DA Benito: I’m Tough on Crime, Mindful of Money

Dear readers: This is the first of many candidate statements to be published on A News Cafe prior to the June 8 primary election. (Read opponent Steve Carlton’s statement here.) We hope you find the series useful. -Editor

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Candidate statement from Jerry Benito:

I am proud to have served as your District Attorney for the past 7 years.  With nearly 20 years of current prosecution experience in Shasta County, I am dedicated to ensuring our families are safe and protected.

I am tough on crime. My aggressive prosecution of drunk drivers helped us achieve California’s second highest DUI conviction rate (96.9%). (State of California DMV).  More importantly, these efforts have saved lives.  The number of people killed by drunk drivers has been dramatically reduced by over 40%, meaning our streets are safer for our families.

I have increased the conviction rate on felony cases filed by 13%. (Judicial Council of California). Prior to my becoming the District Attorney, this conviction rate had been consistently below state average, but has been at or above state average every year I have been the District Attorney.

I’ve taken a tough stand on prosecuting methamphetamine possession cases.  Since implementing these policies, the number of methamphetamine cases has been reduced by over 50%.

We have continued our success in keeping gangs from becoming established in our community through a variety of efforts.  Families in Shasta County do not have to worry about drive-by shootings and gang murders.

I have been a champion of victims’ rights.  I started special units focused on prosecuting rapists, stalkers and domestic violence offenders.  I established the first-ever stalking prosecutor in Shasta County.

I am now leading our community to establish the Shasta Family Justice Center, a single location where victims of violent crime can find all the resources and help they need.

I continue to maintain a fiscally responsible budget.  I reduced expenditures by making the necessary cuts in spending before the current fiscal crisis.  I used technology to find news ways of doing old tasks.  These efforts saved taxpayers money and made our office run more efficiently.

We aggressively sought and obtained federal, state and local grants to meet shortfalls in our county budget.  These grants allowed us to continue prosecuting dangerous offenders despite the current fiscal crisis.

With the closing of a floor of the jail, I developed alternative forms of accountability for low level offenders.  I established rehabilitative and educational programs that divert low level offenders from the criminal court system.  Private vendors provide rehabilitative programs for offenders, paid for by the offenders.  In addition, the county receives reimbursement for administering the programs.  One of these programs addresses the problem of drivers with suspended licenses.  This is the first such program in the State of California.  (Neither DUI nor other dangerous drivers are eligible.)

I have been innovative in solving community problems. I am proud of our anti-illegal dumping program.  In the past, private landowners or taxpayers paid to cleanup after those who illegally dumped on the land of others.  I led the county in establishing “Don’t Trash Shasta.”  The goal was to clean-up our county and it has worked.  Since its inception, we have convinced over 140 illegal dumpers to clean up their own garbage off private and public land.  The program has been so successful that we won a state award for innovation.

Last summer, I established the first-ever Real Estate Fraud Investigation unit in Shasta County and a Consumer Protection Unit that has already recovered $2 million for Shasta County citizens.

I am involved in the community.  Through Rotary, Kids Turn, and other organizations and events, I remain an active part of the community.

I am dedicated to the protection of our families so that we can enjoy our community in safety.  I have consistently found new ways of accomplishing this goal and been effective in doing so.

That’s why those who are currently familiar with the office and its operations and are charged with the responsibility of protecting you and our community endorse me.  That includes the associations that represent all the major, local law enforcement agencies in our county (Redding Peace Officers, Anderson Peace Officers, Shasta County Deputy Sheriffs), the association that represents many employees in my office (UPEC), Sheriff Tom Bosenko, and ALL the current Shasta County prosecutors.

Please join them in voting for effective experienced leadership. Vote to re-elect Jerry Benito, District Attorney.

www.electbenito.com

Bio: Gerald “Jerry” Benito, Shastas County District Attorney

I attended Solano Community College before transferring to Sacramento State University, where I graduated and earned a degree in History in 1983.  I then attended the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, graduating with a law degree in 1986.  I passed the California State Bar exam that same year.

After working in a private firm for 2 years, I came to Shasta County in 1988 to be a prosecutor.  I started as an entry level prosecutor handling low level misdemeanor cases and quickly advanced and began handling homicide and other high profile cases starting in 1992.  Some of the more notable cases included the successful prosecution of the then-sitting mayor of Redding for misuse of public funds, the only gang related murder ever to occur in Shasta County, a 12 time drunk driver for murder in the death of an 8½ month old fetus of a young mother to be, and I was co-counsel in the prosecution of the killers of Deputy Ken Perrigo, who is the last law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in Shasta County.

In 1997, I was appointed Assistant District Attorney.  In 2001-2003, I left the District Attorney’s Office to explore private practice.  In May, 2003 I was appointed by the Board of Supervisors as the District Attorney and ran unopposed in the June 2006 election.  I am seeking re-election in June 2010.

I am married and have 2 sons that were born in Redding.  One is attending college and the other is in high school.

OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES:

Chairman of Domestic Violence Law and Justice Subcommittee

Member of the 40 Developmental Assets Movement

Board Member of Kids Turn (an organization to help kids of divorcing parents)

Member of Rotary Club of Redding

MADD member and volunteer

Dancing With The Stars participant (Shasta County style)

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes (3 years)

Past Participant in local high school Mock Trial Competition

Founding Participant in the local Peer Court for minors

Former Chairman of EUDL (Enforcement of Underage Drinking Laws) project

Former Chairman of Shasta County Methamphetamine Task Force

Former Chairman of Domestic Violence Coordinating Council

Former Coach for Peer Court youth

Former Little League Baseball Manager (Redding and SLC)

Former Chairman of Family Service Agency

Former member of Addicted Offender Program Advisory, Steering and Review Committees

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37 Responses

  1. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    Thank you for running this piece. Jerry has my full support. I understand the local bar association and newspaper wish to return to the good old days. But Jerry has brought Shasta County into the 21st century. He is a computer literate candidate, compassionate, skilled at getting us the best talent from everywhere in the country: Boston, Georgia, Arizona, wherever. We need his brand of unfettered, full time, objective, current, critical, ethical and fair to all wisdom.

    • Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

      Yes, maybe he did, but he also took JUSTICE back to the dark ages.

      I vote with deliberation and forethought for principle and for the man.

      There is no contest here. My vote will be cast for Mr. Steve Carlton.

  2. Avatar Sarah says:

    Thank you for running this statement. I will be voting for Mr. Benito. I hope that voters will take a hard look at the candidates and realize that Mr. Carleton is running on the old boys platform and is supported by the old boys club. And the last thing that Shasta County needs is the old boys club running the District Attorney's office.

  3. Avatar Jenni Middleton says:

    Thank you for all you have done in our community Jerry Benito, you have my vote!

  4. Avatar KDM says:

    Thank you Jerry Benito and the dedicated prosecutors, support staff, investigations unit and crime victim advocates who successfully represent Shasta County. Thank you for not running a smear campaign like your dishonest opponent. Those who work in the field serving to protect Shasta County citizens are aware of the hard work put forth by Jerry and the DA office.

    Jerry's dedication to community safety has been evident with his visible invovlement. For many years Jerry has particiapted in Rodeo Week, Peace Officer's Memorial, Peace Officer Awards, Crime Victim's Rights Week, Domestic Violence Council, SART, Redding Parades, and many more community events. It was noted how the opposition has only recently taken an interest attending Redding events for the first time.

    You have my support and I encourage everyone to vote for Jerry. Do not let the hard work that has been accomplished go undone!

    KM

  5. Avatar RadioFreeJefferson says:

    First of all, Mr. Benito, I think your efforts as an advocate for victim's rights is commendable, bordering on visionary.

    But, I feel that you've embarked upon a path that's taken you from an ADA with promise to a DA who seems at risk of taking the position that he's a law unto himself.

    You wrote, "I’ve taken a tough stand on prosecuting methamphetamine possession cases." I would argue that your stand is more appropriately termed heartless. You always or nearly always prosecute meth cases as felonies, regardless of the quantity involved. If a nineteen year-old screws up and gets caught with a fraction of a gram of methamphetamine, you'll do your best to saddle him or her with a felony, which will likely result in that kid becoming a permanent member of the underclass. And, you do that in spite of accepting grant money to prosecute misdemeanor drug cases. Is that ethical? Does it show any sense of compassion? Can you acknowledge that kids will often screw up as kids and yet grow up to be responsible adults? Or, do you reserve compassion for good ol' boys who sucker punch people in nightclubs?

    And what about publicly threatening a defendant in a criminal case with a lawsuit? Do you really believe the rules of professional conduct don't apply to you? Are you above such petty little guidelines?

    I don't believe that you're a bad man, Mr. Benito. But, I believe you've taken enough wrong turns as DA to put yourself into an ethical box canyon.

  6. Avatar Nick says:

    I don't work in or for the DA's office, but I've had to opportunity to work with both the office and Jerry personally. I've always found him to be professional and am often impressed by his innovative ideas and willingness to do things differently than in the past if it means a better result for our community.

    While I haven't agreed with every decision coming out of his office at first blush, after listening to the reasoning behind the decisions I've come to understand why they were made.

    Thanks for your service, Mr. Benito. I am proud to support you in the next election.

  7. Avatar Nathan says:

    Benito: worst DA in Shasta County history.

  8. Avatar Lew Chamberlain says:

    I trust Jerry Benito and support him for DA because I believe he represents an opportunity for intelligent progression even in this fiscally challenging environment. I'm greatly impressed by his accomplishments and am confounded at the idea that we can continue to evolve and improve the system by reverting to the "good old days".

  9. Avatar Dan Kupsky says:

    I worked with Jerry both before and after my retirement from the Redding Police Department, and found him to be dedicated, caring, and committed to our community. I've checked with my Law Enforcement brothers in all local agencies and they fully support Jerry from the top ranks to the patrolman on the beat.
    I've also listened to both candidates debate and for me the chose is clear. Jerry has done and excellent job with limited resources, and shouldn't be kicked from office by a smear campaign based on a couple of tough cases where most of the folks yelling "Don't know all the facts"!
    Jerry's opponent has stated repeatedly that he doesn't want to be DA, he just wants Jerry out!!!! What kind of office would that be….Listen to both candidates, don't believe the hype, and you'll vote as I will for Jerry Benito!! Do you want a chief Prosecutor that's supported by Law Enforcement, or the local Defense bar?????

    • Avatar Lew Chamberlain says:

      Well said. In deciding who to support I consulted with more than several friends who are law enforcement personnel and those supporting Jerry were able to clearly articulate why they are supporting him. The very few who weren't supporting Jerry could not help me understand their motivation.

      • Avatar RadioFreeJefferson says:

        Hm. I believe in supporting law enforcement folks, but I'm afraid I must lend more weight to the opinions of every living former DA. NONE OF THEM SUPPORT BENITO.

    • Avatar Nathan says:

      You're incorrect & misinformed, Mr. Kupsky.

  10. Avatar I Hate Dirty Politic says:

    Benito has more community support than the Carlton camp realizes. He has really turned that office into an office of prosecutors. He is strong Law Enforcement and is a huge victims right advocate. Prosecutors should be prosecutors not defense attorneys. Me and Mine will be voting for Benito.

    • Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

      Benito and his JUST-US system has created more victims than he ever advocated for.

      This man and his office is a JUSTICE TRAIN WREAK. His action in direct defiance of the
      US Attorney's office, created an entire new name for a drug team, so they could get
      around that instruction. Went after and attempted to sting a licensed, legal business,
      actually a couple and a doctor. The end result, a law suit against most every law
      agency in the county.

      While over 30 local residences were stolen from Shasta County home owners by
      mortgage, title and appraisers, many of you here like to hob-knob with, Jerry stood,
      by for four years and did nothing.

      I know this for a fact, because in the summer of 2006 while his office was dogging
      me on a trumped up restraining order, I sent a fax to Mr. Benito's office informing
      him that a women who worked for PG&E had almost lost her home to a company
      called Paramount Group. This was a attempted thief of over $150K in fees and cost,
      the ladies home and equity. Mr. Benito and his mismanaged bunch of inexperienced
      yes men and women, stood by and did nothing. That is a fact.

      The FBI had to be called in to start an investigation, one he should have launched a full
      4 years earlier. His lack of knowledge in real estate law was amazing, he actually
      told a couple the lease-back scam that had taken their home was legal. Thank God
      a real attorney looked into the paperwork and was able to discover the illegality of
      the contract and get the families home returned to them.

      You all may think this is a real cool guy because he's someone that will put on a
      pair of high-heels for promotion, but not take his own shoes off, like every citizen
      in Shasta County has to when they enter the court house. He thinks he's above the
      law, like a few of your other law enforcement officers around here think you are.
      You, maybe and he for sure is a traitor to Justice, a traitor to his oath of office, and
      a traitor to a good portion, (except the Good Ole Boy Network) some of you mentioned
      above. Nice Republican propaganda ploy, call your opponent a name for what you are.

      When Benito was called to help the Adam Martinez family find just a small thread
      of justice for the lose of their kind, and gentle son, killed with a sucker punch in
      Club Ice a year ago now, still no justice.

      Benito again was found unable to deliver the goods. This is a guy that would attempt to prosecute a tuna sandwich if he could add it to his tally of convictions, even so, he is found lacking there too. So you shills promoting him above, mostly employees I'm
      guessing anyway, make sure you get your names on that list of supporters. Jerry's
      "A" list, you sure don't want to show up on his other list, NO there is no "B" list.

      My educated guess in this matter, is Mr. Steve Carlton will be elected to the office
      on June 8th. I question your lack of patriotism, I question your sense of fair judgment
      and I question your wisdom if your vote is for Mr. Benito.

      One more thing Shasta County, expect another big Multi-Million Dollar lawsuit again,
      in the stolen home mortgage fraud FBI investigation mentioned above, as soon as
      it's over.

      So, you people living in this man's shadow and blinded by his BS and smoke screen
      have been warned. Like the one check value missing on the Gulf Oil Spill that did not
      exist the Justice side check value, The DA's Office also does not. I say it's a major
      problem.

      Sincerely,

      EAB

  11. Avatar RwGuy says:

    " Prosecutors should be prosecutors not defense attorneys." The duty of the DA is to seek justice. That doesn't mean racking up as many convictions as possible. Sometimes it means not going forward with prosecution.

  12. Avatar I Hate Dirty Politic says:

    From the RS (5/18)
    "A 39-year-old Redding man convicted of four felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14 received today a 14-year suspended prison sentence and was placed on probation for 10 years, attorneys said."

    Probation officials had recommended a 12-year prison sentence for Wallers. Plus treatment.

    Judge Molly Bigelow issued this sentence. This is disgusting. How could she let this person out. Once he victimizes someone else he then has to go to prison. THIS IS CARLTON'S NIECE!!! VOTE BENITO!!!!

    • Avatar Mike says:

      And your name is: "I hate dirty politics"?

      Geez, what a misnomer!!

      • Avatar Mike says:

        Sorry "I Hate.." … You'll need a definition:

        Misnomer:

        1. a misapplied name or designation. 2. An error in naming a person or a thing, to misname.

        Misnomer: Kind of like a hypocrite. One who pretends to be what he/she is not.

  13. Avatar Larry Schaller says:

    I wish no 'ill will' to Jerry Benito but I do not support his reelection. In my mind it is not about conviction or filing rates. Jerry is a capable administrator and I commend his community involvement…but , in my opinion, Mr. Benito is a weak leader with a questionable pattern of judgment as evidenced by the fact that, as an incumbant, he is the political fight of his life.

    Best regards in a tough campaign.

    • Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

      Well Sir, it don't mean a hill of beans to you, but your stock with me just went through the roof.

  14. Avatar Carolyn Jones says:

    Even before a molester of a 10 year-old child got probation I was voting for Carlton. Need I say more?

  15. Doni Greenberg Doni Greenberg says:

    This is anewscafe.com's first day in this series of candidate statements. I must say, I'm impressed with the civility demonstrated by the majority of commenters here today. It's so refreshing when people can disagree, but still maintain respect for one another as fellow citizens who want the best for our community. Thank you!

    Stay tuned for tomorrow's candidate: Steve Carlton.

  16. Avatar California Dreaming says:

    Over the years I have noticed problems in the current D.A.'s Office run by Benito, such as spin-laden press releases, inconsistent and obviously selective prosecution decisions, and managerial arrogance. No sharp attorney who cares about administering justice can stand to work with a D.A. who is as petty, vindictive and self-serving as Benito. In reviewing Benito's press releases as D.A., I haven't found one instance where he uses the term "justice"–it appears to not exist in his vocabulary. Such an important position in our community should not be held by such a person. If, in the past, Benito ever cared about achieving such core, American goals as "justice" or "fairness" in prosecution, then it's sad to see that he's lost his way. Bottom line, Shasta County deserves better, much better than Benito. I'm voting for Carlton.

    • Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

      Not in his vocabulary and not in the court.

    • Avatar Educate Me says:

      I know attorneys in the the DA's office and nothing CD described represents them…

      When was the last time I met a defense attorney who didn't define "justice" as "not guilty"? Please! Terms like "justice" and "fairness" are defined by the letter of the law which you seem to think Mr. Benito cares about too much. I think you may be looking for a DA who's willing to expand the gray and fatten the pockets of local attorneys.

      If Carlton wins then I speculate he'll appoint Josh Lowery as his successor before retiring a few months after the election. Just what the defense attorney's are hoping for…. one of their own insiders in position of power. Cha-ching for the "sharp attorneys" and their "consorted effort".

      • Avatar California Dreaming says:

        Educate Me,

        The silliness of this reply shows me you have little true understanding of the issues at stake. Mr. Lowery has a great deal of prosecutorial experience, was a fine prosecutor, and was hand-picked by then-Assistant D.A. Dan Flynn (now a judge) to helm the multiple co-defendant murder case against the Stayer brothers et al, which was successfully prosecuted. He was afterwards picked as D.A.'s Office Employee of the Month, and then Shasta County's Employee of the Month as a result of his diligent, ethical service to this community. Even if your admitted speculation panned out, what is wrong with Mr. Lowery? I consider him among the finest public servants in this community. Lowery has so much more skill and integrity than Benito that Mr. Carlton would do well to have him serve again in the D.A.'s Office. You defile the concept of justice by your superficial and incorrect characterization of the legal community's concerns with Benito's mismanagement and lack of fairness in prosecution.

        • Avatar Educate Me says:

          Fine. Then lets see Mr. Lowery run his own race rather than attain the office by political ruse. If he's the best candidate then we'll both I'll vote for him but you have to agree that a game of "bait and switch" deprives us of that right. I really hope I'm wrong because if I'm not then a very good man has succumbed to some unsavory political advice….

          As for my misunderstanding of the local legal community's concerns… all I can say is "educate me". If I seem increasingly biased it's because one side has answered my questions clearly and concisely and maintains what I consider to be objective and highly credible public endorsement while the other side feigns with little more than an appeal to emotion. I'm not saying that some of your concerns aren't valid but none warrant displacement. Perhaps I'd see things your way if I had a reason to project my own interests into the facts, but I'm not related to Mr. Carlton, I don't have a personal grudge against Benito, and I'm not paid to defend criminals.

  17. Avatar Virginia says:

    I remember a year or so ago, the judge on a molestation case threw out the recommended sentance from the DA's office of 8 years and changed it to 12 years. The judge was not interested in a lesser sentence for a repeated offender. Thank God for that!

  18. Avatar gamerjohn says:

    The claim that all the current employees support their boss makes me laugh since their jobs depend on their continued support including financial contributions. Ask the prosecutors' wives how they feel about that.

    During those two years that Benito was out of office and exploring the law, too bad he didn't try a little harder on the divorce cases he was paid to handle. If he didn't know what he was doing, he should not have accepted the money.

    Nobody denies that Benito is not a slick politician. The question is whether he is the best DA for Shasta County. There is no doubt that he is too short in that role too.

  19. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Doni…Steve Carlton is the man who should replace Benito for the simple fact that Steve was his mentor and the man who hired this little dictator in the first place and is now disappointed with his record and preformance as the chief law officer in the county.

    What a record stands out in his accomplishments? Not charging a deputy for careless stashing of a weapon resulting in the death of his son, charging a young girl with neg. homicide for feeding her friend liquor and failure to charge a bar patron of homicide after a vidio clearly showing a deadly sucker punch.

    Wow, he's increased the DUI conviction rate. More people for Cascade Circle and caught up in the county system of fines and convictions. Hooray for lil' ol Jerry who's too good to take off his metal laden shoes to enter the court house. Bennito sends his deputys, who sometimes get drunk in public at the now defunct Club H2O, to try his important cases. The staff turnover is larger than in the past. Where's the stellar record Mr. Benito? I don't see it. It's all smoke and mirrors.

    • Avatar Budd Hodges says:

      And wow…you convicted Nancy Buffum, the Redding mayor, on charges of misuse of funds. She did the time at home wih an ankle bracelet after your big bad conviction. What a notable crime, you'll surly go down in history for that big win.

      Give it up Jerry. Put your heavy shoes on.

  20. Avatar Nathan says:

    Don't be fooled by the mess of lies that spews from the mouths of Benito supporters.

    A vote for Benito is a vote for everything that's wrong with Shasta County's criminal justice system.

  21. Avatar Peter says:

    Has Carlton spent the last few years defending criminals or not? Do we want someone in the DA's office coming in from that side and mind set of getting law breakers set free?

    • Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

      So Peter..Benito stood by while over 30 Shasta County real estate,
      mortgage, escrow, title and appraisers stole homeowners homes.
      He actually told these homeowners the sale, lease-back agreements
      they signed were LEGAL. Adam's killer. Just how many and
      what law breakers are you talking about?

      The FBI did not agree with Jerry's take on the mortgage matters either,
      charges have just been filed in Sacramento, no thanks to Jerry Benito.

      Watch for the next Multi-Million lawsuit that is slapped on Shasta County
      when that investigation is over too.

      DA Gerry Benito's office and term has been a JUSTICE TRAIN WREAK
      For Shasta County.

      Now if your head can be spun around far enough for you to still vote
      for him so be it.

      Steve Carlton will get my vote.

  22. Avatar Earl Allen Boek says:

    Correction above…don't know how many local agents were involved
    yet, but over 30 homes were taken illegally. Where was Mr. Benito?

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