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Canyon Country Gang Member Gets 14 Years For Assault, Extortion

A Canyon Country gang member with a violent past was sentenced to 14 years in state prison Wednesday for assaulting two officers and extorting an attorney.

Tavaion Sowell, 26, of Canyon Country, pleaded guilty to five counts as his jury trial was about to begin, said Jon Hatami, a deputy district attorney and former Santa Clarita City Council candidate.


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Sowell was facing 15 charges, but pleaded to two counts of assaulting a peace officer and three counts of extortion.

“We started a jury trial and we ended up picking a jury, and then on (Monday), he came back and indicated that he was ready to take a deal,” Hatami said.

“It’s good that he’s going to prison for a long time. There’s a serious violent felon who’s going to be off the streets, and the victim doesn’t have to come and testify. For us, it was a good result, and he’s going to do a lot of time in state in prison.”

Under the state’s sentencing guidelines, because Sowell admitted to a prior strike, or violent crime, as a term of the deal, he will have to serve at least 80 percent of the time, and it will be served in state prison, not a county facility.

Sowell was extorting an attorney, with whom he had a relationship with, for thousands of dollars, from May 2010 to April 2011.

When detectives with the Sheriff’s Department’s Major Crimes Bureau found out, they conducted a sting operation.

The sting operation led to an arrest on April 21, 2011, at a Western Union in Lancaster. There, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Sowell assaulted two of his arresting officers, who suffered minor injuries.

The case was being tried at Los Angeles Superior Court in Lancaster, where Hatami handles prosecutions for the Special Victims Bureau.

Back in 2003, Sowell was convicted of assault with a machine gun at a Canyon Country condominium complex.

When Sowell was 15, he was convicted of assault with a machine gun for shooting at the American Beauty complex in Canyon Country.

He was later identified as a member of the Center View Piru Bloods.

Because Sowell was a minor, he served the time under what was then known as the California Youth Authority.

“All of the parties were happy with the fact that he was going to be in prison for 14 years,” Hatami said, noting that the maximum was 28 years, but “there’s no guarantee with a jury trial.

“Overall, everybody was very happy with the disposition,” he said.


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