Sacto 9-1-1
March 31, 2010
Blood, window punch lead Rocklin police to burglary suspects

Singh, Amar Deep.jpgBy Chelsea Phua

Two vehicle burglary suspects left behind drops of blood and a burglary tool, and then attracted the attention of a Rocklin police officer by failing to turn on the headlights of their getaway vehicle while driving in the dark, police said.

Lal, Shaneel Satwar.jpgAuthorities said Amar Deep Singh (left photo) and Shaneel Satwar Lal (right photo) broke the window and door lock of a vehicle in the parking lot of a shopping mall at 2110 Sunset Blvd. shortly before 6:35 a.m. Monday. The victim was inside a business for about two minutes.

Police said they found drops of blood and a metal window punch - an instrument used to shatter the window - inside the victim's vehicle.

Less than 30 minutes later, an officer spotted a red Isuzu Rodeo that did not have its headlights turned on and it was still dark, police said. The officer pulled over the vehicle and saw that the passenger, Lal, had a cut on his left hand and was bleeding. She also discovered that the driver, Singh, had a metal window punch identical to the one found inside the victim's left behind by the burglars.

Detectives later searched the room of a Motel 6 in Sacramento where the pair were staying and found property stolen from a Sacramento County Sheriff's deputy early Monday morning in Elk Grove. Lal was on probation in Sacramento County and subjected to searches.

Police arrested Singh and Lal on suspicion of burglary, possession of burglary tools and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Singh was also arrested for being a suspect in two Feb. 23 Rocklin burglaries.

The men were booked into Placer County jail. Singh is being held on $50,000 bail and Lal on $40,000 bail.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 31, 2010
Mount Aukum man arrested in El Dorado County stabbing

By Cathy Locke

A Mount Aukum man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide after allegedly stabbing a man at a rural El Dorado County residence.

keith mcdonnell.JPGEl Dorado County sheriff's deputies responded to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon in the 6600 block of Mount Aukum Road about 1 a.m. Saturday.

They arrived to find a man lying on the floor inside the home. He was holding his leg, which was bleeding heavily, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

Paramedics took the man to a landing zone and he was taken by helicopter to Sutter Roseville Trauma Center.

Deputies said they determined that Keith McDonnell (photo left), 26, confronted several people at the residence and was acting aggressive.

He allegedly pulled out a folding knife, threatened people and refused to put the knife down.

When the victim tried to push McDonnell from the room, McDonnell stabbed him in the leg and shoulder, according to the news release.

McDonnell left the residence but was located a short time later in the Outingdale area.

He was booked into El Dorado County Jail and is being held without bail.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 31, 2010
Body found in Sacramento River is identified

By Bill Lindelof

A body recovered from the Sacramento River in West Sacramento has been identified as a Woodland man reported missing in December.

Yolo County probation officers discovered the body of Luis Solorio Garcia, 42, as they searched for one of their clients on March 17.

The body was caught on tree branches in the water about 25 feet from shore, near the deep-water channel and across from Miller Park.

The officers called West Sacramento police, who boarded boats to reach the body.

Because of how long it had been in the water, the body's gender and age could not be determined. Garcia subsequently was identified by the Yolo County Coroner's Office through dental records.

A missing person's report on Garcia was filed with the Yolo County Sheriff's Department on Dec. 26. The report states that Garcia was last seen two days earlier near Jennings Court, just north of Knights Landing.

Cause of death is still pending.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 31, 2010
Tough love: Sacramento mom turns in son for pipe bomb

By Bee Staff

A mother called Sacramento County sheriff's deputies after she found a pipe bomb in her 16-year-old son's backpack, according to a crime summary released this week.

Here is how deputies reported the event unfolded:

The mother called deputies on March 21, saying she found an object that looked like a pipe bomb and some type of flammable liquid in a backpack in her son's room.

Deputies responded about 11 a.m. to the residence on a street off White Rock Road. With the mother's consent, detectives from the bomb squad searched the room and found in a backpack an empty pipe bomb, a flammable liquid that could be used to make an explosive device and instructions on home to make pipe bombs.

They also found several vehicle license plates hanging in the room that had been reported stolen or lost.

The son was arrested without incident and booked into juvenile hall.

March 31, 2010
Smoking-hot arrest: Sac PD jails suspect in cigar thefts

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento police arrested a man this morning for stealing cigars.

Dispatchers received a call from a witness who said two men were breaking into the Rite Aid pharmacy at 21st and S streets at about 3:30 a.m.

One of the men ran away, but the citizen described to the dispatcher the actions of the remaining man while on the phone.

The men had used a big piece of concrete to shatter a window and reach inside to gather up boxes of cigars. The man then hid the cigars in bushes across the street, the witness told dispatch.

Officers reported that they arrived in time to take Vincent Short, 21, into custody and find the cigar boxes.

He was booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of burglary and violation of probation.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 31, 2010
Man charged with 3 felonies after Rancho Cordova chase

By Bee Staff

A high-speed chase, ended by Sacramento County sheriff's deputies when they physically intercepted the fleeing vehicle with their patrol cars in Rancho Cordova, has left a man charged with three felonies, records show.

Terry Charles Hargrow, 50, is charged with felony evading a police officer and reckless driving, driving a stolen vehicle and receiving a stolen vehicle. He also is being held on a no-bail parole violation charge.

Hargrow was on parole from a 2007 conviction for several drug possession and sales felonies. He received a four-year prison term, court records show.

Hargrow has a criminal history going back to 1989 when he pleaded guilty to a DUI charge and received 15 days work furlough and three years informal probation, according to court records.

Between those charges and charges he is now facing, Hargrow was convicted of felony attempted robbery and felony drug possession and sales. He also was convicted of misdemeanors including drug possession and sales, domestic violence, vandalism, passing bad checks and making a false identification document, court records show.

His latest arrest went down like this, according to a Sheriff's Department summary:

At about 2:27 p.m. on March 23, a deputy spotted a vehicle reported stolen being driven in Rancho Cordova. The driver initially pulled over when signaled by the deputy but then sped off.

The suspect drove at speeds of more than 70 miles per hour through a residential neighborhood and past an elementary school.

A deputy attempted to stop the speeding vehicle with his patrol car by bumping it. But the vehicle spun before taking off again. Another deputy stopped the vehicle with his patrol car, the summary states.

The suspect, who deputies identified as Hargrow, resisted arrest before he was shot with a stun gun and subdued, deputies said.

March 30, 2010
Woman killed by Placerville police is identified

By Cynthia Hubert

Police have identified the woman who Placerville police killed after she commandeered an ambulance on Sunday morning as Linda Carol Clark, 39, of Folsom.

Officers shot Clark to death after she led them on a brief low-speed chase, then rammed patrol cars and aimed the ambulance toward police in the driveway of a Placerville home, Placerville Police Chief George Nielsen said.

Clark was a mental patient who was "on hold" at Marshall Hospital in Placerville when she escaped in an ambulance parked outside the emergency room, Nielsen said.

The case has sparked a debate about whether officers were justified in fatally shooting the unarmed woman.

Previous coverage:

Many questions in wake of woman's fatal shooting by Placerville police - March 30, 2010

Placerville woman shot dead by police after ambulance theft, chase - March 29, 2010

March 30, 2010
Friends, family raise $7,000 for reward in Wilton slayings

By Kim Minugh

Friends and family members of two men killed in Wilton earlier this month announced this morning they have raised $7,000 to contribute to a reward for information in the case.

That brings to $8,250 the amount available for tipsters who pass along information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the March 20 fatal shootings of Marlon Maurice Aguilar Morales and Christopher Alexander Valdes.

clip_image002.jpgaguilar.jpgMorales (photo top left), 18, and Valdes (photo bottom left), 19, were killed as they left a party held inside of a barn at a friend's home on Rising Road in unincorporated Sacramento County.

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives say as many as 60 people attended the party, although they have only identified and spoken to about two dozen of them. They are urging other attendees - even those who left before the shootings - to come forward.

clip_image002.jpgvaldes.jpgWitnesses told detectives that the party was going smoothly and that there were no problems before partygoers began to disperse about 1:30 a.m. At that point, about a dozen people - whose connection to the partygoers remains unclear - showed up uninvited and were asked to leave, said Detective Jason Cvitanov.

The uninvited people grew angry, and at least four of them physically fought with Morales and Valdes before someone fired several shots, striking the victims. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives have not identified the shooter or the uninvited people.

Friends and family members pleaded with members of the public to help detectives identify the "cowards" responsible for the killings.

"They didn't deserve to die like this," said Claudia Barrientos, Valdes' mother.

She said she fears that the suspects could hurt other people before they are caught.

"Our children are in danger," Valdes said. "Tomorrow, it could be your son or daughter."

Anyone with information is asked to call sheriff's homicide detectives at (916) 874-5057 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637. Enter "SACTIP" followed by the information.

Callers can remain anonymous.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

Previous coverage:

Two Elk Grove men shot to death outside Wilton party - March 21, 2010

March 30, 2010
Ex-prison guard pleads guilty; he brought in pot, gun, cell phones

domingo garcia (11-12-69).jpg

By Andy Furillo

A former correctional officer has pleaded guilty to bringing marijuana and a gun into California State Prison, Sacramento, and to conspiracy to distribute cell phones to inmates.

Domingo Gardea Garcia, 40, entered the plea Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court. He will be sentenced April 26 by Judge Gary E. Ransom.

Under the terms of his plea, Garcia will not be sentenced to state prison and will get no more than a year in county jail.

Garcia, left, was placed on administrative leave following his arrest in November. A nine-year veteran, he resigned on Jan. 26, after he had been served with dismissal papers a week earlier.

In his plea, the officer admitted to furnishing marijuana to an inmate and to bringing a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun along with 50 rounds of ammo and two knives onto the prison grounds in Folsom.

Garcia pleaded guilty in the conspiracy count to receiving $1,500 from an inmate to bring in a cell phone for another convict. He also received $1,300 from a woman through a Western Union money transfer, possessed 19 pieces of inmate correspondence that included pay and owe sheets, and he had nine cell phones at his residence, according to the criminal complaint's outline of the cell phone conspiracy.

Deputy District Attorney Steve Secrest said Garcia told investigators he got involved in the illegal activity to make ends meet after his pay was cut through the state furlough program.

It was an inmate who told authorities about the officer's involvement in the ring, Secrest said. According to the prosecutor, an inmate identified as Ken Hanks got caught with a cell phone and marijuana, then came forward with the information about Garcia.

The officer could not be reached for comment and his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Addie Louise Young, declined to comment.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton said Garcia's misconduct is rare.

"It doesn't happen very often," she said. "We have more than 60,000 employees in the department and nearly all of them do a very good job at what they do. However, the department has zero tolerance of staff misconduct, and all allegations of staff misconduct are investigated. We take this very seriously."

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

March 30, 2010
Placer sheriff acquires robot camera, thanks to casino grant

By Bee Staff

The Placer County Sheriff's Department has bought a remote-controlled robot camera and other gear thanks to a grant from the Thunder Valley Casino, according to a news release.

close up robot.jpgIn addition to the small robot camera (shown at left with the monitor), the sheriff's SWAT acquired rappelling equipment for scaling buildings, the Sheriff's Department release states.

The grant program is funded by Thunder Valley Casino, the Indian gaming special distribution fund, and is administered by the local community benefit committee, the release states.

The compact, remote-controlled camera unit, manufactured by Recon Robotics, gives SWAT officers the ability to monitor buildings or rooms and covertly gather intelligence without putting officers at risk, the release states.

"In these tight budget times we would not have been able to acquire this public safety equipment without the funding from this grant," said Lt. Jeff Ausnow, Placer County's SWAT commander.

March 30, 2010
Sacramento man sentenced for 2007 murder of college student

1Dominick West.jpg

By Andy Furillo

A 28-year-old Sacramento man convicted of the murder of an American River College fashion student three years ago has been sentenced to 51 years to life in prison.

Dominick Theado West, left, received the term Friday in Sacramento Superior Court from Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard for the June 2, 2007, shooting death of Mary Ourk, 21.

According to prosecutors, West shot and killed Ourk at 12th and W streets in midtown Sacramento at 1:30 a.m. as she drove home from a night out with friends.

Witnesses testified that West had flashed a gun at a man earlier in the evening and that he then chased down Ourk's car and shot her in the mistaken belief she was involved in his earlier confrontation.

In his statements to the probation officer who prepared West's pre-sentencing report, the defendant maintained his innocence, saying, "I am such a good person. If I had done it, I would have turned myself in."

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

Previous coverage:

Sacramento jury convicts man in 2007 shooting death of ARC student - Feb. 4, 2010

Defendant tells murder trial he didn't do it and ex-girlfriends lied - Jan. 28, 2010

Ex-girlfriend testifies defendant talked about killing woman - Jan. 22, 2010

Victim's friend recalls gunshot - Jan. 12, 2010

March 30, 2010
Placer woman convicted in death plot due parole hearing

By Bee Staff
Bee researcher Linda Beymer contributed to this report

A woman sentenced to life for the Rocklin murder of a man in 1994 who she suspected of being a child molester is scheduled for a parole hearing in early April.

Here is the list of Sacramento area convicts serving life sentences who are due hearings in the next few weeks:

-April 5, Charles Edwin Cox, 54, California Men's Colony.

On April 25, 1990, a Sacramento judge sentenced Cox to 15 years to life for the murder of his 33-year-old half-brother, Robert Craig Mason in 1986. He received an additional two years for using a firearm.

Cox twice was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial and committed to Atascadero State Hospital. Cox then pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Police said that an ongoing argument between the two men in a North Sacramento residence peaked when Cox accused Mason of stealing a gun from him. Cox then shot Mason several times and fled, police said.

-April 6, Timothy Martin, 50, California Men's Colony.

Martin was convicted of kidnapping and false imprisonment in El Dorado County.

No other details on his crime were available.

-April 6, Erika Aline Schomberg, 39, Valley State Prison for Women.

Schomberg was one of two Sacramento women were sentenced to prison on April 4, 1994, for setting up the shotgun slaying of a Rocklin man they suspected of molesting his daughter.

Trina Marie Werly, the victim's former girlfriend and mother of his child, received a term of 12 years for arranging the homicide, which she insisted was a last-resort act to salvage her daughter's innocence.

Werly has since been paroled.

A Placer Superior Court judge sentenced Schomberg to 15 years to life in prison for acting as the go-between who introduced Werly to the triggerman, Aaron Shaun Harper, 25. Harper was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

According to probation reports, Werly's allegations of child sexual abuse against Gregory Kittle probably were unfounded. At Werly's trial, witnesses testified that Kittle was a devoted father.

Kittle was mortally wounded Feb. 28, 1993, when a gunman hiding a sawed-off weapon in a paper bag knocked on the front door of Kittle's Rocklin residence and fired a single shotgun blast into his chest.

-April 7, Walter Jarvis Beachem, 52, California Medical Facility.

Beachem was sentenced to life in 1981 for the slaying of his estranged wife's boyfriend in her Del Paso Heights residence, The Bee reported.

Beachem was convicted of shooting Alvin Blakely, 34, six times with a .22 caliber revolver in November 1980.

If you want to give your opinion of an inmate's suitability for parole, you may mail a letter to:

Martin Hoshino, executive director

Board of Parole Hearings

1515 K Street

Sacramento, CA 95811

For more information on the Board of Parole Hearings, go to:

March 30, 2010
Collision on Interstate 80 near Dixon kills one person

By Bill Lindelof

A speeding car slammed into a parked big rig on Interstate 80 near Dixon this morning, killing one person.

The California Highway Patrol reported that at about 1:30 a.m. a 2001 Mercury Sable was eastbound on I-80 just east of the Midway Road when it left the road and struck a FedEx big rig on the shoulder of the freeway.

The impact pushed the big rig forward, but it remained o the shoulder. The car remained partially on the freeway.

Witnesses pulled the driver from the car but were unable to remove the passenger trapped in the right front seat.

The car caught fire and was engulfed in flames, killing the passenger.

The driver was flown to UC Davis Medical Center with major injuries.

Witnesses said it appeared that the Mercury's driver might have been racing with one or two other vehicles and estimated the car was traveling at more than 100 mph.

The CHP was attempting to identify both men in the Mercury. The driver of the big was unhurt.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 30, 2010
Crime Alert: Suspected parole violators sought

Cha, Zar 03-22-10.jpgThe California Department of Corrections is seeking three men on felony warrants for suspicion of parole violation, Sacramento Crime Alert officials report:

Zar Cha (top left photo) is described as age 27, 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last known to live in the 700 block of Lask Drive in Yuba City.

* * *

DAVIS, John 03-23-10.jpgJohn Davis (right photo) is described as age 52 , 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 170 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last known to reside in the 10000 block of Fair Oaks Boulevard in Fair Oaks.

* * *

JOHNSON, Mario 03-23-10.jpgMario Johnson (left photo) is described as age 37, 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 210 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. 37-year-old black male, 6' 2" tall and weighs 210 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He is also known as Mario Leon Johnson, Leon Brown and Anthony Level Franklin. He has a tattoo on his upper right arm.

He was last known to live in the 1100 block of Sammy Way in Sacramento.

Anyone with information about these suspects are urged to contact Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

March 29, 2010
Sacramento man sentenced to prison for possessing child porn

By Chelsea Phua

A federal court judge in Sacramento on Monday sentenced a 48-year-old man to 6 1/2 years in prison for the possession of child pornography.

Authorities said Daniel James O'Neil Jr. of Sacramento pleaded guilty to the charge Aug. 24.

Assistant United States Attorney Phil Ferrari, who prosecuted the case, said O'Neil admitted in his plea to purchasing access to a child pornography Web site, downloading images and movies over the Limewire file-sharing program and collecting child pornography over a five-year period.

In 2007, authorities found multiple computers and hard drives in O'Neil's home that contained images and movies depicting child pornography.

United States District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. said that the collection of child pornography was "not aberrant, but sustained and serious." He also emphasized the harm inflicted upon the children, saying they are being emotionally, if not physically, scarred and "hurt beyond relief."

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice, and investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 29, 2010
Sacramento police looking for ball cap-wearing robbery suspect

Bank Robber 2.JPGBy Bill Lindelof

Sacramento police are asking for help in finding a man suspected of robbing three banks.

The robber usually makes his escape on a bike and is partial to wearing caps with sports logos. He also might have a missing top front tooth.

Police said he held up the Wells Fargo Bank, 5660 Freeport Blvd., on March 16, the Chase Bank, 1331 Florin Road, on March 18 and the Wells Fargo Bank, 1 Park Center Drive, on March 19.

In all three robberies he showed the teller a note demanding cash. After being handed the money, he fled the bank and in two of the robberies he made his getaway on a mountain bike.

The robber is described as an African American man in his late 30s or early 40s, between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a slim build.

In each robbery he wore sunglasses and a hat. One hat had a 49ers logo, another a USA logo and the third a Kings logo.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357. Tipsters may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 29, 2010
West Sac police search for woman thought abducted

By Bill Lindelof

West Sacramento police say that a woman who witnesses said was pulled into a car after she had earlier reported being beaten now submits it was all a misunderstanding.

Police said that Kristen Acashia Rodriguez, 23, knocked on the door of a home near Jefferson Boulevard and Bevan Road in the Southport area about 2 a.m.

She was hysterical and screaming for help, police said. The residents telephoned police and took the woman inside.

Rodriguez told a police dispatcher that she had been beaten and thrown from a car. A witness told police that Rodriquez appeared to have injuries that might have been suffered by a person who was beaten and pushed from a vehicle.

For unknown reasons Rodriquez left the residence before police arrived. Witnesses say they saw her being pulled into an off-white or gray four-door sedan, which then drove northbound on Jefferson Boulevard.

Then, about 11 a.m., Rodriguez called police from her home in Oakley, Contra Costa County, to say the incident was a misunderstanding. She also said she was not a victim of a crime.
However, West Sacramento police said they are not dropping their investigation at this time.

Anyone with information is asked to call (916) 375-6474.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 28, 2010
Placerville Police fatally shoot hospital patient who stole ambulance today

By Hudson Sangree

Placerville police say they shot and killed a patient who stole an ambulance from a local hospital this morning and may have tried to ram a police car following a short pursuit.

Placerville Police Chief George Nielsen issued a written statement describing the incident:

According to the statement, police received a call at about 10:12 a.m. reporting that a El Dorado County ambulance had been stolen from Marshall Hospital, 1080 Marshall Way, in Placerville.

The caller said a patient had stolen the ambulance.

Three officers pursued the suspect to the top of a driveway in the 3000 block of Cedar Ravine Road, the statement said.

There were "preliminary indications" that the suspect rammed the officers' vehicle, it said.

"There was an officer involved shooting at the termination of the pursuit," the chief's statement said. "The suspect is deceased as a result of the shooting."

A multi-agency investigation into the shooting was under way, Nielsen said in the statement.

Call The Bee's Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191.

March 28, 2010
Sacramento homicide deputies investigate shooting death of man, 19, outside Country Club Lanes

By Hudson Sangree

Authorities are investigating the homicide of a 19-year-old Sacramento man who was shot in the head early today in the parking lot of a popular all-night bowling alley near the intersection of Watt and El Camino avenues.

Sacramento sheriff's deputies found Joe Melvin Tyes shortly after 4 a.m. next to Country Club Lanes at 2600 Watt Avenue.

Spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran said people inside the bowling alley heard multiple gunshots, went outside and found the man lying in the parking lot.

Dozens of shell casings littered the parking lot, Curran said, though the victim appeared to have been struck only once.

A motive isn't known, or even if Tyes was the intended target, authorities said.

No witnesses who saw the shooting have come forward, and detectives have no description of suspects or vehicles involved, Curran said.

Tyes was a validated gang member, the sheriff's spokesman said.

Court records show he was due in Sacramento Superior Court on Tuesday for a hearing on an alleged probation violation.

Tyes had a 2009 felony conviction for fleeing a police officer and driving with a disregard for the safety of others.

Anyone with information regarding this murder is urged to call Sheriff's Homicide detectives at (916) 874-5057, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP; or send a text message tip by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter SACTIP followed by the tip information.

Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000

Call The Bee's Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191.

March 27, 2010
Update: Man killed in Natomas home invasion was teacher, coach

By Phillip Reese and Cathy Locke

Salvador Heredia-Arriaga wanted to give something back to his community, so after graduating from UC Santa Cruz, he moved home to Natomas, took a job as a substitute teacher and helped coach the high school football team.

"You have the privilege of going to college," his mother, Susan Heredia, vice president of the Natomas Unified School Board, recalled telling him. "Use that privilege to make a difference."

SAM_0005.JPGLate Friday night, two armed men entered an apartment on the 2600 block of River Plaza Drive in south Natomas and shot and killed Heredia-Arriaga, according to police. Heredia-Arriaga (left in photo supplied by his family) was 26.

Based on a preliminary investigation, detectives believe Heredia-Arriaga was just visiting friends when he arrived in the middle of a home-invasion robbery at the River Pointe apartment complex, interrupting the intruders.

After shooting Heredia-Arriaga, the robbers and ran away. As of this evening, they are still at large.

The suspects are described as black, in their late teens to early 20s, wearing dark hooded sweatshirts and blue jeans.

"He just happened to stop by three minutes too soon," his mother Susan Heredia said.

Heredia-Arriaga grew up in Natomas, attending local schools. His two passions were history and football.

Not content to just play, Heredia-Arriaga would study the game and try and dissect how it worked. A defensive lineman, he didn't let a lack of natural ability get in his way.

"Salvador was a very average athlete who had an incredible work ethic," said Terry Stark, who was the head football coach at Natomas High during Heredia-Arriaga's senior year. "He would do everything he could to get on the field.

"He ended up being a starter for us. It wasn't a great team, but, thanks partly to his leadership, we were able to get to 5-5 that year," Stark added.

After high school, Heredia-Arriaga headed to UC-Santa Cruz, where he majored in history.

"He read everything he could get his hands on," Susan Heredia said.

A good student, Heredia-Arriaga had a lot of options in front of him.

He came back to south Natomas and became the junior varsity football coach at Natomas High. He also started substitute teaching for the district.

"He was a coach for all the right reasons," Stark said. "He saw what the game of football could do for so many young men. He wanted to make sure they got they got through school and have the opportunity to go to college."

At the time of his death, Heredia-Arriaga was getting ready to go to law school, his mother said. He would have likely contributed greatly to the community that nurtured him.

"He was very conscious of social issues," she said, adding that he also worked with disadvantaged kids through a city of Sacramento program. "He had a desire to try to develop youth."

Call The Bee's Phillip Reese, (916) 321-1137.

March 27, 2010
Sac Metro Fire District launches Facebook page

By Chelsea Phua

You can now become a fan of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Facebook page.

By Saturday afternoon, about two days after the page was launched, the site,, had more than 300 fans.

"Not getting on Facebook is akin to not having a telephone," Fire Chief Bill Sponable said. "We do need to get out there."

Jim Eastman, a retired deputy chief, now working as an annuitant for the district, said the page would be a platform for the department to deliver information and communicate with the public.

Eastman is part of a three-member committee that will monitor the postings and censor material that is derogatory, vulgar or obscene, he said.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 27, 2010
Never a dull moment for cops at DUI checkpoint

By Cathy Locke

A DUI checkpoint conducted Friday night at El Camino Avenue and Erickson Street in the North Sacramento area netted a number of drivers suspected of driving under the influence or other offenses.

For one woman, the checkpoint resulted in her third arrest for driving under the influence.

Another driver stopped for DUI told police that his friend, who was also in the checkpoint line, had had as much to drink as he had. The friend was found to be driving under the influence, too, police reported.

During the checkpoint, one driver decided not to stop but turned into the parking lot where numerous officers were waiting. The driver was found to be a parolee at large and driving a stolen vehicle, police reported.

The registered owner of the stolen car arrived to pick up the vehicle. But before driving up, the owner was seen doing a drivers swap. It turned out that the registered owner had a suspended license, but the driver he swapped with also had a suspended license, police reported. Both were cited and their vehicles towed.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 27, 2010
Sacramento cab driver reports robbery

By Cathy Locke

A Sacramento cab driver reported that he was robbed early Saturday morning after he dropped off a fare at an apartment complex in the 1900 block of San Juan Road in the South Natomas area.

The incident occurred about 2:40 a.m., according to the Sacramento Police Department's daily activity log. The cab driver told officers that a newer, black, full-size SUV pulled up and two men got out. One was armed with an assault rifle

The cab driver was punched in the face and robbed, according to the report, and the robbers fled.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 27, 2010
Man reports robbery, assault at Sacramento light-rail station

By Cathy Locke

A man told Sacramento Police that he was robbed and struck in the head early Saturday morning at a light-rail station parking lot.

The man said he had just gotten off the train in the 2800 block of 47th Avenue about 12:30 a.m., when he saw three men in their late teens or early 20s hanging around the ticket machine, according to the Police Department's daily activity log. As he was walking through the parking lot, the three men followed him and one told him to give up his property.

When the man refused, he was struck in the head and robbed, the report says.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 26, 2010
Body found in Auburn canal prompts investigation

By Chelsea Phua

Placer County authorities are investigating the death of an unidentified man whose body was found in a water canal system in Auburn.

According to an Auburn Police Department news release, the man's body was found about 2 p.m. Thursday in the area of Merry Knoll Road and Mount Vernon Road.

Officials from the police department and Placer County Sheriff's coroner division are investigating how the man ended up in the canal.

Authorities said the man is believed to be a Latino in his early 40s, with a heavy build and of medium height.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Auburn Police Department's investigations division at (530) 823-4237, ext. 238.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 26, 2010
Sac puppy owner stopped suspected TDD scam

By Gamaliel Ortiz

Karen Leardini listed a 12-week-old Chihuahua for $300 on the Sacramento Bee classified pages Thursday. By today, she had the attention of two callers, but they weren't the buyers she wanted.

The first caller, who identified herself as a grandmother from Texas, phoned Leardini using TDD or Telecommunications Device for the Deaf. The woman, who said the puppy was for her granddaughter, was willing to pay an additional $100 for doing business and also offered to pay transportation costs.

After the initial call, the unnamed caller insisted on e-mail correspondence, in which she urged Leardini to take the deal and "cash the check right away."

puppy.JPGLeardini's alarm bells went off after that request. She figured that the call and e-mails were part of a scam. If so, the Sacramento resident would have been out the check's amount, the money for transportation, potential bank fees and, of course, her puppy "Tilly Mouse" (photo left).

Katie Robison, media specialist with the Better Business Bureau (Northeast California), identified these red flags that point to the potential scam: the buyer was from out of state and she was willing to pay extra.

"A lot of times, it's better to deal locally," she said. "With these ads you want to say cash only. We've seen it before: People call in and they get a check, cash it and 14 days later they hear that the check is fake."

The TDD system makes locating a potential scammer difficult, Robison said.

In addition, scammers using TDD try to get sellers "to think with their heart strings and not use common sense." That apparently was the case with Leardini who, while sympathetic for the "deaf grandmother," immediately stopped e-mailing the Texan after she insisted on cashing the check quickly.

After reading her last e-mail, Leardini got another call, this time from a "grandfather" using TDD.

Robison's advice: "See if they want to pay cash only. That's not going to bounce."

For more information about concerns about scams, contact the BBB at or call the office, (916) 443-6843.

Call The Bee's Gamaliel Ortiz, (916) 321-1022.

March 26, 2010
Update: Dad, step-mom charged with murder in boy's death

RB McRath Arraignment 3.JPG

RB McRath Arraignment 2.JPGBy Robert D. Davila

The father and step-mother of a 3-year-old boy who died earlier this week were arraigned this afternoon in Sacramento Superior Court on one count each of murder.

Adrian McRath, 19, and step-mother, Dayshawna Lawrence, 22, are accused of killing Jeremiah McRath.

Jeremiah died at UC Davis Medical Center early Thursday morning, from head and other injuries that Sacramento police allege were inflicted by McRath, the boy's father, and Lawrence, his wife, as they disciplined him. The child had been on life support since being taken to UC Davis Medical Center on Tuesday evening.

In separate jailhouse interviews Wednesday, McRath and Lawrence denied allegations of endangering Jeremiah's life and inflicting corporal injury on him.

Lawrence said she found Jeremiah unconscious on the bathroom floor of their Oak Park apartment Tuesday evening and called 911. McRath said his son could have fallen and hit his head on something or ran into something and fell. He said he disciplined his child but did not abuse him.

Here's where you can call to report suspected child abuse:

- El Dorado County: Child Protective Services, (530) 642-7100.

- Placer County: Family and Children Services, (916) 872-6549 or (866) 293-1940.

- Sacramento County: Child Protective Services (916) 875-KIDS (5437).

- Yolo County: Child Protective Services, (530) 669-2345 or (530) 669-2346, days; (530) 666-8920, nights; and (888) 400-0022 toll-free.

Call The Bee's Robert D. Davila, (916) 321-1077.

Previous coverage:

3-year-old Sacramento boy dies; dad, stepmom in jail - March 26, 2010

Boy, 3, dies; jailed father, step-mother deny abusing him - March 25, 2010

Photograph above: Adrian Ramon McRath, left, and Dayshawna Nichole Lawrence are arraigned in Sacramento on Friday on charges stemming from the death of McRath's son, Jeremiah McRath. Photo by Randall Benton /

March 26, 2010
Sac PD: Man arrested in 'big winners' scam

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento police have arrested a man for allegedly using a common scam in which the victim is told they are big winners, according to a Police Department news release.

zachary.JPGJoe Zachary (photo left), 55, of Sacramento was arrested on suspicion of theft from an elderly person and obtaining money under false pretenses, police said.

The release gave this chain of events:

In January a woman received a call from a man telling her she had won money. However, the caller said, she would have to send money for taxes and fees before she could collect her winnings.

The victim complied more than once to the stranger's demands for money to be wired to an account.

Thousands of dollars and a few months later the woman still did not have her winnings. The Police Department was notified.

Zachary was arrested, even though caution it is typically difficult to find suspects in this type of scam, the release states.

The victim was able to provide enough information about the suspect in this case for police to make an arrest, the release states.

Every effort should be made by a citizen to validate information from a caller, police said. And, they caution, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is a scam.

Police ask anyone with information about the scam to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 26, 2010
Sac PD: 2 arrested in videotaping of minors

By Bee Staff

The Sacramento Police Department has arrested two suspects for photographing and videotaping minors who were posed in a sexual manner, according to a department news release.

Michael Gilles (photo bottom left), 35, in Sacramento County jail on a no-bail hold. Joseph Tien, 21 (photo bottom right), is in jail on $1 million bail, records show.

Here's the chain of events leading to the two men's arrests, according to the release.

On Feb 4 at 11:47 p.m., the Police Department received a call of a 13-year-old female who was missing.

Through this missing person's investigation, detectives discovered that Gilles had befriended and enticed the missing juvenile, and at least two other female juveniles, into allowing themselves to be photographed or videotaped while posing unclothed or in a sexual manner, the release states.

On Feb. 6, officers found Gilles and the juvenile victims near the 600 block of El Camino Avenue.

Inside the residence, detectives found nude photographs of juveniles, cocaine, and ecstasy pills, the release states.

Gilles was arrested on suspicion of that day for committing lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, furnishing narcotics to a minor, and possession of narcotics for sale, the release states.

Detectives also said they found that on a few occasions, Tien allegedly assisted Gilles in the photographing of minors and annoying or molesting a child. Tien was arrested on March 25 on suspicion of committing these crimes, the release states.

The investigation also revealed that an additional 15-year-old female victim had been used to befriend the younger girls and lure them into these activities at the direction of the suspects, the release states.

"The Police Department would like to remind parents to always be aware of what their children are doing online and who they are associating with. This is just one example of the many predators that are out there looking for ways to victimize your child," the release states.

Michael Gilles.jpg Joseph Tien 3-21-89.jpg

March 26, 2010
Update: Sac PD SWAT finds Natomas home empty

By Bill Lindelof and Anna Tong

Sacramento police entered a house this morning in Natomas where the sounds of shots were reported only to find it empty.

SWAT and bomb-squad officers that had been training nearby responded to a call at about 9:45 a.m. from Brymar Court, said a police spokesman.

Police cordoned off an area around the house before SWAT officers entered the home. The home was unoccupied.

Police are not sure if the reported sounds were actually gunshots.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 26, 2010
Ask Sacto911: Keyhole Lounge slayings unsolved

Q: What happened in the Keyhole Lounge shooting on Feb. 14, 2000? - Bryan Sacramento

A: The two homicides in that shooting are unsolved.

On that night, two men, thought to be gang members were killed in the lounge in the 10000 block of Folsom Boulevard, perhaps victims of retaliation for a shooting in the Arden Arcade area the previous week, The Bee reported.

VINH CAM TUYEN[1].JPGThe two victims, Vinh Cam Tuyen (photo left), 19, and Keith A. Lu, 26, were killed about 1 a.m. that night when a gunman walked into the karaoke bar and opened fire.

Two other men were wounded in the attack.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here.

March 26, 2010
Hearing to determine how accused El Dorado Hills killers will be tried is delayed

By Peter Hecht

A hearing to determine whether to try Steven Paul Colver and Tylar Marie Witt separately in connection with the killing of Witt's mother is being delayed while a judge considers other motions in the case.

El Dorado Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Melikian today ordered attorneys to appear April 5 for a status conference in the case.

Defense lawyers for both Witt and Colver, left, are seeking separate trials. But that decision will be put off until an appeal is heard on a legal challenge by Witt's attorney to her certification to stand trial as an adult.

Colver, 19, has pleaded not guilty to killing Joanne Witt in her El Dorado Hills home in June. Tylar Witt, 15, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Joanne Witt was found stabbed to death June 15 in the master bedroom of her El Dorado Hills home. Authorities say she was attacked while sleeping.

Call The Bee's Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.

Previous coverage:

El Dorado prosecutor won't seek death penalty for murder plot suspect, 19 - Jan. 23, 2010

El Dorado County murder trial ordered for teens - Jan. 8, 2010

Teenager charged with killing mom in El Dorado Hills to be tried as adult - Nov. 25, 2009

El Dorado judge to decide how girl will be tried in homicide case - Nov. 20, 2009

Prosecution outlines lurid murder plot in El Dorado Hills mom's stabbing - Nov. 18, 2009

El Dorado judge to decide whether to try girl as adult in mom's killing - Aug. 25, 2009

Teen fugitives planned suicide, search warrant states - June 24, 2009

Girl, 14, boyfriend charged in slaying of her mother in El Dorado Hills - June 23, 2009

Teen charged with murder in killing of girlfriend's mom - June 20, 2009

Did teen love lead to mom's stabbing death? - June 18, 2009

March 26, 2010
Update: Firefighters mop up after Woodland house blaze

By Bill Lindelof

A two-alarm blaze in Woodland this morning has been extinguished.

Firefighters mopped and investigators began looking for a cause for the blaze that swept through the home, sending flames shooting through the roof.

The 5:30 a.m. fire broke out in a home on West Cross Street near Ashley Avenue on the west side of town.

Firefighters from several agencies poured water on the burning residence, preventing the fire from spreading to neighboring homes.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 25, 2010
Placer sheriff: Ex-officer of Granite Bay football/cheerleader group arrested

By Bee Staff

The former treasurer and president of a Granite Bay football and cheerleader group was arrested today for embezzling nearly $38,000 from the non-profit organization, according to the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

periolat paul m.jpgPaul Mathias Periolat (photo left), 39, turned himself in to Placer County Sheriff's detectives after an investigation of embezzlement from the Granite Bay Junior Grizzlies football and cheer organization, the release states.

Periolat was the treasurer during 2006 and the president of the organization until 2009, the release states. Sheriff's detectives said Periolat embezzled $37,995 from the football account of the Grizzlies organization for personal gain.

The Granite Bay Grizzlies provide team sports to children between the ages of seven and 13, the release states. All of the money raised is given by parents and donations to provide uniforms, field and equipment upkeep and officiating costs.

Periolat was booked at the Placer County Jail on suspicion of embezzlement, 10 counts of burglary, conspiracy and grand theft, according to the Sheriff's Department.

March 25, 2010
Woman carjacked at Sacramento fast-food restaurant

By Anna Tong

Sometimes fast food doesn't come fast enough.

Early this afternoon, a 42-year-old woman left her van idling while she grabbed lunch at a fast-food restaurant on Del Paso Boulevard.

While she was waiting, a young man got in her gold Chrysler minivan and started to drive away, a Sacramento Police Department spokesman said.

The woman ran outside and tried to stop the man by opening the door and struggling with him.

The struggle ended when the man hit her with the van and drove away.

The woman is in the hospital with minor injuries, said Officer Konrad von Schoech of the Sacramento Police Department.

Police are still looking for the man, who they think is in his early 20s, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, and wearing a red hooded sweatshirt. No further description was available.

Call The Bee's Anna Tong, (916) 321-1045.

March 25, 2010
Sting targets unlicensed contractors in Sacramento region, statewide

By Bill Lindelof

Sting operations this week directed at unlicensed contractors have resulted in the arrest of 161 people, many in the Sacramento region.

Most of the contractors arrested Tuesday and Wednesday were issued notices to appear in court and will face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license.

The stings were conducted in Sonoma, Santa Clara, Sacramento, El Dorado, Madera, Kern, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

Four suspects were taken to jail on felony charges. One suspect was previously convicted of burglary, child abuse and domestic violence, and another was a registered sex offender.

In El Dorado County, the sting centered on El Dorado Hills, where 12 notices to appear were issued. In Sacramento County, the sting was in Rancho Cordova, where 24 notices to appear and 23 citations for no business license were issued.

Contractors State License Board investigators posed as homeowners and invited suspected unlicensed operators to bid on jobs such as landscaping, painting and roofing.

The law requires CSLB licenses for contractors performing work that totals $500 or more in labor and materials.

Unlicensed operators don't carry workers' compensation insurance, allowing them to submit lower bids. However, if a worker is injured on the job, the homeowner could be liable, the CSLB says.

The work of unlicensed contractors is unverified and sometimes unsafe and unfinished, the CSLB said.

"What seems like a good deal almost always ends up costing a lot more," said CSLB official Steve Sands. "Many of these phony contractors are people you really don't want inside your house or around your children."

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 25, 2010
Judge orders release of indicted ex-tomato executive

By Denny Walsh and Sam Stanton

Indicted tomato executive Frederick Scott Salyer was ordered released on $300,000 bail today and allowed to return to his Pebble Beach estate while he awaits trial.

A federal judge issued an order allowing him to go home after posting bail and signing a personal surety bond for the $7 million home or other property and cash equaling $6 million.

Salyer, 54, has been suffering from diabetes in the jail, and his attorney, Malcom Segal, argued in court documents that his incarceration has resulted in vision problems and other medical difficulties. Segal has pressed for Salyer to be sent home under house arrest, contending that he cannot mount a defense in such a complicated bribery and racketeering case while in jail.

Federal prosecutors have argued that Salyer, former head of SK Foods and a multimillionaire, will flee the country if released. They are expected to request a stay of the judge's release order.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton ordered Salyer's release under a series of strict conditions, including:

• Salyer must surrender his passport and pilot's license.

• He must be monitored electronically in his home, with a GPS device attached to him, and pay for the monitoring.

• He cannot open any financial accounts without permission.

• He must remain in his home except for travel to his attorney's office, the FBI or other federal offices. He can attend medical appointments, but only with permission in advance.

Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

Previous coverage:

Defense says diabetes should get tomato exec out of Sacramento jail - March 25, 2010

Lawyer for tomato exec Salyer cites fraud case's complexity in urging bail - March 19, 2010

Indicted tomato businessman again seeks release on bail - March 17, 2010

Tomato king sees his empire crumble - March 14, 2010

Key players in the Salyer case - March 14, 2010

Food executive Salyer denied bail in Sacramento federal court - March 4, 2010

SK Foods magnate Salyer hears charges in racketeering case - Feb. 27, 2010

Arrested tomato magnate to appear in Sacramento court - Feb. 26, 2010

SK Foods magnate Salyer indicted on racketeering charges - Feb. 19, 2010

Judge orders SK Foods magnate sent to capital - Feb. 6, 2010

FBI arrests SK Foods owner on fraud charges - Feb. 5, 2010

March 25, 2010
'Punch' turns out to be stabbing for Woodland man

By Bill Lindelof

A Woodland man was stabbed as he walked home Wednesday night.

The 26-year-old man was walking along Gibson Road near East Street and the Yolo County Fairgrounds about 10 p.m. when he heard footsteps of someone quickly approaching.

Before he could turn, the victim said he felt like he was punched in the back, though he actually was stabbed, Woodland police said.

When he turned, the victim saw a man holding a 12-inch kitchen knife. The victim grabbed the assailant's arm, but he broke free and ran.

The victim made it home and later was treated at Woodland Memorial Hospital. His injury was not thought to be life-threatening.

The assailant was described as 5 feet, 9 inches with a medium build. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and white athletic shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to call Woodland police at (530) 661-7800.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 25, 2010
Sacramento deputy shoots man who fails to disarm

By Bill Lindelof

A man was shot and wounded by a Sacramento County sheriff's deputy Wednesday night after he refused to put down a weapon, a department spokesman said.

Deputies responded to a call of gunshots being fired inside a home at 37th Avenue and Vista Avenue, near Highway 99 and Fruitridge Road, shortly before 11 p.m. There they found two men standing in the driveway of the home.

One of the men was armed with a handgun. The suspect ignored commands to drop the weapon, a department news release stated.

One of the deputies, fearing for his safety, fired several shots at the 24-year-old man, wounding him at least once in the upper body.

Paramedics transported the man to the hospital where he was expected to survive. The suspect was identified as Jose Ramirez Lopez and will be booked into Sacramento County jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after he recovers.

The deputy, 42, who shot the man is a 20-year department veteran. He is on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated by the department's homicide unit and the Sacramento County district attorney.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 24, 2010
Placer sheriff: Deputy arrested on probation violation

By Bee Staff

The Placer County Sheriff's Department arrested one of its deputies assigned to the courts this morning for a violation of his probation, according to a news release.

caliguire john march 2010.jpgDeputy John Caliguire (photo left), 49, was at work in the courts division at the Santucci Justice Center in Roseville when his supervisor observed objective signs of intoxication and an odor of alcohol, the Sheriff's Department release states.

A breath test showed Caliguire had a blood alcohol content of .09 to .10 percent, the release states.

Caliguire was arrested for a violation of his probation, which stems from a DUI conviction on Feb. 26, the release states.

Caliguire has been relieved of his duties and is on administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation, the release states.

March 24, 2010
Sacramento federal jury finds man guilty of Chico hate crime

By Denny Walsh

A jury in Sacramento federal court today found a San Francisco man guilty of punching an African American man because of his race and the fact he was enjoying himself at a Chico bar.

The panel of six women and six men deliberated for 2 1/2 hours before finding Eric Loren Clawson guilty of a hate-based violation of Carl Whitfield's federal civil rights.

Clawson, 28, who was once an amateur mixed martial arts champion, knocked Whitfield, at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, down and out with one punch.

Clawson testified he had, in talking to the bartender, used a racial epithet twice before he struck Whitfield, but the term was not directed at Whitfield. Clawson said he didn't even notice Whitfield until after he had used the term.

Some government witnesses testified that Clawson had actually uttered the epithet a third time that was directed at Whitfield, but Clawson denied that.

Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

March 24, 2010
Update: Woman on electric scooter killed by train identified

By Bee Staff

A woman traveling on an electric scooter was killed Wednesday afternoon by a train on Power Inn Road, north of Fruitridge Road, according to the Sacramento City Fire Department.

Sacramento County coroner's officials identified the woman as Carolyn Levon Scribner, 58, of Sacramento.

The department received the call at 2:55 p.m. and firefighters responding found the victim lying alongside the tracks, said Jim Doucette, department spokesman, in a news release. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Her name has not been released.

The Sacramento Police Department is also investigating the accident's cause. Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District officials also responded to the incident.

March 24, 2010
Placer sheriff: Deputies interrupt burglary in progress

By Bee Staff

Placer County Sheriff's deputies stopped a residential burglary in-progress as one of the burglars walked out of a Colfax home carrying stolen goods, according to Sheriff's Department release.

The release outlined this chain of events:

At 10:50 a.m. Monday, a witness called 911 to report that two men had just kicked in the front door of a home on West Oak Street.

When deputies arrived minutes later, they said Sean Michael Emmons (photo bottom left), 19, who has no fixed address, walked out of the home's front door carrying jewelry and other items.

At the same time, workers from a business behind the home had called 911 to report that two men were loading items into a blue Chevy Trailblazer.

The workers wrote down the vehicle's license plate number, which deputies broadcasted to all patrol officers.

Shortly after that broadcast, a deputy saw the Trailblazer speeding along westbound Interstate 80 near Dry Creek Road.

The driver, Paul Lopez Zazueta (photo bottom right), 18, of Sacramento, was in possession of a television, a snowboard, clothing and a bicycle later found to belong to the residents of the West Oak Street home, the release states.

Both suspects are being held at the Placer County Jail in Auburn on burglary and conspiracy charges, the release states. Bail is set at $50,000 each.

emmons sean m.jpg zazueta paul l.jpg

March 24, 2010
Sac PD asks help in solving 2 sexual assaults

By Bee Staff

The Sacramento Police Department is asking for the public's help in solving two sexual assaults.

On Feb. 23 at approximately 6:30 p.m., a 19-year-old woman was walking in the area of Franklin Boulevard, near Calvine Road when she was approached by two males.

One of the males grabbed her from behind and dragged her into a nearby field where she was sexually assaulted.

One suspect was described as a black male in his early 20s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall and with a medium build. He was wearing a dark jacket with a hood.

The second suspect was only described as a black male adult.

On March 20 at approximately 11:49 p.m., an 18-year-old woman was walking in the area of Florin Road, near Loma Verde Way when she was approached by a man.

The man dragged her into a nearby parking lot in the 2300 block of Florin Road where he sexually assaulted her.

The suspect was described as a black male in his 20s. He was about 5 feet 10 inches tall with a heavy build. He was wearing a white jacket or sweatshirt with a green stripe on the sleeve.

Detectives do not know if the cases are related, according to a Police Department news release.

Anyone with information on these two cases is asked to contact Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information.

Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

March 24, 2010
Midtown graffiti suspects arrested

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento police arrested four teens who were marking public and private property with graffiti Tuesday in midtown Sacramento.

A citizen reported to police about 9 p.m. that four boys were vandalizing property around 28th and R streets. The caller was following the teens who were reportedly writing on garbage cans and utility boxes.

Sacramento police and a California Highway Patrol helicopter responded to the area. Eventually, the four suspects in their late teens were cited for suspicion of vandalism and released to their parents.

A police report indicated that the witness saw the boys using marking pens to write on a garbage can, a railroad company box, three utility boxes and a light pole in the area around 28th and Q streets.

Other spots are also suspected to have been vandalized by the four teens.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 24, 2010
Couple accused of fraud after sex club shooting arraigned

By Sam Stanton

John Alfonzo Smiley and his wife, Cynthia Ann Biasi-Smiley, were arraigned this morning on felony worker's compensation fraud charges, as new information came to light about the extensive efforts by co-workers and supporters who reached out to help him after he was shot following an alleged altercation in a San Francisco sex club.

Co-workers and others donated vacation time, money and supported fundraising golf tournaments to help Smiley receive treatment for the paralysis he suffered after being shot in April 2008.

Court records indicate Smiley filed a compensation claim that could have paid him up to $2.5 million after the shooting, but the records indicated he said he was shot by a parolee who recognized him as a correctional officer as he left a restaurant.

However, an investigation by state corrections officials determined that the shooting actually occurred after the couple had visited Twist, a San Francisco swingers club, and had sex with a couple they met there, court records state. The records indicate that a man shot Smiley outside the club after Smiley had sex with the man's female companion and Smiley's condom broke.

That story apparently remained secret as the 44-year-old Smiley, who is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair, pursued worker's compensation and disability claims.

As the state processed the claim, friends and supporters of the 6-foot, 8-inch former college basketball star organized fundraisers and a web site chronicled Smiley's recovery and financial needs to pay his medical expenses.

The site features photos of the family and discusses how "as a decorated Corrections officer in California his size helped him safely transport dangerous inmates, quell large riots, and prevent escapes."

In a section titled "John's story, in his own words," Smiley recounts spending April 26, 2008, in San Francisco at the zoo with his wife and two children and his in-laws.

"This wonderful afternoon was followed by a great dinner and an announcement that the grandparents would watch the kids so Cindy and I could have a long overdue night out together," he wrote. "Of course, I had no idea that our lives would change forever on that day."

The site does not mention the alleged visit to the sex club.

The couple were charged by the Sacramento District Attorney's Office earlier this month, and they made their first court appearance this morning as a crowd of reporters and photographers followed them through the halls of the Sacramento Superior Courthouse downtown.

Neither spoke to reporters. Smiley sat quietly in his wheelchair in an aisle in a second-floor courtroom waiting for Judge Gary E. Ransom to call his case. Biasi-Smiley, 36, sat in a seat beside him, nervously fingering the hem of her skirt with her left hand as cameras were aimed at them from the jury box, where half a dozen members of the media waited.

At one point, she left court briefly and returned, her eyes noticeably red.

Ransom read the list of felony charges the couple face and appointed attorneys for them after they indicated they could not afford their own. Then, Smiley tried to say something to the judge.

"Can I let you know that I believe that...," he said before a public defender turned toward him, shaking her head "no" and holding up her index finger.

The couple then left without speaking to reporters. In his wheelchair, Smiley had difficulty heading down the hall as cameras surrounded him, and bystanders grabbed reporters to ask, "Who is that?"

Some people who emailed or posted comments online to The Bee after the Smiley story was reported Tuesday indicated they had donated to his cause but knew nothing about the sex club allegations. His web site contains updates about his medical costs, provides information on how to donate money and indicates that the second annual John Smiley Golf Tournament at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton raised $11,000.

The event was Nov. 6, about two weeks before the Corrections Department opened a criminal investigation into his claims. Before that, the state had been working to reach a settlement of his claim, records indicate.


Above, Cynthia Ann Biasi-Smiley stands next to John Alfonzo Smiley during their court appearance today in Sacramento.

Photograph by Manny Crisostomo /

Call The Bee's Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091.

Previous coverage:

California correctional officer accused of lying about being shot at S.F. sex club - March 23, 2010

March 24, 2010
Ask Sacto911: Man got 7 years for 1991 road-rage killing

Q: What happened to the guy (I believe his name was Howard King) who got out of his car and shot someone on the highway? - Anonymous, Lincoln

A: On June 30, 1993, King, a Sacramento County social welfare worker, was sentenced, to seven years in state prison for the May 1991 shooting death of another motorist on Highway 99, The Bee reported.

King, then 41, and the victim, Felix Hernandez Jr., had been driving aggressively and braking in front of each other when Hernandez stopped in front of King's pickup, according to then Sacramento County District Attorney Steve White.

Hernandez ran toward King's truck and allegedly put his hand into his pocket. King said he then shot Hernandez twice with a 9mm handgun because he feared Hernandez was reaching for a weapon. King pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter with the use of a firearm.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here.

March 24, 2010
Woodland man shot, robbed victim of pot, Yolo jury decides

By Bill Lindelof

A Yolo County jury has convicted a Woodland man of shooting another man in the chest and stealing his marijuana.

Anthony Vasquez, 22, was found guilty of robbery, assault and attempting to intimidate a witness.

Officials with the Yolo County District Attorney's Office said Vasquez, whom they identified as a Norteno gang member, made arrangements on May 5, 2008, to buy marijuana. When the seller got into a car, Vasquez grabbed the marijuana and shot the victim.

Vasquez then went to a party.

The victim underwent hours of surgery to repair damage from a slug that pierced his lung, the DA's office said.

Six months later, Vasquez was arrested.

On July 4, a correctional officer at the jail found a letter written by Vasquez.
In it, Vasquez admitted shooting the victim and asking that his "homies" dissuade witnesses from attending his trial or urge them to say say Vasquez was not present at the time of the shooting, the DA's office said in a news release.

Vasquez is scheduled to return to Yolo County Superior Court on Thursday to set a date for sentencing. He faces life in prison.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 24, 2010
Crash kills man in Yuba County foothills

By Bill Lindelof

A 26-year-old man died Tuesday night when his car went out of control as he tried to pass another vehicle in the Yuba County foothills.

The California Highway Patrol reported that about 6:30 p.m. the Yuba City man was driving his 2004 Pontiac Grand Am south on a straight stretch of Willow Glen Road when he tried to pass a vehicle as a northbound vehicle approached.

The driver of the Grand Am swerved back into the southbound lane and lost control, traveling back into northbound lane.

The car then slid off the side of the road and slammed sideways into a power pole. The force of the impact on the car's passenger side destroyed the pole.

The driver was wearing his seat belt and the Grand Am was equipped with air bags that deployed, but the driver suffered fatal injuries from the violent side impact.

Identification of the driver was not available, pending notification of family.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 24, 2010
Update: Father, step-mother suspected in assault on 3-year-old boy are arrested

By Bill Lindelof and Chelsea Phua

Sacramento police say they have arrested the father and step-mother of a 3-year-old child who is in critical condition after suffering an apparent beating.

The child is in critical condition at UC Davis Medical Center.

Adrian McRath.jpgDayshawna Lawrence.jpgDetectives say they believe that the child's injuries to his head and bruising to his body were caused by an assault by his father, Adrian Ramon McRath (far left), 19, and his step-mother, Dayshawna Nichole Lawrence (left), 22, on Tuesday.

Both were booked into Sacramento County Jail today on suspicion of endangering the life of a child and inflicting corporal injury to a child.

McRath was also booked for felony violation of probation.

Lawrence was also booked on outstanding warrants related to theft and failure to appear in court connected to not paying a Regional Transit fare.

Both suspects are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

An investigation is ongoing so police are not releasing all details of the case.

However, police confirmed that at 6:43 p.m. Tuesday the Sacramento Fire Department responded to an Oak Park apartment complex in the 2700 block of 32nd Street where a child had been hurt.

Police homicide detectives and crime scene investigators were called to the scene because of the suspicious nature of the child's injuries.

The initial investigation by detectives revealed that earlier in the day the little boy was physically disciplined by McRath and Lawrence, police said.

Later in the day, the McRath left the house. In the evening, police said, Lawrence heard a noise when the child went into the bathroom.

When Lawrence checked on the child, the boy was unconscious.

He was carried to a neighbor's apartment where 911 was called, prompting emergency response.

A Child Protective Services worker took a 5-month-old baby, believed to be the injured boy's brother, from the complex as a precaution.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 23, 2010
Trial date scheduled July 12 in case against ex-volleyball coach

By John Parker

The molestation case against former Christian Brothers teacher and volleyball coach Minh Nguyen appears headed for a jury trial.

A trial date of July 12 was set following a pretrial hearing on Monday in Santa Ana. The pretrial hearing will continue June 14.

Nguyen, 36, is accused of having inappropriate contact with a 17-year-old varsity girls volleyball player stemming from an incident at a Santa Ana hotel last December. It is alleged that shortly after 10 p.m. Dec. 4, Nguyen, an assistant varsity volleyball coach, entered the room a student-athlete under the guise of giving her an athletic massage.

The Christian Brothers team was staying at the Embassy Suites on Dyer Road in Santa Ana the night before competing in the California Interscholastic Federation Division IV championship at UC Irvine. The Falcons were swept in that match by La Jolla Country Day.

Nguyen taught world history and coached volleyball and track for five years before the school terminated his employment Dec. 8.

Nyugen, who is represented by Costa Mesa-based attorney Susan Regeimbal, faces up to a year in Orange County jail and would have to register as a sex offender.

Call The Bee's John Parker, (916) 321-5519.

Previous coverage:

Coach accused of wrongly touching student athlete - Dec. 15, 2009.

March 23, 2010
Alleged theft of key car parts leads to Rocklin arrests

By Bill Lindelof

Rocklin police today arrested two men on suspicion of stealing catalytic converters and other charges.

San Luang Saechao, 43, and Vai Vang, 23, both of Sacramento were booked into Placer County Jail on charges of attempted grand theft, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Police said a citizen in the 2200 block of Eagle Drive spotted two men removing car parts from a neighbor's truck at 5:30 a.m. today.

Police arriving within minutes stopped a car leaving the area and arrested the two men.

Inside the car the officers say they found three catalytic converters, a pipe cutter, a navigation device and other tools. The GPS was programmed with addresses in Rocklin, Lincoln and Sacramento.

Officers quickly located other theft victims in Lincoln and Rocklin using addresses from the GPS.

The converters from vehicles are prized for the small amounts of precious metals that they contain.

Converters are on the underside of a vehicle and are part of the exhaust system. The converters contain a few grams of platinum, rhodium or palladium.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 23, 2010
Sacramento scam hinges on fake gold bars

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento police are warning that scam artists are peddling fake bars of gold.

Similar crooked deals have surfaced through the years.

The most recent incarnation of the scam occurred Thursday in Natomas when a woman shopping in the 3600 block of Truxel was approached by another woman who spoke to her in Spanish.

The woman told the victim that she was from Mexico and that a sick relative needed help to pay hospital bills. A man then approached and asked the victim if she would like to help by buying a bar of gold at a sale price.

The victim agreed, thinking she would be helping a family in need with bills while also making some money for herself. She withdrew the money from the bank and paid for the phony gilded bar.

Later, after a trip to a jewelry store, she found out the gold bar was a fake.

The suspects have been targeting Hispanic women with the same scam, police said.

The male suspect was described as Hispanic, about 60 years old, 5 feet, 5 inches tall, 130 pounds, wearing a grey-and-beige knitted cap, beige T-shirt and beige jeans. The female suspect was described as Hispanic, 45 years old, 5 feet tall, 165 pounds with shoulder-length brown hair.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 23, 2010
Rifle shots lead to Sacramento man's arrest

By Ed Fletcher

Police have arrested a Sacramento man for illegally discharging a .22-caliber rifle Monday morning near Fairfield and El Camino avenues.

The incident occurred at 11:19 a.m. with a resident reporting that he saw a man firing a rifle either into the air or into the ground.

A second shot was fired while officers were close enough to track the alleged shooter, resulting in the arrest.

No injuries were reported.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269.

March 23, 2010
Woman struck and killed while pushing a car in Roseville

By Bill Lindelof

A woman pushing a car that had run out of gas was struck and killed by a sports utility vehicle Monday night in Roseville.

Dawn Rachael Nelson, 34, of Roseville was transported by ambulance to Sutter Roseville Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

Roseville police and fire personnel responded about 7 p.m. to the accident in the northbound lanes of Foothills Boulevard overpass between Roseville Road and the Denio Loop.

Nelson was a passenger in a 1990 Nissan Maxima that ran out of gas on the overpass. Nelson and two other passengers were pushing the car when she was struck from behind by a northbound 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by a 17-year-old boy from Antelope.

The accident is being investigated by the Roseville Police Department's Major Accident Investigation Team.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 23, 2010
Grant helps Woodland firefighters buy stronger cutting tool

By Bill Lindelof

The Woodland Fire Department has a new, tougher cutting tool to extricate car crash victims thanks to an insurance company.

Fireman's Fund Insurance Company and Independent Solutions United, an insurance broker, awarded a grant of $6,735 to purchase the new equipment.

The hydraulic cutter was needed because the department's old tool was outdated. Strengthened steel has made it increasingly difficult for firefighters to cut through vehicles to rescue drivers and passengers.

"Unfortunately, our equipment had suddenly become outdated and was unable to cut through the strengthened steel now used in modern cars," said Woodland Fire Chief Tod Reddish.

Firefighters are measured by response times and ability to quickly help accident victims, Reddish said.

"It is imperative we reach injured victims as quickly as possible," he said. "This extrication equipment will allow us to respond to any emergency situation knowing we have the tools to provide the highest quality service."

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 22, 2010
Update: Man fatally shot in Citrus Heights fracas identified

By Chelsea Phua

The 911 caller was short of breath and hysterical, telling dispatchers that she and her son were being held against their will inside her ex-husband's Citrus Heights apartment, authorities said.

"She was frantically calling for help," said police Lt. Jeff Mackanin.

The call, made about 2:20 p.m. Saturday, led to a fight between the woman's ex-husband and two officers. One of the officers fired three shots. A bullet struck the man and another one hit the officer's partner, a female officer, in the leg. The officer himself suffered head injuries.

The man, identified by authorities as Barys Radchuk, 35, died Saturday at Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael.

Mackanin said it was the first fatal officer-involved shooting since the department was established in 2006. He said investigators are looking into whether the bullet that injured the female officer was a direct hit or had ricocheted.

Authorities have not released the officers' names but said they have flawless safety records. Both were treated and released from the hospital.

Mackanin said officers encountered an intoxicated Radchuk in an alleyway between Holly Springs Court and Cavan Drive, and stopped about 10 feet away from him. He was very agitated and attacked the officers, pummeling both of them on the head.

"He was getting the best of both of them," Mackanin said, adding that the officers used a Taser on Radchuk, but it failed to subdue him.

Fearing for their lives, the male officer fired while Radchuk was hitting the female officer on the head.

Mackanin said Radchuk is from Belarus. He was arrested in 2009 by Sacramento police for battery at a casino, Mackanin said.

Public records show that Radchuk was a vocational nurse licensed until March 2012 to practice in California.

Court documents show that a Marina Radchuk filed for divorce from Barys Radchuk in June 2009.

A woman who answered the door Monday evening at a Carmichael home acknowledged she was Marina Radchuk but declined to be interviewed.

Neighbors said Radchuk moved into the rental home with her two children - a boy and girl in their early teens - last June.

Jason Rich and his wife, Jan, who live next door, said MarinaRadchuk kept mostly to herself and rarely spoke to neighbors, often driving straight into the garage when she returned home and shutting the door.

On the Fourth of July, Jan Rich said, Radchuk's daughter asked if she could play fireworks with the Riches' children. Jan Rich said that was when she learned from the young girl that Marina Radchuk works as a nurse.

For the first few months, the Riches said, they did not see anyone other than Marina and her children. Then they noticed a man visiting on occasion, but only later learned he was her ex-husband.

Jason Rich said he once saw the man and Marina's son coming home from a soccer game.

"They look exactly the same," Jason Rich said. "They were kicking the ball back and forth as they were walking back to the house."

The last couple of days, the Riches said, they noticed an influx of visitors to Marina Radchuk's house, but were not aware of what had happened.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

Previous coverage:

Details of shooting by Citrus Heights police emerge - March 23, 2010

March 22, 2010
Two men plead guilty to child pornography charges in Sacramento

By Sam Stanton

Two men have pleaded guilty in separate cases in federal court to possession of child pornography, authorities announced today.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner's office said the men -- Juan Jose Mancilla, 42, of Galt and Douglas William Howay, 44, of Chico -- each pleaded guilty Friday and will face sentencing June 4.

Mancilla pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. to receipt and distribution of child pornography. Prosecutor Kyle Reardon said authorities learned in February 2008 that a computer at Mancilla's address was using an Internet file-sharing program to distribute child pornography. Reardon said in a statement that between Feb. 7, 2009, and March 15, 2009, Mancilla's computer offered child pornography through the file-sharing network 159 times.

Agents went to his home April 1, 2009, and found his computer in the process of downloading child pornography.

He faces from five to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In the second case, Howay faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for acts he committed while an airman stationed at Beale Air Force Base in Yuba County.

Howay, who pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia to possessing child pornography, was communicating in a Yahoo chat room when he posted footage of himself committing a sex act, said Reardon, who also prosecuted that case.

Howay was communicating with an undercover detective in Chesterfield, Va., who messaged back claiming to be a 14-year-old girl. Howay responded that was "OK," Reardon said.

Authorities later found 399 images of children engaged in sexual conduct, including some photos of children under 5 who were being sexually assaulted by adult men.

Call The Bee's Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091.

March 22, 2010
Witness could be key in El Dorado road rage killings

By Bill Lindelof

Detectives plan to interview the surviving witness in a fatal shooting and suicide that grew out of a road rage incident in El Dorado County.

The fatal incident began about 2:45 p.m. Sunday in the Somerset area.

"We don't have much information beyond that," said Sgt. Jim Byers, spokesman for the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department.

Officers responded to Newtown Road and Broadway near Placerville after receiving calls about gunshots and an automobile accident.

KOHUTEK.JPGlarsondead.JPGThey found Jenson Cornelius Kohutek (far left), 36, dead in a burgundy Toyota truck. Jack Eugene Larson (left), 49, was critically wounded in a green Toyota sport utility vehicle.

Larson was transported to Marshall Hospital where he died.

Deputies said Kohutek shot Larson and then took his own life. A 72-year-old woman passenger in Larson's SUV was not injured.

Deputies said the two men did not know each other. The dispute between the men apparently was the outgrowth of road rage.

"It sounds like the initial incident was instigated by Kohutek, and then it was a continuing event up until the point they crashed," said Byers.

The cars ended up side-by-side, just off the road. Kohutek did not get out of his car to shoot, Byers said.

"He just raised the gun and fired into the car, narrowly missing the female passenger who was in the front seat," said Byers. "Obviously, she is pretty traumatized."

She has been interviewed once by detectives, and they plan a follow-up interview.

It remains unclear what prompted the road rage.

"There are no witnesses, beside her," Byers said of the female passenger. "There were other witnesses along the way who saw the swerving and weaving and the hand gestures."

A road rage incident that somewhat mirrors what happened in El Dorado County, occurred when Donald Rodger Bell shot himself to death on May 20, 2001,

He committed suicide near the roadside memorial on Highway 50 to the man he was accused of killing in a road-rage incident about three weeks earlier.

Investigators said Bell, 52, of Elk Grove called 911 on his cell phone about 10 a.m. to tell police that he intended to shoot himself. He asked the 911 operator to relay a message to his wife, and then fired one shot to his head.

Bell faced voluntary manslaughter charges in the shooting death of Timothy Michael Mann, 53, of Orangevale on May 6, 2001. Bell was out on bail.

The incident between Mann and Bell started just before 11:30 a.m. when both motorists were traveling with family members east on Highway 50 near Bradshaw Road. Sheriff's officials said Bell, who was driving a small white pickup truck, pulled into traffic in front of Mann's four-door sedan.

The two exchanged angry words and gestures while continuing east before exiting at Hazel Avenue. Mann pulled into the left-hand turn lane and Bell followed him in his truck.

While they were sitting at the light waiting for it to change, Bell allegedly got out of the car and gestured to Mann. Mann left his car, and the two men began arguing. Witnesses said Mann took a swing at Bell, who then shot Mann.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 22, 2010
Man who saved woman in sinking car receives national honor

By Loretta Kalb

A Roseville man who plunged into the Folsom South Canal in July to save a woman whose car was sinking is being recognized this week with one of the nation's top honors, the Citizen Service Above Self medal bestowed by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.

Jeffrey Michael Ross, who goes by the name Michael, dived into the murky canal in Rancho Cordova on July 12, 2009, after a seeing a woman lose control of her car and run off the road.

He opened the vehicle's window and began loosening her seat belt to help her out of the sinking vehicle.

Suddenly, the vehicle slipped beneath the water. At the last moment, he was able to free her and, with help of two other people, pulled her to safety.

Ross is only one of three people to receive the award each year. He will receive the honor Thursday at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia in the shadow of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073.

March 22, 2010
Sacramento deputy gets 18 years for having sex with 13-year-old

By Ed Fletcher and Bill Lindelof

The on-call Sacramento County sheriff's deputy accused of picking up a 13-year-old girl he met on duty and having sex with her in a Lincoln hotel has pleaded guilty.

Cephus, Eric.jpgWith the plea, Eric Cephus (left), who could have been sentenced to life in prison, will serve 18 years in state prison and will be required to register as a sex offender.

"I want to say I'm sorry," Cephus said. "I've destroyed my life."

Lincoln police arrested Cephus, 39, on March 2 at his San Jose home. He was arraigned two days later on one felony count each of lewd acts with a child under the age of 14 and transporting a person for a sex act.

Cephus was working a contract shift for a north Sacramento County parks district -- meaning he was in uniform and driving a marked patrol car, but his work was paid for by the parks district -- the night of Feb. 26 when he allegedly met his victim.

After his shift ended, Cephus and the girl allegedly drove to a Lincoln hotel and had sex. Police have not said if the sex was forced or if Cephus paid the victim.

Cephus is no longer employed by the sheriff's department, authorities said.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269.

Previous coverage:

Woman's call to police on teen girl at Lincoln salon led to deputy's arrest - March 10, 2010

Sacramento on-call deputy accused of sexual assault of 13-year-old - March 4, 2010

March 22, 2010
Car strikes man searching highway lanes for cell phone battery

By Bill Lindelof

A search for a cell phone battery on a Marysville bridge Sunday morning ended with a broken leg for an Olivehurst man.

The 21-year-old man, who was not identified, was walking on the sidewalk on the E Street Bridge about 12:05 a.m. when he dropped his cellphone and it landed in a southbound lane of the road, State Route 70.

He picked up the phone but noticed that the battery had fallen out, a California Highway Patrol news release states. The man then searched for the battery in the two southbound lanes over the bridge until he saw a car approaching at 50 mph.

The driver, a 30-year-old man also from Olivehurst, swerved right to avoid the man, who jumped in the same direction the vehicle swerved.

The 2001 PT Cruiser's left front fender hit the man, sending him into the air and onto the center divider. The victim was transported to Rideout Hospital with a broken right leg and abrasions, the CHP said.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 21, 2010
Man kills driver, himself during road rage

By Diana Lambert

Two men are dead after road rage led to a murder and suicide at 2:45 p.m. Sunday in Placerville, according El Dorado County sheriff's deputies.

Officers responded to Newtown Road and Broadway after receiving calls about gunshots and an automobile accident.

They found Jenson Cornelius Kohutek, 36, in a burgundy Toyota truck. He was dead. Jack Eugene Larson, 49, was in a green Toyota SUV. He critically wounded. Larson was transported to Marshall Hospital where he died.

A 72-year-old female passenger in the green Toyota was not injured.

Officers said the two drivers had some conflict while driving in the Somerset area. The road rage continued as they drove from Somerset to Newtown Road, where the two vehicles crashed. Kohutek shot Larson and then himself, according to reports.

There was no apparent link between the two men and this appears to be a stranger road rage incident, said deputies.

Witnesses should call detective Kevin Pebley at (530) 642-4717.

Call The Bee's Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090.

March 21, 2010
Del Paso Heights man, 33, fatally shot in argument with two others Saturday night

A 33-year-old man was shot to death late Saturday in west Del Paso Heights after an apparent argument in his home with two other men in their 20s, Sacramento police said today.

The Sacramento Fire Department declared the man dead at the scene of the homicide in the 600 block of Lindsay Ave., police Sgt. Norm Leong reported. Police are investigating the shooting, which occurred at 11:51 p.m. No arrests have been made.

Sacramento County coroner's officials identified the shooting victim as Dennis Nelson of Sacramento.

The police department has scant description of the two suspects, saying they were African-American males, in their 20s, who were wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with information on the crime is urged to contact Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text a tip to 274637. Enter SACTIP and then the tip information.

Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

March 20, 2010
Sacramento PD K9 group asking for raffle donations

By Kim Minugh

The Sacramento Police Canine Association is asking for donations for a raffle they hope will raise funds to buy two bullet-proof vests for their dogs.

The raffle will take place during the association's largest annual fundraiser, to be held Monday, April 29. Tickets for that event are sold out, but the public still can help by donating items such as gift certificates, small electronics and tools, said K9 Sgt. Steve Oliveira.

Association leaders hope to raise enough to buy two vests, which cost $2,000 apiece - more than the vests officers wear, Oliveira said.

Earlier this month, police K9 "Bandit" was shot by a suspect during a home-invasion robbery in Meadowview. He is recovering at home with his partner, Officer Gary Dahl.

Oliveira said that the hoped-for vests would not be used for regular patrol duties - like that home-invasion call - because they can be bulky and hinder the dogs' movement. But the vests would be used during high-risk SWAT operations, he said.

The association is a nonprofit group that raises money for, among other things, community and youth programs, K9 demonstrations, training equipment, veterinary care for retired police canines and their burial expenses.

Anyone interested in helping is asked to call the association at (916) 551-4300.

Officials hope to have all raffle items by Friday.

For more information about the association, visit

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

March 20, 2010
Teen struck and killed while walking on Florin Road

By Cathy Locke

A 19-year-old Sacramento man died early this morning when he was struck by a car as he was walking along Florin Road near Highway 99.

Norman Patrick Bryson was walking east along Florin Road at 2:05 a.m. when he walked into the roadway and was hit by an eastbound Acura driven by a 25-year-old Sacramento man, said Officer Michael Bradley, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

Bradley said Bryson was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Acura was determined not to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and was not cited.

Bradley said the accident is under investigation. He asked anyone who may have witnessed it to call the CHP's South Sacramento Area Office at (916) 681-2300, or CHP dispatch at (916) 861-1300.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 20, 2010
Update: Victims identified in Wilton double-homicide

By Cathy Locke

Sacramento County sheriff's deputies are investigating as a double homicide involving the death of two Elk Grove men early this morning at a home in Wilton.

Deputies along with Elk Grove police officers responded to a report of a shooting in the 1100 block of Rising Road at 1:43 a.m., according to a Sheriff's Department news release. They found two men lying on the ground outside a barn next to the home. One had multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body, and the other had at least one gunshot wound, also to the upper body, the news release says.

Paramedics pronounced both men dead at the scene. The Sacramento County Coroner's Office identified the victims as Marlon Maruice Aguilar Morales, 18, and Christopher Alexander Valdes, 19, both of Elk Grove.

Witnesses told sheriff's homicide investigators that a large party with up to 60 people had been held inside the barn. The witnesses said they heard sounds of a fight followed by gunshots outside the barn. When they went outside, they discovered the two men and called 911.

None of the witnesses was able to identify the people responsible for the shooting or the vehicle in which they left, according to the news release. A motive for the shooting has not been established.

The witnesses knew both victims, who were in their late teens to early 20s. Their names, however, have not been released pending notification of their families.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call sheriff's homicide detectives at (916) 874-5057, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357. A text message tip may be sent by texting to 274637 (CRIMES), then entering SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 20, 2010
Update: 2 Citrus Heights PD officers hurt, suspect dead

By Matt Weiser

A Citrus Heights man is dead and two police officers are injured after a domestic disturbance took a deadly turn Saturday.

Citrus Heights police received a call for help on Holly Springs Court at about 2:22 p.m.

When officers arrived at about 2:30, they contacted an intoxicated man in a "sort of alleyway" behind the address, police Sgt. Lee Herrington said.

Officers described the man as belligerent, and a fight began within moments.

Herrington provided no details about exactly what happened during the fight, but police confirmed late Saturday that the suspect was shot in the torso by one of the officers.

One of the officers, a 43-year-old female, was shot in the leg. The other officers, a 30-year-old male, received a "blunt force" wound to the forehead.

"I really don't have any information right now about what force was used," Herrington said. "I can tell you this happened very quickly."

All three were transported to Mercy San Juan Medical Center, where the suspect was pronounced dead.

The two officers were described as conscious and stable. The female officer may have suffered other injuries as well, but Herrington could not elaborate.

Police said the officers might be released from the hospital Saturday night.

The Citrus Heights Police Department has not released the names of the officers or the dead suspect.

It also has provided no information about the weapons involved,the number of shots fired or whether the suspect was armed.

The incident occurred at Heritage Manor, a cluster of two-story town homes on Bremen Drive, just off Greenback Lane. The complex includes Holly Springs Court.

Investigators from the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office joined the investigation Saturday night, Herrington said. This is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.

John Dent, 54, who lives near the crime scene, said he heard three gunshots while he was watching a movie.

"I was probably 30 minutes into it and all of a sudden I heard a real quick 'bang-bang,' then a second later, 'bang,' " Dent said.

"I thought it was gunshots, but it didn't click with me because I hear stuff like that all the time - kids playing with firecrackers and stuff," Dent said.

"This is scary, really scary."

Dent has lived in the area 10 years and is active in a Neighborhood Watch group.

In recent months, he said, residents have noticed an increase in petty crimes in the neighborhood.

"It has really gone downhill here," he said.

Call The Bee's Matt Weiser, (916) 321-1264.

March 20, 2010
Bank robber sent to prison

By Cathy Locke

A Carmichael woman has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for a Carmichael bank robbery.

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced Friday that U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia sentenced Roberta Elaine Lee, 51, to 30 months in prison and three years supervised release. She also was ordered to pay full restitution for the bank robbery.

Lee robbed the U.S. Bank inside a grocery store at 4040 Manzanita Ave. in Carmichael Oct. 28, 2009, according to assistant U.S. attorney Michelle Rodriguez, who prosecuted the case. Lee used a note stating that she had a gun and threatened to use it. She fled from the bank with $3,820, a Justice Department news release said.

On Nov. 13, Lee surrendered to FBI special agents after law enforcement officers received an anonymous tip identifying her. She pleaded guilty Dec. 16.

Lee was remanded to custody at sentencing.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 20, 2010
Elk Grove police arrest three men in home invasion robbery

egsuspects.jpgBy Cathy Locke

Elk Grove police have arrested three men in connection with a home invasion robbery that occurred early Friday morning.

Police said two of the men, identified as Christopher Pascua (right in photo) and Richard Douglas (center), both 25 of Elk Grove, are believed to have posed as law enforcement officers to bully their way into a home in the 4800 block of Roselin Way shortly before 1 a.m. Friday.

The men were wearing law enforcement-style clothing and identified themselves as police officers when the residents answered the door, police said. Once inside, they handcuffed the residents and ransacked the house. After about 20 minutes, they left in the family's truck.

Although traumatized, no one in the family was injured, police said.

Interviews with the victims and neighbors led detectives first to contact and then arrest parolee Richford Caguiat (left in photo), 26, of Elk Grove. Sgt. James Fuller said police are still trying to determine to what extent Caguiat may have been involved in the robbery. He said Caguiat was found in possession of some of the stolen property.

Following additional investigation, police obtained search warrants for two Elk Grove homes, one on Moonlight Way and the other on Travo Way. As detectives and SWAT officers prepared to execute the search warrants late Friday, Pascua and Douglas attempted to drive out of the area, police said. Both were stopped and arrested without incident.

Searches of the two residences turned up numerous firearms, ballistic vests, handheld radios, handcuffs, a "US Marshal" hat and property belonging to the victims, police said.

Caguiat, Pascua and Douglas all were booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of first-degree robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, impersonating a peace officer and conspiracy.

If someone comes to a home and says they are a police officer, residents should request identification, said Officer Christopher Trim, spokesman for the Elk Grove Police Department. Officers should be able to present identification indicating the agency they represent. Anyone wishing to verify an officer's identification, he said, may call the department's dispatch center at (916) 714-5115.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 20, 2010
Police catch alleged shoplifter in Natomas

By Cathy Locke

A man was arrested on suspicion of robbery Friday evening after loss-prevention officers attempted to detain him for allegedly stealing items at a store in the North Natomas area.

Security officers at the store in the 4700 block of Natomas Boulevard told police that the man, identified as Samuel Neely, 30, pushed a cart into one of the officers as they tried to detain him about 7:45 p.m.

Police pursued Neely, and at one point an officer saw Neely reach into his waistband, according to the Sacramento Police Department's daily activity log. The police officer later determined that Neely had a knife with a 6-inch blade that he had concealed, according to the report. Police eventually caught and arrested Neely, who was booked into Sacramento County Jail.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 20, 2010
Robbery reported outside Greenhaven store

A man reported that he was robbed as he tried to purchase a CD outside a liquor store in the Greenhaven area Friday.

The man told Sacramento police officers that he was buying a CD from a man in front of the store in the 6400 block of Riverside Boulevard about 10:45 a.m. When the victim pulled cash from his pocket, the man selling the CD grabbed the money and ran off, according to the department's daily activity log.

The suspect was described as African American with dreadlocks, about 20 years old and wearing black and red clothing.

Police report they checked the area but were unable to locate the man.

March 20, 2010
Sacramento home buyers find squatters in house

By Cathy Locke

The soon-to-be owner of a Sacramento house in escrow arrived with a moving van Friday evening to find a family living in the house.

Sacramento police officers were called to the house in the 1800 block of 68th Avenue about 7 p.m. after the person purchasing the property found two adults and two children living there, according to the Police Department's daily activity log.

The occupants told officers that they rented the house several weeks earlier and had given the "landlord" money for rent and a deposit. Officers reported that a representative for the property being sold was on scene and provided documents and a deed of ownership. They said it could not be confirmed whether the renters were victims or participants in a fraudulent scheme.

The occupants left the house voluntarily, police reported.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 19, 2010
Woman ordered to trial in traffic death of Sac sheriff's deputy

By Andy Furillo

A 22-year-old woman has been ordered to stand trial for last year's traffic accident that killed Sacramento County sheriff's Deputy Kelly Lara.

stacy lynn taylor (6-19-87)[1].jpg12.jpgStacy Lynn Taylor (photo left) of Sacramento was ordered Thursday by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White to return to court for a March 30 arraignment.

Taylor is accused of felony hit and run causing great bodily injury or death and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the Aug. 6 traffic wreck that took the life of Lara, 43, a 15-year Sheriff's Department veteran.

Officials said that an unsafe lane change by Taylor on Interstate 80 near Longview Drive caused the wreck that killed the deputy who was on her way to work at Sacramento International Airport.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

Previous coverage:

Marcos Breton: On simple trips, tragedy can lurk - Aug. 12, 2009

Sacramento County deputy who died in crash was born to the job - Aug. 11, 2009

'We're so sorry,' says mother of suspect in Sacramento deputy's fatal crash - Aug. 8, 2009

March 19, 2010
Sacramento police host bicycle security engraving session

By Bill Lindelof

A spate of bicycle thefts in the city has prompted the Sacramento Police Department to step up efforts to help people secure their bikes.

The Sacramento Police Department will provide engraving tools to residents at McKinley Park Saturday to mark identifying numbers on bikes in response to a spate of bicycle thefts in the city.

Officers will provide engraving tools to people at McKinley Park from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. The tools can be used to engrave identifying numbers on individual bicycles as part of what authorities call "Operation ID."

The effort is in response to a rise in garage burglaries in which thieves made off with bikes. Since January, 35 garage burglaries have occurred in downtown and east Sacramento.

Burglars have forced their way into detached garages in the late evening or early morning hours. Police remind residents that locking their doors and engraving identifying numbers on property can boost their security.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 19, 2010
U.S. attorney: High-ranking Sac gang member pleads guilty

By Bee Staff

A high-ranking member of a Sacramento area street gang has pleaded guilty to a drug charge in federal court, according to the U.S. attorney in Sacramento.

Selton Richard Stewart, 39, will be sentenced on June 3 after pleading guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.

Stewart was a "council member" of the Sacramaniacs, a Sacramento area white supremacist group with ties to the Aryan Brotherhood, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael M. Beckwith, who is prosecuting the case.

Stewart was arrested in his home with a quarter-pound of methamphetamine and two firearms, Beckwith said.

The case is the product of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation led by the California Department of Corrections Special Services Unit and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Wagner said.

March 19, 2010
Ask Sacto911: Slayings of 2 boys at light-rail station unsolved

Q: What happened to the case of two boys killed years ago at the Butterfield light-rail station? - Anonymous, Sacramento

A: The slayings of Dominic Namnard, 13, and Jone Vongkhamsomphou, 12, are unsolved.

Their bodies were found Oct. 3, 1993, at the Butterfield light-rail station along Folsom Boulevard with single gunshot wounds to each of their heads.

Police speculated that they were killed for their trendy basketball athletic jackets, which were missing.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here.

March 19, 2010
Dressed as cops, armed suspects invade Elk Grove home

By Bill Lindelof

Two armed intruders posing as police went into an Elk Grove home early this morning, handcuffing all four residents there and eventually fleeing in a stolen vehicle.

Elk Grove police say they received a call about 12:45 a.m. about a robbery at a residence in the 4800 block of Roselin Way. The residents told police that the intruders were armed with handguns.

The suspects were dressed in attire similar to law enforcement, police said. Both were wearing black shirts and black vests, and one had on camouflage pants.
The vest worn by one suspect had "Sheriff" written on it. The other suspect had a hat that said "US Marshall."

The suspects left the home in the resident's 2008 black Chevrolet Avalanche truck, which was recovered by police a few miles away from the house.

Police are not yet sure if anything else was stolen.

Police spokesman Officer Christopher Trim said nobody was injured. Anyone with information is asked to call police at (916) 714-5115.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 19, 2010
Firefighters battle blaze in West Sacramento

By Bill Lindelof

West Sacramento firefighters fought a two-alarm blaze that destroyed an industrial building along South River Road in West Sacramento this morning.

FIREPHOTO.jpgThe fire (left) at EBI Aggregates, 1201 South River Road, broke out at about 5:30 a.m. Firefighters poured water on the building to extinguish the blaze that was visible from Highway 50.

Firefighters by 8 a.m. were mopping up the blaze that gutted the building

Some witnesses reported hearing an explosion from the area of the fire, according West Sacramento Fire Department division chief Gary Fredericksen.

When firefighters arrived, the sounds of exploding propane and acetylene tanks in the 15,000-square-feet building could still be heard.

Cause of the fire is under investigation. Fredericksen said homeless people have broken into the building before.

The fire produced extensive smoke, which blew across the Sacramento River into parts of Sacramento such as South Land Park and the Pocket area.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

Bee photo and video by Randy Pench

March 18, 2010
Teen fatally shot in south Sacramento identified

By Chelsea Phua

Sacramento County Coroner's officials have identified the 17-year-old boy shot to death Wednesday morning on a south Sacramento street as Marque Alexander Johnson of Sacramento.

At about 7 a.m., police arrived at Mack Road and Summerdale Way in the Parkway neighborhood to find the teenager on the sidewalk next to an apartment complex, police said.

The boy was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Three men approached the boy on foot, then fled into the apartment complex after the shooting, police said.

The suspects were described to police as three black men in their late teens or early 20s and wearing dark clothing. One had "dreadlock-type" hair, police said.

A police spokesman said the victim is known to law enforcement, but he did not elaborate.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637. Enter "SACTIP" followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 18, 2010
Assault suspect sought after Lincoln manhunt

By Ed Fletcher

A man wanted for assault evaded a late-afternoon manhunt Thursday in Lincoln.

The incident began as an argument between six people at the Valle Vista Apartments and escalated into a fistfight between two men about 3 p.m., said Lt. David Ibarra of the Lincoln Police Department.

By the time the authorities arrived, the man as gone and the manhunt was on.

Six officers, three Placer County sheriff's deputies and the department helicopter were involved in the one-hour search. Two nearby schools were briefly locked down during the search, Ibarra said.

"Those things happen sometimes. They get through the perimeter and are able to sneak away," Ibarra said.

Interviews did give officers a possible suspect. Ibarra said they were not releasing his name at this point.

The victim was struck with a beer bottle and suffered minor injures, which did not require hospitalization.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269.

March 18, 2010
Sac PD: Area cops join crackdown on biker gang

By Bee Staff

The Sacramento Police Department and other Sacramento area law enforcement agencies participated in a major crackdown on California's largest motorcycle gang, a police spokesman said today.

Officers responded to eighteen locations throughout the region Wednesday, arresting six Vagos associates for gun charges, stolen property, narcotics, counterfeit money, and warrants, said Sgt. Norm Leong.

About 30 members of the Vagos were arrested as part of the crackdown in Riverside and Shasta counties in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah after the attacks on police in Hemet, Calif., according to an Associated Press report.

The sweep was prompted by three booby-trap attacks on an anti-gang task force in Hemet, AP reported.

Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco declined to detail evidence he said links the Vagos to the attacks because the investigation was ongoing.

On Dec. 31, someone drilled a hole in the roof of the gang unit's headquarters and diverted a natural gas line from a heater, filling the space with flammable gas, AP reported. The trap was discovered before anyone was hurt.

Last month, a gun rigged to shoot when a headquarters security gate was opened sent a bullet whizzing past an officer, AP reported. Again, nobody was hurt.

The third incident involved the discovery of a dangerous device near an officer's car, AP reported.

Pacheco said the Vagos specialize in methamphetamine sales, weapons trafficking and violence, particularly toward law enforcement officers.

Sgt. Leong said the following people were arrested in the Sacramento area:

-Eric Privett, 32, on a stolen-car warrant.

-Eugene Privett, 54, on a stolen-car warrant.

-Eugene Privett, 35, on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and parole violation (the relationship of the Privetts to each other wasn't available).

-Kari Rawls, 27, on suspicion of possession of stolen property and counterfeiting.

-Joseph Delnero, 28, on suspicion of being a felon with guns, possession of a stolen gun.

-Marilyn Kimbrell, 49, on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine.

In the Sacramento area, the Vagos has the largest membership for an outlaw motorcycle gang with over 50 members, Leong said.

Joining Sacramento police in the local sweep were officers or agents from the Sacramento County Probation Department, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, Roseville Police Department, Folsom Police Department, Citrus Heights Police Department, Placer County Sheriff's Department, Galt Police Department, Grass Valley Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, California Highway Patrol, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Parole and Special Services.

Officials said there are about 600 Vagos in the Western U.S.,

including about 200 in Riverside County, where the gang was started in the late 1960s, AP reported.

March 18, 2010
CHP: Carmichael man in jail on $500,000 bail after car chase

By Bee Staff

A Carmichael man is in the Sacramento County jail on $500,000 bond after being caught by officers of a stolen-vehicle task force, a CHP spokesman said today.

Jesse Allen Church, 27, is being held on suspicion of five felonies, including evading a police officer, reckless driving, driving against the flow of traffic and purchase or receipt of a stolen vehicle, jail records show.

Officer Adrian Quintero gave this account of the events leading to Church's arrest:

At 3:18 a.m., CHP officers working with the Sacramento County Auto Theft Suppression Task Force, found a stolen vehicle in the area of Elkhorn and Don Julio boulevards.

The officers staked out the vehicle. At 9:37 a.m., a man got into the vehicle and started driving. When officers tried to stop him, he kept driving.

Officers chased the vehicle for two to three miles until the vehicle was involved in a minor one-car collision, Quintero said.

He said the suspected tried to flee on foot but was caught.

Church also was driving on a suspended license, Quintero said.

March 18, 2010
Sacramento police union backs Hammond, Kennedy in local races

By Ryan Lillis

The Sacramento city police union has endorsed Councilwoman Lauren Hammond in her campaign for the state Assembly's District 9 seat.

In the race for Hammond's replacement in City Council District 5, the union is supporting Patrick Kennedy in the June election.

In a statement released today, Hammond said the police union support is "priceless."

"Government's first job is to protect our citizens," Hammond said. "In the state Assembly, we must be more creative in our efforts to balance our budgets in a way that doesn't hurt public safety and doesn't punish our dedicated law enforcement employees."

Hammond is running against fellow City Councilmember Kevin McCarty, county Supervisor Roger Dickinson and Chris Garland of the California Faculty Association.

In supporting Kennedy, the police union cited "his work in the neighborhoods and as a member of the (Sacramento City Unified) school board."

Kennedy said he would "continue to work closely with rank and file cops, just as I have when serving on the Neighborhood Associations in Oak Park and Hollywood Park."

Kennedy is running against Jay Schenirer, a former school board member and a consultant for various nonprofit organizations; Terrence Johnson, executive director of the Oak Park Business Association and Stockton Boulevard Partnership; Oak Park resident Leticia Hilbert; and law enforcement officer Henry Harry.

Call The Bee's Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085.

For more details see the Inside City Hall column Friday on page B2 of The Bee.

March 18, 2010
Sac police dog wounded in shootout released from vet

By Bee Staff

Bandit, the Sacramento Police Department dog wounded while confronting a home-invasion suspect, was sent home today, according to a police spokesman.

LS K9 recovers 4[1].JPG(Bandit is shown at left after his surgery yesterday in a photo by Bee photographer Lezlie Sterling.)

"He will still have recovery time but is doing well," Sgt. Norm Leong said in a news release.

Bandit was shot in the neck Monday night in a Meadowview backyard when he and his handler confronted an armed home-invasion suspect, police said.

The suspect was killed by officers as the suspect came out the front door and refused to drop his weapon, police said.

Officer Gary Dahl, Bandit's handler, said the community has shown concern for Bandit, sending flowers and dog treats and offering to help with his medical costs.

To find out more about donating to the Sacramento Police K9 Unit, go to:

Previous coverage and photos:

Slideshow of police dog's surgery - March 17, 2010

Sac PD identifies man killed in Meadowiew shooting - March 17, 2010

Meadowview home invasion suspect killed by Sacramento officers - March 17, 2010

March 18, 2010
Sacramento County robbery-carjacking suspect charged

By Bee Staff

A Sacramento County robbery and carjacking suspect with a criminal record dating back to 1996 has been charged with three felonies, according to court records.

Keith Dennings, 34, is in jail on $60,000 bail and is facing felony charges of robbery, carjacking, receiving or selling stolen property along with a misdemeanor charge of displaying a firearm in a threatening manner, according to jail and court records.

According to Sacramento Sheriff's Department summary released this week this is how the events leading to Denning's arrest unfolded:

At about 11:15 p.m. on March 9 at Florin Road and Stockton Boulevard, a woman had just received money from an ATM machine when a man demanded her money.

The woman refused to give up the cash. The man pointed a firearm at her and punched her in the face.

The victim gave the money to the robber who also took her car keys.

The robber and another man fled the scene.

The victim then discovered her car was missing from the parking lot.

Responding deputies found the victim's car in a residential neighborhood within minutes.

Deputies said they found Dennings walking in the area and detained him. Deputies said they found the victim's cell phone and phone charger on Dennings along with an amount of cash that corresponded to what the victim said was stolen.

The man who left with Dennings was arrested but not charged, records show.

Dennings has several misdemeanor convictions, including attempted theft and assault with a deadly weapon, dating back to 1996, court records show.

March 18, 2010
Ask Sacto911: Loomis man in prison after killing over easement

Q: What ever happened to Gary Allen Bortis from Loomis who shot and killed his neighbor? And what happened to his live-in girlfriend? - Jan, Sacramento

A: Bortis, now 53, is in prison and Mary Anne Stein, who was identified as Bortis' girlfriend at the time of his conviction, was paroled in 2008, according to State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records.

GARY ALLEN BORTIS[1].JPGBortis (2005 photo left) was convicted in 2007 of the Sept. 8, 2005, slaying of 52-year-old Lawrence Joseph Ficarra, an Aptos man, The Bee reported.

The jury also found Bortis guilty of special allegations that included intentional discharge of a firearm causing death, possession of a machine gun, possession of an assault weapon and possession of a destructive device.

Bortis was sentenced to 50 years to life in state prison. He was also ordered to pay $90,000 in restitution to the victim's family, records show.

The jury found Stein guilty of being an accessory after the fact.

Stein was sentenced to 16 months in state prison and ordered to pay $200 in restitution, records show.

Sheriff's detectives said that Ficarra was shot five times during an argument about an easement on Boone Lane, a private road in Loomis. The two men had been feuding over the property line for a year, detectives said.

Sheriff's officials said they confiscated 60 assault rifles and six hand grenades from Bortis' house after the shooting.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here.

March 18, 2010
Jovial partying prevails for St. Patrick's Day crowds

By Bill Lindelof

The big St. Patrick's Day block party outside de Vere's Irish Pub was fairly peaceful, and trouble elsewhere was minimal Wednesday.

Proprietors of de Vere's hired 15 Sacramento city police officers to work the event on L Street between 15th and 16 streets, a stretch that was closed to traffic all day Wednesday.

Thousands of revelers listened to bands, drank and partied. The atmosphere reportedly was jovial, trouble minimal.

"It went very smoothly overall, given the number of people," said Sgt. Norm Leong, Sacramento police spokesman.

One person was arrested for being drunk in public.

The occasional arguments were calmed before they could escalate, and a couple of party goers were put into cabs with friends after they seemed to have had too much to drink.

"Outside of that, the general crowd was very good," said Leong.

Fights were reported at other businesses, Leong said, one being reported about 1:50 a.m. at the Plum Blossom restaurant, 1830 J St., another at a café in the 1000 block of Alhambra Boulevard.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

Previous coverage:

A green light for festivity - March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010
Update: Judge delays bail decision for ex-SK Foods boss

By Denny Walsh and Sam Stanton

A federal judge this morning postponed deciding whether indicted tomato executive Frederick Scott Salyer can be released on bail, calling the impending decision one of the most difficult he has faced in decades on the federal bench.

"I have been thinking since last night of how to solve this problem, and I have no idea," U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence K. Karlton said as Salyer sat at the defense table in an orange Sacramento County Jail jumpsuit.

Karlton said that if Salyer remains in jail it could take years for the defendant to review the million pages of documents prosecutors have amassed to use against him.

But he also said he has concerns about the risk of the multimillionaire Salyer deciding to flee prosecution rather than face the prospect of spending 20 years in prison.

Prosecutor Sean Flynn argued that Salyer could be moved to a place such as the Nevada County Jail, where a room might be available for him to confer with his attorneys and review evidence.

But Salyer defense attorney Malcolm Segal said he would need a 20-foot-by-40-foot "war" room to store documents, put up wall charts, set up video equipment and view computer hard drives.

He said restrictions at the Sacramento jail make it impossible to mount a defense for the 54-year-old Salyer, who faces seven counts of racketeering, conspiracy, bribery and obstruction of justice.

"I can mount a defense," Segal said. "There's a defense here, and I can mount it, but I can't mount it in jail."

Segal suggested Salyer could be placed under house arrest in his Pebble Beach mansion and guarded at all times, even offering to hire a private security firm for the task, but Karlton finally decided he wanted the opposing sides to file written plans and return to court to resume oral argument about what facilities might be available where Salyer could be detained and still review the evidence against him.

"I find it extraordinarily difficult -- and I've been in this business 33 years on the federal bench -- and I've never had anything like this," Karlton said.

Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

Previous coverage:

Indicted tomato businessman again seeks release on bail - March 17, 2010

Tomato king sees his empire crumble - March 14, 2010

Key players in the Salyer case - March 14, 2010

Food executive Salyer denied bail in Sacramento federal court - March 4, 2010

SK Foods magnate Salyer hears charges in racketeering case - Feb. 27, 2010

Arrested tomato magnate to appear in Sacramento court - Feb. 26, 2010

SK Foods magnate Salyer indicted on racketeering charges - Feb. 19, 2010

Judge orders SK Foods magnate sent to capital - Feb. 6, 2010

FBI arrests SK Foods owner on fraud charges - Feb. 5, 2010

March 18, 2010
Purse snatcher sought by Elk Grove police

By Bill Lindelof

Elk Grove police are asking for help finding a man suspected of purse snatching.

PURSESNATCH.JPGPolice said that the theft occurred about 7:15 p.m. Feb. 27 as a woman was walking from her parked vehicle to the entrance of the Kohl's department store at 9650 Bruceville Road.

A man in his 20s approached the woman and grabbed her purse. He then fled on foot.

Detectives investigating the case say they believe the suspect is Jose Luis Mora-Ortiz (left), 25, of Sacramento. A warrant for his arrest has been obtained.

Police say Mora-Ortiz might have fled to Mexico.

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (916) 478-8060 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357. Tipsters to Crime Alert may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 17, 2010
Teens arrested after reported carjacking in Elk Grove, high-speed chase

By Chelsea Phua

Police arrested two 16-year-old Sacramento boys who allegedly carjacked an Elk Grove resident on Wednesday and led law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase.

Authorities are not identifying the teenagers because they are juveniles. No one was seriously injured, police said.

According to an Elk Grove Police Department news release, officers responded to a report of suspicious individuals loitering in the 8900 block of Meadowspring Drive shortly before 1:30 p.m.

Around the same time, someone in the neighborhood called to report a carjacking that just happened. Police said the victim was sitting inside his 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe in his open garage when the teens approached him. One of them brandished a gray firearm and ordered the victim out of his vehicle. Fearing for his life, the victim complied, police said.

The teens then allegedly got into the vehicle and drove off.

An Elk Grove police officer spotted the stolen vehicle westbound on Laguna Boulevard at Laguna Manor Drive and asked for more officers to help enforce a traffic stop. When the teens became aware of police presence, the driver accelerated and began evasive maneuvers. The pursuit north of Franklin Boulevard reached speeds of up to 100 mph in light traffic, police said.

The chase ended when the driver of the stolen vehicle attempted a left turn onto Valley Hi Drive from Franklin Boulevard and struck several poles surrounding the front yard of a residence. The suspect ran out of the vehicle and fled.

Officers from Sacramento police and sheriff's departments joined Elk Grove police in searching for the teens, and found the driver on Alcala Court and the passenger on Mill Stream Court.

Officers discovered two BB guns and the victim's property inside the stolen vehicle. The teens were taken to juvenile hall.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 17, 2010
Ask Sacto911: 3 convicted in slaying of ice cream vendor

Q: Back in the early '90s an ice cream vendor was killed in the Elk Grove area. Was this case ever solved and what was the outcome? - Michael, Carmichael

A: Three teens were convicted of the March 31, 1994 slaying of Ranbir Singh Bansel, according to Bee reports.

Bansel, the 46-year-old father of six children, was killed as he was canvassing the Meadowview neighborhood in his ice cream van.

A swarm of youths surrounded him and demanded free ice cream and soda. When he balked, he was shot at several times.

KJICE CREAM KILLERME[1].JPGHowever, only Paul Earl McIntosh (photo left in 1995 photo), now 33, was convicted as an adult. A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced him to 20-years-to-life in prison on Sept. 22, 1995.

Records indicate he is still in prison.

Two other teens arrested in the case were tried separately as juveniles and found guilty of theft and accessory to murder charges: A 16-year-old boy was sentenced to 10 years at the California Youth Authority and a 15-year-old boy is serving a two-year sentence at a boys ranch.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here.

March 17, 2010
Sac PD looking for coffee shop robber

By Bee Staff

The Sacramento Police Department is asking for the public's help in identifying a robber who robbed a coffee shop.

On March 3, 2010, at 4:13 p.m., the suspect entered a coffee shop in the 2600 block of Gateway Oaks Drive, according to a Police Department news release.

Coffee Shop Robber.jpgThe suspect handed the employee a note demanding money (see photo). The suspect then left the business after getting some money and walked away southbound on Gateway Oaks.

The suspect is described as a white male in his 20s, 6 feet tall and weighing 160 pounds. He has short spiked brown hair, blue eyes and was wearing a dark green jacket and blue jeans. The suspect may be deaf.

The Sacramento Police Department asks anyone with information to contact Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information.

Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

March 17, 2010
West Sacramento lawyer indicted for tax evasion

Bee staff

A West Sacramento lawyer has been indicted on federal charges of tax evasion from 1994 through 2003, the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Samantha Spangler said James Steward Richards, 63, is accused of concealing from the IRS his income and assets in several ways, including by buying cashiers' checks and then holding them for up to 884 days.

The government alleges he used an old client trust account for his personal business and then withdrew all the money and purchased a yacht in a nominee's name when he learned the IRS was investigating, a press release states.

Richards, who was arraigned Tuesday, was released in lieu of a $25,000 unsecured bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 6.

March 17, 2010
Sac sheriff: Freed sex offender back in jail after contacting teen

By Kim Minugh

A habitual sex offender who was released from prison last month after a judge's ruling that his sentence was unconstitutional is back in jail after allegedly having inappropriate contact with a teen, according to authorities.

clip_image002.jpgcobb.jpgSacramento County's Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Team arrested 55-year-old Robert Winston Precobb (photo left) on Tuesday. Officers booked him into the Main Jail on suspicion of felony child molestation and failure to register his address, according to authorities.

He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail - an enhanced bail amount sought by authorities because they consider him a threat to the community, officials said.

Sacramento County sheriff's Sgt. Mike Jones, who leads the SAFE team, said the child molestation charge stems from an encounter Precobb allegedly had with a 14-year-old victim sometime after his Feb. 28 release from prison.

The two went to a Sacramento hotel room, where they engaged in conversation "of a sexual nature," Jones said. Precobb also gave the victim alcohol and money to purchase marijuana for him, the sergeant said.

The victim, whose gender authorities are not releasing, notified his or her mother of the incident, who reported it to Sacramento Police Department. Members of the SAFE team used information in that report to identify Precobb as the suspect, and the victim confirmed the identification, Jones said.

Upon arresting Precobb, officers found undisclosed items indicating that Precobb has had other contacts since his release, although they are not sure whether those contacts were with juveniles or whether they were inappropriate in nature, Jones said.

Authorities are encouraging anyone who believes they were a victim of Precobb or has information about him to call the SAFE team hotline at (916) 874-4317.

In 1988, Precobb was sentenced to a 15-year-to-life term for non-forcible oral copulation of a 17-year-old boy.

Responding to a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Precobb, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Sharon A. Lueras found that a conviction in 1980 no longer could be used as a predicate offense. Lueras then resentenced Precobb to 14 years and four months - which he had already served - and ordered him released.

Precobb's attorney, M. Bradley Wishek, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Previous coverage:

Child molester freed on Sacramento judge's order - Feb. 26, 2010

March 17, 2010
Sac PD identifies man killed in Meadowview shooting

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento police today identified a Fresno man they shot and killed in Meadowview on Monday.

He was identified as 32-year-old Meng Xiong.

Zang Xiong x4618118.jpgHe and his brother, Zang Xiong (photo left), 23, are suspected of committing a home invasion of a residence on O'Neil Way, police said.

The incident took place about 8:30 p.m. Monday when a man used a ruse to enter the home.

Police suspect that the older brother at gunpoint tied up a 17-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy.

When police arrived the younger brother was walking away from the home and he was arrested by police.

After police surrounded the residence, an officer at the back of the house with a police dog saw the older brother and gunfire was exchanged.

A police dog, Bandit, was injured.

The suspect then retreated into the house and left through the front door, still armed, police said.

Officers ordered him to drop his weapon, but he did not, police said.

Meng Xiong was shot at by four officers in the front of the house and died from his injuries.

Zang Xiong was booked on six felony charges, including burglary and threats to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury, police said.

Police said Wednesday that Bandit was doing well after surgery.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

Previous coverage:

Meadowview home invasion suspect killed by Sacramento officers - March 17, 2010

March 17, 2010
Wife killers from Placer, El Dorado counties due parole hearings

By Bee Staff

Wife killers, one from Placer County and one from El Dorado County, are scheduled for parole hearings within the next two weeks.

Here is the list of Sacramento area convicts serving life sentences who are due hearings by the end of the month:

-March 23, Ronald LeRoy Koehler, 66, California Men's Colony.

A Placer County Superior Court judge sentenced Koehler to life in prison in June 1982 for murdering his wife, whose body was found in September 1978, a few weeks after the couple separated, according to records and Bee reports.

Koehler, a Placer High School teacher, had a passport and an airline reservation to New Zealand when he was arrested.

The Placer County District Attorney's office is opposing a parole for Koehler, a DA's spokesman said.

-March 23, Thomas Michael Clark, California State Prison, Solano.

No background information is available.

-March 25, Marcus Garrett, California State Prison, Corcoran.

No background information is available.

-March 29, Alfred Lawrence Brooks, 40, Pleasant Valley State Prison.

An El Dorado County Superior Court judge sentenced Brooks to life in prison for killing his estranged wife on April 23, 1988, according to records and Bee reports.

Brooks shot Roberta Woody, 21, twice in the head while she held their child. The child was not injured.

If you want to give your opinion of an inmate's suitability for parole, you may mail a letter to:

Martin Hoshino, executive director

Board of Parole Hearings

1515 K Street

Sacramento, CA 95811

For more information on the Board of Parole Hearings, go to:

March 17, 2010
Teen shot and killed in south Sacramento this morning

By Kim Minugh and Bill Lindelof

A teenage boy was shot to death on a south Sacramento street this morning, police said.

Sacramento police were called to Mack Road and Summerdale Way in south Sacramento's Parkway neighborhood at 7 a.m.

There, officers found the 17-year-old lying on the sidewalk next to an apartment complex, said police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong.

The boy was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:28 a.m.

Police have learned that three male suspects approached the boy on foot, and fled into the apartment complex after the shooting, Leong said.

The suspects were described to police as three black men in their late teens or early 20s and wearing dark clothing. One had "dreadlock-type" hair, Leong said.

The victim has not yet been identified. Leong said he is known to law enforcement, but he did not elaborate.

The homicide does not appear related to a shooting that occurred a half-mile away on Mack Road last week, Leong said. The victim in that shooting survived.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637. Enter "SACTIP" followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

March 17, 2010
Hitchhiker who threatened driver and kids convicted by Yolo jury

By Bill Lindelof

A Woodland man faces life in prison after being convicted of kidnapping, child endangerment and carjacking.

A Yolo Superior Court jury on Monday convicted Paul Alexander Hinojosa Jr., 31, of the charges stemming from an incident May 2, 2009.

That day, Hinojosa, hitched a ride from a Woodland car wash with a man who was accompanied by his three children.

Once in the car, Hinojosa held up the man at gunpoint and threatened to kill him and the children. However, the children were able to to escape when the father grabbed the muzzle of Hinojosa's gun, which turned out to be a replica firearm.

Eventually, Hinojosa ran to a nearby home. The residents there, who also did not know Hinojosa, detained him until police arrived.

"But for the bravery of the family that subdued Mr. Hinojosa after he broke into their home, he could still be on the run victimizing others," said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

At the time of the carjacking, Hinojosa was out of custody on bail pending the resolution of a domestic violence case.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 17, 2010
Update: Armed man arrested after search of Auburn shopping area

By Bill Lindelof

Auburn police today arrested an armed man they say was upset because he lost his job.

Earlier, authorities ordered evacuation of a shopping area as they searched for the man, Brian Michael Scarbrough, 23.

Police had searched for Scarbrough in and around the Auburn Town Center near Elk Avenue and Interstate 80, eventually finding him at Ravine Road and Shockley Road.

Scarbrough was found with a .45-caliber handgun. Police said he is charged with possession of a concealed weapon.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 16, 2010
Folsom police horse to work with children, disabled after retirement

Dices Retiremen.jpgBy Chelsea Phua

A Folsom police horse is retiring to work with children and disabled people after working for the department for five years, officials said.

Dice (right photo), a former race horse before he joined the Folsom Police Department, will work in a therapeutic riding program run by the Grace Foundation of Northern California.

In a news release, department officials said the rigors of Dice's patrol duties and injuries he had sustained as a race horse were wearing on him.

Dice has logged hundreds of hours in service as a police equine. Sgt. Dirk Regan, who rode Dice and supervises the department's mounted unit, described the horse as a great partner who was "aggressive in enforcement action but especially gentle with children."

"He was uniquely and perfectly suited for his new job at the Grace Foundation," Regan said.

The Grace Foundation, based in El Dorado Hills, rescues and rehabilitate abused and neglected horses, and uses them for learning and therapeutic programs for children.

A retirement ceremony is planned for Dice on Saturday at the Whole Horse Wellness Clinic & Extravaganza event at Murieta Equestrian Center, 7200 Lone Pine Drive in Rancho Murieta. The ceremony lasts from 4 to 5 p.m. at Indoor Arena No. 3.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 16, 2010
Sexual assault prevention seminar set March 23 in Elk Grove

By Chelsea Phua

The Elk Grove Police Department and Women Escaping a Violent Environment, a nonprofit organization, will host a sexual assault prevention seminar March 23.

The seminar, which is open to the public, is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at 8400 Laguna Palms Way in the City Council chambers.

Authorities said the seminar is designed to raise awareness in the community about issues related to sexual assaults, from the dangers of "sexting" to safe computer usage for children to protection strategies for preventing assaults.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 16, 2010
Cops say man dead, K9 dog wounded in Meadowview shootout

By Bill Lindelof and Kim Minugh

An apparent home invasion ended when one man was captured and another was shot dead by Sacramento police Monday night in the Meadowview neighborhood of south Sacramento.

A police dog named Bandit was wounded in the shootout.

police dog injured IMG_0261.jpg(Photo at left by Bee reporter Kim Minugh shows Bandit with K9 Sgt. Steve Oliveira before the 4-and-a-half-year-old German shepherd went into surgery this afternoon to have a bullet and shrapnel removed from his neck. The dog is expected to survive.)

The incident began about at 8:35 p.m. when a man used a ruse to enter a house in the 2000 block of O'Neil Way.

Inside the home were a 17-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy. Police say it is unclear why the man in his 30s chose break into the home. The girl called police to report the break-in and left the phone line open, allowing authorities to monitor the situation inside the house.

The armed suspect bound the two young residents and then searched the home. The victims told police that the suspect appeared to be talking by cell phone to an accomplice as he went through the home.

When police arrived, they saw a 23-year-old man, believed to be an accomplice in the break-in, walking from the home and detained him.

Police say the suspect inside the home exited through a back door and into the back yard, where an officer and Bandit waited. The officer and suspect exchanged gunfire. It is not clear if the suspect was hit. The officer was not hit, but Bandit was wounded.

The suspect retreated into the house and ran out the front door, where he was confronted by four officers who shot him when he failed to drop his weapon.

Police found the victims bound but unhurt.

Police said the suspects were from out of town but did not reveal their names or where they live. Police said it is not known why they targeted the house on O'Neil Way, which is near Meadowview Road and Freeport Boulevard.

The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave. Their experience ranges from one year to 11 years on the force.

March 16, 2010
Folsom police arrest suspect in pharmacy robberies

By Bee Staff

Folsom police officers arrested a suspect today in two robberies of a pharmacy, according to a news release.

Folsom investigators are checking with other jurisdictions for similar robberies, said Officer Jason Browning.

Jason Clark Hilburn, 37, of Folsom, was arrested on suspicion of robbery, attempted robbery and possession of an illegal knife, Browning said.

Here's how Browning described the circumstances leading to the arrest:

At about 9 a.m., the pharmacist arrived at work and saw a suspicious person sitting in a vehicle in front of a business a few doors away.

After a closer look, the pharmacist was sure it was the thief responsible for the two prior robberies.

clip_image002.JPGfolsom.JPGThe Folsom police officers detained the suspect and found a black semi-automatic style BB gun and a gray ski mask (see photo left) concealed in his clothing.

Also found on the suspect was a gravity knife.

The suspect's vehicle was parked in a position "advantageous to the escape routes used by the suspect in the previous two robberies," Browning said.

Before the arrest, "to say the owner of Folsom Medical Pharmacy was frustrated would be an understatement," Browning said.

In January, a masked man with a black semi-automatic pistol held employees at bay while robbing the business of narcotics, Browning said.

In February, what owner believed to be the same masked gunman robbed the business again, escaping with more narcotics, Browning said.

Anyone with have information regarding this investigation, should call the Folsom PD Criminal Investigations Bureau at (916) 585-4110 or WeTip at (800) 78-CRIME, Browning said.

March 16, 2010
West Sac PD joins effort to stop DUIs on St. Patrick's Day

By Bee Staff

The West Sacramento Police Department will conduct a St. Patrick's Day DUI/driver's license checkpoint tomorrow, according to a news release.

Other law enforcement agencies - including the Sacramento Police Department and the California Highway Patrol - also have announced that they will be out in force on the holiday, checking for drunk drivers.

The West Sacramento checkpoint will be from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at an undisclosed location, the release states.

Previous coverage:

Police plan DUI sweeps on St. Patrick's Day - March 14, 2010

March 16, 2010
Elk Grove shootout described during murder trial

By Andy Furillo

Elk Grove police Officer Tisha Smith told a jury today how she finally shot down a gunman who had already killed two people and was going for more during a methamphetamine-fueled rampage almost four years ago.

Smith testified that she had already been stunned by "probably the loudest thing I've ever heard" when murder defendant Aaron Norman Dunn shot out the rear passenger window in her patrol car during his March 25, 2006, shooting spree on Laguna Boulevard.

The officer said that she and her partner, Janell Bestpitch, sped away to safety then circled back to where their car had been blasted. When she got out of the car, Smith said people yelled warnings that the man holding a shotgun at his hip was approaching her from behind.

Smith said she turned, told Dunn to drop the weapon, then fired twice when he didn't. She testified she thinks she hit the 33-year-old Dunn, but that the defendant kept moving toward the patrol car and chased Bestpitch around it twice.

The two ultimately faced off across the trunk area of the car. Smith said Bestpitch fired twice and that Dunn crouched toward the ground. Then, Smith said, Dunn turned and aimed the shotgun at her.

"He lays out in a prone position, on his stomach, with the gun pointed outward," facing her, Smith told the Sacramento Superior Court jury. "I asked him to show me his hands. He raised the shotgun toward my direction."

Smith said she told Bestpitch over the radio to get out of the way. Then, "I fired two more shots in his direction."

Dunn "finally put the gun toward the ground and slumped over," Smith said. Several other officers who had just arrived at the shooting site ran up and handcuffed him.

Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett's timeline showed that Dunn already had shot and killed Johnie Ray Johnson and Michael John Daly by the time Smith and Bestpitch stopped him with a total of six shots that hit their mark and critically wounded the defendant.

The two officers, who were employees of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department at the time, were awarded with the Medal of Valor for bringing the rampage to an end.

Dunn is charged with two counts of murder in the case and faces the possibility of the death penalty if he is convicted on the first-degree murder charges.

Defense lawyers Amy Rogers and Hayes Gable III have conceded that their client shot and killed Johnson, 46, and Daly, 46, who were out having family dinners at popular Elk Grove restaurants when they were gunned down. The attorneys, however, say that Dunn's mental capacity had been diminished by the methamphetamine consumption and that he is only guilty of second-degree murder.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1079.

Previous coverage:

Witnesses tell of lives shattered in deadly Elk Grove shooting spree - March 12, 2010

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

March 16, 2010
Indicted former SK Foods boss will seek release on bail

By Sam Stanton

Frederick Scott Salyer, the indicted tomato businessman accused of racketeering and bribery, on Thursday again will attempt to win his release on bail while awaiting trial in federal court.

Salyer's attorneys have asked U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence K. Karlton to approve Salyer's request to be released from the Sacramento County Jail, and have offered to have him remain under virtual house arrest at his Pebble Beach mansion, subject to GPS monitoring and to have someone present to physically ensure he remains on the property.

They also have offered to have him post a large bail amount and have said he has no plans to flee but wants to be able to assist in preparing his defense against a seven-count indictment that could send him to prison for 20 years.

Two U.S. magistrate judges have rejected his request for release, and prosecutors plan to oppose the latest effort before Karlton on Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. The government contends Salyer has moved millions of dollars overseas and was seeking to relocate to a country from which he could not be extradited.

Call The Bee's Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091.

Previous coverage:

Tomato king sees his empire crumble - March 14, 2010

Key players in the Salyer case - March 14, 2010

Food executive Salyer denied bail in Sacramento federal court - March 4, 2010

SK Foods magnate Salyer hears charges in racketeering case - Feb. 27, 2010

Arrested tomato magnate to appear in Sacramento court - Feb. 26, 2010

SK Foods magnate Salyer indicted on racketeering charges - Feb. 19, 2010

Judge orders SK Foods magnate sent to capital - Feb. 6, 2010

FBI arrests SK Foods owner on fraud charges - Feb. 5, 2010

March 16, 2010
CHP: Man killed crossing Watt on electric scooter

By Bill Lindelof

A man on an electric three-wheeled scooter was struck and killed Monday night in Antelope.

The man Reginaldo E. Rios, 58, of Antelope, was crossing Watt Avenue on his mobility scooter at Timberlane Place just after sunset about 7:35 p.m. when he was struck by a car traveling northbound on Watt Avenue.

The driver did not see Rios. Rios was dressed in dark clothing and his vehicle did not have reflectors or lights, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Rios, who was thrown from his scooter, died at the scene. There is no crosswalk at the point where Timberlane Place intersects Watt Avenue, the CHP said.

The accident is under investigation.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 16, 2010
Teen gets 55 years in prison for Yolo attempted murder

By Bill Lindelof

A teenager convicted of attempted murder was sentenced to state prison for 55 years to life in Yolo County Superior Court.

Ramiro Leon Jr., 18, of Woodland, was sentenced Monday by Judge Stephen L. Mock. A jury in February convicted Leon of attempted murder in a gang-related drive-by shooting, the district attorney's office states.

Prosecutors said Leon was involved in a shooting September 2008 in Woodland's Campbell Park. The shooting stemmed from friction between gang members earlier in the day on a school bus,

Leon shot several times from a passenger seat of a car as it drove by the park. One young man was hit and seriously wounded.

Gunfire also struck a parked car, narrowly missing a young woman inside.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 15, 2010
Suspect arrested in connection with Jackson casino shooting

Zaragoza.jpgBy Peter Hecht

The Amador County Sheriff's Department on Monday identified a 19-year-old gang member arrested in the shootings of two teenagers in a restaurant at the Jackson Rancheria Casino.

Gilbert Zaragoza (left photo) of Stockton was booked into Amador County Jail on two counts of attempted murder in the 5:30 a.m. shooting Sunday.

Amador Undersheriff Jim Wegner said Zaragoza opened fire on an 18-year-old and 15-year-old in what appeared to be a clash between rival gangs.

The victims were taken by helicopter to area hospitals with wounds to their face and neck. No one else was hurt in the incident.

"It was five o'clock in the morning, not an extraordinary busy time at the casino," Wegner said. "It was probably a fortunate time for this to occur, if it had to occur."

Authorities said a .22 caliber revolver believed used in the shooting was recovered from a vehicle in a casino parking structure after casino security and police from Jackson and Sutter Creek established a perimeter around the garage.

A California Highway Patrol officer later detained two men exiting the brush near Dalton Road and Highway 88. Using casino surveillance footage, deputies determined one of the men was the alleged shooter.

Authorities said Zaragoza is a member of the Lathrop Hispanic Pride gang.

Call The Bee's Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.

March 15, 2010
Another swastika is discovered at UC Davis

By Laurel Rosenhall

A swastika was found inside a UC Davis residence hall Sunday night, marking the sixth time the Nazi-era symbol was found on the campus in the last two weeks.

The latest incident featured a 3-inch by 5-inch swastika carved into a bulletin board inside the Kearney Hall dormitory, said campus spokeswoman Claudia Morain. The bulletin board has been removed by campus police and is being screened for fingerprints, Morain said.

"They're making it really clear this is a hateful symbol and urging anyone to come forward who knows anything," she said.

It's possible the swastika had been on the bulletin board for some time covered by fliers and was just reported to authorities for the first time Sunday, Morain said.

"This is very disturbing, and I hope the police find the perpetrators," said Chani Oppenheim, executive director of the campus Jewish organization known as Hillel House.

Before discovery of the latest swastika had been announced, the Hillel House and other campus religious organizations had been planning a vigil tonight in response to earlier acts of hate at UC Davis. The "Interfaith Vigil for Peace and Healing" begins at 7 p.m. at 433 Russell Blvd. An advertisement for the event says participants will "gather to share concerns and hope for the future."

UC Davis police ask anyone with information about the latest swastika incident to call (530) 752-1727. Callers who wish to remain anonymous may call the 24-hour Crime Tip Line at (530) 752-9944.

Call The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall, (916) 321-1083.

Previous coverage:

Dozens turn out to protest recent UC acts of bigotry - March 11, 2010

UC Davis police investigate vandalism as hate crimes - Feb. 28, 2010

March 15, 2010
Proceedings for defendants in Laos plot to resume in the fall

By Denny Walsh

Lawyers and a Sacramento federal judge agreed Monday to reconvene next fall for arguments on defense motions in the prosecution of 12 men who allegedly plotted the violent overthrow of the government in communist Laos.

It is anticipated that, at the least, the defense will renew an earlier motion to dismiss the case and, failing that, will move to suppress the evidence. Both motions will be largely based on the conduct of an undercover firearms agent who posed as an arms dealer anxious to sell weapons to the defendants.

James Brosnahan, a San Francisco lawyer who did most of the talking for the defense, told U. S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. that he and his colleagues still do not have all the material they want from the government.

He said there is "warehouse of material" and the defense has asked prosecutors for an "inventory of what they have in there" to help locate and categorize relevant evidence. So far, he said, that has not been forthcoming.

Lead prosecutor S. Robert Tice-Raskin responded that "there is no item-by-item inventory" and the government has met its legal obligation to make the material "available for inspection and copying."

Tice-Raskin said the prosecution has produced for the defense 86,000 pages of documents and hundreds of recordings of electronically intercepted conversations, many of them in a foreign language.

Eleven of the defendants are Hmong, and the Hmong language presents more of a challenge than others because it is only spoken, not written.

Federal Defender Daniel Broderick told Damrell that defense lawyers are trying to get the prosecutors to let them have the software used by the government to translate and transcribe the recordings.

Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

Previous coverage:

Hundreds gather to protest federal trial of accused Laos plotters - March 15, 2010

March 15, 2010
Gunman robs Davis students of their tech gear

By Bill Lindelof

Two University of California, Davis students were robbed at gunpoint of their laptops, an iPhone and a calculator, the Davis Police Department said.

A robber, dressed in a dark baseball cap and a shirt with a "Cal" logo, knocked on the door to the locked community room of the Avalon Apartments, 1617 Valdora St., about 10:15 p.m. Saturday, according to Davis police.

One of the students who was studying there opened the door. The armed suspect then took the students' computers and other belongings.

The suspect made a getaway in a black sports utility vehicle driven by an accomplice. The robber was described as 25 to 30 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, with a skinny build.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Davis Police Department at (530) 747-5430.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 15, 2010
Human remains found on Sutter County's Beer Can Beach

By Kim Minugh

Two severed limbs and a head were found on Sutter County's Beer Can Beach this weekend, according to authorities.

The first gruesome discovery was made Saturday evening, when two fishermen came across what appeared to be human remains at the river bottom area off Garden Highway and Lee Road, according to a news release from the Sutter County Sheriff's Department.

Deputies confirmed the remains were human - two severed limbs - and called in detectives to investigate. The investigation continued into Sunday, when detectives found a human head in bushes about six feet up a hill from where the remains had been found the day before, the release states.

The department called in cadaver dogs from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and the state Office of Emergency Services Search and Rescue team, but the six dogs did not find anything else.

A forensic exam is scheduled for today to determine whether the remains belong to a man or woman.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department at (530) 822-7307 or leave a tip on the department's Web site at

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

March 15, 2010
Sting bags man suspected of propositioning teen on Roseville bus

By Bill Lindelof

Roseville police have arrested a man on suspicion of propositioning a boy for sex as the teen was exiting a city bus.

alvizuris_nery.jpgNery Fer Alvizuris (left), 27, of Roseville was booked into Placer County Jail on suspicion of contacting a minor with intent to commit a sex crime. His bail was set at $100,000.

Police said that a 15-year-old boy was exiting a city bus in Roseville when an adult handed him a note. Written on the note was an offer to pay cash for a sexual act and the man's cell phone number.

Later, the boy showed the note to his mother and she called police.

Roseville police set up a sting in which a detective posed as the teen in text messages with the suspect. Arrangements were made to meet the suspect to exchange sex for money.

Officers met and arrested Alvizuris on Saturday, police said in a press release.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 15, 2010
Sex offender's Sacramento County release comes with many conditions

By Kim Minugh

A Superior Court judge approved placement of a seventh "sexually violent predator" in Sacramento County this morning -- albeit with 15 pages of terms and conditions on his release from a state mental hospital.

7M21JONES_highlight_prod_affiliate_4.jpgSteven Joseph Jones (left), 61, will move into a residence at 5050 Tyler Street in Foothill Farms after Judge Jack Sapunor cleared the placement before a handful of observers this morning.

Sapunor also approved a bundle of restrictions on Jones' movement and behavior, listed over 15 pages and recommended by the Department of Mental Health. Among those conditions are GPS monitoring, required registration as a sex offender and prohibition of alcohol consumption, Sapunor said.

After a neighboring church expressed concern about Jones' placement, Sapunor also ordered that Jones stay away from that church. Lance Osborn, a minister at the Church of Christ on Tyler Street, said that condition gave him some peace of mind.

"We can still help him if that opportunity arises, and we can still keep in mind the safety of our constituents," he said.

After settling into the Tyler Street property, Jones temporarily will be subject of 24-hour monitoring by a health-care group. He then will join the ranks of sex offenders monitored by the Sexual Assault Felon Enforcement Team, a multi-jurisdictional task force composed of members from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, the Sacramento Police Department and the U.S. Marshall's Office.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

Previous coverage:

Hearing set on release of sex offender back to Sacramento County - Feb. 21, 2010

March 15, 2010
Update: Sacramento detective's accused killer harbored hate for cops, jury told

By Andy Furillo

Jimmy Siackasorn was "a very angry and hostile young man" when he allegedly shot and killed a Sacramento County sheriff's detective in 2007, a prosecutor said today.

At the time of the killing, Siackasorn, 19, held a "hatred" for law enforcement and had a long history of threatening to kill police and probation officers, a Sacramento Superior Court jury was told.

Siackasorn, 19, is on trial for murder in the death of sheriff's gang Det. Vu Nguyen on Dec. 19, 2007. The defendant is charged with killing the 37-year-old Nguyen during a foot pursuit that took place in a gang-infested area of unincorporated south Sacramento called "The Avenues," Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard said in his opening remarks.

Defense attorney Sue Karlton said in her opening statements that her client shot Nguyen but that the shooting was in self defense and Siackasorn didn't know Nguyen was a detective.

Norgaard said Nguyen and his partner drove up on Siackasorn while the defendant was standing on the corner of 42nd Avenue and 37th Street waiting to buy marijuana. Siackasorn then took off running and shot and killed Nguyen during a chase that took them into a back yard.

The prosecutor said that Siackasorn had 26 arrests going back to when the defendant was 12 years old and that over the years he made his hatred for law enforcement known.

"I'm going to blast staff in the face when I'm on the outs," Siackasorn once told a probation officer at the Sacramento County Boys Ranch, Norgaard told the jury.

Siackasorn told a probation officer during another contact at his residence, "You're lucky I didn't know you guys were coming, because we would have shot it out," the prosecutor said.

Siackasorn also admitted to shooting the deputy in several conversations he had with people in the hours after the shooting.

Norgaard said Siackasorn knew through his many contacts with law enforcement, including plainclothes officers such as Nguyen, what kind of cars they drove and that he knew the detective and his partner were gang detectives when they pulled up to talk to him.

Karlton, however, said the detectives who drove up to her client didn't say anything and did not identify themselves as law enforcement officers.

"Jimmy Siackasorn didn't know Vu Nguyen was a police officer, and he shot in self defense," Karlton said.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

Previous coverage:

Judge quotes shooting suspect as saying deputy deserved to die - Feb. 25, 2010

March 14, 2010
Two teens shot at Jackson casino

By Robert Lewis

CasinoShooting1.jpgTwo teenagers were shot early Sunday morning at an Amador County casino in what appears to be an ongoing battle between rival Mexican gangs.

At about 5:30 a.m. Sunday, an 18- and a 15-year-old male were shot with a small caliber gun at the Jackson Rancheria Casino, according to the Amador County Sheriff's Department. The victims were taken by helicopter to area hospitals with wounds to their face and neck. Both are reportedly in stable condition.

Sheriff's deputies, casino security and police from Jackson and Sutter Creek arrived at the casino and established a perimeter around the parking garage. Officers found four people believed to be connected to the suspected shooter in two cars in the garage. As officers were completing their search they received a tip that two suspicious men were exiting the brush near Dalton Road and Highway 88. A California Highway Patrol Officer detained the two men .

Using casino surveillance footage, deputies determined one of the men found in the brush was the alleged shooter. Police arrested the suspected shooter for attempted murder. He is refusing to give his name or age.

None of the men involved in the shooting admit to being in a gang, according to the sheriff's department. However, the victims say they associate with Sureños and those believed to have been with the shooter claimed to associate with Norteños.

March 14, 2010
Juvenile arrested on suspicion of burglary in Woodland

By Loretta Kalb

A teenage boy was booked into Yolo County Juvenile Hall Saturday morning after being identified as the suspect in the burglary of a home on Madera Court in Woodland earlier that day, police Sgt. Steve Sexton, police spokesman, said today.

Authorities said the resident of the home awakened to find the intruder, who had entered through an unlocked sliding door. The youth then gave the occupant a false name and address before fleeing.

Officers set up a perimeter in the area and the Yolo County Sheriff's Aero Squadron searched in from the air.

After some investigation, authorities learned that the suspect might live in the 200 block of Woodland Ave., about two miles from the burglarized home.

Officers arrested a juvenile at the Woodland Avenue address after the victim made a positive identification.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073.

March 14, 2010
Woodland man booked for possessing unregistered Russian-made assault rifle

By Loretta Kalb

A Woodland man was booked for battery, resisting law enforcement officers and possession of drugs and a banned assault weapon, an unregistered Russian-made SKS assault rifle with a detachable 30-round capacity magazine, Woodland Police Sgt. Jason T. Brooks reported today.

Authorities said Guillermo Astran was arrested shortly after 12:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon after the man's uncle called authorities to say he believed Astran was about to beat his own mother, 48-year-old Virginia Astran.

Police said the weapon found inside inside the son's bedroom at the residence on the 800 block of Kentucky Avenue was loaded with 28 rounds of 7.62x39mm ammunition, including one round in the firing chamber. The assault weapon is among those banned under California's Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989, police said.

Among the charges at booking was commission of a felony while on bail, authorities said. Guillermo Astran was held in the Yolo County jail on $25,000 bail.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073.

March 14, 2010
Ex-boyfriend kills couple, then turns gun on himself, Sacramento deputies say

By Loretta Kalb

Two people were murdered and their killer committed suicide Saturday night in an apparent love triangle, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spokesman, Sgt. Tim Curran, reported today.

Authorities said deputies arrived at the 5300 block of Thurman Way at 9:30 p.m. after a report of multiple gunshots. They found three people on the ground, including a 28-year-old man and his girlfriend, 17. Both had suffered multiple gunshot wounds to their upper bodies.

A 25-year-old man, described as the girl's ex-boyfriend, had a single gunshot wound to his head. A semi-automatic handgun was found next to his body.

Paramedics pronounced all three dead at the scene.

Witnesses told authorities that before the shooting the ex-boyfriend drove to the girl's home south of Fruitridge Road on Thurman Way, argued with her and left.

He returned minutes later, found the male victim who also lived on Thurman Way, and shot him.

He then shot his ex-girlfriend, who was standing a short distance away. Then he turned the gun on himself, authorities said.

Identities of the three were withheld pending notification of their families.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073.

March 13, 2010
Sac PD looking for clues in McKinley Park death

By Bobby Caina Calvan

Sacramento police investigators closed off a portion of McKinley Park this evening in a search for clues that could explain how a man received head injuries that apparently led to his death.

The man was discovered at about 4 p.m. by a passer-by just south of the park swimming pool, according to Sgt. Norm Leong. The man's identity was not immediately known, Leong said.

The man appeared to have suffered injuries to his head, Leong said, but was alive when paramedics arrived.

He was taken to UC Davis Medical Center, where he later died.

No other information was available.

Call The Bee's Bobby Caina Calvan, (916) 321-1067.

March 13, 2010
Cop logs: Robbers and would-be robbers

By Cathy Locke

Gunman hits Natomas Boulevard clothing store

A clothing store in the 4700 block of Natomas Boulevard was robbed Friday afternoon by a man armed with a gun.

No one was hurt during the incident, which occurred at 1:51 p.m., the Sacramento Police Department's daily activity log shows.

The robber was wearing a ski mask and a green raincoat.

# # #

Victim says he punched out assailants then escaped

A man reported that he was the victim of an attempted robbery Friday afternoon as he was walking in a residential area of North Natomas.

The man said he encountered two men in the 200 block of Candela Circle shortly after 4 p.m. One was described as African American, 18 to 21 years old, wearing a black hoodie and short "twisties" in his hair. The other was described as African American, 22 to 29 years old, and wearing a black short-sleeve shirt. The younger of the two demanded property from the victim, the Sacramento Police Department's daily activity log states.

The victim told police that he punched the younger man once in the face and ran off. He said the two men chased him for a short distance but then stopped.

# # #

Quick feet help person escape slower robbers

An individual reported escaping from would-be robbers in the 7200 block of Franklin Boulevard in south Sacramento late Friday afternoon.

After pulling into the parking lot of a business about 5:15 p.m., the victim said a dark gray 1990s Toyota Camry pulled up alongside and two men approached the victim's vehicle. One of the men pulled up his shirt, revealing some type of weapon, and demanded money, the Sacramento Police Department's daily activity log states.

The victim ran through the parking lot chased by one of the men, eventually escaping unhurt, the report states.

The would-be robbers were described only as being of medium build, wearing black pants and black hoodies.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 13, 2010
Shots allegedly fired in midtown lead to man's assault arrest

By Cathy Locke

Sacramento Police arrested a 25-year-old man early this morning after receiving a report of shots fired in the area of 21st and P streets.

One person was hurt.

The incident was reported at 1:51 a.m. Officers found a man, identified as Richard Anders, who appeared to have been involved in a fight or shooting. Anders had scrapes on his head, consistent with an assault, the police department's daily activity log shows. Officers, however, determined that Anders had brandished and then fired a gun in the air, which prompted a crowd to subdue him.

Witnesses and friends of Anders had assisted by getting his gun, but they left the scene before police arrived, the report says.

The victim told police that he and Anders had exchanged words, and Anders then approached the victim with a gun in his hand. Anders allegedly fired the gun next to the victim's head and then pistol whipped him, the report says.

The victim grabbed Anders, and other people helped detain him before police arrived. Anders was booked into Sacramento County jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 13, 2010
Officials say they arrested man for waving weapon on federal land in far north state

By Cathy Locke

A Tulelake man accused of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, ammunition and bullet-proof vest has been arrested by federal law enforcement agents at Lava Beds National Monument after allegedly waving a firearm in the air.

Micha Godfrey, 37, of Tulelake was taken into custody Thursday by U.S. Park Rangers, a federal Drug Enforcement Administration news release states. At the time of his arrest, Godfrey was under investigation by the DEA for allegedly threatening to kill DEA agents and their families.

"DEA takes seriously any threats against our employees and their families," DEA Special Agent Gordon Taylor said in a written statement.

"Mr. Godfrey expressed the desire, and had the means to carry out those threats."

On March 5, the DEA's Sacramento office received information that Godfrey had allegedly sent several e-mails to a medical marijuana Web site in which he threatened to kill DEA agents and their families. Godfrey, who had previous ties to the Sacramento area, was reported living in Tulelake, about 150 miles northeast of Redding, the news release says.

On Wednesday, while DEA agents were investigating the alleged threats, U.S. park rangers received a report of a suspicious man, later identified as Godfrey, who was waving a handgun in the air on Medicine Lake Road at the Lava Beds National Monument, about 10 miles from Tulelake. Park rangers went to the area and arrested Godfrey.

At the time of his arrest, Godfrey possessed a .45 caliber revolver and ammunition and was wearing a bullet-proof vest, the news release states.

On Friday, officers with the DEA and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as the California Highway Patrol and Tulelake Police Department served a federal warrant at Godfrey's Tulelake residence. Authorities seized four firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, a bullet-proof vest, a laptop computer and marijuana plants, the news release states.

Godfrey appeared before a U.S. magistrate at the Sacramento Federal Courthouse on Friday and was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 26.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 13, 2010
Update: Arrest made in Citrus Heights killing

By Cathy Locke

One woman is dead and another under arrest following an early morning fight in Citrus Heights.

SinglePhotoFromID.jpgPolice Sgt. Lee Herrington said officers responded to reports of a fight at an apartment complex at 7683 Greenback Lane at 2:34 a.m. Police and medical personnel with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department found one woman dead with major injuries that appeared to have resulted from a violent struggle.

Herrington said the investigation indicated a knife may have been used in the assault, but stabbing has not been determined to be the cause of death.

Lan Anh Le (left), 20, of Citrus Heights was arrested.

Herrington said the initial investigation indicated that Le and the victim were acquainted and got into a violent fight at of near an apartment. The fight moved out into a common area where the victim died from her injuries. No information was available about what led to the fight, Herrington said.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office identified the victim as Monica Anne Anderson, 26.

Le suffered minor injuries and was treated at Mercy San Juan Medical Center. She is being booked into Sacramento County Main Jail today on suspicion of murder, Herrington said.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

March 12, 2010
Elk Grove police seek three men who robbed jewelry store

By Chelsea Phua

Elk Grove police are looking for three masked men who robbed a jewelry store Friday evening.

Police said the men entered Kenny G & Co. Fine Jewelers at 7440 Laguna Blvd. shortly before 7 p.m. and confronted employees as they were preparing to close.

At least one of the robbers was armed with a handgun, but no one was seriously injured, police said.

One of the suspects sprayed two employees in the face with a chemical agent believed to be pepper spray or Mace. Two of the suspects grabbed an undetermined amount of jewelry from inside the store. The three men then fled and were last seen getting into a dark-colored compact vehicle.

The robbers were described as Asian or Latino men who wore dark clothing and bandanas that covered their faces.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Elk Grove Police Department Communication Center at (916) 714-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Crime Alert callers can remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Text information by entering CRIMES on a cell phone, followed by Tip732 and the message.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 12, 2010
Court partially upholds injunction against Broderick Boys

By Chelsea Phua

The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento has partially upheld a preliminary injunction against the Broderick Boys, an alleged West Sacramento street gang.

In a 44-page opinion issued Monday, the appellate court said it supports Yolo County Superior Court Judge Kathleen M. White's preliminary injunction that would restrict the activities of alleged gang members in a defined area of West Sacramento.

"We conclude sufficient, credible evidence supports the trial court's conclusion the Broderick Boys is a criminal street gang whose activities have created a public nuisance in the designated area," the opinion read.

However, it found provisions dealing with controlled substances and the consumption of alcohol too vague to be enforced. But the Yolo County District Attorney's office can request the lower court to amend these provisions so they can be enforced, according to the ruling.

The preliminary injunction imposes restrictions on two dozen named and up to 400 unnamed individuals. The restrictions include a curfew on alleged gang members in the "safety zone," an area north of Highway 50 from Harbor Boulevard to the Sacramento River. The injunction prohibits them from "standing sitting, walking, driving, gathering or appearing anywhere in public view or any place accessible to the public."

Prosecutors had said the injunction is needed to curb gang activity. Defense lawyers said it would give police sweeping powers to interfere with the rights of West Sacramento residents.

Click here to read the complete copy of the published opinion.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 12, 2010
Sacramento lawyer to run against DA Jan Scully

By Andy Furillo

Sacramento lawyer Julius M. Engel will run for district attorney in the June primary, county election officials said today, giving Jan Scully her first opponent since she won the office 16 years ago.

Engel was one of several contestants for the position when Scully defeated then-incumbent Steve White for the district attorney's job in 1994.

In the interim, Engle has unsuccessfully run for Superior Court judge three times.

Federal prosecutor Todd Leras took out paperwork to run for district attorney, but told The Bee earlier today that he will not seek to replace Scully.

County elections spokesman Brad Buyse said Leras did not return the paperwork by today's 5 p.m. deadline.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

March 12, 2010
Sac PD floods gang area in anti-crime sweep

By Kim Minugh

Sacramento police took advantage of a slow shift Thursday night and saturated Meadowview's Nedra Court, one of the city's notorious gang hangouts, in hopes of suppressing criminal activity there, according to authorities.

The street, flanked by apartment complexes, was the site of a 15-year-old girl's killing in January. A man was shot there a few weeks ago, and the area typically produces a "high volume" of 911 calls, said Sacramento police Sgt. Norm Leong.

In a recent 30-day period, police were called to Nedra Court 30 times, according to police data.

So a swing-shift patrol team decided to do some proactive police work, Leong said, stopping cars coming in and out of the court.

Officers issued 23 citations; arrested two men for gun possession - and confiscated the gun; validated two gang members; made three misdemeanor warrant arrests, and conducted three probation searches, Leong said.

Part of the effort was intended "to show residents that we do care," Leong said.

The other part: "To minimize both the gang activity and the recent violence that has occurred in that area."

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

Previous coverage:

'Happy-go-lucky' girl killed after party fight - Jan. 4, 2010.

March 12, 2010
Sac DA won't seek death penalty for Chong Vue in cop's death

By Kim Minugh

The Sacramento County District Attorney's office announced today that it is not seeking the death penalty for Chong Vue, one of four defendants being tried for murder in the 2008 death of correctional officer Steve Lo.

Instead, the DA's office is seeking life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, prosecutor Eric Kindall said in court today.

The DA's intentions are the same for the other three defendants in the case: former Sacramento County sheriff's deputy Chu Vue, his brother Gary Vue, and friend Lang Vue, who is of no relation. Chong Vue, who is also Chu and Gary Vue's brother, had been in Minnesota and was the last defendant to come before the court.

In Minnesota, Chong Vue pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a 2001 drive-by shooting in Hennepin County.

Gary Vue was the triggerman in that shooting and was convicted in December of first-degree murder in that case.

The brothers were sentenced but then extradited to Sacramento County to face murder charges here.

Chu Vue is accused of orchestrating the fatal shooting of Lo, who was gunned down in the garage of his south Sacramento home.

Chong and Gary Vue are accused of carrying out the killing, and Lang Vue is accused of aiding and abetting the other suspects.

Allyssa Vue, sister to Chu, Chong and Gary Vue, pleaded no contest in February to acting as an accessory in the case.

Two friends, two brothers Lee Vue and Mason Vue, also are accused of acting as accessories and are scheduled to start trial in April.

Chu Vue and Lang Vue's trial is scheduled to begin April 15.

The trial for Gary and Chong Vue, who will be prosecuted separately, is expected to begin later.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

March 12, 2010
Court hearing for convicted sex offender postponed

By Sam Stanton

The convicted sex offender arrested for allegedly being on the grounds of Del Campo High School has had his first court appearance postponed from today until April 15, the Sacramento County District Attorney's office said.

Hugh Levell Stewart, 55, a sexually violent predator with a lengthy record of sex offenses, faces two misdemeanor counts charging that he violated state law forbidding a sex offender from being on a school's grounds and that he lied about his registry as a sex offender.

In a jailhouse interview with The Bee Thursday, Stewart denied any wrongdoing or ever being at the school. He has since been released on $5,000 bail.

Call The Bee's Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091.

Previous coverage:

Sex offender out on bail in Del Campo High School case - March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010
Sacramento judge: Jury made mistake freeing murder suspect

By Andy Furillo

A judge said from the bench today that he disagreed with a jury's verdict in his courtroom last month that acquitted a Sacramento man of murder in the death of a 3-year-old boy.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley's comments came in the sentencing of Rosalie Uribe, who pleaded no contest to child endangerment charges for placing her three children in the care of Joseph Skates, the man the jury turned loose.

"Don't be confused by that verdict," Frawley told Uribe, who sniffled and wiped tears from her eyes during the judge's excoriation of her and her ex-boyfriend at today's sentencing. "Joseph Skates got the benefit of the doubts that the jury apparently had. But their verdict was not innocent."

Frawley then made it clear that he felt the jury made a mistake Feb. 11 when it acquitted Skates.

"I personally was convinced by the evidence," Frawley told Uribe. "He killed your son."

The judge blasted Skates for never calling 911 when Manuel "Manny" Maciel sustained his fatal injuries Nov. 7, 2008 and instead called "his protector, his mother."

Frawley said he agreed with the prosecution theory in the case that Skates killed Maciel, who died of blunt-force trauma injuries to the head, because the boy had wet his pajamas.

"He is an emotional person," Frawley said of Skates. "He didn't deal with it right. He flew off the handle. He didn't want to kill Manny. But he reacted, and he did kill Manny."

Noting published reports in The Bee that Uribe has sought to get back together with Skates since the acquittal, Frawley advised the 26-year-old woman to "think about it."

"He's the person who killed your child," Frawley said.

Jesse Ortiz, the attorney who represented Skates at the murder trial, said today that Frawley's comments were "out of line."

"First, it's a total slap in the face to our justice system, and specifically our jurors who worked hard throughout this case and came to their verdict based on the evidence," Ortiz said.

Ortiz also disagreed with the judge's statement that Skates was not "innocent" in the case, "because a person accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the district attorney. That never happened. So they did find him innocent."

Before Frawley launched into his assessment of the Skates case, he denied a motion by Uribe's lawyer to reduce her conviction in the child endangerment case from a felony to a misdemeanor.

The judge said that Uribe lied to Child Protective Services workers about the source of injuries Manny had suffered in the weeks before his death, injuries that were reported to the agency by the boy's relatives.

"Because you lied, because so much time had elapsed and some of those injuries had begun to heal, CPS didn't have the legal authority to take the action that would have saved Manny's life," Frawley said. "They couldn't initiate a court action. They had no authority because you came up with half-baked lies that favored Joseph Skates."

A CPS case worker warned Uribe to not leave her children in Skates' custody, Frawley said, but she ignored it.

"And that's why you're a convicted felon," the judge said.

Frawley went on to sentence Uribe to three years probation and 90 days on the sheriff's work project, the deal to which prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed when she pleaded no contest on the eve of Skates' trial.

Uribe's lawyer, Alice Michel, also told the court that Uribe had her parental rights terminated on Thursday to her surviving sons, who are 7 and 5. They are now living with an aunt in Madera.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

Previous coverage:

Uribe tries to regain custody of two surviving children, Sacramento County prosecutor says - Feb. 27, 2010

Jury acquits Natomas man in death of boy, 3 - Feb. 12, 2010

Case in death of boy, 3, goes to Sacramento jury - Feb. 10, 2010

Failure to call 911 cited at trial in death - Feb. 5, 2010

Mom of slain boy testifies at boyfriend's murder trial - Feb. 27, 2010

Sacramento man goes on trial in death of boy, 3 - Jan. 29, 2010

March 12, 2010
Trial in 1980 Davis 'sweetheart' slayings delayed again

Richard Hirshjfield[1].JPGBy Andy Furillo

The prospect of the murder trial getting under way this year in the 1980 Davis "sweetheart" killings appeared remote after a brief hearing in defendant Richard Joseph Hirschfield's case today in Sacramento Superior Court.

Defense attorney Linda Parisi informed that court that she has two other death penalty cases that have lined up ahead of Hirschfield's capital punishment trial.

Hirschfield (left in 2004 jail booking photo), 51, is accused in the Dec. 20, 1980, killings of UC Davis students John Riggins and Sabrina Gonsalves.

Parisi and Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet were back in court along with the defendant today to possibly have Judge Michael W. Sweet set a trial date.

Bladet said prosecutors provided the defense with a DNA analysis that had been holding up the trial, but Parisi said that she needs to get together with prosecutors and court officials to establish a scheduling order on the murder trials to which she has been assigned.

Besides Hirschfield, Parisi also is representing Lalesh Kumar, who is accused in the meat-cleaver slayings of a woman and her son in 2005, and Jay Patrick Johnson, the defendant in a 2007 spree-shooting that killed two people.

Johnson's trial date is set for Oct. 5. No trial date has yet been set on Kumar. Bladet also has been assigned to prosecute Kumar.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

March 12, 2010
Ask Sacto911: No arrest in 2008 fatal Sacramento hit-and-run

Q: Has anyone been arrested in the hit-and-run death of Ormond Robbins? - Anonymous, Sacramento

A: The April 9, 2008 death of Robbins, 73, is unsolved.

Robbins was killed crossing the intersection of 16th and N streets in downtown when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver that as he walked to his apartment from Simon's bar, The Bee reported.

After a night of socializing at the neighborhood watering hole, Robbins would go out of his way to cross at thatcorner of 16th and N streets, a lighted intersection with a crosswalk and signal, a friend told The Bee shortly after Robbins was killed.

Robbins was in the crosswalk and had a walk signal, police said.

One vehicle, eastbound on N Street and about to turn left onto 16th Street, had stopped to let Robbins cross. He waved a thank you to the courteous driver, witnesses said.

Then a white pickup truck, also trying to turn left, came up behind the first car. The pickup driver honked and then whipped around the stopped vehicle.

The truck struck Robbins and sped off north on 16th Street.

A surveillance camera on a state building caught it driving past, but the driver and license plate could not be seen.

Police described it as a full-size white pickup truck, possibly a late 1990s model Ford F-150 long-bed used for work. It had a lumber rack on the back and a toolbox near the cab.

Officials suspect it could have minor damage on the front passenger-side grille or hood.

The driver was described by witnesses as an adult white male.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here.

March 12, 2010
Sacramento jury convicts man of murder in torture case

By Andy Furillo

A Sacramento jury today convicted Daniel James Norman of first-degree murder in the April 20, 2008, killing of Wilbur Reynolds in his home in Foothill Farms.

Norman, 43, also was convicted of burglary in the break-in at the home of the 76-year-old victim, who died in a blaze that the defendant's partner set in the residence in the 5400 block of Rambler Way.

According to evidence in Norman's trial, he drove a parolee named David Hamilton to Reynolds' home the day of the killing.

Deputy District Attorney Anthony Ortiz said Hamilton then put Reynolds through "six hour of torture, six hours of hell" before Hamilton set the blaze in which the victim succumbed.

Hamilton was shot and killed by a Sacramento sheriff's detective when they came to arrest him at a Roseville motel the night Reynolds was slain.

The prosecutor said Norman, who was convicted on the theory that he aided and abetted a burglary that resulted in a homicide, used credit cards that Hamilton stole from Reynolds to buy methamphetamine for the two of them.

A taped conversation of Norman talking on the phone with friends on a county jail line after his arrest provided some of the critical evidence prosecutors used against him.

"I kinda maybe knew he was going to steal some (expletive deleted), but that's different, that's not murder," Norman said, according to a transcript of the conversation. "It's was supposed to be a straight run-in and grab a few things, then run out. That's what it was supposed to been."

Following nervous laughter, Norman continued, "It didn't work that way."

Reynolds suffered burns to 72 percent of his body after intruders beat him. Norman and Hamilton ransacked the victim's house in the 5400 block of Rambler Way.

Hamilton knew Reynolds through a woman the victim had taken into his home. Hamilton then became upset with Reynolds after the Foothill Farms man reported him to his parole agent for domestic violence.

"We're very proud of the sacrifice my grandfather made in stopping these men from being able to hurt anybody else," said Shuana Woodward, Reynold's granddaughter. We're proud he fought the fight he did."

Woodward also thanked Ortiz, the police and "anybody else who helped for the outcome of this."

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

March 12, 2010
Placer sheriff's lieutenant charged in alleged shooting incident

By Ed Fletcher

The Placer County District Attorney's Office filed misdemeanor firearms charges today against a Placer County Sheriff's Department officer.

Lt. John David Savage remains on duty while standing accused of firing several gun shots into the air during a disturbance in his Rocklin neighborhood on or around Oct. 8.

The charges followed a five-month investigation during which witnesses were interviewed and re-interviewed.

"We are very concerned about the criminal allegation against one of our officers and take the charges very seriously," a sheriff's department news release states. "We are monitoring this case and are running a concurrent personnel investigation, which by law restricts us from making further comments".

Rocklin's police department handled the investigation before submitting its finding to the district attorney's office.

Savage is expected to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. April 20 at Roseville's Santucci Justice Center.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269.

March 12, 2010
2 Sacramento area inmates denied paroles; 3rd gets another chance

By Bee Staff

Two men serving life sentences for Sacramento area crimes were recently denied paroles, but a woman who killed man in 1988 who she suspected of being a child molester received a second chance at earning a parole.

Robert Ramirez Vela Jr., a 34-year-old child killer, was given a 10-year denial and Frederick Brinkley, a 47-year-old kidnapper, was given a five-year denial in hearings earlier this month, said Margot Bach, spokeswoman for the Board of Parole Hearings.

Both men can request a rehearing every three years if they can show there has been a change in circumstances in his case or that new information is available.

However, board members who heard the parole request of Joy Celeste Pense reached a "split decision," Bach said. Pense, 43, was convicted of killing Tracy James Helling, 19, of Concord. She said she killed him because she believed he had molested the 3-year-old girl who she babysat, according to Bee reports.

This means Pense will soon get a hearing before the full board, Bach said.

If you want to give your opinion of an inmate's suitability for parole, you may mail a letter to:

Martin Hoshino, executive director

Board of Parole Hearings

1515 K Street

Sacramento, CA 95811

For more information on the Board of Parole Hearings, go to:

Previous coverage:

Sacramento child killer among inmates up for parole hearings - March 4, 2010

March 12, 2010
Accused Elk Grove killer returns for trial

By Kim Minugh

A 54-year-old man accused of killing his former girlfriend's husband in Elk Grove four years ago has been extradited to Sacramento, five months after he was arrested in the country of Georgia, authorities said.

Nazir Ahmad Fazel was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail late Thursday night, jail booking records show. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on one count of murder.

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives say they suspect Fazel of fatally shooting 60-year-old Mohammad Nasim Samimi to death on Samimi's front lawn on Nov. 10, 2005.

Fazel, Samimi and Samimi's wife reportedly had known each other for about 20 years, beginning in Afghanistan. At some point, Fazel and Samimi's wife were romantically involved, but after the relationship ended, the couple and Fazel had problems.

Officials said Samimi and his wife had planned to file for a restraining order against Fazel the afternoon of Samimi's death, but Fazel showed up at the couple's home on Bertolani Circle before that could happen.

The men argued before Fazel allegedly shot Samimi, officials said.

Sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran said Fazel fled to Afghanistan after the shooting, where his movements were tracked by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Fazel was arrested after he crossed into Georgia in October.

He was fighting extradition but exhausted his appeals and surrendered to the FBI on Thursday.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

March 12, 2010
Fire damages Sikh temple in Sacramento's south area

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento fire authorities say the cause of a blaze that swept through a south-area Sikh temple is suspicious.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District firefighters responded to the blaze at the Sikh house of worship about 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

The temple, originally built as a house and later converted into a Sikh temple is on the 7600 block of Rangeview Lane, near Highway 99 and Stockton Boulevard.

Two rooms in the structure were burning when firefighters arrived.

Firefighters searched the building after quickly extinguishing the blaze. The lone occupant escaped after being awakened by a smoke detector, said fire district spokesman Capt. Rusty Dupray.

The fire remains under investigation, and an arson investigator has determined that the fire is suspicious, officials said. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been notified.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 12, 2010
Crime Alert: Man suspected or buying or seling stolen property sought

WASHINGTON, Dameion 03-09-10.jpgThe Sacramento Police Department is seeking Dameion Washington (left photo) on a felony arrest warrant for suspicion of buying or receiving stolen property, Sacramento Crime Alert officials said.

Washington is also known as Dameion Delevary Washington, Dameion Delavar Washington, Dameion Delavary Washington, Jermaine Marvin Lee, Dameion Delavan Washington, Damion Delavary Washington and Derrick Damieon Woods, officials said.

The suspect is described as age 27, 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 165 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

He was last known to live in the 4000 block of 43rd Street in Sacramento.

March 11, 2010
Woodland teen arrested; linked to three destructive devices

By Chelsea Phua

Woodland police arrested a 13-year-old Lee Middle School student after the boy allegedly detonated a homemade destructive device in a school restroom Thursday afternoon.

The restroom was unoccupied and no one was injured, authorities said.

Police said the boy allegedly had detonated two other devices in previous incidents, which were not reported. One detonation allegedly happened in the rear of the Big Lots store on West Court Street and the other near the Franciscan Apartments on West Cross Street.

Thursday's event unfolded when firefighters were called to the school at about 1:20 p.m. for what was believed to be the detonation of fireworks inside a bathroom. Police officers later interviewed students and found out that the 13-year-old had detonated the homemade device in a restroom while school was in session.

Officers also later found materials to make the device inside the student's backpack, police said.

The boy was booked into Yolo County Juvenile Hall, where he is being held on three felony counts of possession of a destruction device while at school and while in a place open to the public.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

March 11, 2010
Lake County sheriff: Autopsies show couple were shot

By Kim Minugh

Lake County authorities said today that a couple whose bodies were found at the bottom of a roadside embankment last week had been shot, but the final cause of death still remains unclear until further test results are returned.

Autopsies on Frank and Yvette Maddox were performed Wednesday. The condition of their bodies, which authorities believed had been at the bottom of the embankment for several weeks, kept authorities from making further findings about the cause and manner of their death, according to a Lake County Sheriff's Department news release.

The Maddoxes are from Maine but moved to Lake County several months ago to assist their employer, 29-year-old Robby Alan Beasley, with a marijuana operation, according to authorities.

Beasley remains a "person of interest" in their deaths and is in custody for an unrelated warrant out of Maine, where he also is from.

According to the release, authorities have learned that Frank Maddox's pickup, which has been missing, might have been dismantled for parts. They are in the process of recovering what parts they can, the release states.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

Previous coverage:

Maine man center of slaying investigation of couple in Lake County - March 10, 2010

March 11, 2010
Verdict in Lake Tahoe hate case

By Denny Walsh

A white, middle-aged couple were found guilty Thursday in Sacramento federal court of interfering with the right of an east Indian man to be in a public area at South Lake Tahoe because of his ethnic origin and the color of his skin.

A jury deliberated approximately 90 minutes before delivering its verdict against Georgia Silva, 52, and husband Joseph Silva, 56.

Vishal Wadhwa, 40, a naturalized U. S. citizen and bank executive from San Francisco, testified the Silvas beat him viciously in a picnic area on July 14, 2007, after he questioned them about a racial slur allegedly hurled by Georgia Silva at Ayesha Matthews, then Wadhwa's fiancé and now his wife.

Wadhwa said Matthews, 31, told him Georgia Silva said "Indian sluts" and another derogatory comment as Matthews and her teenage cousin, both of east Indian descent, walked by where the Silvas were sitting on a Lake Tahoe beach.

When he confronted the couple, Wadhwa said, Joseph Silva exploded in expletives, and said, "I'll put you down."

Wadhwa retreated to the picnic area above the beach and was phoning police when the couple caught up with him and the dispute turned into a physical altercation, with the Silvas uttering racial epithets even as they beat him, he told the jury. According to the testimony of Wadhwa, Matthews, and other witnesses, Wadhwa was pinned to the ground by Georgia Silva while her husband administered several hard kicks to his head.

He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and suffered lasting damage to his head, Wadhwa testified.

The jury acquitted the Silvas of interfering with Matthews' right to be at the public beach and picnic grounds.

Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

March 11, 2010
Sac deputies: Man arrested after woman secretly videotaped

By Bee Staff

Sacramento County sheriff's deputies have arrested a man who allegedly secretly videotaped the lower half of the body of a woman in a grocery store, according to a crime summary released this week.

Dwaine Harris was booked in jail on suspicion of violating a section of the penal code that prohibits secretly videotaping someone without their consent, deputies said.

Here's how deputies said events unfolded:

On March 6 at about 2:46 p.m., deputies were called to a supermarket in the 4100 block Elverta Road on a report of male adult secretly videotaping women.

Deputies spotted a man resembling the suspect's description leaving the store and detained him. Store employees also identified the man as the suspect, the report states.

Deputies reported that they found on the suspect a "small camcorder slung under his shoulder under his shirt."

Deputies played the video and it showed the suspect following a woman and videotaping the lower half of her body, according to the summary.

"The woman was not aware of the video and did not give her consent to being videotaped," the deputies reported.

March 11, 2010
Sexual predator arrested for alleged Del Campo High visits makes bail

By Kim Minugh and Sam Stanton

The 55-year-old sexually violent predator arrested Wednesday after allegedly twice visiting Del Campo High School was released today on bail, online jail records indicate.

Hugh Levell Stewart, left, was being held on $5,000 bail. He has a criminal record dating back to when he was 11 and has a history of rapes, sexual assaults and stays in two of California's mental hospitals for sex offenders, a prosecutor told The Bee today.

4M11OFFENDER_thumbnail_prod_affiliate_4.jpgStewart, a 5-foot, 7-inch, 150-pound registered sex offender, had been sent to Atascadero State Hospital in June 1979 as a mentally disordered sex offender after he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl in Alameda County in 1978, said Stephen Taylor, a veteran prosecutor with the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office, who has handled Stewart's cases for years.

That was one of numerous rape or sexual assault cases involving Stewart as he bounced from prison to hospital to prison and, eventually, won his freedom after two Stockton juries were unable to agree on whether he remained a threat to the public.

In a jailhouse interview with The Bee, Stewart said today he never stepped foot on the Del Campo High School campus. He said he doesn't even know where it is.

"I haven't got a clue about what happened at that school," he said.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit, on which he had drawn a cross over his left breast, Stewart said he's been a law-abiding citizen since his release from state hospital. He said he tries to find work where he can, hasn't touched alcohol or drugs since the 1990s and keeps to himself. He said he hasn't run afoul of anybody.

"I'm courteous even in my driving," he said.

Stewart was living with his sister in a Fair Oaks apartment without restrictions, other than a requirement that he register as a sex offender every 90 days.

Stockton prosecutors ended their efforts to keep Stewart held at the Coalinga State Hospital after the two hung juries, and he had no recent run-ins with the law until his arrest Wednesday.

Sheriff's officials say Stewart had been seen twice on the Del Campo campus, which was under scrutiny because of a series of recent attacks on students in the area. Stewart is not believed to be connected to those attacks but was arrested on charges of being on school grounds without lawful business and providing false information on his sex offender registry, both misdemeanors.

Stewart was at Atascadero and, later, Coalinga State Hospital, since 1999 and had sought his release through court hearings every two years. Before 2006, SVPs were allowed such regular hearings, which Taylor said allowed offenders to learn how to behave in front of juries.

"As time went on, of course, they got better and better and better," he said. "It was classroom work for them, so they learned and learned and learned."

State officials said Stewart's release from Coalinga came without restrictions on where he could live or go, although a state Supreme Court decision in February indicated that the 2,000-foot limit that keeps offenders away from schools and other areas with children -- Jessica's Law, approved by voters in 2006 -- could be applied retroactively to include Stewart and others with convictions pre-dating the law.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

Criminal history highlights

Hugh Levell Stewart, 55, has a long criminal history dating back to when he was 11. San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor said court records show Stewart's first arrest was for burglary and that he was sent to the California Youth Authority as a ward of the court.

Since then, court records and officials say his offenses include:

• A petty theft arrest at age 13.

• An April 1970 charge of sodomy on a 9-year-old boy.

• A 1975 case in Alameda County where he forced his way into a home and tried to sexually assault a 24-year-old babysitter. She resisted and ran away, and Stewart was convicted of burglary.

• A May 1978 case in Alameda County where he assaulted an 11-year-old girl in an apartment complex carport. He was convicted and sent to Atascadero State Hospital in June 1979 as a mentally disordered sex offender. He was sent to prison from Atascadero in 1982 after doctors said he was not cooperating with treatment and was a danger to society.

• An April 1985 Alameda County case where he raped a 16-year-old babysitter who was watching four small children. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and paroled in 1991.

• A 1994 arrest on petty theft and traffic violations.

• A 1997 conviction for shoplifting a $2 item from a drug store across the street from the Stockton courthouse. That sent him to prison, and as he was being evaluated for release in 1999, he was deemed to be a sexually violent predator and sent to Atascadero.

Stewart later was transferred to Coalinga, winning release in recent years after two juries failed to agree on whether he remained a danger. (Dates of those trials were not immediately available today.)

- Sam Stanton and Kim Minugh

March 11, 2010
Witness in Elk Grove slayings says he, girlfriend nearly shot

By Andy Furillo

Adam Wheeler testified today that he couldn't believe what he was seeing four years ago when he saw a man hanging out of his car with a shotgun and then open fire on a police car in Elk Grove.

Wheeler's experience became even more surreal after the gunman rear-ended a truck, dropped his weapon, then got out, picked it up and pointed it in the witness's direction.

"He put a hood over his head - he was wearing a hooded sweater - picked up the gun and aimed it at our vehicle," said Wheeler, who was out on a date with his girlfriend, Stephanie Cartwright.

"I grabbed Stephanie's head and pulled it down, and the shot goes off, and I told her to punch it and take off," Wheeler said.

The blast shattered their windshield and sent a shard cutting into Wheeler's cornea. Wheeler has since recovered.

Police and prosecutors identified the gunman as Aaron Norman Dunn, 33, the defendant in the Sacramento Superior Court murder trial now under way in which he is accused of killing cameraman Johnie Ray Johnson, 46, and Xerox salesman Michael John Daly, 45.

Dunn also is accused of eight counts of attempted murder in the March 25, 2006, shooting spree on Laguna Boulevard in Elk Grove. Two of the counts are for the attack on Wheeler and his girlfriend.

The defendant's attorneys have conceded that he is responsible for the shooting deaths, but they contend he was delusional as a result of methamphetamine ingestion and that he's only guilty of second-degree murder.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

Previous coverage:

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

March 11, 2010
Man walking in Davis attacked, stabbed

By Bill Lindelof

Davis police said that a man was stabbed Wednesday night, possibly while walking in the area of East Covell Boulevard and Pole Line Road.

The man was not certain of the exact location of the attack because he is unfamiliar with Davis. However, he might have been walking on Chestnut Lane, police said.

The victim suffered wounds to his back, neck and chin that were not life-threatening. He told police three people attacked him, but he was unable to identify them.

The victim phoned a friend to take him to the hospital after he was attacked, police said.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

March 11, 2010