Authorities arrested a southern California man who traveled to Morgan Hill with the intent of having arranged illegal sexual relations with two minors, according to Morgan Hill police. Stephen Lewis, 21 of Oceanside, was arrested Saturday following a multi-agency sting involving Morgan Hill Police, Homeland Security Investigations and the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a press release from MHPD said. Lewis, who lives in southern California, contacted a man over the Internet who agreed to allow Lewis to have sexual relations with his two minor children, police said. The man contacted by Lewis was in fact an undercover agent. The undercover agent and Lewis arranged a predetermined time and location in Morgan Hill to meet, police said. When that meeting happened, Morgan Hill police took him into custody without incident. Lewis was later booked at Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of meeting a minor to engage in lewd or lascivious behavior and possession of child pornography, police said. “Law enforcement works diligently to protect everyone in our communities, especially children who are the most vulnerable,” Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing said. “I am very proud of the dedicated professionals who worked as a team to keep this predator from victimizing children.” Joseph Vincent, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations in San Jose, added, “Many child sexual predators mistakenly believe they can act on their unconscionable urges with impunity and anonymity online, but as this case shows, nothing could be further from the truth. Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners here and around the globe to target those engaged in the sexual exploitation of children to see that they are held accountable for their crimes.” Anyone with information about this case can contact MHPD at (408) 779-2101, or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.
Morgan Hill police arrested three people with a trove of stolen property after making a routine traffic stop on a vehicle occupied by two of the suspects early Friday morning, authorities said. About 3 a.m. Friday, an officer stopped a vehicle occupied by Adam Stout, 29 of Milpitas, and Brianne Campana, 22 of San Jose for a traffic violation, according to a press release from the Morgan Hill Police Department. The officer learned that Stout was on probation and police conducted a search of the vehicle, police said. Found in the vehicle were an unspecified amount and type of narcotics and drug paraphernalia. Police also learned that Stout and Campana were staying in a room at the Quality Inn, 16525 Condit Road, and officers searched the room, according to the press release. Found inside the hotel room were more than 70 pieces of stolen property from six different cities in two counties, according to police. A third suspect - Karlee Douglas, 19 of San Jose - was in the room when officers arrived, and she was arrested, police said. All three suspects were booked at Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of possession of stolen property, possession of narcotics, probation violation and being under the influence of a controlled substance, police said. Anyone with information about this case can contact MHPD at (408) 779-2101, or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.
A San Jose man was arrested after leading Morgan Hill police on a high-speed chase that originated with a report of loud music, police said. About midnight Wednesday, officers responded to the area of Del Monte Avenue and Preservation Way after someone called to report loud music coming from a parked Lexus, according to an MHPD press release. As officers arrived on scene, the vehicle fled to a home on the 15000 block of Del Monte Avenue and three occupants of the Lexus fled into a house, police said. Police ran the Lexus’ license plate and learned the vehicle’s registered owner was wanted on a no-bail warrant, the release said. Officers questioned two of the three people who fled into the nearby residence, and they were uncooperative. Officers stayed at the scene to keep an eye on the parked Lexus, and after about an hour the car was seen leaving the residence, police said. Officers tried to stop the vehicle but the driver led police on a high-speed pursuit to San Jose, where the driver abandoned the vehicle and attempted to continue to flee on foot on Aborn Road. Police caught up to the suspect, later identified as Brandon Harrell, 23 of San Jose, and arrested him, according to police. Harrell was booked at Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of evading an officer, resisting arrest and a felony warrant. Anyone with information about this incident can contact Morgan Hill Police at (408) 779-2101 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.
Police arrested a suspected thief after a resident observed the man stealing mail out of mailboxes on a north Morgan Hill residential street, according to authorities. Morgan Hill police were dispatched to the 19000 block of Cheyenne Court on a report of a suspicious person about 3 a.m. Tuesday, according to an MHPD press release.Officers contacted the suspect, Erik Gonzales, 36 of San Jose, on suspicion of possession of stolen mail and possession of a stolen vehicle, police said. The resident who reported the crime told dispatch they saw Gonzales removing mail from mailboxes along the street and placing the items into an orange Mitsubishi convertible, police said. When officers arrived to the neighborhood, they located the Mitsubishi which had paper dealership plates, according to the release. Police approached the vehicle and saw Gonzales sitting inside. The car “was filled with stolen mail from nearby houses (and) in fact the vehicle he was sitting in was also stolen out of San Jose,” police said. Gonzales was booked into Santa Clara County Jail, according to police. Police gave credit to the resident who reported Gonzales’ suspicious behavior for helping to arrest the suspect. Anyone with information about this case can contact Morgan Hill Police at (408) 779-2101 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.
After staking out a stolen vehicle outside a Morgan Hill hotel, officers arrested three suspects on suspicion of counterfeit currency and controlled substance violations, police said.
The Hollister woman who pleaded no contest to trying to slip sleep-aid medication to toddlers under her care at a Morgan Hill daycare facility was sentenced to six months in Santa Clara County Jail Monday, according to authorities. Deborah Gratz, 59 of Hollister, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Kenneth Shapero following a hearing at South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill. She was sentenced to six months in jail followed by four years of formal probation, with a list of conditions for her release during probation, according to Deputy District Attorney Sumerle Davis. In May, Gratz pleaded no contest to five counts of attempted child endangerment as part of a plea bargain with the D.A.’s office. The misdemeanor charges stem from Gratz’ attempt to put a sleep-aid drug known as Sominex into the sippy-cups of some children under her care at Kiddie Academy daycare in Morgan Hill, authorities said. Gratz had worked at the daycare business since 2007, and has worked in the childcare field for about 20 years. The attempted drugging occurred in early March, according to police. Another employee of Kiddie Academy saw Gratz place an unknown substance into the sippy cups of about 10 toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2. Staff at Kiddie Academy determined that Gratz had placed the over-the-counter sleep-aid medication in the children’s drinks, police said. The staff fired Gratz and reported the attempted drugging to Morgan Hill police. Officers investigated the incident, and arrested Gratz March 11 at her home in Hollister. None of the children were harmed by Gratz’ actions, police said. Police added that Gratz had a “spotless” record during her career as a daycare professional until the incident at Kiddie Academy was reported. Gratz remains out of custody, but she is required to report to South County Courthouse to begin serving her six-month sentence in jail Sept. 27, Davis said.
The former executive director of the Morgan Hill Downtown Association pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that he embezzled funds from the nonprofit organization while he was employed there.
Law enforcement’s annual end-of-summer DUI crackdown resulted in 309 arrests throughout Santa Clara County, according to authorities.The arrests, all on suspicion of driving under the influence, were reported by sheriff’s office and police departments from Aug. 16 to the end of Labor Day, Sept. 2, according to Sheriff’s Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup. Some agencies had not yet reported their total DUI arrests for the period as of Wednesday morning. In 2012 during the same time period, local law enforcement agencies reported 390 arrests on suspicion of DUI, Stenderup said. The arrests were part of the annual “Avoid the 13” DUI crackdown, in which police place extra officers and resources on the roads during holiday weekends and other expected high-traffic times. The effort includes sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and routine patrol by 13 law enforcement agencies throughout the County. Avoid the 13 is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Police are planning more Avoid the 13 anti-DUI efforts during the upcoming Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays, Stenderup said.
Morgan Hill police arrested a former Safeway employee and his accomplice after the pair allegedly stole about $20,000 cash from the grocery store’s safe early Thursday morning. Just past midnight Aug. 22, Mario Bellinghausen, 22 of Santa Nella, entered the store wearing a surgical mask to hide his identity, according to a press release from Morgan Hill Police. As a former Safeway employee, Bellinghausen was entrusted with the code to the store’s safe. He even spoke to his former manager at the store just before the heist. Bellinghausen stole more than $20,000 from the store's safe and was seen running out of the store to get away in his car, police said. Later that day, officers located Bellinghausen with half of the stolen cash, police said. Then on Aug. 24, police identified and arrested Yesmith Sandoval, 22 of Los Banos, at a pizza parlor in Los Banos, police said. She had the remaining loot from the burglary, minus a share used by Bellinghausen to bail out of jail. Both were booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy and burglary, police said.Police think the pair orchestrated the burglary as a retaliation to Safeway for terminating Bellinghausen’s employment at the store. Detectives recovered “nearly all” of the cash stolen from Safeway, police said. Anyone with information about this case can contact Morgan Hill Police at (408) 779-2101.
Antolin Garcia Torres, the Morgan Hill man accused of kidnapping and killing Sierra LaMar, declined to enter a plea yet again Thursday at the Hall of Justice in San Jose today, as the attorneys involved in the case have yet to complete the evidence sharing process.