Arturo Pleitez (Photo: SFPD)
A San Francisco man who’s been called a “notorious bully” is expected to be released from custody soon, after he agreed to a plea deal this week in a hate crime case.
Arturo Salvador Pleitez, 54,who has an extensive criminal history, has been in jail since July after he was accused of threatening a lesbian couple and their daughter at Arizmendi Bakery, at 1268 Valencia Street in the Mission district. At Pleitez’s arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Karen Catalona called him “an extreme public safety threat” and “a notorious bully.”
Tuesday, October 14, Pleitez pleaded guilty to a charge of making criminal threats, which will be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor at his sentencing November 4. Superior Court Judge Philip Moscone dropped another criminal threats charge and a hate crime allegation.
Pleitez, who’s in custody on $150,000 bail, is expected to receive credit for time served and be released with three years of informal court probation, Deputy Public Defender Michelle Tong said Friday.
He’s also been ordered to stay away from the bakery where the incident occurred and the neighborhood nearby, and Tong said there’s also “a request that he refrain from drinking any alcohol.”
In the July incident, Pleitez said “offensive things,” but there’d been “nothing to suggest he was going to be violent at all.”
Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said the plea deal “was done over our strenuous objection, and we are disappointed by the judge’s ruling.”
Pleitez had originally been charged with three felony counts of making criminal threats and two hate crime enhancements, but in August, Assistant District Attorney Charles Bisesto dismissed one of the charges and one of the enhancements due to a lack of evidence. At that time, Superior Court Judge Gerardo Sandoval held Pleitez for trial on the remaining two charges and the enhancement.
Captain Dan Perea, who oversees the Mission police station, has said he’s “had to deal with” Pleitez himself, and “The guy is a real serious threat to public safety in the Mission district.”
At Pleitez’s arraignment, Catalona said Pleitez has had 71 felony contacts and 174 misdemeanor contacts. (There may be multiple contacts for a single arrest.)
Some people in the Mission have obtained restraining orders against Pleitez, according to court records, with at least three of those coming since 2012.
Connie Ramirez Weber, 93, obtained a restraining order against Pleitez in June that expires in 2019. Weber got the order after her son-in-law reported to police that Pleitez had driven into a garage Weber owns.
Pleitez “shouted obscenities” at her, and threatened her and her son-in-law, she said in court documents.
In an August interview, Weber said, “He’s going to hurt someone one of these days, and then it’s too late,” and she added, “He should be locked up for a long time. I don’t know why they keep letting him out.”
Told Friday of Pleitez’s expected release, Weber said, “I just hope he doesn’t bother me anymore, because I’m really afraid of him. I hope they make him stay in his own area. … Please have him so that he doesn’t bother me at all, doesn’t talk to me, or call me or anything.”
Mission residents shouldn’t be worried about Pleitez, Tong suggested.
She said he’s lived in the Mission “his entire life,” and “to me, it’s no different than the neighbor who lives in Pacific Heights who’s lived in his house for his whole life and is maybe known as the neighborhood curmudgeon.”
Tong compared Pleitez to “the neighborhood grouch” actor Clint Eastwood played in 2008′s Gran Torino.
“It’s not like my client is walking around all over San Francisco hurting people, hurting strangers,” she said. “He historically has had a drinking problem, and he gets kind of loud. I don’t think he’s dangerous. I think if he was dangerous, he would have convictions to support that, and that’s not the case.”
‘I will fuck you up’
Tong also pointed to a victim from the bakery incident telling police that’d she’d taken the scene “as another day” in her neighborhood.
During the preliminary hearing in August, the woman testified that she’d noticed Pleitez “standing next to a woman” who kept “stepping away” from him and “was clearly uncomfortable,” according to a transcript.
Pleitez screamed, “You can’t look at her. Don’t fucking look at her” and he “started yelling about how I need to read the Bible, and how that I can’t look at her … and that it was a sin,” the woman testified. Pleitez “kept yelling, and then he said, ‘I will come over there and I will fuck you up,” she said. He also told her she “was going to hell,” she said.
The woman said she was “scared,” but Pleitez left after about two minutes.
At the end of the hearing, Sandoval, the judge who oversaw the hearing, said using the standard of finding someone guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt … I think that there is something to be said for the defense’s argument that the reason that the defendant threatened [the victim] was because she was staring at the defendant.”
He also said there was “no evidence” that Pleitez had “singled out” the woman “because of her sexual orientation.”
Sandoval also said, “the immediacy of the threat” alleged “may not be sufficient” to get a conviction at trial, and he hoped the matter would settle.
However, he told Pleitez, “You cannot go around scaring people. You cannot go around scaring a family. And I guarantee you this family feels very differently about going out to their local bakery today than they did before this event.”
The woman who testified against Pleitez in August couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.