Local News

Monday, Feb 10 2014 04:38 PM

No charges against deputy public defender who brought cellphone into jail

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A Kern County deputy public defender accused of trying to smuggle a cellphone to an inmate at Lerdo Jail will not face criminal charges.

The U.S. Attorney General's Office in Fresno decided Friday to not file charges against Thomas Alan Rogers, said Rogers' attorney H.A. Sala. He said Rogers made a mistake and did nothing criminal.

"I expected this from the beginning because I was very familiar with the evidence and there was no basis for any allegation of wrongdoing and certainly not for any criminal charges," Sala said.

The cellphone in question was not operational. An examination showed it didn't have the capability of either sending or receiving text messages or phone calls.

Sala said Rogers had forgotten the phone was in a manila envelope that was among items he'd brought for a meeting with inmate John Wilburn on Dec. 19. The phone was seized by deputies but later returned.

It had been provided to Rogers by someone who believed it contained information that could help Wilburn, who's charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 4-month-old daughter.

Public Defender Konrad Moore said he was "gratified" Rogers was cleared. If there's a silver lining, Moore said, it's that lawyers will now double or triple-check their belongings before entering the jail.

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