A Santa Barbara jury has convicted business blogger Ray Estrada of harassing Pacific Coast Business Times publisher Henry Dubroff for nearly 10 years after Estrada was laid off from the weekly news journal in 2008. During the trial, Dubroff testified to the lewd and threatening emails and text messages he continually received from Estrada, who now faces up to a year in jail or a lengthy probation term at his sentencing hearing on December 4.
Estrada, who currently operates the website Santa Barbara Business News, was hired as the Business Times’s managing editor in 2007 but was let go 16 months later. According to conversations with former colleagues, Estrada was a fairly competent editor but exhibited odd and disruptive behavior at the workplace. He reportedly made his female coworkers uncomfortable with suggestive comments and frequently clashed with writers about their stories. The last straw for Estrada, sources said, came when it was discovered that he was sleeping nights in the Times’ office.
Estrada repeatedly challenged his layoff through a variety of legal channels, claiming at different points discrimination based on age, race, and religion. When he had exhausted all avenues of redress, prosecutors said, he began harassing and threatening Dubroff with a litany of text messages, emails, and social media posts. “Go fuck yourself,” he wrote in one message. “Fuck you Henry Dumkoff,” he wrote in another. “And your mother too, you asshole.” In an obituary posted on the Business Times’s website, Estrada said he hoped Dubroff would soon meet his demise as well.
Though the incidents couldn’t be directly connected to Estrada, when Dubroff reportedly found menacing notes on his car and employees discovered their bicycles had been tampered with, Estrada held the top position on a short list of suspects, staff members said.
Dubroff finally filed a complaint with police in March 2014. Officers contacted Estrada at the Impact Hub on State Street, where he continues to rent office space. Estrada admitted he was upset at Dubroff for terminating his employment, according to court records. The officers instructed him to attend an arraignment hearing a short time later, but he failed to appear in court. Dubroff filed another complaint with police in November 2016, after which an arrest warrant was issued for Estrada, who later pleaded not guilty to the harassment charges. His jury trial this month lasted three days. Estrada declined to comment on his conviction.
Before being hired by the Business Times, Estrada had worked for the Santa Barbara News-Press as a business writer, as well as for a number of other publications, including the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Salinas Californian, and McClatchy’s Vida en el Valle. He had also at various times written business columns for The Daily Sound, Noozhawk, and the Santa Barbara Independent. The Independent terminated its five-month working relationship with Estrada in 2011.