Newspaper Staffer Arrested in California for Terrorist Threat

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A member of a newspaper’s advertising staff was arrested in connection with a garage sale advertisement placed in its classified pages promising proceeds would go to a “memorial fund” for District Attorney Rod Pacheco.

Police took Chandler William Cardwell, 32, into custody Friday night at his home in Perris and booked him Saturday on suspicion of making terrorist threats and possession of a concealed firearm.

Cardwell was a member of the East Side Riva street gang, against which Pacheco had recently announced a crackdown, police Chief Russ Leach said.

He was being held on $1 million bail.

Cardwell was arrested after authorities executed search warrants at The Press-Enterprise and discovered that his cell phone was used to order the ad, authorities said.

The advertisement was paid for using a bogus checking number, police Sgt. Leon Phillips said.

The ad listed Pacheco’s home address and cellular telephone number and stated proceeds would benefit the “Rod Pacheco Memorial Fund.”

It was published Aug. 25, one day after Pacheco’s news conference and full-page newspaper advertisement announcing his bid for a sweeping civil injunction against the East Side Riva gang.

Cardwell was not among the more than 100 members named in the injunction.

Investigators were trying to determine whether anyone assisted Cardwell and how he located the home address and phone number of the district attorney, Leach said.

“Now that we’ve identified a suspect, we want to know by what means he got that information,” Leach said.

Pacheco said he was concerned that Cardwell may have obtained the information in the ad through his job at the newspaper.

Ronald R. Redfern, chief executive officer and publisher of The Press-Enterprise Co., said the company conducts reference checks on job applicants.

“We had no idea the employee was involved in a gang and we still don’t know that he is or that he was,” Redfern said. “We certainly did not have information to that effect when we hired him.”

Members of Cardwell’s family denied that he participated in the threat and that he was involved with the East Side Riva gang.

His father, Ralph Cardwell, said that Chandler recently called to let him know he was using a temporary phone because his permanent phone had been lost. Ralph Caldwell said someone could have used the lost phone to place the ad.

“It’s a complete surprise to me if he would be involved in any way in anything like this,” Ralph Cardwell said.

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