3.20.2010

Bail increased, charges changed for officer

Bail increased, charges changed for officer
The correctional officer arrested earlier this week on suspicion of bringing drugs into the county jail now faces four charges and is being held on $50,000 bail.

Benjamen Edward Jentry-Rakestraw, 20, of Fortuna, is charged with possession of heroin, conspiracy to furnish heroin and two counts of bringing narcotics into a jail, according to the county District Attorney's Office.

He will also be transported to a different jail facility.

Jentry-Rakestraw's lawyer, Michael Robinson, asked the court to allow the defendant to be let out of jail until the trial because he was not a flight risk nor a danger to society. Jentry-Rakestraw's pastor had offered to house him.

Robinson said his client was not a violent criminal but he had allegedly been used by others.

”He allowed himself to be used and manipulated by the people he was set out to guard and crossed the line allegedly, and perhaps in some sense, absolutely,” Robinson told the judge.

Jentry-Rakestraw has no prior criminal record, Robinson said.

”I've learned that he is a bright light in a family with a history of law enforcement conflict,” he said.

Deputy District Attorney Arnie Klein argued the defendant was a danger to people in the community and he accused Jentry-Rakestraw of selling heroin solely for profit and for getting the drug for 32-year-old Ruben Anthony Peredia. Peredia is currently in jail and on trial for the murder of Ezra Sanders.

Robinson stated Klein's reasoning was “ridiculous” and it had no bearing on whether bail should be lifted.

Judge Marilyn B. Miles kept the defendant's bail requirement because of the public safety risk and left it at $50,000 from Tuesday's arraignment. The charges held a maximum bail of $100,000.

His preliminary hearing was set for July 17.

Jentry-Rakestraw's arrest was the result of a one-month-long investigation when sheriff's investigators and correctional staff received information that an officer may be bringing contraband into the jail, Sheriff Gary Philp said.

Search warrants were served for Jentry-Rakestraw's phone records, vehicles and residence, Philp said. Surveillance was also used in the investigation at his home and work.

More arrests are expected for others involved in the conspiracy charge to furnish heroin but no other officers are suspects, Philp said.

Within the sheriff's office, employees are coping with the shock of Jentry-Rakestraw's arrest and the feeling of betrayal that came along with it, Philp said.

”It's a difficult situation but we have a group of very professional people and their dealing with it as best they can,” Philp said. “We'll all get past this.”

Contact Allison White at 441-0506 or awhite@times-standard.com.