A former California Highway Patrol assistant chief and his estranged wife pleaded no contest on Monday in Fresno Superior Court to a felony conspiracy charge for helping their son escape to Mexico during his rape trial in 2012.
After their pleas, Judge John “Nip” Gallagher ordered Kyle and Gail Scarber to each perform 500 hours of community service and pay a total of $10,000 in restitution to the state of California for its criminal investigation.
Their daughter, Crystal Reynoso, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor conspiracy charge. She was ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.
Under the plea agreement, Kyle and Gail Scarber and Reynoso delayed their sentencing hearing to June 7 next year, said Fresno defense lawyer Roger Nuttall. If they complete their community service and pay the restitution, Kyle and Gail Scarber will have their conviction reduced to a misdemeanor and Reynoso’s conviction will be dismissed, Nuttall said.
“It’s been a long hard road for them,” said Nuttall who represents Gail Scarber. “They wanted to move on with their lives.”
In March last year, Judge W. Kent Hamlin ordered the Scarbers and Reynoso, to stand trial on felony charges of conspiring and aiding in Spencer Scarber’s failure to appear in court for his rape trial, which ended with him being convicted in absentia.
Gail Scarber also faces additional felony charges of forgery for allegedly manufacturing a false birth certificate for her son and forging a seal of the Orange County Recorder’s Office. In addition, Kyle Scarber was charged with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor, for reporting his son missing after the family’s car reportedly crossed into Mexico.
In his ruling, Hamlin said Kyle Scarber lied when he called authorities on the morning of Dec. 12, 2012, to report his son was missing – and possibly kidnapped – when he knew Spencer Scarber already had crossed into Mexico.
Hamlin also said the evidence suggested that Kyle Scarber staged a crime scene outside his Squaw Valley home to make it appear that his son had been kidnapped.
In addition, Hamlin said, the evidence suggests that Kyle Scarber drove his son to either Selma or Kingsburg on the night of Dec. 11, 2012, to rendezvous with his wife, Gail Scarber, and daughter Crystal Reynoso. Gail Scarber and Reynoso then drove Spencer into Mexico.
While in Mexico, Spencer Scarber dyed his hair, grew a goatee, used fake identification and disguised himself in hopes he would not be found, authorities said.
On Dec. 14, 2012, a jury deliberated two hours before convicting him in absentia of five felony charges of rape, burglary and robbery stemming from an attack on a 35-year-old housekeeper at a neighbor’s home. Two months later, Mexican authorities captured him in Acapulco. He was brought back to Fresno and sentenced to 35 years to life in prison.
Court records say Gail Scarber filed for divorce in May this year.
On Monday, Nuttall said the Scarbers contended that their son never received a fair trial, which was initially prosecuted by former District Attorney’s Elizabeth Egan’s staff.
In court papers, Kyle Scarber said Egan’s office should not have prosecuted his son because Kyle Scarber said he once had an affair with Egan before she became Fresno’s top prosecutor. He also said it was unfair that the Sheriff’s Office investigated his son because Kyle Scarber said he had plans to run against Sheriff Margaret Mims.
Egan’s staff prosecuted Spencer Scarber for four months before they turned the case over to the state Attorney General’s Office. But even then, according to court records, the state prosecutor, Leanne LeMon, was married to Carl Monopoli, who was a prosecutor in Egan’s office. Monopoli remains a prosecutor for current District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp. LeMon is currently a Fresno Superior Court judge.
If Kyle and Gail Scarbers’ and Reynoso’s case had gone to a trial, Nuttall said he had a viable “necessity defense.” He said jurors would have learned that Spencer Scarber had been beaten severely by vigilantes before his arrest. Then during his trial, Spencer Scarber received a threatening note a day before he was scheduled to testify, Nuttall said.
“They feared for his safety,” Nuttall said.