Spun Out Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested In Possession Of Crank While Working Jail Detail

A San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy who was celebrated in his hometown of Fontana as an upstanding law enforcement type was arrested on Monday on suspicion of being under the influence of methamphetamine while on duty.
Samuel Espinoza, 35, who has been employed as a deputy with the department for five years, was taken into custody at his work site, the West Valley Detention Center located at 9500 Etiwanda Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga, at 5:28 pm on November 6.
According to a summary of the incident provided by the sheriff’s department, “Samuel Espinoza was …assigned to the transportation division. While on duty, Espinoza’s supervisor recognized him to be under the influence of a narcotic controlled substance. Additionally, Espinoza was found to be in possession of a suspected narcotic controlled substance. Espinoza did not operate department vehicles occupied by inmates during his shift.”
According to the summary, “Though this is an active and ongoing investigation, it does not appear Espinoza furnished narcotics to any inmates or other staff members. Espinoza was subsequently placed under arrest for HS11550 (E) – Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance While Armed and PC4573.5 – Bringing Narcotics into a Jail Facility, both felony charges.”
California Health & Safety Code 11550 (e) (1) pertains to “a person who is unlawfully under the influence of cocaine, cocaine base, heroin, methamphetamine, or phencyclidine while in the immediate personal possession of a loaded, operable firearm.”
There is a discrepancy between the text of the provided basis of one of the charges used in Espinoza’s arrest and the department’s characterization.
According to the California Penal Code, violating PC 4573 is a felony punishable by up to 3 years in county jail or prison. According to the California Health & Safety Code, however, running afoul of HS 11550 is a “misdemeanor,” i.e., “a public offense punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not exceeding one year or in state prison.”
Under California law, jail terms or prison sentences of a year or less are applied to misdemeanors and imprisonment for longer than a year requires a felony conviction.
Espinoza’s jailing took place at a department facility other than the one at which he most recently worked, possibly to avoid exposing him to inmates with whom he had come into contact in his role as a deputy and one of their jailers.
According to the sheriff’s department, “Espinoza was booked at the High Desert Detention Center, posted bail and was released from custody.”
Further, according to the department, “Espinoza voluntarily resigned from the sheriff’s department.”
The department’s release of information on the case was provided mid-afternoon on November 7. The department did not disclose how it was able to induce Espinoza’s resignation, whether testing on the substance found in Espinoza’s possession was performed, how the department gained access to the substance in his possession, the results of any analysis of the substance in his possession or how the department was able to obtain the results of any toxicology testing Espinoza was subjected to within 24 hours of his arrest.
According to the department, the department is still looking into Espinoza’s activity and has asked members of the public “with information related to this investigation… to contact Sergeant J. Ramstad of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Transportation Division.” According to the department, information obtained during the course of the investigation relating to Espinoza will “be forwarded to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office” for possible prosecution.
“Events like these, while unfortunate, demonstrate our resolve and commitment to addressing crime, even when the suspect is a deputy,” said Sheriff Shannon Dicus. “I am proud of the supervisors for interceding and upholding the public’s trust. I am disappointed by the choices my deputy made, and even though he no longer works for the department, it’s my hope that he receives the help he needs.”

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