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‘I do’: Inmate freed to attend wedding

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Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 8:51 am | Updated: 10:19 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

A Valley Springs man sentenced to five years in the Calaveras County Jail in July for growing more than 1,700 marijuana plants was given permission by Sheriff Gary Kuntz to attend a wedding in Placerville in late September. He was accompanied by two armed guards.

Edward Angel Pereira, 39, was convicted in June of possessing marijuana for the purpose of sale, two counts of receiving stolen property and possessing an illegal assault rifle. As part of a plea bargain he made with the District Attorney’s Office, charges of criminal conspiracy against his wife, Alicia Pereira, and son, Andrew Adams, were dropped.

He was arrested March 12 on McCauley Road as part of a Sheriff’s Office raid, which netted four arrests, more than a thousand marijuana plants, a cache of weapons and processed marijuana.

Months after Pereira was sentenced to five years in jail, a letter came across Kuntz’s desk from the offender’s sister, who was a bride-to-be.

“She was getting married,” Kuntz said. “Her brother, who was in jail, had promised her he would walk her down the aisle.”

After reading the letter, Kuntz decided to use his “discretion” to allow Pereira to be escorted by two armed correctional officers to Placerville where the wedding took place.

Kuntz said Pereira was only allowed to walk his sister down the aisle and was then brought directly back to jail.

“A lot of people at that wedding said, ‘Thank you very much, you’ve done a great thing,’” Kuntz said. “They were very appreciative.”

Kuntz said he made sure taxpayer dollars would not be used to pay for the correctional officers’ time spent supervising Pereira on the short excursion.

After the wedding, Kuntz was contacted by County Counsel Janis Elliot who informed him he did not have the authority to allow Pereira to attend the wedding. He should have obtained a court order.

According to Section 4004 of the California Penal Code, “A prisoner committed to the county jail for examination, or upon conviction for a public offense, must be actually confined in the jail until legally discharged.”

“… If the prisoner is permitted to go at large out of the jail, except by virtue of a legal order or process, it is an escape,” according to Section 4004.

The section goes on to state if a court finds good cause for the removal of the prisoner in custody of the sheriff, a legal order can be made.

According to Section 4011.5, whenever it appears to a sheriff or jailer that a prisoner in a county jail under his charge is in need of immediate medical or hospital care that cannot be provided by the jail, the sheriff may authorize the immediate removal of the prisoner under guard to a hospital without first obtaining a court order.

Kuntz said the laws regarding the sheriff’s discretion are confusing but it boils down to this:

“In emergencies, I have more discretion than in non-emergencies,” he said. “Anything non-emergency would have to be by a court order, but again in past practices, it has been the discretion of the sheriff.”

Requests to speak about this legal issue with Superior Court Judges John E. Martin and Douglas V. Mewhinney were denied. The Enterprise was referred to county counsel.

The Enterprise left a message for Elliot which was not returned by press time Thursday. Elliot declined to meet with the Enterprise during a visit to her office Thursday morning. She told a staff member to inform the Enterprise she had nothing to say due to “attorney-client privilege.”

Kuntz said he thought long and hard before making the decision to allow Pereira to attend the wedding.

“I was going by past practice on my discretion to (temporarily) release people from jail,” Kuntz said. “Once I looked into it, I realized I didn’t have as much discretion as I thought I had.”

Kuntz said it’s never going to happen again. After reviewing the California Penal Code with the assistance of Elliot, Kuntz rewrote the Sheriff’s Office policy on temporary inmate releases.

In the past, Calaveras County sheriffs have released inmates on a somewhat regular basis, Kuntz said, at times without armed guards.

“Past administrations have let people out for two-or-three days, gave them a pass and told them to come back,” Kuntz said. “I never did that. I had a correctional officer with them. I never, ever just let them go. I would never do that.”

Since taking office, Kuntz said he has allowed two inmates to attend funerals and one to attend a wedding.

© 2015 Calaveras Enterprise. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • AMtGal posted at 6:52 pm on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    AMtGal Posts: 82

    Make sure you call and register your support or outrage at his decision. This is one reason our county is in such deep trouble...and I voted for him![sneaky]

  • William August posted at 12:01 pm on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    William August Posts: 9

    Let's just let the Sheriff make his own laws like he did here from now on!

    We don't need judges making decisions or county/state/federal lawmakers either. When the person that attacked, robbed or killed your family member is set free by the Sheriff let's see what you all say. There is no difference here. What other laws has the Sheriff broken? I would bet his badge that if anyone really looked into it that there are other issues. Where is the DA on this issue or the Grand Jury?

  • Mike Bullard posted at 11:28 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    Sheriff's shinin' here. Killer cop sense.

  • concerned citizen posted at 11:03 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    concerned citizen Posts: 1

    and this inmate is an AB109er serving time locally instead of going to state prison….Google this Sheriff’s name and see all the articles regarding his opinion of AB109 and the “Dangerous, Dangerous, Dangerous” criminals they are. What is it Sheriff are they dangerous or not?

  • Mike Bullard posted at 11:22 am on Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    [pant pant], thanks y'all; sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug. And yeah buddy, as far as I'm concerned guys exactly like that could work a road crew or park clean-up or whatever as a county jail project. Non-risk inmates don't need to be yarding with the heavies, that's gas in a fire.
    And even if the sheriff did use county money to pay the cops, he's a big boy, he can make a decision.
    So, how 'bout them Niners...

  • raiderdadeo posted at 11:50 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    raiderdadeo Posts: 112

    I tend to agree with Mike I have worked in a County Jail and the inmate is considered in custody if he is under escort, example person is wanted and injured the arresting agency or agency responsible for the person keeps him under gaurd at a hospital till he can be booked into a jail, same applies if he is injured in a facility and taken to a hospital. The problem that this brings up is the inmates at the county jail that are low risk inmates that the Sheriffs dept has wisely used to perform ground kepping jobs around the Goverment center to save money for the taxpayers. In my opinon we could save a lot of money by having these inmates perform all the grounds maint. and janitorial jobs for all the goverment center you could pay 1 full time Correctional Officer to escort them around the center at night to do vacuming, mopping, empty the trash, and clean the bathrooms and on weekends do all the grounds maint. you would replace at least 3 full time postions with one. I understand that it would suck to be one of those replaced but this is Goverment that is in finacial trouble already, if they dont lose the job it frees them up to do other things creating a win win sittuation.

  • Mike Bullard posted at 6:32 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    Yeah, I was challenging the "at large" thing in 4004 since he was always in custody, then lookin' for a Transport section and lost interest. I got a little too into the Title 15 stuff too. It's been over twenty years but I'm still sayin' it's written somewhere he's alright. These last two posts smoked mine anyway, so "I hear my mom callin' me."
    Oh well, my wife's been busy all day, it was either this or argue with the furniture again.

  • Bullet posted at 5:29 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Bullet Posts: 132

    I intend to vote for Sheriff Kuntz next time around. He is one of the best things to have happened to Calaveras County. Perhaps he made a procedural error, but he is a human being and will learn from the error.

  • Cleareye posted at 4:58 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Cleareye Posts: 640

    Good for Sheriff Kuntz. A little humanity can go a long way.
    Considering the charges are relics of an era when business interests wrote the laws a truly just decision would be to let this guy walk free and let it be known that the county has no intention of enforcing unjust laws.

  • janey posted at 2:33 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    janey Posts: 2

    AMEN RAY![beam]

  • Mike Bullard posted at 1:10 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    Okay, somebody cite the law(s) violated.

  • Springsbunny12 posted at 12:44 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Springsbunny12 Posts: 68

    Janey the Sheriff DID know better. He knew what he was doing was wrong (ssshhhh its a big secret). He is thinking his big fat LIE about "not knowing he was doing anything wrong" will be sufficient enough explanation. Are we to believe the Sheriff doesn't know the law? he will get away with it, he thinks he is above the law here. Disgusting. Again, as a resident of Calaveras County I want to know WHERE the money came from to pay the two CO's that worked all day babysitting the felon?? Mike just because you look someone in the eye doesnt mean he is on the up and up. Just sayin..[wink]

  • Mike Bullard posted at 11:06 am on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    I'm sorry Miss janey, i felt insulted and got a little adverse. I was outa line.
    Sorry, I'm sure you're alright.

  • Mike Bullard posted at 10:09 am on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    There was no release, it was an escort. Are you telling me every time an inmate needs a medical transport or a hearing or fights fires in CDF a judge hasta say it's okay, that the cops need their custody supervised?
    He was always in custody. He never left custody. They always had him in custody.

  • Ray posted at 9:51 am on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Ray Posts: 30

    Mr Bullard the LAW is clear and you are not ! a request must be made to the court for any release fron the jail. this guy was remanded by a judge to be held in the county jail until his next court appearance so are you clear on this yet. only the judge by law can grant a temporary release. the sheriff should know the law.I guess its just a good old boy mistake.

  • Mike Bullard posted at 9:50 am on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    I was cearly ten fold the cop you have the capacity to comprehend. Thanks for not being one.
    Appall youreslf silly, he took the measures ya take in transport of an inmate in accordance with law.
    Now go write like that to the state about their 109 dereliction.

  • janey posted at 8:50 am on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    janey Posts: 2

    I don't care what the charges are, obviously the Sheriff should know better! I am appalled at the arrogence of assuming that you have rights to use your descrition.... I don't care what the "good "ole boys" have done in the past... you are the Sheriff now Mr. Kuntz act like it! Oh and maybe study the laws BEFORE you act!

    As for Mike Bullard I certainly hope that you are out of corrections! With the mental attitude you have you sound like you are one step from being on the other side.

  • Springsbunny12 posted at 2:38 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Springsbunny12 Posts: 68

    No, he didnt "get out clean" actually or we would not be reading about it front page in the Enterprise. Its a problem. Kuntz bent (I say broke) the law for this prisoner. Why?? The fact that he was "in custody at all times" doesn't change the fact that he wasn't supposed to be out in the first place. This is not the wild wild west (tv show or otherwise) and Kuntz should not be allowed to make up the rules as he goes along. He is an ELECTED official, at the very least he should play by the same rules he is charged with enforcing. Come on, not a leg to stand on here and I hope this is investigated (by someone other than his adoring employees).

  • Bookldy209 posted at 2:15 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Bookldy209 Posts: 359

    Does make one wonder what other laws Sheriff Kuntz feels are at "his discretion" to follow.

  • Mike Bullard posted at 2:15 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    Sorry, this' important: He didn't release anybody, the guy was in custody at all times.

  • Mike Bullard posted at 2:12 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    I dunno, maybe the guy gave the cops each a bag o' weed, HA HA. It got worked out--clean, i'm sure--and it ain't none o' my bi'ness how, I know it wasn't dirty.
    The guy went and came back, works for me.

  • Springsbunny12 posted at 1:59 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Springsbunny12 Posts: 68

    Ya ok your Sheriff gets called to the carpet for is "oopsie I didn't know I couldn't release a prisoner without asking the court" he claims that he didn't know he didnt have the authority to do so?! This little "wedding adventure" has been in the works for MONTHS. This is not something that was spur of the moment, "your" sheriff had plenty of time to go through the proper channels to verify the legality of what he was doing. He chose NOT to do so. With that said, I hope there is an investigation into this shady situation. Kuntz is not above the law, even though he may think he is. As for the stolen property, the guns, the pot sales (not just a dime bag here and there Mike~ this guy was a big time grower) he deserved what he got and I would betcha he has a long rap sheet. Glad this is front page news, I hope others see it for what it is. PS who paid the two correctional officers to take the day trip with the felon?!! that needs to come out as well.

  • Mike Bullard posted at 1:39 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    Because I've talked to 'im eyeball to eyeball and seen his work. Receiving stolen property stinks, but the guy may not have even known it, like, 'til after it was checked on, and even that ain't worth five years in relation to the scope of things in these times anyway. An illegal assault weapon's more common than you might wanna cop to in Commufornia, and if he's not of a violent past or nature it's no thing. Even an AR 15's the same thing as a mini 14 except the pistol grip... five years? You would imagine? Imagine won't light in law. This sheriff knows what time it is, and his decision wasn't on a coin toss. He's tearin' it up.

  • Springsbunny12 posted at 12:49 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Springsbunny12 Posts: 68

    Mike Bullard did you happen to miss the charges of "receiving stolen property"?? If it were just pot charges, I might be inclined to agree with you..but its not. This guy was and is a thief. He also had illegal assault weapon. I would imagine his rap sheet is quite lengthy to have garnered a 5 year prison sentence. He needs to do his time not go to a wedding. How do you know the sheriff isnt a liar??

  • Mike Bullard posted at 11:17 am on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    Sheriff ain't a liar, they worked it out. The guy's history's cool, and it ain't like the sheriff just signed somethin' that came across his desk with a couple donuts. We voted the guy into office, let 'im office.
    When I was a prison guard I tried to take a guy--probly my favorite crip--to see his mama in the horspital after a coronary. He didn't even ask for it, but it hit him pretty hard and he had that comn' so I tried. My riding buddy (also a guard there) even said he'd buddy me there, but the gang thing quashed it. Cool, she lived on.
    This guy's probly a great example of a waste of correctional efforts anyway, look at the threats roaming free to lock him up. They got 'is weed, any punishment worse than that's purely academic anyhoody.

  • Anonso Quijano posted at 11:16 am on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Anonso Quijano Posts: 291

    Cool, but not smart. incarceration is supposed to be a punishment, and to remove undesirebles from society.

  • Springsbunny12 posted at 10:26 am on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Springsbunny12 Posts: 68

    WOW not cool. Are we to believe Kuntz convinced the TWO correctional officers to work for free? who paid them if not from "tax dollars"..?? I certainly hope there is an investigation into this. Smells fishy to me. This guy is in JAIL he doesn't deserve to go to a wedding, Disgusting. Is this prisoner a family friend of the Sheriff or something?

  • Mike Bullard posted at 9:04 am on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 568

    Ridon, Sheriff, that was totally cool.