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Placer grad gets probation in BB gun case

Francisco Evangelista is facing likely deportation
By: Penne Usher, Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn man was sentenced to three years probation and probable deportation for bringing a BB gun to the Placer High School campus last August. Francisco Evangelista, 20, was in an Auburn courtroom Thursday with his attorney Tim Woodall. He's currently a sad and fearful young man, Woodall told the court. He knows he'll be banished from the only country and the only family he has ever known. Evangelista pleaded no contest March 13 to the single felony charge of bringing a BB gun onto school grounds. Woodall argued unsuccessfully Thursday afternoon to have his client's charge reduced to a misdemeanor. He has no prior offenses, no history of discipline problems and is described as a creative young man, Woodall said. Judge Robert P. McElhany declined the reduction of the charges and sentenced Evangelista to three years probation and credit for time served. The 2006 Placer High graduate admitted during interrogation that he had been in the art classroom of the school and had been in possession of a BB gun, according to documents filed Feb. 27 in Placer County Superior Court. No gun was ever found. Charges of possession of a firearm on school grounds and being a member of a street gang were dropped. The charges stem from an Aug. 27 incident at Placer High School that prompted a school-wide lockdown. A student reported seeing an individual on campus showing other students a handgun. Evangelista was on campus and in teacher Toby Covich's art classroom. After the lockdown was lifted, Evangelista reportedly voluntarily went to the school office, was questioned, searched and given a ride home by Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris. Evangelista was arrested at his Electric Street home Aug. 30. Evangelista has lived in Auburn with his grandparents since he was a child. He has no prior criminal arrests and no disciplinary problems at Placer High, according to court documents. A federal hold has been placed on Evangelista from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE will now be notified and they'll take custody of Mr. Evangelista, Woodall said outside the courtroom Thursday. Lori Haley, spokeswoman for ICE said just how long it takes to complete the deportation process varies for each individual case. Basically he comes into ICE custody and is processed for removal. That involves returning the person (to Mexico) as quickly and efficiently as possible, she said. Woodall said he isn't sure if his client has family in Mexico, where he will be taken by immigration officials. Jerry Kopp, owner of Uptown Signs in Downtown Auburn, said he doesn't believe Evangelista should be deported. If someone has been here 20 years, graduated here and has been productive, why deport him? Kopp said. Now remember I am opposed to illegal immigration, but what's he going to do in Mexico? Dave Blau agreed. What we ought to do is leave (Evangelista) alone and go get the other illegals brandishing guns, Blau said. Go get the real criminals, not some kid who made a stupid mistake. The Journal's Penne Usher can be reached at penneu@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment at auburnjournal.com.