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Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig
From the Desk of the DA:

Yolo County Leaders Stand In Solidarity Against Hate
 
 
On November 26, 2016,  the Islamic Center of Davis received a hate-filled and threatening letter. Several other Islamic organizations across the state were also sent the same letter.  This disturbing trend was addressed at a press conference led by the Yolo County District Attorney's Multi-Cultural Community Council, as well as many other county officials and leaders.

We will not tolerate hate. Hate crimes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and we are committed to ensuring that our diverse citizenry in Yolo County feels safe.  We are encouraging everyone to say something if you see something.  If you see a hate incident, report it.  We will act. 
Yolo County leaders deliver a message denouncing hate in their communities.
O'Reilly Auto Parts
O'Reilly Auto Parts to Pay $9.86 Million in Hazardous Waste Case

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, along with 50 other California District Attorneys, announced that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Seligman has ordered the Missouri-based O’Reilly Auto Parts to pay $9.86 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution. The District Attorneys alleged O’Reilly mishandled hazardous waste.

The consent judgment agreed to by O’Reilly Auto Enterprises, LLC, O’Reilly Automotive, Inc., O’Reilly Automotive Stores, Inc., and Ozark Automotive Distributors, Inc., resolves allegations made in a civil enforcement lawsuit filed November 17, 2016, in Alameda County. The case was led by the District Attorneys of Yolo, Alameda, Ventura, San Joaquin, San Francisco, Monterey, Riverside, San Diego and Solano Counties. The lawsuit claimed that more than 525 O’Reilly stores throughout the state unlawfully handled, transported, and disposed of used oil, used oil filters, and various hazardous wastes and materials over a five-year period. Those hazardous wastes and materials included automotive fluids, alkaline batteries, electronic waste, aerosol cans, and other toxic, ignitable, and corrosive wastes.

“Today’s settlement is a significant victory in our efforts to make the environment cleaner and safer for the citizens of Yolo County and throughout California,” said District Attorney Reisig. “This settlement is another example of the effective partnership between our office, other district attorney offices, and environmental regulators statewide in enforcing California’s environment laws.”

For the rest of this press release visit our website: http://yoloda.org/oreilly-auto-parts-pay-9-86-million-hazardous-waste-case/

Out in the Community
Deputy District Attorney Diane Ortiz judging the rib cook off challenge between Woodland Police Department and Woodland Fire Department.
Tractor spraying pesticides, similar to the incident that occurred at Bypass Farms
The Fallout of
Pesticide Spray Drift

For employees of Michel Farm Labor Contract, it was supposed to be a routine day of work. Ten employees arrived around 6 a.m. to Bypass Farms, which was a new site to them, and they were taken to a young pistachio orchard to tie the trees. All was well until 9 a.m. when disaster hit. The employees were walking on a dirt path between the pistachio orchard, where they had been working, and a walnut orchard on their way to the break area, when suddenly pesticides from a tractor spraying the walnuts hit all ten of them. Almost immediately, they began feeling symptoms of pesticide exposure, including nausea, headaches, and tingly or burning sensations on their exposed skin. A couple of them threw up or passed out on the scene, and later at the hospital, too. The farm failed to notify them of the spraying, so they were completely unaware of what was coming. Additionally, the farm is right next to the Sacramento Airport, so it is always noisy and was difficult to hear the tractor over the roar of the planes, and the windy conditions of the day did not help their cause, pushing the pesticide their direction. They ultimately had to stop working and they drove themselves to the Woodland ER, where things only got worse.

Upon arriving to the hospital, they were instructed to remove all their clothing, jewelry, shoes, and personal belongings. Due to contamination, they did not receive any of these items back. They lost clothes, wallets, and even pictures of their beloved families. Expensive work boots, wallets with cash, jewelry, and much more was lost. On top of losing personal items, they also lost time and wages from missing work due to sickness as a  result of the contamination, which was a heavy burden for all of the families. However, what was probably the most upsetting thing was the embarrassment they felt and the loss of their dignity.

The hospital was a whirlwind and upsetting experience for all of them. First, it was extremely difficult to communicate with the hospital workers and they struggled to understand what was going on. Their translators used complex medical terminology that only overwhelmed and confused them all. They had a hard time interpreting what they were being told, making the already dreadful situation worse. Additionally, the contamination showers took place in the hospital parking lot in broad daylight. They were all naked while getting the pesticides hosed off of their bodies, completely exposed to anyone in the surrounding area. They felt no sense of privacy or respect in this situation, and they were all deeply embarrassed, on top of being upset over the contamination and loss of their personal belongings.

While it was a distressing experience that happened to them, they know it will not happen again to any future workers at Bypass Farms. After this incident, they were notified that Bypass Farms cooperated with the investigators on their case, and that they will be paid back for their lost belongings and wages. Bypass Farms also has adopted new policies to prevent any more violations of pesticide safety requirements. This includes giving all workers radios, so they can communicate when pesticides will be sprayed and notify those working so they can avoid them. Although the employees went through a traumatic experience and lost a great amount of dignity, they find peace and solidarity in knowing that procedures were created to protect workers and prevent another situation like theirs from occurring.

YCDA Enforcement Officer Kevin Clark with a senior from the community
Beware of Aggressive
Collections Companies

District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced recently that his Elder Protection Division was successful in assisting a long time local senior citizen.

The 89-year-old senior citizen, and resident of Woodland, CA, recently placed a call to the Yolo DA Fraud Hotline. She complained that she had received a very threatening letter from a collections company about an outstanding medical bill. She believed that her insurance and Medicare had paid the bill off. However upon contacting the collections company she was told in a harsh tone that she still owed the money.

DA Elder Protection Enforcement Officer Kevin Clark handled her complaint and by the end of his interactions with them, the collections company realized that the request for payment was a billing discrepancy that resulted in the bill's cancellation by the collections company. 

This investigation resulted in the implementation of several positive changes for the collections company regarding their collections practices. In addition to rectifying the situation, the company changed its collections letter and voicemail recording scripts in order to convey a softer, more approachable tone, that would not come across as threatening. The collections company's previous practice was to send their first collection notice with the term "FINAL NOTICE" clearly written at the top.  Under the new practice, the company has agreed to send multiple notices before they post a “FINAL NOTICE” claim against the patients involved.

Although a common role of the Elder Protection unit is to be reactive and to provide follow up on complaints, the more important role is to be proactive by providing education on fraud awareness and prevention to local seniors.  In addition to educating seniors, the division focuses on teaching “best practices” to companies that interact with senior citizens.

The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office encourages the public to be vigilant when receiving suspicious phone calls and letters in the mail. Also, Legal Services of Northern California has its Senior Link program to help those facing disputes which are not criminal in nature and can be reached at (916) 551-2140. Lastly for those who are suspecting fraud of any kind, you can call the Yolo County District Attorney’s Fraud Hotline at (530) 666-8416 or file a fraud report at http://yoloda.org/fraud-reporting.

New Faces

(From top to bottom) The Yolo County District Attorney welcomed our newest members Stephanie Maldonado and Ashley McClure, who will be assisting the Victim Services Program. Welcome to the YCDA team!

Also later in the month we welcomed volunteer attorney Ashley Harvey, who passed the California Bar Exam and is now assisting the YCDA Consumer and Environmental Fraud Division. 


Recently, we also had a swearing in ceremony for our interns Ahnna Reicks and Karly McCrory who recently passed the California Bar Exam as well and are assisting the office in criminal prosecutions. 

Yolo County DA #MannequinChallenge
The Yolo County District Attorney Staff participated in the Mannequin Challenge. Watch this video and see our staff frozen in time as we move around the office. 
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