Ex-Calif. county CO sentenced for sex with inmate

The CO also provided the inmate with razors and intel on when cell inspections would take place, the assistant sheriff said


By Robert Rodriguez
The Fresno Bee
        
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. — A former Fresno County correctional officer was sentenced Tuesday to two years probation and seven months in the county jail for having sex with an inmate.

Tina Gonzalez, 26, who worked as a correctional officer from 2016 to 2019, was arrested on May 1 last year after an investigation by the Sheriff's Office's vice unit and the department's internal affairs division.

The investigation was prompted by a tip that a male inmate was given a cell phone and was having sex with a correctional officer.

A view of the Fresno County Jail in 2016.
A view of the Fresno County Jail in 2016. (Silvia Flores/Fresno Bee/TNS)

Gonzalez pleaded no contest in April to one count of sexual activity by a detention facility employee with a consenting confined adult, one count of possession of drugs or an alcoholic beverage in a jail facility and a misdemeanor count of possession of cellular device with intent to deliver to an inmate.

Betraying her oath

Gonzalez was facing up to three years and eight months in prison, but she avoided prison time despite harsh words from her former boss at the jail, Assistant Sheriff Steve McComas.

McComas said not only did Gonzalez have sex with the inmate, she also supplied him razors, a potential weapon in the hands of inmates, and also gave him inside information about when officers would be inspecting the inmate's cell.

As a 26-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, McComas said he has seen and heard some "pretty disgusting things" but Gonzalez's conduct, tops his list.

She allegedly cut a hole in her uniform to make it easier to have sex with the inmate she was involved with. He also accused her of having sex inside the jail in full view of 11 inmates.

"That is something only a depraved mind can come up with," he said.

The assistant sheriff was hoping that Gonzalez might show some remorse about what she had done. But her phone calls to the inmate after she was caught, showed him otherwise.

"She took an oath which she betrayed and in doing so endangered her coworkers' lives," he said. "But she has shown no remorse. She continually calls and has sexually explicit conversations with the inmate in question and boasts about the crimes she carried out."

Prosecutor Kaitlin Drake was recommending a 15-month sentence while Gonzalez's defense attorney Martin Taleisnik suggested probation instead of jail time.

Taleisnik said that while Gonzalez took responsibility for what she did, she was also in a vulnerable position at the time, having just ended her marriage.

"It was never her intention to bring any harm or danger to the employees in the jail or anyone else in the jail," Taleisnik said. 

McComas implored Judge Michael Idiart to give Gonzalez the maximum punishment: three years and eight months in prison. He wanted to send a clear message that this type of crime won't be tolerated at the jail.

Idiart disagreed. He said his job is to punish her for the crimes she committed while also weighing other factors including her early plea and her lack of criminal history.

He did agree with McComas that Gonzalez betrayed her position of trust and potentially endangered the lives of her fellow officers and inmates.

"I think what you did was terrible, stupid and you have ruined your career," Idiart said. "But I also believe that people can redeem themselves and you have the rest of your life to do that. Good luck."
     
(c)2021 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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