Hearing set for challenge by Modesto bail agent’s defense

02/18/2014 1:44 PM

02/18/2014 5:20 PM

A judge has scheduled a hearing next month for a defense attorney to challenge charges against a Modesto bail agent accused of soliciting crimes.

Prosecutors say Paveen Singh, an agent of Singh’s Bail Bonds, asked gang members to commit a drive-by shooting and a home-invasion robbery where marijuana was being grown.

Singh, 34, has been charged with attempted shooting of an occupied home, soliciting the commission of a shooting at an inhabited home and soliciting the commission of a robbery. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Jak Sodhi, Singh’s newly hired defense attorney, on Tuesday told the judge he will file a demurrer motion. Sodhi will argue that there are insufficient legal grounds to justify one or all the charges against his client.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff scheduled the demurrer hearing to take place March 26. The defendant remains free on $220,000 bail.

If the judge decides to grant the demurrer motion, the court could ask prosecutors to amend or drop charges against Singh.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Harris has said in court that the defendant posed as an investigator to get into the jail to speak with the gang members. Licensed private investigators get “jail passes.” Their visits with inmates are designated as legal visits, so they are unsupervised and unrecorded, to protect attorney-client privilege.

Singh had been under investigation in connection with a homicide since February. No charges connected to the homicide have been filed against him.

The prosecutor has said in court that a confidential informant told investigators that Singh asked gang members to shoot Singh’s neighbor’s home.

Frank Carson, Singh’s previous defense attorney, has argued in court that those allegations are based on a neighbor dispute over “dead goldfish.” He said the charges stem from details provided by the informant, whom he said is likely a jail inmate and an unreliable source.

Authorities believe Singh asked two gang members to commit the drive-by shooting because he wanted revenge. An affidavit indicates that Singh believed his neighbor, a correctional officer, poisoned his koi fish, which were in a pond near a shared fence.

The affidavit, filed in court Dec. 2, indicates Singh tried to solicit gang members to rob an outdoor marijuana garden near his business, D&M Auto Sales, on Crows Landing Road. Ceres police searched and seized the marijuana before any robbery occurred.

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