November 12, 2012……….no word from Janet Napolitano.
NEW ENTRY DEC 4, 2012
Well first no word from Janet Napolitano….not that I had expected her to call.
But the nightmare continues.
The law is very clear. One felony or two misdemeanors and out you go. As I’ve discovered from the police (to be fair in this instance SFPD was great) to the district attorney’s to the judges every effort is made to make sure felonies are dropped to misdemeanors and misdemeanors are either completely dropped or turned into infractions. I have no doubt in my mind that if my wife and I did not get involved and demand this man be charged the DA’s office would have pled this case out as nothing more than an accident. Despite all the systemic rot in the system (SF is the award winner and DA Gascón deserves the Academy Award for portraying the chief law enforcement officer, or maybe he should be charged with impersonating one) that protects the criminals at the expense of the law abiding we managed to get two misdemeanor convictions. Mind you he should have walked into the hearing with at least one misdemeanor conviction and he should have been facing felony murder 2 plus a couple of other misdemeanor charges. He should also be facing fraud charges along with Digna Guzman who I believe (along with many criminal attorneys and a few other DA’s) fraudulently got his car out of impound. But of course DA Gascón will not charge them with that crime.
Through Congressman Waxman’s office we were told that he won’t be deported because now instead of following the law some bloated bureaucrat has decided that driving without a license is a minor offense. Therefore he only has one crime of moral turpitude. Why moral turpitude, it doesn’t sound as bad as killing someone. I am not accepting that and have had some other people dealing with ICE. I was told last Wednesday (Nov 28) that I would be getting a call. No call Thursday or Friday. I called Monday and left a message. I was told today (Tuesday) that I would be receiving a call today. Guess what?
HOW 365 EQUALS 43
The maximum sentence for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter is 1 year or 365 days. In California because of prison overcrowding that sentence is automatically cut in half to 182 days. The judge could have sentenced Galo to 365 days but she then would not have been able to put him on probation so she gave him 6 months with three years probation. To her credit she said she wished she could have done more. But as they say, “That’s not all”. If you behave yourself you get one day off for each day served. (We have to bribe prisoners to behave themselves!) So now the 365 days is down to 90 days. That 90 days would have had Galo out of prison on November 16, the 2 year anniversary of him killing my son.
I called the DA’s office last Wednesday (Nov 28) to find out if Galo was out and if not when he was scheduled for release. The DA told me he didn’t know but would check and find out. About an hour later I got a call from a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle who told me that Galo had been released in September. He spent all of 43 days in jail. I am still waiting to hear, who let him out, on what authority and of course, why.
NEW ENTRY JAN 23, 2013
Finally, some good news. After 3 months of constant pressure Galo was picked up by ICE and is currently in the Florence, Arizona detention center. His first deportation hearing will be February 13, 2013. This of course doesn’t mean he will be deported. My thanks first to Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle for some incredible columns she wrote. Next, to Jessica Vaughn from the Center for Immigration Studies. Jessica’s vast knowledge of the system has been invaluable. Finally, my thanks to Congressman Waxman’s office for making the first contacts with ICE.
Although this is good news what I had to go through to get to this point in unconscionable. US Customs and Immigration Services now consider driving without a license a “minor offense”. On the one month anniversary of the tragedy at Newtown President Obama stated that there had been 900 deaths by guns since December 14. Since that time there were 600 deaths (about 150 of them children) caused by unlicensed drivers. How is 900 deaths a national tragedy but 600 deaths a “minor offense”.
NEW ENTRY FEB 19, 2013
On January 15, 2013 I was on a call with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkis. I wanted to ask him if he believed that a crime which killed over 7,000 people a year should be considered a minor offense. Unfortunately, I never got my turn to ask a question. I wrote him and two weeks later was in Bakersfield, CA for an immigration meeting where I presented my letter to two immigration employees who promised to get me an answer. As with my letter to Janet Napolitano, I’m still waiting for an answer.
Two weeks before Galo’s deportation hearing his attorney files for a bond hearing in San Francisco to get him released. The San Francisco judge ruled on Feb 8 that the hearing would have to be filed in Arizona since that is where Galo was being held. So of course his attorney filed in Arizona and a hearing was scheduled for February 12.
I attended the hearing and am happy to report that the immigration judge refused bond. Unfortunately, the immigration hearing was continued until March 6. I am all for due process but it is clear that this is abuse of process.
I also found out some other troubling information. His girlfriend was ordered to be deported in March 2006. She didn’t show up so ICE just failed to follow up. She is considered a fugitive and was living in the same house so she could have easily been located and of course in July 2012 she attended Galo’s trial in the court house for two weeks.
I also learned that their two children aren’t theirs. I always assumed that because of the kid’s ages and the time that Galo and girlfriend entered the country that the children were born here. It’s a bit of a mystery and what I was told is that she and/or he adopted them. As illegal immigrants I don’t think you can adopt children particularly when no one seems to know where they came from.
Lastly, I learned in mid-January that Galo has appealed his conviction for involuntary manslaughter. The appeal was filed in late September but crack DA Gascón and his appeals team (the same people who didn’t know where to file my appeal) neglected to notify me. This is of course a violation of Marsy’s Law but as with so many things in this case no one cares and the law is worthless anyway.
Much more to go as I race to get Galo deported before a new immigration law is voted on.
NEW ENTRY APRIL 1, 2013
At the March 6 deportation hearing Galo decided not to fight his deportation. Paperwork processing could take up to a month (or more). At this point he is still in custody in Florence, AZ.
I have yet to hear from Director Mayorkis as to his belief that a crime that kills over 7,000 people a year should be classified as a minor offense. My contacts inside USCIS have told me that a response has been written and it is going through the vetting process. Since I asked Director Mayorkis that question 74 days ago 1,480 people have been killed by the minor offense of driving without a license.
NEW ENTRY JUNE 3, 2013
On April 4, 2013 Roberto Galo was deported to Honduras. His girlfriend and the two children left on March 29.
His appeal of his criminal case is still in motion. Although the judge gave his attorney until April 4 (coincidence) to file his appeal brief and said that would be the last extension he filed another request for an extension and it is still pending with the judge. You have 40 days to file a brief after you file the request for an appeal. We’re now over 270 days and counting.
At the beginning of May I finally received a response from USCIS director Mayorkis. Of course he didn’t directly answer the two questions I had asked him but his lack of response was an answer. The questions were:
- Do you consider a crime that kills over 7,000 people a year a minor offense?
- How many misdemeanor convictions do you have?
Since the immigration policy is still that driving without a license is a minor offense he obviously does not feel that over 7,000 deaths is a big deal.
I will guess that his lack of response to Q2 means he has no misdemeanor convictions.
What is so important about these questions is that they both reflect the law as it would stand if the “Immigration Reform” bill is passed in its current form. In essence if you have killed someone while driving without a license you still qualify for your “pathway to citizenship”. In fact you are still eligible if you then drive again and kill someone else.