OAKLAND — An Alameda County District Attorney’s Office unit formed earlier this year to hold law enforcement and public officials accountable for misconduct has filed criminal charges against a juvenile institutional officer and two sheriff’s deputies.
The officer — 50-year-old Nicole Perales — is accused of lewd and lascivious acts with a child and oral copulation with a minor, while the deputies — 49-year-old Sheri Baughman and 30-year-old Amanda Barcamontes — are accused of falsifying records in connection with an inmate suicide at the Santa Rita Jail, according to prosecutors.
They are among the first county employees to be criminally charged by the nascent Public Accountability Unit.
In a statement Friday, the district attorney’s office said Perales, a 20-year veteran of the probation department, met the 15-year-old victim when he was in custody at the Juvenile Justice Center and while he was under her supervision and care. The alleged conduct took place from Aug. 27, 2004, to Aug. 26, 2005, according to prosecutors.
If convicted of the charges, Perales could get up to three years and eight months in prison.
Braughman and Barcamontes were supposed to perform visual checks every half hour on 32-year-old Vinetta Martin, a “special management inmate” who told jail employees she was planning to die by suicide three weeks before her death, the district attorney’s office said. On April 3, 2021, Martin used a bed sheet to hang herself.
According to prosecutors, the deputies doctored the logbooks to make it appear as though they were following procedure, when video evidence showed they “repeatedly failed to check on Ms. Martin for extended periods, sometimes as long as one hour and 47 minutes.”
Martin had been in custody since July 5, 2020, when she was arrested on suspicion of assault, the district attorney’s office said. Later that month, the court declared a doubt about whether she was competent to stand trial and suspended criminal proceedings. She was still awaiting evaluation and transfer to a state hospital at the time of her death.
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District Attorney Pamela Price formed the PAU in January. Its mission, according to the statement, is to restore public trust by holding law enforcement and public officials accountable for misconduct. The unit, which falls under the umbrella of the Civil Rights Bureau, also handles Brady compliance and Racial Justice Act cases.