Dominic Falasco, a member of the Los Banos Unified School District board of trustees and a prominent criminal defense attorney, was arrested early Sunday on allegations of methamphetamine possession, Merced police have confirmed.
Falasco, 48, was booked into the Merced County Jail at 3:32 a.m. on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of concentrated cannabis and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana — all misdemeanors. He was released from custody at 6:19 a.m., according to booking records.
Falasco was a passneger in a black Ford F-150 pickup truck stopped around 1:18 a.m. on a suspected traffic violation in the area of Yosemite Avenue and M Street, Capt. Bimley West told the Sun-Star.
Police had received a call reporting a suspected drunken driver.
“The officers investigated and learned the driver was not DUI, but was on probation” West said in a telephone interview.
The driver, Raylynn L. Wineland, was under a legal order to submit to police searches as part of her probation, West said.
“During the search, officers found methamphetamine in the truck and Mr. Falasco admitted that it was his and had some more methamphetamine on his person,” West said.
Police also found suspected marijuana and hashish. The exact quantities of the alleged drugs and marijuana could not immediately be confirmed.
Wineland was cited for driving without a license and the vehicle was taken to storage by police. She was not booked into the county jail, West said.
The well-known Los Banos-area criminal defense attorney could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday. A woman who answered the telephone at his office in Los Banos said she would try to pass the message on to him.
Falasco was elected in 2012 as a trustee to the board of the Los Banos Unified School District, ousting long-time incumbent Colleen Menefee by just 25 votes, according to Sun-Star archives.
Falasco is a certified specialist in criminal defense law, and in 2013 was vice chair of the Criminal Law Advisory Commission for the California Board of Legal Specialization.
He has been involved as a defense attorney in a number of high-profile cases over the years in Merced County. He defended Omar Cebrero, who was one of four defendants convicted in the 2007 kidnapping and burning death of Rosa Avina, a case that caught some national attention.
Four men, including Cebrero, received life prison sentences for kidnapping the woman and burning her alive because they believed she had stolen a pound of marijuana, according to Sun-Star archives.
The Falasco name in Los Banos also is attached to the city’s courthouse, an elementary school and the community arts center.
He received his law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law and joined the state bar in 1992, according to California State Bar records.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482