Baker threatened to “disappear” Leon Infante, a resident who admitted to obtaining property stolen from the cop’s personal vehicle.
King City cop pleads no contest to false imprisonment
A King City police sergeant pleaded no contest to false imprisonment Wednesday, a week before he was scheduled to go to trial.
Sgt. Mark Baker offered his plea in Monterey County Superior Court. The plea effectively ended the policing career of the 17-year law enforcement veteran.
On Aug. 23, 2013, Baker threatened to “disappear” Leon Infante, a resident who admitted to obtaining property stolen from the cop’s personal vehicle.
The threat was entirely uncharacteristic of Baker, said Thomas Worthington, his attorney.
“He has a lifetime of being an even-tempered person,” Worthington told The Californian.
Being a gang officer, Baker experienced numerous threats and near constant concern for his family. Those worries were especially acute on Aug. 23, 2013, after his vehicle — which contained a gate key to his house — was stolen.
“Otherwise he wouldn’t have acted like that,” Worthington said.
Baker was initially scheduled for a plea change Nov. 26, but didn’t follow through.
Over the week, Worthington said he reviewed the case and interviewed witnesses, one of whom credits Baker for his life. Baker was scheduled for trial on Monday.
“Mark and we felt like it was a good time to put an end on this,” Worthington said. He called the misdemeanor plea agreement “reasonable.” Initially, Baker faced felony criminal theft charges and a much heftier sentence.
He is scheduled to be sentenced March 18 to five years’ probation. Per probation requirements, he won’t be allowed to own any firearms. He’ll have to turn over any he has to an authorized gun dealer by next Wednesday.
Doing so effectively ends Baker’s policing career. Baker has been on leave from the King City Police Department since shortly following the incident last year.
Worthington said his client is now trying to deal with the “burnout” following the high stress of police work, especially in the gang realm.
Baker has had no citizen complaints for force sustained against him, Worthington said. His discipline record is minimal and only includes a letter of record for backing over a rock at night, damaging a patrol car.
Until his sentencing, Baker remains out of custody on his own recognizance.
In other news, the trial date for King City Police Sgt. Bobby Carrillo, Interim Chief Bruce Miller and Brian Miller, Bruce Miller’s brother and owner of Miller’s Towing, was vacated.
The trio were scheduled for trial Jan. 26. However, Judge Russell Scott — who had been overseeing their case — is retiring effective the end of this year. Their case was transferred instead of Judge Julie Culver. Culver, however, said Wednesday she expects to be fairly busy in late January.
Instead, Carrillo, Bruce Miller and Brian Miller will return to court Jan. 27 to have a new date set for trial.
Carrillo and Brian Miller are accused of orchestrating a for-profit car-towing scheme to defraud low-income Latinos. Bruce Miller is accused of accepting a vehicle as a bribe.
Culver will take up a motion to dismiss one of the charges against Bruce Miller on Jan. 22. He’s charged specifically with bribery and perjury.