Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Alleged fake cop held for trial on sex charges

Jeffrey Bugai, a.k.a. Jeffrey Thomas. Photo: Courtesy SFPD

Jeffrey Bugai, a.k.a. Jeffrey Thomas. Photo: Courtesy SFPD

A judge has ordered a San Francisco man to stand trial on charges that he pretended to be a police officer and forced other men to engage in sexual acts with him, among other counts.

Judge Gerardo Sandoval ruled Thursday (October 16) that there was “sufficient, credible evidence” to sustain most of the 39 charges against Jeffrey Bugai, 35.

The orders followed several days of testimony from six of the seven alleged victims.

Among other counts, Sandoval held Bugai to answer accusations of sodomy by anesthesia or a controlled substance, forcible oral copulation, and impersonating a public officer.

Sandoval dismissed some counts, including those alleging he’d committed the crimes “under the color of authority,” essentially threatening some men that if they didn’t have sex with him, they’d be arrested, incarcerated, or deported.

The men who testified said they believed Bugai was a cop, and some said after he took them to his apartment, he made them drink something they suspect was drugged.

Police Sergeant Sean Perdomo testified Thursday that a former roommate of Bugai’s has said he saw Bugai putting pills in people’s drinks.

One alleged victim, identified in court as Miguel M., 26, testified last week that he met Bugai at El Trebol bar, 3149 22nd Street, in the Mission district, around December 31, 2007. He got into a cab with Bugai, thinking he was getting a ride home.

Miguel said when they got to the apartment, Bugai gave him a glass of what looked and tasted like water, but after that, he testified, “I did not know anything anymore until I had him on top of me without any clothes.”

Bugai was performing oral sex on him, Miguel told the court, and Bugai soon took Miguel’s penis and penetrated himself with it, he said.

He said he unsuccessfully tried to push him away and told him “No” during the incident, but “I had no strength.”

Bugai, who’s pleaded not guilty to the charges, has been in custody since his July arrest and is set to be arraigned October 30. His bail is $3 million.

According to court documents and testimony, Bugai often dressed like a police officer and drove a vehicle that resembled a police patrol car. All of the men, who appeared to be in their late 20s to early 30s, spoke through Spanish interpreters.

Police have said Bugai targeted Central American immigrants with “limited English speaking” skills who had recently arrived in the United States.

The alleged incidents occurred from January 2008 through March 2014, according to the complaint prosecutors filed against Bugai in September.

According to court records, Bugai changed his name to Jeffrey Thomas in 2011.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 16, 2014 @ 6:43 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Plea deal reached in skirt burning case

An Oakland boy who’d been accused of  setting fire to the skirt of a gender non-conforming teen on a bus last November pleaded no contest in the case Thursday (October 16).

Richard Thomas, 17, could serve up to seven years in state prison after entering a plea deal in Alameda County Superior Court in which he admitted to a charge of felony assault assault with an enhancement of inflicting great bodily injury, according to Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for the Alameda County District Attorney’s office. An aggravated mayhem charge and hate crime enhancements for each of the charges were dropped.

Sasha Fleischman in an undated photo

Sasha Fleischman in an undated photo

Sasha Fleischman, who was 18 at the time of the incident, suffered severe burns and was hospitalized for several weeks after Thomas set fire to Fleischman’s skirt.

Thomas, who’s been in custody since shortly after the incident, is set to be sentenced November 14.

At his sentencing, Thomas will be sentenced to seven years in state prison, Drenick said in an email. After 90 days, the judge will review an evaluation of his conduct.

“If he is fully engaging in the programs and services offered,” and his conduct’s “good,” there’ll be another evaluation in July 2015, just before his 18th birthday, Drenick said. If he again shows good progress, he’ll be re-sentenced to five years in state prison, “with the addition that he waive four months custody credit.”

At that point, the juvenile justice department would have “have discretion to house [Thomas] for his entire sentence if they believe he is amenable to their services.”

The deal had been in the works for months.

“The victim in this case, as well as the victim’s family, has been kept apprised of the negotiations at every step of the way,” Drenick said.

William Du Bois, Thomas’s attorney, said in a phone interview, “the juvenile justice system doesn’t understand … how time in custody weighs much heavier on a young person” than it does on “an older person.”

Debra Crandall, Fleischman’s mother, has said she’s “sad” about Thomas being charged as an adult. “We’re kind of torn … to put a 16-year-old kid away for life seems really harsh.”

However, she’s said, “I feel like perhaps the DA’s office must have information they can’t give us completely.”

Fleischman’s family couldn’t immediately be reached by phone Thursday. Thomas’s family has repeatedly declined interview requests.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:42 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Peninsula man accused of offering boy $50 for oral sex

Mark Anthony McNeil (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff's office)

Mark Anthony McNeil (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s office)

A Peninsula area man is facing a charge that he offered to pay a 15-year-old boy $50 to perform oral sex on the teen.

Mark Anthony McNeil, 52, of Hillsborough, is charged with annoying or molesting a child and is set to face a preliminary hearing Thursday, October 23 in San Mateo County Superior Court.

According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, the incident occurred September 22 at the Geneva Motel in Daly City, where the child was staying with his family.

The teen was sitting on some outside steps when McNiel allegedly “called out to him to ‘come here,’ and waved him over,” Wagstaffe said in a summary of the case.

The boy went to McNeil, “who asked him if he wanted to make some money,” the DA said.

After the child asked how much, McNeil allegedly told him $50 and said, “I want to suck some dick.”

“Hell no, that’s so gay,” Wagstaffe said the boy responded.

McNeil went back to his room, and the teen immediately told his mother about the incident. She called the police, then waited in her car with her son until police came. Police contacted McNeil, who the boy identified.

Wagstaffe said McNeil, who’s in custody on $50,000 bail, has a prior conviction in a similar case in 2005, making the new charge a felony.

Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Baum is the prosecutor in current case. Brandon Douglass from the Private Defender Program is the defense attorney. An emailed request for comment to the defender program hasn’t been returned.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 10, 2014 @ 5:09 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF cop from ’95 AIDS benefit raid charged with illegal use of records, retires

A longtime former San Francisco police sergeant who took part in a violent raid on a 1995 AIDS benefit has retired after being accused of illegally checking someone’s California Department of Motor Vehicle records.

Superior court documents show that in January, John Albert Haggett, 56, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misuse of confidential information. His next court date is October 20 for a pretrial conference.

Sergeant Monica MacDonald said in an email exchange that Haggett retired in February. She declined an interview request, saying, “The police department does not discuss open criminal or employee investigations.”

Haggett was one of several policemen involved in the 1995 New Years Day raid on a benefit at 938 Harrison Street, in the South of Market neighborhood, according to the the San Francisco Chronicle.

In a 2006 story, the paper reported, “Police said they conducted the raid because the party did not have the proper permits. … When partygoers sued, their lawyer, Nanci Clarence said, ‘Haggett was involved in some of the most brutal attacks against the benefit guests, including choking a man from behind until he almost passed out.'”

The story also said Haggett had “joined the department in 1982 and in his first seven years was the subject of 56 citizen complaints.”

According to the Chronicle, in 1996, “the Police Commission found Haggett had committed four offenses that could warrant dismissal — using unnecessary force on one person and falsely arresting three people. … It suspended Haggett for six months and told him he would be fired if he committed further violations during a three-year probationary period.”

Almost a year after the AIDS raid, Haggett “killed an unarmed man,” the paper said.

Reached by phone recently, Haggett would only say that he’s now retired, and handed the phone over to a woman who identified herself as “a babysitter” and hung up the phone.

When a reporter called back, she said, “Nobody wants to talk to you.”

Peter Furst, Haggett’s attorney, didn’t respond to an interview request.

Current case

In a January 2014 affidavit attached to the current case against Haggett, San Francisco police Sergeant John McMahon wrote a woman said that in June 2013 she’d filed two police reports “regarding an ongoing landlord tenant dispute,” and that she’d reported the landlord “had threatened her by stating ‘my boyfriend is a police officer and will take care of you.'” According to the victim, Haggett was the landlord’s boyfriend.

The filing includes an email that “appears to be” from the landlord that said if she has to “check someone’s background for criminal records I forward it to John … .”

When the woman told her landlord “that she was not afraid” of Haggett, the landlord “told her that she should be,” according to the document.

McMahon wrote that the victim told him “that she was afraid for her life that Sgt. Haggett might hurt her.” McMahon advised her to get a restraining order. Court records indicating that she took his advice couldn’t be found.

The woman eventually told McMahon “that she did not want to be associated with this case and she does not want to testify in court. She said she is afraid that Sgt. Haggett might assault her. However, it should be noted” that the victim “never met Sgt. Haggett,” according to the filing.

McMahon found that in June 2013, while Haggett was working, someone using his unique police ID had checked California Department of Motor Vehicle, FBI, and local criminal records for information on the victim.

The woman stated that the landlord had “never directly told her that Sgt. Haggett ran a criminal record check on her,” and she’d never given permission to Haggett or the landlord to do a criminal background check, the affidavit says.

McMahon concluced that Haggett had “unlawfully” accessed the first victim’s confidential information in June 2013.

He also found that Haggett had performed illegal records checks on two other people, but he said those cases couldn’t be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations in one case and a lack of evidence that Haggett had “furnished that information to someone else” in the other. The victims’ names had been redacted from the file reviewed by the Bay Area Reporter.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:59 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man charged with attempted murder of LGBT woman

A San Francisco man has been accused of trying to kill an LGBT woman with a bottle during an apparent dispute over money.

Tanrence Joe Owens, 30, pleaded not guilty Monday, September 30 to charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and battery with serious bodily injury, according to Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s office.

According the police report, at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, September 26, Owens approached the victim, whose first name is Earina but is also known as “Ray Ray,” while she was asleep and started asking for money she owed him.

He allegedly poured water on her and told her he’d count to seven. She eventually pushed him, and he struck her once with a Tanqueray gin bottle, which broke and cut Earina.

When police arrived, the report says, they found Owens in a closet. The incident occurred in the unit block of Dakota Street, in the Potrero Hill neighborhood.

Earina, 25, is in San Francisco General Hospital, and she’s able to talk, but she hadn’t spoken to police as of Wednesday, October 1, because she was scared, according to her mother, Sandra Bacon, 50.

“She is my soldier,” Bacon said outside the courtroom where Owens made a brief appearance Friday, October 3. She said her daughter’s “doing much better,” and “they’re taking the sutures out today.”

Just before Friday’s hearing, Bacon shared photos of Earina in the hospital. There were several cuts on her face and what appeared to be a large gash along her neck.

Deputy Public Defender Alex Lilien said after Friday’s hearing that it was “conceivable” the injuries had resulted from a single strike with a bottle, as a witness stated. Lilien said he hasn’t yet seen the photos of Earina or medical records.

Owens seems “very alarmed about the extent of the injuries and very concerned about [Earina’s] well-being,” he said.

Lilien said Owens has a criminal history that includes drug-related charges, but it doesn’t appear he has been charged in violent incidents.

He also said Owens and Earina had been “on decent terms. They were friendly.”

Earina had once been the girlfriend of the mother of Owens’s two-year-old son, according to Earina’s ex-girlfriend’s mother, who asked that her name only be published as Kay. Bacon said she had “no idea” how Earina identified, but she said, “I guess” as a lesbian.

In a phone interview, Bacon said her daughter “can have her mood swings, but she has a big heart, and she’s a very outgoing, loving person.”

Earina asked through Bacon that her last name not be published.

Owens, who wore an orange jail jumpsuit Friday and didn’t speak, is in custody on $350,000 bail.

His next court date is October 22 to set a date for a preliminary hearing, which is when a judge determines whether there’s enough evidence to hold the defendant for trial.

Bastian said that “the underlying motive does not appear to be” related to a hate crime, “however, the case remains under investigation.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 3, 2014 @ 1:43 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Oakland mayor, Emeryville city council candidates fail to secure LGBT club’s endorsement

(Oakland mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

(Oakland mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Oakland mayor, Emeryville city council candidates came up short last night at the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club’s final endorsement vote ahead of the November 4 election.

In July lesbian Oakland mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan, the city’s at-large city councilwoman, fell short of the 60 percent threshold needed to secure an early endorsement from Stonewall. It meant any Democrat in the race was eligible to be endorsed by the club last night.

With Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s considerable support within the club for her re-election bid, and Oakland City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf also attracting a number of LGBT supporters, it was expected the club would be divided over the race and unable to coalesce around one candidate.

Those predictions proved true, as the club took a no endorsement position in the race. And its by-laws do not allow for a ranked-choice endorsement despite the fact Oakland instituted instant runoff voting for mayoral and city council races where voters can select up to three candidates and rank them in order of their preferred choice.

“The reality is our club is really torn right down the middle between two candidates,” said Joseph Greaves, chair of Stonewall’s political action committee, referring to Kaplan and Quan.”Had we had a process where we could make multiple endorsements, I think we would have seen a different outcome last night.”

John Bauters, a gay man and affordable housing advocate, was also unable to reach the 60 percent threshold to secure Stonewall’s backing of his Emeryville City Council bid. He is one of four candidates seeking two open seats on the council in this fall’s election.

Two of his opponents – teacher Scott Donahue and television producer Dianne Martinez who are running as a slate – also sought Stonewall’s endorsement last night and fell short.

Bauters “was the highest vote getter,” said Greaves, but “he fell short of the 60 percent threshold. He was close.”

A number of candidates did secure the LGBT club’s endorsement, including Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore, who in 2010 became the first African American to be elected to the post and is seeking re-election this year, and Alameda City Council candidate Jim Oddie, who works as state Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s (D-Oakland) district director.

The club also endorsed Lena Tam in the race for the BART board’s District 4 seat and Anne Campbell Washington, who is running for Schaaf’s District 4 seat on the Oakland City Council.

Other races where the club made no endorsement include Washington’s District 4 school board seat, the Oakland School Board District 6 seat, and Oakland auditor.

As for local ballot measures, Stonewall members voted to endorse Alameda County Measure BB, a half-cent increase to a countywide transportation sales tax. They also endorsed Oakland’s Measure Z, which would beef up policing in the city, and Oakland’s Measure FF, which would raise the city’s minimum wage to $12.25 per hour.

To learn more about the Stonewall club, and its full list of endorsements in fall races, visit its website here.

— Matthew S. Bajko, October 2, 2014 @ 3:16 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Soulcycle Castro location pedaling toward June 2015 opening

Diesel building

Soulcycle plans to open in the old Diesel building above the Castro Muni station.

Soulcycle, the national chain of spin class fitness centers, is pedaling toward a June 2015 opening in the Castro, which would be its second location in San Francisco.

The New York City-based company has signed a lease at 400 Castro Street, above the Castro Muni station, where Diesel had been located. Most recently clothing store West Coast Leather had set up shop in the circular retail space.

According to the company’s website, Soulcycle has 25 locations nationwide, with plans to open 50-60 studios worldwide by 2015. Its first San Francisco location is on Union Street in the city’s Cow Hollow neighborhood.

“We ride to the beat of the music,” explained Sarah Buchanan, the company’s regional manager for the Bay Area whose husband, Chris Layda, is an instructor at the Cow Hollow Soulcycle. “It is also extremely fun. Our workout is very motivational.”

The company is just beginning to meet with Castro neighborhood groups – it met with members of Castro Merchants this morning at their monthly meeting – as it seeks input ahead of asking for support for its permit applications.

Since word began spreading about the company’s plans – the microblog Castro Bubble posted about it last month – local real estate agent Mark McHale, who serves on the Castro Merchants board of directors, said, “All the chatter has been positive.”

Due to it being a formula retailer, Soulcycle needs approval from the planning commission to open in the Castro location. It also needs a conditional use permit to change the zoning at the site from retail to a fitness use.

“It is a nice space but a terrible retail building,” said architect Chris Harrelson, who is working with Soulcycle on its plans.

In order to mitigate for sound from the music played during the spin sessions, the company will build a “contained sound box for the studio,” explained Harrelson. Sound doors will also be installed, and two of the windows fronting Castro Street will be closed behind a yellow and white bicycle spoke design. A men’s and women’s locker room with showers will also be constructed.

As for the facade, the company plans to clean it and paint it but make few changes. Both the colored lights and flag poles should remain, said Harrelson.

“There will be extremely minimal changes to the exterior,” he said.

Soulcycle does not use memberships such as those required at gyms. Classes are drop-in, and package deals for multiple classes are offered. It is expected there will be 55 bikes at the Castro location.

Classes are likely to be offered between 6 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. weekdays; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 1:51 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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