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Perris man held in threat to D.A.

Alleged gang member, a newspaper employee, is arrested after a classified ad listed personal data of Riverside County Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco.

September 02, 2007|Maeve Reston | Times Staff Writer

Police have arrested an employee of a local newspaper who they say placed a classified advertisement that is being investigated as a death threat against Riverside County Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco.

Gang and SWAT team officers from the Riverside Police Department took Chandler William Cardwell, 32, into custody late Friday night at his home in Perris and booked him Saturday on suspicion of making terrorist threats and possession of a concealed firearm.

Police Chief Russ Leach said Cardwell has been a member of the East Side Riva street gang for six years and worked in the Riverside Press-Enterprise's classified department.

The Aug. 25 Press-Enterprise ad was for a "Big Blowout" yard sale that listed Pacheco's cellphone number and home address. Proceeds from the sale, the ad said, would "benefit [the] Rod Pacheco memorial fund."

Leach said detectives served warrants for phone records at the newspaper and the phone company last week and determined that Cardwell called in the ad from his cellphone. Cardwell gave a bogus checking account number as payment, Leach said.

The ad was purchased around 4 p.m. on Aug. 24, according to officials. Earlier that afternoon, Pacheco and Riverside police announced at a news conference that they were seeking a permanent injunction against East Side Riva members to prevent them from congregating, showing gang signs, violating curfew or publicly consuming alcohol in a specified area.

The district attorney's office ran a full-page ad in the next morning's Press-Enterprise addressed to East Side Riva members advising them that the injunction was being sought and containing a map of the area.

Pacheco said Saturday that he was relieved police had identified a suspect, but was concerned that Cardwell may have obtained the information in the ad through his job at the newspaper. The Press-Enterprise did not return calls seeking comment.

"Prosecutors have a very dangerous job -- it's not just me, it's our line deputies as well, especially those dealing with gangs," Pacheco said.

Pacheco said he had given his home address to the newspaper so he could get the paper delivered, but rarely revealed that information to other organizations. Leach said the department was still investigating where Cardwell got Pacheco's information.

Cardwell was not among the more than 100 members of East Side Riva, a Latino gang, named in the injunction. But authorities said the gang had as many as 700 members.

"He is an active gang member," Leach said, noting that police found several firearms at Cardwell's house. "It was a gang-related, gang-motivated incident. . . . We took it as a serious threat."

Leach said Cardwell was not linked to recent gang crimes, but noted that he had close ties to other gang members and that one of his relatives by marriage was named in the injunction.

In court filings, the district attorney's office said East Side Riva, one of the county's oldest gangs, was responsible for more than 800 crimes between 2001 and 2007. Much of the violence over the past seven years stemmed from East Side Riva's rivalry with a black gang known as the 1200 Blocc Crips.

Pacheco said although the gang was based in Riverside, there are members in Perris, and the cities of San Bernardino and San Luis Obispo.

The California attorney general's office will handle the case of Cardwell, who was booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on $1 million bail.

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