CHICO, Calif. — A lawyer in Chico has been arrested for harboring a fugitive who was also her boyfriend and client, prosecutors say.
According to the Butte County District Attorney's Office, Stephana Femino, 47, Chico, was arrested outside Butte County Superior Court Friday after a judge issued a warrant for her arrest Thursday night.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said his office began investigating Femino in June after it was discovered she was allegedly assisting her boyfriend, Adam Ashford, 49, in remaining a fugitive on several felony arrest warrants.
Ramsey said Ashford is a convicted felon and was on probation in several cases, including possession of drugs while armed with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, and felony evading the police.
According to prosecutors, Ashford had violated the terms of his probation earlier this year and failed to appear in court on May 11. At that time, a Butte County judge issued warrants for his arrest.
Ramsey said Femino represented Ashford on those cases and was in court when the warrants were issued. Since then, investigators found evidence that showed Femino was assisting Ashford in avoiding arrest.
In late June Ramsey said his office began a formal investigation into Femino and Ashford, and learned she was allowing Ashford to stay in her law office in Chico. Multiple law enforcement agencies participated in the investigation, and on June 24, arrested Ashford, who was with Femino in a car near Butte College. Ashford was taken into custody and is currently held without bail in Butte County Jail.
Ramsey said after Ashford’s arrest, investigators seized his cell phone and obtained a specialized search warrant designed to protect the privacy of Femino’s other clients, as there was a claim that Ashford had worked as an office manager for Femino for a time. A download of Ashford’s cell phone yielded hundreds of texts between Femino and Ashford while Ashford was out to warrant. Ramsey said those texts confirmed Femino was providing Ashford with money and shelter.
Ramsey said the information surrounding Femino’s arrest has been shared with the California State Bar. Ramsey said in recent months local judges have sanctioned Femino over $10,000 in fines for deficiencies in her practice of law in the local courts.