• Ryan Alexander Gardinier, 28, of Auburn, pleaded innocent Jan. 13 to charges of assault with a deadly weapon, committing lewd or lascivious acts on a person and willful infliction of corporal injury. Gardinier was arrested Jan. 10 for allegedly sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend and holding her prisoner in his car overnight.
According to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, Gardinier dated the 46-year-old Grass Valley woman last year.
The two had reportedly decided to talk about the status of their relationship, and Gardinier drove her to Steep Hollow, which is near Lowell Hill Road. He then assaulted the victim and physically battered her, according to authorities. The suspect kept his car locked and the woman was not able to escape. Afterward, both fell asleep in the car. The victim woke up before Gardinier and was able to unlock his car and slip out. A Jan. 20 felony conference and Jan. 27 preliminary hearing have been scheduled.
• Roy D. Gault, 50, of Lakeport, pleaded innocent Jan. 13 to charges of assault, assault with a deadly weapon, failing to stop after an accident and reckless driving while fleeing from police. Gault was arrested after a series of pursuits between Penn valley and Auburn on Jan. 9. He is suspected of playing a key role in a recent rash of thefts and burglaries in Lake Wildwood, authorities said.
Gault’s capture came when Nevada County investigators attempted to arrest him at the Penn Valley Chevron Station on Pleasant Valley Road on a no-bail warrant for not appearing in court on previous charges of drug possession.
They surrounded his car with their vehicles, but he sped up and rammed two officers’ vehicles and knocked an officer over. Gault then reportedly sped away at 50 mph, running a red light at a major intersection. He was spotted a short time later on Highway 49. A California Highway Patrol helicopter and Placer County deputies joined in the pursuit. He eventually pulled over.
A Jan. 27 felony conference has been set.
• Two of three suspects from a North San Juan chop shop operation pleaded innocent to the charges against them.
Gregory M. Amberson, 28, pleaded innocent to charges of vehicle theft and possession of stolen property.
Sandra Kay Hunter, 41, pleaded innocent to charges of operating a chop shop, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance and possession for sale, and possession of marijuana and possession for sale.
Their alleged partner, David A. Birge, 38, has yet to plead to charges of operating a chop shop, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance and possession for sale, and possession of marijuana and possession for sale.
On Jan. 5, investigators from all of western Nevada County’s law enforcement agencies broke up the alleged chop shop operation in North San Juan, on Grizzly Hill Road.Stolen vehicles from throughout the state were discovered, authorities said. Evidence of the illegal operation included numerous vehicles being broken down and several bumpers found at the scene, according to a news release. About eight pounds of marijuana bud were also found on the property.
During the search, 56-year-old Terry H. Miser drove up to the residence and was arrested. Miser pleaded innocent Jan. 13 to charges of possession of an illegal weapon, having a loaded concealed weapon without a permit, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a syringe.
• A five-day jury trial has been scheduled for Feliciano Villarreal, 70. Villarreal faces eight counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts on three girls who were younger than 14 when the crimes occurred. The crimes allegedly took place during the past seven years.
The trial is scheduled to begin Jun 1, with a May 24 trial readiness conference and a April 29 pretrial conference.
• A three-day jury trial has been set for Ivan Sigala, 22, of Grass Valley. He faces charges of robbery, battery and theft stemming from an October arrest. Sigala reportedly emptied out the tip jar at Sergio’s Caffe. A cashier noticed the jar was empty and stepped outside, where she saw the robber and tried to stop him. He got away but was caught two blocks away on Mill Street. The trial is scheduled to start May 24, with a May 13 trial readiness conference.
• A three-day jury trial has been scheduled for Christopher Rex, 19, who faces charges of robbery, petty theft and battery stemming from a Nov. 27 arrest. Rex and alleged accomplice Ryan Anthony Cetti are accused of punching a friend unconscious to get his medication. They allegedly drove the friend to a location near Freeman Lane, where they jumped him.
Cetti pleaded no contest to several charges in a plea deal with prosecutors and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 17.
Rex’s trial is set to start April 12, with an April 1 trial readiness conference and a Jan. 28 pretrial conference.
• William Arnberg, 29, pleaded no contest Jan. 18 to one charge of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or co-habitant, stemming from an Aug. 12 arrest. Another charge of false imprisonment will be dropped at his sentencing, scheduled for March 7.
• David D. Drake pleaded no contest Jan. 18 to two counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts on a minor. Another charge of committing lewd acts will be dropped at his sentencing, scheduled for March 7. His trial has been canceled.
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