‘Love Heals’ signature lands man in jail

When a man’s legal name includes the word “Tunafish,” it’s a sign he might not be your Average Joe.

Sierra Tunafish George Salin was pulled over by the Highway Patrol two months ago for the heinous criminal act of expired registration tags. After the traffic stop, the CHP officer in El Dorado County discovered Salin had signed his ticket as “Love Heals!”

The CHP did not find this amusing. Instead, they asked the district attorney to file charges against Salin for expired tags and putting a false signature on a citation.

Both charges are trivial misdemeanors, which would have cost Salin some cash and a tongue-lashing from a judge during his court appearance on April 3.

Had he shown up.

Salin blew off his court appearance, which put the wheels of frontier justice into motion in the Sierra Foothills. A judge there signed a bench warrant for his arrest, which was forwarded to Salin’s hometown of Fairfax for processing.

At 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Salin turned himself in to the Fairfax Police Department. He was booked into Marin County Jail on $5,000 bail for the original charges plus two failures to appear.

Salin, who publicized his case to Marin county news outlets prior to turning himself in, contends the “Love Heals!” mark is his valid signature. He released as evidence an image of a $100 check cleared by his bank with the signature in 2009.

Bill Clark, chief assistant prosecutor with El Dorado County, took a couple of verbal shots at Salin in the Marin IJ. First saying that Salin “has more time than sense,” Clark went on to paint the whole affair as some sort of game:

“His position is that this is his real signature. If that’s his real signature, then the issue is why he didn’t show up for court. We’ll have some fun.”

Most law-abiding citizens don’t consider being hauled into court 125 miles from their home on tiddly wink charges “fun.” Especially people who were simply expressing First Amendment free speech rights via a legally-acceptable signature.

Salin should be glad he didn’t do something really dumb like signing his ticket “Fuck You Pig.” Never do that. In a different case from years ago, a minor violation for a whistling exhaust tip turned in to an extended stay in San Quentin for someone who did.

A 2008 post on a Bay Area discussion forum by a person identifying himself as a long-time motorcycle officer describes that case:

“I actually had the pleasure of writing this one … I amended my citation to add a misdemeanor, for the false signature on the citation and had the citation charged by the DA in criminal court. Then he shows up and pisses off the judge and gets booked into the jail for contempt of court and had pot in his possession which he brought into the jail at booking. Needless to say, they threw the book at him … After serving 30 days in jail, about 6 months later he violated probation and went back to jail, there he got into a gang fight (he was a gang-banger after all) that landed him in the Q (San Quentin State Prison), where he sits today. So, use a whistle tip.. go to State Prison!”

After the last sentence, an animated smiley face rolling on the floor laughing seemed to indicate the poster thought this was hilarious.