Nevada County judge keeps bail at $100K in smoke shop assault case
Ranjit Singh, accused of trying to ply a woman with alcohol before touching her in a smoke shop, could face another, similar accusation, Nevada County prosecutors said.
Deputy District Attorney Ed Grubaugh said during a Tuesday bail hearing for Singh that he’ll likely charge the 62-year-old man with misdemeanor sexual battery. That’s in addition to Singh’s existing felony charge of assault with the intent to commit oral copulation.
Grubaugh argued the new charge, along with the June 23 assault accusation, warranted keeping his bail at $100,000. Visiting Superior Court Judge Jane York Punneo agreed after hearing from Grubaugh and the 20-year-old victim.
“I’ve never been in this situation before,” she told the judge. “I’m worried he is in close proximity to a lot of schools in the area.
“I’m just not comfortable with him being in the community I grew up in,” she added moments later. “It makes me not want to go back into that area.”
Singh’s defense attorney, Kulvinder Singh, argued his client initially faced kidnapping and false imprisonment charges. Prosecutors opted against pursuing those felony accusations. He noted his client is a grandfather, and a handful of his relatives appeared in court on Tuesday.
“We’re asking for (release on his own recognizance),” Kulvinder Singh said. “We have everyone here who’s going to ensure that he comes.”
Punneo disagreed, pointing to the age difference between the victim and Ranjit Singh. She also said that the accusations involved planning.
Authorities have said Ranjit Singh was working at a Combie Road smoke shop on June 23 when the 20-year-old woman entered and tried to buy tobacco products.
According to reports, Ranjit Singh said she wasn’t of age to buy the tobacco. He then said he’d sell them to her in a back room, away from security cameras.
Grubaugh said on Tuesday that Ranjit Singh offered the woman alcohol and forced her into a back room, where he touched her, tried to kiss her and asked for oral sex. She pushed past him when another customer entered the store, creating a distraction.
Grubaugh also accused Ranjit Singh of committing a similar act the day before his arrest.
“It is unclear if there are additional victims out there,” he added.
Ranjit Singh is next scheduled to appear in court on July 16 for his preliminary hearing.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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