One of seven Southern California men charged with a February home invasion-style armed robbery in Atascadero tried to hire at least one County Jail inmate to murder the alleged victims in his case and prominent San Luis Obispo attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu, according to court documents filed Monday.
Over the weekend, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office filed four charges of soliciting murder against Daniel Gonzalez, 47, of Antioch, as well as three felony counts of dissuading a witness by force or threat.
Gonzalez faces counts of felony home invasion robbery, assault with a firearm and first-degree burglary, as well as sentence enhancements for using guns during the alleged crimes.
He was in court Monday for a pretrial hearing with co-defendants Michael Christopher Bowden, 31, and Treaveon Eric Lamar Falls, 26, both of Long Beach; Carnell Damahn Bowden, 34, of San Bernardino; John August Cichosz, 36, of Oakley; Tamone Terrill Thompson, 37, of Hayward; and Joseph Michael Perry, 35, of Antioch.
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Those six face similar charges in the armed robbery but are not believed to be involved in the alleged would-be hit, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jerret Gran said. All remain in custody at San Luis Obispo County Jail in lieu of between $400,000 and $600,000 bail, except for Gonzalez, who is being held without bail.
Each defendant has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court June 26. Gonzalez is scheduled to be arraigned on his new charges May 22.
About 2:30 a.m. Feb. 11, police responded to the 8400 block of San Gregorio Road in Atascadero on a report of a robbery and saw two vehicles leaving the area. Both vehicles were soon stopped with assistance from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol, according to the Atascadero Police Department.
The agency said in a news release that the men targeted a home, identified themselves as law enforcement officers, held three victims at gunpoint, and took or damaged property valued at more than $200,000.
Police were called after one of the alleged victims freed himself from his restraints. A handgun and a shotgun were allegedly used during the robbery, the complaint states.
Officials have released the suspects’ previous criminal records, but have otherwise released few details about them, such as why they went to Atascadero.
According to the complaint filed against Gonzalez over the weekend, on or about April 1, Gonzalez attempted to solicit an inmate at County Jail to murder attorney Funke-Bilu and the three alleged victims in the case, whom Funke-Bilu is representing as a victim’s rights attorney under California’s Marsy’s Law.
Gran said he could not release many details about the case as the investigation is ongoing, but he said that Gonzalez concocted a plan for the inmate to get to the victims through the attorney.
That inmate told his own attorney, who notified authorities, Gran said.
Over the weekend, officials made a special request of a judge to deny Gonzalez bail in order to keep him in custody. The inmate is cooperating, and law enforcement officials have been in contact with the victims and Funke-Bilu, Gran said.
“Through our investigation and our (bail) request, I believe we have done all we can to protect the victims in this case,” he said.
Funke-Bilu confirmed Monday that he and his clients have been in communication with law enforcement about the alleged threats and they have taken necessary precautions.
“We are fully protected in accordance to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
Douglas Rappaport, a San Francisco-based attorney representing Gonzalez, said Monday that any case based on information from a “so-called fellow prisoner is always suspect.”