Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell has filed four misdemeanor charges against Pascale Fusshoeller relating to an Oct. 8 traffic stop when the YubaNet editor allegedly ran a stop sign and was found without a license or insurance and impersonated her spouse, Susan Levitz.
Fusshoeller was charged with giving a police officer false information, driving a vehicle without a license, driving without insurance and failing to stop at an intersection.
Initially, California Highway Patrol Officers booked Fusshoeller on a felony charge of false impersonation, but Newell’s office elected not to pursue the felony count.
“I’m not going to charge anybody with a felony for a traffic violation,” he said. “She has no criminal history.”
Newell said felony impersonation charges are typically restricted to cases where someone steals another’s identity with malicious intent and to gain advantage, usually financial, along with it.
Fusshoeller is due in court Nov. 18 for an arraignment.
A native of Luxembourg, Fusshoeller was nearly deported after the arrest when it was discovered she had been living in the United States without an appropriate visa for nearly 15 years.
Levitz said she married Fusshoeller in July, and the couple was in the process of getting immigration papers in order when the arrest occurred.
In the aftermath of the arrest, reports surfaced indicating Fusshoeller’s situation was dire, and deportation was imminent.
A wellspring of support issued from the community — a Facebook page called “Let’s Support Pascale” was launched, a petition to stop the possible deportation was drafted and people were encouraged to call and write to California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
Fusshoeller rose to prominence in western Nevada County through the administration of her news-oriented website YubaNet.com, which she runs in collaboration with Levitz.
She is also widely regarded as one of the foremost reporters on wildland fires in California and the American West.
Ultimately, Fusshoeller was released Oct. 15 after spending a week in various California penitentiary buildings and offices.
Fusshoeller described her release as inexplicable and said recently that she remains in “legal limbo.”
Newell said he did not know how the four misdemeanor charges would affect Fusshoeller’s immigration status but noted the charges “are not exactly crimes of moral turpitude.”
California Organics will host a fundraiser for Fusshoeller to support her legal defense fund. The event will be 6-8 p.m., Nov. 10. Fifty percent of all food and drink sales at the party will be donated to Fusshoeller’s legal defense.
A recent unscientific poll conducted on The Union’s website demonstrates that 49 percent of respondents believe Fusshoeller should stay in Nevada County despite her legal troubles, with another 47 percent saying that her contributions should not have weight in light of her breaking multiple laws.
The remaining 4 percent responded to the option, “Who is Pascale?”
Fusshoeller’s immigration attorney, Jim Byrne, could not be reached for comment as of press time.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.