Sheriff’s Sergeant Charged for Recordings of Confidential Attorney Conversations

October 4, 2018 Updated: October 4, 2018

An Alameda County sheriff’s sergeant has been charged with four felonies for the alleged illegal and secret recordings of juvenile suspects in an interview room in March, prosecutors said on Oct. 3.

Sgt. James Russell was charged with four counts of eavesdropping on or recording confidential communications for his alleged actions at the Eden Township sheriff’s substation on March 15, according to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

The allegations against Russell came out in August when the county public defender’s office provided evidence of the recording of confidential conversations between juvenile suspects and their attorneys.

The public defender’s office obtained body camera footage of a conversation between Russell and Lt. Timothy Schellenberg in which Russell said he has been recording conversations between attorneys and clients.

When the district attorney’s office learned of the recorded conversations, the cases of those juveniles were dismissed. Prosecutors are still reviewing all other cases submitted by the sheriff’s office since the start of 2018 to see if more will be dismissed.

Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said the sheriff’s office is aware that charges have been filed against Russell, who has been placed on administrative leave.

Russell is set to be arraigned on Oct. 17, in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland.

Eavesdropping on confidential attorney conversations is a felony under California law punishable by up to three years in prison.

By DanMcMenamin