DA Gascon Honors Those Who Helped Close High-Profile Cases

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon honored victims, prosecutors, law enforcement officials and others who helped seek justice in high-profile cases from the past year at the 10th annual Justice Awards this afternoon.

The midday ceremony at the State Building recognized the work and bravery in three cases from last year that the district attorney office’s victim services division worked on.

One was the “blessing scam” that preyed on older Chinese-speaking immigrants, as part of a worldwide con.

In exchange for valuables, such as jewelry and cash, a scammer offered services to protect the victim from ghosts and other misfortune.

One victim in SF included Peiyee Lam Zhao, who was scammed out of $1,800 and a pearl necklace. Five days after she realized she had been duped, she saw the suspect on the bus and confronted the woman.

Through Zhao’s efforts to detain her, investigators were able to get information about the suspect and ultimate identify her and arrest her.

In the city there have been 50 similar cases totaling losses of more than $300,000 worth of jewelry and $1.2 million cash.

Another case highlighted today was the conviction of Anthony Taylor last May for two separate shootings in 2009. Taylor and another defendant were believed to be members of the Hunters Point Westmob street gang.

Taylor had gone after a victim and his brothers because he was believed to be a “snitch.” The victim was shot nine times, but survived the shooting.

The district attorney also praised the work of prosecutors in the conviction of Mia Sagote for the kidnapping and murder of a woman from the Tenderloin in 2007.

Sagote dumped the victim at Candlestick Park, doused her in gasoline and lit her on fire.

According to the district attorney’s office, 5,892 victims and witnesses worked with the District Attorney Office’s victims services division in 2013, a 9 percent increase from 2012.

A partnership with the Glide Foundation allowed the office to start holding office hours in the Tenderloin neighborhood in addition to sessions in Chinatown, the Mission and the Bayview neighborhoods, to help victims find services, such as physical therapy or mental health care, and funding for medical needs or burial expenses after a crime.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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