Former VC Sheriff’s deputy sentenced for stereo speaker theft

June 16, 2000
Santa Paula News
A former Ventura County Sheriff’s deputy pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of taking stereo speakers from the scene of a fatal accident. James Christopher Bridges, 29 of Santa Paula, was sentenced June 2 to 160 hours of community service on a charge of appropriating lost property, two stereo speakers that had been thrown from the trunk of a vehicle driven by Raymond Griffin, 22 of Ventura.Griffin was killed instantly on Dec. 3, 1999, when his vehicle rolled over on top of him on Highway 126 near Fillmore at about 9:30 p.m.When relatives and Griffin’s fiancee went to claim his possessions at the Fillmore towing company where the vehicle was stored, they reported that the speakers - valued at about $200 were missing. They reported the loss to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and the loss was traced back to Bridges after an investigation.Bridges was placed on paid administrative leave and subsequently resigned from the sheriff’s department.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Steven Hintz gave Bridges a six month jail sentence, but suspended it as long as Bridge’s completes 160 hours of community service at St. Bonaventure High School, as recommended by the Probation Department. Bridges, married with four children, will also have to submit to random probation searches for stolen property.Howard Lieberman, Bridges’ attorney, told Judge Hintz that Bridges used poor judgment in taking the speakers and now will suffer the negative impacts - including the loss of his law enforcement career - that will last his entire life.Misdemeanor appropriation of lost property is based on the acquisition of lost or stolen property without trying to find the lawful owner even though it could be reasonably traced. Prosecutor John West said that it would have been obvious to Bridges that the stereo speakers had been thrown from Griffin’s vehicle.

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