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  • emailed by Andrew Acosta

    Maggy Krell, Todd Leras and Anne Marie Schubert

  • courtesy Anne Marie Schubert

    Anne Marie Schubert a Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney, candidate for Distrct Attorney 2014

  • emailed by Andrew Acosta

    Small File Maggy Krell, candidate for Sacramento County Disrict Attorney

Schubert, Krell slug it out over pimping case

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2014 - 11:00 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 3, 2014 - 10:56 am

Anne Marie Schubert’s campaign for district attorney has launched an attack on opponent Maggy Krell over Krell’s handling of a pimping and pandering prosecution that resulted in a county jail placement for a defendant who qualified for a state prison sentence.

Schubert, a Sacramento County deputy district attorney running for the office’s top job, called Krell’s work on the pimping case as a deputy state attorney general “yet another example of her lack of experience.”

Krell shot back that the Schubert campaign is “playing politics” with a sensitive investigation that hasn’t run its course. She said if the DA’s Office “spent half as much time actually working these cases up instead of attacking me, I think our county would be better off.”

The Schubert campaign zeroed in on last year’s state attorney general prosecution of Jorge Estuardo Perez-Hernandez in response to a Krell campaign event last week at which she said the District Attorney’s Office isn’t doing enough to combat the “human trafficking” of women in Sacramento for purposes of prostitution. Outgoing District Attorney Jan Scully, who has endorsed Schubert, denounced Krell as either “misrepresenting” the DA’s Office or being “ignorant of what the office does.”

One top political professional in Sacramento said it was legitimate for the Schubert campaign to highlight the case because Krell brought the issue of human trafficking into the campaign. But the consultant, Phil Giarrizzo, said he doesn’t think the attack will move many voters as they assess Schubert, Krell and the third candidate in the race, former local and federal prosecutor Todd Leras.

“You can talk about experience and you can talk about qualifications, but will voters judge someone by one case? I think the answer is no,” Giarrizzo said. “The administration of justice and the prosecution of crimes is a really complicated business. I think people are going to look to a variety of things in addition to experience – legal scholarship, leadership abilities, qualifications, values. In a primary, people will evaluate people on their totalities, not on this kind of argument over whether one case was handled properly.”

Perez-Hernandez, 38, is one of three men who pleaded guilty or no-contest in a pimping and pandering conspiracy where Sacramento-based women who came to the region from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia were transported by the defendants to brothels here and in Yuba City, Fairfield and Chico.

In the case filed by Krell on Jan. 28, 2013, each of the three entered pleas April 26. Under the state’s realignment law, which has sought to shift more inmates from state to local supervision, Superior Court Judge Steve White sentenced them May 24 to three-year terms in county jail. People convicted under the pimping statutes, however, are excluded from realignment consideration because they are required to register as sex offenders.

Sent to the Sacramento County’s Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center, Perez-Hernandez came to the attention of the local DA’s Office when deputies found him Oct. 11 in possession of a shank – “a Sharpened Piece of Metal Attached to a Pencil,” it said in the complaint.

Local prosecutors then learned about last year’s pimping conspiracy filed by Krell.

At a Dec. 5 settlement conference, Deputy District Attorney Brad Ng told Judge Richard K. Sueyoshi he couldn’t make an offer to Perez-Hernandez for possession of the shank because the defendant “was inadvertently sentenced to the county jail prison and it would be an illegal sentence.” Ng said in court that Perez-Hernandez first needed to be “properly sentenced” on the pimping case, according to a transcript of the settlement conference.

Perez-Hernandez eventually pleaded no contest to possession of the shank, and on Feb. 14, Judge White added a year to the three years the defendant was already serving for the pimping conspiracy.

Schubert said she became aware of Perez-Hernandez because “it was a case that had an impact on our office. Somebody obviously told me. I don’t know who.”

She said the Perez-Hernandez case gives voters an opportunity to examine an issue she has sought to highlight in the DA’s race – the qualifications and experience of the candidates.

“This race is about who is the most qualified, and I’m confident that person is me,” said Schubert, 50, who has 24 years of prosecutorial experience. She said that Krell, who is 35 and has been a prosecutor for 11 years, “lacks the qualifications.”

Schubert’s campaign manager, David Gilliard, was even more pointed in his remarks.

“The bottom line is that ... Krell is making human trafficking a major issue in her campaign, yet she bungled one of the only trafficking cases she has ever handled, apparently because she does not even know the law,” Gilliard wrote in an email to The Bee last week after Krell’s press conference. “So when Maggie wants to accuse a prosecutor of being lax on human trafficking, she needs to go no further than her own bathroom mirror.”

Krell called the Schubert campaign’s attack “ludicrous.”

“My concern on this case was getting Hernandez in custody and keeping him there so that we could continue this investigation, monitor his contacts locally and move this case up the chain,” Krell said. “Our goal is to prosecute high-level pimps and traffickers.”

Krell said the Schubert campaign “very well could be” jeopardizing the ongoing investigation in the case. “We had investigative reasons,” she said, for wanting to keep Perez-Hernandez in Sacramento. He is now housed at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy.

According to a probation report filed on Perez-Hernandez, state and federal agents began working the case in early 2012 when an anonymous tipster contacted the National Human Trafficking Resource Center with information that operators in Sacramento were circulating business cards advertising the availability of prostitution services in the area.

Agents then learned of brothels operating in Sacramento, Yuba City and Fairfield where women charged $40 for 15 minutes of intercourse and split the proceeds evenly with the men who set them up in the houses, the report said.

Investigators found out that Perez-Hernandez circulated the business cards on the streets, at swap meets and at a Home Depot, and that he drove the women to the different locations, according to his probation report. Detained on an immigration hold, he told FBI agents last year how the operation worked, the report said. Then he pleaded guilty.

In an interview with probation officials before his sentencing, Perez-Hernandez said, “I didn’t manage the house. The owner asked me for help for a few days and threatened me if I didn’t keep helping. The owner is not caught and now we are paying for it. The FBI spoke to me about this and I know there are more homes.”

A source close to the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation said the filing on Perez-Hernandez was “a smaller thing that’s part of a bigger thing.”

Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.

Read more articles by Andy Furillo

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