'Snake burglar' pleads guilty to 54 felonies, released for time served

City News Service
Saturday, July 29, 2023
'Snake burglar' pleads guilty to 54 felonies, will serve no jail time
A criminal in Riverside County dubbed the "snake burglar" pleaded guilty to 54 felonies on Thursday in a deal that will likely have him avoid further jail time.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CNS) -- A multi-convicted felon dubbed the "snake burglar'' for his method of burglarizing businesses pleaded guilty on Thursday to more than four dozen felony charges and was immediately sentenced to a jail term -- which he was expected to avoid serving -- along with 12 years' probation.

Christopher Michael Paul Jackson, 33, of Riverside admitted 54 counts of burglary under a plea agreement with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, resolving all of his pending cases.

Superior Court Judge Gary Polk certified the terms of the agreement and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense -- seven months in county jail and 12 years' mandatory supervision. Polk also ordered him to pay $158,235 in victim restitution.

Jackson was behind bars while awaiting adjudication of his cases, and because of that, in addition to "mandatory good time'' credits under the California Penal Code, his seven-month jail term appeared to have been satisfied, enabling him to be released for time served. However, Polk ordered that the defendant wear an ankle-attached GPS tracking device for the duration of his 12-year period of probation.

"Unfortunately, this case, although uniquely named, is not unique in California,'' District Attorney Mike Hestrin said. "It is unconscionable that a habitual offender like Christopher Jackson can steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from hardworking people, admit to it and legally serve less time in jail than the time it will take his hundreds of victims to recoup their losses.''

Jackson, who was on probation when he was arrested in April, perpetrated up to 70 break-ins throughout Moreno Valley and Riverside from last November to April, targeting beauty salons, health clinics and restaurants. Detectives attached the moniker "snake burglar'' to the convicted felon due to his penchant for crawling along the floors of businesses that he'd broken into to avoid motion detection alarms.

In his past sentencing, Jackson has plead guilty to 23 felonies and was ordered to serve six sentences of 16 months in jail, but ended up only spending 10 days because of overcrowding in the penal system.

Many business owners who were victim to Jackson's crime spree expressed concern that he would go back to burglarizing again now that he is out of jail.

"He got put on probation for 54 felonies, where he's going to have to supposedly wear an ankle bracelet," said Brian Perrone, the owner of D'Elias Grinders, to Eyewitness News. "I know they will put it on him, but will it stay there? And how long will it stay there? And how long until he's back breaking into buildings? This is continuing to go on and on and on and it seems like nobody is doing anything about it."

Jackson, who has burglary convictions going back nearly a decade, was held out by Hestrin, Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez and other public safety officials as an example of the state's flawed legal system, stemming mainly from Assembly Bill 109, passed by the Legislature in 2011, and Proposition 47, approved by voters in 2014.

AB 109 reclassified crimes such as theft to enable repeat offenders to receive mandatory supervision in lieu of jail, or to serve prison sentences in county lock-ups, which are already overcrowded. Prop 47 reduced many theft and drug-related offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.

Gonzalez said in April that the laws "have made it increasingly difficult to ensure the safety of our citizens.''

The main justification for AB 109, signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, was to reduce prison overcrowding. But as Sheriff Chad Bianco, Gonzalez and Hestrin pointed out in April, the state is now in the process of shuttering penitentiaries or ending their leases to correctional space in numerous locations, including Riverside County.

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