A former county sheriff’s deputy who swiped a musician’s pricey trumpet and jacket while he played at a Millbrae hotel and later threw the instrument out a car window was sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Brandon Hatt, 34, pleaded no contest Tuesday to felony grand theft and was immediately given the two months jail followed by three years of supervised probation. He must also pay Jesse Mathews, the musician whose trumpet was stolen, $533.29.
Mathews, who now lives and teaches music in Colorado, said he was relieved he didn’t have to fly back to California to testify but didn’t necessarily agree with the sentence.
“I didn’t personally feel like he should serve jail time because it was a nonviolent offense and because of the issues surrounding the jail in San Mateo County,” Mathews said.
Hatt was ordered to surrender to the jail March 15 and a judge recommended he serve his time through the sheriff’s alternative work program. Judge Jonathan Karesh is also allowing Hatt to serve his time in San Diego and will reduce the felony to a misdemeanor after he successfully completes half his probation, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti.
Hatt had been employed by the Millbrae Police Department under the umbrella of the Sheriff’s Office as part of its shared services agreement. Hatt was off duty and not in uniform at the time of the alleged incident. He was placed on leave after his arrest and has since left the employment of the Sheriff’s Office. The conviction prohibits Hatt from carrying a weapon.
Hatt was arrested Dec. 21, 2012 the day after authorities say he took the $2,000 trumpet from Mathews, a then-music teacher at South San Francisco’s Parkway Heights Middle School who was playing a show with his band Curt Yagi and the People Standing Behind Me. Mathews previously told the Daily Journal he noticed a group of loud men, one in uniform, and left their instruments when taking a break.
When it was time to leave, around 10 p.m., Mathews noticed his trumpet as well as his jacket missing.
Prosecutors said Hatt was shooting pool at the hotel and was seen leaving, then re-entering for one minute, before exiting again with the jacket and trumpet. A responding officer called to the hotel learned the trumpet had been thrown from a car on Magnolia Avenue near Taylor Boulevard but was unable to locate it. Mathews found the instrument in its soft case in a driveway about a block from where it had been reported thrown. The jacket was not recovered.
Mathews said he spent about $275 repairing the trumpet and it plays the same as before the theft.
Hatt remains free from custody on a $10,000 bail bond pending his surrender. If convicted by a jury, Hatt faced up to three years in prison.
Mathews said the incident helped cement his lack of trust in law enforcement.
“It was the icing on the cake, having a cop commit a crime,” he said.
Mathews is also still waiting for an apology from either the Millbrae Police Department or Sheriff’s Office.
“The Millbrae PD and sheriff are responsible for the type of people they put on the force and especially in the Sheriff’s Office there is a lack of credibility,” Hatt said. “I just want an acknowledgment that someone messed up.”
Defense attorney Erin Dervin did not return an inquiry for comment.
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