GANG AND CONSPIRACY CHARGES DISMISSED AFTER CONTRA COSTA DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESENTS FALSE EVIDENCE OF GANG MEMBERSHIP
Martinez, California—August 7, 2015—Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Trevor White threw out gang and conspiracy charges this afternoon against twenty-five year old Richmond, California native, JB Yancy, III. The battle for his freedom was long and tough. “Yancy spent roughly ten months in jail fighting his case, winning rounds and having to fight again,” described his attorney, Qiana Washington. Initially, Yancy was charged along with others in a large drug sweep of thirty-one young black men in North Richmond. The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office charged these young men with special gang allegations and charges even though their “expert witness,” an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, admitted they did not actually work together or share profits but their presence kept other would-be drug dealers from selling drugs in the North Richmond area. The young men were labeled as “NARF” gang members. At the beginning of the case, Yancy was charged alone for an alleged drug sale to an informant. After the preliminary hearing, the magistrate judge threw out the gang charges and allegations, finding insufficient evidence to hold Yancy on those charges. Soon after, the District Attorney’s Office convened a secret grand jury proceeding and obtained an indictment against many of the young men. In a strategic error, the Contra Costa County Drug Unit brazenly withheld evidence of Yancy’s innocence from the grand jury. A grand jury proceeding is one-sided in which an accused is not entitled to representation or an opportunity to present evidence in his favor. The law requires the prosecution to present evidence of innocence to the grand jury but many prosecutors fail to do so. Yancy only found out about his indictment after he had notified the court that he sought a speedy trial on the original charges. “I found out about it in an email from the Deputy District Attorney,” Washington said. The indictment added charges of conspiracy, gang enhancements, and charged Yancy with the crimes of three other codefendants with which Yancy had little-to-no connection. If convicted, Yancy faced roughly seventeen years in prison compared to the five years he was facing prior to the indictment. In order to free him from the charges unrelated to his actions, Washington had to litigate a motion to dismiss those charges based on false testimony at the grand jury proceedings. Nearly six months after the original motion to dismiss the charges was filed, Yancy finally received the ruling he had been waiting for. “The tactics used in this case were atrocious and many of the codefendants pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for gang membership even though no such gang existed. They had been in custody for a long time and wanted to go home. Who can blame them? Luckily Yancy stayed the course and was vindicated,” Washington stated.