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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Probation for Online Threat Against Officer

Court: Anti-government sympathizer faced a possible prison sentence in one of county's first cyber crime cases.

May 27, 2000|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Alan Russell Neuman, a 34-year-old anti-government sympathizer who posted an online threat against a Ventura police officer, was sentenced Friday to three years' probation.

Neuman was found guilty on April 11 of three felony charges in one of Ventura County's first cyber crime cases and faced a possible prison sentence.

But Superior Court Judge Ken Riley rejected prison and ordered Neuman to comply with various probationary terms, including agreeing to stay off the Internet, attending anger management classes and obeying all laws.

That last one may be tough for Neuman.

The Ventura resident has repeatedly been cited by police for failing to register his car or attach a license plate to his vehicle. In screening Neuman for probation, officers recommended prison time because they doubted Neuman could comply with the terms given his staunch anti-government views.

"I think they nailed it on the head," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Scott Hendrickson, who prosecuted the case. "His attitude means he may not do well on probation at all."

But Riley was more optimistic at Friday's sentencing hearing.

"Mr. Neuman, the Probation Department doesn't think you're going to complete probation," the judge said. "I think you will."

After the hearing, Deputy Public Defender Brian Vogel said the terms of probation may be difficult for his client to accept, but he said Neuman faces "a substantial amount of time" in prison if he violates them.

"I think he has some strongly held social views regarding use of Social Security numbers and licensing," Vogel said. "I'm hopeful that he will do what is required to complete the terms of probation."

It was a traffic stop that initiated the Internet threats against Ventura Police Department Officer Rod Giles. In December 1998, Giles stopped Neuman for driving an unlicensed vehicle, cited him and had his car impounded.

Months later, Neuman posted on his Web page a "Wanted: Dead or Alive" sign with Giles' name and physical description on it. The notice stated that Giles was a criminal whom Internet viewers should use "extreme prejudice in apprehending."

The online threat was noticed by a state Department of Justice official who monitors militia and terrorist activity. Ventura County prosecutors charged Neuman with solicitation of murder, solicitation of kidnapping and making terrorist threats.

But Riley, who presided over the trial instead of a jury, determined there was insufficient evidence to support the two solicitation charges. He found Neuman guilty only of making threats. The felony carries a maximum three-year prison sentence.

Neuman also was found guilty of two felony charges for possessing child pornography, which authorities said they found on his computer when they seized it last year during the investigation.

As a result of those convictions, Neuman is required to register as a sex offender. Ventura police said Neuman did come to the station Friday and registered.

Riley also sentenced Neuman to one year in County Jail. But because the defendant had spent about a year in custody awaiting trial, the judge deemed the jail sentence served.

Contacted Friday afternoon, Giles said he supported the sentence and agreed Neuman may have difficulty complying with the terms of his probation.

"I feel it is fair for what it was," Giles said. "I've gotten past what's gone on. And as long as he is understanding, that he knows there are laws and there is a justice system, then I'm OK with that."

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