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Response to misinformation about arson arrest

Posted on October 20, 2017

Thursday October 19th, 2017 : 02:54 p.m. PDT

Link to Nixle Alert

A message from Sheriff Rob Giordano in response to misinformation about a suspected arsonist:

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a press release yesterday that was inaccurate, inflammatory, and damages the relationship we have with our community.

Here are the facts surrounding the recent arrest of Jesus Fabian Gonzalez.  Gonzalez was arrested by the Sheriff’s Office on October 15, 2017 for felony arson.  He’s being held in the Sonoma County jail on $100,000 bail for this arson charge and a $100,000 misdemeanor drug warrant from Ventura County.  His bail for the current arson charge was raised by the Sonoma County courts.

This arson arrest occurred in Maxwell Farms Park in the Sonoma Valley.  Gonzalez is a Sonoma Valley resident who was recognized by deputies and has been seen sleeping in the same park where he started the fire.  Gonzalez told the deputies he lit the fire to warm himself up.

Cal Fire is investigating the cause of the wildland fires that devastated our community.  They have not released a cause.  We don’t know if these fires were arson or caused by another source.  There is no indication that Gonzalez had anything to do with these fires and it appears highly unlikely.

ICE sent a detainer requesting the Sheriff’s Office hold Gonzalez for 48 hours past his scheduled release time.  However, this detainer is not signed by a judge so the Sheriff’s Office cannot legally honor it.  Multiple Federal court cases have determined these administrative detainers are unconstitutional.  Notably, the Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County case found administrative detainers are an unreasonable seizure and, therefore, are a violation of the Fourth Amendment.  ICE has the ability to obtain a warrant for anyone they are interested in like we do every day in this county.  If ICE obtains a warrant I can legally hold the person and would be happy to do so.

Regardless of ICE’s request, Gonzalez is being held on $200,000 bail.  Mr. Gonzalez will face his arson charge in Sonoma County.  He was arraigned on October 18, and is awaiting his next court date in the Sonoma County Jail, where he will remain until his arson case is adjudicated.  After that, Ventura County will have their chance to bring him to justice in their community.

Gonzalez has been in our jail approximately 8 times for minor misdemeanor offenses.  We have notified ICE about his release in several of those arrests as they took place before our recent policy change.  We will continue to notify ICE if it complies with law and our policy.  But as I stated earlier, they can seek a warrant and we will hold him.

ICE attacked the Sheriff’s Office in the midst of the largest natural disaster this county has ever experienced.  Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated, many people have lost their homes and 23 people have died from this firestorm.  ICE’s misleading statement stirs fear in some of our community members who are already exhausted and scared.

Please be assured that I will do everything to protect this community.  That includes working with ICE cooperatively and within our policy and the law.  Despite ICE’s misleading statement, we will continue to protect and serve our community members with the strength and compassion they deserve.  I hope to end this senseless public confrontation with these facts so that I may focus on the fire recovery.

-Sheriff Rob Giordano

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office
2796 Ventura Ave
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 707-565-2650

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