Bradford R. Fenocchio
PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
For Immediate Release
Date: September 3, 2009
Public information Officer
Assistant District Attorney
MAN LEARNS LESSON:
DON’T LIE TO THE JUDGE
A 20-year-old Elk Grove man learned Wednesday that it doesn’t pay to lie to a judge.
Because of the deceit, Lorenzo Joel Castaneda was ordered to do a full nine-month jail sentence by Placer County Superior Court Judge J. Richard Couzens, who had originally planned to allow the defendant to do half his term on the outside by granting him alternative sentencing.
The case stems from Castaneda’s guilty plea to charges of having an unlawful sexual relationship with a minor and sending the 14-year-old girl harmful or obscene photos over a cell phone. The two had met last year in Roseville.
On July 22, Couzens began to sentence Castaneda to 135 days in jail and grant him eligibility for alternative sentencing on the other 135 days.
But before Couzens could complete the sentencing, Castaneda made an unusual request: Could he serve the alternative sentence first before doing the second half in jail?
Castaneda said he was enrolled in 20 units at Cosumnes River College and he wanted to complete the fall semester before having to do the jail time.
Traditionally, judges order defendants to serve the in-custody portion of their jail time before commencing with alternative sentencing.
Couzens then continued the sentencing hearing, giving Castaneda several weeks to come back with proof that he was enrolled in 20 units of classes.
In two subsequent appearances before the judge in August, Castaneda furnished a printout sheet of classes and a letter from a counselor. However, the documents indicated he was enrolled in six units and was on a waiting list for eight other units – far short of the 20 units he had earlier claimed.
When Castaneda appeared before Couzens on Wednesday, he presented new documents in an attempt to persuade the court that he had 18 units, including classes for which he was on a waiting list.
Prosecutor Todd Kuhnen of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office told the judge it appeared Castaneda had presented manufactured documents to the court.
“It does not appear he was truthful,” Kuhnen told the judge.
Couzens was displeased with the documents, saying he expected certified copies of paperwork from the college and not a computer printout that the defendant could generate on his own.
“I have a lot of suspicion about this paper trail from your client,” the judge told Castaneda’s attorney. “I do not accept the validity of (Castaneda’s) representation.”
He then ruled Castaneda ineligible for alternative sentencing, ordered him to serve the full 270 days in the Placer County Jail and placed him on three years probation.