Three Alameda County law enforcement officers have been charged with felonies by the District Attorney’s Public Accountability Unit. Among those charged was Juvenile Institutional Officer Nicole Perales, who is accused of oral copulation of a minor.
District Attorney Pamela Price announced the charges Friday in a press release.
Perales, 50, has been working in the Alameda County Probation Department since 2001. She is accused of oral copulation with a minor under the age of 16, whom she met when he was in custody at the Alameda Juvenile Justice Center and while he was under her supervision and care.
The unlawful sexual contact allegedly took place from August 2004 through August 2005. As an employee who works with children in the criminal justice system, Perales is characterized as an officer in “a position of trust,” the DA’s Office said. She also faces charges of willfully and unlawfully performing a lewd and lascivious act upon the same child, who was 15 at that time.
If convicted, she could face up to three years and 8 months behind bars and would be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.
Meanwhile, Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Sheri Baughman, 49, and Deputy Amanda Bracamontes, 30, were charged with falsifying records in connection with a suicide at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
On April 3, 2021, Vinetta Martin, 32, hung herself with a bedsheet in her cell. Prosecutors say the deputies were supposed to conduct direct visual observation checks every 30 minutes on Martin as she was a “special management inmate” who told staff she was planning to commit suicide three weeks before her death.
Martin was discovered unconscious on the floor. She was pronounced dead at Stanford Valley Care Medical Center in Pleasanton.
Baughman and Bracamontes doctored logbooks to make it appear as though they followed the procedure for direct visual observation, prosecutors said. But video evidence showed they repeatedly failed to check on Martin for extended periods, sometimes as long as one hour and 47 minutes, contrary to their certifications, the prosecutors said.
Martin had been in custody since July 5, 2020, when she was arrested for an alleged assault. On July 24, 2020, amid doubts about Martin's competency to stand trial, the court suspended the criminal proceedings. At the time of her death, almost a year later, Martin was still in jail, awaiting evaluation and transfer to the Department of State Hospitals in Napa, according to prosecutors.
The law enforcement officers could not be reached for comment in time for publication.
Joe Burn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org