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Found guilty on three of six misdemeanor charges three weeks ago, Mike Vandeman’s long dance between various Alameda County courtrooms came to a close this morning at his sentencing.
I wasn’t there, but here’s how it all shook out:
Vandeman was sentenced to 30 days on the Sherriff’s Work Alternative Program (S.W.A.P.). Those are the folks in the orange jumpsuits, you’ll see them working on the side of the highway sometimes, though there are 30 possible work sites around the county.
Thirty days is the maximum sentence allowed in the S.W.A.P. program and with the eight days he served in jail after his arrest, Vandeman will end up working 22 eight to ten hour days in the program. He’ll be free to go home each night.
Vandeman will also be on probation for three years, which includes a “Stay Away” order for trails in the Claremont Canyon Reserve and the UC Berkeley hiking trails. If you see him on the trail, it will be in violation of his parole.
Word is that the DA asked for a much greater sentence and the judge cited Vandeman’s age and lack of any kind of previous record in his decision to forego more jail time.
Also, the fact that the handsaw charge resulted in a hung jury and the DA declined to pursue it further means that the charge wasn’t taken into consideration during sentencing.
You could call the sentence a slap on the wrist, but it may be even less than that. Throughout this process, local mountain bikers said they’d like to see Vandeman get some sort of ironic community service—building mountain bike trails or teaching kids to ride off road—but it seems he may have gotten just the opposite.
Twenty-two days on a work crew is no picnic, but you get the feeling that for a guy like Vandeman, putting himself and his life on display during the trial was more punitive than picking up litter will be.