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Former deputy receives probationary sentence for firing weapon

Posted: August 21, 2014 4:53 p.m.
Updated: August 21, 2014 4:53 p.m.

A retired sheriff’s deputy accused of illegally firing his gun after neighborhood kids played a “ding dong ditch” prank on him received a probationary sentence Thursday after pleading no contest to the misdemeanor charge against him.

Sung Jin Pak, 47, of Westridge appeared in Newhall Municipal Court Thursday and entered a plea of no contest to a single count of discharge of a firearm with gross negligence.

Judge Valerie Salkin then sentenced Pak to three years probation and ordered him not to own or possession a firearm for 10 years, to attend 26 sessions of Alcoholics Anonymous and perform five days of community service.

Pak was initially charged with felony discharging a firearm with gross negligence.

The confrontation between Pak and pranksters happened about 8 p.m. Oct. 12. It occurred before Pak resigned.

“Apparently, juveniles were playing a prank called ‘ding dong ditch,’ where they ring the doorbell and run away,” then-Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said. He added there were reportedly 15 to 20 kids involved.

Pak “ran after the juveniles trying to identify them,” Whitmore said. “Apparently, three of the kids were physically larger than the others and turned toward Pak in a threatening manner,

“The deputy identified himself as a sheriff’s deputy and fired a warning shot in the air,” Whitmore said.

Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey S. Gootman asked the judge Thursday to order Pak to stay away from the children who live on his street, Greenleaf Court.

“I need the names of the children,” Salkin said in considering the request. “If there’s 30 of them then it becomes a tricky situation,” she said.

In the end, Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Kelly Matthews of the Internal Criminal Investigations Branch supplied the judge with a list of the 18 individuals named in his report.

“I am issuing an order to stay away from the individuals named in the report,” Salkin said. “You are not to harass or annoy these children, especially the 18 individuals named in the police report.”

The court also heard Thursday that Pak’s two weapons — a personal firearm and “regular duty weapon,” were no longer in his possession. The personal firearm was surrendered to a licensed gun dealer and destroyed; the duty weapon was turned in to the department.

Pak was also told to pay $150 in restitution.

News of the probation sentence came as little surprise to at least one Greenleaf Court resident.

“I’m not surprised, especially since the way (the charge) was changed to a soft misdemeanor from a felony,” said the resident, who asked that his name not be published. “They took care of their own,” he said of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Since the incident, Pak has been trying to sell his home and move out of the area. One neighbor noted, however, that a “For Sale” sign previously on Pak’s lawn has not been seen there recently.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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