The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office issued a warrant for the arrest of convicted felon-at-large Joseph Sang-Jun Lee — who resigned from his elected position as Representative-at-Large on this year’s Associated Students Legislative Council last Spring quarter — after he failed to appear at an arraignment on Sept. 14.
While the third-year political science major has been formally convicted of two felonies, receiving stolen property and tampering with computer data systems, he is now being charged with grand theft of personal property in a separate court case. Lee is currently enrolled as a student at UCSB despite his violations of the UC-wide Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline and is also enlisted in County Sheriff’s Department’s electronic monitor program, requiring him to wear a GPS-enabled ankle device as a form of alternative incarceration.
Despite their ability to track his location, neither the UC Police Department nor the County Sheriff’s Department has apprehended Lee. UCPD Public Information Officer Rob Romero said while students who miss court dates for minor charges may not be pursued by UCPD, those with serious violations posing a threat to other students must be.
“If it was something more serious like property damage, physical assault or theft of some kind, especially multiple thefts by the same person, we would have to actively look for that person,” Romero said. “If it would turn into a warrant, we would be notified by the court and it would be our obligation to take that person into custody and arrest them, basically, so they can be reprimanded and taken into court to see the judge.”
However, the Sheriff Dept.’s Warrants Unit said the DA’s warrant has not yet been filed with their office, a process that can take up to a month.
According to the campus’ Student Code of Conduct, under which any student who commits theft must be held accountable, “when the health and safety if the individual or members of the University community are involved, the campus disciplinary process will be implemented immediately upon notification of the charges.”
As of press time, Assistant Dean of Students Stephan Franklin could not be reached for comment. Franklin is responsible the enforcement of student regulations.
Lee’s criminal history began on Dec. 12, 2010, when he was reprimanded by the UCPD for burglary from the UCen Bookstore and charged with a petty theft misdemeanor, which was reduced to disturbing the peace due to Lee’s completion of a Theft Awareness Program and payment of a $416 fine. According to court documents, the alleged grand theft occurred on April 9 — 12 days after Lee finished the required program.
A.S. Off-Campus Representative Shervin Shaikh, the injured party in Lee’s open case, said campus administrations’ lack of accountability places students at risk.
“I do think that the safety of students has been obstructed by Joe Lee being here; the school needs to take action on the fact that there is a convicted criminal enrolled,” Shaikh said. “I don’t understand why he’s still here.”
According to Romero, the university is obligated to implement its own academic repercussions after a student is formally punished by the county’s court system.
“They can be put on some type of academic probation so they can’t commit any more public violations,” Romero said. “It’ll go to the Dean of Students and then maybe the Dean of Students will put them on some sort of probationary process.”
In his May 18 plea of no contest to the initial felony charges, Lee affirmed that “on or about April 27, 2011 I possessed property, [a] computer belonging to E.T. Danielson, knowing it was stolen and did access and alter data/software/programs stored therein in violation of PC 496 and 502 (c)(4) in the County of Santa Barbara and there is a factual basis for the plea in UCPD 11-0456.”
Second-year Eric Danielson said the laptop was stolen from his Santa Catalina dorm room during the half hour he went down to dinner.
“[Lee] was the first person that told me it was probably a prank…” Danielson said. “At the same time that that happened, he was already in the possession of Shervin’s laptop, which was a 13-inch Macbook Pro, and then he saw mine that was unlocked and it’s like an upgrade, because mine was a 15-inch.”
According to Danielson, Lee then erased the data on Shaikh’s laptop and returned it, claiming that it was not his original device but a conciliatory replacement.
“He’s quick and has no remorse for lying to get himself out of a bad situation,” Danielson said.
Lee turned himself in at the county jail on August 31 and will technically remain in custody until Nov. 27 under the monitoring program, during which time he is not allowed to leave the county and must pay a probation fee of $30 per month. Following this sentence, the rate will jump to $90 a month for the remainder of his three-year probation period.