Merced man convicted in 2012 stalking case, arrested again

rparsons@mercedsun-star.comJanuary 11, 2014 

A Merced man who was convicted of stalking a Merced County court commissioner in 2012 is behind bars again, accused of violating a restraining order, allegedly by contacting his ex-wife and their children.

Keith Gallagher, 56, was arrested Dec. 16 on a warrant charging him with six misdemeanor counts of violating the protective order, according to Merced County Superior Court records.

Matthew Serratto, the Merced County deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, said the restraining order prohibits Gallagher from contacting his ex-wife and their two children.

“It is a no-contact order and he is accused of ongoing violations for the last several months,” Serratto said.

Investigators believe Gallagher violated the order by making telephone calls and sending packages to the woman’s home multiple times between July and December of last year, the District Attorney’s Office said.

It is the second time Gallagher has been charged with violating the restraining order.

In March of last year, Gallagher pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating the order and was sentenced to 88 days in jail and three years of probation, according to court records.

The order prohibiting Gallagher from contacting his ex-wife was issued by Judge Frank Dougherty on Jan. 24, 2013, according to court records.

He is scheduled to appear in court again Tuesday, though that hearing is likely to be delayed to allow his attorney, David Renteria, to handle some unrelated issues, authorities said.

If convicted, Gallagher could face up to six years in the county jail, though prosecutors acknowledged Gallagher is unlikely to receive the maximum penalty.

In a high-profile stalking case in 2012, Gallagher was convicted of harassing a Merced County court commissioner who had ruled against him in a child-custody dispute.

Commissioner Gerald Corman and Corman’s wife, Christine McFadden, received numerous letters from Gallagher at their home and at McFadden’s workplace. Gallagher made numerous claims in the letters, including that he believed Corman “routinely destroys families.” Gallagher admitted spray painting a vulgar message in Corman’s driveway.

Corman testified during the trial that while the letters never explicitly threatened him or his family, the fact that Gallagher found his address implied a threat. “His intention (was) he wanted to let (my wife) know that there’s someone out there who really hates me and knows where we live,” Corman testified in 2012.

Many Mercedians are familiar with McFadden because her four children were murdered by her ex-husband in 2002. Her story gained national attention after it was featured on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show.

During the trial, McFadden testified Gallagher made her feel as if she were being “hunted and stalked” for no reason. As a result of the fear and intimidation, McFadden said she and Corman had stopped going out, and she had problems sleeping.

A Merced County jury convicted Gallagher in July 2012 of two felony counts of stalking and three misdemeanor vandalism charges. Gallagher was sentenced to 455 days in jail and five years’ probation, according to court records.

He remained behind bars Friday at the Merced County jail in lieu of $30,000 bail.

Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at rparsons@mercedsun-star.com or (209) 385-2482.

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