Prison for second York district-judge staffer who leaked information
A former clerk of York City District Judge Linda Williams must spend 15 days in York County Prison on charges she warned a double-homicide suspect about a warrant for his arrest and that she released a York City police officer's work schedule to an acquaintance.
Solmaria "Beba" Martinez Arce, 31, of East Cottage Place in York City, pleaded no contest Wednesday in York County Court to obstructing the administration of law, conspiracy to commit that offense, hindering the apprehension of a suspect and reckless endangerment.
As part of her negotiated plea agreement, she was sentenced to 15 days to six months in York County Prison, plus a year of probation. She must report to prison the morning of July 1, presiding Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn ordered.
Renn asked why Martinez Arce was pleading no contest rather than guilty, but that question was not fully answered.
Defense attorney Heather Reiner told The York Dispatch that Martinez Arce "acknowledges that if this case went to trial, there's a high likelihood she'd be found guilty."
Reiner said her client showed bad judgment but had no malice.
"She never intended to cause harm to anyone," the attorney said.
Martinez Arce was terminated from her job, Reiner has confirmed.
What happened: Police said Martinez Arce told an unidentified person that York City Detective First Class Jeff Spence had just obtained a warrant from Williams' office for a man identified as RBC, according to court documents. That unidentified person then alerted RBC's mother, who alerted him, documents state.
"It could have been disastrous," Spence told The York Dispatch at the time.
But by the time Spence went to Williams' office on July 10 to request that warrant, his fellow officers and detectives had already arrested the man and secured the residence, Spence said, making the advance warning moot. RBC was not charged in the slayings, Spence confirmed.
The search warrant was issued in relation to the June 12, 2015, double homicide of brothers Angel Berrios, 21, and Abdiel "Tito" Vazquez-Soto, 19, according to the detective. Durell Cotton Jr., 20, of York remains charged with two counts of murder for the slayings and was recently convicted of the gang-related murder of Jordan Breeland.
Testifying against Cotton and co-defendant Elvin Mateo Jr. at the Breeland murder trial was one of their friends, Raymond Bruno Carrasquillo, whose initials are RBC. Carrasquillo testified at an earlier proceeding that he was driving around with Cotton when Cotton opened the car door and fired repeatedly at the brothers at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Juniper Street.
Schedule leaked: Police said Martinez Arce also leaked the schedule of York City Police Officer Ben Praster to a man named Beronia Jackson Jr.
Jackson was friends with another staff member of Williams' office, Brittney Mae Koons, who provided him with Praster's schedule. When Koons was off, she had Martinez Arce give Jackson the officer's work schedule, documents state.
Koons, 30, of North York, pleaded guilty in February to obstructing the administration of law and conspiracy to commit that offense, as well as no contest to recklessly endangering a law-enforcement officer. She also was sentenced to 15 days to six months in county prison.
Jackson, 27, of York City, pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to obstruct the administration of law or other government function. As part of a negotiated plea agreement, he was sentenced to three to 23 months in county prison.
Court documents state Jackson was wanted by Praster.
Staff members of York County's 19 magisterial district judge offices have access to a software program that allows them to view the work schedules of police officers in their jurisdiction, which allows them to schedule hearings that require officers' presence, documents state.
'Unacceptable': York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said some of his officers learned about the alleged leaks.
Because the matter involved city officers, Kahley said he asked York County District Attorney Tom Kearney to have county detectives handle the case. County Detective Dana Ward — a retired York City officer — conducted the investigation and filed the charges.
"To be giving information to wanted criminals is unacceptable," Kahley has said. "We're glad they were caught and that examples are being made of them ... especially at a time in our nation when more officers are being targeted."