The district attorney’s office chief investigator said prosecutors are “back in the investigation mode” and still contended “crimes occurred” in the case of 41-year-old Clint Wageman, who had been accused of concealing a 14-year-old Hollister runaway before the related charge was dismissed Thursday.
Prosecutors moved to drop the charge – section 278 of the penal code alleging he enticed, kept, withhheld or concealed the girl – against the San Francisco man arrested Feb. 7 for being with the teeenage runaway from Hollister, according to court records.
The district attorney’s office Thursday dismissed the charge against Wageman, reported as a family friend and relative of the girl, during a scheduled arraignment hearing.
Chief Investigator Jerry Smith on Friday called the dismissal “a tactic” by the prosecution, which expects to re-file charges. He said the district attorney’s office wants to prevent charging him with a lesser-than-appropriate crime and not having the capability to allege a more serious charge
“We’re back in the investigation mode,” Smith said. “We believe some crimes occurred in San Francisco. Obviously, there are some jurisdictional issues.”
If more charges are filed, Smith said he expects the case to be prosecuted in San Benito County.
Smith said he could not elaborate on details of the suspected crimes in San Francisco. The 14-year-old girl – whose grandmother, reported as her legal guardian, initially reported concerns about Wageman to police – is now in child protective custody, Smith said.
“Rather than go forward with our case, once we got the girl in custody, we had some earlier indications some other crimes occurred,” Smith said.
Wageman’s attorney, public defender Greg LaForge, said police “jumped the gun” with the arrest and questioned why the district attorney would drop the charge if the office believes his client is guilty of a crime.
“I have received absolutely nothing that says my client is guilty of anything other than being related to the alleged victim,” said LaForge, who added Wageman is her uncle. “Even if you look at the flyer generated by the police department, it states my client is a person of interest; yet the police decided to arrest him. On what basis?
Police arrested Wageman on Feb. 7 in San Francisco. Hollister police had feared Wageman was with the runaway and had released a statement three days before his arrest asking for the public’s help in finding them.
The California Department of Justice, the Unified Narcotics Task Force and the Hollister Police Department were in San Francisco conducting surveillance when San Francisco police officers found the girl.
The case started when the girl’s grandmother reported her as a runaway Feb. 2. The grandmother reported to police that Burr had never gone missing and that she was concerned Burr could be with Wageman.
The district attorney’s office Feb. 7 charged him with one count of the concealing charge. It had carried the potetial for either up to one year in jail or, under some circumstances, up to four years in prison, according to th penal code.