CA Woman to Do Time For False Accusations

We’ve seen something like this before. In this case, Santa Ana, California resident Jeanne Manunga seems to have been unhappy about her boyfriend’s breaking up with her in 2008 (Orange County Register, 7/12/10). I say that because she immediately went out and bought a pre-paid cell phone and started sending threatening text messages – not to him, to herself. You see, she’d purchased the phone in the name of her boyfriend’s sister-in-law. What Manunga had against her is anyone’s guess, but that’s what she did. She continued sending the messages and went to three different police agencies at least 19 separate times complaining that her former boyfriend was sending the messages. Sure enough, he was arrested and charged.
The sister-in-law was arrested three times. They had to pay thousands of dollars in bail, hire attorneys, etc. Apparently the sister-in-law spent a good bit of time behind bars while she rustled up the money to make bail. One interesting aspect of the case is that the police didn’t break it, the victims did. They tracked down the store that sold Manunga the cell phone and the owner said she’d bought it in the sister-in-law’s name. Into the bargain, the police figured out that most of the messages were sent from a location at or near Manunga’s house. Sound at all like Kristin Ruggiero? Yep, it did to me too. Manunga was eventually convicted of three felonies and two misdemeanors. She was sentenced last Friday to one year in prison and made to pay her victims $50,000 in restitution. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for her to pay, but you never know. The article’s headline claims that she was jailed for making threats to herself. That of course is not true. I know it’s an irresistible spin on the whole thing, but I don’t know of any law that prohibits a person from sending threatening messages to him/herself. What’s illegal and what she was convicted and sentenced for were her false accusations against two innocent people. That plus her taking up the time resources of the police, courts, prosecutors, etc. make what she did a serious matter. Manunga could have texted herself til she was blue in the face and no one would have cared. It’s when she involved the police and started putting innocent people behind bars that she crossed a legal line. It didn’t work for Kristin Ruggiero either. Maybe these people should try something else. Thanks to David for the heads-up.

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