Daniel Gai, a staff assistant for Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld, has pleaded no contest to five of seven felony domestic violence charges. He went to trial on the remaining two charges.
Gai resigned his position on Wednesday, where he served since Bredefeld took office in 2017.
“Mr. Gai tendered his resignation so he could prepare for sentencing and the mandatory 52-week programs should he receive a grant of probation. With all this on his mind, he could not give full attention to his duties at City Hall,” Gai’s attorney Eric Schweitzer told GV Wire.
A new policy the Fresno City Council will debate next week could mean future employees in Gai’s situation would not receive severance when leaving city employment.
Two Counts Remain
Schweitzer says his client waived a jury trial, instead opting for Judge Jeff Hamilton to decide the two remaining charges of making criminal threats.
Gai was arrested in May 2019 in Fresno County on allegations of domestic violence against his girlfriend, their child, and the woman’s mother.
A decision on the trial, which concluded this week, could happen by Sept. 20.
Gai pleaded no contest to three counts of assault by means of force — two against his girlfriend and one against her mother; one count of domestic battery with injury and one count of child endangerment.
The Fresno County District Attorney’s office would not comment on the case, as the outcome is pending on the remaining charges.
Schweitzer said they were “open pleas” on the five felony counts, with no specific deal with the DA.
“Mr. Gai will certainly be punished for the things he did. Will this involve incarceration? It is possible,” Schweitzer said. “The question is, what type of punishment is right for things Mr. Gai would never even contemplate while sober? The judge will decide at the time of sentencing.”
During the trial, Bredefeld testified on Gai’s behalf as a character witness. Other witnesses testified that Gai is usually a “gentle person.”
Proposed City Policy: No Severance Pay
Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias is proposing a resolution that would amend the “Transparency in City Government Act.”
“Severance pay shall not be authorized in the event of the employee’s conviction of any felony or felonies, nor shall severance pay be authorized in the event an employee pleads guilty or no contest to any felony charge,” the proposal says.
The resolution would only apply to staffers moving forward. The council is scheduled to discuss the issue on Thursday.
“I received several concerns from employees … about the potential of severance pay for people who have been charged with felonies and who’ve been convicted of felonies and the unfairness of using taxpayer money for such a benefit,” Arias said.
“We’re taking the first step to demonstrate to the public that the council will hold itself to a much higher standard than has been the case in the past. And to be crystal clear that bonuses and severance packages should not be used to reward criminal behavior.”
Gai had a contract with Bredefeld, but there is no severance provision a City Hall source told GV Wire.
Woman: Gai Choked Me
Deputies responded to a report of domestic violence on May 16, 2019, at a residence in a county neighborhood near Bullard High School.
A restraining order, filed shortly after the incident, described a violent attack.
“Mr. Gai came home drunk. We got into an argument and he attacked me three times. He choked me, threw me against the wall, crib and dresser. Threatened to kill me and (another woman who was present). He threw me against the wall and bed while (our daughter) was in my arms,” the restraining order said.
The restraining order application said the victim suffered several bruises on her neck, back, and lower leg.
Both Gai and the victim worked at City Hall.
Assault Stopped With a Hammer, Report Says
A report from the Sheriff’s Office also described the scene.
“Gai came home late and was intoxicated. He got into an argument with his then girlfriend. It turned physical when Gai shoved her down and began choking her and threatened to kill her. A female adult family member entered and tried to get Gai off of her. Gai turned his attention to her, shoved her, choked her and threatened to kill her.
“The girlfriend then went and picked up her baby. Meanwhile, the other woman became free and called us to make a report. Gai made his way over to his girlfriend and told her to let him hold the child. When she said no, he pushed her down with the baby in her arms and began choking the woman again. The other woman then hit him in the back of the head with a hammer, causing him to stop his attack.”
The initial restraining order request did not seek to extend protections to the victim’s place of work — City Hall.
The victim and Gai have a child together, records show, who was 7 months old at the time of the attack.
Court records also show Gai was previously convicted of driving while intoxicated in 2009 and 2014. He was sentenced in those cases to 90 days and 10 days in jail, respectively.