Felony Charges Surface for Childhood Coalition Leader

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Sacramento County Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition unveiled its plan last night at an awards banquet. Kaiser Permanente sponsored the event and Sacramento County public health officer Dr. Glennah Trochet was expected to be there. Trochet spent years helping to develop the coalition’s plan. She says she did not know about the criminal record of coalition chair and founder, John Berchielli.

Trochet: “It was surprising to find this out particularly right before we’re having an event.”  

Sacramento County court records show in the last two years Berchielli has been convicted of six felony charges – five involved growing and selling marijuana as well as endangering his teenage daughter. And, the most recent conviction was for welfare fraud. Berchielli is a prominent volunteer at local non-profits, as well as at UC Davis Medical Center and the Rio Linda School District. 

Berchielli says his convictions were mainly associated with medical marijuana and are about his personal life.  

Berchielli: “I’ve made mistakes in the past, I accept responsibility for my actions and I regret any damage this can do to the volunteer work I passionately believe in.”  

It’s not clear what will happen next. Trochet says the vetting of volunteers is not part of Sacramento County’s protocol, unless they have direct contact with children.

Trochet: “There is that risk, and that’s a risk we take every time we have these volunteer groups.

But that might change.       

Trochet "’I'm certain that there will be lessons learned from this experience and we will have to think about that once we see how this plays out.”  

And Trochet says it’s now up to the obesity prevention coalition to figure what to do with the information about its chairman.