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Inland Empire Man Who Threatened to Kill U.S. Forest Service Officer Investigating Trash Dumping Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

Posted by Fay Arfa | Jan 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

LOS ANGELES– A man who repeatedly threatened to kill a United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer who contacted the man in relation to an investigation into trash dumped in the San Bernardino National Forest was sentenced today 18 months in federal prison.

Richard Latka, 57, of Hemet, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer.

Latka was found guilty by a federal jury in October of threatening to assault and murder the federal officer. According to the evidence presented at the trial, the Forest Service Officer went to a residence on Persimmons Lane in Hemet in October 2014 to investigate a large amount of trash that had recently been dumped in the nearby national forest. The officer encountered Latka in the front yard of the residence, and Latka reacted angrily when the officer said he wished to speak to the owner of the home. Latka then ran toward the officer with clenched fists. Believing that Latka intended to hit him, the officer drew his Taser and ordered Latka to stop. Latka stopped running but continued screaming at the officer. The officer tried to diffuse the situation by retreating to his car, but Latka followed the officer, continued to scream at him, and then pounded with both fists on the driver's side window of the officer's marked law enforcement vehicle. The officer drove away, but Latka pursued the officer in his own car, screaming that he was going to kill the officer. At one, Latka pulled up beside the officer and yelled, “Next time you're dead!” Witnesses reported that Latka later returned to the home and screamed to them that he was going to kill the officer.

“This federal law enforcement officer faced serious threats of assault and murder.  The officer did everything he could to de-escalate the situation,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Instead of de-escalating, Mr. Latka made repeated threats to harm the officer, who was acting both lawfully and prudently. As a result of his dangerous conduct, his unwillingness to comply with law enforcement, and his failure to accept responsibility for his crime, Mr. Latka has earned this prison term.”

The case against Latka was the product of an investigation by the United States Forest Service.

USAO – California, Central Updated January 26, 2016

Central District of California DOJ / 16-010 / January 25, 2016

About the Author

Fay Arfa

Fay Arfa has the distinction of being Certified as a Specialist in two separate areas of law – Criminal Law as well as Appellate Law – by the California State Bar, Board of Specialization. The National Board of Trial Advocacy has also awarded her a board Certification in Criminal Trial Advocacy. ...


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