On October 7, 37-year old Mammoth resident Andras Csonka held a random family at gunpoint in the Mammoth Village and ordered them to get into his vehicle. Police were called, and the ordeal turned into a police chase. He was detained shortly after.
During his bail review hearing on Tuesday, October 18, he explained that his actions were due to methamphetamine- a drug that he has worked tirelessly to avoid taking for six years now.
He relapsed 4 months ago.
His defense attorney, Sophie Bidet, asked the court to allow Csonka to be allowed to return home before his trial.
“While Mr. Csonka has somewhat of a criminal history, the only offenses are a DUI, a couple 14601’s (driving with a suspended license), possession of methamphetamine that he completed diversion for, and then, in 2018, he was convicted of grand theft and malicious injury to property- one is a felony violation and the other is a misdemeanor. And then his most recent offense was the Business and Professions Code 7028 of contracting without a license,” said Bidet.
She continued: “Mr. Csonka acted completely out of character, and the behavior and conduct that led to this very, very serious situation can be rectified. Mr. Csonka is never going to do methamphetamine again. He’s never realized the dangers and complete change in character that this substance can lead to. We need to take pause- the easy thing to do here is to deny bail, though I think it requires some serious consideration that Mr. Csonka be released on non-financial conditions, some serious pretrial supervision, abstaining from any substances whether illicit or illegal, staying away from the victims whom I’ve interviewed and are afraid of Mr. Csonka for very good reasons, and Mr. Csonka would be willing to submit to electronic monitoring, if need be, to stay in this county.”
Mr. Csonka then addressed the court personally.
“Your Honor, I have never been in this situation. So I’m not really trying to gather my thoughts right now. I never realized the ability for a substance to completely obstruct my thoughts and my understanding of reality around me. Around my birthday this year when I relapsed, I was sober for about six years before that. After speaking with investigators this morning, I realized that I have some underlying emotional issues that caused me to relapse, mainly being the death of my mom and my dad a few years ago- I mean, it was my dad, then my dog, and then my mom. It was like a bad country song and in a very short amount of time. And that’s what led to my initial use of the substance. I never realized how dangerous meth was until these things happened. I am extremely remorseful that there is even a single human being on this planet that is afraid of me. That breaks my heart. You need to understand, I’ve always been the kind of person to stop and help people on the side of the road. I am just terribly sorry to this community. I wish I could take it all back, and I am willing to face whatever consequences you guys want to impose. But I do have a life that I worked very, very hard to rebuild from when I first started using. And it’s all lying in wait. If I was able just to go home until the next court date and explain to my clients what’s going on. I pocket six, seven days a week, 12 to 14, sometimes 16-hour days on my own, without anybody telling me to, just to rebuild my life. As for one very simple, emotional issue, which is what caused me to relapse a few months ago: I want nothing to ever do with Methamphetamine again. I thought I didn’t the first time, but now that this all happened? I- never, never again. I know that you guys probably hear that 1,000 times a year, but I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I’m extremely apologetic. I’m very sorry for even wasting the state of California’s resources on me standing here before you. And I’m begging for your mercy in this situation to allow me to do what I need to do to prepare to come back before you guys on whatever day. I’ve never missed a court date. I don’t want any issues. More than anything, I wish I could take it back. The effects of my actions that the victims have- I’m heartbroken. Like she said, they’re afraid of me. I’m very sorry. I’m extremely sorry. That’s all I have to say.”
The prosecuting attorney, Mr. Hassler, then proceeded to speak: “Your Honor, I would just point out that this is a deeply terrifying offense. This is a person who is fleeing the police for over three miles, speeding, running red lights, nearly colliding with police vehicles, threatening to shoot people, threatening to shoot them unless they get in the car, nearly running someone over. While I understand Mr. Csonka’s very impassioned plea to the court, the reality is, the only way to keep the public safe here is for Mr. Csonka to remain detained where he simply cannot access methamphetamine. Because of this is what methamphetamine does to him, then that’s an unacceptable risk to the public- that he’d be even hypothetically able to access it in an uncontrolled environment is unacceptable. That’s why I would ask the court to follow probation’s recommendation, find that there are no conditions that would adequately protect the public, and deny a release.
Judge Mark Magit responded.
While he appreciated Mr. Csonka’s words, he denied Bidet’s request that Csonka be released. “I think we need more information. The probation department didn’t expect any release, so they didn’t look into what kind of provisions would even be possible…Assault with a deadly weapon. Threats. This is terrifying behavior. There’s people out there rightfully afraid and concerned. They don’t know you. They don’t know you the way the people who you work for do or your family does, right? I’m going to deny your request for release at this time, but please resubmit the matter to the probation department for a supplemental review.”
Mr. Csonka self-reported that this was not a one-time use of methamphetamines, but that he relapsed 4 months ago and has been using methamphetamines since.
The court will now wait on a mental health evaluation of Mr. Csonka- one of the county’s therapists is out sick, so that report will take longer than usual. “We are not sure when we’ll be able to get an appointment with behavioral health; it’ll probably be a two-week turnaround for the actual appointment and the results, so at this time I’d recommend a two-week continuance date for probation to gather information and provide a supplemental,” said the county Behavioral Health representative.
“I understand the lack of resources in our community,” said Bidet, “but I’m not quite sure why it would take two weeks to gather what is usually done in 48 hours, especially when the issue is relatively straightforward: he has a substance abuse issue. The results of this evaluation probably won’t be a surprise: he probably needs to go to rehab, address an underlying mental health issue- PTSD or situational depression- and start using tools to deal with life’s difficulties without resorting to substances. So, I don’t really get what will take two weeks to decide that.”
The court will continue the matter for further analysis on November 1.