2 Alameda County sheriff's deputies, juvenile detention officer face criminal charges

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office has filed felony criminal charges against two sheriff's deputies and a juvenile correctional officer in separate cases. The charges range from falsifying records to performing sex acts on a minor.

The charges were brought forward by the district attorney's newly minted Public Accountability Unit, which investigates law enforcement misconduct.

In one case, investigators allege that 50-year-old Nicole Perales, a juvenile probation officer, engaged in oral copulation with a minor who was in custody at the Alameda Juvenile Justice Center.

The minor, who was aged 15 at the time, was under Perales' supervision when the alleged conduct took place, from August 27, 2004, through August 26, 2005.

Perales also faces charges of willfully and unlawfully performing a lewd and lascivious act on the same child.

In the other case, prosecutors accuse Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Sheri Baughman, 49, and Deputy Amanda Bracamontes, 30, of falsifying records in connection with a suicide at the Santa Rita Jail.

On April 3, 2021, Vinetta Martin, 32, hung herself with a bedsheet in her cell. The deputies were supposed to conduct direct visual observation checks every 30 minutes on Martin. Martin was considered a "special management inmate" because she told staff she was planning to commit suicide three weeks before her death, the district attorney's office said.

Martin was discovered unconscious and slumped on the floor. She was pronounced dead at Stanford Valley Care Medical Center.

Officials said Baughman and Bracamontes doctored the logbooks to make it appear as though they followed the procedure for direct visual observation. However, video evidence shows the deputies repeatedly failed to check on Martin for extended periods, sometimes as long as one hour and 47 minutes, contrary to their certifications, according to the district attorney's office.

"Today is obviously a difficult day for many reasons. Any life lost at the Santa Rita Jail is one too many," said Sheriff Yensia Sanchez on the case. "Deputies Bracamontes and Baughman are entitled to due process as is the case for anyone else in the community. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has cooperated with District Attorney Price’s office in this investigation and will continue to do so going forward."

Martin had been in custody since July 5, 2020, when she was arrested for an alleged assault. On July 24 of that same year, the court declared a doubt about whether she was competent to stand trial and suspended the criminal proceedings. At the time of her death almost a year later, she was still in custody at the jail, awaiting evaluation and transfer to the Department of State Hospitals-Napa.