Former Lemon Grove mayor Mary Sessom
  • Former Lemon Grove mayor Mary Sessom
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Anna Sessom Baker, daughter of former Lemon Grove mayor and council member Mary Sessom, is in jail today. Yesterday (June 20),she, along with Jonathan Ibarra and Hector Fernando Garcia, were arraigned and charged with possession of 44.14 kilograms of fentanyl, with the intent to distribute it.

The United States Attorney's office says the seizure was one of the largest ever in the nation. Fentanyl is a fast-acting narcotic and sedative with a heroinlike effect, often used to boost the potency of heroin.

According to search warrant information, on November 30 of last year Ibarra received instructions that a female courier, later identified as Baker, would transport the narcotic in three separate trips on consecutive days. However, agents stopped Baker's rented vehicle and found 15 kilograms of fentanyl. Agents went to her house and found 30 more kilograms.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarad E. Hodes confirmed today that Baker is Sessom's daughter. The matter had come up in court yesterday. Mary Sessom served as mayor of Lemon Grove from 1996 to 2016. Earlier, she had been a council member. In her last term, she was chair of the San Diego Association of Governments Public Safety Committee. Records of the State Bar indicate she resigned in 2015 without any record of public discipline.

Her daughter Anna Sessom Baker is said to have run for Lemon Grove council, but I was not able to confirm that.

On May 30, Mary Sessom wrote an essay for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, adding her voice to those wanting statewide surveillance technology transparency in California. "In my more than two decades in elected service, technology has rapidly advanced, but state laws have struggled to keep up," she said. "Elected officials serve the people first and foremost, and they must recognize that acquiring surveillance technology requires a delicate balance between two public safety interests. On the one hand, the public needs law enforcement to combat crime. On the other, the public needs their privacy, and their sensitive information to remain secure and free from unnecessary collection."

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Don Bauder June 20, 2017 @ 5:21 p.m.

MARY SESSOM RESPONDS. I was able to reach Mary Sessom. She says that after her daughter's arrest November 30, the daughter has taken care of her four-year-old son, has worked full-time and finished requirements for a degree in water/wastewater.

"I am hugely disappointed in her judgment," says Mary Sessom. "But as her mom, I stand with her and will work with her as she pays her price to society and becomes the person I know she can be. I love my daughter and will support her through this."

Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan June 20, 2017 @ 5:52 p.m.

Second and more chances are a great relief. Honor and understand the past to move forward with a better future. Right now I can't process and understand why there is no immediate travel ban to North Korea. Sorry for 22 year old student Otto and his family.

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Don Bauder June 20, 2017 @ 7:03 p.m.

shirleyberan: Agreed: those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan June 20, 2017 @ 6:24 p.m.

Don - I know a writer's gotta write but you unselfishly advance purposeful causes in us.

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Don Bauder June 20, 2017 @ 7:04 p.m.

shirleyberan: You will find some people who strongly disagree with that. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh June 20, 2017 @ 6:55 p.m.

This is serious stuff, and if she ends up with a typical prison sentence, that now-four-year old child may be fully grown before she gets out. A person with her background shoulda' known better. There's more to the story than has been reported, and likely ever will be reported.

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Ponzi June 20, 2017 @ 7:12 p.m.

This 45 kilo haul of Fentanyl has a wholesale street value of $2.7 million. According to Courthouse News Service, "enough to kill 1.4 million people — the entire state of Illinois, or everyone in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. A single ounce could kill 9,457 people; a pound could kill more than 150,000."

This must be a Mexican cartel operation with this quantity. The question then is the choices the Feds will give Anna Baker. Turn states evidence for a lower sentence but risk the consequences. Try to fight it and win on some technicality or hung jury. Or make a deal where you testify against your co-defendants and be placed in the Witness Protection Program. None are good options... this is a federal case and opiates and overdoses are topics high on the list of our nation’s problems.

This is a case that unfortunately will also resonate with Trump's agenda. The size of this bust will be used as an example. Political, legal and the social disgust with the growing opiate abuse and skyrocketing overdoses.

1

Don Bauder June 21, 2017 @ 6:09 a.m.

Ponzi: Those Courthouse News Service figures sound extremely high, but for the moment I won't challenge them. I am told that one of the two men was a close neighbor of Baker. If true, there may be more relevant angles to the story. Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi June 20, 2017 @ 8:05 p.m.

Visdah,

The only information about this story (for all media concerns) so far has been from a press release the U.S. Attorney's office in San Diego published yesterday. So more details will come out when the case is filed and proceedings commence. Don Bauder’s story reveals the local connection of one of the defendants to a public figure (or former public figure) in Lemon Grove. There’s not much info out there right now and it will probably take several months before anyone gets any deeper insight into the characters in this drug bust.

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Don Bauder June 21, 2017 @ 6:12 a.m.

Ponzi: Mary Sessom is more than a former public figure. She has been a powerful influence in East County for many years. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder June 20, 2017 @ 7:07 p.m.

Visduh: I agree that there are holes in this story as reported. It was the best I had now. Incidentally, I can confirm that the daughter did run for Lemon Grove council in 2014 while her mother was mayor. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder June 21, 2017 @ 12:32 p.m.

Mike Murphy: Some drug dealers may deserve execution. But, generally, I think you are advocating overkill. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK June 21, 2017 @ 1:40 p.m.

guarantees no repeat offences, and sends a real message to those thinking of getting into the business. its war

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Don Bauder June 22, 2017 @ 5:56 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Use of opioids and other drugs will not stop if distributors are executed. Has murder stopped because some offenders go to their deaths in some states? Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK June 22, 2017 @ 7:08 a.m.

drug cartels and smugglers don't hesitate to take lives. and no repeat offences once killed

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Don Bauder June 22, 2017 @ 8:49 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Oh yes. Drug cartel members are murderers. But would their activities stop if offenders got the death penalty? Again: follow the money. Best, Don Bauder

1

SportsFan0000 June 21, 2017 @ 6:46 p.m.

daughter, sons, sons in law and father in the Trump clan will all be fitted for orange jumpsuits before all is said and done......

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Don Bauder June 22, 2017 @ 6:05 a.m.

SportsFan0000: If Washington investigators are permitted to finish their research, the world is going to be shocked at the movement of money along filthy avenues, the amount of Mafia money and influence in business, and the amount of dirty money in the world's banking system.

Yes, several in the Trump clan, including the president, deserve to wear orange jumpsuits. Will they? The investigation may be stopped (illegally) before the public learns about all the dirty lucre in the system, the massive tax evasion of the rich, and the role of large banks and corporations in facilitating the phenomenon.The Trumps are only part of the problem. Best, Don Bauder

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swell June 21, 2017 @ 8:21 p.m.

Mary Sessom had some detractors over the years but I never saw anything but the best intentions during her reign. Lemon Grove went through some hard times and she led a thoughtful council bringing many improvements. I'm sorry that this family disturbance has affected her.

1

Ponzi June 21, 2017 @ 8:36 p.m.

Other than ripping off the local sewer ratepayers to supplement the city general fund and reigning over an increasingly bloated bureaucracy. If you look carefully at the Lemon Grove Sanitation District "personnel transfers" to the Lemon Grove General Fund, the money would pay for almost 75% of the city employees. So, the city is "unique" in that its employees spend 75% of their time on sewer matters?

That is what her "detractors" were upset over. The fact that once people get elected to the mayors office and city council, they begin working for the city instead of the citizens. If it were not for basically stealing money from the "sewer district" Lemon Grove would be forced to tighten its belt and run more efficiently. i.e. let go of staff and cut pay and benefits.

The city manager of Lemon Grove earns $37,000 more than Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom! (Newsom earns a base salary of $130,490 but little Lemon Grove pays their City Manager, Lydia Romero, $167,963.00). Now you can see why Lemon Grove is broke. It's mismanaged by the city council, mayor... but as long as they can use Prop 215 to raid the sewer funds, all is well. This is another story that I hope someone follows up on.

1

Don Bauder June 22, 2017 @ 6:11 a.m.

Ponzi: I am not aware of this situation, but I wouldn't dare disagree with you. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh June 22, 2017 @ 7:27 p.m.

When Lemon Grove incorporated in 1975, it was essentially built out. The only vacant piece of land was Miller's Dairy, which shut down soon afterward. I recall some fights about how that property would be developed, and cannot remember what happened to it. The poor little city had no real control over what it became because it "became" what it was prior to incorporating. Any attempt to gain some local control at such a late date is an uphill fight, and likely to be ineffective. Add in the fact that it wasn't a fancy, affluent coastal enclave, and you had a formula for abuse and disappointment.

Now having said all that, I don't disagree with Ponzi, who researches his posts far more thoroughly than I ever do.

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Ponzi June 22, 2017 @ 8:20 p.m.

Visdah, you do know a lot about local history. Even down to little Lemon Grove. The Miller Dairy was last milked when it was sold to a housing developer who built single-family homes over the manure. There are still some large rural lots and commercial parcels that can be redeveloped. But the city has teetered on insolvency and after a recent court victory, the city raised sewer rates almost 45% again. (The court case was Moore v. Lemon Grove. Mr. Moore sued the city over the transfer of sewer funds to the general fund. Just proves the saying "You can't fight city hall" has some truth, especially when the city council is in cahoots.)

Over the years, some people have called for disincorporation. The Reader has some stories about that subject.

But you are very correct that the city has maxed out potential large developable land. What's left is mostly infill and mostly residential. Presently, there is an exodus of residents occurring. There are hundreds of homes for sale or in foreclosure in Lemon Grove. Since the real estate market has recovered, many people are taking advantage of market conditions and selling and moving to safer communities that have more amenities, better schools and such.

Several long-time sit down restaurants have closed; Por Favor, Carnitas Uruapan and Casa Del Sol. The city also has many commercial vacancies that have been vacant for over 2 years. But the city hall is run like it is La Mesa with high paid staff and consultants. Once a spirited city that hosted parades and other civic events, it's now just an east county bedroom community where few outside visit or shop except for Home Depot and some auto sales on the outskirts.

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Don Bauder June 22, 2017 @ 8:34 p.m.

Ponzi: Wow. More information from the super-sleuth. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder June 22, 2017 @ 8:32 p.m.

Visduh: I, too, am hesitant to gainsay Ponzi. He should be a private eye. Maybe he is. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder June 22, 2017 @ 6:08 a.m.

swell: Mary Sessom was an excellent leader in East County. I agree: I hate to see this tragedy. (Incidentally, I only met her once.) Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi June 27, 2017 @ 10:09 p.m.

The latest news is Anna Baker was released from custody on $20,000 bond. Her release conditions permit her to live with her mother, former Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom, in Lemon Grove, remain in Southern California (requiring permission to leave that geographic area), and other reporting and contact requirements.

The United States has filed its case and Anna Baker has retained an attorney. The next hearing is in late July.

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Don Bauder July 2, 2017 @ 6:41 p.m.

Ponzi: That should bring us up to date for now -- except digging to the bottom of ripping off sewer ratepayers, and the high salary of the city manager. Best, Don Bauder

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