By Larry Judkins
Glenn County Observer
Local attorney Stephana Femino is scheduled to be arraigned on a felony charge at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, at the Butte County Superior Courthouse in Oroville.
According to the Butte County Superior Court, the felony with which Femino is charged is “accessory after the fact,” which is when someone aids the perpetrator of a felony by helping him or her avoid or escape authorities. The court also states that Femino is charged with two misdemeanors: possession of a controlled substance, and possession of controlled substance paraphernalia.
As reported previously in The Glenn County Observer, Femino was arrested Friday, July 29, by investigators from the Butte County District Attorney’s Office and charged with harboring her fugitive boyfriend, who was also her client. She was taken into custody outside the Butte County Superior Court Friday morning after a warrant for her arrest was issued by a Butte County judge Thursday night.
According to a July 29 press release, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said his office began investigating Femino in June after it was discovered she was allegedly assisting her boyfriend, Adam Ashford, 49, in remaining a fugitive on several felony arrest warrants. Ramsey said Ashford is a convicted felon and was on probation in several serious cases, including possession of drugs while armed with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, and felony evading the police.
Ramsey said Ashford had violated the terms of his probation earlier this year and failed to appear in court on May 11. At that time, a Butte County judge issued “no bail” warrants for his arrest for the probation violations.
Ramsey said Femino represented Ashford on those cases and was in court when Ashford failed to show up and the warrants were issued. In the weeks that followed, law enforcement became aware of evidence that showed Femino was assisting Ashford in remaining free and avoiding the warrants.
Ramsey said that in late June his office began a formal investigation into Femino and Ashford, and learned that Femino was allegedly allowing Ashford to stay in her law office in Chico. It also became apparent that Femino and Ashford were engaged in a romantic relationship.
Law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies participated in the investigation, and on June 24 located and arrested Ashford, who was with Femino in a car near Butte College. Ashford was taken into custody and is currently held without bail in the Butte County Jail.
Ramsey said after Ashford’s arrest, investigators seized his cell phone and obtained a specialized search warrant designed to protect the privacy of Femino’s other clients, as there was a claim that Ashford had worked as an office manager for Femino for a time. A download of Ashford’s cell phone yielded hundreds of texts between Femino and Ashford while Ashford was out to warrant.
Ramsey said those texts confirmed Femino was providing Ashford with money and shelter to assist him in remaining a fugitive. He said that after his investigative team concluded that portion of their investigation, they determined there was sufficient evidence to arrest and charge Femino for harboring a fugitive, which is a felony in California.
Investigators then obtained an arrest warrant for Femino, which resulted in her being taken into custody on July 29 and being transported to the Butte County Jail. Ramsey said the information surrounding Femino’s arrest has been shared with the California State Bar.
The California State Bar Association currently lists Femino’s license to practice law as “active.” However, the bar association also now includes this consumer alert:
“This attorney has been charged with a felony. The felony matter is pending in Butte County Superior Court (Case No. 22CF04021). For more information, contact the court in the jurisdiction where the case is pending. The State Bar posts consumer alerts online when lawyers are charged in a criminal court with a felony or felonies. Anyone who believes they have been the victim of attorney misconduct is urged to file a complaint with the State Bar.
“DISCLAIMER: The filing of criminal charges does not constitute a finding of guilt or professional misconduct. Criminal defendants are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”
Femino attended Orland High School. She began studying at California State University, Chico, in 1994, majoring in political science.
She began studying law at Cal Northern School of Law in 2001.
Before becoming an attorney, she worked as a courtroom clerk at the Butte County Superior Court. She was admitted to the State Bar of California in 2010, and opened her law offices in Chico.
She was a resident of Paradise and is a survivor of the Camp Fire of November, 2018.
Adam Ashford has a very long criminal history. In Butte County alone, between 1994 and 2022, the court’s website lists seven misdemeanor cases and 11 felony cases against him.
Ashford has also been arrested in Yuba, Colusa, Shasta, Glenn, and Placer Counties. Femino was relieved as Ashford’s attorney on July 27, two days before her arrest.
No doubt because they all know Femino and her work, it appears that about 10 judges have recused themselves from her case.
The case was filed by Butte County Deputy District Attorney Michael Tufaro, who was admitted to the California State Bar on Dec. 12, 2014.