Monday: Community Meeting with SFPD to Discuss Violent Crimes in Bernal Heights

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There’s been a lot of (quite understandable) distress about the recent spate of violent crimes in Bernal Heights, including the Oct. 8 shooting in Precita Park and other rather horrific incidents like this and this.

This is not acceptable.

An emergency urgent community meeting with the San Francisco Police Department has been organized for this coming Monday night, October 17, and Neighbor Sarah has the details:

The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center and other neighbors have organized a community meeting to discuss the recent Precita Park and Bernal Dwellings shootings with SFPD.

Captain McFadden from the Ingleside Police Station and a representative from the Mission Police Station will be in attendance.

When: Monday, 10/17, 7:30-8:30pm
Where: Leonard Flynn Elementary School (on Precita Park, 3125 Cesar Chavez St, @ Harrison)

Please enter Flynn from the Harrison side of the school. The meeting will start on time and end on time.

PHOTO: Police mark bullet casings found near Precita Park on Oct. 8, by Bernalwood

Bernal Parent Beaten at Coleridge Mini-Park

A Bernal Heights parent was beaten on Wednesday night after trying to quiet a disturbance at the Coleridge Mini-Park.

A neighbor who lives near the park tells Bernalwood:

It happened Wednesday night. A couple of people (two men, one women) were hanging in the Coleridge Mini-Park. They got into a heated and loud argument between themselves. A neighbor came out and asked them to please keep it down because he was trying to put his kids to bed.

They stopped fighting with each other and started on him – screaming that this was the Mission and if he didn’t like it, he could get out, who the hell was he to tell them what to do, blah, blah, blah.

They stepped up to him and pushed him and then it went from there. Called 911 three times because it was really starting to escalate – it was three on one – they didn’t seem to be in a huge rush to get there (was told four cars were en route – only saw one initially, a second rolled up a bit later) – none had the sirens on, just the lights.

Went out to give the cops a statement as a witness and they told the neighbor that if he wanted to press charges, then the group would be involved as well (“because that’s how it works”) and he can deal with this going through the court system for the “next year or so.” They essentially discouraged them from pursuing any charges.

Honestly this was the first issue we had seen since the light had been installed. Ironically enough, we had just said to the neighbor’s wife (the one who was assaulted) that afternoon how nice it was to have the lights in the park and how much quieter it had been. I guess we jinxed it.

PHOTO: Coleridge Mini-Park, Sept. 2016

City Moves to Halt Bernal Heights Firm Accused of Defrauding Immigrants

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For the last few months, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office has been pursuing an action agains Lacayo & Associates, a Bernal Heights company that provides tax and immigration consulting from it’s office at 3330 Mission Street (near Virginia), a few doors south of the Safeway.

The City accuses Lacayo & Associates of fraud, alleging that the company has misrepresented itself as a law firm.  Yesterday, the City Attorney’s Office announced it has obtained an injunction against Lacayo & Associates:

SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 11, 2016) — A San Francisco Superior Court judge this morning granted City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s motion for a preliminary injunction ordering defendants Lacayo & Associates and its principles, Leonard Lacayo and Ada Lacayo, to immediately comply with the Immigration Consultant Act and stop unlawfully providing legal services.

In issuing the preliminary injunction, Judge Harold Kahn found that Herrera is likely to prevail on the causes of action in his suit filed in August against the defendants for misleading clients to falsely believe Mr. Lacayo was an attorney who could provide legal services in their immigration cases.

“I am grateful that the court recognized the urgency of Lacayo & Associate’s actions and ordered an immediate halt to their fraudulent operation,” said Herrera. “They preyed on the immigrant community by charging high fees for work they could not perform, even placing some of their clients at risk of deportation. Today’s court order is an important step towards bringing the Lacayos to justice and preventing other immigrants from becoming victims of their incompetent and illegal services.”

As part of the preliminary injunction, Lacayo & Associates must remove from their advertising any misleading statements about the “legal services” they provide, and give written notice to clients who received immigration related services within the past four years of the clients’ rights under California law and the fact that Leonard Lacayo is not a licensed attorney. Mr. Lacayo is also prohibited from providing any immigration-related services unless he registers with the CA secretary of state as an immigration consultant, passes a criminal background check, files a disclosure form, and posts a surety bond in the amount of $100,000.

Lacayo & Associates has been operating in San Francisco since 1986. Mr. Lacayo is a notary public but is not licensed to practice law nor registered with the state as an immigration consultant. Yet, he routinely defrauds clients by falsely representing himself as a lawyer and shoddily performing immigration-related services. Victims report that after charging thousands of dollars in fees, Mr. Lacayo would fail to ever submit their applications, or would submit applications that were denied due to inadequate preparation. In many cases it was only when clients sought assistance elsewhere that they realized that Mr. Lacayo was not an attorney and learned the true status of their cases.

If successful, the case could result in civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation and recover funds for consumers who were victimized by Lacayo & Associates’ unlawful, fraudulent, and unfair practices.

Services for victims
Victims of Lacayo & Associates who are looking for a licensed attorney to take over their case should contact the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service hotline at (415) 989-1616 and ask to speak with Antonio Hernandez.

Victims who would like to make a complaint about Leonard or Ada Lacayo or Lacayo & Associates or wish to assist the San Francisco City Attorney Office in prosecuting this legal action can contact the office’s hotline at (415) 355-3270.

The case is: People of the State of California v. Leonard Lacayo et al,San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC 15-553699, filed August 15, 2016. Complete documentation on the case is available online.

IMAGE: Lacayo Associates office at 3300 Mission Street, via Google Street View

Two Men Wounded in Precita Park Shooting Saturday Night

Markers on the street indicate where gun casings were found

Markers on the street indicate where gun casings were found

A shooting last night at the eastern end of Precita Park left two men wounded — one seriously. The shooting occurred at around 9 pm, on Alabama at Precita, directly across the street from the Precita Park Cafe.

Neighbors said they heard as many as 12 shots fired. Officers at the scene said the two wounded men exchanged gunfire with a passing car. As officers scoured the scene with flashlights, they left markers on the street to identify the locations where gun casings had been found.

One officer said said the victims were both young Latino males, and both were transported to the hospital. Another officer suggested that the shootings were probably not random, and that the victims were not providing information to the SFPD.

MissionLocal reports the victims were both in their late 20s, and that one of the men had suffered life-threatening injuries.

Bernalwood will update this story as additional information becomes available.

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PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Discrepancies Appear in Photos of Hillary Ronen Campaign HQ Graffiti

The fishy tale of the hateful graffiti that appeared on the campaign headquarters of District 9 supervisor candidate Hillary Ronen just got a little more fish-smelling.

As you may have heard, during Labor Day weekend, sometime in the early hours of Monday, September 5, someone scrawled misogynistic graffiti on the doorway of D9 candidate Hillary Ronen’s headquarters at 3417 Mission Street (between Kingston and Eugenia) in Bernal Heights.  The graffiti, which appeared to support Joshua Arce, Ronen’s foremost rival in the D9 supervisor race, said: “Vote Arce Ya C***s.”

In a Facebook post shared at 6:17 pm on Monday, Sept. 5, Hilary Ronen shared a photo of her staff as they painted over the graffiti:

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Meanwhile, that same day, candidate Joshua Arce condemned the graffiti, and disavowed any involvement with it:

I was saddened to learn this morning that someone had defaced my opponent’s office with offensive and misogynistic graffiti. I reached out to Hillary to see if we can help remove the graffiti because I would never condone or stand by while someone, who claims to support me, uses hateful language and defaces private property. While this race may get contentious at times, there is no excuse for the type of behavior that was shown this morning.

So, whodunnit?

Fast-forward a few weeks, and KPIX reporter Joe Vasquez broke the story about security camera footage that captured the scene when the vile graffiti was scrawled on the Ronen HQ door:

The video shows that at 5:22 am on Monday, September 5, two people — a man and a woman — worked together as a team to vandalize the front door of Hillary Ronen’s campaign headquarters.

The  footage, which we later learned had originally been obtained by the Arce campaign, shows that the man and the woman started by walking north along the west side of Mission Street, past the 76 gas station on the corner of Mission and 30th Street.  The man is wearing dark pants and a jacket. The woman is wearing a hat and boots, and carrying a cup of coffee. After passing the gas station, the pair crosses over to the east side of Mission street before doubling-back to the Ronen campaign headquarters. Then, the video shows, as the woman stood watch, the man squatted to write something in the doorway of Ronen’s campaign headquarters. With new markings visible on the door, the duo then continued walking north on the east side of Mission Street.

The footage is grainy, somewhat dark, and somewhat distant. Nevertheless, political junkies, reporters, and (now) SFPD investigators all over town have been obsessively zooming and enhancing the video, in hopes of finding a way to identify the perpetrators shown in the video.

Admittedly, Bernalwood editor has dabbled in some of this obsessive zooming and enhancing as well. But recently, when we took a step back to look at some of the photos of the doorway taken before the graffiti was painted over, we noticed something… rather curious.

Here are two posed photos taken while Team Ronen was painting over the vile graffiti. The same people are present in both images, and both were taken within a few moments of one another:

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Two versions of a moment:  Photo by Sana Saleem/48Hills, left, and Ronen campaign, right.

The photo on the left was taken by journalist Sana Saleem, and published on the 48Hills site on Monday, September 5. The photo on the right is the one shared by Hillary Ronen (and provided to media sites like MissionLocal).

It would appear that both photos were taken at almost the exact same time. The same people are in the photos, in the same places and the same postures. Likewise, the sun is in the exact same position, as you can see by when we zoom and enhance the shadow shown on the bucket of paint:

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But when you put both photos side by side and pull back just a little bit more, the photos begin to diverge. Can you spot the difference?

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Here’s a clue:

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Innnnnnnnnnteresting! In the photo on the right — the one published and distributed by Hillary Ronen’s campaign — the campaign signs for Tom Temprano and Mark Sanchez have been replaced by campaign signs for Kim Alvarenga and Jane Kim.

Another photo shows how the doorway looked earlier that same day. Here’s a tweet posted at 1:15 pm by @acordova:

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As we can see, the configuration of the signs in the earlier photo matches what’s shown in the 48Hills photograph from later that same day, with signs for Tom Temprano and Mark Sanchez displayed in the campaign HQ window.

When asked about the discrepancy, Hillary Ronen told Bernalwood: “I switched the position of the signs when I took my photo to show solidarity with other women candidates who have also been subject to hateful attacks during this election cycle.”

Editor Tim Redmond from 48Hills has confirmed that the 48Hills photo was taken by reporter Sana Saleem. Bernalwood also asked Sana Saleem if she saw the signs being changed. Saleem said that while she wasn’t at the site for long, she did not witness the signs being rearranged.

Finally, just to complete the very strange circle, while the photo from the early afternoon of Sept. 5 shows the Alsarenga-Kim signs positioned on the right side of the doorway, this photo taken by Bernalwood yesterday shows them now on the left:

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Stroller Lady Is Actually a Bernal Heights Package Thief

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A neighbor on Bennington Street captured footage of a woman using a stroller to cart off pilfered delivery packages. The neighbor writes:

Saturday morning a woman wearing a pink hat and pushing a stroller stole a package from my front door at 7:22 am. From the video cameras it appeared as though she was strolling down Bennington Street scoping out the houses to see what she could steal.

Subsequent photos show Stroller Lady exploring the front stoop:

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… and grabbing the box:

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Bernal neighbors should be on the lookout for Stroller Lady, and please contact SFPD Ingleside at (415) 404-4000 if you see her in action.

Video Shows Perpetrator of Sunday Brass Knuckles Assault

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There was an brazen, daytime assault on Mission Street (near Valencia) in Bernal Heights on Sunday afternoon , and it appears to have been unprovoked. Evan Sernoffsky from the SFGate reports:

Police in San Francisco are on the hunt for a assailant with brass knuckles who cold-cocked a 36-year-old man on a sidewalk Sunday in the city’s Mission Bernal neighborhood.

The attacker, described as a man in his 20s, walked up to the victim around 4:25 p.m. on the sidewalk on the 3200 block of Mission Street near the Knockout bar, police and a witness said.

Armed with a fist-full of brass knuckles, the assailant began wailing on the victim, leaving him pummeled and unconscious at the scene.

A witness who saw the brutal beating said the attacker hit the victim three-to-five times before passersby intervened and called 911.

Bernalwood has obtained security camera video that shows the perpetrator assaulting the victim.  GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: The following footage is violent and disturbing:

If you recognize the perpetrator, or have any information that could lead to his identification and arrest, please contact SFPD’s Ingleside Station at (415) 404-4000