MENDOCINO Co., 10/14/21 — Last month in Potter Valley, a concerned resident called in to report about a suspicious vehicle near some mailboxes around 1 a.m. on Sept. 25. The suspect vehicle sped off when approached, but responding deputies with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) found it nearby, and noticed that the driver “came to an abrupt stop prior to him making contact.”
The driver allegedly fled on foot but was identified as Charles Maxfield, a 46-year-old from Willits with an outstanding warrant and multiple prior convictions. Passenger Sharon Kathleen Smith, 43, remained with the vehicle — where deputies allegedly found mail stolen from no less than 100 from the communities of Ukiah, Calpella, Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Reeves Canyon and Willits. Deputies also found “identifying documents,” blank checks and a laptop with a portable printer.
“A photocopy of a California Identification Card depicting Maxfield was located with the printer,” deputies said in a press release Oct. 11. “The I.D. card contained the full identification of a person other than Maxfield.”
Smith was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a felony and acquiring false identification with intent to commit fraud. She also had her probation revoked. Maxfield evaded a search of the area, however, and remained at large as of Tuesday.
Maxfield has prior convictions, starting with drugs and violence in 1997. Hewas convicted of multiple vehicle thefts and being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2018. He was sentenced to three years, 8 months in prison, and freed on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) this February. A warrant issued for Maxfield’s arrest Sept. 14 — more than a week before the alleged mail theft — says he “absconded and his … whereabouts are unknown.” The document describes Maxfield as a 300-pound Native man standing 6-feet 4-inches tall with brown hair and brown eyes. A photo was not provided by MCSO.
Smith entered a plea of no contest to a misdemeanor charge of being an accessory after the fact during a preliminary hearing Wednesday. An unsigned summary probation order indicates she’s been offered a sentence of 12 months probation plus 20 days time served in county jail and ordered released by the court. In the criminal complaint listing her as co-defendant, prosecutors initially charged Smith with two felonies including unlawful use or transfer of identifying information and conspiracy to commit mail theft. They also alleged she’d been using two-way radios to communicate with Maxfield while they were stealing mail.
You can read the original press release from MCSO below:
|MEDIA ADVISORY/NEWS RELEASE|
DATE: “October 11, 2021”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
530.5(c)(3) PC (Possess Identifying Information of 10 or more persons)
182(a)(1) PC (Conspiracy to Commit a Crime)
475(b) PC (Possess Blank or Unfinished Check with Intent to Commit Fraud)
483.5(b) PC (Possess Document-Making Device with Intent to Make Deceptive Identification Documents)
1203.2 PC (Probation Violation)
Spring Valley Road in Potter Valley, CA
Date of Incident:
No Less Than 100 Residents from Throughout Inland Mendocino County
Sharon Smith (43 year-old female from Potter Valley, CA)
Charles Maxfield (46 year-old male from Willits, CA)
Sergeant J. Vanoven #1286
On 09-25-2021 at about 1:14 A.M, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle in the area of West Road and Spring Valley Road in Potter Valley, California.
A local resident noticed a vehicle parked near mail boxes in the area and believed the occupants may have been stealing mail. As the resident approached the vehicle, it sped away and was last seen in the area of Spring Valley Road.
The first responding Deputy encountered the vehicle, a 2004 Ford Focus, on Spring Valley Road. The Deputy noticed the vehicle came to an abrupt stop prior to him making contact with it.
As the Deputy approached the vehicle on foot, he noticed the driver seat was vacant. As the Deputy contacted the passenger, Sharon Smith and he heard what sounded like a person running away through the nearby brush.
Evidence later found within the vehicle identified the driver as being Charles Maxfield. Maxfield was known to be on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) for convictions related to mail theft. Maxfield was also known to have an outstanding arrest warrant for violating the terms of his PRCS.
Additional Deputies arrived and searched the area for Maxfield but were unsuccessful.
A search of the vehicle revealed a massive amount of mail and numerous Identification Documents, none of which were addressed or issued to Maxfield or Smith. Also located in the vehicle were numerous blank checks, a laptop computer and a portable color printer.
A photocopy of a California Identification Card depicting Maxfield was located with the printer. The I.D Card contained the full identification of a person other than Maxfield.
Based on this initial investigation, Deputies determined Maxfield and Smith were in fact actively stealing mail, and using the identifying information gathered from the mail, to commit fraudulent and felonious acts. Smith was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail.
A search warrant for Smith’s Residence, located in Potter Valley, was secured and served. No additional evidence was located.
Based on the nature of the crimes, a Request to Increase Bail and to Restrict the Source of Bail was granted by a Mendocino County Superior Court Judge. Smith’s bail was set at “No Bail” and should bail be set, she will be required to prove that the funds used to post bail were not feloniously obtained before bail will be granted.
Maxfield remains outstanding at this time.
Further investigation of the evidence revealed no less than 100 separated victims’ identifying information had been acquired by Smith and Maxfield.
This information likely had been used, or was being possessed with the intent to use, in the commission of multiple felonious offenses.
Deputies, with the assistance of the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office Investigations Division, are continuing to follow up with victims related to this case.
Mail was found addressed to persons in the following communities: Ukiah, Calpella, Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Reeves Canyon and Willits.
Captain Gregory L. Van Patten #1184