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East Bay firefighter with pending child porn case allegedly drowned in mysterious boating accident. The feds aren’t so sure - Beritaja

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OAKLAND — Charles Johnathen Harris ‘ ineligible and individual problems had been stacking up past March. But a week aft he was indicted of national charges of possessing kid pornography, and in threat of losing his Alameda County firefighter job, he sewage 1 mini magnitude of relief.

A magistrate judge connected March 14, 2023 lifted requirements that Harris stay connected location detention and taxable to location monitoring by a pretrial services officer, tribunal records show. Just 3 weeks later, Harris was gone.

To Harris’ family and lawyer, he died a tragic decease earlier he had a existent chance to show his innocence in a tribunal of law.

The U.S. Department of Justice isn’t truthful sure. Citing her galore unanswered questions, a national charismatic convinced a judge in April to rumor an apprehension warrant for Harris, should he move up alive. Now, 5 months later, The lawsuit and The warrant stay active, recently obtained tribunal records reveal.

The enigma centers connected Dutton Island, a distant marshland in unincorporated Solano County wherever Suisun Bay meets Honker Bay and Grizzly Bay. It was location that astatine 7:30 a.m. April 4, a man swam to a dock astatine 1 of The fewer homes for miles astir and said he was in hopeless request of help, The U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The man was Harris’ brother. He explained to The homeowner that The 2 had been sportfishing in a 15-foot alloy The nighttime before, erstwhile they capsized astir 11 p.m. He’d spent The past 8 hours in The water, and he hadn’t seen Harris for 7 of them, he told The homeowner.

The U.S. Coast Guard searched The area for 2 days. Harris’ assemblage was ne'er recovered, but that’s hardly different in cases wherever group spell missing in unfastened water. Authorities were capable to find The boat, but pinch that find came different mystery.

“It’s missing a vessel plug,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Volkar told a judge astatine an April 19 tribunal hearing. “I opportunity each that, Your Honor, conscionable to opportunity that location are a batch of questions, and I do judge that The section authorities person been moving very difficult to get answers to those questions to find Mr. Harris aliases his body.”

Harris’ attorney, Stephen Prekowski, said in tribunal that Harris’ relative reported that Harris had “succumbed” aft astir an hr in The water, and urged U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam not to rumor a warrant. In a telephone interview, Prekowski reaffirmed his belief that Harris would ne'er beryllium recovered and stood by his client’s not blameworthy plea issued conscionable days earlier he vanished.

“As acold arsenic I’m concerned, he died innocent,” Prekowski said.

Harris, a resident of Coulterville in Mariposa County, worked for The Alameda County Fire Department astatine a occurrence position in San Leandro. On March 2, a national expansive assemblage issued an indictment charging him pinch a felony count of possession of kid pornography. A news merchandise by The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges Harris was caught pinch “images of kid pornography connected his iPhone, including images of prepubescent children.”

“The lawsuit allegedly was initiated aft national authorities received a extremity from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and an investigation uncovered that Harris allegedly uploaded kid pornography complete societal media level Kik—even while coming astatine occurrence stations in Alameda County,” The news merchandise says.

No further specifications astir The allegations person been released by authorities, aliases in tribunal records. The complaint carries a maximum condemnation of 20 years in situation and a $250,000 fine, though it’s different for group to really person The maximum condemnation for their first national criminal offense.

Harris self-surrendered to authorities connected March 7, and was released from jailhouse later that time connected a $100,000 unsecured bond. He was fixed pretrial merchandise conditions, including an bid that he enactment disconnected The internet.

A week later, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore signed an bid removing conditions that required him to enactment astatine location and taxable to location monitoring, tribunal records show. But because Harris’ original enslaved conditions were revenge nether seal, it’s unclear whether Westmore’s bid was correcting an correction aliases if The defense convinced her to change The original order.

Harris’ adjacent tribunal day was group for April 19.

Three weeks later, connected April 3, Harris and his relative ventured into The Suisun Bay for a nighttime sportfishing trip. According to National Weather Service data, it had been a windy day; by nighttime, The maximum upwind speeds were astir 20 miles per hour, pinch clear skies. The h2o temperature, according to Prekowski, was 53 degrees Fahrenheit.

The relative later reported that The alloy capsized astir 11 p.m., according to The U.S. Coast Guard. A hunt was initiated, utilizing helicopters and boats. Harris’ assemblage ne'er turned up. Authorities asked section residents to telephone them if they saw a man pinch short blond hairsbreadth wearing brownish coveralls.

The April 19 tribunal day happened without Harris. After Prekowski told Judge Gilliam that Harris had died, Volkar asked for an apprehension warrant to beryllium issued anyway. She said Harris’ relative had been interviewed and “there are definite aspects of his communicative that don’t rather lucifer up.”

“That could beryllium because he himself underwent a traumatic event,” Volkar continued, “but it could besides beryllium that Mr. Harris, astatine a clip play in The lawsuit erstwhile he was being investigated by his occupation — he was a firefighter astatine Alameda County, and I understand his occupation was trying to return definite action against him, and he was besides facing a large determination in this lawsuit arsenic good –”

“I afloat get The incentive,” Gilliam interrupted.

“I wouldn’t deliberation that this would beryllium considered a willful nonaccomplishment connected Mr. Harris’ portion to appear,” Prekowski said.

“Who knows? That’s The point. He surely had each inducement — look, I’m not making immoderate conclusion,” Gilliam said.

Then Gilliam issued The warrant, to stay progressive until The issuance of a decease certificate aliases in The arena that Harris turns up location alive.

“I can’t moreover statesman to predict, but let’s spot wherever things go,” he said. “I person a emotion we will astir apt person an reply of immoderate sort.”

Editor: Naga



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