Tuesday, November 27, 2007

False DUI records for $ leads to California charges

California dui attorney news

Fernando Catlin and Hector Whitley are arraigned Monday in Sacramento Superior Court on charges they falsified California dui DUI records in exchange for cash. Catlin was a courthouse clerk at the time and Whitley his alleged accomplice.

Investigators said Monday they have expanded their search for altered drunken driving court files, while a Sacramento Superior Court clerk was arraigned on charges he "erased" such cases for seven people in exchange for money.

Fernando Marcos Catlin, 24, was charged with 14 felony counts of altering and falsifying court records – basically changing court files electronically.

Catlin, who worked five years as a data entry clerk in the court's criminal division, is accused of accepting $1,000 to $5,000 to do the work.

His job classification pays $2,965 to $3,558 a month.

Catlin, who did not enter a plea, faces up to 10 years in prison.

An alleged accomplice, Hector Whitley, 26, who does not work for the county, was also charged with six of the same felony counts. He faces up to six years in prison.

The two were ordered to return to court Monday. Both had earlier posted bail.

The men were arrested Nov. 16 after a two-month investigation into suspicious computer entries that surfaced on some California dui drunken driving cases.

The Sacramento County District Attorney's Office audited California dui records back to January, and investigators found cases of seven men and women who were charged but never showed up in court.

Instead, no warrants were issued for their arrest or their charges had been marked as dismissed.

Investigators now are looking at files from earlier than January, which could mean more charges, said a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office.

The seven California dui drunk driving cases have been resurrected.

Prosecutors are reviewing them to see if there will be other charges in addition to the original California dui drunk driving charges, she said.

The court is waiting until the investigation is complete before it addresses any possible security flaws in handling California dui files, says a Superior Court spokeswoman.

The court has 21 data entry clerks who work with criminal files at the downtown courthouse and at the county jail. California dui drunk driving cases are handled in one courtroom, where Catlin and others worked.