The first person charged under the state's new felony "stalking" law was sent to prison for two years Wednesday by a Van Nuys judge who ruled that the man took advantage of the court's earlier leniency by once again shadowing his ex-girlfriend.
Mark D. Bleakley, 30, went looking for his former girlfriend in February after he was released briefly from the locked drug and mental health rehabilitation clinic where he had been enrolled, said Superior Court Judge Judith M. Ashmann.
In a case that was featured on ABC's "20/20" show and several national talk shows, Ashmann in October placed Bleakley on five years probation and ordered him to attend the clinic for six months after he pleaded no contest to violating the stalking law, which is aimed at deterring repeated harassment of victims.
By his plea, which is the legal equivalent of a guilty plea for criminal court purposes, the burly former carwash manager in effect admitted harassing Leslie Wein, 26, of Encino, by vandalizing her car, threatening her by phone and abducting her German shepherd dog, which was later recovered unharmed.
Ashmann said Wednesday that she "tried to help Mr. Bleakley" by placing him on probation, on condition that he leave Wein alone, and by permitting him to attend the Beit T'Shuvah rehabilitation center near downtown in lieu of prison.
She sentenced him to three years in prison, the maximum allowed by law, but gave him credit for one year because of time spent in jail awaiting trial.
At a hearing three weeks ago, Ashmann ruled that Bleakley violated his probation Feb. 21 by searching the parking lot of the Mid-Valley Athletic Club in Reseda--where both he and Wein had been members--looking for Wein's car.
Bleakley said he had been allowed by Beit T'Shuvah officials to pick up his car at a detailing shop across the street from the club and was checking the window tinting of a Honda in the lot when confronted by club officials.
Wein drives a Honda similar to the one at which the confrontation occurred, club members testified.
Defense attorney Bruce Kaufman said Bleakley had done no harm at the lot and should be allowed to remain on probation, but Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard F. Walmark said Bleakly should be imprisoned because he "had not learned anything and was back looking for her."
The stalking law, which went into effect Jan. 1, 1991, was designed to give authorities a felony charge to deal with repeated threatening behavior, even when the individual acts are misdemeanors.
To support a felony stalking conviction, prosecutors are required to prove that a suspect repeatedly threatened a victim or vandalized the victim's property in violation of a civil court order to stop.
Wein said that Bleakley began to terrorize her shortly after she broke off their two-year relationship a year ago.
She obtained a restraining order against him and subsequently filed 13 police reports accusing him of harassing her and vandalizing her property.
Bleakley was arrested May 24, 1991, when police, called to take a report about two slashed tires on Wein's car, spotted him nearby.