Sunday, July 21, 2024

Arsonist Who Burned Down the Gualala Community Center Pleads No Contest


The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office:

Roland Joseph Eskind, Jr. [Mugshot from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Booking Logs]

South coast arson defendant Roland Joseph Eskind, Jr., age 53, formerly of San Ramon, withdrew his not guilty plea Monday afternoon in the Mendocino County Superior Court and, in its place, entered a no contest plea and an admission, respectively, to the charge and special allegation filed and pending against him.

The defendant was formally charged on February 15th with arson of a structure, a felony, and with a sentencing enhancement alleging that the February 13th arson was committed during a Governor-declared state of emergency.

With his case now referred to the Mendocino County Adult Probation Department for a background investigation and sentencing recommendation, the defendant remains in the custody of the Sheriff at the Low Gap jail facility pending sentencing.

Defendant Eskind was ordered to return to court for a formal sentencing hearing on September 21st at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department A of the Ukiah courthouse.

A recent arrival to the southern coastal gateway to Mendocino County, Eskind admitted that he “willfully, unlawfully, and maliciously” set fire to the Gualala Community Center, a night-time fire that demolished two of three sections of the Community Center. The portions burned were erected in 1954 to provide the Gualala community with a gathering and meeting location.

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Monday’s arson conviction now also constitutes a Strike conviction, within the meaning of the voter-modified Three Strikes law, that can and will be charged to enhance future criminal sentences should Eskind feloniously re-offend Today’s conviction carries with it a potential state prison sentence of up to seven years.

The law enforcement agency that investigated the fire and developed the evidence to arrest the defendant was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

The MCSO investigation was greatly assisted by the South Coast Volunteer Fire Department and Ukiah Valley Fire District’s arson investigator.

Assistant District Attorney Dale P. Trigg represented the People at Monday’s change of plea hearing.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder accepted the defendant’s change of plea and will be the sentencing judge on the 21st.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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