Sex offender arrested in Los Altos

Los Altos police last week arrested a transient man on two misdemeanor warrants related to his designation as a sex offender, according to Los Altos Police Sgt. Brian Jeffrey.

Jeffrey said the police report on the arrest, which occurred at approximately 1:26 p.m. March 2, stated that patrol officers responded to a welfare check of an elderly male who appeared to be hitchhiking in the area of South Springer Road and Berry Avenue. When officers located and made contact with the man, Thomas Cherf, 65, his warrants popped up in a court database. He was arrested and booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail.

Cherf appeared in court in Palo Alto the following day. According to Santa Clara County prosecutor Sheryl Leung, the attorney who handled the case, Cherf pleaded guilty to charges of unauthorized entry onto school grounds as a sex offender and failing to register as a sex offender.

Leung said Cherf violated the terms of his probation when he drove onto the grounds of St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos April 10, 2019, and made contact with an individual at the school. Cherf allegedly remained in his car as he asked someone if St. Simon was another school. When informed it wasn’t, he drove off. Leung described the incident as “very bizarre.”

Although the Los Altos police search into Cherf’s history revealed a San Jose address, he is in fact homeless and must re-register as a sex offender for previous crimes every 30 days, Leung said. He failed to register last October and did not show up at his related hearing.

Leung said Cherf will serve 30 days in county jail and then be released on probation. There is no chance for early release, but because of California’s Penal Code 4019, Cherf will be released 15 days from the day of his arrest, as he is entitled to “half time” credits for positive conduct during confinement. Cherf’s bail was originally $50,000 – $25,000 for each misdemeanor – but his bail was revoked with his admission of guilt. He is barred from going near a school again for the next two years.

Cherf, who according to the Santa Clara County public database also goes by the last name Harlan, does not show up on California’s Megan’s Law website. The Town Crier was unable to unearth records related to the violations behind his sex-offender designation. He has several civil and minor cases filed against him in Santa Clara County, including investigations into his mental competency.

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