General Crime

Vanessa Michaels Novato woman pleads no contest dissuading a witness alleged white supremacist gang assault

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A Novato woman who faced a trial for an alleged white supremacist gang assault of two black men last August pleaded no contest this morning to dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. Vanessa Michaels, 25, faced a trial in Sonoma County Superior Court this month on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime in connection with the attack at the McDonald’s restaurant on Santa Rosa Avenue on Aug. 26.

Michaels grabbed a cellphone from the girlfriend of one of the victims who was trying to call police about the assault, according to testimony at her preliminary hearing earlier this month. Michaels pleaded no contest to the dissuading a witness charge and admitted participating in a criminal street gang. Judge Gary Medvigy sentenced her today to time she already served in jail while awaiting her trial. Michaels will be released today from Sonoma County Jail.

Her co-defendant Salvatore Bordessa, 25, of Windsor, an alleged Barbarian Brotherhood gang member, faces a trial on 10 felony counts, including assault with a deadly weapon, threatening to commit a crime, intimidating a victim or witness and participating in a criminal street gang. Bordessa’s next court appearance is Thursday. A third defendant and alleged Barbarian Brotherhood gang member, Aaron Welch, 27, of Clearlake, has already pleaded guilty to two assault with a deadly weapon charges and admitted inflicting great bodily injury on the victims.

Welch also admitted hate crime and gang allegations and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office alleges that Welch and Bordessa wielded knives and assaulted the two victims. Welch stabbed one of the men, who were brothers, in the arm and leg, and yelled racial slurs and “BBH” the initials of the Barbarian Brotherhood gang, District Attorney Jill Ravitch said. Michaels’ attorney Rebecca Linkous said her client once dated Welch but was not a member of the Barbarian Brotherhood.

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