Former Merced CHP commander helped rapist son flee to Mexico. He won’t go to jail

The former head of the Merced-area California Highway Patrol office received probation without any time behind bars for helping his son escape to Mexico during his rape trial in 2012.

Kyle Scarber and his estranged wife Gail Scarber received sentences of six months on probation from Retired Fresno County Judge John Gallagher. The Scarbers pleaded no contest to a felony charge of conspiring to commit a crime.

They helped Spencer Scarber flee to Acapulco in 2012. He eventually was captured, convicted and sentenced to 35 years to life for the rape of a 35-year-old housekeeper at a neighbor’s home.

Kyle Scarber was the California Highway Patrol’s assistant chief in the Fresno area at the time. Before his time in Fresno, Scarber was commander of the CHP’s Merced Area Office.

Prosecutors say Gail Scarber and daughter Crystal Reynoso crossed the border Dec. 12, the same morning Spencer Scarber was reported missing by his father. Prosecutors said pictures showed the Scarbers’ car crossing the border and the pair walking back across the border.

As part of the plea agreement, Judge Gallagher ordered Kyle and Gail Scarber to each perform 500 hours of community service and pay a total of $10,000 in restitution to the state of California for its criminal investigation.

Reynoso pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor conspiracy charge. She was ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.

Under the June 2018 plea agreement, Kyle and Gail Scarber and Reynoso delayed their sentencing hearing until this month.

Once they completed their community service and paid the restitution, Kyle and Gail Scarber’s felony conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor and Reynoso’s conviction was dismissed, said Fresno defense lawyer Roger Nuttall.

Judge Gallagher gave Kyle and Gail Scarber six months of misdemeanor probation, from July 19 to Jan. 1, 2020. During their probation they are not allowed to leave California, must submit to a person and property search and are not to possess any firearms and ammunition.

“It’s over,” Nuttall said. “It has been a long and painful ordeal for the family and now they can try and put this behind them with only misdemeanor convictions.”

Court records show Gail Scarber filed for divorce last May.

Detectives alleged Spencer Scarber dyed his hair, grew a goatee, used fake identification and disguised himself in hopes he would not be found in Mexico. His parents lied to investigators, saying he’d been kidnapped, according to detectives.

The Scarbers have maintained that their son never received a fair trial.

The Sun-Star’s Thaddeus Miller contributed to this report.

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Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined The Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.