The pimp case landed
in Courtroom 48 on Tuesday.
It caught my attention because there were a lot of people
involved in this preliminary hearing, including a female employee with the
District Attorney's Office who had video equipment to record the testimony of
Usually people who are video recorded while testifying are
very elderly witnesses or witnesses who have health issues or are leaving the
The two prostitutes were going to testify against Carlos
Loaezo Jimenez, the alleged 20-year-old
Oxnard pimp. He is being represented by attorney Josie Banuelos who
works with the Public Defender's Office.
Jimenez is charged with felony pimping, three misdemeanor
aiding pimping counts and a felony , for possession of cocaine.
What's this about? I asked Banuelos as I watch the video
camera on a tripod sitting inside the empty jury box. The camera lens is pointing toward the
With a half-smile, Banuelos said this case is about how the
state and county uses courthouse resources to prosecute cases like this.
The response isn't unusual from a defense attorney, I
thought. I asked her to elaborate.
"If you hear what
it's all about, you'll get my point," she replied. "That's all I'm going to
In the courtroom, there are two Spanish interpreters, one
for Mr. Jimenez and the other one is shared by the two prostitutes. Also the prosecutor
David Russell sat next to Oxnard police detective James Langford. The
prostitutes are there and so are their attorneys, Matt Bromund and Joel
Steinfeld. Both prostitutes have been given immunity from prosecution in
exchange for their testimony.
They have both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor prostitution.
The judge, David Hirsch, enters the courtroom and the court
clerk and bailiff and the court reporter are ready.
There is no one in the audience as the testimony begins.
The 26-year-old prostitute testifies that she uses the
fake name "Angelica." She sits next to the interpreter while on the stand. Bromund stands behind her about five feet away
and remains there until she finishes her testimony, which begins around 10:30
The woman, who is not quite five-feet tall according to jail
records, is grilled by Russell. He asks dozens of questions and digs for details,
even wants to know who paid for the condoms that she supplies to her customers.
Russell is trying to make a strong connection to Jimenez. The alleged pimp is 5-feet, 4-inches tall and
weighs 134 pounds according to jail records.
He sits at the
defense table between the interpreter and Banuelos.
Angelica said she charges $40 for each trick and gives
Jimenez $10, and she only works on the weekends. After she pays Jimenez, she pockets about
$600 during the weekends.
She tells the court that she works as a prostitute because
the hours are more flexible, and she wants to spend more time with her
children. She worked a regular job but it cost a lot of money to pay for a babysitter, and it was a
hassle dropping off her three-year-old son with the sitter. Angelica said she also gets the time to take her daughter to school.
Angela said she began working as a prostitute in January and
for a couple of weeks, she was self-employed. Like other prostitutes, she used
the parking lot of a popular market in downtown Oxnard. Angela said men
approached the car, knock on the windows and ask the females inside a car, are
you working?The prostitute will say yes and the going price is usually $40 for
a trick, Angelica testified.
Angela said she decided
to hire Jimenez to work for her and drive her around in his Toyota Corolla to
pick up customers. She said Jimenez
picks up male customers and much of the
time is spent at the market's parking lot with Jimenez. They both talk to customers
about prices, and some call her and others call Jimenez's cell phone, Angelica testified.
She said Jimenez never dated her, they had sex and Jimenez was a customer at
Angelica said she used two residences in Oxnard to bring
customers there for sex and kept track of the clients using "a little
There is a lunch break shortly before noon, court is in recess and everybody
involved in the case is instructed to come back at 1:30 p.m.
The hearing resumes and Angelica is cross examined by
Banuelos who asks why she hired Jimenez.
"Well, I like him and he didn't have a job at the time and I
asked him if he wanted to work," Angelica said. "It was a way of helping each
other. I was going to help him, and he was going to work for me."
She denied telling anyone that she worked for Jimenez,
saying he never demanded money or told her how to dress. She said there were
days she didn't work because she didn't want to do so.
"I said I paid him $10 but I never said I worked for him,"
she told the court.
The money is to pay for Jimenez's gasoline and time,
Angelica said she was interviewed by police who asked if
there were other prostitutes out there, and she said yes. Angelica said she was
asked how many, and before she could answer, the detective said, "50?" Angelica said she told him no, about 12.
Angelica said she came up with 12 based upon what she had
seen at the parking lot of his market.
She is off the stand at 2:25 p.m.
The second prostitute's testimony is brief. She doesn't know
who Jimenez is and he is sitting about 12 feet away. She is shown his
photograph and says she doesn't know who the man in the photo is.
About five minutes on the stand, she is done. The video
recording is clicked off and hauled away.
Oxnard narcotics officer Patrick Dolan testifies that a
search of Jimenez's house with 10 bedrooms turns up two bindles of cocaine, one weighing
1.5 grams and the other 1.8 grams.
Jimenez later admitted to police that it was his cocaine
Oxnard Detective James Langford testified that police surveillance began on
Jimenez in January and one surveillance
includes eight officers. He testified that on three different occasions three
paid confidential informants were sent to the market's parking lot to solicit
sex from Angelica and Jimenez. Another confidential informant was told by
Jimenez to go to the parking lot across the street from the market after the
heat was turned up.
All the informants paid to have sex with Angelica but none did, according to Langford.
One informant said Jimenez told him that he could get a tall
Australian prostitute who would be willing to travel as far as
Carpinteria, Langford testified A photo was later found of
Jimenez standing next to a tall white woman with his hand placed on her
genitalia, according to Langford.
Langford testified there were "a dozen or so" instances of
surveillance of Jimenez since January, including one surveillance where he named eight
officers who were involved.
Jimenez later admits that he was in the prostitution
business for a year, Langford testified.
The defense doesn't call any witnesses. The testimony ends
at 3:45 p.m.
Russell argues to the judge that anyone who derives profit
from prostitution like Jimenez is a pimp.
Banueloes said Angelica was self-employed and never worked
for Jimenez. Banuelos said that the photo only shows Jimenez standing next to a
tall white woman.
Judge Hirsch said there is enough
evidence to hold Jimenez for trial. However, he said he found Angelica's
testimony credible and said he would have reduced the felony pimping to a
misdemeanor based on the evidence. But, by
the way the law is structured, the judge said he couldn't do this.
Angelica is held as a material witness in the case. The
other prostitute will be turned over to immigration authorities to be deported.Jimenez and
Angelica who were arrested March 16 are also facing deportation after the pimping case is resolved.
Outside the courtroom, Russell said the most significant
thing was that the judge held Jimenez to answer for trial for felony pimping.
As far as Judge Hirsch saying that he would reduced the charge to a misdemeanor
if the law allowed him to do so, Russell said "That's not really for me to comment on."
Langford said it was worth the time and police department
resources to take a suspect off the streets who is taking advantage of young
women. He declined to comment on whether
there is any evidence that Jimenez is a prostitution ring leader.
In an interview, Banuelos said the whole thing was "pretty amazing"
considering the time spent in court and all the resources devoted to this case.
She said prosecutors have never offered to let her client plea to misdemeanor pimping, maintaining that they want to prosecute him on the felony pimping charge. She said Jimenez doesn't have a criminal record.
"He can get a year of local time, whatever," as a sentence and then, we'll be deported, Banuelos said.
Adding that if a plea bargain to a misdemeanor would have been offered, Jimenez would have taken it.
"But for some reason they think this is the crime of the
century and here we are," Banuelos said.