A former Murrieta councilman smiled and hugged family members outside a Riverside courtroom Friday after a judge sentenced him to spend weekends in jail instead of sending him to prison.
Judge Douglas E. Weathers decried Warnie Enochs' behavior in a case stemming from his divorce before sentencing him to 180 days in jail on weekends, five years probation and anger management.
"There were overt attempts by Mr. Enochs to quite frankly, cheat and defraud his soon to be ex-wife," Weathers said. "The defendant was proven in many instances to be an arrogant individual ... as if he was well above the law."
He begins his jail sentence Feb. 27.David Bauman/The Press-Enterprise
Former Murrieta councilman Warnie Enochs talks with his defense attorney, Virginia Blumenthal, after his sentencing on Friday.
Defense attorney Virginia Blumenthal had urged the court to sentence Enochs to community service.
"This way he could truly rectify the shame he brought on the community," Blumenthal said. "He has always been the voice of the people in this community."
The 12 crimes for which the 59-year-old was convicted of, including conspiracy to commit a crime, forgery and preparing false records, did not merit time in prison, the judge ruled.
"I don't believe the defendant belongs in prison," Weathers said. "There was no physical harm."
Smiles and expressions of joy overtook the faces of more than 15 of Enochs' friends and relatives who attended the hearing.
During the trial, businessman George Osmond testified that Enochs urged him to sign a document saying Osmond fired an employee for having an inappropriate relationship with Enochs' ex wife, Julia Enochs. Osmond refused and his name was forged on court records. Enochs was also convicted of signing the name of a nonexistent Murrieta police officer to a ticket he got for failing to register his boat.
In December, the same jury that convicted Enochs acquitted him on one count of extortion. None of the crimes are tied to his role as a city councilman.
During Friday's hearing, Weathers pointed out that Enochs had not shown remorse.
"To this day he has to my knowledge expressed no remorse to anyone. ... There is no information whatsoever that he has any remorse." Weathers said.
Outside of court, Blumenthal disagreed.
"Warnie is extremely ashamed," she said.
In Murrieta, reaction varied.
Marilyn Fox, owner of Simply Friends, a Murrieta antique shop, said she thought the sentence was fair.
"I'm glad he didn't get off the hook," she said. "He was treated like a regular person, and that's all you could ask for."
Rita Park, a 45-year Murrieta resident and friend of Enochs, disagreed.
"He was married to his enemy," said Park, who has known Enochs about 30 years. "He didn't kill anybody."
Enochs, a self-employed electrician and owner of A to Z Lighting, lost his bid for re-election in November after serving on the council for 13 years.