Sacto 9-1-1

The Yolo County Coroner's office has released the name of a 21-year-old man who died in a car crash into a tree late Saturday night in rural Yolo County.

He was identified as Joel Lowell, 21, of Brooks, Yolo County.

Lowell was traveling at a high rate of speed about 11:30 p.m. along County Road 23 west of County Road 89, which is just southeast of Esparto. Lowell for an unknown reason lost control and hit a walnut tree.

Officers suspect Lowell was not wearing a seatbelt when he was ejected from the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. The California Highway Patrol said in a press release that alcohol is believed to be involved in the crash.

Law enforcement agencies across Northern California are scheduling a crackdown on drivers impaired by alcohol asot the long Fourth of July weekend begins.

Enforcement activities under the statewide AVOID anti-DUI campaign, including sobriety checkpoints and roving DUI patrols, are scheduled to begin tonight. The California Highway Patrol also has declared a Maximum Enforcement Period beginning tonight at 6 p.m. and continuing through Monday.

Throughout the weekend, the CHP will assign available officers to freeways, state highways and unincorporated roads to keep an eye out for motorists driving under the influence and encourage all motorists to use their seatbelts, according to a CHP news release.

The driver of a carload of teens was arrested Wednesday just outside of Davis after running over a traffic sign in full view of a Yolo County Sheriff's deputy, the CHP said.

The California Highway Patrol said a 17-year-old boy was driving westbound on Russell Boulevard from Davis at 45 mph about 4:45 p.m. when he tried to make a turn onto Patwin Road. In the process, he took the turn too fast and struck a sign for bicyclists.

Watching this occur was a Yolo County Sheriff's deputy, who also saw the driver continue down the road. The teen then pulled into a driveway. .

California Highway Patrol officers will be conducting a drunken-driving checkpoint in southern Sacramento County on Saturday night.

Drivers will be stopped not long after officers begin setting up the checkpoint at 8 p.m. at an undisclosed location. The checkpoint is expected to conclude at 2 a.m.

The CHP will be evaluating the sobriety of drivers and handing out literature warning of the dangers of drinking and driving.

If rainy weather makes a checkpoint unsafe for the officers, the units will be assigned to roving DUI patrols.

A California Highway Patrol captain has been arrested in El Dorado County on suspicion of drunken driving after crashing his motorcycle.

Robert D. Patrick, 47, who the CHP said works out of the Valley Division Office in Rancho Cordova, was southbound about 8:45 p.m. Friday on Mt. Aukum road south of Fairplay Road when he failed to negotiate a turn. The Harley-Davidson Fatboy motorcycle drifted off the paved road and into a dirt embankment where the vehicle overturned.

Patrick was transported to the hospital for treatment of moderate injuries, the CHP said. "Due to his injuries his level of sobriety was undetermined and is under investigation," state a CHP press release.

The CHP is waiting for test results, a spokesman said.

Special enforcement by Folsom police on Cinco de Mayo resulted in a variety of arrests, ranging from public intoxication to fighting with bouncers, according to a police spokesman.

The department's special investigations unit, working in plainclothes, covered the entire community. The special enforcement funding was provided by a grant from California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.

Arrests or citations included:

- Two Sacramento men in their 20s for causing a public disturbance by fist fighting.

Souza.jpgA parolee swam across a Folsom pond to evade capture Wednesday night, but was eventually nabbed by a police dog, a Folsom police spokesman said today.

The soggy escapade began when a motorist reported a suspected drunken driver swerving down Blue Ravine Road near Big Valley Road, the spokesman said.

The caller provided a license plate number, which allowed police to catch up with the driver near Oak Avenue Parkway and Blue Ravine.

The spokesman gave this account of events:

A chase escalated to 100 mph in two minutes.

The driver, Eric Joseph Souza, left, 29, of Mather, crashed the stolen Acura Integra when he missed at turn onto Iron Point Road from Oak Avenue Parkway.

Police will be out in force on Cinco de Mayo in Yolo County thanks to special state funding to catch drunk drivers.

"Drunk driving is simply not worth the risk. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for impaired driving can be significant," said Davis Police Chief Landy Black in a news release. "Violators often face jail time, the loss of their driver's license, higher insurance rates, attorney fees, time away from work, and many other expenses."

The Yolo County task force on Thursday will be deploying overtime patrols on city streets and the California Highway Patrol will be in greater force on the freeways and in the unincorporated parts of the county.

The California Office of Traffic Safety provides grant funding to deploy additional officers in areas where DUI drivers are likely to be traveling. Increased enforcement periods are planned during holiday periods such as Cinco de Mayo.

Sacramento police said a man was arrested after he caused a disturbance at the city pound in an effort to get his dog back.

Police said they initially arrested Timothy Parkinson, 38, for having an open alcoholic container and warrants. His dog was taken by animal control for safekeeping.

Parkinson later showed up at the Sacramento City Animal Care Services, 2127 Front St., looking for his dog.

By Laurel Rosenhall

A single-car crash on a rural El Dorado County road Friday night has left one man dead and another seriously injured and arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The two men were in a BMW traveling west on Pleasant Valley Road around 12:25 a.m. when they failed to negotiate a curve in the road about a quarter-mile east of Mother Lode Drive, said CHP Sgt. John MacDowell. The car hit an embankment and then a tree before landing in a field.

The passenger, Timothy Chapman, a 40-year-old from El Dorado, died. The driver was airlifted to Sutter Roseville with major injuries, including serious head trauma, MacDowell said.

The Sacramento Police Department will conduct a DUI/ driver's license checkpoint on Saturday at Truxel Road and Pebblewood Drive.

The operation will at 8:30 p.m. and run for five to seven hours, according to a Police Department news release.

Office will check for alcohol and/or drug-impaired drivers. Officers will also check driver's licenses.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

04-20-11 - DUI Driver Arrested after brief pursuit.pdf - Adobe Reader.bmpA 63-year-old Newcastle man has been arrested by Auburn police after he allegedly hit two vehicles and a metal gate while driving drunk Tuesday evening, according to an Auburn Police Department news release.

Auburn police officers responded to the area of Sacramento Street and Auburn Folsom Road at about 6 p.m. Tuesday, after receiving a report of a suspected drunk driver who had been involved in multiple hit-and-run collisions, the release states.

Officers found that the suspect had hit two motorists on Auburn Folsom Road and driven through a gate in a residential neighborhood, according to the release. When officers located the suspect and attempted to stop him, he led them on a brief pursuit.

The Davis Police Department today released preliminary statistics showing that Picnic Day enforcement efforts resulted in 54 arrests and 207 citations Friday and Saturday.

Officers patrolling on foot, bicycle and in cars focused their attention on downtown Davis and neighborhoods that traditionally hold large house parties. The California highway Patrol and a countywide DUI enforcement team kept a lookout for drunken drivers, and California Alcohol Beverage Control agents were in town enforcing violations associated with alcohol consumption and sales, according to a Police Department news release.

Police officials in a written statement said they were not prepared to issue opinions on whether this year's Picnic Day was better or worse than last year, saying they would further analyze enforcement activities, and would seek comment from the community and other interested parties before offering conclusions.

A Sacramento judge today sentenced Michael Bruce Weisz to four years in state prison for his hit-and-run conviction last month in a nightclub parking lot traffic collision that killed a security guard.

Weisz, 24, had been charged with second-degree murder in the Sept. 23, 2009, death of Leroy Berry Fisher III, but a jury acquitted him of manslaughter as well as the murder charge.

Superior Court Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard also sentenced Weisz to a concurrent six-month term for a drunken driving arrest he picked up while he was out on bail in the murder case.

Yolo County law enforcement agencies will team up in an effort to keep drunken drivers off the road during UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, police said.

Police, sheriff's and California Highway Patrol officers will be patrolling throughout the city of Davis, looking for signs of impaired driving, according to a Davis Police Department news release.

Officials warn that drunken drivers often face jail time, loss of their driver's license, higher insurance rates, attorney fees, time away from work and other expenses.

Traffic signal data will be analyzed to find out who was at fault in a collision that resulted in minor injuries to three students on a bus Tuesday morning in Elk Grove.

The accident occurred about 7:20 a.m. when an e-tran Elk Grove city bus collided with another vehicle at Franklin Boulevard and Elk Grove Boulevard.

"At this point, based on a witness statement, it appears that the four-door sedan did have some type of right-of-way violation," said Elk Grove police spokesman Chris Trim. "Whether it is red light or failure to yield, that will be determined. We will be pulling the data from signal lights to determine there were no malfunctions and that the information we received from witnesses matches up with signal light information."

Three people hit by a suspected drunken driver suffered major injuries Sunday night in a Yolo County crash, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A car traveling eastbound on Highway 128 outside of Winters near Pleasants Valley Road about 7:30 p.m. crossed over the double yellow line when the driver, Fernando Ramirez, 31, of Esparto, made an unsafe turn, a CHP press release states. His car struck another vehicle driven by Megan Espinosa, 19, of Vacaville.

The CHP said that Ramirez displayed "signs and symptoms" of intoxication and was arrested on felony driving under the influence causing injury. He suffered major injuries.

Espinosa and two passengers in her car, Tiffany Canerday, 17, and Michelle Canerday, 21, both of Vacaville, suffered major injuries.

By Kim Minugh

An Elk Grove police officer suffered an injury to his leg tonight after he was struck by a car - possibly driven by an intoxicated driver - while conducting a traffic stop, according to authorities.

The injuries are not life-threatening and appear to involve a broken leg or ankle, said police spokesman Officer Chris Trim. The officer, whose name was not released, is being treated at an area hospital.

The collision occurred about 9:40 p.m. today, after two officers assigned to traffic enforcement pulled over a vehicle on Big Horn Boulevard just east of Bruceville Road, Trim said.

By Cathy Locke

Law enforcement agencies throughout the Sacramento region encourage St. Patrick's Day revelers those who drink not to drive.

Agencies in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and Yolo counties will deploy DUI task forces Thursday.

In Placer County, additional roving saturation patrols will be on duty in Roseville, keeping an eye out for people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

By Bee Staff

The Sacramento Police Department will hit hard next week at drunken drivers, sellers of liquor to minors and people who have DUI warrants.

The police also urged those celebrating St. Patrick's Day with alcohol to designate a sober driver.

The department news release said these enforcement efforts will be pursed during the week of March 13:

By Matt Kawahara

A Woodland police sergeant was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of driving under the influence, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

Woodland police Sgt. Steve Sexton was pulled over and arrested at 4:32 p.m. Monday while riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle at Maxwell Avenue and County Road 102 in east Woodland, said CHP Sgt. Andy Hill.

Shortly before, at a different location, a citizen had seen a motorcycle rider come to a stop and lose control of the motorcycle, Hill said. The citizen stopped to help pick up the bike and smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage on the rider, Hill said.

By Bill Lindelof

The California Highway Patrol said a drunk driver ran his pickup truck into a drainage ditch Thursday night in Olivehurst, causing major injuries to his passenger.

The CHP said that Michael W. Shaeffer, 38, of Olivehurst was southound on Feather River Boulevard, south of Myrna Avenue, near the Yuba County Airport, about 7 p.m., when due to his level of intoxication, he allowed his pickup to leave the right side of the roadway.

Shaeffer was able to pull back from the edge, but lost control and the truck ran off the left side of Feather River Boulevard. The front of Shaeffer's truck hit a partially filled drainage ditch.

By Andy Furillo

South Lake Tahoe police arrested a heavy equipment operator Sunday night on suspicion of driving under the influence and other charges after he turned his front end loader on an officer's car and tried to ram it, according to a press release.

Steve Beattie, 55, was taken into custody after the 9 p.m. confrontation with officers that came to a conclusion on dead-end Terry Lane. He was booked on charges of drunken driving, assault with a deadly weapon on an officer and felony evasion of officers, the press release said.

Police said they responded to a call of a snow-removal tractor knocking over a light standard and traffic control signs on Ski Run Boulevard. They said that when officers tried to stop the vehicle, the driver refused to stop, then flipped them the middle finger and drove his vehicle toward a police car driven by Officer Ray Poole.

By Robert D. Dávila

An unidentified man was killed Sunday night when he was walking across Northgate Boulevard and hit by a pickup driver, who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, Sacramento police said

The victim hit at 7:12 p.m. by a maroon Chevy pickup heading northbound in the 3500 block of Northgate, Sgt. Michael Carrasco said. The pedestrian was walking outside the crosswalk, the sergeant said.

The driver, Vincent Velasquez, 34, of Sacramento, was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of driving under the influence, Carrasco said.

Northgate Boulevard was closed to traffic between Patio Avenue and San Juan Boulevard for several hours while officers investigated the accident, Carrasco said.

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

By Bill Lindelof

The California Highway Patrol said a motorist whose pickup truck crossed into the opposite lane of Rio Linda Boulevard Thursday night, causing a collision that killed a woman, is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The woman killed in the collision has been identified by the Sacramento County Coroner's department as Becky Rose Miller, 53, of Rio Linda.

The CHP said in a news release that Shara Cote, 34, of Rio Linda was driving her pickup southbound on Rio Linda Boulevard south of Elwyn Avenue about 9 p.m. Miller was traveling in the northbound direction on Rio Linda Boulevard.

DoyleDouglas.jpgBy Bill Lindelof

A Truckee man with a long criminal history, including manslaughter, has been sent to prison under the state's "three-strikes" law.

Douglas Harold Doyle (left), 51, whose past crimes including an alcohol-related vehicular manslaughter conviction in which a Tahoe City schoolteacher was killed, was sent to prison for 25 years to life, according to a news release from the Placer County District Attorney's Office.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of drunk driving and was sentenced Feb. 2 by Placer County Superior Court Judge Colleen Nichols.

By Bill Lindelof

A suspected drunken driver allegedly rammed an Auburn police car twice after he nearly entered the freeway in the wrong direction.

Police said that about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, a man driving an older Chevrolet pickup northwest on Lincoln Way in Old Town Auburn failed to stop at a stop sign at Maple Street. At that point, the driver turned west onto the eastbound Interstate 80 offramp.

Auburn Police Sgt. Dale Hutchins said he observed the driver's actions and activated his emergency lights. The officer also positioned his vehicle behind the pickup as the man made a U-turn on the onramp.

By Cathy Locke

wright.JPGFormer Sacramento Kings basketball player Antoine Wright was sentenced today to three years of informal probation for a Nov. 5 drunken driving arrest in Rocklin. (Photo at left is courtesy of the Placer County Sheriff's Department.)

Wright, 26, who was not present at the sentencing, was also given a 15-day jail sentence by Placer County Superior Curt Judge Alan Pineschi. The judge said Wright could apply for sentencing such as a work project or home detention, according to a Placer County District Attorney's Office news release. Pineschi also imposed a $450 fine.

Wright's attorney, William Portanova, entered a plea of no contest for his client to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento firefighters in midtown were called upon to subdue a knife-wielding robbery suspect on Wednesday night, police said today.

Sacramento police gave this account:

At about 6:30 p.m. a man was suspected of hiding a bottle of brandy in his pants and then attempting to leave the Rite Aid store, 1125 Alhambra Blvd., without paying. Confronted by a store-loss prevention employee, he fought the employee.

The man is alleged to have pulled out a knife and tried to stab the store employee. He then began to run and allegedly hit another store employee with the brandy bottle, police said.

The man fled to a nearby fire station at 3145 Granada Way where firefighters were busy working on equipment maintenance, police said. The firefighters confronted the man who is alleged to have pulled the knife on them. The man tried to stab a fire captain before he was subdued, police said.

Douglas Lee Chinn, 35, was booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a fireman and robbery, police said.

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

By Bill Lindelof

Woodland police arrested three drunk drivers on New Year's Eve and early today, including one who crashed into a pole, according to authorities.

A total of 18 officers were assigned to patrol during a saturation effort designed to cut down on holiday drunk driving between 5 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. today. They booked three suspected drunk drivers, including Jorge Hernandez, 40, of Woodland.

Police allege that at 3:40 a.m. a California Highway Patrol Officer reported an automobile accident at County Road 102 and Maxwell Avenue. Woodland police responded to investigate the scene where they said Hernandez crashed into a signal light at the southeast corner of the intersection.

Woodland police also arrested four people suspected of being drunk in public, one for vandalism and one for transportation of a controlled substance and possessing a switchblade.

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

By Bill Lindelof

The Sacramento Police Department has been awarded a $500,000 grant to stop drunk driving.

Sacramento has the highest rate of fatal and injury crashes based on population and average number of miles driven among the state's largest cities, police said.

The grant from the state Office of Traffic safety will allow brief screening, education and intervention of DUI offenders at the jail. First-time drunk drivers will be asked to participate in an assessment of their drinking and driving before being released.

The goal of the year-long program is to find out if the jailhouse intervention and follow-up assessments can change driving behavior and stem the number of repeat drunk driving offenders.

The grant will also fund a media campaign targeting young adults. Alcohol-related traffic crashes remain the single greatest cause of death among teens and young adults, police said.

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

By Bee Staff

The holiday period DUI checkpoints in the Sacramento area are part of several years of federally funded anti-DUI efforts statewide, administered through the Office of Traffic Safety to local and state law enforcement, DAs, courts and other agencies.

Here is a list of grants in the Sacramento area:


-California State Fair Police - $50,000.

-Citrus Heights Police Department - $213, 276.

-Elk Grove Police Department - $160,000.

-Folsom Police Department - $160,000.

-Rancho Cordova Police Department - $116,000.

-Sacramento Police Department - $670,500.

-Sacramento County DA/Courts - $999,164.

-Elk Grove DUI mini-grant - $33,223.

-Citrus Heights DUI mini-grant - $37,835.

-Sacramento DUI mini-grant - $100,648.

-South Lake Tahoe Avoid DUI Campaign - $321,513.

-South Lake Tahoe DUI mini-grant - $27,524.


-Sacramento County DA/Courts & Probation - $616,000.

-Sacramento Police Department - $1 million.

-Citrus Heights/Sacramento County Avoid Campaign - $243,500.

-Citrus Heights Police Department - $230,000.

-Folsom - $150,000 (not all DUI related).

-Rancho Cordova - $240,000 (not all DUI related).

-Sacramento DUI mini-grant - $98,460.

-Galt DUI mini-grant - $8,607.

-West Sacramento DUI mini-grant - $16,862.

-Lincoln Avoid DUI Campaign - $454,000.

-West Sacramento DUI mini-grant - $16,862.

-Placer County Probation - $67,904.

-Roseville DUI mini-grant - $20,162.

In addition, the federal government through the Office of Traffic Safety is funding three-year anti-DUI efforts in Citrus Heights, South Lake Tahoe, Lincoln and Davis.

Federal funds also are helping fund a pilot program in four counties, including Sacramento County, for ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders. A driver has to blow into the device and if his or her breath doesn't record a zero blood-alcohol reading, the vehicle's engine will not start.

By Bee Staff

RP VELLANOWETH[1].JPGA California appeals court has upheld the conviction of Roberto P. Vellanoweth (photo left at his trial), a once-prominent state executive and gubernatorial appointee, for a fatal DUI crash in Sacramento that killed four people in 2007.

Vellanoweth was sentenced to 17 years and 8 months for on four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and two counts of drunken driving leading to great bodily injury.

On March 26, 2007, Vellanoweth, now 66, crashed his Jeep Grand Cherokee into another car and killed Brizchelle Rice-Nash, 21, her 19-month-old son, Kamall Osby, her sister Brittanya Rice-Nash, 17, and family friend Shanice Patrice Carter, 18. A fifth teenage victim survived the crash but suffered extensive internal injuries.

According to trial testimony, Vellanoweth was speeding at 72 miles per hour on the rain-slickened South Land Park Drive near Wymore Way when he hit the other car. Testimony showed he was impaired by a blood-alcohol reading measured several hours later at 0.16. A minimum reading of 0.08 is considered legally impaired.

Vellanoweth's appeal for clemency form Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is pending.

The link below is the 3rd District Court of Appeal's ruling on Vellanoweth's petition. (Warning: The ruling quotes trial testimony that contains obscenities.)


By Bee Staff

A DUI crackdown that began last week in Placer County has so far resulted in 19 arrests for driving under the influence.

The arrests from early Friday morning through midnight Monday came from special anti-DUI deployments and regular patrols, according to a news release from a task force made up of area law enforcement coordinating the effort.

In 2009, 22 DUI arrests occurred during the same four-day time period, the release states.

There were no DUI fatalities reported over the weekend in Placer County, the release states.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The effort continues through the New Year's weekend.

By Carlos Alcalá

Redding police were busy Friday night with a spate of five auto collisions triggered by three drivers believed to have been under the influence.

The collisions occurred over the course of just 90 minutes.

In one case, police used a Taser to subdue a suspect attempting to leave the scene.

In that incident, Shane Austin Collins, 24, of Redding, was believed to have lost control of his vehicle, which struck a guardrail around 8:35 p.m.

Collins, carrying his one-month-old baby, tried to leave the scene with the infant's mother, who was not identified.

After an officer tried to detain Collins, police reported that he challenged the officer to fight, handed the baby to its mother and attempted to run away.

After police used a Taser on him, Collins was taken to a hospital for evaluation and then booked on suspicion of resisting a peace officer, child endangerment, violation of probation and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

About 40 minutes earlier, Jaclyn Marie Pruitt, 29, of Redding, was arrested and taken to a hospital for treatment after her car struck a tree in a single-vehicle accident.

In the final incident, a 2010 Ford F 250 driven by Stephen Best, 56, of Burney, was involved in three separate hit-and-run incidents.

The Ford truck hit a GMC Jimmy which, in turn, struck a Ford Ranger. Best's car left the scene and sideswiped a Jeep Liberty before running into a light pole, police said.

Redding Officer K.C. Marks saw Best driving away from the last crash, stopped him and arrested him.

Drivers of the Jimmy and Ranger were taken to the hospital complaining of pain.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcalá, (916) 321-1987.

By Cathy Locke

The Sacramento Police Department has been awarded a $621,159 traffic safety grant for a yearlong program targeting people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety will be used for a variety of activities, including DUI checkpoints, warrant sweeps, surveillance of repeat DUI offenders, DUI saturation patrols and court sting operations, according to a Police Department news release.

The DUI Enforcement Team also will conduct special motorcycle safety enforcement operations, targeting traffic violations made by motorcyclists and other vehicle drivers that result in motorcycle collisions, injuries and deaths.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

By Bee Staff

clip_image002.jpgA 41-year-old Roseville man has been sent to prison for three years and four months in a 2009 drunken driving case in which his vehicle went into oncoming traffic and killed two men in another vehicle in a head-on collision, according to the Placer County District Attorney's Office.

Julian Manuel Martinez (left) pleaded no contest on Sept. 13 to two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence. He also pled no contest to a third felony charge - driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, according to a DA's office news release.

He killed Manuel Espinoza, 65, and his son, David Espinoza, 27.

Martinez was driving with a suspended license when his vehicle drifted into oncoming traffic and collided with the Espinoza vehicle shortly after 1 a.m. Nov. 1, 2009, on Baseline Road west of Fiddyment Road near Roseville, the release states.

Manuel Espinoza was killed in the crash. His son, David, was in a hospital for three months before succumbing to his injuries, the release states. A third occupant, Manuel Espinoza's wife, Enedina, 62, was injured but survived.

"There is absolutely nothing I can say for the pain that was caused on this (victims') family," Prosecutor Jeff Moore said. "It is my hope that the defendant always remembers the devastation to this family."

Still unresolved is the amount of restitution that Martinez must pay to the victims' family.

Placer County Superior Court Judge Colleen Nichols scheduled a restitution hearing for Dec. 15.

PK_KINGS 0084[1].JPGBy Chelsea Phua

Sacramento Kings player Antoine Wright (left) was arrested in Rocklin early today on suspicion of driving under the influence, police and his team said.

"I'm sorry for having gotten myself into this situation," the 26-year-old forward said in a statement. "I sincerely apologize to my teammates and coaches, the Sacramento Kings Organization, the Sacramento community and my fans and my family."

Rocklin police acting Sgt. Rich Cabana said that about 1:30 a.m., his department received a transfer call from the California Highway Patrol that a resident was following a possible drunken driver on westbound Interstate 80 near Rocklin Road.

The resident followed the suspected drunken driver off the exit to a Tesoro gas and food market on Rocklin Road, where the driver stopped in front of a gas pump, Cabana said.

When Rocklin police officers arrived, they identified the suspected drunken driver as Wright, and booked him into the Placer County jail, Cabana said, adding that he did not have information on Wright's blood alcohol level.

Wright's lawyer, Bill Portanova, said in the statement that "we are working closely with the Rocklin Police and cooperating fully in their investigation."

Wright has appeared in two of Sacramento's five games, and the Kings have a home game against Memphis on Saturday.

The statement did not say if Wright would face a suspension.

But Geoff Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations, said in the statement that "we are extremely disappointed in the situation Antoine has created for himself and the organization. There certainly has been no shortage of education and/or resources made available to our players in regard to these types of dangerous behaviors.

"We will, however, respect his right of due process at this time."

Team spokesman Troy Hanson said players can call team security at any hour if they need a ride. Players are also provided the phone number to an outside service for rides.

Wright's arrest is the latest in a string of run-ins with the law that Kings players, a coach and an owner have had in the past few years.

Last month, George Maloof Jr., the Kings' minority owner, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Las Vegas, where he is also the owner of the Palms Casino Resort. Maloof registered a 0.086 blood-alcohol level.

NBA Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans pleaded no contest in July to driving recklessly on May 31 when a CHP plane spotted him driving at nearly 130 mph on Interstate 80 in northern Sacramento.

Kings forward Andres Nocioni pleaded no contest earlier this year to a November 2009 drunken driving incident in downtown Sacramento. He was arrested after attending a nightclub and registering a 0.12 blood-alcohol level.

He was sentenced to three years of informal probation that included two days in jail to be served on the sheriff's work project, a three-month class and fines totaling about $2,500.

In March 2007, former Kings forward Ron Artest was arrested and charged with four counts of misdemeanor domestic violence. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

In October 2006, then-Kings head coach Eric Musselman was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving following an exhibition win over the Utah Jazz. Musselman pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 48 hours on a work project, three years of informal probation and a $580 fine.

The league suspended Musselman for two games and he was fired when the Kings failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.

The Associated Press, Bee staff writer Jason Jones and Deputy Sports Editor Victor Contreras contributed to this report.

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

By Kim Minugh

A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced a 34-year-old woman today to 15 years to life in prison after she struck and killed 54-year-old Stanley Spaeth while driving drunk in April 2009 - her fifth drunken driving offense.

Rebecca Vela[1].jpgJudge Kevin J. McCormick handed down the sentence - the maximum Rebecca Vela (left) faced - during an emotional hearing this afternoon.

Vela's blood-alcohol level was .21 the night of April 18, 2009 when she rear-ended Spaeth's motorcycle as he was headed home on East Stockton Boulevard in Elk Grove. He had just finished a shift working as a security guard - a second job he had picked up to help pay for his older daughter's upcoming college tuition.

In September, McCormick found Vela guilty of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, driving under the influence with prior convictions for the offense and hit-and-run.

Several of Spaeth's relatives spoke at today's hearing of their devastation over his death, his wife's struggle with financial ruin and their collective anger toward a woman whose pattern of drunken driving had reached a fatal climax.

"Rebecca Vela had many opportunities to change her behavior and stop drinking and driving before she murdered our son," said Virginia Spaeth, the victim's mother.

Vela cried for much of the hearing and offered a tearful apology to her victim's family.

"There are no words to express my remorse, my shame or my guilt," she sobbed. "I'm deeply sorry."

She went on to pledge to begin bettering herself, and to "never drink again."

After the sentencing, Spaeth's family members embraced each other and the Elk Grove police detectives who investigated the case.

Spaeth's wife, Denise Spaeth, was somber in her reaction to Vela's sentence.

"It's not a cause for celebration, but it's as much justice as we can have," she said, her eyes red and swollen. "I would rather the law for first offenders change to make this not happen again."

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

By Bee Staff

The California Highway Patrol's Rancho Cordova Area office is finishing a year-long federally funded enforcement campaign with nearly 3,200 traffic citations, 13 DUI arrests and 12 stolen vehicles recovered.

The main emphasis of the Community Involvement to Educate Drivers project was to reduce alcohol-involved and speed-related collisions, the CHP office reported in a news release.

"Our goal was to reduce the number of lives lost and victims injured in collisions here in our community," said CHP Lt. Greg Ferrero, commander of the Rancho Cordova Area office. "While preliminary figures indicate we were successful in our efforts, there is more work to be done."

Among the enforcement efforts funded by this federal grant throughout the year were 95 speed enforcement operations targeting drivers exhibiting excessive speed. Through those operations 3,195 citations were issued for not only speed, but other violations, according to the release.

In addition, the grant funded 14 DUI saturation patrols which led to nearly 400 vehicle stops, during which 126 field sobriety tests were administered, resulting in 13 DUI arrests. The CHP also made three criminal arrests as a result of the DUI saturation patrols recovered 12 stolen vehicles.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By Bee Staff

A Sacramento man already facing domestic violence charges added to his courthouse resume after he allegedly almost hit a Sacramento County sheriff deputy's car and then fled., according to a crime summary released this week.

Andreas Diaz, 30, is in the Sacramento jail as of this morning on a variety of charges including obstructing a peace officer, DUI, hit-and-run causing property damage, and driving with a suspended or revoked driver's license, jail records show.

Diaz already was facing charges of battery against a person he had a previous dating relationship with, corporal injury to a spouse or co-habitant and violating a restraining order, jail and court records show.

Between 2006 and 2008, Diaz pleaded no contest to battery on a spouse or co-habitant, DUI and assault with a deadly weapon, court records show.

The crime summary described the latest incident to land Diaz in jail as follows:

Just after midnight on Aug. 19 at Lang and 47th avenues, a deputy was helping a civilian look for his vehicle, when a vehicle almost hit the deputy's patrol car.

The vehicle sped away at a high speed with the deputy in pursuit.

After a short chase, the driver jumped from his moving vehicle and ran off on foot. The car continued rolling and hit a tree.

Deputies found the suspect hiding in a garbage can, according to the summary.

Diaz suffered a foot injury and was treated at a hospital before being booked into jail, the summary states.

By Bill Lindelof

District Attorney Jan Scully this morning will present findings of an investigation into arrests by a former Sacramento Police officer.

The DA is expected to reveal the number of cases that will be dismissed as a result of the investigation into arrests made by former Officer Brandon Mullock.

Prosecutors dismissed two DUI cases in June after finding discrepancies between his written reports and video/audio recordings of the arrests.

They have reviewed nearly 200 of the officer's cases, a spokeswoman for Scully said.

At a 10 a.m. news conference today, Scully will speak about the number of cases dismissed as a result of the department's investigation, the nature of the discrepancies discovered, detail specific cases and answer questions, the spokeswoman said.

Mullock, who joined the Police Department three years ago, has quit the force, police said. Mullock, 25, had been on administrative leave since January, when he was arrested after allegedly brandishing a gun in an off-duty argument.

He later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of using offensive words in public in connection with that incident.

Scully said her office began reviewing Mullock's police arrests after they found two DUI cases in which his written reports varied greatly from video and audio tapes provided by his patrol cruiser's in-car camera system,

Sacramento police officials assembled a task force to review Mullock's work and have shared that information with the District Attorney's Office.

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

By Andy Furillo

A woman with three prior drunken driving convictions was found guilty of murder Monday for a fatal collision in Elk Grove that took the life of a 54-year-old man last year.

Rebecca Vela[1].jpgThe Sacramento Superior Court jury also found Rebecca Armida Vela (left), 34, guilty of hit and run, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence in the April 18, 2009, crash that killed Stanley Franklin Spaeth Jr.

Vela is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 13 by Judge Kevin J. McCormick.

Spaeth was headed home from work - a second job he picked up to prepare for his oldest daughter's college enrollment in the fall - when his motorcycle was struck on East Stockton Boulevard in Elk Grove. He was thrown from his motorcycle and suffered fatal injuries.

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

By Matt Kawahara

Yolo County officials have identified a woman killed early this morning after the car she was riding in overturned several times in a ditch off County Road 35 in Woodland.

Crystal Marie Rodriguez, 19, was ejected from a sport-utility vehicle driven by a 19-year-old man, who authorities said was intoxicated. CHP officials initially reported that Rodriguez was 16.

Woodland CHP spokesman Sgt. Marco Ruiz said the driver has been arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence and will be charged with manslaughter.

Nine people, including the victim and driver were in the SUV when the accident occurred around 2:30 a.m. on County Road 35 just east of County Road 106, Ruiz said. The 1997 Ford SUV was traveling at a high rate of speed and veered off of the road into a ditch, Ruiz said.

The car continued driving along the ditch before overturning and flipping multiple times, Ruiz said.

Rodriguez was ejected and killed, Ruiz said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

She was the only occupant ejected from the car, Ruiz said. All others were life-flighted to various hospitals with injuries -- six of them with major injuries.

Seven of the car's occupants are younger than 21, Ruiz said.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

By Cathy Locke

The Citrus Heights Police Department has embarked on a weeklong program of warrant sweeps and stakeouts targeting people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Police are attempting to contact individuals who have confirmed active warrants for DUI-related offenses.

Officers also will conduct stakeouts to locate habitual offenders who choose to continue to drive even though their license is suspended for DUI-related offenses, according to a department news release.

Investigations of traffic collisions in the city that have involved habitual DUI offenders led police employ the warrant sweeps and stakeouts to keep habitual offenders off the road, officials said.

Vehicles will be impounded if it is determined that the motorist is driving with a suspended license for a DUI offense.

The campaign, scheduled to run through Sunday, is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through he National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

By Bill Lindelof

A Hummer SUV driven by a suspected drunken driver slammed into the front of an Elk Grove home this morning.

The driver, Tony Tran, 18, fled from the scene but was captured by officers. He was booked into Sacramento County Jail at 3 a.m. on suspicion of drunken driving causing injury and hit and run.

At 1:30 a.m., Elk Grove police responded to the call of a Hummer H-2 into a house on Schubert Court near Sheldon Road and Freesia Drive.

Major damage was caused to the front of the residence. A 70-year-old woman suffered a minor injury when trying to leave the home after the crash.

Police said that Tran ran from the home, along with one of his passengers. A second passenger remained in the vehicle, suffering a broken arm.

Tran was found a short distance away by officers, who determined he was under the influence of alcohol.

Inspectors were scheduled to look at the house today to determine if it is structurally sound.

"Fortunately nobody was downstairs," at the time of the crash, said Elk Grove Police spokesman Officer Chris Trim.

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

By Bee Staff

A driver who allegedly struck the car of a Galt woman while intoxicated on Sunday, killing the woman and her infant son has been arraigned on vehicular manslaughter and another charge, according to Sacramento Superior Court records.

xieng her.jpgXieng Khan Her (photo left), 22, is in Sacramento County jail on $500,000 bail, jail records show. In addition to the manslaughter charge, he is charged with driving while under the influence and causing injury to another, court and jail records show.

On Sunday, Sgt. Scott Baland of the California Highway Patrol said the woman and child were waiting at a south Sacramento intersection at 4:30 a.m. when a car operated by Her slammed into the back of their Honda Accord at high speed.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office identified the victims as 23-year-old Nancy Angelica Naranjo and 8-month-old Joshua Bonton.

Naranjo had been driving north on Stockton Boulevard and was waiting at the signal light at Orange Avenue.

"Just as the light cycled to green, the Toyota 4Runner rear-ended the Honda and propelled it into the intersection about 200 feet, spinning both cars around as they became entangled," Baland said.

The infant was in a child car seat. The toddler and the woman died at the scene, before CHP officers arrived, he said.

By Robert Lewis

Some drunk drivers just aren't good at following instructions. As a result, nine were arrested on July 29 as part of a sting to catch people driving on a suspended license.

The Sacramento County Probation Department conducted a sting of probationers with four or more convictions for drunk driving who came to the department's offices for a meeting with their probation officer. As the probationers -- or "hard-core" drunk drivers, as they're called -- were about the leave, officers warned them not to drive home on a suspended license, Probation Chief Don Meyer said.

Sacramento and Rancho Cordova police were stationed nearby surveying the scene. When nine of the drunk drivers hopped behind the wheel of a car and drove away, police were there to make the stop. The cars were impounded and the nine were taken to jail.

"They kill as many people as any other category of violent offenders," Meyer said.

The hard-core drunks the department targeted -- thanks to a traffic safety grant -- are some of the worst. One of the probationers has 10 drunk-driving arrests on his record, Meyer said.

"Somebody who gets arrested once or twice a year is probably driving under the influence every single day," he said.

Some of the arrested probationers could go back to jail, depending on what happens when their cases go before a judge, Meyer said.

"The big deal is impounding their cars," he added.

Call The Bee's Robert Lewis, (916) 321-1061.

By Kim Minugh and Hudson Sangree


Famed Placerville-raised painter Thomas Kinkade has been arrested for allegedly driving drunk outside Carmel, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A Monterey County sheriff's deputy initially pulled over Kinkade's Mercedes Benz for a vehicle code violation Friday night, said CHP Officer Robert Lehman. After making contact with the 52-year-old Kinkade, the deputy suspected that he was drunk, Lehman said.

The deputy called the CHP to assist, and an officer performed tests to determine that Kinkade was impaired, Lehman said. The CHP officer arrested Kinkade just after 10 p.m., Lehman said.

Kinkade was booked into the Monterey County Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor drunken driving, Lehman said.

The arresting officer reported that Kinkade was "very polite" during the exchange, Lehman said.

Kinkade did submit to a blood test, Lehman said; however, the CHP is not releasing his blood-alcohol level.

Kinkade, dubbed the "Painter of Light," is the most-collected artist of modern times and likely the best-selling in history. Millions of his paintings are displayed in homes across the nation.

His specialties are light-filled scenes of cottages, lighthouses and chapels, and seaside and pastoral landscapes.

A nationwide network of art galleries specializes in his brand, and officially endorsed Web sites sell Kinkade-themed goods.

Kinkade was born in Sacramento and grew up in Placerville.

He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

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

By Carlos Alcalá

Ignoring a text message may have resulted in a DUI arrest for one woman Friday, according to police reports.

The Sacramento Police Department set up an evening sobriety checkpoint on Marysville Boulevard at Harris Avenue as part of its "Live Beyond Graduation" campaign.

A woman, who was not identified, was detained as a result of DUI evaluation, police reported.

The police used the woman's cell phone to call a friend to pick up her dog, which was in the vehicle she had been driving.

While using the phone, officers came across a text message warning of "checkpoints in the area." The woman was arrested.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcalá, (916) 321-1987.

By Cathy Locke

A trial date has been set for a Placer County sheriff's deputy accused for violating his probation stemming from an earlier DUI conviction.

caliguire john march 2010.jpgA judge today set a June 23 hearing on a petition to revoke probation for John Caliguire (photo left), 49, who was arrested March 24 while working in the courts division in the Santucci Justice Center in Roseville.

Caliguire's supervisor said he observed signs of intoxication and an odor of alcohol, and a breath test showed Caliguire had a blood alcohol content of 0.09 to 0.10, Placer County sheriff's officials reported at the time.

Caliguire was on probation for a Feb. 26 DUI conviction. The incident in that case occurred Nov. 7, 2009, when Caliguire was observed driving erratically in Rocklin and was found to have a blood alcohol level between 0.31 and 0.33. The legal limit is 0.08.

Caliguire's attorney, Thomas Leupp of Auburn, said during a pretrial conference today that Caliguire has completed a 45-day disciplinary term on the DUI conviction and is attending two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings per week.

Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Ausnow said Caliguire remains on unpaid administrative leave from the Sheriff's Department pending the outcome of an internal investigation and legal proceedings.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

By Cathy Locke

A Yuba City physician has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence following a traffic collision on Highway 99 in Sutter County.

The doctor allegedly told the CHP officer that he was on his way to a hospital to perform several surgical procedures. However, a hospital spokesman said that the doctor was not scheduled to perform any procedures that morning and he had not been called to the hospital.

imagegenerator[1].jpgAccording to the California Highway Patrol, a Honda Accord driven by Ifeanyi C. Igwegbe (photo left), 48, a Sacramento resident with a medical practice in Yuba City, was traveling north on Highway 99 north of Riego Road about 8:25 a.m. Tuesday. Several citizens reported that the vehicle was swerving between the northbound lanes and seemed unable to stay within its lane.

A CHP officer was dispatched to try to intercept the driver, but the collision occurred before the officer arrived.

Igwegbe's vehicle crossed the dirt center divider, striking broadside a Nissan Altima driven by a 30-year-old Olivehurst woman, who was headed south on Highway 99, according to a CHP news release.

Several citizens and an off-duty CHP officer witnessed the collision and stopped to render aid.

CHP officials said an investigation determined that Igwegbe had consumed alcoholic beverages. During the investigation, the news release says, Igwegbe became uncooperative and resistant to a CHP officer and the off-duty officer.

Igwegbe reportedly stated that he was a doctor and was en route to Rideout Memorial Hospital to perform several surgical procedures.

The CHP report says the other driver suffered moderate injuries but indicated she would seek medical treatment on her own.

Igwegbe was not injured and was booked into Sutter County Jail on suspicion of felony DUI.

A staff member at Igwegbe's Yuba City office said Igwegbe was not there today.

Julie Eckardt, a spokeswoman for Sutter North Medical Foundation, said Igwegbe is affiliated with the medical group, but she said the policy is to not comment on personnel matters.

Dr. Robert Plass, chief medical officer with the Fremont-Rideout Health Group, said Igwegbe is affiliated with the health group and has privileges at Rideout Memorial Hospital but is not a hospital employee. Plass said he had checked with the emergency department and endoscopy lab, and Igwegbe had no procedures scheduled Tuesday morning nor had he been called to the hospital.

Plass said Igwegbe typically performs endoscopic, not surgical procedures.

Before determining what action might be taken with regard to Igwegbe's arrest, Plass said, "We will have to talk to him and find out the circumstances."

Plass said the health group tries to provide assistance with psychological or medical issues a physician might have.

"But at the end of the day," he said, "our first priority is to ensure patient safety."

Bee researcher Sheila A. Kern contributed to this report

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

By Bill Lindelof

An El Dorado County woman has turned herself into authorities who suspect her of impaired driving in a January car crash in Folsom that left two adults and three children injured.

folsomduisuspect.JPGSusan Moskalets (photo left), 46, of Somerset, surrendered Wednesday at Sacramento County Jail. She was arrested on suspicion of impaired driving and willful harming of a child.

Police said Thursday that Moskelats had a blood alcohol content of .07 and the drugs Naproxen and morphine in her bloodstream on Jan. 27 when her car was involved in a violent collision.

Police responded to East Bidwell Street and Bluestone Circle that night to find Moskalets' Mercedes station wagon at rest on the sidewalk, the car nearly ripped in half, police said at the time.

Witnesses told police that the Mercedes was southbound on East Bidwell traveling without headlights illuminated when it entered a left turn lane.

The car continued into the intersection against a red light and into oncoming traffic, police said.

A Dodge Durango entered the intersection on a green light, striking the Mercedes at the front passenger door.

Moskalets had her three young children in the car when the accident occurred. Moskalets was listed in serious condition that night, police said. One of her children suffered serious long-term injuries.

The driver of the Durango and two children were treated and released from the hospital.

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

By Andy Furillo

A Sacramento prosecutor pleaded no contest Tuesday to drunken driving charges that stemmed from his arrest last year in midtown Sacramento.

Huggins booking photo.jpgDetails were still being worked out today on the sentence for Ross Robert Huggins (photo left), 44, and whether he will be placed in the sheriff's work project or an alternative sentencing program to serve the remaining day on his 48-hour term.

Visiting Judge John Morrison from Humboldt County gave Huggins credit for one day time served at the prosecutor's appearance in Sacramento Superior Court.

Huggins was arrested Nov. 21 at 19th and J Streets, Sacramento police said. His attorney, Linda Parisi, said that Huggins' blood-alcohol level at the time of his arrest was .10. A person is considered legally intoxicated in California at a .08 percent blood-alcohol level.

Parisi said "a lapse in judgment during a personally stressful time in his life" led to Huggins' arrest. Parisi did not elaborate. She said Huggins "takes full responsibility" for the incident.

Huggins could not be reached today for comment. District attorney's spokeswoman Shelly Orio also could be immediately reached.

Huggins is a member of the DA's "STOP" unit, an acronym for its state-targeted offenses program that focuses on prison crimes, car theft, welfare fraud, child abductions and mental health litigation.

Besides the 48-hour term, Parisi said Huggins also was ordered to pay approximately $2,200 in fines and fees. She said his driver's license will be suspended for 30 days, after which he will be placed into a first-offender's program.

His driving privileges will then be restricted for another 90 days to driving to and from work and to the program.

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

By Bill Lindelof

A 28-year-old man died in a collision with a motorist suspected of drunken driving on Fruitridge Road this morning.

The collision between a pickup truck and car occurred about 1:30 a.m. on Fruitridge Road near Cabrillo Way in the Fruitridge Manor neighborhood.

Sacramento police said that two people in the truck were transported to UC Davis Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. The pickup driver is being investigated for driving under the influence of alchohol.

The driver of the car was declared dead at the scene.

The car was eastbound on Fruitridge Road and the pickup was traveling in the opposite direction. It is not immediately clear which car drifted into the other vehicle's lane.

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

By Bill Lindelof

Folsom DUI.JPGWith what police said was a blood alcohol content of nearly four times the legal limit to drive, authorities say that Stephen Paladino (photo left) was in no condition to drive or deliver groceries.

Paladino, 53, was arrested Tuesday for driving under the influence. Police said his blood alcohol content was .30 percent, far over the legal driving limit of .08.

The arrest was Paladino's fourth for driving under the influence, police said. It was his sixth arrest for alcohol-related offenses in the past three years, according to a Folsom Police Department news release.

Paladino's arrest was prompted by a woman who said a man who appeared to be drunk tried to deliver groceries to her home.

Paladino, police said, intended to deliver groceries to his ex-wife. However, he went to a stranger's door carrying groceries, including a watermelon.

The woman called police to report the incident, telling dispatchers the man who showed up at her door appeared to be extremely tipsy.

She provided a license plate for a gold sports utility vehicle and officers began searching.

Police said they tried to pull Paladino over about two blocks from his Briggs Ranch home. Police said he ignored the squad car's emergency lights and siren for several hundred yards.

They also allege he gunned his SUV up the driveway and into his open garage. An officer ran to Paladino's driver's side door and he was taken into custody.

By Bill Lindelof

A father with his 11-year-old daughter on the back of his motorcycle drove the bike to speeds reaching 120 to 125 mph before crashing and seriously hurting the child, the California Highway Patrol said.

No charges have been filed against Tarlochan Heir Jr., 32, of the Yuba County town of Olivehurst, a CHP news release states.

The CHP said Heir was speeding with his daughter on the back of his motorcycle on Feather River Boulevard in Olivehurst about 7 p.m. Saturday. A friend accompanied Heir and his daughter on a separate motorcycle.

A Yuba County sheriff's deputy saw the speeding motorcycles and began following them at about 115 mph. The deputy activated emergency lights on his squad car.

Heir's companion eventually pulled over just before Heir's motorcycle, a 2006 Kawasaki 1400, left the road and crashed, creating a cloud of dust observed by the sheriff's deputy.

Heir and his daughter, both wearing helmets, were thrown from the motorcycle. The father was scraped up, but his daughter suffered a compound fracture of her leg. Both were taken to the hospital.

The CHP said Heir had consumed alcohol before the crash and was on probation for a previous DUI conviction.

The accident is under investigation. Authorities ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call the CHP's Yuba-Sutter office at (530) 674-5141.

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

royashburnbookingphoto.jpgBy Andy Furillo

California state Sen. Roy Ashburn entered a no-contest plea to drunken driving charges today in Sacramento Superior Court and was immediately sentenced to two days in jail and three years probation.

Ashburn, who was not present for the brief plea and sentencing hearing in front of Judge Russell L. Hom, received credit for one day in custody and will serve the remaining day on the sheriff's work project.

The Republican from Bakersfield also was fined $480 and received additional fee assessments amounting to $2,000.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Clancey said that Ashburn "received no less than anybody else" for a first-time drunken driving conviction.

Prosecutors said Ashburn's blood alcohol content tested at .14, nearly double the legal limit of .08.

Under the terms of his probation, Hom ordered Ashburn not to drive a vehicle with any measurable amounts of alcohol in his system, to obey all laws, to not refuse a chemical test, to not drive unless validly licensed and to attend a first-time DUI program. Clancey said the program will likely be for 30 days.

Ashburn also faces a 30-day suspension of his driver's license, pending a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing. His license also will be restricted for six months after that, allowing him only to drive to and from work.

"It's a tough hit to take, but given the public safety considerations, it's appropriate," Clancey said.

Ashburn, 55, was pulled over March 4 in downtown Sacramento when a police officer noticed his car weaving on L Street near 13th street around 2 o'clock in the morning.

The senator later admitted that he had been at Faces, the popular midtown gay bar. Ashburn later acknowledged that he was gay, despite opposing gay rights measures over the course of his 14-year career in the Legislature.

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

Previous coverage:

Sen. Roy Ashburn in firestorm over DUI arrest, sexual orientation - March 6, 2010

State senator arrested on DUI charge in Sacramento - March 4, 2010

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

By Bee Staff

They won't be wearing green, but Sacramento Police Department officers will conduct DUI operations this weekend and on St. Patrick's Day.

The Police Department will join with a special DUI task force for operations on the holiday.

Sacramento police officers will conduct a DUI and driver's license check in the downtown area this weekend.

On Wednesday, the date of the holiday, the Avoid the Capitol 15 DUI Task Force, made up of officers from the California Highway Patrol and other agencies, and the Sacramento Police Department's DUI enforcement team will be patrolling city streets.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

royashburnbookingphoto.jpgBy Bill Lindelof

A state senator was arrested this morning on suspicion of drunk driving in downtown Sacramento, authorities said.

State Sen. Roy Ashburn (photo left), R-Bakersfield, was booked into Sacramento County Jail by the California Highway Patrol.

A spokesman for the CHP said that Ashburn's vehicle was observed weaving on L Street near 13th Street shortly before 2 a.m.

Ashburn was cooperative during the arrest and booking process. The officer observed signs of intoxication and Ashburn was administered a field sobriety test.

He was also administered a chemical test, which could be a breath or blood test for level of intoxication, the CHP spokesman said. Results of the test are pending.

After his arrest, Ashburn issued the following statement:

"I am deeply sorry for my actions and offer no excuse for my poor judgment. I accept complete responsibility for my conduct and am prepared to accept the consequences for what I did.

I am also truly sorry for the impact this incident will have on those who support and trust me - my family, my constituents, my friends, and my colleagues in the Senate."

Ashburn represents the 18th district, including Kern, Tulare, Inyo, and San Bernardino counties.

The legislator's Web site said he has focused on creating jobs, reforming California's welfare system, reducing crime and increasing public safety.

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

By Bill Lindelof

A man has been arrested after his sports utility vehicle ran into a gas pump Wednesday night in Carmichael.

Jason Wesley Metune, 26, of Sacramento, was booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of driving under the influence and felony hit and run.

The California Highway Patrol said Metune was driving on Fair Oaks Boulevard and was turning north onto Walnut Avenue about 10:35 p.m. when he lost control of his SUV, which continued over a median and into the gas station, striking the gas pump and starting a fire.

A CHP spokeswoman said Metune and his passenger fled on foot but returned about 45 minutes later. Firefighters were able to extinguished the blaze.

The passenger suffered minor injuries. The driver was examined at a hospital before going to jail.

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

By Ed Fletcher

A Sacramento man with a long criminal record must serve 25 years to life in prison after his 2009 meth-laced run in with the Roseville Police Department.

Anthony Joseph DiBernardo, 50, of Sacramento, was convicted in Placer Superior Court this week for driving under the influence and resisting an officer.

In May, DiBernardo was pulled over for driving with expired registration. During the stop, the responding officer suspected DiBernardo was under the influence of a substance. The Placer County District Attorney's Office said DiBernardo attempted to swallow a plastic bag of methamphetamine and wrestled with the officer.

The DUI and resisting counts triggered a mandatory 25-to-life sentence.

His record includes an 1988 crime spree that included a three-home burglary binge and an attempted rape of a 14-year-old girl, offenses committed before the state's three-strikes mandatory sentencing law took effect.

During this week's sentencing, DiBernardo sought to have his old convictions disregarded -- an argument Judge Joseph O'Flaherty rejected.

Prosecutor Benjamin Eggert argued that DiBernardo continued to break the law in the 1990s. His more recent crimes included a misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon and twice failing to register as a sex offender.

"This guy had his chances," Eggert said. "He's exactly the kind of person the three-strikes law was written for."

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

By Andy Furillo

Sacramento Kings forward Andres Nocioni pleaded no contest today and was sentenced to three years of informal probation for his Nov. 5 downtown drunken driving arrest.

Superior Court Judge Emily E. Vasquez also ordered Nocioni, who was not present in the courtroom, to perform two days of community services, complete a three-month class and pay fines totaling about $2,500 dollars.

Nocioni's lawyer, Bill Portanova, said that the professional basketball player "has been embarrassed by this situation, and he hopes that something good can come from it."

Nocioni was pulled over at L and 9th streets after visiting a downtown club. His blood-alcohol level registered at .12. The legal limit in California is .08.

Portanova called his client "a good, solid family man" who hopes to use the incident to step up his game.

"He has just been working that much harder to make up," Portanova said.

Portanova said that Nocioni still faces possible discipline from the National Basketball Association.

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

clip_image002.jpgfarrell.jpgBy Ed Fletcher

Peter Joseph Farrell's California stay will likely last much longer than he expected after the Oregon man earned a six-year sentence in state prison as a result of his sixth DUI conviction.

The Placer County District Attorney gave this account in a news release:

Farrell's latest arrest came July 11 in Lincoln.

Farrell (photo left) testified that he escaped a mugging at Thunder Valley Casino only to be chased by a male attacker driving a truck. He was pulled over while driving erratically on Highway 65.

"The jury just didn't buy his story," said prosecutor Daniel Wesp.

Farrell's blood alcohol level was measured at .22 percent, well in excess of the .08 percent considered a DUI in California.

Judge Mark S. Curry said Farrell, 43, has not learned his lesson.

His first DUI conviction came in 1988 when Ferrell ran a red light in Sacramento County and stuck and killed a motorcyclist. He fled the scene and was sentenced to nearly three years for vehicular manslaughter.

He then collected DUI convictions Oregon in 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005 before his latest offense.

"He (has) not been a law-abiding citizen," Curry said. "He's a recidivist. His prospects for rehabilitation, in the court's opinion, are dim. He continues to commit crimes that jeopardize the public's safety."

By Bill Lindelof

A Sacramento mother was arrested for suspicion of child endangerment and drunken driving after officers followed up on what they said were traces of blood in her abandoned car.

Officers responded to the area of Santa Ana Avenue and Dry Creek Road in the Robla area about 10:30 p.m. Saturday where a car had hit an embankment. Nobody was near or in the car, but officers noticed blood inside.

Their investigation took them to a residence in the 1000 block of Claire Avenue in Robla where they found Tiffany L. Jones, 23, who they said was intoxicated but not hurt.

According to a police report, officers learned that Jones' 5-year-old daughter had been in the front seat between her mother and a passenger at the time of the crash. The girl was wearing only a lap belt.

Children must be in a children's car seat or booster seat in the back seat of the vehicle until they are at least six years old or weigh at least 60 pounds, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Officers said that the girl complained of pain and had a small cut on her forehead. Sacramento fire paramedics took her to the hospital for evaluation.

Jones was booked in Sacramento County Jail. Her bail was set at $50,000.

From Bill Lindelof:

A holiday enforcement period designed to put drivers suspected of being impaired by alcohol or drugs behind bars has ended with nearly 400 motorists arrested for driving under the influence.

Officers representing 15 law enforcement agencies in Sacramento County made 395 arrests from Dec. 18 to Jan. 3. Enforcement included sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and routine patrol.

In 2008, 526 DUI arrests were made in Sacramento County during the same period.

One 2009 death was attributed to drunk driving, according to the DUI task force that coordinated the effort. That fatality involved a drunk driver in Walnut Grove on Saturday night.

From Dec. 16 through Jan. 3, the Sacramento Police Department's focus on DUI enforcement resulted in the arrest of 108 motorists suspected of drinking and driving. Ten DUI arrests resulted at three sobriety checkpoints where 2,299 cars drove through.

There were also 30 DUI arrests during saturation patrols, and patrol officers made another 68 DUI arrests.

By Bee Staff

Spending your birthday in jail sounds like lyrics from a blues song but for one man who allegedly led Sacramento police officers on a chase it's more like a reality show.

Steven Richardson, 41, led police officers on a chase early Friday before crashing into a drainage canal, according to a crime summary.

The summary gives this account:

Officers were called to check on a driver who was reported passed out and sleeping in his vehicle at a stop sign at North Avenue and Marysville Boulevard shortly before 1 a.m. Friday.

Officers said the driver, who appeared to be under the influence, drove off in the vehicle. A pursuit followed through the area and onto eastbound Highway 80.

The driver tried to exit the freeway at the Raley Boulevard ramp, but crashed into a drainage canal.

Police arrested Richardson, whose birthday is listed in booking sheets as today, on suspicion of driving under the influence and evading police officers.

Online jail records showed Richardson still in jail as of early Saturday evening

From Bill Lindelof:

For those who drink too much tonight, Folsom police have a ride for you -- and it won't be to jail.

Police officers and volunteers with Citizens Assisting Public Safety will provide free rides from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Callers will be taken only to their homes, not to another bar or house party. The service is limited to homes in Folsom, Granite Bay, Rancho Cordova, Orangevale, El Dorado Hills and Fair Oaks.

To request a New Year's Eve ride, call (916) 355-7231.

Folsom police will have extra units on the lookout for drunken drivers tonight.

From Bill Lindelof:

Sacramento police have two New Year's Eve warnings: Don't drive drunk or shoot off weapons.

In addition to the more than 50 Sacramento police officers who will be handling crowd control, parking, traffic and other issues downtown tonight, there will be at least four officers looking for drunken drivers. The officers will try to stop drunken revelers leaving bars and restaurants from driving home or to the next party.

There will also be a sobriety and driver's license checkpoint downtown, but police are not yet disclosing the location.

For some, a toast and a kiss at midnight are enough to ring in the new year. But Sacramento police Officer Konrad Von Schoech noted that some reckless celebrants fire weapons into the air. That can cause tragic consequences as slugs fall to the ground.

Von Schoech noted that in July 2008 someone fired a gun into the air and the slug hit 7-year-old Yamile Leon as she watched her uncle's soccer game at Nuevo Park in Del Paso Heights.

Surgeons were able to remove the .22-caliber slug from just under the skin above the temple and Yamile recovered.

"Obviously, it is against the law and very unsafe," said Von Schoech.

From Andy Furillo:

The state Attorney General's Office filed charges Thursday against a Sacramento County prosecutor who was arrested last month on suspicion of drunken driving.

The two-count complaint in Sacramento Superior Court charges that Deputy District Attorney Ross Robert Huggins was driving under the influence and that his blood alcohol level exceeded .08 percent when he was pulled over at 1:44 a.m. Nov. 20 for driving erratically on I Street and 20th Street.

Huggins is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 31.

Bee Staff

Sacramento police officers were trailing a stolen bait vehicle Wednesday night but the real arrest bonanza was one vehicle behind, a crime summary indicates.

Just after 11 p.m. on Wednesday near 32nd Avenue and 79th Street, officers spotted a stolen bait vehicle being followed by a blue van.

Officers conducted a felony stop on the stolen vehicle taking the driver into custody, who they identified as Rickey Gasaway, 38.

But the blue van was subsequently spotted by the police helicopter and officers stopped the vehicle.

Ernest Young, 57, was arrested on suspicion of DUI, parole violation and vehicle theft.

Online jail records showed Young still in a custody Thursday night on about $150,000 bail while Gasaway had been released or freed on bail.

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Sacto 9-1-1 is a blog on crime and emergency services news in the Sacramento region.

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