The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office:
With his jury trial only a week away, defendant Sammy Joseph Tanguileg, Jr., age 45, of Covelo, requested Monday afternoon to withdraw his not guilty plea and, in lieu of a trial, entered a no contest plea in the Mendocino County Superior Court to recklessly causing a fire, a felony.
A no contest plea to a felony charge is the same under the law as a guilty plea for all purposes.
It was charged by the District Attorney that on July 19, 2020 the defendant caused the illegal burning of an abandoned Chevrolet Cavalier automobile near the intersection of Highway 162 and Biggar Lane in Covelo.
The defendant also admitted Monday that he has previously suffered a prior Strike conviction for attempted murder with great bodily injury, said conviction having occurred in 2000 in the San Joaquin County Superior Court.
To effectuate the change of plea, the defendant agreed to a state prison term of 48 months. He further agreed to waive all of his pre-sentence custody credits from the date of his arrest through April 7, 2021, the date now set for imposition of judgment and sentencing.
Also, because of the admission to the prior Strike conviction, any early release credits the defendant may attempt to earn while in custody of the state prison authorities will be limited to no more than twenty percent of the 48 months.
This will be the defendant’s third stint in state prison.
The law enforcement agencies that investigated and gathered the evidence supporting Monday’s conviction were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and a fire investigator from the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority.
The attorney who has been prosecuting this matter in court is District Attorney David Eyster.
Mendocino County Superior Court Presiding Judge Ann Moorman accepted the defendant’s change of plea and the sentence bargain between the parties. Judge Moorman will preside over the sentencing hearing on April 7th.