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Not-guilty plea in ad threat against D.A.

Chandler Cardwell, 32, accused of placing ad seen as threatening Rod Pacheco, is 'not a gang member,' lawyer says.

September 07, 2007|Maeve Reston | Times Staff Writer

A Perris man accused of threatening the Riverside County district attorney in a classified ad is innocent and not a gang member, his defense attorney said Thursday.

Chandler William Cardwell, a 32-year-old employee at the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper, was arrested Friday night after police identified him as the person who allegedly placed an Aug. 25 advertisement threatening Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco.

The ad listed a "Big Blowout, Going Out of Business" sale with proceeds to benefit the "Rod Pacheco memorial fund." It also included Pacheco's home address and cellphone number and stated "Everything Goes."

Riverside police officials said they believed the ad was in response to Pacheco's announcement the previous day that he was seeking a permanent injunction against the East Side Riva street gang.

The injunction would bar gang members from congregating in certain areas, flashing gang signs or wearing gang clothing. Pacheco ran a full-page ad in the newspaper in large print Aug. 24 warning East Side Riva members of the injunction.

Cardwell's attorney, Richard R. Carnero, said outside court that his client's only tie to the East Side Riva gang was through his wife's brother, who was identified as an East Side Riva member in court documents seeking the injunction.

"He's not involved in any gangs," Carnero said. "He's maintaining that he is not guilty."

During his arraignment in Riverside on Thursday afternoon, Cardwell's eyes were red and he hid his face behind papers, his shoulders shaking visibly as he lowered his head to shield himself from cameras.

Cardwell entered not-guilty pleas on all charges.

Deputy Atty. Gen. Michael Murphy said his office was still investigating how the person who placed the ad might have obtained Pacheco's personal information.

After Cardwell was arrested last weekend, Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach identified him as an active gang member.

But Murphy said Cardwell had connections to East Side Riva through his brother-in-law, Anthony Adame, and that Cardwell had been "in the company" of gang members.

Cardwell faces 11 years in prison if convicted of the five felony counts, which include criminal threats, threats against a public official, forgery and illegal possession of two guns, which was prohibited because he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in November 1994.

Each charge is enhanced by an allegation that Cardwell committed the acts for the benefit of a criminal street gang.

Cardwell "is not being charged for being a gang member," Murphy said outside the courthouse Thursday. "We have evidence that we believe supports the allegations that the crimes he committed here were for the benefit of a gang."

Cardwell will next appear in court Wednesday to discuss his bail, which has been set at $1 million.

maeve.reston@latimes.com

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