Gov. Jerry Brown pardons 9 convicted of crimes in San Diego County: Hero firefighter among pardons

Brooke Linman helped residents in 2007 Harris Fire

SAN DIEGO - A woman who committed a series of crimes prior to becoming a firefighter and suffering severe burns while trying to save trapped residents during the 2007 Harris Fire was pardoned Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown, along with eight other people convicted of crimes in San Diego County.

Brooke Linman was found guilty in August 1995 of a variety of crimes, including grand theft, hit-and-run and willfully discharging a firearm in a negligent manner. She was placed on three years probation for those offenses.

In December the next year, she was convicted of possessing and transporting a controlled substance while armed, and was imprisoned for two years. She later joined Cal Fire, according to the grant of her pardon.

When the October 2007 wildfires broke out around San Diego, Linman and other members of her crew were sent to protect structures in Potrero, near the Mexican border, according to the Burn Institute. Flames burned over their position while they huddled with two residents, Thomas Varshock and his 15-year-old son, Richard.

The elder Varshock was killed, but the boy was saved, the Burn Institute reported.

Linman spent three weeks in the UCSD Medical Center burn unit and returned to work in 2010 for a short time, but her career was cut short by a knee injury suffered during the Harris Fire, according to the Burn Institute.

"Ms. Linman has provided exemplary service as a firefighter with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection," Brown wrote. "Notably, while working as a firefighter, Ms. Linman was seriously injured while saving the life of a teenage boy. As a result of her actions, she has received numerous awards, and letters of recognition for her bravery and heroism."

Also convicted in San Diego County and pardoned by the governor were:

-- Gilbert Anthony Castro, now an Oregon resident. He was convicted in October 1993 of possession of controlled substance and served one year in state prison
-- John Cort Clifford, who was convicted in April 1992 of selling a controlled substance and spent three years on probation
-- Raymond Gene Frey, who was convicted in November 1992 of inflicting corporal punishment on a co-inhabitant and spent two years on probation. Brown said Frey is now a business owner and contributor to charities
-- Shawn McRae Gerber, now an Oregon resident, convicted in September 1992 of evading an officer for failing to pull over after running a red light. He spent 19 days in jail and three years on probation
-- Frederick Joseph Leonard, who now lives in Missouri, was convicted in April 1984 of cultivation of marijuana and served three years and three months on probation
-- Sandy McCulin, convicted in December 1989 of being an accessory to robbery when she associated with gangs; she spent one year in prison
-- Michael Anthony Proo, who was convicted in January 1995 of helping to steal a motorcycle and altering the vehicle identification number and spent four months in prison
-- Arturo Villareal, who was convicted in October 1994 of possession for sale of marijuana and spent three years on probation

The governor granted pardons to 127 individuals in total, most of whom were convicted of drug offenses.

Print this article Back to Top