Man Claims Kafkaesque Nightmare Followed Theft Of His Motorcycle

Moving on to six months after San Bernardino County sheriff deputies arrested a Rancho Cucamonga man for stealing his own motorcycle and jailed him for 23 days, the department is now refusing to take action against the man who a Superior Court judge has since determined was the actual perpetrator of the bike theft.
Though the department relied upon a forged document that was controverted by California Department of Motor Vehicle registration data in taking its initial action and despite a court having now ruled that document to be a doctored and non-binding bill of sale, the sheriff’s department is maintaining the matter is one best adjudicated in civil court. This has prompted the motorcycle owner, whose bike has yet to be returned to him, to initiate the administrative process which must be completed to undertake legal action against the department.
During the month of May 2016, 21-year-old Eric Stone was negotiating the sale of his 2007 Yamaha motorcycle to his friend Daniel Lorenzo, also of Rancho Cucamonga. Lorenzo took the motorcycle for a test ride and never returned it. Over the following 30 days Stone made several requests to Lorenzo for payment or return of his property, which Lorenzo refused. On July 3, 2016 Stone located and recovered his motorcycle.
The same day, July 3, deputies from the Rancho Cucamonga sheriff’s station arrested Stone for violating California Vehicle Code Section 10851, vehicle theft, even after deputies verified through the California Department of Motor Vehicles computer data base that the motorcycle was currently registered to Stone and he was named as the owner of record. That arrest was predicated on statements Lorenzo made to deputies when he contacted the sheriff’s department and reported the motorcycle as stolen. When the deputies responded to Lorenzo’s location, he presented them with forged documents, including a handwritten bill of sale. When deputies contacted Stone and found him in possession of the motorcycle, he told them that he is the owner of the motorcycle and could produce a valid title. Stone denied writing the bill of sale. Deputies then accessed the DMV database and confirmed Stone was the registered owner. Despite the determination that Stone was yet the owner of record, Stone was arrested. Deputies returned the motorcycle to Lorenzo.
Stone was handcuffed and transported to the West Valley Detention Center where he was subjected to a strip search and booked. Stone was denied access to a telephone within three hours of arrest as required by law. After his one initial phone call, Stone was denied access to a telephone for the next eleven days, even after written requests to jail staff, and he was unable to contact an attorney.
During his time in custody Stone claims he was subjected to sexual harassment from other inmates and was in constant fear of being assaulted. When he reported the harassment to jail staff, Stone alleges his complaint was initially ignored and it was suggested by deputies that he should take the other inmate into his cell and fight him.
According to the Prison Rape Elimination Act, deputies must immediately remove an inmate from an abusive situation, pending an investigation.
On July 26, 2016, after more than 23 days in custody, Stone was granted a release on his own recognizance by court order. Stone was required to appear in court four more times. On October 17, 2016 the district attorney dropped the case due to a lack of evidence.
After the criminal case against him was dropped, Stone contacted the Sheriff’s department to report his motorcycle stolen. The responding officer, Deputy Brian Ogas, refused to take a report, stating that it was a civil matter.
Stone pursued the case in small claims court. On December 20, 2016 Lorenzo told Judge David Williams, after he was served with documents to appear in court, that he had sold the motorcycle. Lorenzo was ordered to return the motorcycle or pay $5,065 to Stone.
Stone claims the deputies did not thoroughly investigate the case and ignored evidence to justify arresting him. The three weeks and two days he spent behind bars were a Kafkaesque nightmare, Stone said. He presented the Sentinel with a synopsis of a log he kept during the ordeal. Stone said another inmate began to sexually harass him and that he sought protection from one of the deputies. “The first deputy that I told about the sexual harassment stated I should take him [the inmate harassing Stone] into my cell and fight him. ‘Just do not fight on my shift,’” Stone quoted the deputy as saying. “The next shift came on and the inmate tries to fight me and a custody specialist said over the loud speaker, ‘Don’t don’t do that again or you might get punched in the face again’ to the other inmate. Then on this shift the inmate started groping me and I told a deputy. He said the same thing the last one said. When I demanded a sergeant take my report and make this stop, employee G6214 took a grievance and did not hand it to his sergeant. It got ‘lost.’ I requested another grievance from employee G4153. I was grabbed in my genitals by the other inmate because G6214 told me I had no choice but to go back into my cell. A few hours later I was removed from my cell by G4153 and taken to the protected custody area and spoke to a sergeant, who took pictures of me and then asked me what was going on. He then had me placed in the hole [solitary confinement] for two-and-a-half days before moving me back to the cellblock with the inmate who was touching me. I was told they saw nothing on the video.”
Stone said the interaction he had with the sheriff’s department in the aftermath of Lorenzo’s falsified report bordered on the surreal. “A true title supersedes any other type of document and it supersedes a forged bill of sale,” Stone said. “They said the DMV computer records showed them it was in my name. Then they declined my true title as evidence. The DMV data they accessed showed I was the owner. They completely disregarded that. It seems like they’ve got a grudge against me.”
Objectively, that does seem to be the case. The department has now arrested Stone three additional times, all for being under the influence or in possession of a controlled substance. The district attorney declined two of the cases due to a lack of evidence, after the lab results showed no presence of a controlled substance. The third case was never sent to the district attorney for review. During each of the arrests Stone was handcuffed, transported to West Valley Detention Center, subjected to a strip search and booked, all without any cases being filed.
Stone made a written request to the sheriff’s department for records related to the four arrests. The requests were denied by sheriff’s officials stating that he must obtain a subpoena for the records.
Stone is now purposed to make a civil case of the matter, perhaps a federal one. “I filed tort claims against the county already,” Stone said.
A claim against a governmental entity is a precursor to a lawsuit. The government has the option of accepting or denying the claim. After such a claim is denied, the claimant can move ahead with a civil suit.
“Every time I have attempted to get to the bottom of this situation, I get the run around and a claim that it will be investigated,” Stone said. “Daniel Lorenzo committed several crimes to have me arrested. He forged documents with my signature. He made a false 911 call, gave false information to the police and committed grand theft auto by means of fraud. And since they assisted him and don’t want to involve themselves in ‘a civil matter’ as they claim, why did they involve themselves in the first place if it was a civil matter? They are just engaging in word games. The cardinal sin of a police officer is to lie to the public they are to protect and serve. All they have is their image for trust. They shine a light in my eyes and I blink and then they tell me I’m drunk or drugged up when I’m completely sober. I can’t tell whether this is gross incompetence or corruption. The only way to get them to truthfully state what happened and who did what is to call them out publicly.”
The sheriff’s department declined to discuss any issues relating to Stone or his experience.

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