Four Northern California men, including two Petaluma residents and a former Lake County Sheriff's deputy who was briefly employed for three months with the Petaluma Police Department in 1995, were indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco lsat week for allegedly robbing a home of 48 marijuana plants while dressed as sheriff's deputies.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Michael Puckett, 45, and Terry Jacksen, 46, both of Petaluma, joined former Petaluma Police Officer and Lake County Sheriff Deputy Eric Mendonca, 43, and Jack Pollack, 54, of Lake County in conspiring to commit a home invasion robbery in Lake County on Oct. 4, 2012.
According to the indictment and criminal complaint, Pollack gained access to the home by pretending to respond to a well-water service call before Jacksen, dressed as a Lake County Sheriff's Office Deputy with a holstered revolver and a white cowboy hat, knocked on the door and informed the occupants that he was working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and was there to conduct a search.
Jacksen then handcuffed and zip-tied the residents before searching the home and stealing 48 marijuana plants. The complaint states that Mendonca had provided Jacksen with the deputy uniforms he used to impersonate an officer. A Dec. 19, 2012 search of both Mendonca's Lake County residence and Jacksen's Petaluma property recovered a holstered revolver, a set of Lake County Sheriff's Office handcuffs, a white cowboy hat, various firearms and a cell phone containing images of Jacksen and Puckett posing in Lake County Sheriff's Office uniforms with firearms hours before the robbery. A search of Pollack's residence uncovered approximately 20 pounds of marijuana.
Puckett, who made his court appearance Wednesday morning, is being held without bail, and faces multiple felony robbery charges, including possession of a firearm in furtherance of a robbery, which carries a possible life sentence. Jacksen, Mendonca and Pollack appeared in court Thursday on multiple robbery and impersonating an officer charges. Jackson and Pollack remained in custody, while Mendonca was released on $50,000 bail.
All four men pleaded not guilty to the charges and are scheduled to appear in federal court in San Francisco on Jan. 22 before District Court Judge William Alsup.
(Contact Janelle Wetzstein at firstname.lastname@example.org)