Two decades have passed since Romero Angel Saucedo found himself unlocking a safe for a gunman who happened to be London Breed’s brother. But the fear he felt has resurfaced now that the same man is trying to reduce his sentence for the crimes he committed all those years ago.
In an interview with The Standard, Saucedo, 59, said memories are still vivid from the Father’s Day night in 2000 when he and his coworkers at a Marina burger joint were targeted in an armed robbery by Napoleon Brown—and he fears for his safety if his assailant is let out of prison.
Brown asked a San Francisco judge to reduce his sentence for a series of crimes that ended with his girlfriend dying in a car crash on the Golden Gate Bridge.
The case made headlines for its link to Breed, but also because the mayor’s appointment of Brooke Jenkins as district attorney created a conflict of interest in Brown’s request for resentencing.
On Monday, a judge rejected an attempt to get the entire DA’s Office to recuse itself from the matter, saying firewalls between Jenkins and Brown’s case are enough to address the conflict.
Saucedo said he was fine with the resentencing review.
“I think everybody deserves a second chance,” he said.
But he changed his mind when his family reminded him of the fear he felt about testifying—and the time someone made a veiled threat.
“Make sure you don’t testify against Napoleon,” Saucedo recalls a man telling him after a hearing in the case. To drive home the point, the man reminded Saucedo that he knew where he worked.
Those memories still haunt him.
"I got hit by the gun, so for many many years I would wake up and cry, remembering that incident,” Saucedo said.
Saucedo’s change of heart about the resentencing comes amid a broader shift in public opinion toward tough-on-crime policies.
Marc Zilversmit, Brown’s attorney, said his client was addicted to drugs when he committed those crimes and has since accepted responsibility.
“Napoleon is very remorseful of all the pain and anguish he inflicted on the robbery victims,” Zilversmit said.
Zilversmit noted how Brown was sentenced before the state shifted away from the harsher penalties that filled its jails and prisons.
Saucedo said he only found out about the sentencing review when a victim’s advocate from the District Attorney’s Office told him last fall. The DA’s Office has said it plans to oppose Brown’s resentencing request.
The degree to which Saucedo’s thoughts will play into Judge Brendan Conroy’s final decision remains to be seen. But as a victim, he has the right to come to court and make his position known.
Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at [email protected]