2.28.2008

TS - Gundersen faces new charges of kidnapping, possessing a machine gun

Gundersen faces new charges of kidnapping, possessing a machine gun

Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen is facing four additional charges after the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office filed an amended criminal complaint Wednesday.

The new counts include allegations of kidnapping to commit rape involving a second victim and selling, attempting to sell, possessing or transporting a machine gun.

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos also moved to have the defendant's $500,000 bail reconsidered and put in alignment with the county's bail schedule, in light of the new charges.

Gundersen was charged earlier this month with 12 counts of spousal rape while using “an intoxication and anesthetic substance,” as well as several charges allegedly committed while in custody: Attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime, willfully violating a court order and being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.

Gundersen pleaded not guilty to the original charges Feb. 14, and his attorney, Russell Clanton, said he believes the charges were rooted in an ongoing custody battle between Gundersen and his ex-wife.

The amended complaint alleges Gundersen did willfully “kidnap or carry away” a second victim for the purpose of committing forcible rape in March 1999, and that the alleged crime was committed with the use of a firearm.

Gundersen also now stands accused of selling, offering for sale, possessing or transporting a machine gun, and being in possession of a silencer for a firearm.

Gallegos identified the machine gun as a fully automatic Heckler & Koch MP5, a German-made 9mm weapon capable of firing 800 rounds a minute.

The complaint further alleges that Gundersen acted unlawfully with department records, either by illegally disclosing information, using false representation to obtain records or participating in the sale of records in violation of the California Vehicle Code.

Gundersen pleaded not guilty to the four additional charges in court Wednesday.

Because the amended complaint was filed in the morning, Clanton asked the court to continue Gundersen's preliminary hearing to Monday.

”I understand it puts him at a bit of a disadvantage, and I don't have any problem with continuing the matter,” Gallegos said.
Superior Court Judge John Feeney agreed, and scheduled the two-day preliminary hearing to start at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

Gundersen's wife, one of the alleged victims in the case, was in court with her attorney. Gallegos asked the judge to order her return to court Monday, stating she may be a hostile witness.

”We clearly expect her to be a hostile witness,” Gallegos said after leaving court. “Her interests now are hostile -- not in the sense of swinging -- but hostile to the case.”

Feeney made the order, and Gallegos said he expects the alleged victim to be on the witness stand for several hours Monday.

Because of the seriousness of the charges, Gallegos asked the judge to reconsider Gundersen's $500,000 bail, especially because the additional rape charge carries a life sentence. Clanton asked that the court give the defense the 48 hours it is entitled to under law to review the new charges in advance of the bail hearing.

Feeney suggested addressing the matter of bail along with the preliminary hearing scheduled for Monday, but Gallegos objected, asking that the bail hearing be scheduled as soon as legally possible because of the serious nature of the charges.
The judge then set the bail hearing for Friday afternoon.

Gundersen appeared in court clad in a red jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him.

The Humboldt County Correctional Facility uses red jumpsuits to identify inmates who are kept in isolation.

Clanton was not available for comment after court Wednesday, but has scheduled a press conference for this afternoon.

Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or tgreenson@times-standard.com

Box: Charges filed against Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen to date:
New charges, filed Wednesday:
* Kidnapping or carrying away someone for the purpose of committing rape. The charges stem from a March 7, 1999, incident in Humboldt County involving a second victim, and involved the use of a firearm. The offense carries a possible life sentence.
* Selling, offering for sale, possessing or transporting a machine gun.
* Possessing a firearm silencer.
* Acting unlawfully with department records, either by illegally disclosing information, using false representation to obtain records or participating in the sale of records, in violation of the California Vehicle Code. This charge stems from a Sept. 28, 2007, incident within the county.
Charges filed Feb. 14:
* 12 counts of spousal rape while using “an intoxication and anesthetic substance.” The alleged incidents date back to March 2007, and the most recent allegation was reported to have happened Feb. 7 -- the day before Gundersen's arrest. There is one count for every month since March 2007.
* Attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime. The charge stems from a Feb. 9, incident while Gundersen was in custody.
* Willfully violating a court order, which also allegedly occurred while in custody.
* Possessing a controlled substance without a prescription, which also allegedly occurred while in custody.

Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 02/28/2008 01:34:07 AM PST