The case against a former San Mateo County sheriff’s deputy being charged for allegedly helping to smuggle cellphones and prescription drugs into county jail was dismissed Friday after a judge ruled evidence that could have showed he did not commit the crime should have been presented to a criminal grand jury.
But District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Judge Donald Ayoob is imposing a burden on the prosecution that the law does not require. He said prosecutors informed grand jury members of letters an inmate wrote recanting his testimony connecting Juan Pablo Lopez, 54, with a cellphone involved in the case, and were not required to present them unless the jury asked to see them. He disagreed with Judge Donald Ayoob’s ruling that prosecutors had a duty to present the letters, and said prosecutors may consider refiling the case or appealing the decision.
“We feel the judge made a very serious error in his ruling,” he said. “We will assess it the coming days.”
On Dec. 16, 2015, Lopez and two county jail correctional officers, George Ismael and Michael Del Carlo, were accused of providing cellphones and drugs to inmate Dionicio Rafael Lopez Jr., who was also indicted along with Leticia Lopez, Amanda Lopez and Roxanne Ingebretsen, according to prosecutors.
On Nov. 17, the case against Del Carlo was dismissed after Ayoob granted his motion to dismiss over strenuous prosecution objection, according to prosecutors.
Once a write-in candidate for county sheriff, Lopez is also being accused of embezzlement, perjury and election fraud based on allegations he used donations from his campaign for his own personal use and lied about his city of residence, according to prosecutors.
Lopez listed his residence as being in Redwood City but allegedly was living in Newark when he filed to run for sheriff in 2014. He is also being accused of misrepresenting his address on a real estate loan, according to prosecutors.
Lopez will next appear in court Jan. 25 to set a new jury trial date for the embezzlement, perjury and election fraud charges and is out of custody on a $170,000 bail bond, according to prosecutors.
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