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May 24, 2022

Vineyards owner suspected of profane call to adversary

The owner of Leal Vineyards has been arrested and accused of a
misdemeanor charge in connection with a profanity-laced October
phone call he is suspected of making to a neighbor, whose family
has faced off with him before county officials on a variety of
noise and other code violations related to his business.
Please be advised: The following audio includes extremely profane language.

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The owner of Leal Vineyards has been arrested and accused of a misdemeanor charge in connection with a profanity-laced October phone call he is suspected of making to a neighbor, whose family has faced off with him before county officials on a variety of noise and other code violations related to his business.

The district attorney’s office, which brought forth the allegations after the sheriff’s office submitted a report, allege that the owner of Leal Vineyards, Frank Leal, 39, was behind a phone call on Oct. 9 and other antagonizing text messages sent sometime in the fall.

The message in a voicemail to the cell phone of Bill Lee – who successfully appealed a use permit last year for Leal’s vineyard and event center while noting an array of longstanding code violations – includes offensive name-calling, a request for Lee to record the message and various expletives. Authorities also allege that Leal sent the inappropriate text messages to the phone in the fall, though a prosecutor would not elaborate beyond that.

Court documents do not wholly name the suspected victim, referring to the complainant as “William L”. But an e-mail sent by wife Michele Lee in October following the incident – to the Free Lance, district attorney, sheriff, planning officials and supervisors – included the allegations of the phone call and audio of the message.

It outlines their reporting of the time frame when the call was made to Bill Lee. The call was received and left on voicemail at 11:10 p.m. Oct. 9, according to the e-mail. The call came after Bill Lee reported a loud Oct. 9 party to the sheriff’s office.

Following the probe, the district attorney’s office sent Leal a letter telling him to turn himself in.

Leal’s first court date was the following day, when he was told to hire a lawyer. He returned Dec. 28 with attorney William Tiffany. Leal is scheduled to return to court Jan. 20 for a pretrial setting, according to records.

If convicted of the misdemeanor charge of annoying phone calls, Leal would face a maximum penalty of a year in jail or fines and community service, said Deputy District Attorney Peter Leroe-Munoz, who is prosecuting the case.

Neither Lee nor Leal returned phone calls before press time.

Leroe-Munoz said the office used the sheriff’s report and evidence that included the audio, photographs and text messages William Lee received throughout the fall and up to Oct. 13.

Lee and Leal spent a lot of time throughout 2010 in the board of supervisors chambers arguing over a use permit for the vineyard property, off Fairview Road. That was after a planning commission approval despite Lee’s concerns about noise violations at Leal’s property that neighbors his. Lee appealed the planning commission’s April 7 decision to accept Leal’s use permit, sending the decision to the board of supervisors. Along with the noise matter, Lee alleged an array of other county code violations, also including a wine cave facility built without a permit and a left-turn lane Leal had committed to funding years ago without actually doing so.

Leal in recent months agreed to fix the issues, and the county is still working with him on them.

The phone call in question – the D.A.’s office has confirmed it was from Leal – occurred in the middle of the two sides’ public quarrel. In a curse-filed message, the person suspected as Leal told Lee to come down and talk to him.

“If you had any balls you’d come down here and talk to me,” the caller said in the message. “So I know you’re asleep, and you’ve probably been asleep since 8:30. Your wife is a (expletive) fat (expletive) heifer. So record it and do whatever you want, but you’re a (expletive) (expletive). And come out here and see me sometime (expletive) (expletive).”

The sheriff’s office interviewed Leal and Lee before issuing a report to the district attorney’s office, Lt. Roy Iler said.

The recipient, whom Iler reported as William L., called the number back and Leal responded, Iler said.

The sheriff’s office issued no charges or citations, Iler said.

“Looking at all the facts, there could be a variety of options,” Leroe-Munoz said.

Look back for more reaction to this story.

Penal code section 653m (a)

Every person who, with intent to annoy, telephones or makes contact by means of an electronic communication device with another and addresses to or about the other person any obscene language or addresses to the other person any threat to inflict injury to the person or property of the person addressed or any member of his or her family, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Nothing in this subdivision shall apply to telephone calls or electronic contacts made in good faith.

The complete transcript of the voicemail provided to authorities:

“Hey Bill you’re a real (expletive) face. I’m tired of your (expletive). If you had any balls you’d come down and talk to me. So I know you’re asleep, and you’ve probably been asleep since 8:30. Your wife is a (expletive) fat (expletive) heifer. So record it and do whatever you want, but you’re a (expletive) (expletive). And come out here and see me sometime (expletive) (expletive).”

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