CHP assistant chief arrested, accused of helping fugitive son

02/17/2013 7:22 AM

02/17/2013 8:12 AM

The rapist who fled Fresno County to Mexico and lived under an alias for two months has been caught, Sheriff Margaret Mims said Saturday.

Spencer Scarber, 20, left the U.S. in mid-December, three days before a jury returned a guilty verdict on two counts of rape and on robbery and burglary charges. Prosecutors said at the time they believed Scarber went to Mexico with his mother and a sister, both of whom then walked back across the border.

And because they are suspected of helping him flee, other Scarber family members now face criminal charges — including father Kyle Scarber, 49, an assistant chief with the CHP's Central Division. Prior to his appointment as an assistant chief, Kyle Scarber served as commander of the CHP's Merced area office.

Kyle Scarber was arrested Saturday along with mother Gail Scarber, 51, and sister Crystal Reynoso, 33, each charged with felony conspiracy to help a fugitive escape.

They were all booked into the Fresno County Jail, although Kyle Scarber’s booking was delayed because he reported having chest pains at his arrest and was taken to Community Regional Medical Center for evaluation.

Spencer Scarber’s freedom ended Thursday evening in Acapulco when he was arrested by Mexican authorities for possessing false identification and using a false name. His booking photo reveals that he had also attempted to change his appearance by lightening his hair and growing a goatee.

After the Sheriff’s Office learned that Scarber had been caught, he was taken first to Mexico City and then to Los Angeles, where Fresno County deputies met him Saturday morning. He was brought to Fresno at midday.

“I was confident we were going to eventually find Spencer Scarber,” Mims said. “I’m grateful that Spencer Scarber is back in custody and will do his time for his crimes.”

According to his booking record, Spencer Scarber is being held on no bail on a charge of robbery and $500,000 bail on a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Sheriff’s officials did not provide additional information on the charges Saturday.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, Kyle Scarber is charged with being an accessory and filing a false police report.

Scarber told authorities he last saw his son about 1:30 a.m. Dec. 12 but discovered him missing at 5 a.m. Spencer Scarber’s crutches — which he had used because of a recent knee surgery — were found in the roadway near the family’s foothill home along with a small amount of blood.

The CHP said Saturday it will conduct its own investigation of Kyle Scarber’s involvement in his son’s case and will take appropriate action. His work status could not be determined Saturday. His bail was set at $101,000.

Gail Scarber also faces charges of being an accessory, possession of a false birth certificate and passport, forgery and false impersonation of another person. Mims did not say for whom the false birth certificate and passport were intended. Her bail was set at $107,000.

Prosecutor Leanne Le Mon said in December that a car registered to Gail Scarber crossed the U.S. border into Mexico at 3:24 a.m. Dec. 12, but a return trip for the family car was not recorded. But Gail Scarber and Reynoso walked back into the U.S. at the San Ysidro border crossing at 4:44 a.m. by using their passports, Le Mon said.

The Scarbers were arrested about 10 a.m. Saturday at their home in Squaw Valley.

Reynoso also was booked on charges of being an accessory and driving with a suspended license. She was arrested about 12:30 p.m. Saturday at a home in the 4500 block of East Rialto Avenue in northeast Fresno. Her bail was set at $101,000.

Coincidentally, a 30-year-old Fresno man who Mims believes might be Reynoso’s live-in boyfriend was arrested Saturday at the home on an unrelated domestic violence warrant.

The California Attorney General’s Office will file charges against the Scarbers and Reynoso, Mims said.

The Sheriff’s Office believes all the people suspected of helping Spencer Scarber flee to Mexico are in custody, she said.

The suspects, who will be considered escape risks, will be housed away from the general jail population because of Kyle Scarber’s law enforcement job, Mims said.

Spencer Scarber’s lawyer, Antonio Alvarez, said he planned to meet with his client Saturday evening. Alvarez said he is considering a motion for a new trial in the rape conviction. One issue is that the trial proceeded and ended without Scarber being present, he said.

Judge Edward Sarkisian delayed Scarber’s sentencing because he was absent from court. He faces up to 70 years in state prison for a July 2011 rape of a 35-year-old woman at a neighbor’s home in Squaw Valley. His DNA, which was found on the victim, and a confession to detectives were the primary evidence in the case.

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