The articles below from the Merced Sun-Star tell a story about felony indictments brought against five people associated with Firm Build, a program started in 1998 to train "troubled teens" in construction trades. Merced County Planning Commissioner Rudy Buendia was or is still executive director of Firm Build, which went bankrupt months ago.
Buendia, charged originally with 15 felonies (later 17), according to the newspaper fled arrest and was a "fugitive" for two days before turning himself in with Kirk McAllister, Modesto criminal defense attorney, at his side.
Two of the five charged were arrested. It is unclear from reports if two others were arrested or turned themselves in. Two have posted bail and been released.
Buendia, the only reported fugitive, was released without paying bail on September 18 by Superior Court Judge McCabe. The judge's reasons included Buendia's clean record and that he personally knew seven of the 20 prominent people who wrote letters on Buendia's behalf. The board of supervisors is reported to have no plans of removing either Planning Commissioner Buendia or Patrick Bowman, on the board of the "troubled" Merced County Housing Authority and an official of the Merced County Office of Education, from the positions the board appointed them to.Read More »