Car dealer upset over lack of action in thefts

A local car dealer Wednesday said he is angry the man accused of stealing cars from his lot was released from jail shortly before being arrested a second time.

Jaime Bustamonte, 26, is in Carson City jail without bail waiting for a new hearing on charges he burglarized a woman's home.

Michael Hohl, owner and operator of the dealership bearing his name, is wondering if he will get justice in the theft of his four vehicles.

"My frustration is that we have a known felon who was arrested for stealing cars and, because of a technicality, we put the man back on the street and a few hours later he was arrested again," Hohl said. "Someone has to step up and take responsibility."

District Attorney Noel Waters said his office is in the process of finding a prosecutor to handle the Bustamonte case.

With the right to a speedy trial, the District Attorney's office has 15 days to get things in order for a preliminary hearing. According to Waters in the case of Bustamonte, that is not enough time to get another jurisdiction to take the case.

"With the Soria (child rape and murder) case in Douglas County, plus the loss of two deputies and the murder case in Lyon County (the aunt accused in the deaths of her niece and a baby), those offices are busy," Waters said.

"You just don't have a lot of time in those 15 days - it's pretty tight. You just don't have a lot of time to (find another jurisdiction to) do it."

Waters said the District Attorney's Office has no intention of letting Bustamonte get away with anything. "This is a viable case, it will go to court," he said. "Just where and when is the question."

Hohl said he is getting impatient with the process.

"I don't want this stuff pushed on the back burner," he said. "I've had four vehicles stolen. Common sense says this is not the way it's supposed to work," Hohl said.

One of the stolen vehicles was returned to Hohl, two others are still in the impound lot.

"I think the police did a good job, they found three of the four vehicles rather quickly. They did what they are supposed to do." Hohl said. "If I were a police officer I would be saying, 'The D.A. let the guy out on the street again. What am I doing this for?'

"All I am saying is that somebody's got to keep the guy in jail. I don't want to know all of the intricacies of what's happening at the District Attorney's office, that's not my job."

Court documents reveal that Bustamonte is no stranger to the legal system.

The man who was arrested Tuesday for burglary the night after he was released in a car theft case has a criminal record dating back a decade.

A synopsis of those crimes show in 1990 he was arrested in Sacramento for inhalation of poisonous fumes. In 1992 he was arrested for possession of a firearm, challenging a fight in a public place and battery, the latter of which he was convicted of and received probation. In 1997 Bustamonte was arrested in Sacramento for assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a controlled substance. The deadly weapon charge was dismissed due to lack of evidence. He was convicted of the possession charge, a felony.

Bustamonte is implicated in a series of car thefts by his alleged partner Jamus Cooper stemming from an attempted theft Dec. 2. Cooper, 18, was arrested on the lot of Michael Hohl Motors on South Carson Street hiding under a car after a security guard allegedly spotted him and another man attempting to steal a new vehicle. The second suspect escaped.

At the time of his arrest, Cooper said he was involved in an auto theft ring that takes vehicles to a body shop in Fresno. Altogether four vehicles were taken over a period of 10 days from the Michael Hohl lot. Cooper named Bustamonte as his accomplice. A few days after Cooper's arrest, police located one of Michael Hohl's stolen vehicles at Tanglewood Apartments. While deputies watched the stolen vehicle, a black sport utility vehicle appeared at the scene.

As deputies moved in, the men who arrived in the sport utility vehicle began to run. One of them was Bustamonte. A deputy brought Cooper from jail and he identified Bustamonte as his partner in the car thefts. Bustamonte was arrested for attempted grand larceny Dec. 9. On Monday, Bustamonte appeared in Justice Court on that charge.

The Carson City District Attorney's Office entered a motion to dismiss based on a conflict of interest between Bustamonte and several people in the District Attorney's Office named as co-defendants in a grand jury investigation. Bustamonte was released from jail on the attempted grand theft charge and fewer than 12 hours later, was picked up as a suspect in a home burglary. Cooper is also back in jail in lieu of $1,555 bail on a traffic violation.


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