Sacto 9-1-1

Fire crews have contained a 30-acre grass fire south of Folsom near White Rock Road, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman said.

The blaze ignited just after 2 p.m., in a large field near the Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area, said CAL FIRE spokesman Daniel Berlant. It grew "pretty quickly," due in part to the dryness of the grass, but CAL FIRE and Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District crews were able to contain the fire within an hour, Berlant said.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com


Folsom police urge residents to take precautions to prevent thefts of catalytic converters.

Over the past seven days, the Folsom Police Department has taken numerous reports of the devices being stolen from city residents.

The catalytic converter is mounted underneath the vehicle and reduces pollution-causing emissions. It is made from platinum and other precious metals sought by thieves, who can use a portable power saw to remove the converter, often in less than 20 seconds, according to a Police Department news release.

Folsom Prison authorities said a nurse assaulted inside the facility Wednesday afternoon likely was attacked by an inmate.

However, they have not identified a particular suspect, said prison spokesman Lt. Paul Baker.

Officials found the nurse in a medical office about 3 p.m. Wednesday, after she activated her personal alarm, which all prison employees carry. Officials discovered she had been battered by an unknown suspect; Baker said the assault might have been sexual.

The driver of a big rig truck who died in a crash on Highway 50 late Tuesday afternoon has been identified by the El Dorado County Coroner's Office as Michael Mathes, 44.

Mathes, who was from Missouri, was driving westbound near Silver Fork Road pulling a trailer loaded with limestone when the truck's brakes failed, according to Officer Donovan McCann of the California Highway Patrol.

Mathes began using both westbound and eastbound lanes to pass vehicles, McCann said. When he swerved back into the westbound lane to avoid oncoming traffic, he hit a pickup, sending both vehicles into an embankment.

A 21-year-old woman was submerged for about a minute and suffered chest injury during an outing with friends on the Cosumnes River.

Crews from the Pioneer Fire Protection District in El Dorado County responded about 4 p.m. Tuesday to the North Fork of the Cosumnes River near the Happy Valley Cutoff Road Bridge.

A man is suspected of taking $50,000 from victims, possibly by placing a debit card reading device somewhere in the Sacramento region.

The Folsom Police Department is asking for the public's help in finding the man who they suspect has used a "skimming device." Skimming devices have in the past been placed at gas pumps.

When customers use debit or credit cards, the skimming device reads the vital information on the card. The account information is then used by thieves to make purchases or debit accounts.

A small airplane attempting to take off from the Placerville Airport today made a hard landing near the runway, causing the pilot to be hospitalized and fuel to leak from the damaged aircraft, officials said.

The plane lifted off briefly before hitting the ground off the side of the runway around 4 p.m., said El Dorado County Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Bryan Golmitz. Officials said the cause is unknown.

Fire crews responded and found the pilot had climbed out of the downed plane, said El Dorado County Fire District Battalion Chief Tim Cordero. The pilot, the only occupant of the plane, was evaluated by paramedics and transported to a local hospital, Cordero said.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office will sponsor an academy in September for people interested in joining the Community Emergency Response Team.

The CERT program began in 2007, and to date more than 150 people have received training. The program is part of an effort to increase disaster preparedness awareness in the county by having a group of trained individuals capable of assisting themselves, their families and neighbors in the event of a disaster, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

CERT training promotes a partnership between local emergency services and the people they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to help representatives of neighborhoods, community organizations and workplaces develop basic response skills.

CERT members are then integrated into the area's emergency response capability. If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays professional responders, CERT members can assist others by applying the basic response and organizational skills they learned during the training.

Upon completing the training and application process, individuals will be registered as CERT volunteers with the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office. Registered volunteers are required to participate in monthly disaster preparedness training activities to maintain their volunteer status.

CERT Academy training is scheduled:

• Sept. 16, 6 to 8 p.m., Emergency Preparedness and CERT Organization

• Sept. 17, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fire Safety, Medical Operations

• Sept. 23, 6 to 10 p.m., Light Search and Rescue, Disaster Psychology

• Sept. 24, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Terrorism, Course Review, Disaster Simulation

Training sessions will be held in the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office Training Room, 330 Fair Lane, Building A, Placerville.

Those interested in attending the Academy should call Bob Todd, academy coordinator, (530) 644-6955, or email tcharles_2@netzero.net, or call OES Deputy Matt Cathey, (530) 621-7660, or email catheym@edso.org.

Folsom police have arrested three people in connection with the robbery of a Beverages and More store this afternoon.

The incident occurred at the store at 2595 East Bidwell St. about 2:40 p.m. A man placed two large bottles of tequila in his shopping cart before meeting two women accomplices at the back of the store, according to a Police Department news release. The women placed the bottles inside their empty purses, and the three left the business without paying for the alcohol, police said.

An employee observed the entire incident and confronted the three suspects, who were in a red Saturn Vue sport utility vehicle, and asked them to return the merchandise. The man allegedly pulled a black semiautomatic pistol, and the employee fled, returning to the store where he called police.

The Folsom City Council has approved a new contract with the city's firefighters that includes pension reform.

At the Tuesday council meeting the council approved the new contract with Local 522 fire captains, engineers, firefighters and paramedics that will pay 5 percent of their salary toward the employee portion of PERS retirement beginning July 1. That amount will be increased to 9 percent next January.

An El Dorado County Superior Court jury has found Nicholas James Denham guilty of murder in the 2008 killing of a Placerville resident, the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office reported Tuesday.

Denham was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder, robbery and carjacking in the killing of Gerald Cody Ludden, according to a news release from the district attorney's office.

Ludden's body was found under the Mosquito Bridge on June 10, 2008.

A 16-year-old boy who had been reported as a runaway was arrested this morning following a burglary and armed robbery at a Folsom residence.

Folsom police responded to the 800 block of Willowcreek Drive at 10:52 a.m. The homeowner told officers that she confronted a man inside her house. She said he aimed a handgun at her and told her to go to her room and close the door.

The woman and her boyfriend were able to escape out the back of the house, according to a police department news release.

Folsom police are looking for a man who robbed an Umqua Bank branch this morning.

Sgt. Jason Browning said a man entered the bank at 2779 East Bidwell St. at 9:20 a.m. and handed the teller a note stating that he had a gun and wasn't afraid to use it.

The man then left the bank on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash and was last seen heading toward the intersection of Broadstone Parkway and East Bidwell Street.

angelinahatch.jpgFolsom detectives arrested a Sacramento woman Thursday after linking her to two incidents where cars were broken into in the parking lot of California Family Fitness on Oak Avenue Parkway.

Police believe Angelina Hatch (photo right), 26, of 15th Avenue, was also involved in two other burglaries in the county.

Folsom officials began the investigation after taking two reports Wednesday, in which someone broke windows in vehicles and stole purses, wallets or other valuables.

folsomfire.JPGThree people, including a 6-year-old child, were burned in Folsom Monday night when a fire exploded during the removal of an SUV's gas tank.

Firefighters were called to the 100 block of Briarcliff Drive shortly after 9 a.m. When they arrived, firefighters found a Dodge Ram sport utility vehicle was ablaze, a fence was burning and a tree was engulfed in flames.

By Ben Schenkel
bschenkel@sacbee.com

Folsom Police have arrested a local man for allegedly downloading child pornography onto his cell phone, according to a news release issued late Friday by the department.

Taylor James, 24, of Folsom, was arrested for "possession of obscene matter depicting persons under 14 years of age." He was booked into the Sacramento County Jail.

A South Lake Tahoe man was arrested early this morning after a standoff that lasted more than six hours, police said.

Stephen Shaver, 44, was taken into custody outside his residence around 1:30 a.m., according to a South Lake Tahoe Police Department press release. No one was injured, and no shots were fired.

The Folsom Police Department will conduct a checkpoint Saturday night targeting impaired drivers and people driving without a license.

The checkpoint operation will begin at 7 p.m. on Folsom Boulevard between Parkshore Drive and Blue Ravine Road and will continue until 3 a.m. Sunday. The goal is to apprehend people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, cite unlicensed drivers and educate the public about the effects of impaired driving, according to a Police Department news release.

Uniformed police officers, community service officers and Citizens Assisting Public Safety volunteers will staff the checkpoint.

RB Colver verdict 1.JPG
Steven Colver is escorted into the courtroom to hear his verdict at the El Dorado County Courthouse in Placerville on Wednesday, June 15, 2011. Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee


By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

Steven Paul Colver was found guilty this afternoon of first-degree murder for brutally stabbing El Dorado Hills mother Joanne M. Witt to death in the bedroom of her gated home.

It took an El Dorado County jury less than a day of deliberations to reject the defense claim that Witt that was killed by her then-14-year-old daughter, Tylar Marie Witt.

The girl, now 16, pleaded guilty to second degree murder after telling prosecutors she led Colver to the house shortly before Joanne Witt's killing June 12, 2009.

The jury accepted the prosecution's argument that Colver, now 21, fatally stabbed the mother after lying in wait. It also approved a second special circumstance of killing a witness because Joanne had reported Colver for statutory rape. The special circumstances mean he is not eligible for parole and he was ordered to appear for sentencing Aug. 12.

At trial, Tylar Witt, testified that Colver stabbed her mother to death as she slept after Tylar had called him to their home. She also said she has multiple personalities and had blacked out at the time of the attack.

"I have relief for the family and the friends that they no longer have to deal with this," said prosecutor Lisette Suder, who noted Joanne Witt's body was discovered two years ago today. "It's still in their hearts and in their minds but they can move on."

Colver had bowed his head as the verdict was read. His attorney, Dain Weiner, said he had prepared his client for bad news when the jury returned so quickly. "He knew this was a possibility. He had a moment to somewhat emotionally and physically prepare but clearly he was very emotional," Weiner said.

Colver's mother, Jan Colver, emerged from the historic courtroom in downtown Placerville holding hands with a close friend and crying. After descending the courthouse steps, she was greeted by Norbert Witt, father of the victim, and the pair fell into a hug and cried in each other's arms.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

The lawyer for Steven Paul Colver, accused of murdering El Dorado Hills mother Joanne Witt, argued today that Witt's 14-year-old daughter dreamed of her dying, assaulted her, threatened her with a knife and ultimately killed her.

Imploring jurors in closing statements to find Colver, now 21, not guilty in Joanne Witt's June 2009 murder, Dain Weiner said the single mother was killed by her only child - an unstable 14-year-old plagued by emotional demons.

By Cathy Locke

The Folsom Police Department will conduct a special motorcycle enforcement operation Thursday as part of an effort to continue reducing deaths and injuries.

Extra officers will be on duty, patrolling areas frequented by motorcyclists and where motorcycle crashes occur, according to a Police Department news release. Officers will be cracking down on traffic violations by motorcyclists and other vehicle drivers that can lead to motorcycle collisions, injuries and fatalities.

Motorcycle fatalities had been on the rise in California, increasing 175 percent in 11 years, from 204 deaths in 1998 to 560 death in 2008. That trend has stopped, with data showing a 30 percent decrease in motorcycle fatalities in 2009. Despite the improvement, officials said, California remains one of three states that lead the nation in motorcyclist deaths.

Folsom police arrested Katheran Willis, 24, and James Armstrong, 41, yesterday on suspicion of stealing cash from fast-food restaurants with a simple scam.

According to the Folsom Police Department, Armstrong called the restaurants and pretended to be from their corporate headquarters. He told managers that the restaurants overcharged a customer by $80 and that she would be returning to collect a refund. Then, Willis would go the restaurant, and staff would hand her the cash.

They repeated this scheme at a Subway, a Togo's, a Straw Hat Pizza, and an It's a Grind, according to the department. When Armstrong called the Smash Burger on East Bidwell Street in Folsom, the manager recognized the scam from a police department press release circulated by the Folsom Chamber of Commerce.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

With accused killer Steven Paul Colver on the witness stand, a prosecutor today put a gruesome photo of Joanne Witt's face and her knife-ravaged neck on a projection screen, aggressively challenging his version that he only arrived after she was dead.

A day after Colver testified he nudged the leg of Joanne Witt with his palm to check on her after the El Dorado Hills mother was stabbed by her then 14-year-old daughter, Tyar Marie Witt, prosecutor Lisette Suder bore into him in a blistering exchange over how he happened to touch the victim exactly where male DNA was later found on her body.

"You would admit that face is very obviously the face of a dead woman," the El Dorado County deputy district attorney sternly said to Colve as she gestured to the grim crime scene photo.

"Yes, ma'am," Colver replied.

"So you had to touch her body above the knee to make sure she was dead?" Suder continued.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

Steven Paul Colver testified this afternoon that his then-14-year-old girlfriend greeted him outside her home after her mother's murder with a bloody kitchen knife in her hand and blood-soaked jeans, telling him, "I did it for us."

In testimony offering a near polar opposite version of Tylar Marie Witt's account of the June 12 murder of Joanne M. Witt, Colver said the girl committed the killing and collapsed in his arms after he arrived. He said she told him, "I did it. I finally did it. My mom is finally gone forever."

Colver, 21, is on trial in a Placerville courtroom for brutally stabbing Joanne Witt to death June 12, 2009, after Tylar Marie Witt called him to her home, hours after the girl's mother gave police her diary as part of a statutory rape complaint.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Jaycee Lee Dugard's first interview since being found alive nearly two years ago will air on ABC in July, shortly before the release of her memoir, the network said this morning.

The interview will be conducted by Diane Sawyer, ABC said.

Dugard was held captive for 18 years by Phillip and Nancy Garrido, who were sentenced to prison last week in a Placerville courtroom.

Dugard, who received a $20 million settlement from the state of California for lapses by parole agents who were supposed to be watching Phillip Garrido, has written a book due out July 12.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

As he prepared to die in a suicide pact after the murder of Joanne M. Witt, Steven Paul Colver penned a heartfelt note to his mother, thanking her for raising him with "a sense of moral justice" and apologizing for failing to "have been a better son."

Jan Colver dabbed tears from her eyes in a Placerville courtroom after hearing - for the first time - her son's message to her. It was found in the trunk of then-19-year-old Steven Colver's car after he and his girlfriend, Tylar Marie Witt, fled to San Francisco following the June 12, 2009 slaying of Joanne Witt, Tylar's mother. The teens had told friends they were fleeing to take their lives so they live together in eternity.

Jan Colver, who was unaware of her son's relationship with Tylar Witt, had strenuously tried to talk her son out of renting a room in the El Dorado Hills home of Joanne Witt and her then-14-year-old daughter. She had offered him a rent-free room at her home in Folsom when her son began looking for a place to stay when his father, Richard Colver, put his El Dorado Hills home up for sale. The Colver parents had divorced eight years earlier.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

The last time Nancy Garrido will ever see her husband likely came at 9:26 a.m. Thursday, as she was being escorted out of a Placerville courtroom and headed off to begin her 36-year prison sentence.

"Love you," she mouthed to Phillip Garrido, who sat shackled in the courtroom jury box waiting for the judge to hand down his sentence of 431 years to life.

She had asked for a final, private meeting with him after they were sentenced, but El Dorado Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister was having none of it.

Folsom police are warning local businesses of a scam used twice at local eateries in the last week.

On May 30, the Togo's on East Bidwell Street received a phone call from an individual claiming to be in the company's corporate office, who told employees that a customer had accidentally been overcharged by $80 for a food order a couple days earlier, according to a Folsom Police Department release.

The caller advised employees that the customer would be returning to the restaurant to collect the money that she had been overcharged.

By Carlos Alcala
calcala@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County man has been convicted of cockfighting charges following his February arrest, El Dorado County Animal Services officials said Thursday.

Saul Cuevas Ayala of Garden Valley pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charges in late May and was ordered to serve 45 days in jail and three years probation.

He also was levied $700 in fines and $4,200 in restitution costs.

Ayala and another man, Rogelio Reyes-Higareda, were arrested after a routine traffic stop discovered injured game birds and cockfighting equipment in his vehicle.

Reyes-Higareda was not charged, but was deported.

Investigators turned up hundreds of birds on Ayala's property that were euthanized because they were either aggressive or in bad physical shape.

Cockfighting, though a felony in some other states, is a misdemeanor in California.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

As a defense lawyer bored in on her fascination with television crime dramas, Tylar Marie Witt testified today about the aftermath of her mother's murder - when she closed the windows and blinds, turned on the air conditioning and warned her boyfriend not to touch anything.

In her second day of testimony on the June 12, 2009 slaying of her mother, Joanne M. Witt, the 16-year-old girl told how Steven Paul Colver shielded her with a Sponge Bob Square Pants blanket as she moved around the bed where her mother lay savagely stabbed to death.

She testified in a Placerville courtroom that she took it upon herself to secure the house after the murder because Colver "couldn't do anything. He couldn't touch anything."

RP GARRIDO AND ATTORNEYS.JPG

Nancy and Phillip Garrido, with their attorneys, Stephen Tapson (front left) and Susan Gellman (back left), listen to testimony from Jaycee's mother, Terry Probyn (not pictured). Photo by Randy Pench.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Read the grand jury transcripts released today.


In a searing court session this morning, Phillip and Nancy Garrido were sentenced to prison for the kidnap of Jaycee Lee Dugard after her mother and others berated the couple for their crimes.

In the nearly two hours it took to recite the criminal behavior, Phillip Garrido showed absolutely no emotion and looked downward the entire time Dugard's mother, Terry Probyn, addressed him.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Phillip and Nancy Garrido are scheduled to finally be sentenced Thursday, nearly 20 years after they couple kidnapped 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard off the street near South Lake Tahoe and held her captive as a sex slave for 18 years.

The 70-seat courtroom inside El Dorado Superior Court is expected to be full as Judge Douglas Phimister sentences the Garridos to terms expected to keep both in prison for the rest of their lives.

RB Colver 25A.jpgTylar Witt is escorted into the courtroom at the El Dorado County courthouse in Placerville on Wednesday. Photo by Randall Benton

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

Tylar Marie Witt, testifying Wednesday against her former teen lover in the murder of her mother, told of being occupied by three personalities as she endured a tortured relationship with mother, Joanne M. Witt, and later plotted her killing.

She said there was Tylar herself, who was then an unsettled 14-year-old girl, and "Alex," her inner "angel" and "Toby," a demon from Hell who lurked "inside me." "Three souls crowded in one body," Witt testified.

Appearing calm, composed and articulate, Witt, now 16, testified in detail about her emotional condition and about the night she summoned Steven Paul Colver, then 19, to kill Joanne Witt in the bedroom of her gated home in El Dorado Hills.

On the witness stand, she described how she lost her nerve as her boyfriend carried out the killing of Joanne Witt on June 12, 2009 after the mother gave the girl's diary to police as part of a statutory rape investigation.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

RB Colver 4.JPGTylar Marie Witt's much anticipated appearance as a prosecution witness against her teen lover was delayed another day this morning due to an illness of Witt's public defender.

Witt, 16, is expected to testify to details of the brutal stabbing of her mother, Joanne M. Witt, in their El Dorado Hills home in June 2009. Her then-19-year-old boyfriend, Steven Paul Colver, is charged with slaying Joanne Witt after she filed a statutory rape complaint against him over his relationship with her daughter.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

Just as 16-year-old Tylar Marie Witt was due to testify against her former lover in the killing of her mother, the trial of El Dorado Hills slaying suspect Steven Paul Colver was abruptly halted Thursday morning because of apparent new evidence in the case.

After meeting with attorneys in his chambers, El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Daniel B. Proud dismissed jurors for the day and instructed all parties in the case to reappear on Tuesday. He also ordered attorneys not to divulge any detail of the discussions in chambers.

A court document posted moments ago said prosecutor Lisette Suder notified the court in the closed meeting of "recent evidentiary issues." It said defense attorney Dain Weiner made an oral motion "to exclude the new evidence" and that the judge was considering the matter. The document did not describe the new evidence.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

The father of El Dorado Hills murder suspect Steven Paul Colver testified today about a tense dinner with his son's 14-year-old girlfriend and her mother over plans for his son to move into her home.

Richard Colver, whose son is accused of fatally stabbing Joanne M. Witt in her bedroom in June 2009, said he never knew his son had a romantic relationship with Witt's daughter, Tylar Marie Witt.

But, in a Placerville courtroom today, he described friction at the dinner table between the mother and daughter as Colver and his son met them at a Folsom restaurant to discuss arrangements for his son renting a room at the Witt home in El Dorado Hills.

Law enforcement agencies in El Dorado County are planning a DUI crackdown for Memorial Day weekend, according to a South Lake Tahoe Police Department release.

The enforcement campaign is scheduled to begin Friday. Placerville police will staff a sobriety checkpoint in the city's downtown district from 7 p.m. Friday until 1 a.m. the following morning, according to the release. Driver's licenses will also be checked.

Also starting that night, DUI saturation patrols will be carried out by police in the cities of Placerville and South Lake Tahoe, and sheriff's deputies will staff extra DUI units in South Lake Tahoe, the release states. Roving patrols will be deployed from Friday until Monday.

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

More than a half-dozen inmate weapons were recovered after a riot this morning at one of the two state prisons in Folsom, officials said.

The riot involved about 150 inmates at California State Prison, Sacramento, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The weapons included six knives made by inmates and a cane.

By Cathy Locke and Ron Trujillo
clocke@sacbee.com

A search will continue Friday morning near Placerville for a private plane that was reported missing Wednesday night en route from Minden, Nev., to an airstrip in Tracy.

The plane - a Lancair Legacy - left Minden about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, with only the pilot on board, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Pilot Robert "Budge" Brown - a businessman and winery owner - was not in communication with or being tracked by air traffic controllers, according to the FAA.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

A friend of slaying suspect Steven Paul Colver testified today in El Dorado Superior Court that Colver showed him a bloody knife and told him he delivered fatal wounds to the mother of his then-14-year-old girlfriend.

Matthew Widman, 19, said Colver, now 21, and Tylar Marie Witt, now 16, described the killing of Joanne Witt in the early hours of June 12, 2009.

Widman said the trio were smoking marijuana and doing cocaine at Colver's father's house when Colver went to his car and retrieved a butcher knife in a shopping bag. He said Colver laid the bag and knife on a kitchen table and said he "killed Ty's mom."

South Lake Tahoe police today announced the arrest of a registered sex offender who is on federal probation for possession of child pornography.
Joe Scanio 4.JPGPolice on Monday responded to a citizen's report of a suspicion person at the city-owned Ice Arena, next to the City Recreation Center on Rufus Allen Boulevard. During their investigation, officers identified Joseph Scanio, left, a registered sex offender on federal probation.

Scanio was not arrested at the time, but subsequent investigation revealed that he was in violation of his mandatory sex registration obligation, according to a Police Department news release. Officers discovered that Scanio was living at 2275 Wyoming Ave., but in June 2010, he had reported that he was living at a different residence in South Lake Tahoe. At that time, police said, Scanio signed an acknowledgement that he was aware that he was obligated to update his registration within five days of changing his address.

Start Smart, a driver education class for teenagers, will be presented by the California Highway Patrol on May 26 in El Dorado Hills.

Teen drivers are found at fault in 66 percent of all fatal collisions in which they are involved, although they represent only 4 percent of the state's licensed drivers, according to a CHP news release. Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for Americans 15 to 20 years old,

The Start Smart program targets newly and soon-to-be licensed teenage drivers ages 15 to 19 years old and their parents or guardians.

By Denny Walsh
dwalsh@sacbee.com

David Romo, a Folsom developer described by prosecutors as a man with an big talent for parting people from their money, was ordered jailed as a flight risk Tuesday by a federal judge.

Despite his history as a fiscal predator, U.S. Magistrate Judge Dale A. Drozd expressed doubt that makes him "a danger to the community" under the federal Bail Reform Act.

But, Drozd said, "At times he behaves in very desperate ways." That, the judge opined, makes him a candidate to flee, especially since Romo, his family, and friends are unable to offer collateral for what Drozd said would have to be "a fairly significant secured bond."

Romo, 42, who was convicted in 2002 in Sacramento federal court of bank fraud and transporting stolen securities, was charged in an indictment last week with fleecing investors in purported real estate developments of an estimated $6 million.

RCB COLVER 03[1].JPGBy Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

The love affair between a 19-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl led to the "sadistic murder of her mother" in an El Dorado Hills bedroom, a prosecutor said today.

In her opening argument in the murder trial of Stephen Paul Colver, Lisette Suder said Colver armed with a butcher knife from the restaurant where he worked and Tylar Witt, carrying a kitchen knife, went to Joanne Witt's upstairs bedroom on the night of June 12, 2009. (At left, Bee Staff photo from 2009 court hearing shows Colver with his attorney, Dain Weiner.)

But as Colver did slashing movements to practice, Suder said the girl collapsed on the floor in a fetal position. Colver then stabbed Joanne Witt, 47, to death, said Suder, an El Dorado County deputy district attorney.

Colver emerged from the bedroom "with blood on this face," Suder said.

David Romo, a Folsom developer, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of bilking $2.5 million from investors he sucked into putting money in what he purported were various real estate developments.

The indictment states that, instead, Romo pocketed some of the funds and used some of the balance to pay unrelated prior business expenses.

Romo, 42, told investors he had never been the target of an adverse court action, failing to mention his bank fraud conviction in Sacramento federal court in 2002, the indictment says.

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.

Sgt. Jason Browning of the Folsom Police Department offered this guide to having a safe bicycling experience this summer which Sacto 911 thought worth sharing:

"May is Bike Month in the Sacramento Region, and Folsom is the #1 destination for quality cycling. Whether you use Folsom's BMX track at Cummings Family Park, or travel on the city's 35 miles of Class I bicycle and pedestrian trails that traverse Folsom, the California Vehicle Code has sections that apply to you.

"All bicycles are required to have a brake and reflectors, so if you've been neglecting yours, then you'd better get to work bringing that bike back into compliance. If you are riding at dawn, or after dusk, then the law requires that your bicycle or scooter has a fixed headlight and an illuminated tail light. While everyone SHOULD be wearing a bicycle helmet by now, if your under 18 years of age, you MUST wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet. These simple and cheap safety precautions should make you road safe.

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.

Folsom police made two arrests and issued 13 citations during a drunk driving checkpoint over the weekend.

The driving under the influence checkpoint was conducted from 7 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday near Greenback Lane and Madison Avenue. A total of 582 vehicles were screened.

Q: On Dec. 5, 2009 a dead body was found in Folsom at Blue Ravine Road and East Natoma Street. What was the outcome of the investigation? - Kevin Kiersey, Folsom

A: The Sacramento Coroner's Office determined that the death of Earl Barrett, 44, of Folsom, was accidental, a Folsom police department spokesman told The Bee. The coroner listed cause of death the result of "acute methamphetamine intoxication" which aggravated existing medical conditions, police said.

Detectives initially investigated the death of the decayed body as suspicious, but early on said there were no signs of foul play, The Bee reported.

The body was found by three boys riding bicycles found the body in a wooded area, which concealed it from casual view.

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

By Bill Enfield
benfield@sacbee.com

A woman who lost an insanity defense after she killed her husband in rural El Dorado County is due a parole hearing.

Peggy Ann Struthers, now 59, is serving 15 years to life for the March 18, 1992 murder of Gordon Struthers, 54, a reserve sheriff for the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, The Bee reported.

Struthers told investigators that shed believed her husband to be unfaithful and went into a jealous rage. She shot him six times with a .357-caliber pistol.

RAP_7110.JPG

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Jaycee Lee Dugard today expressed relief that Phillip and Nancy Garrido pleaded guilty in El Dorado Superior Court to kidnapping and assaulting her.

Another victim said she was "extremely happy that my ordeal with Phillip Garrido is finally coming to a close."

"I'm relieved that Phillip and Nancy Garrido have finally acknowledged their guilt and confessed to their crimes against me and my family," Dugard said in a prepared statement.

A man who shot to death a motorist in 1990 as he drove on Highway 50 in El Dorado County is due a parole hearing.

On July 2, 1990, Kenneth Earl Millikan, now 50, killed Peter J. Martinelli of Richmond on Highway 50 east of Pollock Pines, The Bee reported. Millikan is serving 27 years to life.

Martinelli was en route to Lake Tahoe with his family for a vacation. Another vehicle was struck by a bullet fired by Millikan, but no one was injured.

Folsom police will conduct an impaired driver checkpoint Saturday near the intersection of Greenback Lane and River Rock Drive, according to a police department news release.

Officers staffing the checkpoint will check drivers for signs of drug or alcohol impairment, and cite unlicensed drivers.

The checkpoint will begin at 7 p.m., and continue into the early hours of May 1. It is being staffed through funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is asking the public's assistance in locating two men who have felony arrest warrants issued for their alleged involvement in a series of burglaries in Placerville and the surrounding area.

Jacob A. Goldie (below, left) 24, is described as 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighing 195 pounds, with blond hair and brown eyes. The Sheriff's Office identifies him as a parolee whose last known addresses were in Pacific House and Camino. He is wanted on a felony warrant for burglary, stolen property and vehicle theft.

Nicholas A. Amaral, 26, (bottom, right) is described as 6 feet, 2 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. His last know addresses were in Pollock Pines and Diamond Springs. He also is wanted on felony warrant for burglary, stolen property and vehicle theft, according to the Sheriff's Office news release.

By Laurel Rosenhall
lrosenhall@sacbee.com

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.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A federal grand jury has returned indictments in two separate real estate Ponzi schemes, resulting in the arrest of two Sacramento-area men.

The indictments were returned April 14, but were sealed until the defendants were arrested.

Royce Newcomb, 49, of Granite Bay was arrested Friday on charges of wire fraud in an investment fraud scheme and is to be arraigned Monday.

Cynthia Renaud.jpgThe Folsom city manager today named a Long Beach police commander as the city's new police chief. Cynthia Renaud, left, will be the third female police chief in the Sacramento area.

Valerie Harris is Auburn police chief and Annette Spicuzza is UC David police chief. An earlier version of this article did not list Spicuzza.

Renaud will assume her post on May 2, with an annual salary of $178,992, City Manager Kerry Miller said.

"Commander Renaud competed successfully in a very rigorous recruitment process," Miller said. "She brings a wealth of experience, talent and expertise to our organization and we are pleased to welcome her as Folsom's first female police chief."

The El Dorado Sheriff's office is looking for a man in his late 50s or early 60s suspected of robbing a bank in Cameron Park Monday.

Deputies responded to the Umpqua Bank and interviewed emotional employees, who told them the robber entered, told a teller, "You're being robbed," and brandished a small black semi-automatic handgun.

After showing the gun, he tucked the weapon in his waistband, according to a release from the Sheriff's Office.

Robert E. Lee.jpgTwo men are wanted as suspects in a string of burglaries in Placerville and Pollock Pines.

El Dorado County Sheriff's deputies are searching for Robert E. Lee, 41, last known address in Hayward, Alameda County, and Gary J. Masse, 41, of Placerville. Lee is wanted on a $200,000 felony warrant for residential burglaries and Masse has a felony warrant for possession of a stolen firearm by a convicted felon.

Masse is considered armed and dangerous by authorities. Anyone with information about either suspects is asked to call the El Dorado County Sheriff's dispatch at (530) 621-6600 or detectives at (530) 642-4715.

Xeng Vue.jpgTwo men have been arrested on suspicion of stealing catalytic converters in Cameron Park where a rash of such thefts have occurred this month.

The spate of catalytic converter thefts in El Dorado County has focused on Toyota trucks in the Cameron Park area, Sheriff's Office officials reported.

The El Dorado County Sheriff has taken 15 theft reports - averaging more than one per day - between March 29 and April 10.

An El Dorado Hills man was indicted today on three counts of federal tax evasion.

A federal grand jury returned the indictment against Briant Benson, 54.

According to the indictment, Benson failed to file income tax returns for calendar years 2004, 2005 and 2006, despite having incomes of $870,000 $838,000 and $206,000, respectively. The resulting tax due was approximately $622,000, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

A rash of catalytic converter thefts in El Dorado County has focused on Toyota trucks in the Cameron Park area, Sheriff's Office officials report.

The El Dorado County Sheriff has taken 15 theft reports - averaging more than one per day - between March 29 and April 10, according to Lt. Bryan Golmitz.

All of the vehicles have been Toyota pickup trucks manufactured between 1989 and 1999.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Before authorities released word that they had arrested a 77-year-old Reno man in four slayings going back to 1977, they alerted law enforcement officials in Sacramento and elsewhere months ago to review cold case homicides for possible connections.

Piquing their interest was the fact that all four of Joseph Naso's alleged victims had first and last names starting with the same initials, and detectives went to work checking their files.

"They went through homicides as well as female missing person's reports and got no matches with the name alliteration," Sacramento sheriff's spokesman Jason Ramos said today.

An El Dorado Hills man and his mother have pleaded guilty in Sacramento federal court to money laundering and concealing a felony, respectively, in connection with the man's fraudulent application for a loan to purchase a $2.75 million home in Shingle Springs.

Anthony Portillo used his mother's name - Betty Gracia - and credit history to obtain the loan, according to court papers.

The papers show that Portillo, 41, submitted his mother's bank statements, which had been falsified to reflect large account balances ranging from $700,000 to $1 million.

When federal agents asked Gracia, 61, about the amounts, she lied and said she had a large income, according to the papers.

The two are scheduled to be sentenced June 27, by U. S. District Judge William B. Shubb.

- By Denny Walsh
dwalsh@sacbee.com

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

Kevin Cairns, owner of Dante's on the River, east of Pollock Pines, was released on bail Friday after three weeks in jail.

Cairns had been jailed unexpectedly on $250,000 bail at his first court appearance March 15 related to charges of assault with a deadly weapon and felony vandalism for incidents in November and February.

He was denied a bail reduction April 1 but had his bond reduced to $87,000 Friday, which he was able to post with the assistance of friends, Cairns' wife Nancy said.

RP GARRIDO PHILLIP.JPGRP GARRIDO NANCY UPSET.JPG


By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

In a surprise move today, Phillip Garrido entered a not guilty plea to charges that he kidnapped Jaycee Lee Dugard.

His wife Nancy entered the same not guilty plea after the judge indicated there were irregularities in the grand jury process that indicted the couple in September.

Stephen Tapson, Nancy Garrido's attorney, said the plan earlier this week was for Phillip Garrido to plead guilty but that a last minute hitch over the manner in which the grand jury selection was handled prompted the decision to plead not guilty.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Accused kidnapper Phillip Garrido is expected to plead guilty Thursday to the 1991 abduction of 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard in a bid to show compassion for Dugard as well as his wife, Nancy, one of the lawyers in the case told The Bee today.

Stephen Tapson, Nancy Garrido's attorney, said this afternoon that a deal was reached last week that calls for Phillip Garrido to enter a guilty plea and spend the rest of his life in prison. However, Tapson said he expects Nancy Garrido to face trial unless El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson agrees to a compromise that might allow Nancy Garrido to be released from prison in 30 years or so.

Neither Pierson nor Phillip Garrido's public defender, Susan Gellman, could be reached immediately today.

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County man who pleaded guilty in federal court to receiving child pornography has been sentenced to 10 years and one month in prison.

Charles Douglas Johnson, 47, of Garden Valley, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento after pleading guilty on Sept. 21, 2010, according to a U.S. Department of Justice release. His prison sentence will be followed by 10 years of supervised release.

According to court documents, images of child pornography were found on Johnson's work laptop after he was terminated for allegedly stealing trade secrets, according to the release.

By Matt Kawahara and Bill Lindelof
mkawahara@sacbee.com
blindelof@sacbee.com
folsom escapee.JPG

An inmate who walked away from a state prison in Folsom this morning has been captured in Carmichael, a Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spokesman said.

Stephen Koble, 19, a convicted burglar from Yolo County, was arrested by Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies in the 4000 block of Manzanita Avenue shortly after 5 p.m., said sheriff's Deputy Jason Ramos.

Koble had been reported missing from an unfenced minimum custody facility at California State Prison, Sacramento, a prison spokesman said this morning. He apparently escaped between 5:43 a.m. and 7 a.m.

By Bee Staff

An El Dorado County marijuana grower who was convicted of the attempted murders of his brother-in-law and his nephew has lost his bid for a parole, the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office said.

A state Parole Board panel ruled Tuesday that Silvestre Gonzalez, now 49, could not apply for another parole for 10 years, said Deputy District Attorney Jamie Verwayen, who appeared at the hearing on behalf of the DA's Office and the victims' family.

The victims had innocently wandered near Silvestre Gonzalez' pot grow and a guard shot them.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Victims of theft-related crimes in El Dorado County may find their property among items recovered by the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department during a public viewing Thursday.

Sheriff's officials announced that several arrests have been made recently in connection with residential burglaries in the Placerville and south county areas.

As a result of investigations, hundreds of items of suspected stolen property have been recovered. Items include jewelry, jewelry boxes, purses, electronics and small hand tools, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

Victims can view the items from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at 471 Pierroz Road, Placerville. People are advised to have their list of stolen property and case number available for reference.

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

PHOTO CREDIT: In this file photo, Phillip Garrido sits in court with his attorney and wife at his side. Plea negotiations in the kidnapping case continue today. Randy Pench, Sacramento Bee.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

PLACERVILLE -- The wrangling continues over how best to resolve the Jaycee Lee Dugard kidnap case, but it appears increasingly likely that accused kidnappers Phillip and Nancy Garrido may end up pleading before the case goes to trial.

Phillip Garrido faces 563 years in prison under an offer from the El Dorado County District Attorney, one lawyer in the case said today, while his wife faces 180 years, up from the 140-year offer made earlier.

The pair appeared in court briefly today and are set to return for a new hearing April 7, when it is possible that the case may be resolved.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department is warning residents and visitors to the area to be on the lookout for people stealing catalytic converters from vehicles.

The devices were stolen from at least five vehicles Monday night and Tuesday morning, according to a Police Department news release.

Three of the thefts occurred in the city of South Lake Tahoe and the other two in the unincorporated area of El Dorado County.

AlyssaCaroleRossetta[1].jpgBy Bee Staff

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department wants to find a woman who investigators say is the primary suspect in a stolen-property operation.

Sheriff's detectives are looking for Alyssa Carole Rossetta (left), 40, of Somerset, according to a sheriff's news release.

An El Dorado Superior Court judge has issued a felony warrant for Rossetta on suspicion of receiving stolen property, the release states.

The release laid out this chain of events:

At 7:30 a.m. Saturday, sheriff's deputies conducted a probation search at a home in the 2300 block of Apache Pass Road in Somerset about 11 miles from Placerville.

By Bill Enfield
benfield@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County marijuana grower who was convicted of the attempted murders of his brother-in-law and his nephew is due a parole hearing. The victims had innocently wandered near Silvestre Gonzalez' pot grow and a guard shot them.

Gonzalez, now 49, was convicted of two counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms, plus an additional year for each term, The Bee reported.

Gonzalez armed a 78-year-old laborer, Luis Lopez Arriaga, and told him to shoot anyone who came near Gonzalez' marijuana garden.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

jamesbeckwith.jpgA man has been arrested in connection with the fatal crash of a Folsom woman in late January.

James Beckwith (photo right), 52, of Rancho Cordova, was arrested by Folsom police on a felony warrant for suspicion of vehicular manslaughter on Tuesday.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

John Luebbers, the school janitor accused of killing Placerville elementary school principal Sam LaCara, made a brief appearance in court this morning as a hearing was delayed in his murder case.

El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister scheduled a court conference for April 11 to prepare for a preliminary hearing in the case.

Luebbers, 44, is accused of gunning down LaCara, his friend and golfing partner at the Louisiana Schnell School on Feb. 2. Authorities said Luebbers, the school's lead custodian, apparently was agitated over the planned hiring of a night janitor. Sent home by the principal to cool off, Luebbers allegedly went to his home in the town of El Dorado, returned to school with a gun and shot LaCara.

darlenenewman.jpgBy Cathy Locke and Bill Lindelof
clocke@sacbee.com

A Placerville woman who had been reported missing was found dead this morning 200 to 300 yards from her residence down a steep embankment.

Darlene Marie Newman, 48, appeared to have died from hypothermia, according to an El Dorado County Sheriff's Office news release.

She was found at 10:30 a.m. by El Dorado County Sheriff's Department search and rescue volunteers.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County man, dubbed the "Poodle Bandit" by investigators, has pleaded guilty to six counts of armed bank robbery.

Belko Yovanovich, 52, of Somerset, entered the plea Tuesday in federal court in Fresno.

Yovanovich was dubbed the Poodle Bandit because of the curly gray wig he wore during each of the alleged robberies. According to a federal Department of Justice news release, he admitted that he robbed six banks in five counties in the Eastern District of California between March 8 and May 6, 2010. Yovanovich also admitted that during each of the robberies, he entered the bank and, armed with a handgun, ordered the bank tellers to give him all the money.

RP GARRIDO IN COURT.JPGRP GARRIDO TAPSON AND NANCY.JPG
By Sam Stanton sstanton@sacbee.com

Phillip and Nancy Garrido have made a "full confession" to the 1991 kidnapping of 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard in hopes of convincing prosecutors to allow Nancy Garrido to some day be released from prison, a defense attorney in the case revealed today.

Nancy Garrido's court-appointed lawyer, Stephen Tapson, said this afternoon in Placerville that the Garridos had met separately with El Dorado County sheriff's detectives in the last month and spelled out exactly how they abducted Dugard and held her captive for 18 years.

Nancy Garrido's confession took place with Dugard in the room, watching from across a table as the woman who snatched her off the street tearfully described what she had done, Tapson said.

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

Sacramento County homicide detectives have arrested two men in what had been the baffling slayings Feb. 13 of a young man and two teenagers on Malaga Way in Rancho Cordova.

Detectives arrested Francisco Ignacio Delgado, 20, and Juan Isidoro Aucencio, 24, at their residences early today, in connection with the deaths of Robert Corpos, 20; Richard Ward, 16; and Jamir Miller, 15.

The three youths were shot around 4 p.m. from a car that drove up alongside them while they were riding bicycles.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Folsom police are investigating whether alcohol, wet weather and excessive speed may have led to a major injury crash early this morning on Blue Ravine Road.

Police and Folsom Fire department personnel were called at about 12:30 a.m. to Blue Ravine Road, about a tenth of a mile west of Big Valley Road. Police said that where the roadway bends north toward El Dorado County, an eastbound Toyota Tacoma pickup left the road and hit a telephone pole.

The pickup came to rest upright and the pole was snapped. The unidentified driver had to be extricated from the wreckage.

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

cockfighters.JPGEl Dorado Animal Services has euthanized 250 birds after uncovering what appeared to be a large, illegal cockfighting operation in Garden Valley, El Dorado County officials said today.

The discovery began Sunday with a traffic stop in Diamond Springs, during which sheriff's deputies found two roosters with injuries consistent with fighting.

TAMARA BRODNAX[1].jpgQ: What happened to the woman who struck and killed Megan Smith June 14, 2007? - Anonymous, Elk Grove

A: Tamara Broadnax (left), now 32, pleaded guilty to hit-and-run in the death of Folsom teen Megan Smith, records show.

She also pleaded guilty in October 2009 to filing a false stolen vehicle report and driving on a suspended license. A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced her to four years in prison.

She is no longer in prison, records indicate.

Broadnax's boyfriend, Kenneth Peoples (below), pleaded guilty to being an accessory to hit-and-run on Nov. 26, 2009, according to court records and Bee reports.

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

The new sheriff in town - in El Dorado County, that is - will meet the public at a breakfast program Feb. 23 in El Dorado Hills.

John D'Agostini, who took office at the beginning of January, will talk about his agenda and priorities and will answer questions from the public.

The 7:30-9 a.m. event - in the Four Seasons Ballroom, 3186 Four Seasons Dr. - will include a catered breakfast - $10 for those who choose to participate.

Gerald Boldt.JPGBy Niesha Lofing
nlofing@sacbee.com

A dad who allegedly owes more than $190,000 in back child support payments to his El Dorado County ex-wife was arrested last week in Los Angeles after flying in from the Philippines.

El Dorado County officials on Wednesday were notified that Gerald Boldt, who owed child support payments to the mother of his now-emancipated child, was getting ready to leave the Philippines.

Boldt was attempting to apply for additional passport pages at the embassy in Manila when a routine check revealed he was on a passport denial list for having failed to pay child support payments, Laura Roth, director of child support services for El Dorado County, stated in a news release.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The car of a Sacramento County man missing since early December has been found in El Dorado County.

Robert Gates, 65, has been missing since he left his home Dec. 3. Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies confirmed he told his wife that day that he was going for a drive to Georgetown in El Dorado County, a spot the couple has visited in the past.

On Jan. 23, his black 2008 Pontiac Solstice was found on Volcanoville Road near Buckeye Point. A search of the area was conducted but Gates is still missing, deputies said.

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

ACW ROBERT ROZIER[1].JPGQ: What happen to former Cordova High School football star Robert Rozier, who admitted killing for a cult in Miami and was later convicted of bouncing checks in El Dorado County? - Anonymous, Sacramento

A: Rozier, now 55, is serving a 25 years to life sentence in a California prison, records show. (Photo at left was taken in court in 1999.)

On Jan. 12, 2001, an El Dorado County judge sentenced Rozier, the former Miami cult executioner and protected federal witness, under California's "three strikes" law, concluding a strange bounced-check case, The Bee reported.

Rozier, a former Cordova High School and University of California, Berkeley football star, was arrested for passing bad checks nearly 13 years ago in a Cameron Park subdivision where he was living anonymously as Robert Rameses - his secret identity under the federal witness protection program.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Robert Patrick Kaser, who shot and killed his 14-year-old stepson and wounded his wife and another stepson in Placerville 25 years ago, was denied parole today at a hearing at San Quentin State Prison, authorities say.

The 70-year-old Kaser, who is serving a sentence of 21 years to life in the slaying of Ehren Gregory Dixon, had his application for parole denied for five years, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson's office said.

Deputy District Attorney Joe Alexander represented the prosecution and the surviving family.

Kaser was last denied parole in 1997. He was convicted of shooting the trio March 17, 1985, after visiting his estranged wife.

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

A public memorial for Principal Sam LaCara of Louisiana Schnell School will take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Green Valley Community Church, 3500 Missouri Flat Road, Placerville.

LaCara was fatally shot in his school office on Wednesday, allegedly by a school janitor.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the Sam LaCara Memorial Fund through the El Dorado Community Foundation.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

John Luebbers, the Placerville school custodian accused of killing the principal who was his friend and golfing partner, was arraigned on a charge of murder this afternoon as his family members and friends hugged and sobbed in the courtroom.

El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister ordered Luebbers held without bail after the janitor entered a plea of not guilty in the shooting death of Sam LaCara, the principal at the Louisiana Schnell School in Placerville.

Luebbers is due to appear in court March 7 for a conference to set a preliminary hearing in the case.

Q: Is the killer of Johnny Compton still in prison? Did details ever come out about the motive for the killing of the boy? - Nick, Sacramento

A: Randall Archie Cope, now 43, is incarcerated at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo.

He is serving a 16 years to life sentence for the June 23, 1988 murder of Jonathan Lee Compton, 11, in Diamond Springs, The Bee reported and records show.

Cope pleaded no contest to second-degree murder.

Cope told authorities he went to the Diamond Springs apartment shared by the victim and his mother to confront the woman over her accusation "of his stealing drugs," according to a probation report.

The report said Cope recalled finding the boy at home alone, cooking eggs in the kitchen. The child asked him to leave but Cope said he would wait for boy's mother.

Cope said the boy attacked him and he blacked out. He next remembered being with the dying boy. Compton was beaten and stabbed to death.

The probation report said Cope was an alcoholic, who experienced blackouts.

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


Photo credit: Phillip Garrido, 59, has mostly sat quietly through his court appearances over the past 18 months.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

The judge in the Jaycee Lee Dugard kidnap case today ruled that Phillip Garrido is mentally competent to face trial in her 1991 abduction.

El Dorado Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister said, "The defendant is in fact competent to stand trial."

He set the next hearing the case for Feb. 28.

Garrido and his wife Nancy are accused of kidnapping Dugard when she was 11 and holding her captive for 18 years, but the case has been on hold because of questions about Phillip Garrido's mental competence.

The lawyers on both sides agreed today to allow the judge to decide that issue.

Phimister said that after reviewing reports from psychiatrists he determined Garrido is competent.

Gallery: The Dugard case

Story: Garrido competency issues to be discussed

Story: Judge puts Garrido couple's phone calls on hold

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Firefighters were kept busy when two fires at the same time broke out in two separate duplexes -- both started by unattended candles.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District firefighters arrived at 12:22 a.m. to a fire burning on one side of a duplex at 10988 Hirschfield Way in Rancho Cordova. Firefighters rescued a woman who was trapped between a side fence and the home when she tried to escape the blaze.

It took 30 firefighters about 12 minutes to bring the fire under control. A cat and a dog died in the blaze.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Placerville Union School District officials have announced that the district's three school campuses will be closed Thursday, following this morning's fatal shooting of Louisiana Schnell Elementary School Principal Sam LaCara.

Along with Schnell school, Markham Middle and Sierra Elementary schools will be closed but will reopen Friday. Counseling and grief support services will be provided to students at the schools when they return, according to an announcement on the district's website.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A candlelight and prayer vigil is planned this evening following the fatal shooting this morning of an elementary school principal.

The gathering is scheduled along the sidewalk in front of Louisiana Schnell Elementary School at 6 p.m.

Christina Bist, a parent whose children previously attended the school where Principal Sam LaCara was shot and killed this morning, said a number of high school students were the organizing forces behind the gathering.

Connie and Don Rood.JPG

Caption: Parents Connie and Don Rood stand at the intersection of Highway 50 and Schnell School Road in Placerville waiting for information about the shooting at Louisiana Schnell Elementary School. The Roods have two children who attend the school, one in kindergarten and one in fourth grade. Photo by Randy Pench

By Kim Minugh and Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Authorities are investigating whether there may have been a dispute between the principal slain today in his Placerville office and the janitor suspected of shooting him, said Placerville Police Chief George Nielsen.

placerville.jpg
Principal Sam LaCara, left, and suspect John Luebbers

Nielsen said the suspect may have confronted the principal over some perceived grievance.

"It's not really clear whether there was a dispute. It appears there had been a discussion" before the shooting, he said.

Sam LaCara, the principal at Louisiana Schnell Elementary School in Placerville, was shot to death today in his office on campus.

Nielsen said at least one student may have witnessed the shooting.

LaCara, 50, died at Marshall Hospital from a single gunshot wound, the police chief said.

The suspected shooter has been identified as John Luebbers, 43, a custodian at the school. Nielsen said Luebbers was taken into custody at his home by El Dorado County sheriff's deputies. The police chief said he did not believe Luebbers had a previous criminal record.

By Bill Enfield
benfield@sacbee.com

A Placerville man serving a 21 years to life sentence for murdering his 14-year-old stepson and attempting to kill his estranged wife and another stepson is due a parole hearing.

Robert Patrick Kaser, now 70, shot the trio on March 17, 1985, after visiting his estranged wife, 41, in Placerville and asking if he could have his television set, The Bee reported.

The woman asked her sons - ages 14 and 12 - to help Kaser load the television set and told them to put on their shoes.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Folsom police said that a purse snatcher was no match for the nose of a tracking police dog.

The police dog not only found one of two robbery suspects but also recovered the victim's purse. The incident occurred Friday night about 7 p.m. at the Iron Point Road light rail station when two teens took a 43-year-old woman's purse.

A witness saw one robber put a ski cap with holes cut out for his eyes over his head and the other cover his face with a scarf. While one robber wrapped his arm around the woman's throat, the other ripped the purse from her hands.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County Coroner has released the name of a woman who died in a crash on Folsom Boulevard Friday night.

The woman was identified as Kimberly Ann Bryant, 45, of Folsom. She was the passenger in a vehicle that left the roadway and overturned prior to coming to rest against a tree.

Folsom police and firefighters responded to the accident on southbound Folsom Boulevard, south of Blue Ravine Road. On arriving, officers found a 52-year-old Rancho Cordova man in the center divide near a Pontiac Grand Prix that had sustained heavy damage, according to a Folsom Police Department release.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

The El Dorado Superior Court in the Phillip Garrido kidnap case has closed jury selection in the upcoming mental competency trial to the media, a move that sparked objections from a lawyer for The Bee and other news organizations.

In a notice posted on the court's website late Thursday, the court said that "due to the limited number of seats available in the courtroom, the media will not be allowed in the courtroom during Jury selection" when Garrido's mental competency trial is set to begin Feb. 28. He and his wife, Nancy, are facing charges that they abducted 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 and held her captive for 18 years.

The ban on coverage of the process will continue "until a jury has been selected," the court website stated.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

An El Dorado man is in El Dorado County Jail accused of embezzling approximately $7,000 from two veterans' organizations.

Robert Laudermilk, 73, was arrested Jan. 15, the day after the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office was contacted regarding possible embezzlement of funds from the Disabled American Veterans Organization in Cameron Park.

The reporting party told sheriff's officials that it had come to his attention that Laudermilk, the treasurer, had allegedly been writing checks to himself from the organization's account over the last several months, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A man remains in custody today after a confrontation at a South Lake Tahoe grocery store between a former jail inmate man and an off-duty El Dorado County correctional officer, police said.

Patrick Wayne Solomon, 46, is back in El Dorado County Jail, according to South Lake Tahoe Police. He was booked on suspicion of assault on a custodial officer and other charges.

He was previously an inmate in an El Dorado County Jail, police said.

By Stephen Magagnini
smagagnini@sacbee.com

Civil rights groups today are defending the rights of a Sikh American from Folsom to become a state correctional officer without shaving his beard.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris has filed a 22-page motion in Sacramento Superior Court backing a state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation claim that Trilochan Oberoi couldn't be properly fitted for a gas mask unless he shaved and therefore cannot become a prison guard.

The beard is a significant symbol of his Sikh faith.

MC_GARRIDO07[1].JPGBy Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Phillip Garrido's public defender is seeking a postponement of his scheduled mental competency trial, saying an overwhelming amount of evidence still must be reviewed and that she is still studying whether to ask that the trial be moved out of El Dorado County.

A jury trial is set to begin Feb. 28 to determine whether Garrido (left), the accused kidnapper of Jaycee Lee Dugard, is mentally competent to stand trial.

But public defender Susan Gellman, in court documents filed Thursday and made public today, indicated that she will ask for a postponement at the next hearing in the case, which is set for Feb. 3.

nivette victims.JPGQ: Is it true that James Dewayne Nivette, who shot his girlfriend and abandoned their baby, is out of prison? - Anonymous, Sacramento

A: Nivette, now 68, is in prison at the Men's Colony at San Luis Obispo, records show.

He is serving 18 years to life after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for the Nov. 16, 1997, slaying of Gina Barnett in the Folsom condominium they shared, The Bee reported. (Undated photo at left is of Barnett and her and Nivette's son.)

The 25-year-old woman was murdered in what police described as a rage killing after Nivette learned she was seeing another man half his age.

Nivette pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on the eve of his murder trial.

After the shooting, he fled with the couple's 18-month-old boy.

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

A federal judge told employees suing the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office this week that they must clean up and refile their legal complaints by the end of the month.

U.S. District Court Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. issued the orders in two lawsuits Monday, giving the plaintiffs 20 days to refile.

The suits were filed last year by then-Deputy Tanya Hunt and three community service officers with the sheriff, Nicole Sahaj-Myers, Stacie Walls and Jona Scherr.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

untitled.JPGFolsom police announced that they have identified a suspect in a November shooting and seek the public's help in finding him.

Investigators seek 18-year-old Anthony Hernandez of Elk Grove (left), who is suspected of shooting a 21-year-old Placerville man when the two met in Folsom to conduct a drug deal.

On Nov. 27, police responded to a report of an abandoned vehicle that led to an attempted murder investigation. Officers detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. The vehicle was found in the middle of the road, with the engine running and blood in the trunk, according to a Police Department news release.

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

New El Dorado County Sheriff John D'Agostini has picked his brother-in-law to be undersheriff, a position re-established today by the Board of Supervisors.

Yolo County Sheriff's Captain Rich Williams, selected for the second-in-command position, is the brother of D'Agostini's wife, according to a release from the Sheriff's Office.

Williams, who lives in El Dorado County, has 25 years of law enforcement experience, primarily with the Yolo County Sheriff's Department. He was promoted to captain in 2007.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A large house listed for sale at $1.2 million has suffered major fire damage this morning in Pilot Hill, El Dorado County.

The home on 25 wooded acres in the 5600 block of Salmon Falls Road was reported on fire shortly before 2 a.m. The 5,900-square foot home was still burning at 7 a.m.

Details on how the home caught fire were not immediately available. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighters and other crews were on scene of the house fire.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

A judge today suspended phone calls between Phillip and Nancy Garrido after the El Dorado County counsel raised concerns that their monthly conversations may have veered into witness-tampering.

Ed Knapp told the judge in the Jaycee Lee Dugard kidnapping case that "our fears have been confirmed."

Knapp said later outside of court that he could not discuss the problem in detail but would address it in a legal motion to be filed later to prevent the husband and wife from speaking to each other.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Prosecutors in the Jaycee Lee Dugard kidnap case are asking a judge for access to an audiotaped interview of accused kidnapper Phillip Garrido, saying the tape made in the El Dorado County Jail two weeks ago is needed for them to prepare for an upcoming trial that will determine Garrido's mental state.

The taped interview was conducted by Dr. David Glassmire, an expert appointed by El Dorado Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister to assess Garrido's mental competence. Jail officials taped his interview "on or about" Dec. 18, court documents released this morning indicate.

Prosecutors say in the new documents that they asked jail officials on Dec. 20 to "turn over the audio recordings so that we could copy and discover the audio to the defense."

But, prosecutors say, jail officials refused and cited a court order that had been issued Dec. 15 requiring that the tape remain sealed until Glassmire's written report is issued. The judge indicated when he appointed Glassmire Dec. 2 that he expected it to take 60 days for a mental exam and written report to be completed.

Deputy District Attorney James Clinchard noted in court documents that such a timetable means prosecutors will not get access to the material "until approximately February 2, 2011 - just 26 days prior to the scheduled jury trial" that will decide whether Garrido is competent to stand trial on charges that he kidnapped Dugard in 1991 when she was 11 and repeatedly raped her over the years.

"Jane Doe and her family have waited almost 20 years for justice in this matter," Clinchard wrote, continuing his office's practice of not identifying Dugard by name. "Any further unnecessary delay is totally unacceptable."

Glassmire is the second expert appointed to evaluate Garrido. Dr. Charles Shaffer was appointed on Oct. 1 by the judge but prosecutors say they still do not have his written report, either.

Clinchard noted that neither he nor District Attorney Vern Pierson knew about Phimister's order sealing the tape and that it stemmed from a meeting the judge held with Garrido's public defender, Susan Gellman, and a deputy district attorney who is not assigned to the Garrido case.

That court session was held Dec. 15 without notice in the judge's chambers and "was not on the record," Clinchard noted.

Since discovering the order, prosecutors have tried unsuccessfully to schedule a court hearing to argue for the tape's release, the documents state.

The dispute highlights the ongoing secrecy involving aspects of the Garrido case. The documents posted on the court's website this morning indicate they were filed Dec. 27. The judge's Dec. 20 order also was posted this morning.

The Bee and other media outlets are seeking the release of sealed documents filed in the case against Garrido and his wife, Nancy, including the transcript of grand jury proceedings held in secret in September in which Dugard, now living in seclusion with the two daughters she had while held captive, testified.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers oppose that effort. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Thursday.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

An Auburn woman who worked as a housekeeper for an elderly Folsom resident has been arrested on suspicion of elder abuse after allegedly fraudulently cashing the victim's check.

On Wednesday, Auburn police arrested Sharri Shifflett, 42, after following up on a report received from the Folsom Police Department.

Shifflett had been cleaning house for the Folsom woman for months when the woman was moved to a convalescent hospital because of failing health, according to an Auburn Police Department news release.

While the victim was away, family members who knew that Shifflett had been the woman's housekeeper, hired her to clean the victim's unoccupied home, police said. During this time, Shifflett allegedly obtained one of the woman's checks and later cashed it at an Auburn bank, officials said. Folsom Police were contacted Dec. 16 about the check incident.

After receiving a report from Folsom Police on Tuesday, Auburn detectives began investigating the case and discovered additional evidence of Shifflett's involvement in fraudulently cashing the Folsom woman's check, police said. Detectives interviewed her and later placed her under arrest.

Shifflett was booked into Placer County Jail on suspicion of elder abuse, identity theft, burglary and passing/forging documents. Her bail is set at $265,000.

Police said Shifflett's position as a housekeeper potentially granted her access to clients' personal information. Police ask anyone with knowledge of similar conduct by Shifflett to call Auburn Detective Adam Cline at (530) 823-4237, ext. 238.

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

By Matthew Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

The Folsom Police Department has reported that two holiday shoplifters were arrested over the weekend after they stole a leather jacket at the Folsom Premium Outlets and were later found to have over $3,800 in stolen goods in their car.

Officers responded to the outlets after a retailer reported two women had stolen a jacket from a display, according to a Folsom Police Department release.

An officer spotted the suspect vehicle leaving the parking lot and attempted to stop the vehicle, the release states. The driver refused to stop, leading officers on a slow 1.5-mile pursuit.

The driver eventually stopped, and officers found more than $3,800 in stolen jewelry, bath wares and clothing from stores throughout the Sacramento area, according to the release.

Mauricea Vale, 20, of Sacramento, was arrested and booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of multiple theft-related charges, false representation to a police officer and reckless evasion. She is ineligible for bail.

Jessica Galloway, 27, of Antioch, was arrested for possession of stolen property and false representation to a police officer. She was cited and released, according to the release.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Folsom residential care provider who pleaded guilty to elder abuse in the death of an 82-year-old woman was sentenced today to a year in county jail.

Adriana Catuna, 49, will be allowed to request that she serve the time on home detention under the sentence handed down by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gary E. Ransom.

The judge also placed Catuna on five years probation and scheduled a restitution hearing for Jan. 26.

Catuna entered her plea in connection with the Oct. 13, 2007, death of Georgia Fitsos.

One of Fistos' sons claimed he discovered his mother alone and having difficulty breathing in the Broadstone Residential Facility in August 2007.

He had his mother rushed to a hospital where emergency room physicians treated her for sepsis from the open bed sore.

She died in a skilled nursing facility two months later.

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

By Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County Superior Court judge on Monday sentenced David Charles Zanon to death for running down and killing California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Russell more than three years ago.

A jury in September recommended the death sentence, after convicting Zanon of first-degree murder in early August.

Zanon, who had a warrant for his arrest, was found outside a burglarized business July 31, 2007, in Rancho Cordova. He sped off, leading officers on a chase on Highway 50 into El Dorado County, where he ran down Russell near the Ponderosa Road exit. Russell had just placed a spike strip on the freeway to stop Zanon.

The jury also found Zanon guilty of attempting to kill another CHP officer during the pursuit and assaulting a Sacramento County Sheriff's deputy.

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

December 11, 2010
Holiday crime prevention tips

By Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com

The Folsom Police Department is reminding residents to avoid becoming victims of crime this holiday season.

They offer some tips:

1) Be aware of your surroundings while shopping.

2) Park in brightly lit areas.

3) Don't leave anything of value in your vehicle such as GPS devices, laptops, purses or shopping bags.

4) Be aware of suspicious people and vehicles in your neighborhood.

5) Be aware of telephone and internet scams.

6) Do not respond to unsolicited emails and unfamiliar links.

7) Be careful buying gift cards from auction sites or classified ads. It's safer to purchase the cards directly from merchants.

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

By Matthew Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

The Folsom Boulevard off-ramp on westbound Highway 50 was blocked this morning after a car slid down the embankment and overturned, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The off-ramp was closed during the morning rush hour but has reopened, according to the CHP. The accident was reported at 5:24 a.m.

Fire crews responded to the scene for reports of a trapped person, according to the CHP website, but the CHP has not confirmed any injuries.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The California Highway Patrol will operate a sobriety checkpoint in El Dorado County on Friday night in an effort to discourage people from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The checkpoint, staffed by a team of CHP officers, will be set up about 8 p.m. and continue through the evening, according to a news release from the CHP's Placerville-area office.

Officers will control traffic at the checkpoint to evaluate drivers' sobriety, check driver's licenses and hand out literature warning of the dangers of drinking and driving. Additional CHP officers will be assigned to roving patrols in the checkpoint area to seek out DUI drivers.

Officials said the operation is part of an effort to reduce the number of DUI collisions in El Dorado County.

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

By Loretta Kalb
lkalb@sacbee.com

'Tis apparently the season ... to rob and burglarize.

At least, that's the deduction one could make as a result of the rash of residential burglaries in Folsom that police there say have occurred over Thanksgiving week.

Police Sgt. Jason Browning said 10 home burglaries were reported across the city of Folsom starting Nov. 21, prompting the department to issue reminders to residents on how to avoid being victimized.

The reminders: Place holds on newspaper and mail deliveries. Have bright exterior lights to deter snooping. Lock rear access gates. Close window blinds. Remove hidden keys.

And don't forget to lock all doors and windows. Use timers to automatically cycle interior lamps off and on. Secure valuables in a safe. Advise trusted neighbors of your vacation plans.

The Folsom burglary report came only days after a series of late-night armed robberies in Sacramento's midtown put the community on high alert.

The Bee reported Thanksgiving Day that 10 robberies of pedestrians have occurred in the midtown area since Nov. 10 compared to four during the same time span in 2009. No arrrests have been made.

In Folsom, police are advising citizens that they can use the community-based group, Citizens Assisting Public Safety, which works in support of the department and offers free vacation checks year around. To request help from CAPS, visit the city Website: www.folsom.ca.us. Choose "police" from the "department" header and then choose "services" from the drop-down menu.

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

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

A Placerville man was shot in the course of a marijuana deal Friday, Folsom police reported.

Police became aware of the incident around 10 p.m. after responding to a report of a car idling in the road at the intersection of Serpa Way and Fetter Court in Folsom, according to a release from Sgt. Jason Browning.

Police reported they found blood on the trunk of the car and could smell a heavy odor of burning marijuana coming from inside.

They found the vehicle's 21-year-old owner in a nearby hospital, being treated for a single gunshot to the abdomen. It was believed not to be life threatening.

The shooting victim said he'd been shot by a prospective customer he knew as Tony from Elk Grove. The suspect was described as a Hispanic male, 5 foot 10 inches tall and about 165 pounds. He was wearing a red-and-black checked jacket.

Police are investigating the incident as a robbery and attempted homicide. No information was released on the victim's identity. He is not currently facing any charges.

Anyone with information is asked to call the tip line at (916) 585-4110.

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

By Bee Staff

David Strobehn.JPGThe Folsom Police Department is asking for the public's help in locating a 66-year-old man who they suspect is armed with a handgun and is a risk to himself.

David Strobehn (left) is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing 130 pounds with gray curly hair, blue eyes, and a clean shaven face.

He was last seen during this morning at his apartment in Folsom.

His maroon 1994 Toyota Tercel, California license 3VXD611 is also missing from his residence.

Police and family are not aware of any intended destination.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Folsom Police Department at (916) 355-7231 or your local law enforcement agency.

By Ed Fletcher
efletcher@sacbee.com

El Dorado County authorities had no problem locating a robbery suspect today, after the suspect gave pharmacy workers his real name before returning to rob it with a BB gun.

At around 11 a.m. today Andrew Schulz, 22, asked pharmacy workers at the Safeway on Francisco Boulevard in El Dorado Hills to give him Norco - a medical grade pain reliever, said Sgt. Phil Chovanec, a spokesman for the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department. He couldn't provide a prescription from his doctor.

When the staff refused, Schulz left, Chovanec said. When he returned 15 minutes later, he showed the staff what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun and asked "does that change things," Chovanec said.

"It turned out to be BB gun, but it looked like a semi-automatic handgun when it was shown," Chovanec said. "To the person being shown the gun, it looked real. They were scared for sure."

The suspect then left with a large amount of Norco. As the suspect left one of the clerks followed him out and was able to tell the sheriff's office the suspect's direction of travel.

Armed with that information and the patient's address, authorities quickly arrested Schulz - who lives 1.5 miles away -- and recovered the drugs and weapon, Chovanec said.

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

By Bee Staff

Folsom 11.19.10 4.22.36.jpgFolsom police are asking the public's help in find a man (left) wearing a camouflage-pattern hat who robbed a Folsom bank Friday afternoon.

The man approached a clerk in the Premiere West Bank in the 700 block of East Bidwell Street at about 4:26 p.m. and demanded money.

The clerk told police that the man said he had a weapon and reached for his waistband at one point. No weapon was seen.

The clerk gave the man an unspecified amount of cash and he fled on foot, police said.

The man was described as a white male, in his late teens to mid-20s, about 6 feet tall with a slim build. In addition to the camouflage-pattern hat, he wore a dark green over green jacket, a white t-shirt and light-colored jeans.

Anyone with information should call the Folsom Police Department at (916) 355-7230.

By Bee Staff

A federal judge in Sacramento has sentenced two men to 20-year prison terms in separate cases for child pornography offenses, the U.S. attorney said.

David Wehde, 24, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty on Aug. 18 to using a minor to produce images of child pornography and for receiving visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct via the Internet, said U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Wagner.

Wehde is serving a 20-year state prison term he received in 2010 for molesting minors, Sacramento Superior Court and Bee reports show.

Russell Johnson, 46, of Tracy, pleaded guilty on July 1, to possessing child pornography, Wagner said.

Johnson has two prior state convictions for lewd acts upon a child under 14, Wagner said.

Wagner gave this account of Wehde's crimes:

Wehde came to the attention of law enforcement when a minor female from the Natomas area reported Wehde had contacted her via an Internet site called "espinthebottle.com," and that they had sexual relations.

At the time the girl was 13 years old, and Wehde was 21 years old. During the examination of Wehde's computer, a forensic analyst found images and videos of child pornography along with Internet chats between Wehde, the 13-year-old girl, and a second 13-year-old girl from El Dorado County.

In the chats between Wehde and the El Dorado County girl, the two discussed sex acts they had engaged in.

The forensic analyst found sexually explicit and provocative images Wehde had taken of this girl using his cell phone camera and evidence that he had sent one of the sexually provocative images to another person he communicated with via the Internet.

Wehde will be subject to lifetime supervision after his release from prison and will have to register as a sexual offender, Wagner said.

By Bee Staff

clip_image002.JPGA 23-year-old Rancho Cordova woman allegedly tried to pose as doctor's secretary and obtain a prescription painkiller at a Folsom pharmacy, police said

Christina Thompson (left), 23, was arrested when she arrived at the pharmacy Tuesday to pick up the pills, according to a Folsom Police Department news release.

Thompson is being held in the Sacramento County jail on no bail, records show. She was on probation after pleading no contest to a prescription forgery charge in December, Sacramento Superior Court records show.

Thompson allegedly posed as a doctor's secretary and phoned in a prescription for prescription painkiller Norco, police said. She gave the pharmacy a false patient name and then tried to pick up 60 Norco pills the same day, police said.

However, the pharmacy manager called the doctor to verify the order, who said the order was false.

When Thompson arrived at the pharmacy, she met by investigators from the Folsom Police Department Criminal Investigation Bureau, who arrested her.

Thompson has an extensive history of committing the same offense, police said. She has used more than eight aliases to commit crimes on multiple occasions, police said.

When arrested, Thompson was in possession of methamphetamine, a pipe, one counterfeit $20 bill and one counterfeit $10 bill, police said.

"The hold diverted prescription opiates have on addicts is terrifying," said Sgt. Eric Heichlinger. "Nothing, not people, nor criminal law, will stand in between them and their addiction. As we've seen in recent weeks in the Sacramento region, the problem is growing exponentially. Hopefully the teamwork we've showed between the doctor, the pharmacy, and police will slow this trend."

By Niesha Lofing
nlofing@sacbee.com

Two men suspected as major suppliers of OxyContin in Folsom are facing criminal charges after a year-long investigation by athe Folsom Police Department.

Sergio Rico, 25, is being held without bail in Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded handgun, possession of stolen property and conspiracy. He was arrested Wednesday and is scheduled to appear in Sacramento Superior Court on Monday.

Nicholas Vincent Bertolucci, 20, was arrested Friday on suspicion of burglary and conspiracy, but posted bail the same day.

Folsom Police began "Operation Oxy Clean" in April 2009, after finding that crimes associated with the highly addictive prescription narcotic were becoming more prevalent in the city, a police news release states.

The operation began reaching its end Wednesday, when officers served search warrants on Rico's address on Moss Creek Circle in Fair Oaks and found $565 in cash, 78 OxyContin pills, 6 1/2 methadone pills, 15 grams of cocaine, a loaded .38 caliber handgun and property allegedly stolen in residential burglaries in Folsom. Rico was taken into custody that day.

On Thursday, detectives obtained a search warrant for a storage locker linked to Rico and seized an additional 150 OxyContin pills. They also discovered that Bertolucci had allegedly tried to gain access to the storage locker to get the pills and arrested Bertolucci on Friday.

Police estimate that they seized $18,090 in drugs during the operation.

Call The Bee's Niesha Lofing, (916) 321-1270.

Q: What happened to the man accused of murdering and raping a woman in a Folsom retirement home in 2009? - Anonymous, Folsom

Sylvester Griffin[1].jpgA: A preliminary hearing is scheduled Jan. 25 in Sacramento Superior Court for Sylvester Griffin (left), 42, on murder, rape, robbery and burglary charges, court records show. Meanwhile, he is in the Sacramento jail on a no-bail hold.

A close friend found Alice Murphy, 64, dead inside her apartment at a senior living community on Creekside Drive just before noon on Dec. 21, The Bee reported.

Authorities obtained a warrant for Griffin's arrest after DNA taken from the crime scene was matched to Grffin's DNA profile in an FBI database, a Folsom police spokesman said.

The FBI likely had Griffin's DNA because of past criminal activity, the spokesman said.

Griffin does not have a criminal record in Sacramento County, according to court records.

Detectives said they learned that Griffin, who lived in Elk Grove at the time of Murphy's killing, had moved to Columbia, S.C., where he has family. Police arrested him there without incident June 16.

Police said they know that Griffin was working as a driver for the Rapid Response Medical Transportation service at the time of the slaying.

Though Murphy never used that service for medical appointments, others in her senior living community did, police said.

The friend who found Murphy told police the front door was open when she arrived.

Family members told The Bee that Murphy frequently left her front door open for her cat.

There were no signs of forced entry, police said, and her apartment was not ransacked.

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

Ulibarri.nov10.jpgBy Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Randy Ulibarri (left), a 30-year-veteran of the Union City Police Department, was sworn in this morning as Folsom's interim police chief.

Ulibarri will lead the department while the city pursues a national search for a permanent replacement for retired Chief Sam Spiegel. City officials said the recruitment process, which has just begun, is expected to take four to six months.

Ulibarri served as Union City's police chief from 2000 to 2006. He also was interim police chief for the city of Newman in 2007-08.

Ulibarri is a graduate of California State University, Hayward, the FBI National Academy and the Peace Officer Standards and Training Supervisory Leadership Academy, according to a city news release. He is married and has three adult sons.

The interim chief plans to establish temporary residence in Folsom.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The Folsom Police Department will expand its traffic enforcement with special operations, thanks to a $148,000 grant recently awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The Selective Traffic Enforcement Program grant is to assist in dealing with traffic safety problems and to reduce the number of people killed and injured in traffic collisions, according to a Police Department news release.

The grant activities will specifically target motorcycle safety, DUI offenders, drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, red light running, speeding and seatbelt violations. Officials said this will be done through DUI/driver's license checkpoints and special enforcement operations.

The grant also provides funds to purchase a radar message board, radar feedback signs, DUI checkpoint supplies and overtime for officers to conduct special enforcement activities.

For the second year, the Folsom Police Department will participate in four special motorcycle safety enforcement operations. Extra officers will be on duty, patrolling areas frequented by motorcyclists. Officers will crack down on traffic violations by motorcyclists and other vehicle drivers in an effort to prevent motorcycle collisions, injuries and deaths.

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

A judge today said he would hold a mental competency hearing in March for Phillip Garrido, the accused kidnapper of Jaycee Lee Dugard, and agreed to allow media groups to argue in favor of unsealing records in the case, including Garrido's psychiatric reports and grand jury transcripts of Dugard testifying in September.

The decisions by El Dorado Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister came during a brief hearing in Placerville, where the judge said The Bee and other media organizations could argue at a Dec. 2 hearing over why dozens of records in the matter should be unsealed.

Primary among them is the approximately 160 pages of grand jury transcripts that include Dugard's testimony about her 18 years of captivity that ended when she was found alive in August 2009.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido are accused of abducting her in 1991 when she was 11, and Nancy Garrido's lawyer insisted after the hearing that there was no reason to unseal the transcripts.

"This stuff is evil," Stephen Tapson said of the descriptions contained in the transcripts. "Obviously, I would assume that Jaycee doesn't want this stuff out there."

The prosecution also has opposed releasing the transcripts, but media attorney Karl Olson said the law gives the public the right to see such materials and that hearings in the case should be open. He cited one decision involving Theodore Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomer, that allowed release of his psychiatric records.

As Olson spoke to reporters this afternoon following the brief open hearing, the judge was holding another closed hearing in the matter.

Phimister indicated he would allow arguments on the issue Dec. 2, and he said he was inclined to keep Garrido's competency hearing open in March.

That session is expected to determine whether he is able to stand trial or must be sent to a mental hospital until he is found to be able to face trial.

Garrido sat in court quietly today sporting a gray beard while his wife sat nearby. Both are being held in the El Dorado County Jail.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A Folsom Prison correctional officer is suspected of buying a drug with a phony doctor's prescription.

Billy Joe Humphries, 37, was arrested Tuesday afternoon by Folsom Police. Police said he tried to use a prescription slip with a forged doctor's signature for OxyContin at a pharmacy on East Bidwell Street in Folsom.

The pharmacist alerted police who took arrested Humphries into custody outside the store when he exited.

OxyContin is a highly addictive narcotic that doctors prescribe to treat chronic pain.

Humphries told investigators he became addicted to the drug after it was prescribed for a work-related injury, police said.

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

In the strongest possible terms, Nancy Garrido's attorney is arguing against release of grand jury transcripts involving the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard, saying they contain such "evil" that his client could never get a fair trial if they are made public.

Stephen Tapson, arguing against an effort by The Bee and other media organizations to force release of documents that have been sealed in the case, filed papers in El Dorado Superior Court saying he and Nancy Garrido oppose the release of any sealed documents.

The issue is scheduled to be argued in a court hearing in Placerville on Thursday, and Tapson left no doubts in his court declaration that the case against Nancy and Phillip Garrido could be severely damaged by release of transcripts from a grand jury session held in secret in September.

"I have received calls from Australia; Rome, Italy, and London, England, from people who have seen my visage on television," Tapson wrote. "I have examined hundreds of transcripts that vividly describe murder, rape, pillage, but nowhere in my experience have I seen a transcript that describes evil, as is contained in the grand jury transcript in People v. Garrido.

"I believe that any person who reads the grand jury transcript in this case would be adversely affected to the point they would be agreeing to the guilt of the defendant prior to the trial beginning."

Dugard was 11 when she was kidnapped in 1991 from outside her home near South Lake Tahoe. Authorities say the Garridos pulled her into a car and spirited her away to their Antioch-area home, where she was held captive for 18 years in sheds and tents in their backyard and forced to bear two daughters to Phillip Garrido, who was on parole at the time of the abduction for kidnap and rape.

She was found alive in August 2009 and the Garridos have been in custody in the El Dorado County Jail since then awaiting trial.

Both have pleaded not guilty to rape, kidnap and other charges that could send them to prison for life.

But, after a year of legal wrangling, prosecutors secretly convened a grand jury to issue new charges in the case, a move that allowed Dugard to testify privately and not face questioning from defense attorneys before the case goes to trial.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

El Dorado County Sheriff's deputies are advising Lake Tahoe area residents to take measures to discourage burglars.

The department is investigating a rash of burglaries in the Tahoe Paradise and Tahoe Mountain areas. Officials said it appears the burglaries are occurring during daylight hours when residents are away from home.

Residents are urged to lock their homes when they leave and to activate home security systems.

Anyone with information regarding the crimes or suspicious activity in the area is asked to call Detective Matt Harwood at (530) 573-3015 or the Secret Witness program at (530) 541-6800.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A Rescue man was arrested Monday afternoon after he allegedly set off a homemade explosive device, an El Dorado County sheriff's spokesman said today.

Lt. Bryan Golmitz, El Dorado County Sheriff's Department spokesman, said Jeffrey Scott Shaw, 40, was taken into custody shortly before 6 p.m. Monday in the 2600 block of Hastings Drive, just north of Green Valley Road. Residents of a nearby subdivision had reported hearing a loud boom.

Golmitz said it appeared that a milk carton possibly filled with a gasoline mixture had exploded, burning a 1-foot to 2-foot area. He said the explosion posed to threat to nearby residents.

Golmitz said Shaw was arrested on suspicion of threatening and obstructing law enforcement officers, and information will be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office alleging possession of a destructive device. He said deputies had had previous contact with Shaw regarding a number of issues.

According to inmate information available on the Sheriff's Department's website, Shaw is being held on $258,000 bail, including $115,000 related to enhancements for prior felony convictions.

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

By Bee Staff

A man who shot his sister and her husband to death near an El Dorado County school in 1986 is due a parole hearing.

Bryon Seibels Woolley, now 86, of Tempe, Ariz., was convicted of the murders of Patricia Cuccinello, 64, and Louis Cuccinello, 62. The pair lived in Cool, across a road from a school, The Bee reported.

The Cuccinellos were retired East Coast teachers.

Patricia Cuccinello's mother had died weeks earlier in Massachusetts and she had been named executor of her mother's estate.

Witnesses said Wooley shot the pair outside their home, told a school custodian to call police and waited for sheriff's deputies to arrive.

Woolley's hearing will be Nov. at the California Medical Facility where he is incarcerated.

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:

http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Divisions_Boards/BOPH/

Bee researcher Linda Beymer contributed to this report

By Bee Staff

A Sacramento man who killed his mistress in 1982 because he said she pressured him to leave his wife is due a parole hearing.

A judge sentenced Chester Grant Galloway, now 70, to 15 years to life in prison for the murder of Margaret Kramer, 63, of Clarksburg, The Bee reported.

Galloway said he and Kramer were walking in the woods and had just sat on a log when he strangled her. He stuffed her body into a log.

At the time of his arrest, Galloway was an escapee from a Florida prison where he was serving time for burglary.

He also served two other prison terms for burglary.

After Galloway led investigators to Kramer's body, he confessed to the killing.

Galloway's hearing will be Nov. 3 at the California Medical Facility where he is incarcerated.

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:

http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Divisions_Boards/BOPH/

Bee researcher Linda Beymer contributed to this report

By Bee Staff

Two minimum-security inmates - a car thief and a drugs/firearm possessor - escaped this morning from a support facility at Folsom State Prison, official said.

Officials described the escapees as:

-Jeffrey William Howard (below left), 43, a white male, 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 205 pounds with a shaved head, brown hair and brown eyes. He was sent to prison from Los Angeles County on July 13, 2009 to serve a four-year sentence for vehicle theft.

-Garrett Daniel Summitt (below right), 34, a white male, 6 feet tall, weighing 230 pounds with a shaved head, blonde hair and blue eyes. He was sent to prison from Los Angeles County on Dec. 10 to serve a six-year sentence for possession of a controlled substance and firearm possession.

Local law enforcement agencies and the California Highway Patrol have been notified and are assisting in the search.

Anyone seeing individuals who match the description should contact law enforcement authorities immediately or call 911.

Folsom State Prison opened in 1880 and is California's second oldest prison, officials said. It houses 3,526 minimum- and medium-security inmates and employs more than 1,100 people.

Jeffrey William Howard.jpg Garrett Daniel Summitt.jpg

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

bikehelmet.jpgFolsom police say that a middle school student's injuries were less severe because the eighth grader was wearing a helmet when struck by a car.

The cyclist's helmet absorbed a significant amount of impact, cracking the inner foam lining. Officer Steve Bailey said the helmet prevented serious head injuries.

Officers said that at about 8 a.m. Monday a car was making a right turn onto Silberhorn Drive when the vehicle struck the boy on his bike as he was riding to Folsom Middle School, 500 Blue Ravine Road.

The boy was transported to the hospital. He suffered a partially collapsed right lung and injuries to his left side. His injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

The investigation is ongoing and no fault has been determined.

The Folsom Police Department encourages all cyclists to wear helmets. A helmet is required for cyclists under the age of 18 years old.

The department has received a $50,000 grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for cycling and pedestrian education.

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

jeffreyjurgens.jpgBy Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Folsom police arrested two men in connection with gunfire on a residential street Sunday night.

Police said they responded to the 400 block of Turnpike Drive where gunshots were heard about 10 p.m. Police found .25-caliber shell casings in the road, but no victims or suspects.

A white Mercedes was seen leaving the area toward Blue Ravine Road, a vehicle that was later linked to the shooting on Turnpike Drive. The car was searched and police say they found cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, marijuana and digital scales.

dustinpaiz.jpgThe driver, Jeffrey Jurgens (top photo), 19, of Citrus Heights was arrested on suspicion of possession of narcotics with intent to sell.

Later, officers searched a home on John Henry Circle in Folsom. During the search, officers found a .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Dustin Paiz (bottom photo), 22, of Folsom was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms, possession of a narcotic, possession of nunchucks and assault with a deadly weapon.

Police believe that the shooting stemmed from a drug transaction that went bad.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Two people died when their car pulled in front of a sport utility vehicle on Highway 50 east of Placerville, the California Highway Patrol said today.

The couple was traveling eastbound on the freeway at Five Mile Road on Wednesday afternoon when their car turned at a left-turn lane to cross the westbound lanes of Highway 50 onto Five Mile Road, according to the CHP.

When they turned, the couple's car was broadsided by the SUV traveling westbound on Highway 50, the CHP reported.

Both of the people in the car died at the scene.

Several children were in the SUV, along with the driver.

One child was taken to a Placerville hospital and two were taken by air ambulance to UC Davis Medical Center with non life-threatening injuries.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A jewel thief has stolen $30,000 in gems and other valuables from Shingle Springs homes.

The burglar entered unlocked windows and doors at three homes earlier this month on weekday afternoons in the rural area around Meder and Ponderosa roads.

In each case, the burglar took a pillowcase, perhaps to carry away the jewelry.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department is asking residents to lock doors and windows when away from home.

No description of the suspect is available. However, neighbors say that before the burglaries, a young man was going door-to-door asking for donations.

Although this kind of solicitation has sometimes been a ruse for burglars casing a home, deputies have no evidence that occurred in the Shingle Springs break-ins.

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (530) 642-4711.

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

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

Sacramento Metro Fire officials are reminding area residents that wildfires are still a hazard, in light of a blaze Friday that threatened homes and sent two firefighters to the hospital.

The fire started in the American River Parkway near Sunrise Boulevard around 3 p.m.

In the course of fighting the fire, one firefighter fell down a steep cliff face and injured his ribs while another suffered heat exhaustion, according to a release issued by Capt. Christian Pebbles. Both injured firefighters were treated and released.

The fire occupied 30 firefighters and took nearly an hour to bring under control.

Although the blaze threatened homes atop the ridge at Villa Court, there were no homes damaged.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A Placerville attorney has become the 15th person sentenced in a major federal drug enforcement case.

Lawrence Edward Weitzman, 66, will serve 27 months in federal prison for his role in laundering $2.96 million in drug proceeds for four-time convicted drug trafficker Gregory Sperow, 58, of Los Angeles, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Idaho.

Weitzman, a practicing attorney in Placerville, was sentenced Aug. 31 by Chief District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill. The court also imposed a $25,000 fine in addition to asset forfeitures totaling $175,000.

"Weitzman's sentencing marks the end of one of the most significant drug investigations and prosecutions in the history of Idaho's U.S. Attorney's Office," Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, said in a written statement.

Officials said Weitzman was the 15th defendant sentenced in a multiyear prosecution of the Kent Jones organization, which had been identified as a regional priority target by the Federal Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force in Idaho. The investigation resulted in a series of indictments against defendants who operated throughout the United States importing drugs from Mexico to Southern California. The drugs then were typically transported to the Portland, Ore., area before being shipped to Idaho, Washington and other areas including Colorado, Ohio, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey and New York. In addition to importing and transporting marijuana, the group was heavily involved in growing marijuana in Oregon in the 1990s, both indoors and on public lands, according to the news release.

The original indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Boise, Idaho, in June 2006. Weitzman was added as a defendant in a superseding indictment filed in January 2007. On Sept. 22, 2008, Weitzman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and structure transactions, with an agreement to forfeit $175,000.

The investigation was handled by the District of Idaho because it stemmed from the case of a major drug trafficker, Leland Lang of Stites, Idaho, who was successfully prosecuted in Idaho in 2002. The Jones organization supplied Lang with large quantities of drugs that were distributed in Idaho and various Midwest and Eastern states. More than $1 million in currency was seized from Lang's mountaintop residence in Stites in 2002, officials reported.

Following the indictment of Lang and other co-conspirators in Kentucky, the investigation led to the Jones organization, which originated with a group of high school friends from Days Creek, Ore. The group's activities initially involved growing and selling marijuana, officials said, but later expanded to include smuggling large quantities of drugs from Mexico and Colombia.

Weitzman's association with the group was largely through co-defendants Sperow and Dale Barker of Evergreen, Colo., officials said. Since the 1970s, Sperow has served stints in federal prison for smuggling marijuana into the United States from Mexico and South America, as well as involvement in a large-scale methamphetamine manufacturing operation in Southern California.

From January 1996 to May 2004 Sperow was a fugitive living under several assumed names while he continued drug trafficking, according to the Department of Justice. Through Weitzman's help, officials said, Sperow continued to launder millions of dollars in drug proceeds.

Sperow was apprehended in the Bay Area community of Orinda in May 2004.

Weitzman's sentencing followed five days of testimony. In its ruling, the District Court found that "the evidence was overwhelming" that Weitzman either knew, or became willfully blind regarding the illegal source of Sperow's funds by 1996, that Weitzman continued to launder Sperow's drug funds for the eight years that Sperow was a fugitive, and that Weitzman laundered Sperow's proceeds even after Sperow was sent to federal prison for the fourth time in 2005.

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

RP GARRIDO NEW INDITEMENT.JPGUsing secret testimony from kidnap victim Jaycee Lee Dugard, prosecutors today unveiled a new 18-count indictment charging Phillip and Nancy Garrido with abducting Dugard in 1991, when she was 11, and later videotaping sex assaults upon her.

Nancy Garrido was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the new charges, which were handed up by an El Dorado County grand jury on Sept. 21. But Phillip Garrido, who has had criminal proceedings against him suspended while the court assesses his mental competency to stand trial, did not enter a plea because of questions over whether he could be arraigned.

Judge Douglas Phimister called attorneys to return to court Nov. 4 to address the issue of whether Garrido would enter a plea or have the judge enter one for him.

District Attorney Vern Pierson told reporters later that he could not discuss what happened inside the grand jury room but he acknowledged that using the grand jury was an effective method of supplying privacy to a victim like Dugard.

Prosecutors did not dismiss the case they originally filed in August 2009, but for now the new indictment, which largely mirrors the old charges, takes center stage. The new indictment contains several allegations that Phillip Garrido produced video of "substantial sexual conduct" from the beginning of her captivity and continuing at least until May 1994.

Despite the new charges, there is little chance the trial will commence any time soon. Phillip Garrido first must face mental examination, a process that could take months.

Garrido, convicted in the 1976 abduction and rape of Katie Calllaway-Hall, faced competency questions in that case as well but eventually stood trial.

Callaway-Hall, who has attended most of the court sessions in the Dugard case, told reporters later that Garrido was a master at manipulating the system and parole agents.

"I think he is crazy like a fox," she said.

Read the Garrido indictment here.

Phillip Garrido and his attorney, Susan Gillman, look over a new indictment issued in El Dorado County Superior Court on Friday. Bee staff photo Randy Pench

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

Q: What happened to Shane Vicars, the afterschool instructor, arrested earlier this year? Lena, Sacramento

A: Vicars' case is in the pretrial stages. No date has been set for a trial, Sacramento Superior Court records show.

shane vicars[1].jpgVicars (left), 26, faces 22 counts of lewd or lascivious conduct with a child under the age of 14, according to court records.

He is being held in the Sacramento County Jail on $1 million bail, jail records show.

On Jan. 6, Sacramento County sheriff's detectives arrested Vicars, a child development teacher at the Sierra Oaks K-8 School's Discovery Club, The Bee reported.

Child-abuse detectives allege that Vicars abused multiple boys between the ages of 7 and 11 within the last 18 months, a sheriff's spokesman told The Bee after Vicars' arrest.

All of the alleged victims were enrolled in the after-school Discovery Club at Sierra Oaks and told detectives the alleged abuse occurred when they were alone with Vicars in a classroom, the spokesman said.

In all cases, the alleged molestation involved inappropriate touching, the spokesman said.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A 42-year-old transient who shot and killed a man in a Placerville homeless camp has been sentenced to 70 years to life in prison, the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office said in a press release.

Kenneth Sharonoff had been convicted of second-degree murder in the Jan. 23 killing of Clark "Otto" McCabe, 69, on Missouri Flat Road. An El Dorado County Superior Court jury convicted Sharonoff of the murder, as well as being an ex-con with firearms, and also of elder abuse.

The press release on Thursday's sentencing by Judge Suzanne Kingsbury said that a friend of the victim described McCabe as "a kind and generous person" who "was respected and well-liked, and now very much missed."

According to the friend, McCabe once took up a collection to buy clothing for nine homeless women and their children "who were even less fortunate than himself," the press release said.

Sharonoff's record showed he had prior convictions for shooting a man in 1986 and for smashing an elderly man in his 80s with a rock in 1994 in a job argument, according to the press release.

Prosecutors said Sharonoff shot and killed McCabe with a .44 caliber cap-and-ball pistol "during a minor dispute."

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

JVGARRIDO020.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.JPGA judge in Placerville suspended the criminal prosecution of accused kidnapper Phillip Garrido after his public defender declared she doubted his mental competency to face trial.

The judge ordered a hearing for Oct. 8 on whether to appoint a mental expert to examine the 59-year-old alleged kidnapper of Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was abducted in 1991 at the age of 11.

The judge said he would allow the prosecution of Garrido's wife, Nancy Garrido to proceed. But he said he had his own doubts about Phillip Garrido's competency after public defender Susan Gellman said she, too, doubted his competency. The judge suspended the case.

The development could delay the prosecution of Phillip Garrido indefinitely.

His wife still faces a hearing Oct. 1.

An El Dorado County grand jury indicted the Garridos on new charges this week in an apparent attempt to speed up the case. It is likely that the indictment will be unsealed and Nancy Garrido arraigned in the coming week.

"We're talking about a timeout in the case," Gellman said. "We're not talking about not going forward."

She would not say that she was certain whether her client would someday face trial but told reporters the matter would be resolved in some fashion.

To declare a defendant incompetent, the law requires a finding that the defendant doesn't understand the nature of the proceedings and cannot assist in his defense. Gellman has previously said in court filings that her client may suffer from "serious mental illness" and she said today that she has seen him in the Eldorado County Jail more than 20 times and "We have had persistent trouble. I would just characterize it in that fashion."

Judge Douglas C. Phimister said he, too, had doubts about Garrido's competency, noting that in some hearings he witnessed Garrido looking away and ignoring his attorney as she tried to talk to him, sitting "totally mute" at times and "in a very aggressive manner making notes" when there appeared to be no reason to do so.

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

Photo caption: Phillip Garrido sits with his attorney Susan Gellman during a June court appearance. (Jose Luis Villegas/jvillegas@sacbee.com)

MC_GARRIDO07[1].JPGBy Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Phillip Garrido will be back in court Friday afternoon, possibly for his public defender to announce that the accused kidnapper of Jaycee Lee Dugard may be mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Such a move could put an immediate stop to the proceedings, if the judge in the case agrees to order a mental evaluation of the convicted rapist and kidnapper.

The hearing was scheduled after a closed session held today in El Dorado Superior Court, records show, and follows word that the El Dorado County grand jury had issued new indictments against Garrido and his wife, Nancy, earlier this week.

Nancy Garrido's attorney said he believed the indictments had been issued, but they have not yet been made public. The current charges were expected to be thrown out at the next scheduled hearing on Oct. 1 and replaced by the indictment, which would allow the case to move directly to trial without a preliminary hearing being held.

But that may all change, depending on what Garrido's lawyer, Susan Gellman, does in court tomorrow.

Gellman did not respond to a request for comment and District Attorney Vern Pierson's office could not immediately be reached.

If Gellman expresses doubt about her client's competence -- as she has done in the past -- the judge could halt proceedings while Garrido is evaluated by experts.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The City of Folsom has announced that Police Chief Sam Spiegel will retire.

Spiegel will remain on the job until Folsom City Manager Kerry Miller appoints an interim chief to serve during recruitment for a new chief.

Spiegel served more than nine years as chief. He also served as interim Assistant City Manager and interim City Manager in 2006.

"Although it is very difficult to leave this organization, I do so with tremendous pride in our accomplishments and confidence in our stellar public safety team," Spiegel said in a press release.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County man has pleaded guilty in federal court to receiving child pornography.

Charles Johnson, 47, of Garden Valley entered the plea Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Edward Garcia.

According to court documents, images of child pornography were found on Johnson's work laptop computer after he was terminated by his employer for allegedly stealing trade secrets. The computer was returned to the company on July 27, 2007, and the firm sent it to a private forensic lab to see whether any company trade secrets had been stored improperly on the computer. The forensic analyst found evidence of child pornography.

A forensic review of the laptop showed that a new operating system had been installed on July 21, 2007, with a registered owner of "CJ," according to a federal Department of Justice news release. The forensic examiner was able to recover earlier file systems, 2,100 of which were images of child pornography that had been downloaded onto the computer between Sept. 27, 2005 and June 18, 2007.

In addition, 80 videos of child pornography were recovered.

Web files on the computer showed that Johnson had knowingly accessed and used numerous pay sites to build his child pornography collection.

The case resulted from a joint investigation by the Folsom Police Department, El Dorado County Sheriff's Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Cyber Crime Task Force.

Johnson is to be sentenced Jan. 21. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A teen who drove at 80 mph with Folsom police in pursuit before crashing his car has been booked into Sacramento County Juvenile Hall.

The 17-year-old boy was spotted by police about 11 p.m. Friday when an officer noticed him make a right turn at Ingersol Way and Natoma Station Drive in the Natoma Station neighborhood. The driver took the turn so fast, his car slid sideways.

The officer tried to pull the teen over but he fled at more than 80 mph, ignoring stop signs, police said. Along the way, police said people in the car hurled beer bottles at the patrol car during the pursuit that covered about a mile in one minute.

At Natoma Station Drive and Blue Ravine Road the driver lost control and struck a sport utility vehicle.

The driver ran from the scene, leaving his six passengers in the wrecked car, including one who suffered a concussion, according to Folsom Police Officer Jason Browning. The four people in the SUV were not injured.

The teen was arrested Sunday night at his home on suspicion of evading police and felony hit and run causing injury.

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

RickyMora.jpgBy Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Folsom police said a loud party led to early morning stabbings during a big fight when an ousted partygoer returned with friends for a fight with baseball bats and sticks.

At least four people suffered injuries, police said. The extent of the injuries has not been released.

The incident began about 2:45 a.m. in an apartment complex in the 200 block of Montrose Drive near Fargo Way and Natoma Street where police were called to a report of a fight at a large party.

When police arrived they found one person had been stabbed or cut on his back and chest. He was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.

Police believe that man had been asked to leave the party earlier in the evening. The man, who police did not identify, allegedly returned with a friends armed with baseball bats, sticks and possibly a knife, police said.

A fight began in which the four people sustained lacerations, stab wounds or other injuries.

When officers tried to investigate, an occupant of the apartment slammed the door and retreated inside, police said.

As officers waited outside they were taunted with profanities and gang signs, police said. Police counted 11 people inside the apartment.

A standoff began and after three hours people slowly began exiting the apartment after repeated requests by officers for them to come out.

One person, Ricky Mora, 26, of Folsom, was arrested for kicking out the window of a police car and a probation violation, police said.

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

By Carlos Alcala
calcala@sacbee.com

Folsom Police arrested a Sacramento man today after he led them on a chase through a residential neighborhood.

The chase ended after he backed his elevated 4X4 truck toward officers and one fired at the vehicle, which ended up disabled and resting on the hood of a police car, police reported.

The incident began around 2 a.m. when officers in Folsom's Historic District saw the raised GMC truck back into a parked and marked patrol unit on Sutter Street.

An officer on foot ordered the driver to stop, shining a flashlight at him, but the suspect sped away.

Marked police cars tried to stop the suspect numerous times during a pursuit in which he swerved at cars and onto residential yards.

Eventually, units hemmed him into a driveway in the 1200 block of School Street.

The suspect backed toward officers who got out of their cars expecting him to give up, police reported.

An officer who feared for his safety fired shots at the driver, who was not injured.

Officers also were uninjured in the pursuit.

Perry Persijn, 27, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer, felony evading, hit and run and impaired driving.

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

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

Tylar Marie Witt, whose lurid writings detailed a forbidden teenage relationship and an alleged murder plot, pleaded guilty today of the brutal killing of her mother.

tylarwitt.jpgWitt (left) was 14 at the time of June, 2009 killing of her mother, Joanne Witt, in their El Dorado Hills home.

She accepted a plea bargain that will send her to prison for 15 years to life in exchange for her testimony at the trial of her former boyfriend, Steven Paul Colver (bottom right).

Colver, who was 19 at the time of the crime, is charged with stabbing Joanne Witt to death in her bed after Tylar Witt summoned him to house in the predawn hours.

The teen lovers were allegedly furious that Joanne Witt filed a statutory rape report against Colver and gave authorities her daughter's journal detailing a sexual relationship between the teens.

Under a plea bargain agreed to before El Dorado County Judge James R. Wagoner, Witt pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with two special circumstances: lying in wait and killing a witness.

If she fails to cooperate with authorities, she will be sent to prison for 25 years to life. Under the plea bargain, she will get 15 years for second-degree murder.NorCal Mom Killed[1].jpg

Witt originally pleaded non-guilty by reason of insanity in to the case.

Her attorney, Mark Ralphs, said the plea deal - long in the works - means that "Witt has to testify truthfully" in all upcoming proceedings.

"What everyone has bargained for is her truthful testimony," Ralphs said.

Prosecutor Lisette Suder said court documents signed by the Witt, now 15, affirmed the girl's role in the killing.

"She pleaded guilty to murder and murder with special circumstances," Suder said. "She didn't say, 'No contest.' She said, 'I plead guilty.'"

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A former resident of India who twice unlawfully entered the United States has been sentenced to three years in state prison for the 1994 arson of his Folsom liquor store.

In 1995, Kashmir Singh was convicted of arson in a jury trial but was released on bond and then failed to appear for his sentencing in August of that year, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney's Office news release.

While Singh, now 48, was a fugitive, the district attorney filed additional charges against him for failing to appear in court.

On Oct. 15, 1994, Singh's Folsom liquor store burst into flames moments after Singh had set the store's alarm, locked the door and left the store, officials said. Investigators determined that the fire had been started inside the store with a flammable liquid and spread to the store's roof, where someone had poured additional flammable liquids.

Singh entered the United States unlawfully and testified at his jury trial that he would not have committed the arson because he would not risk deportation back to India. He testified that, if returned to India, he believed he would be killed for political reasons.

Singh was released on a $200,000 bond in the arson case but failed to appear for his sentencing. Instead, officials said, he fled to India, where he lived until 2002, when he again unlawfully entered the United States.

In 2003, the FBI discovered that Singh used an alias to apply for a hearing on his immigration status. He failed to appear for his hearing and remained at large until he surrendered to the FBI on April 2, 2009.

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

By Carlos Alcala
calcala@sacbee.com

A jury gave the death penalty today to David Charles Zanon for running down and killing California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Russell on July 31, 2007.

ZANONx32654[1].JPGThe El Dorado County Superior Court jury found Zanon (left) guilty on Aug. 4 of killing Russell in a manner that required a second deliberation to determine if Zanon's crimes merited the death penalty.

Zanon, who had a warrant for his arrest, was found outside a burglarized business in Rancho Cordova and sped off, leading officers from multiple jurisdictions on a chase along Highway 50.

Prosecutors argued that Zanon coldly and with premeditation steered off Highway 50 in El Dorado County onto the median to kill Russell, who had just set out a spike strip in an attempt to stop him.

In addition to the murder, Zanon was found guilty of attempting to murder CHP Officer Wayne Kenneweg, whom he also swerved toward during the pursuit that led from Rancho Cordova deep into El Dorado County.

Zanon also was found guilty of assault on Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Shannon Schumaker; guilty of evading an officer, causing death; felony leaving the scene of an accident; and receiving stolen property.

"Today, justice has finally been served for the cold-blooded killing of Officer Scott Russell," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "While nothing can erase the everlasting pain and sorrow felt by Officer Russell's family and friends, may today's decision at least bring some relief that this process is over."

His defense, conducted by Mark D. Millard, attempted to undercut the prosecution's allegations that Zanon wanted to kill the officers he encountered.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

El Dorado County Animal Services is searching for the owner of a small dog that bit a child in Cameron Park late Sunday morning.

The girl was playing at McAuliffe Park on Merry Chase Drive and was petting the dog when she was bitten, according to an El Dorado County Health Services Department news release.

The dog is believed to be a brown and white Basenji, wearing a wide studded collar. The animal was on a leash and accompanied by a woman, who called the dog "Kia."

The owner indicated that the dog had had a rabies vaccination, but because no information was exchanged, officials said, the vaccination status cannot be confirmed.

Although the child's injuries were minor, Animal Services officials would like to speak with the dog's owner to verify that the dog is current on its rabies vaccination so the child does not have to have post-exposure rabies treatments.

Anyone with information is asked to call Animal Services at (530) 621-5795.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A Sacramento man has pleaded guilty to stealing money while servicing automated teller machines at the Red Hawk Casino in El Dorado County.

Eduardo Ursua Fontillas, 51, pleaded guilty Friday before U.S. District Court Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. to felony theft and embezzlement from a casino operated by an Indian tribe.

According to court documents, Fontillas stole more than $125,000 in $1,000 and $1,500 increments from ATMs at Red Hawk Casino while servicing the machines. The loss was suffered by the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, which owns the casino on the Shingle Springs Rancheria, off Highway 50 in Shingle Springs.

Fontillas' girlfriend, Rosalina Due Bona, 43, of Sacramento, is also charged with receipt of stolen and embezzled money. She allegedly possessed for her own use between $50,000 and $60,000 in cash from the ATMs, according to a federal Department of Justice news release. Bona is scheduled for a court hearing before Judge Burrell on Oct. 29.

Fontillas is to be sentenced Dec. 3.

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

By Bee Staff

A former Cool church deacon was sentenced Friday to 30 years to life for five counts of lewd or lascivious acts with two young sisters under the guise of providing Bible study, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully.

clip_image002[1].jpgThe jury than convicted Robert Cowan (photo left) in July also agreed to an enhancement against him, which added to his sentence, Scully said.

Cowan, 66, also will be required to register as a sex offender.

Cowan was a deacon in a large Baptist Church in Cool.

The victims are sisters, ages 7 and 10. Cowan committed the molestations at the victims' Sacramento County home where was supposed to be leading the victims in Bible study, Scully said.

"This case is particularly disturbing given the abuse of trust, power and position by a religious leader," said Deputy District Attorney Kari Reeve. "Today's sentence is justice served for the crimes committed by the offender and for the two young victims."

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Folsom police say that the man known as the "Jelly Belly Bandit" has been arrested after a short chase.

On Aug. 18 police asked for help in identifying a big-bellied man suspected of holding up a Jelly Belly candy store.

toddjosephwillis.jpgA man walked into the jelly-bean outlet store about 1:40 p.m. July 28 and pointed a pepper-spray canister at the clerk.

The clerk at the Folsom Premium Outlets store, 13000 Folsom Blvd., complied with his demands for cash. The robber then strolled from the store with an undisclosed amount of money.

The suspect was described as 6 feet tall and weighing 270 pounds.

After media outlets ran stories and photos of the robber, a Sacramento County sheriff's deputy and a Citrus Heights security officer contacted Folsom investigators about a man who looked like the Jelly Belly Bandit and had been arrested Aug. 11 for a similar crime.

Investigators showed a photo lineup, which included the photograph of Todd Joseph Willis (photo right), to a witness of the Jelly Belly robbery. Willis was identified as the suspected robber.

On Thursday, police went to Willis' apartment in Fair Oaks to speak with him.

When they tried to place him under arrest, he fled on foot. He was subdued, police said, after a brief struggle.

Willis was booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of robbery and willfully resisting a police officer.

For the record, Willis' jail booking sheet lists him at 6 feet 1 inches tall and just 230 pounds.

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

Chris Cochran, assistant director of Marketing and Public Affairs, California Office of Traffic Safety, answered this question and others about DUI checkpoints for Sacto 9-1-1.

Q: Why do police tip the public about checkpoints ahead of time?

A: There are two reasons for advance publicity. It is a 'best practice' based on court CHECKPOINT[1].JPGrulings and effectiveness. The State Supreme Court said that advance publicity reduces intrusiveness of the stop at a sobriety checkpoint. The publicity and high visibility adds to their primary deterrence effect.

Q: Why are police doing so many?

A: Virtually all nighttime DUI checkpoints are funded by the state Office of Traffic Safety. We have increased funding for checkpoints and raised their number by approximately 47 percent. Last year there were 1,740 checkpoints statewide. This year we anticipate 2,500. We are doing them because they work, dropping fatality rates up to 25 percent. They save lives better than any other single tactic. That's the bottom line.

Q: How many drunken drivers are caught in the checkpoints?

A: The number varies from city to city, checkpoint to checkpoint. Usually between five and 15 in an urban area. But the number of arrests is not the measure of success. The measure is whether the number of fatalities and injuries declines in the coming years if checkpoints are carried out often and effectively enough.

Q: Do the checkpoints serve a secondary function, such as preventing others from drunk driving?

A: For those who don't ever drink and drive, it reiterates to them that DUI is a dangerous, socially unacceptable behavior. For those who might be contemplating a night out drinking, it serves to warn them ahead of time of the dangers of drinking and driving as well as the consequences of being caught. They then have the opportunity to arrange for a designated sober driver.

Q: Do you have a ballpark figure of the number of checkpoints each year in the Sacramento area?

A: About 70 for the Roseville, Sacramento, Elk Grove, West Sacramento, Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, Folsom and unincorporated areas.

Q: Home much money is allocated to the program and when will it run out?

A: The Office of Traffic Safety will spend about $20 million on DUI checkpoints in the state for the year. The amount allocated varies from year to year, but we anticipate it will be in the same ballpark next year.

- Bill Lindelof

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is investigating a string of residential burglaries in which the intruder typically entered the home through an open door or window.

Most of the burglaries have occurred in rural areas at homes with limited visibility, according to a Sheriff's Office news release. In a few cases, the side door of the garage or a window was forced open or smashed.

Deputies have responded to 18 such burglaries in the greater Placerville area in the past two months. Most of the burglaries occurred during daytime hours on weekdays.

Officials said the intruders appear to be targeting jewelry, guns and some electronic equipment.

The most recent incident occurred Tuesday in Pollock Pines. The resident returned home after being gone for the day and found that someone had tampered with a side window.

The resident reported a laptop computer, cash and jewelry had been taken from the residence.

Sheriff's officials recommend that residents record the make, model and serial number of electronic equipment and firearms, and keep them in a safe place.

They also suggest taking photographs of valuable jewelry. This will assist law enforcement officers in their investigation if the items are stolen.

The Sheriff's Office also reminds residents to secure their homes when they leave, and encourages neighbors to look out for each other and to immediately report any suspicious activity to authorities.

Such activities might include unfamiliar individuals in the neighborhood asking for assistance in finding a pet or a friend's residence. Officials say this is a common tactic burglars use to find out whether the residence is occupied.

Anyone with information about the burglaries under investigation is asked to call El Dorado County Sheriff's detectives at (530) 642-4715.

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

Bee staff

Crime scene investigators for the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department are looking into an early morning drive-by shooting at a home on the 3600 block of Coral Bells Drive in El Dorado Hills, department spokesman Lt. Bryan Golmitz said today.

Golmitz said no one was injured in the shooting, which was reported at 5:30 a.m., and no suspects are in custody.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

PLACERVILLE -- New questions arose this afternoon over whether Phillip Garrido is mentally competent to stand trial in the 1991 kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard.

MC_GARRIDO07[1].JPGWith the one-year anniversary of Dugard's reappearance after 18 years of captivity coming next week, a judge in El Dorado Superior Court said there still is a question over whether officials will seek a psychological exam of Garrido (photo left) before the case goes forward.

Garrido's attorney, Susan Gellman, did not address the issue in open court during a three-minute hearing this afternoon, but the judge indicated that the matter had come up in a private meeting before court began.

The case is set to go to a preliminary hearing Oct. 7, during which prosecutors will attempt to show that there is enough evidence to move to trial on kidnapping and rape charges against Garrido and his wife, Nancy.

But the possibility of testing Garrido's mental competence could push the matter back much further. It is not the first time that questions have been raised over Garrido's mental state. Gellman has previously filed court papers questioning his mental state.

Nancy Garrido's attorney, Stephen Tapson, said no such issues have been raised about his own client, and he deflected questions about his view of Phillip Garrido's mental state.

"Everybody's nuts," Tapson said.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Investigators today released surveillance photos of a takeover-style bank robbery in Cameron Park Thursday morning. (Photos below)

Wells Fargo is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the three robbers.

No one was injured in the robbery, which occurred at 10 a.m., according to an El Dorado County Sheriff's Office news release.

Witnesses told deputies that two men entered the bank at 3440 Palmer Drive. One was carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle and began shouting at people inside the bank to get on the ground. The second man jumped over the counter and demanded money.

A third man stood at the front door of the bank during the robbery.

After receiving an undisclosed amount of money, the three left the area in a late-model Honda four-door sedan.

Deputies responding to the robbery report found the vehicle abandoned in a neighborhood about a mile from the bank. They searched the area, but did not find the robbers.

Several neighborhood residents reported seeing two men get out of the Honda and enter a white Geo Prism, which then left the area.

The three men were described as in their 20s. Sheriff's officials said the men were wearing hooded sweatshirts and some type of covering over their faces, which left investigators with few other details about the robbers.

Deputies learned that the vehicle the men abandoned may have been carjacked out of Oakland this week.

Anyone with information pertaining to the robbery is asked to call the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office at (530) 621-6600.

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

bankrob1.JPG bankrob3.JPG

By Bee Staff

Sacramento Valley law enforcement agencies issued nearly 600 citations for cell-phone use to drivers on Wednesday.

Dozens of agencies participated in the second zero tolerance day this month for cell-phone use and texting while driving.

The California Highway Patrol reported today that 588 citations were used for cell-phone use while driving and four for texting while driving. On Aug. 10, the first crackdown day, 345 citations were issued for cell phones and seven for texting.

A similar effort was made in Contra Costa County where law enforcement agencies issued more than 300 citations to motorists caught violating the hands-free driving law - including one who was caught twice within three hours - during a two-day crackdown, the California Highway Patrol told the Contra Costa Times.

The Sacramento Valley crackdown was conducted by the CHP and by police departments including the Sacramento, Elk Grove, West Sacramento, Roseville, Galt, Twin Rivers, Lodi, Ripon, Rancho Cordova, South Lake Tahoe departments and the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department.

Cell-phone violations carry a minimum fine of $20 for the first offense and $50 for the second. When court costs and other fees are added, the total can exceed $100 for a first offense, the CHP said.

Cell phones are the leading cause statewide of crashes by inattentive drivers, the CHP said.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

jelly belly.JPGFolsom police need help in identifying a big bellied man suspected of holding up a Jelly Belly candy store.

The man (photo left) walked into the jelly-bean outlet store about 1:40 p.m. July 28 and pointed a pepper-spray canister at the clerk.

The clerk at the Folsom Premium Outlets store, 13000 Folsom Blvd., complied with his demands for cash. The robber then strolled from the store with an undisclosed amount of money.

The suspect is described as white, 6 feet tall, 270 pounds, in his late 40s or early 50s with a "large belly." He was wearing a brown shirt and brown pants.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Andrew Bates at (916) 355-7230.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Folsom police are searching for a handgun that may have been used by suspects who led police on a chase through Folsom, Granite Bay, Roseville and Orangevale early Saturday.

Police received a report at 1:03 a.m. of a robbery that had just occurred in an apartment parking lot on Folsom Ranch Drive. One of the victims told officers that two men driving a yellow Ford Mustang had followed them to a friend's apartment. One of the suspects got out on the passenger's side of the Mustang and pointed a handgun at one of the victims, taking his car keys and cell phone, according to a Folsom Police Department news release.

Six minutes after receiving the robbery report, an officer checking the surrounding area found the yellow Mustang at American River Canyon Drive and Oak Avenue Parkway. When the officer attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver led officers on a 10-minute chase through Granite Bay and Roseville, then returned to Folsom and continued into Orangevale. During the chase, the driver of the Mustang ran stops signs and stoplights, traveling more than 80 mph throughout the pursuit, police reported.

On Pershing Avenue at Beech Avenue, the driver lost control of the Mustang, and he and his passenger ran off.

Officers were unable to locate the suspects, but they found a holster for a handgun as well as the cell phone and car keys taken from the victim. Police said they also found text messages on the victim's phone from one of the suspects that shed new light on the incident.

Officers discovered that the suspect and victim had arranged to conduct a narcotics transaction in the hours before the robbery occurred. The registered owner of the Mustang also called the Sacramento Police Department minutes after the pursuit ended to report her vehicle stolen.

Sacramento police found one of the two suspects at the Mustang owner's residence when they went there to take the stolen vehicle report. The officer detained Jack Colbert, 29, of Sacramento, and the victim subsequently identified Colbert as the person in possession of the handgun during the robbery.

When confronted with the evidence in his stolen cell phone, police said, the victim confessed to having been involved in a marijuana transaction with the suspects when the robbery occurred.

One of the two suspects, Troy Samas, 19, of Orangevale allegedly had arranged to meet the victim to purchase a large quantity of marijuana from the victim, according to police. The victim claimed that Colbert robbed him and his friends of the marijuana, cell phone and car keys when they met at the agreed-upon location.

Samas was arrested Sunday morning at his mother's home in Orangevale.

Samas and Colbert were booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy, robbery, commission of a felony using a firearm and felony evasion of a police officer.

Folsom police said they also were contacted by the Placer County Sheriff's Department, which reported that a pedestrian had located a large quantity of marijuana along the pursuit route and had turned the marijuana over to sheriff's deputies.

Today, an off-duty peace officer who said he had witnessed the pursuit from his Roseville residence followed up with investigators. He told police he had seen two distinct muzzle flashes come from the Mustang and could smell gunpowder after he heard the gunfire.

Folsom police said investigators are looking for the missing handgun and evidence to support the off-duty officer's report.

Anyone with information regarding the incident or the firearm is asked to call the Folsom Police Tipline at (916) 585-4110.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Police are investigating a smash and grab burglary at a gun shop in Rancho Cordova.

Police responded to a burglar alarm about 3 a.m. at Rancho Cordova Guns & Ammo, 1951 Zinfandel Drive. When they arrived, the officers found a possibly stolen silver Toyota pickup backed into the front door.

A witness saw a man run from the store, police said. One airsoft rifle that shoots plastic, non-lethal pellets was stolen from the store but was recovered. Another rifle may have been stolen.

In February, a similar incident occurred when someone unsuccessfully tried to drive a vehicle through the front door.

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

By Peter Hecht
phect@sacbee.com

A 14-year-old girl's story of medieval-era betrayal and murder can be introduced into evidence in the trial of two teen lovers accused of killing the girl's mother in her El Dorado Hills home, a judge ruled Monday.

El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Melikian also ruled that Tylar Marie Witt, now 15, and Steven Paul Colver, 20, can be tried together for the killing of Witt's mother, Joanne Witt.

Melikian on June 14 ruled that Colver could receive a separate trial if prosecutors introduced a lurid, hand-written story by Tylar Witt that detailed a killing - set in medieval times - that mirrored many circumstances of Joanne Witt stabbing in June 2009.

But the judge reversed himself Monday after prosecutor Lisette Suder argued that legal precedent permitted the girl's story - "The Killer and his Raven" - to be introduced as evidence, even if prosecutors try Witt and Colver together as intended.

"This evidence will not require separate trials for Colver and Witt," Melikian ruled.

Joanne Witt was found dead of multiple stab wounds in the bedroom of her El Dorado Hills home days after she had handed over her daughter's diary - detailing a sexual relationship between Tylar Witt and Colver - as part of a statutory rape allegation against Colver, then 19.

After the murder, Witt and Colver fled to San Francisco. Along the way, authorities say, Colver mailed suicide notes and "The Killer and his Raven" to a friend of Witt's.

Prosecutors say the story chronicles an intense romantic relationship and the teen's anger and panic after Joanne Witt handed over Tylar Witt's real-life diary to authorities.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A man from the Madera County community of Bass Lake has been arrested on suspicion of a making a bomb threat at a Walmart store in El Dorado County.

Nicholas Gregorio, 18, was taken into custody Thursday at a residence on Forni Road in Placerville.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department was called to the Walmart store in Diamond Springs about 11 a.m. Tuesday. The bomb threat was written in ink on a surface in the men's restroom, and store managers were evacuating the store when deputies arrived, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

The California Highway Patrol provided a dog trained in detecting explosive material, but no explosive device was located.

The following day, deputies working with store managers identified Gregorio as a suspect and filed a complaint with the District Attorney's Office.

Gregorio was booked into El Dorado County Jail and has been released on $50,000 bail.

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

Q: Is there any update on Michael Anthony Cox? He was on death row and it is now late 2010. - Wanting justice for, Placerville

A: Cox, now 54, is still on California's death row. He has been there since Dec. 5, 1985, prison records show.

Cox, who was so certain he would be exonerated that he asked his attorney not to present testimony against the death penalty, was sentenced in El Dorado County Superior Court on Nov. 26, 1985, to die for killing three Placerville teen-agers.

Cox was convicted of the murders of Lynda Burrill, 18, and triplet sisters Debra and Denise Galston, 14.

The three girls disappeared from Placerville's Main Street in the summer of 1984. Their bodies were found at different locations in the Eldorado National Forest.

Witnesses said Cox had called the three teenagers "whores and sluts," and District Attorney Ronald Tepper said Cox killed the girls to satisfy his "sadistic appetite."

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

kailynmay.jpgBy Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies are asking for help to find a 5-year-old girl whose mother allegedly tested positive for drugs.

Kailyn May (top photo) is probably with her mother, Sheri Lyn May (middle photo), 41, and her mother's boyfriend, Joseph Loescher (bottom photo), 55, of Fair Oaks.

Deputies said that on Wednesday Sheri Lyn May and her daughter went to a local hospital after the mother fell down and hurt herself. A toxicology screen revealed methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription drugs in the mother.

sherilynmay.jpgHospital staff concerned for the little girl's safety notified Child Protective Services so that Kailyn could be placed in protective custody. But before that could occur, Loescher arrived and took them away.

The little girl is considered an at-risk person because of her mother's drug use, deputies said.

The daughter and mother were last seen at the hospital. Loescher was last seen driving away from the family home in the 4300 block of New York Avenue in Fair Oaks.

He was driving an older, white Jeep Cherokee. Kailyn is about 3 feet tall and weighs 42 pounds. She has long brown hair and blue eyes.

Her mother is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and 115 pounds. She has brown hair and hazel eyes.

josephloescher.jpgLoescher is 5-foot-10 and weighs 170 pounds. He has brown hair, brown eyes and a mustache.

Anyone with information can call deputies at (916) 874-5115.

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

RB Cellphone 0004[1].JPG1.JPG

A motorist uses a cell phone while driving in Sacramento on Tuesday. Bee photo by Randall Benton.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The first zero tolerance cell-phone day in the Sacramento area resulted in 345 tickets for talkative drivers.

Police and the California Highway Patrol dedicated Tuesday to focusing on drivers talking or texting on a cell phone that is not a hands-free device.

On Tuesday, the officers issued 345 citations for talking on the cell phone while driving. The officers also handed out seven citations for texting while driving.

The CHP handed out 147 of those tickets for cell-phone conversations and allied police departments wrote 198 tickets for the same offense.

The crackdown was conducted by the CHP and by the Sacramento, Elk Grove, West Sacramento, Roseville, Galt, Twin Rivers, Lodi, Ripon and Rancho Cordova police departments.

Another crackdown by CHP and police departments is planned for Aug. 18.

"If you are one of those who can't resist answering that cell phone, we will be out in force again," said CHP officer Adrian Quintero.

Cell-phone violations carry a minimum fine of $20 for the first offense and $50 for the second. When court costs and other fees are added, the total can exceed $100 for a first offense, the CHP said.

Cell phones are the leading cause statewide of crashes by inattentive drivers, the CHP said.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Police and the California Highway Patrol in the Sacramento area are dedicating two days this month to "zero tolerance" of cell phone use or texting while driving.

Anyone caught talking or texting on a cell phone that is not a hands free device Tuesday or Aug. 18 will be given a citation that carries a fine of up to $100, according to the CHP. (An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the effort would cover nine days.)

The CHP indicated that such enforcements may become an annual effort.

Cell phones are the leading cause of inattentive driver crashes in the state, the CHP said.

Since the start of the hands-free law two years ago more than 1,200 collisions have cell phones as a contributing factor.

Those collisions have resulted in 16 fatalities and 850 people injured.

Among the agencies participating in the crackdown are: the CHP and officers in the Sacramento, Elk Grove, West Sacramento, Roseville, Galt and Rancho Cordova police departments.

The July 1, 2008 law prohibits the use of handheld cell phones by all drivers. In addition, it forbids drivers under the age of 18 from using both handheld and hands free phones. Six months later, a ban on text messaging by drivers was put in place.

CHP officers have issued more than 244,000 citations for violation of the cell phone law.

Cell phone violations carry a minimum fine of $20 for the first offense and $50 for the second. When court costs and other fees are added, the total can exceed $100 for a first offense, the CHP said.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

An 82-year-old Sacramento man drowned Saturday afternoon in Lake Tahoe after his inflatable boat capsized, official said today.

The incident occurred near the 700 block of West Lake Boulevard.

Sgt. John Giovannini of the Placer County Sheriff's Department said Robert Clyde Cook was transporting family and friends between a boat and the shore when his Zodiac craft capsized at 3:46 p.m.

Cook, who was not wearing a life jacket, tried to swim to safety but drowned about 250 yards offshore where the water is about 10 feet deep.

Giovannini said people on the boat saw the Zodiac capsize, but they did not have a telephone and had to wait for a jet skier to come by to summon help.

Sheriff's and U.S. Coast Guard boats as well as other craft on the lake assisted in the search. A diver located Cook and paramedics attempted to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:33 p.m.

Giovannini said there was a 13 mph wind at the time Cook's craft capsized, and witnesses reported that the water was rough. The water temperature was 66.2 degrees and the air temperature, 74 degrees.

"It's not unusual to cramp up and drown in cold water," Giovannini said.

The Sheriff's Department is treating the death as an accident, pending results of an autopsy, he said.

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

By Carlos Alcalá

calcala@sacbee.com

Five uniformed employees of the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office are under investigation in connection with using online education from unaccredited sources to qualify for higher pay.

A survey of officers' credentials began following questions about the educational credentials of Stan Perez, a CHP officer who had been a candidate for sheriff until he dropped out of the race last year.

"We said we better make sure we don't have the same problem, " said Sheriff Fred Kollar.

After looking into it, officials found five whose degrees didn't seem to merit the upgrade, according to the department's human resources officials.

Because it is a personnel matter, their names or ranks were not released.

The department has referred the matter to the district attorney and is conducting an internal investigation into whether there was any fraudulent intent, Kollar said.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully announced her opposition today to a bill pending in the legislature that would allow sentencing modifications for convicted murderers between the ages of 16 and 18.

The bill, SB 399, applies specifically to those who were sentenced to first-degree murder with special circumstances and received sentenced of life without parole. The bill would allow those offenders to petition to have their sentences modified to allow parole.

In a letter to Assembly Speaker John Perez, Scully wrote that the bill would weaken accountability for "those, sixteen years and older, who commit the worst crimes."

She also argued that in such cases, prosecutors have discretion in deciding whether to seek life without parole, and that sentencing judges have similar discretion.

ha_siackarson41981.JPG
"Current law provides adequate safeguards against the abuse of the life without parole penalty," she wrote in the letter, dated Monday and sent to every member of the Assembly.

To underscore her point, Scully cited two recent cases in which juvenile offenders were tried as adults and convicted of first-degree murder: Jimmy Siackasorn (photo left), who was 16 when he fatally shot Sacramento County sheriff's Detective Vu Nguyen; and Frank Abella, who, with another suspect, robbed, tortured and fatally shot disabled William Deer just shy of Abella's 18th birthday.

Siackasorn was sentenced to life without parole. Abella is scheduled for sentencing Aug. 27, and also faces a sentence of life without parole.

Scully wrote that the bill would "re-victimize" families of those victims and future victims by subjecting them to further court and parole hearings.

"On behalf of Detective Vu Nguyen, disabled William Greer, their families, and those crime victims still to come, I urge you to vote no on SB 399," Scully wrote in the letter.

The bill, authored by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, passed in the Senate and is now being considered in the Assembly.

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

By Bill Lindelof and Cathy Locke
blindelof@sacbee.com

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department identified an 11-year-old boy who died after collapsing during football practice as Andrew Jacob Lamphere of Garden Valley.

The victim was practicing with a "Junior Midget" football team at Golden Sierra High School in Garden Valley, north of Coloma, when he collapsed, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

The victim's father is a coach for the football team and was present, the release states.

The victim was immediately treated by off-duty firemen who were on scene, as well as the coaching staff.

Fire units were on scene within minutes, the release states. Paramedics found Andrew in a state of full cardiac arrest and began aggressive treatment, the release states.

Andrew was treated for an "extensive period of time" while being transported to Marshall Hospital, but died during transport, the release states.

"The coroner's investigation is well under way," said El Dorado County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Jim Byers. "Along with everybody, we have more questions than answers at this time. It is going to take time to get our answers."

Byers said an autopsy should occur today. Part of the autopsy would likely include toxicology tests, which take weeks to analyze.

"There appears to be nothing that I can point a finger at to say what caused this very tragic incident," said Byers.

Byers said he could not comment on the boy's medical history.

Byers said several levels of the youth football team were practicing at the high school.

The boy was part of the junior midget level team for youngsters ages 11 and 12 years old.

"They were doing non-contact drills and they had just started those drills when he collapsed," said Byers.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County jury has convicted a man of molesting children and giving alcohol to juveniles, according to the District Attorney's office.

The jury returned Thursday to say jurors had found Howard Martin Harmless II guilty of nine counts of child molestation and two counts of providing alcohol to juveniles, a news release states.

Harmless faces 25 years to life in prison, according to the release. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 2.

The trial lasted about two weeks.

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

By Bee Staff

The California Highway Patrol will conduct a DUI/driver's license checkpoint beginning at 8 p.m. tonight in at an undisclosed location in El Dorado County.

The checkpoint will be staffed by a team of CHP officers who will control traffic at the checkpoint to evaluate drivers' sobriety, check driver's licenses, and hand out literature warning of the dangers of drinking and driving, according to a CHP news release.

Additional CHP officers will be assigned to roving patrols in the checkpoint areas to seek out the DUI drivers, the release states.

Earlier this week, the Roseville Police Department announced that its officers DUI/Drivers License checkpoint on Saturday from 6 p.m. until approximately midnight.

By Cynthia Hubert and Chelsea Phua
chubert@sacbee.com

A Placerville police officer feared for his life and was justified in killing a mentally ill woman who fled in an ambulance from a local hospital in March, the El Dorado County District Attorney has found.

District Attorney Vern Pierson concluded that Officer Nick Maurer did not engage in criminal conduct when he shot and killed Linda Carol Clark of Folsom as she sat in an ambulance in the driveway of a Placerville home on March 28, The Bee has learned.

In a lengthy report investigating the shooting of the Folsom woman, Pierson determined that "based upon the totality of the evidence" and legal standards, the officer's "use of deadly force was reasonable under the circumstances," says the report, released to The Bee on Thursday afternoon.

Police have said that Clark tried to run over officers with the vehicle, prompting them to shoot in self-defense. An eyewitness has disputed that account.

In an interview with The Bee, Pierson said eyewitness accounts are not always reliable. "When people go through traumatic events, they often have a perception of what happened and what they saw" that is contradictory to physical evidence.

He said investigators set aside eyewitness accounts, including that of the officer, and focused solely on physical evidence such as gun shell casings, skid marks and a re-creation of the crime scene.

The dead woman's father, Marty Hansen, said he met with Pierson and investigator James Clinchard earlier this week and got a preview of the report. Based on the meeting and other information that he has collected, he said he remains unconvinced that Maurer was "reasonable" in shooting his daughter.

"I believe there are holes in their reasoning," he said.

To read more about the report, see tomorrow's Bee.

Call The Bee's Cynthia Hubert, (916) 321-1082.

More information

Video: Shooting re-enactment staged by the El Dorado County DA

Q: Would you please provide an update regarding Raul Reyes Jr.? - Anonymous, El Dorado County

07J06575[1].JPGA: Raul Rodriguez Reyes Jr. (photo left), now 21, pleaded no contest to two felonies in the shooting death of Angela Vasquez.

In a plea agreement on May 6, 2009, in El Dorado County Superior Court, Reyes of Sacramento entered the plea to assault with a deadly weapon likely to produce great bodily injury, discharging a firearm from a vehicle and enhancements to the charges, court records show.

In exchange, a first-degree murder charge against Reyes was dropped.

Reyes received sentences that totaled 12 years and 8 months in prison. A judge ordered the individual sentences to run consecutively.

Vasquez, 17, of Sacramento was found shot to death July 21, 2007, in a Chevrolet Suburban parked in El Dorado Hills.

Authorities believe Reyes was driving the Suburban. They said he placed the original 911 call, The Bee reported.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The Folsom Police Department will be conducting a specialized motorcycle safety enforcement operation Aug. 13-15, according to a department news release.

Additional officers will patrol areas frequented by motorcyclists and where prior crashes have occurred, the release states.

Officers will be cracking down on traffic violations made by motorcyclists as well as other violations which lead to motorcycle collisions, injuries, and fatalities.

Inexperience is cited as a major factor leading to motorcycle crashes. Police encourage riders of all ages to seek training and safety information. Training is available through the California Motorcyclist Safety Program. For information and training locations, see the website at www.CA-msp.org, or call (877) 743-3411.

Funding for the operation was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

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

By Bee Staff

The Folsom Police Department is the latest Sacramento area police department to announce that it will conduct a DUI and driver's license checkpoint on Friday.

The Folsom checkpoint will operate from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. at an undisclosed location in the city, according to a news release.

The Rancho Cordova and Sacramento police departments will be conducting similar checkpoints in their cities on Friday

Officers will be checking drivers for signs of impairment, and checking for driver's licenses, the release states.

The checkpoint operation is funded by the state Office of Traffic Safety.

By Stephen Magagnini
smagagnini@sacbee.com

Four steel barrels containing about 200 gallons of flammable materials were illegally dumped in southeast Sacramento County Saturday morning right beneath a sign that read "$1,000 FINE FOR LITTERING," reported Sacramento Metro Fire Captain Christian Pebbles.

The barrels, containing mostly kerosene, were dumped on Scott Road at the corner of White Road around 11 a.m., closing the road for several hours while hazardous materials experts assessed the situation, Pebbles said.

The illegal dump, south of Highway 50 and east of Sunrise Blvd., wasn't leaking, and was turned over to county sheriff's investigators. Kerosene can be used for fuel or for cleaning. The perpetrator could face a minimum of $1,000 fine and the cost of the cleanup, Pebbles said.

Call The Bee's Stephen Magagnini, (916) 321-1072.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department has arrested a man accused of falsely representing himself in various roles to befriend and defraud people.

Sheriff's detectives in South Lake Tahoe were contacted Wednesday by detectives from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, who had information indicating that one of their fugitives was in South Lake Tahoe. John William Rodriguez, 31, was wanted by Arizona authorities on 12 counts of fraud and forgery, according to a sheriff's department news release.

Rodriguez is accused of fraudulently representing himself as a U.S. Marine, an Iraq war veteran, an FBI agent and a detective with the Department of Veteran's Affairs. Officials say he often wore a Marine uniform, gained access to military installations and attended functions such as the Marine Corps Ball.

On Thursday, El Dorado County Sheriff's detectives learned that Rodriguez was living at a residence on Eloise Avenue in South Lake Tahoe. After a daylong investigation and surveillance, Rodriguez was arrested without incident and booked into the South Lake Tahoe jail for a local misdemeanor warrant and a no-bail felony fugitive warrant from the state of Arizona.

Based on their investigation, El Dorado County detectives say they believe Rodriguez engaged in similar fraudulent activities while living in South Lake Tahoe. They said information indicated he befriended numerous people in the area and might have used his scam to defraud his new friends.

Anyone with information about Rodriguez is asked to call Detective Matt Harwood at (530) 573-3015.

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

By Bill Lindelof and Bee staff
blindelof@sacbee.com

An inmate who walked away this morning from minimum supervision at California State Prison-Sacramento in Folsom has been captured, prison officials report.

Dickens T62027.JPGZachary Dickens, 27, who was serving a sentence for injuring his spouse, was captured in Sacramento County by the Special Service Unit about 5:20 p.m.. He surrendered without resistance, officials said.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation special agents took custody of Dickens and will be transporting him back to the prison.

Dickens was reported missing from his bunk in a dorm at 6:30 a.m. Dickens entered the state prison system March 18, 2010 from Sacramento County and was serving a four-year term.

He was scheduled to be released Dec. 22, 2011.

The prison houses maximum-security inmates serving long sentences and those who have been hard to control. The prison also has minimum-supervision inmates, such as Dickens, outside the institution's perimeter to help with maintenance and other tasks.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The Folsom Lake Marina at Brown's Ravine is boosting security after expensive speakers and amplifiers were taken from boats in a string of thefts.

Ken Christensen, marina manager, said about 15 boats have been hit in a little more than a month. Some were moored and others were in dry storage at the marina.

Christensen said the thieves have targeted boats with high-quality speakers and amplifiers, while ignoring other items of value.

The marina has 24-hour security but is installing more lights and wireless security cameras. A major problem has been people failing to close gates, but Christensen said new gates will automatically close.

Folsom Lake Marina has 675 boats in mooring slips and an additional 175 in dry storage.

Christensen said the marina staff is working with State Parks rangers and the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department to try to catch the thieves. He urged anyone with information to call the marina at (916) 933-1300.

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

KCRA: Thieves hit Folsom Lake boats

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The body of a man has been recovered from the Folsom South Canal.

The body was spotted floating in the canal near Sunrise Boulevard and Florin Road. A Department of Reclamation employee reported the body floating in the water to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department about 11 a.m.

A dive team has recovered the body, a sheriff's spokesman said. It is not known how the man drowned, according to the sheriff's department.

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

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

Sacramento coroner's officials have identified the victim of this morning's Rancho Cordova shooting as Damien Burkholder, 22, of Sacramento.

Rancho Cordova police found Burkholder suffering from multiple gunshot wounds when they responded to a call in the 3000 block of Laurelhurst Drive at 4:46 a.m.

He was discovered lying on a walkway between apartment buildings and transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Residents told investigators they had heard an argument followed by shots and saw a suspect in dark clothing get into a dark colored sedan and drive from the scene.

Sacramento Sheriff's Department detectives are investigating the crime, but officials have not identified a suspect nor established a motive for the shooting.

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


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By Cathy Locke and Kim Minugh
clocke@sacbee.com

A 35-year-old Pollock Pines man died this morning when his truck ran off the road and crashed into a tree.

The crash was reported just after 5 a.m. on Sly Park Road near Cedarwood Lane. The victim's name has not been released pending notification of family.

Officer Terry Pedretti, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol in Placerville, said the man was alone in the 2005 Toyota Tacoma pickup and there were no witnesses to the crash.

"He ran off the road straight into an oak tree," Pedretti said.

The officer said the vehicle's airbag deployed, but the man was not wearing a seat belt.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

The California Highway Patrol is reporting a possible fatality in the Placerville area, according to dispatchers.

A Toyota Tacoma pickup truck crashed into a tree on Sly Park Road near Cedarwood Lane just after 5 a.m., the report states.

The truck's driver, the only person in the vehicle, appears to have been killed in the collision, according to a dispatcher.

The coroner is responding to the scene. Check back later for updates.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A federal grand jury in Sacramento today indicted a South Lake Tahoe woman for wire fraud in connection with an investment fraud scheme.

According to the indictment, Lori Zoval, 45, was a licensed securities broker with a firm in Folsom and used her position of trust to steal more than $439,000 from a couple for whom she managed investments, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Zoval allegedly spent the stolen funds at casinos, restaurants and nail salons, as well as on gasoline, groceries and other personal expenses, without the knowledge or consent of the victims.

To conceal the fraud, shed allegedly created false documents, many of which she forged and had notarized, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

Zoval also is accused of sending the victims false and misleading account statements.

Zoval is scheduled for arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

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

By Deia de Brito
ddebrito@sacbee.com

Four teens were taken to hospitals just before midnight Wednesday after a night of drug and alcohol use - and forgotten seat belts, Folsom police reported.

folsomaccident.jpgOfficers arrived at the gated Hillcrest community to find two males and one female between the ages of 16 and 17 ejected from a crushed Ford Explorer. The unlicensed driver, a 17-year old male, was found gripping the steering wheel, his seat belt still on, when police arrived. He suffered minor injuries. Police say he was the only one wearing a seat belt.

The three passengers, on the other hand, were reported to be in serious conditions at 3:30 this morning.

Investigators found broken bottles of whiskey, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia along a slope where the vehicle rolled. Investigators said alcohol and possibly drugs had likely caused the accident.

The driver was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs causing serious injury and booked at the Sacramento Juvenile Hall.

Investigators said the sport-utility vehicle had been speeding north on Heritage Place when the driver swerved onto a sidewalk and lost control. The vehicle landed upright across after rolling northbound across empty lots parallel to the roadway.

All names are being withheld because the suspect and victims are minors.

Call The Bee's Deia de Brito, (916) 321-1087.

Photo courtesy of Folsom Police Department.

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

El Dorado County Sheriff's officials have recovered the body of Leon Wescombe, the Australian kayaker who had been missing in the Cosumnes River since mid-June.

Deputies and a dive team responded Saturday to a report that a fisherman had seen a body floating in the river.

Divers recovered the body about 100 yards downriver from where Wescombe had gone missing and a CHP helicopter flew the remains out.

After a coroner's examination, the body was identified as that of Wescombe, 29.

Wescombe had been with a kayaking group making its way through a treacherous section of the river. His fellow kayakers reported him entering a section of rapids but not exiting.

His kayak was later located lodged under water, without Wescombe.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Law enforcement agencies in a five-county area arrested 115 people for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol during Independence Day weekend.

Collaborative efforts in Sacramento, Placer, Yuba, Sutter and Colusa counties were part of a campaign involving sobriety checkpoints and DUI saturation patrols to reduce the number of traffic deaths and injuries caused by impaired drivers.

Between midnight Friday and midnight Monday, 59 DUI arrests were reported in Sacramento County, 33 in Placer County, and a total of 23 in Yuba, Sutter and Colusa counties. No deaths attributed to drunken drivers were reported in those areas.

Law enforcement officials plan to conduct more such efforts in partnership with a nationwide 18-day campaign in August ending with the Labor Day weekend.

Motorists are encouraged to report impaired or dangerous drivers by calling 911.

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

By Deia de Brito and Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

A Folsom grass fire that burned between three and five acres today where Riley Street becomes Kennerly Way has been contained.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, said Dean Cross of the Folsom Fire Department.

The fire was reported at 11:56 a.m. and contained by around 1 p.m.

At one point, the Folsom department had six grass rigs battling the blaze, Cross said. The fire approached a self-storage area where there were many motor homes and trailers but did not burn the area, Cross said.

The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District also responded to the fire with 10 trucks and command staff, said district spokesman Capt. Christian Pebbles.

Call The Bee's Deia de Brito, (916) 321-1087.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

California's "hands-free" law, which prohibits talking on a hand-held phones while driving, has been in effect for two years, but statistics indicate far too many motorists still haven't gotten the message, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Cell phones are the leading, identifiable, contributing factor to inattentive driver crashes in the state, the CHP says.

According to the CHP's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System data, since the hands-free law became effective July 1, 2008, more than 1,200 collisions have occurred statewide in which a contributing factor was driver inattention due to cell phone use. Those collisions resulted in 16 fatalities and more than 850 people injured.

The law prohibits the use of hand-held cell phones by all motorists. It also forbids anyone younger than 18 from using any type of cell phone - hand-held or hands free - while driving. Six months later, a ban on text messaging by drivers also took effect.

Since the hands-free law's inception, CHP officers have issued more than 244,000 citations statewide to motorists who were in violation of the law, according to a CHP news release.

In Sacramento County during this same period, law enforcement agencies issued 34,673 citations to drivers using hand-held cell phones, according to Sacramento Superior Court statistics. A total of 262 citations were issued to drivers younger than 18 for using a mobile/wireless device.

Cell phone violations carry a minimum base fine of $20 for the first offense and $50 for the second. When court costs and other fees are added to the fines, the total cost of the violation exceeds $100 for the first offense, officials said.

For more information about the hands-free laws, see the CHP's website at www.chp.ca.gov.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

State wildlife officials say a bear that attacked a man at a campground in Eldorado National Forest has been shot and killed by wardens.

A spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Game says after dogs tracked the bear, wardens shot it around 6:15 p.m. this evening.

The man required stitches for his wounds.

Frank Mosbacher, Forest Service spokesman, said Forest Service law enforcement officers reported this morning that the attack occurred between 2:30 and 3 a.m. The man, whose name and age were not available, had stepped outside his camper. When someone inside the camper shined a light outside, illuminating the bear, the bear swatted the man.

At some point, someone fired a gun at the bear, but Mosbacher said Fish and Game officers don't think the bear was shot.

Mosbacher said the bear was described as about 1 year old and weighing about 150 pounds. The animal was going from picnic table to picnic table looking for food and is believed to have visited the campground in the past.

"So it has become somewhat habituated to humans," Mosbacher said.

Campers in Yellowjacket and neighboring campgrounds have been informed of the attack. Bear boxes are not available at those sites, Mosbacher said, but people are advised to at least try to hide their food in an effort not to attract bears.

"There's no guarantee that will work," he said, "because they have a pretty good sense of smell."

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A man who drowned Thursday in Folsom Lake has been identified as Owen Nelson Delang, 50, of San Lorenzo.

A witness reported that Delang went swimming about 2:30 p.m. at the back of his boat, which was near the Salmon Falls Bridge, according to an El Dorado County Sheriff's Department news release. He began having difficulty swimming and held his hands to his head.

A woman on the boat attempted to rescue Delang by throwing life preservers to him and reaching a pole to him, but he went underwater.

State Parks lifeguards arrived along with a sheriff's marine unit. Lifeguards swam the area, located Delang under the water and brought him into the sheriff's boat, but there were no signs of the life, the news release says.

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

By Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com

Authorities found the body of a man at the bottom of Folsom Lake this afternoon after he had reportedly stepped off his boat to cool off.

El Dorado County Sheriff's Sgt. Phil Chovanec said the man, who was in his 50s, was on a motorized boat with three other people, including his wife.

The group was near Salmon Falls Bridge, about three to five miles away from the dock in an area where the only access is by boat, Chovanec said.

Between 2:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., the man said he was feeling hot and decided to cool off in the water. He stepped off the boat and within seconds, surfaced to ask for help before quickly disappearing into the water again, Chovanec said.

The sheriff's department sent out divers, but the man's body was found beneath the boat in 15 feet of water by state parks lifeguards at about 4 p.m., Chovanec said.

The man was pulled out of the water into a sheriff's boat and pronounced dead at the scene, Chovanec said. His identity has not been released.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A man who tried to climb up a Fair Oaks river bluff last night only made it half way and had to be rescued by firefighters.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District firefighters were called about midnight to assist Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies in rescuing the man who attempted to climb from the water up the bluff near the old Fair Oaks bridge.

The 40-year-old man had been stuck for about eight hours about 100 feet up from the American River. It is not known why he tried to climb the cliff.

Firefighters lowered from the top of the cliff with ropes, hooked the man into a safety line and lowered him into an awaiting Sac Metro boat.

Sac Metro Assistant Chief Brian Rice said that the man was dehydrated and had suffered some scrapes, but was otherwise uninjured.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies say the shooting of a man driving in Cameron Park was not a random act.

A man reported that he was driving north on Cameron Park Drive at 2 p.m. Monday when he was shot in the left shoulder. His wound was not life-threatening.

The victim told deputies that a dark-colored vehicle with several passengers inside was passing him on Cameron Park Drive when he heard a gunshot.

He was transported to Mercy Folsom Hospital.

No suspects have been arrested or identified, authorities said.

"The sheriff's office wants to assure the general public that this shooting was an isolated incident and not a random act," a sheriff's department news release states.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A Placerville man who was the subject of his family's frantic multi-county search has returned home after a 20-day disappearance.

Guy Albert Franzi had last been seen on June 8 fueling his truck at a Valero gas station in La Grange in Toulume County and texting his wife, said his daughter-in-law Lisa Franzi.

Today, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office said detectives were told by Franzi's family on Monday afternoon that he had returned home.

A sheriff's news release did not explain why Franzi was missing.

"The investigation is closed," the release states.

Franzi, who is part-owner of a business that sells feed supplements for horses, originally set out to meet a potential client outside of Modesto.

He subsequently texted his wife from the La Grange gas station, and two days later, his phone was recovered by the Calaveras County Sheriff Department after it turned up in the back of another resident's truck.

Franzi's family spent many hours combing nearby towns, putting up posters and looking for clues.

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

As the Jaycee Lee Dugard kidnapping case drags on, Nancy Garrido's lawyer suggested today that Dugard and her two children should be allowed to visit Garrido before the trial begins.

Attorney Stephen Tapson said after a five-minute court hearing today that he believes it would be better for Dugard to see Nancy Garrido in a private setting before she sees her stand trial in Dugard's kidnapping.

"She loves those kids, she loves Jaycee," Tapson said. "This is a relationship born in evil, but she loves them and misses them."

An El Dorado Superior Court judge has issued a protective order that prohibits Phillip or Nancy Garrido from trying to contact Dugard, who they allegedly kidnapped and held for 18 years.

Tapson said that because of that order he cannot formally request such a meeting, but he said he believed it would be beneficial if Dugard decided to make such a move.

Today's hearing in Placerville consisted of brief housekeeping matters, including an order from the judge that the Garridos, who are being held separately in the El Dorado County jail, be allowed to speak by phone once in July and once in August.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A 53-year-old woman has died from injuries suffered when she apparently was trying to open or close a gate on a private road near Georgetown.

El Dorado County Coroner's officials identified the woman as Andrea M. McDevitt of Georgetown.

The accident occurred on 2 Gates Road south of Snowy Way at about 5 a.m. Thursday, according to a spokesman from the California Highway Patrol.

With no witnesses to the accident, the CHP surmises that McDevitt began to exit her sport-utility vehicle while her car was still running and in drive.

The vehicle apparently began moving and she tried to re-enter the SUV. At that point, the SUV struck the gate and the vehicle then continued until it struck a tree.

The CHP said McDevitt was pinned between the tree and the vehicle.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County Coroner's office has identified a 7-year-old boy killed when he was hit by a slow-moving sport-utility vehicle in an El Dorado Hills apartment complex driveway area.

He has been identified as Carter Mecier of Latrobe in El Dorado County.

The boy was running with another child about 11 a.m. Wednesday from a breezeway of the apartment complex off Valley View Parkway when he was struck, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

The driver of the SUV, an 84-year-old Citrus Heights man, was traveling about 15 mph at the time of the accident.

A CHP investigation into the accident could take two months before completion, the CHP said.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The El Dorado County District Attorney has fired back at the man who claims to be Jaycee Dugard's biological father.

Kenneth Slayton has sought in court to have a relationship with his daughter.

Dugard, who resurfaced last year after being kidnapped 18 years ago, has stated that she does not at this time have an interest in having a relationship with Slayton.

The El Dorado District Attorney's office is prosecuting Phillip and Nancy Garrido, Dugard's accused kidnappers. El Dorado District Attorney Vern Pierson said his office has been peppered with inquires to respond to Slayton's lawsuit to establish parental relationship.

On Thursday, Pierson issued a strongly worded statement saying that in 1991 Slayton was contacted regarding the disappearance of the then-11-year-old Dugard but that Slayton showed no interest or concern.

"Frankly, it's disgusting," Pierson said. "First a man abducted and then forced himself upon Jaycee for 18 years. Now, her biological father seeks to force himself upon Jaycee using his attorneys and the legal system."

Pierson went on to say "it's sad commentary on our society that a man who professes that all he wants (for his now 30-year-old daughter) is to love and protect her, and damn it, he'll sue her for the right to do it."

The statement said Dugard has the right to decide who she meets and when she meets them.

A spokeswoman for Dugard said earlier this month that Dugard does not wish to see Kenneth Slayton or his family, though she reserves the right to change her mind later.

Dugard's mother, Terry Probyn, has never denied Slayton was the father.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Despite tight budgets, major fire agencies in Sacramento County will boost the number of firefighters dispatched to calls beginning July 1.

Capt. Christian Pebbles, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District spokesman, said the new regional standard operating guidelines were given a trial run this morning when a fire broke out in the garage of a townhouse in the 5600 block of Verner Oak Court in the Foothill Farms area.

Five engines, three trucks, two battalion chiefs and a medic were dispatched, in keeping with the new standards for a first-alarm response for a multifamily residential or commercial structure. That amounts to two more engines, an additional truck and 10 to 12 more firefighters than would have been sent in the past, Pebbles said.

"We had more people there faster," he said.

Having more resources on scene initially, he said, saves time and can be critical to preventing a fire from spreading to other buildings.

Along with the Sacramento Metropolitan district, the Sacramento, Folsom, and Cosumnes fire departments have adopted the new system, which is scheduled to be fully operational July 1, Pebbles said.

"The community should know that although we're in the midst of a budget crisis or economic downturn ... that the citizens are still getting the very best fire service possible," he said.

In the townhouse fire reported at 4:22 this morning, Pebbles said, the presence of additional firefighters may have prevented the fire from spreading to neighboring units.

A man living in the townhouse was awakened by his cat, and he then alerted neighbors.

Pebbles said the fire began in the garage but quickly spread into the attic. The townhouse's vaulted ceilings made it difficult to determine where the fire was burning.

Firefighting also was complicated by a gas tank leak in the garage, as fuel kept reigniting.

The fire confined to the one townhouse. Although the man and his cat were displaced, neighboring units suffered only minor damage and were still habitable, Pebbles said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The resident is a flooring contractor, and oil soaked rags in the garage are a possible source, Pebble said.

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

Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies have arrested a man in the shooting death of a woman in El Dorado Hills.

Deputies were called to the scene of a shooting in the 2100 block of Valley View Parkway at 7 p.m. Thursday, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

clip_image002eldo.JPGWhen they arrived, Steven Mittelman (photo left), 55, of El Dorado Hills, was outside the apartment where the shooting occurred, the release states. Inside the apartment, deputies found the dead woman.

The 63-year-old woman, whose name has not been released, had suffered what appeared to be a single gunshot wound.

Deputies called in detectives who conducted a crime scene investigation at the home into the early morning hours today.

Detectives questioned Mittelman and later booked him into jail on suspicion of homicide, according to the release.

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

By Cathy Locke and Denny Walsh
clocke@sacbee.com

Two people have been arrested in connection with the theft of more than $125,000 from automatic teller machines at the Red Hawk Casino.

Eduardo Ursua Fontillas, 51, whose job was servicing ATM machines at the casino, was arrested Sunday after casino officials, using surveillance cameras, concluded that he was taking money out of the machines and pocketing it.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint, an internal audit conducted by the casino for the period of May 1 through June 13 showed a $97,000 shortage from the ATMs.

Fontillas had access to the ATMs when servicing them and restocking them with cash.

According to the affidavit, surveillance cameras showed him on several occasions making unusual movements and appearing to place wads of cash in his pockets.

When confronted by law enforcement officers, Fontillas confessed to stealing money and demonstrated how he had removed it from the machines.

According to the affidavit, he told authorities he had taken money from the machines on approximately 125 occasions since early November 2009 and estimated that he had removed more than $125,000 in all.

He consented to a search of his residence and law enforcement officers recovered $46,000.

He told authorities that he also had given between $50,000 and $60,000 to his girlfriend, Rosalina Due Bona, 43.

Steve Dupree, an FBI spokesman, said Bona was arrested late Thursday afternoon at the office of the California Bureau of Gambling Control in Sacramento.

She was booked into Sacramento County Jail. Fontillas remains in custody in El Dorado County Jail in Placerville.

Both are accused of stealing money belonging to an Indian tribal organization.

According to the affidavit, both have written letters of apology to the Red Hawk Casino.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The California Highway Patrol has launched a new mobile application allowing motorists to check for traffic collisions and roadway hazards on their mobile device before starting their daily commute.

The new application provides real-time updates on where CHP officers are responding along roadways. The traffic reports are updated around the clock and include incident time, location and whether it involves a collision, traffic hazard or lane obstruction.

"By using this application, motorists will be able to choose an alternate route to get where they're going and avoid the congested area," CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a news release. "This will help reduce frustration on the part of motorists stuck in traffic and possibly lessen the number of vehicles moving through the incident area."

He cautioned, however, that drivers should use the mobile application only when they are parked, or assign the task to a passenger while traveling. California law prohibits motorists from reading, writing or sending a text message, or operating a mobile computing device while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

The mobile application works on most devices, including the Android, iPhone and Blackberry. To view the site from a mobile device, visit http://m.chp.ca.gov.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A 19-year-old Mount Aukum man drowned Tuesday in the rapids of the Cosumnes River, officials said today.

El Dorado County Sheriff's deputies said that John Fagan Jr. was swimming in a large pool in the middle fork of the Cosumnes River when he was swept downstream through a series of rapids.

Witnesses lost sight of him for several minutes until his body was spotted 200 yards downstream, floating face down, according to a news release.

The witnesses removed Fagan from the water and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation. When paramedics arrived CPR was continued.

However, Fagan could not be resuscitated and he was pronounced dead at the scene. A California Highway Patrol helicopter was used to remove his body from the remote location near the Outingdale area.

Deputies remind boaters and swimmers that El Dorado County rivers are running swift and cold with snow melting in the Sierra Nevada, the release states.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A kayaker reported missing Sunday on the middle fork of the Cosumnes River has been identified as Leon Wescombe, 29, of Australia.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's dive team is continuing its search today for Wescombe. He was with a group making its way down the river about 2 p.m. Sunday when he rolled upside down. When Wescombe righted himself, the river funneled him into the next set of treacherous rapids, according to a Sheriff's Department news release. Fellow kayakers watched as Wescombe entered the rapids, but did not see him exit.

Sheriff's officials said Wescombe and the other kayakers were experienced and had the proper equipment.

The shore was searched Sunday on the ground and from the air using a California Highway Patrol helicopter before being suspended about 6 p.m.

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

By Kim Minugh and Hudson Sangree
kminugh@sacbee.com

kincade

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 Ed Fletcher
efletcher@sacbee.com

The disappearance of a Placerville man has his family in a frantic multicounty search for clues.

Guy Albert Franzi was last on June 8 fueling up his truck at a Valero gas station in La Grange in Toulume County and texting his wife, said his daughter-in-law Lisa Franzi. From that point the trail goes cold. No phone activity. No credit card use. And no sign of him or his truck, she said.

Franzi, who is part owner of a business that sells feed supplements for horses, set out Tuesday to meet a potential client outside of Modesto.

Two days after the text message was sent, Franzi's phone was recovered by the Calaveras County Sheriff Department after a resident reported finding it in the back of their truck.

Lisa Franzi said the family spent the weekend combing nearby towns, putting up posters and looking for clues.

"How do we find a truck that seemed to just vanish?" Lisa Franzi said.

Guy Franzi drives a maroon 1998 Chevy Silverado pickup truck, California license number 5U30039. An "E3 Live" logo is on the side of the truck.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Guy Franzi or the truck can call the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department at (530) 621-6600.

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

By Ed Fletcher
efletcher@sacbee.com

Crews in El Dorado County were busy Sunday afternoon searching for a missing kayaker, a law enforcement dispatcher confirmed.

According to press reports, the crews are combing the north fork of the Cosumnes River in search of a kayaker last seen around 2 p.m. near Lower Caldor Road near Grizzly Flat Road east of Somerset.

A group of kayakers navigated the area and when they reached the end of their run noticed that one person in their group was missing.

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

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

Sheriff's deputies are looking for an El Dorado County man who left his home for a business meeting on June 8 and has not been heard from since that afternoon.

missingeldoman.JPGGuy Albert Franzi (photo left) left home around 1 p.m., for a meeting at a ranch near Modesto, according to a release from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.

Two hours later, his wife received a text message from Franzi's phone, which she found odd because Franzi had never sent her a text message before, the release states.

At 6 p.m., Franzi's credit card was used to buy gas at a station in La Grange, about 30 miles from Modesto.

The credit card has not been used since, and there has been no further activity on Franzi's phone, according to the release.

If you have information, police ask that you contact the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office at (530) 621-6600 or Detective Jeff Leikauf at (530) 642-4720.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Five people were arrested today by agents of the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Gambling Control in connection with a suspected loan-shark ring. A sixth person was arrested on an immigration hold.

Michelle Quinn, a department spokeswoman, said all the suspects are Chinese national's living in Sacramento.

The suspect are accused being involved with a network of people who illegally loaned money to people at casinos and then tried to extort more money from them when they didn't repay the debt fast enough.

Quinn said the victims sometimes were charged as much as 5 percent interest per week, and some were threatened with harm.

Quinn said more than 40 people are known to have received loans, and several are believed to have been threatened. Some people were forced to sign contracts.

The activities had been going on for about 18 months.

The Department of Justice investigation was carried out with the cooperation of a number of casinos. Quinn said agents especially credited the Red Hawk and Thunder Valley casinos for their assistance.

Among those arrested today was Weixiong Kuang, 44, the suspected ringleader, who is accused of felony extortion, conspiracy and assault, Quinn said.

Arrested on suspicion of felony conspiracy were Jian Liu, 43, Zi Zhen, 23, Yezhi Lei, 46, and Zhi Huang, 23, Quinn said.

The sixth person, Yuerui Wu, 31, was arrested on an immigration hold, Quinn said.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Three law enforcement agencies are looking for identity thieves after identical credit card skimming machines were discovered inside gasoline pumps in Placer County, Folsom and Sacramento.

device1.jpgThe devices (photo left) were placed in gas pumps and were used to retrieve credit card numbers from victims, according to a Placer County Sheriff's Department news release.

The scanning devices have been found in pumps farthest from the clerk's location and nearest to the street to avoid detection. Law enforcement officials recommend that customers to pay inside the store using their credit cards or cash to avoid this type of fraud.

Detectives suspect more scanning devices are in use. They note that they devices been located at a variety of gas stations, not at one particular company's pumps.

People who think their credit card information may have been stolen at a gas station are advised to file a report with their local law enforcement agency.

The Placer County Sheriff's Department, in conjunction with the Folsom Police Department and the Sacramento County High-tech Crimes Task Force are seeking suspects.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A Folsom man has pleaded guilty to investment fraud following investigation by federal agencies.

Luis Fernandez, 36, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conducting monetary transactions in criminally derived property in connection with his operation of an investment scheme, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

According to a plea agreement filed today in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Fernandez was the owner and president of Fernandez Financial Inc., or FFI, in Folsom. Between September 2004 and March 2009, he collected approximately $7.4 million from investors by promising them a 3 percent monthly return on their money.

Fernandez falsely represented to investors that the firm was profitable in both good markets and bad, and that it was consistently generating a return on investment that was sufficient to pay the promised rate of return. During this time, however, Fernandez invested approximately $4.6 million in the stock market, sustaining a loss in five of the six calendar years.

To lull existing investors into keeping their money with FFI, Fernandez and others acting at his direction falsely represented that the firm was doing well and provided investors with false documentation showing stock market gains and concealing the losses. After subtracting a total of $5.3 million in monthly payments to investors, Fernandez caused a total loss to investors of approximately $2.1 million.

Fernandez also admitted that he used investors' money to purchase cashier's checks made payable to Elliot Homes for $168,872.75 for the purchase of a house in Folsom.

The case resulted from investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Fernandez is to be sentenced in August.

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

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

Jury selection began today as scheduled in the Placerville trial of David Charles Zanon.

Zanon is accused of capital murder. He is charged with running down CHP officer Douglas Scott Russell in 2007 in the course of a high-speed chase on Highway 50.

The selection process began with a jury service video shown to prospective jurors in the standing-room-only courtroom of Department 1 of the Placerville Main Street Branch of the El Dorado County Superior Court.

Lawyers expect to take a month narrowing potential jurors down on the basis of hardship and then based on jury questionnaires and interviews with the judge and attorneys.

Arguments are scheduled to begin in early July.

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

By Ed Fletcher
efletcher@sacbee.com

Statewide this Memorial Day weekend was one of the safest in years for California drivers, CHP officials said today.

This year, 11 motor vehicle accidents over the holiday weekend resulted in 17 fatalities, a 62 percent drop from the 2009 statewide total of 45.

In 2008, the statewide total was 38 people killed in traffic accidents.

"We just credit it to increased awareness and better enforcement," said Erin Komatsubara, spokeswoman for the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP has made the Memorial Day weekend a priority, placing every available officer on patrol. For statistical purposes the CHP deems 6 p.m. May 28 through 11:59 p.m. May 31 as the holiday weekend.

Of the 17 killed, 12 were in CHP territory and five there in incorporated cities.

The CHP also reported that DUI arrests are up from 1,465 in 2009 to 1,541 this year.

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

By Bee Staff

The Folsom Police Department will conduct a DUI checkpoint beginning at 7 p.m. Friday and running to 3 a.m. at an undisclosed location within the city limits, according to a police news release.

Thirteen officers from Folsom, Elk Grove, Los Rios, and the State Alcohol Beverage Control, in coordination with Citizen's Assisting Public Safety volunteers, and Folsom Community Service Officers will be involved, the release states.

Members from the Mothers Against Drunk Driving may also be in attendance, the report states.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

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 Bee Staff

Bee researcher Linda Beymer contributed to this report

Two Sacramento area women who killed their children and received life sentences are due parole hearings early in June.

They are:

-Darlene Brazil, 45, California Institution for Women.

An El Dorado County Superior Court judge sentenced Brazil to 15 years to life in prison for the May 20, 1986 murders of her two young sons, The Bee reported.

Brazil admitted the killings in a fit of despair over her ex-husband.

Two court-appointed psychiatrists had found that Brazil was insane at the time of the killings. But her attorney said Brazil agreed to the plea bargain of two counts of second-degree murder because she did not want to gamble on the possibility that a jury would disagree with the psychiatrists.

Brazil told detectives she smothered her sons, Brian Adolph Jr., 1, and William J. Dingess, 4, because she saw no purpose in life after she and her ex-husband split up for a second time.

According to court records, Brazil and her ex-husband had known each other since elementary school and were married in 1981. The marriage lasted less than three years.

Brazil and her son moved to New York, where she had a second son by another man. But after that relationship ended, she moved back to Placerville.

According to a probation report, Brazil resumed living with her first husband but that relationship ended in disagreements over his attention to other women. On May 19, 1986, according to sheriff's reports, the ex-husband told Brazil he didn't want to see her again and threatened a custody fight over his son.

Shortly after midnight the next day, Brazil smothered her sons with a pillow. She slashed her wrists and tightened a belt around her neck. Although she said she lost consciousness, she was not seriously injured.

Brazil told the probation that she thought she and her sons would be together in heaven.

-Cindy Kay May, 46, California Institution for Women.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced May to two consecutive prison terms of 15-years-to-life for killing and mutilating her 70-year-old mother and 5-year-old daughter with a kitchen knife on June 5, 1990.

While there is no question the Rio Linda woman is unbalanced, probably because of sustained drug use, her crime was "a great violence, one of viciousness and callousness," said Judge William Ridgeway in imposing the sentence.

"She should be confined for as long as the law allows," he added.

The judge tacked an extra year onto the sentence for the use of a knife. May's attorney acknowledged the grisly nature of the crime, but argued for concurrent sentences based on his client's diminished mental capacity.

After a week of deliberation, a jury found May guilty of two counts of second-degree murder. The jurors, who had been asked by the prosecution to find May guilty of first-degree murder, opted for the lesser charge because they felt May was mentally ill at the time of the June 5, 1990, murders.

A different jury found May was legally competent to stand trial. Against her attorney's wishes, she refused to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

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:

http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Divisions_Boards/BOPH/

By Bee Staff

Every available California Highway Patrol officer will be working the roads over the Memorial Day weekend, the CHP said in a news release.

The maximum effort will run from 6 p.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Monday, the CHP said.

The CHP hopes drivers will be aware of this effort and drive safely, particularly remembering to wear seat belts.

During this period last year, 45 people were killed on state roads. Nearly half of the vehicle occupants killed within CHP jurisdiction were not wearing a seatbelt, the release states.

The CHP already is participating in the national Click-It or Ticket Campaign which runs through June 6.

"Insist everyone is properly restrained with a seat belt or a child safety seat before starting your engine," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "Those two seconds could save your life or the life of someone you love."

Drunk drivers also will be targeted. Officers made 1,465 DUI arrests during the Memorial Day weekend last year, the CHP said.

The CHP encourages motorists to report suspected drunk drivers, Farrow said.

To report a suspected DUI, call 9-1-1, Farrow said. Be sure to note the location and direction the suspected drunk driver is traveling, he said. A color, make and model of car are also helpful.

In addition to the maximum enforcement and the seatbelt campaign, the CHP this weekend also will participate in the Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort.

Operation CARE is a joint program of the nation's highway patrols that places safety emphasis on interstate highways during holiday periods, the CHP said.

Highways in California targeted in this campaign include

Interstates 80, 40, 15 and 5.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A nurse practitioner at a health center in El Dorado County has been arrested on suspicion of sexual battery.

Greg Dales, 59, a Garden Valley resident and longtime employee of the Divide Wellness Center in Georgetown, is accused of sexual battery to one of his patients, according to an El Dorado County Sheriff's Office news release.

The victim, a 38-year-old woman, reported the incident to the Sheriff's Office on May 4. A subsequent investigation led to Dale's arrest Thursday.

He was booked into El Dorado County Jail and has been released on $20,000 bail.

Anyone with information relevant to the case may call detectives at (530) 642-4716 or (530) 642-4710.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted a second defendant in the torture murder of a disabled ex-Marine outside a 7-Eleven in Rancho Cordova two years ago.

James Washington, 19, faces a probable life sentence with no chance of parole when Judge Kevin J. McCormick sentences him in the June 7, 2008, beating death of 50-year-old William Deer. The judge set the sentencing date for July 23.

Deer had been sitting on a curb drinking a cup of coffee at 2:15 a.m. when he was confronted by Washington and his partner, Frank Gomez Abella Jr., also 19.

Deer, who was disabled by a motorcycle accident more than 30 years ago, was beaten and stomped to death and shot with a BB gun several times in the face and chest, prosecutors said.

Another jury convicted Abella on Oct. 30. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 25 by Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard.

"This was a vicious torture murder," Deputy District Attorney Sheri Greco said afterward. "The jury's verdict represents justice for the victim and his family."

Defense attorney Chris Haydn-Myer declined to comment.

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

image1.jpgBy Chelsea Phua, Cathy Locke and Bill Lindelof
cphua@sacbee.com

Folsom police say the Walmart store manager stabbed by a 13-year-old boy was reported in stable condition on Friday.

Folsom police arrested the boy Thursday after the manager was stabbed in a tussle with the youth who was suspected of shoplifting.

Authorities did not release the teen's name because he is a juvenile.

Police said the teen's parents told authorities that their son confessed to the stabbing that took place shortly before 4 p.m. at the Walmart store on Riley Street.

The parents said they had the knife (right photo) reportedly used in the attack and the BB gun he allegedly stole from the store.

The teen was arrested without incident, police said.

Fellow store employees told police that the manager had spotted the teenager stealing an item and followed him outside, where a struggle ensued.

Police said the teen allegedly stabbed the victim multiple times in the abdomen and torso during the fight.

Passers-by reported seeing the victim drop to the ground.

The teen then ran from the store across Glenn Drive, behind the Folsom Aquatic Center and Lembi Park and onto a bike trail.

The store manager walked to Folsom Fire Station 35, across the street from where the stabbing occurred. Firefighters called police and treated the manager, who was then taken to a hospital.

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

PHILLIP.jpgNANCY.jpg

A judge today postponed a hearing for Phillip and Nancy Garrido until next month, with officials saying a psychiatrist who treated him in the 1990s was delivering her medical records to court as ordered.

The records had not been sent in time for a hearing last month, which sparked today's court session.

Both Garridos were in court briefly today and Nancy Garrido attorney Stephen Tapson said later that the two had taken advantage of a five-minute phone call the court had allowed in May. Tapson said he assumed they spoke about God because "that's what they're into."

They are allowed another five-minute call in June.

The hearing in El Dorado Superior Court in Placerville was yet another procedural matter in a case that has crawled through the justice system since the Garridos were arrested last August and charged in the 1991 kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard when she was 11.

Both have pleaded not guilty to charges that could send them to prison for life, and since August eight hearings have been held involving Phillip Garrido and nine involving his wife, Nancy.

The judge has set Oct. 7 as the date for the start of the preliminary hearing for the two, who are both being held in the El Dorado County Jail and allowed only limited contact with each through five-minute, monthly phone calls that are monitored by authorities.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Folsom police said the arrest of a prison parolee began with an anti-theft alert on a stolen truck and ended with an attempted nap.

Police gave this account:

An officer patrolling about 12:30 p.m. Monday on East Bidwell Street near Oak Avenue Parkway picked up an alert on his LoJack monitoring unit.

LoJack systems are hidden on some vehicles. When a vehicle theft is reported to police, the LoJack is activated, which emits a signal.

Police cars are equipped to listen for the signal. The LoJack alert led the Folsom officer to a white GMC 2004 truck on Greenback Lane near Walnut Avenue.

tonysolomon.JPGFolsom police tried to stop the truck at Greenback and Hazel Avenue. The driver fled in the truck until it crashed into a parked van at Trajan Drive and Greenback Lane in Orangevale (see Folsom Police Department photo below).

The driver and a passenger in the truck then jumped out. The passenger was apprehended by the owner of the van and arriving officers.

The driver is suspected of making his way to nearby Wedgefield Way where police said he broke into a house. He was found by Sacramento County Sheriff's Department police dog teams and Folsom officers.

"The stress of fleeing police and crashing caused the driver to attempt to take a nap in the resident's bed," stated a Folsom police news release.

Tony Solomon (photo left), 31, of Folsom was arrested on suspicion of evading a police officer, vehicle theft, possession of a dangerous weapon and committing a crime while on bail, the release states.

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

folsomcrashscene.JPG

By Carlos Alcala
calcala@sacbee.com

El Dorado sheriff's officials arrested three people and recovered four stolen guns after a bizarre incident on Zandonnella Road near Diamond Springs.

10J04574.JPG10J04577.JPG10J04576.JPGA resident picking up litter was stopped by the passenger of a red Honda automobile and asked if he had seen a black box. The resident said no and refused to let the man look through the trash bag because he didn't want the trash spread around.

The car continued down the road then returned, with a female driver maneuvering her vehicle into the victim's path. The victim said the car even struck him before the car's passenger jumped out and hit the victim with his fists.

The attacker then pulled out a long screwdriver and hit the victim, while the car's driver went through the trash.

Placerville police later stopped the car based on the victim's description and El Dorado Sheriff's deputies arrested the woman driving, Fantasia Stockton (above, left) 23, of Cedar Grove.

Police then went to an address on Combo Court where they arrested Rustin Charnock (above, center), 28, of Cedar Grove, and Jeffery Young (above, right), 29, of Placerville. At that home, deputies found four guns taken in a Pollock Pines burglary two days earlier.

Stockton and Charnock were charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Charnock and Young were charged with possession of stolen property.

In addition, Stockton was charged with possession of a controlled substance and Charnock was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and parole violation.

No explanation was given for the missing black box.

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

PHILLIP.jpgNANCY.jpg

A judge has denied a request by alleged kidnappers Phillip and Nancy Garrido to visit each other in jail, but he has agreed to allow them to speak to each other in a five-minute phone call this month and another in June.

An order from El Dorado Superior Court Judge Douglas C. Phimister said that he considered evidence presented at a closed April 15 hearing and was denying their visitation requests.

The Garridos' attorneys have said their clients need to be able to meet in the El Dorado County Jail to discuss legal strategy and family matters.

The pair are accused of kidnapping Jaycee Lee Dugard as an 11-year-old in 1991 and keeping her captive until she was discovered last August. During her captivity she was forced to bear two girls to Garrido, a convicted kidnapper and rapist.

The Garridos face kidnapping, rape and other charges that could send them both to prison for life. They have pleaded not guilty.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The state of California is making $6 million in grants available to expand education, job training and placement programs for young street gang members or youths who may be prone to join gangs as part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Initiative, or CalGRIP.

"These grants will offer at-risk youth throughout California a chance to turn their backs on a life of crime and become contributing members of their communities," Gov. Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement today announcing the new funding. "This investment will help young Californians develop the life-long skills needed to succeed and not get caught up in gangs and violence."

As part of the CalGRIP initiative, the Employment Development Department is soliciting grant proposals to implement education, job training, supportive service and job placement programs for youths, according to a news release from the Governor's Office.

Proposals will be accepted from public, private nonprofit and private for-profit organizations through June 14. They should target youths 14 to 24 years of age who are at risk of joining gangs or are already gang members.

The EDD seeks proposals that promote career pathways that place at-risk youth in part-time employment tin after-school programs, while providing post-secondary education that will lead to teaching, community and social service positions, such as licensed social worker, youth worker or counselor.

Proposed strategies should be comprehensive and community-focused, providing a holistic approach to serving youth, according to the news release.

Funding for the grants is drawn from the governor's 15 percent Discretionary Workforce Investment Act funds under the administrative authority of the Employment Development Department.

For more information or to submit a grant application, see the EDD website.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

John Schenberger1.jpgA former Folsom resident has been booked in Sacramento County Jail, suspected by police of 109 counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years old.

John C. Schenberger, 44, was booked into jail after being arrested in Fremont, Alameda County, by police on Wednesday. He was booked on suspicion of 31 counts, but police said they believe he really committed 109 sexual acts against a child.

Schenberger worked for a technology company in Fremont.

Schenberger told the arresting officers that he was aware he would eventually be arrested, police said. Folsom detectives transported Schenberger to Sacramento jail.

The sexual assaults on the child are suspected to have occurred in 2003 in Folsom. The victim was a 12-year-old girl in 2003.

He is also under investigation by El Dorado County and Portland, Ore., law enforcement.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

El Dorado County sheriff's officials say a school bus that was reportedly fired upon by a passing motorist last month was not damaged by a gunshot,

Based on the damage to the windshield, investigators believe a hand tool, such as a wrench, may have been thrown at the bus, according to a news release issued today by the Sheriff's Department.

No suspects have been identified in the incident, which occurred about 2:30 p.m. April 19 as the bus was westbound on Carson Road, just west of Pony Express Trail in the Camino area.

The bus driver reported that she observed a green Jeep Cherokee approaching and saw what appeared to be a muzzle flash from the driver's side of the Jeep, just before the bus windshield shattered, spraying glass on the driver.

The driver was able to maintain control of the bus and continued to the next wide spot in the road, where she stopped and called 911.

Seventeen El Dorado High School students were on the bus, but none were injured.

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

Previous coverage:

El Dorado officials seek suspects after school bus is shot - April 19, 2010

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Folsom police said a suspected burglar was arrested when he returned to pick up stolen construction equipment he is believed to have hidden after the heist.

FOLSOMBURGLAR.JPGA Folsom resident reported finding about $20,000 in equipment in the yard of his Persifer Street home on Friday. Police discovered generators, paint sprayers, drills and other equipment were stolen from a nearby construction site trailer.

With the OK of the equipment's owner, officers waited for the burglar to return for the loot. About two hours after the property was discovered, police said they arrested John Dale Wagner (left), 21, of Folsom as he loaded the stolen items into his sports utility vehicle, said Officer Jason Browning.

Police said Wagner told them he took the property to buy methamphetamine. Police said Wagner has two other recent burglary arrests.

Investigators say they searched Wagner's Folsom home and found stolen property, including a stolen motorcycle. Wagner was booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of burglary and possession of stolen property.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Three Folsom Prison correctional officers have been been honored for their actions under extraordinary circumstances either while working or off duty.

All three received their awards -- one Gold Star and two Silver Star medals -- during a Department of Corrections ceremony last week.

The Gold Star went to Officer Brian Chord, who in August was driving with his family last when he noticed a sedan wildly careening on the road. Traffic slowed, and the sedan hit a center divider, going airborne before coming back down on the concrete divider and starting to burn.

Chord approached the burning car and inside found the female driver disoriented and trapped. Chord pulled her through an open window as flames consumed the interior of the car.

The woman later was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Two other officers received Silver Star medals for acts of bravery:

Officer Robert Rodriguez was off duty when he saw someone beating a much older man. Rodriguez asked his wife to call 911 and then approached the assailant, who was by then beating another person.

Rodriguez used his training to stop the assailant before help arrived. Both victims suffered serious injuries.

Officer Douglas George Stever was on duty at UC Davis Medical Center when he saw a disoriented patient, suspected by hospital staff of being under the influence of methamphetamines, damaging medical equipment with scissors.

Stever calmly convinced the patient to surrender the scissors then subdued and held the person until police arrived.

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

Related story:

California honors two Folsom prison guards - May 2, 2010

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Two correctional officers from California State Prison-Sacramento in Folsom were honored today with medals for bravery.

Ernest F. Johnson and Jeremy J. Viles were each awarded a Silver Star medal by Mathew Cate, secretary of the State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Viles was nearly killed last December when his throat was slashed twice by an inmate.

He fended off the initial attack but the inmate continued to slash at him.

The inmate then ran up a set of stairs, still brandishing his prison-made weapon. Johnson ran up the stairs and ordered the inmate to drop the weapon.

Viles, despite his wounds, worked with Johnson to handcuff the inmate.

Johnson, noticing his colleague's profuse bleeding, called for help and told Viles to put pressure against the wound by pressing his neck against his shoulder.

"Officer Johnson's advice saved Officer Viles' life," states a news release from the department.

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

By Bill Lindelof

blindelof@sacbee.com

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 Cathy Locke and Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

An 18-year-old Citrus Heights man was reported in serious but stable condition late Monday afternoon after being struck by a Regional Transit light-rail train while he was walking on the tracks talking on a cell phone.

The incident occurred shortly after 10 a.m. Folsom Police said the train operator told officers that the train was headed toward Sacramento after leaving the Iron Point Road Station in Folsom. The train was coming out of its first southbound turn, just north of Highway 50 when the pedestrian was spotted on the tracks.

The operator, a 13-year Regional Transit employee with 1-1/2 years operating experience, told police the man was walking toward the oncoming train. The operator said the man had his head down, a hat covering his eyes and was talking on his cell phone.

The operator tried to avoid the collision, but the pedestrian never looked up and was struck by the train. The operator stopped the train and ran to the pedestrian. The man told the operator he had been walking on the tracks so he could talk on his phone away from the road, where he could have been hit by a car, according to a Folsom Police Department news release.

The 20 passengers spread among two train cars were not injured and continued to their destination after an hour delay, police said. The track to Folsom was closed for several hours while investigators collected evidence.

The man suffered a 6-inch to 8-inch cut to his calf, an open wound fracture to his thigh bone and an evisceration to his abdomen, police reported.

Sacramento Regional Transit and Folsom Police remind people that it is a violation of the California Penal Code to walk on or within 20 feet of train tracks.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Folsom police have collared two people suspected of trying to extort money from a woman in exchange for the return of her Chihuahua.

DOGNAPPEDPUP.JPGPolice said that Britney Parkerton's dog, Roo (left), escaped from her car Saturday night when she stopped for fuel at a Union 76 station on Iron Point Road.

Roo, who had a micro chip and identification collar, fell into the hands of a stranger, according to police. A man later called Parkerton and said he would be happy to return her dog.

However, police said, the man said he wanted $200 or Parkerton would never see Roo again.

That demand prompted Parkerton to call Folsom police. Police devised a plan in which they offered the stranger $600 if he returned Roo to Folsom.


DOGNAPDUDE.JPGDOGNAPLADY.JPGAn agreement was reached, and nearly four hours after Roo disappeared, a black Chevrolet Camaro drove into the same gas station where Parkerton last saw her dog. One suspect put Roo into Parkerton's car and removed an envelope with the requested ransom.

A block away from the gas station, police stopped the Camaro and arrested Adonison Gunther(far left), 31, of Oakland and Marisa Jackson (left), 21, of Elk Grove.

The suspects said they were simply helpful citizens, but police said text and telephone messages tell a different story. Gunther and Jackson were booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of extortion, possession of stolen property and conspiracy.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

An insurance inspector at a home in rural El Dorado County north of Placerville was shot today by an unknown assailant.

The inspector was at the home off Andy Wolfe Road near the small community of Garden Valley at the request of homeowners who does not live at the residence.

She approached the home and then went back to her car to retrieve some items she would need for the inspection.

"Then as she got out of the car she heard this gunshot, this pop sound," said El Dorado County Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Kevin House. "Then she feels this sharp burning in her left buttock. She is bleeding so she got in her car and drove to where she could get cell coverage."

The inspector called 911 and then was transported to the hospital.

"Exactly where the gunfire came from, we are still trying to investigate," said House. "I don't think her injury was life-threatening."

The home was a quarter of a mile down Andy Wolfe Road off Greenwood Road.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A Folsom family that lost approximately $2,200 worth of property in an April 15 burglary has tracked down some of the stolen items via Craigslist, Folsom Police report.

On Friday, Folsom Police investigators helped recover a laptop stolen from the family's home on Big Valley Road, according to a Police Department news release. Investigators met with a suspect in Carmichael Park after the man posted the property for sale on Craigslist.

As officers prepared to take Carmichael resident Walter Diaz, 21, and a 17-year-old boy into custody, the two fled. Following a pursuit through the park, both were arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property after a laptop computer was found to have been stolen from Folsom the day before. A second laptop in Diaz's possession proved to have been stolen from Rancho Cordova March 13, the news release said.

Diaz was arrested, and the 17-year-old was cited and released to his father.

The Folsom family continued to consult Craigslist and on Sunday they found their $500 cell phone advertised for $350. Today, Folsom investigators arranged to meet the Craigslist seller, and the 17-year-old youth cited Friday showed up with the stolen cell phone. He was arrested along with Christopher Ross, 20, of Carmichael, who is accused of being an accomplice.

The Folsom Police Department reminds buyers to beware. Although many reputable people use Craigslist and other Web-based marketplaces to sell new and used property, officials note that it is also is a convenient way for thieves to unload stolen property on unsuspecting bargain hunters.

People who believe they have located their own stolen property online are advised to contact local authorities and not to attempt to meet potential suspects without the assistance of law enforcement officers.

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said today he has overwhelming evidence to convict accused kidnapper and rapist Phillip Garrido, and that he believes there is evidence to show Nancy Garrido might have been under her husband's control.

"We believe it does exist," Pierson said during a 50-minute hearing in Placerville.

Pierson said the mere existence of the two daughters that kidnap victim Jaycee Lee Dugard had while in Garrido's captivity for 18 years "is incriminating."

"This is a case that we can prove without any difficulty as to Mr. Garrido," Pierson said.

Phillip Garrido's attorney, Susan Gellman, brushed off Pierson's assertions, saying outside of court "he was voicing his own assessments."

Nancy Garrido's attorney, Stephen Tapson, said he hopes to use the idea that she was under her husband's control as part of his defense.

"True love is a defense, and I'm trying to fit it into the penal code," Tapson said outside of court.

Much of today's court appearance centered on the district attorney's efforts to win an order that would prevent the defense from contacting Dugard or her children.

Gellman argued that such an order is unnecessary because Dugard already has made it plain that she doesn't want to talk to the defense.

El Dorado Superior Court Judge Douglas J. Phimister agreed that the defense attorneys can contact the attorney for Dugard and her two children but that the Garridos can have no personal or written contact with them at all.

Phimister set a preliminary hearing for Oct. 7.

He also agreed in an earlier closed session this morning to allow the Garridos to speak with each other by phone in the jail twice in the next two months. Each of the calls is limited to five minutes, and the Garridos already have spoken during two previously authorized five-minute calls.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The California Highway Patrol is asking for help in investigating a fatal accident last week in El Dorado County.

Bruce Michael Bone, 41, of Orangevale, died April 7 in a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver on Highway 50. Bone died at the scene of the 11 p.m. collision on westbound Highway 50 west of Red Hawk Parkway.

The CHP said that Theresa Ghersanich, 55, of Placerville, was driving her sport-utility vehicle eastbound in the westbound lanes when she collided with a car driven by Bone.

Ghersanich suffered major injuries and was taken by helicopter to a hospital.

She was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, the CHP said.

The CHP is looking for witnesses to the accident. Anyone with information is asked to call the Placerville CHP office at (530) 622-1110.

Investigators are putting together a complete picture of what happened before the collision, including where Ghersanich entered the freeway.

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

Previous coverage:

Sacto 9-1-1: Victim named in wrong-way collision on Highway 50 - April 8, 2010

By Bill Lindelof and Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The Orangevale man killed Wednesday night in a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver on Highway 50 has been identified as Bruce Michael Bone, 41, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department.

Bone died at the scene of the 11 p.m. collision on westbound Highway 50 west of Red Hawk Parkway.

The California Highway Patrol said that Theresa Ghersanich, 55, of Placerville, was driving her sport-utility vehicle eastbound in the westbound lanes when she collided with a car driven by Bone.

Ghersanich suffered major injuries and was taken by helicopter to a hospital.

She was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, the CHP said.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A police detective will explain how to avoid identity theft at a free workshop open to the public this month at Folsom Lake College.

Folsom police detective Andrew Bates will speak at the workshop April 19 from noon to 12:50 p.m. The event will be held in the college's large lecture hall, Buckeye Hall, room FL3-173.

Bates, a lawyer and forensics computer examiner, will provide an overview of identity theft and prevention strategy.

A daily parking pass can be purchased for $1.

For more information and directions visit www.flc.losrios.edu or call (916) 608-6664.

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

Ramos, Jaime3.jpgBy Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

One of El Dorado County's major criminal cases has come to a close.

El Dorado Superior Court Judge James R. Wagoner sentenced Jaime Ramos, left, to 25 years to life in prison last month for his role in the 2008 murder of Garden Valley resident Ron Presba.

Ramos, 22, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in July 2009, but sentencing was delayed pending his testimony in the trial of his co-defendant, Presba's wife.

However, Patricia Ann Presba, 49, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in January.

She was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison earlier in March for the murder of her husband and the attempted murder of Ramos. She also received a 10-year enhancement for use of a firearm.

Carol Sanders, clerk for Judge Wagoner, said that under a plea agreement, Ramos was to receive a prison sentence of between 15 and 25 years in exchange for his testimony had Presba gone to trial.

The judge decided on the 25-year sentence based on a review of briefs and evidence in the case, Sanders said.

According to prosecutors, Presba and Ramos were lovers.

Firefighters battling a wildland fire along Highway 193 near Kelsey found Ron Presba's body June 25, 2008, inside a charred sport-utility vehicle in a ravine.

A month later, Patricia Presba vanished from the couple's Garden Valley home. A friend found the front door of the home open and covered in blood. More blood later was discovered inside the house, authorities said.

A day after Patricia Presba was reported missing, a Utah Motor Vehicle Enforcement officer was looking for stolen vehicles at a Salt Lake City motel and found a vehicle sought in connection with Patricia Presba's disappearance.

Investigators found her and Ramos inside the motel.

When the two were arrested, Ramos had three gunshot wounds and Patricia Presba had stab wounds to her arms.

Both were later extradited to El Dorado County.

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

Previous coverage:

Man pleads guilty in killing, will testify against victim's wife - Aug. 1, 2009

By Bee Staff

The Folsom Police Department said that officers will conduct a DUI checkpoint on Friday at an undisclosed site.

(An earlier version of this story had the wrong day for the checkpoint.)

The checkpoint will go into operation at 7 p.m. and run until 3 a.m., according to a Police Department news release.

Thirteen Folsom Police Officers and six volunteers from Citizens Assisting Public Safety along with a community service officer will conduct the checkpoint, the release states.

Members from Mothers Against Drunk Driving may be at the checkpoint, the release states.

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Jaycee Lee Dugard's attorney says Dugard will not allow the children she had with accused kidnapper Phillip Garrido to meet with attorneys a court has appointed to represent them, and is asking that no information about them or their whereabouts be released.

The development comes as an El Dorado County Superior Court judge is preparing for hearings next week over whether attorneys for Phillip and Nancy Garrido can have any contact with Dugard, who was forced to have children with Garrido after her 1991 kidnapping when she was 11.

Attorney Shawn Chapman Holley said in court documents filed today that Dugard is asserting her rights under the California Victims' Bill of Rights, passed as Proposition 9, or Marsy's Law, in 2008.

Judge Douglas Phimister appointed two attorneys on Feb. 26 to represent the interests of the children and had asked that they be allowed to meet with the girls, but Holley said in the papers filed in Placerville today that she would not allow the meeting.

Hearings in the case - one closed to the public and a later one open - are set for April 15 in Placerville.

Dugard, who allegedly was held by the Garridos for 18 years before she was found safe in August, has told authorities she wants no contact with them.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sbcglobal.net

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.

By Cynthia Hubert
chubert@sacbee.com

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

domingo garcia (11-12-69).jpg

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

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.

By Hudson Sangree
hsangree@sacbee.com

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.

clip_image001.jpg90.jpg
By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

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.

By Diana Lambert
dlambert@sacbee.com

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.

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:

http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Divisions_Boards/BOPH/

Dices Retiremen.jpgBy Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com

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.

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.

Q: What happened in the case of someone being stabbed to death last year on Prospect Hill Drive in Gold River? - Anonymous, Sacramento

A: Daniel Ortega, 32, pleaded no contest to a charge of voluntary manslaughter on Nov. 4 in the stabbing death of Martin Ramirez, according to court records and Bee reports.

He received a sentence of one year in jail and five years probation, court records show.

Ortega and Ramirez, 22, argued at a residence in the 1100 block of Prospect Hill Drive early in the morning of April 11, investigators said.

Ortega then stabbed Ramirez, investigators said.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The second person charged in the 2008 murder of an El Dorado County man is to be sentenced Monday.

Jaime Ramos (photo bottom left), 22, pleaded guilty in July 2009 to first-degree murder of Garden Valley resident Ron Presba, but sentencing was delayed pending his testimony in the trial of his co-defendant, Presba's wife.

Patricia Ann Presba (photo bottom right), 49, pleaded guilty to first degree murder in January. Last week, El Dorado Superior Court Judge James R. Wagoner sentenced her to 25 years to life in prison for the murder of her husband and life with possibility of parole for the attempted murder of Ramos. She also received a 10-year enhancement for use of a firearm.

According to prosecutors, Presba and Ramos were lovers.

Firefighters battling a wildland fire along Highway 193 near Kelsey found Ron Presba's body June 25, 2008, inside a charred sport-utility vehicle in a ravine.

A month later, Patricia Presba vanished from the couple's Garden Valley home.

A friend found the front door of the home open and covered in blood. More blood later was discovered inside the house, authorities said.

A day after Patricia Presba was reported missing, a Utah Motor Vehicle Enforcement officer was looking for stolen vehicles at a Salt Lake City motel and found a vehicle sought in connection with Patricia Presba's disappearance.

Investigators found her and Ramos inside the motel. When the two were arrested, Ramos had three gunshot wounds and Patricia Presba had stab wounds to her arms. Both were later extradited to El Dorado County.

Ramos is scheduled for sentencing at 10 a.m. Monday in El Dorado Superior Court in Placerville.

Ramos, Jaime[1].jpg Presba, Patricia[1].jpg1.jpg

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

Previous coverage:

Man pleads guilty in killing, will testify against victim's wife - Aug. 1, 2009.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The California Highway Patrol handed out 80 citations during the weekend along a stretch of roadway known for daredevil driving in El Dorado County.

The special enforcement effort was conducted on Salmon Falls Road and Highway 49 in response to citizen complaints and fatal accidents, according to a CHP press release.

Patrol units and law enforcement aircraft combined to write tickets for violations that included passing over the double yellow lines, failure to wear a seat belt, speeding, drunk driving and cellphone use while driving.

Salmon Falls road, which snakes from El Dorado Hills to Highway 49 in rural Pilot Hill, has been the scene of a number of deadly motorcycle and car collisions during the past two decades.

A Nov. 29 crash on Salmon Falls Road killed two teens and a 20 year old when a car slammed into a tree. Several vehicles may have been racing on the road before three young people were killed in the solo car crash, investigators said.

The driver of the car was treated and released. The accident remains under investigation, a CHP spokesman said Tuesday.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A Folsom man and two other men have been sentenced in federal court to lengthy prison terms for their roles in a series of violent crimes and robberies.

U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb sentenced John That Luong, 38, of Folsom to life in prison, plus 80 years. Kevin Lattanaphom, 32, of Oakland, was sentenced to life in prison, plus 45 years, and Hoang Al Le, 39, of Daly City, to 28 years and four months, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation news release issued this week.

The case was investigated by the FBI and Stockton Police Department.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorneys William S. Wong and Jason Hitt, who prosecuted the case, evidence during the trial showed that between December 1995 and January 1996, Luong's criminal organization planned and carried out four armed robberies, and attempted a fifth, of computer chip companies and a Stockton jewelry store.

Two of the robberies included an "action" team that conducted brutal home invasions of owners from targeted businesses to extract burglary alarm codes, security information and keys to the business. Once the information and keys were obtained, a second "transport" team would drive to the business and steal the property.

During the invasion of Stockton jewelry store owner Vuth Hong's home, Hong and his family were brutally tortured for approximately four hours. The robbers used a blowtorch, a hot iron and firearms to extract information, according to the news release. Lattanaphom eventually shot and killed Vuth Hong. Vuth's brother Srun Hong was shot four times but survived.

The defendants were found guilty on Dec. 14, 2007. Luong was found guilty on nine counts for his part as the leader and organizer of four violent armed robberies, one of which included the murder of Vuth Hong and shooting of Srun Hong. The jury returned seven guilty verdicts against robbery crew member and gunman Lattanphom, and two guilty verdicts against Le.

Another defendant in the case, robbery crew chief Minh Hunh, 37, received nine guilty verdicts. His sentencing was continued, according to the news release.

In an earlier trial in 2003 arising from the same indictment, robbery crew members Thy Chann, 34, Bao Lu, 30, and Son Van Nguyen, 34, all of Oakland, were convicted of the same armed robberies and sentenced by Judge Shubb to life in prison.

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

PHILLIP.jpgNANCY.jpgThe El Dorado County sheriff is objecting to a request that Phillip (far left) and Nancy Garrido (left) be allowed to visit each other in jail, saying it "is breathtaking in its audacity."

Lawyers for the pair say the two accused kidnappers of Jaycee Lee Dugard need to meet to make family decisions and that they must be allowed to discuss their pending court case.

But the sheriff's office ridicules the request, which will be heard in a court hearing Friday.

"The only justification offered by the Garrido co-defendants for their extraordinary request to visit each other is that they need to make 'family decisions,' " a court filing from Chief Assistant County Counsel Edward L. Knapp states.

"The pseudo-family the Garridos want to discuss was created by the kidnap, false imprisonment and multiple rapes of a young girl, producing two children. While it may be argued that a restoration of family values would improve the quality of American life in general, the assertion of family rights in a case where the 'family' was the product of 29 alleged felonies is astonishing."

The filing argues that there is no constitutional guarantee for inmates to visit each other and that arranging such visits could pose a security threat and overburden deputies at the El Dorado County Jail.

"Longstanding and uniformly applied County Jail policy and practice does not allow personal visitation between inmates, particularly by those who are co-defendants in a pending criminal case," the filing states, adding that the Garridos are seeking "special privileges that no one else gets."

"The Garridos do not have any right to make personal visits with each other because the essence of being in jail is that you don't get to visit whoever you please, under the conditions you might prefer," the filing states.

The county counsel's filing, made under the name of Sheriff Manfred Kollar, also points out that the trial court can order the jailing or release of an inmate but that it has no say over how the jail is managed.

The Garridos have pleaded not guilty in the kidnapping of Dugard in 1991 when she was 11. She allegedly was held captive by them for 18 years in their Antioch-area home, where she was forced to have two daughters with Phillip Garrido, a convicted rapist and kidnapper.

Attorneys for the pair did not respond to requests for comment this morning.

They also are seeking information on the whereabouts of Dugard or the identity of her lawyer.

The El Dorado County District Attorney already has filed objections to defense requests to allow the Garridos to see each other, and the sheriff's filing echoes those objections by noting Phillip Garrido is a "master manipulator" and that he "knows how to use concealed messages to threaten and coerce his victims."

"In 1972 he successfully coerced his minor rape victim into not testifying by threatening her," filing states. That refers to a case in Antioch where Garrido was charged with abducting a girl and raping her at a local motel; the charges were dropped just before trial when the victim declined to testify, authorities have said.

The filing also recounts the 1976 abduction and rape of Katie Callaway, who was taken to a Reno storage shed where she spent a night of terror at Garrido's hands.

"In 1977 he was convicted of raping another woman, and was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison, but in 1988 talked his way into being released from federal prison after serving only 11 years. He then tracked down his rape victim from 12 years before and used the cryptic phrase 'I haven't had a drink in 11 years,' interpreted by that victim to mean he hadn't raped in 11 years."

Three years later, Dugard was snatched from in front of her home near South Lake Tahoe as a fifth-grader walking to a nearby school bus stop.

She remained missing for 18 years until she was discovered alive in August.

Judge Douglas Phimister is scheduled to hear arguments on the visitation motion Friday afternoon in his Placerville courtroom.

Meanwhile, a separate court filing Phimister sealed from view indicates he received a declaration on Friday from Pam Lane involving the case, but he ordered lawyers not to reveal any information about it.

Phimister has previously sealed other documents related to his removal of attorney Gilbert Maines as Nancy Garrido's court-appointed attorney. Maines' appeal of his removal is pending.

By Loretta Kalb
lkalb@sacbee.com

A Fair Oaks man accused of taking part in a bizarre scheme to recover money from an alleged $40 million Ponzi ring in Folsom has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to impersonate an officer, federal authorities reported.

Michael David Sanders, 42, was the fourth and final person to plead guilty in the case in which defendants admitted they tried unsuccessfully to recover funds for people who lost investments to the Ponzi ring, according to officials for the U.S. Attorney's office, the FBI and the IRS.

The Ponzi scheme allegedly was carried out by Anthony Vassallo, indicted last April on mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Vassallo has pleaded not guilty.

According to prosecutors, a month before Vassallo was indicted, the foursome walked into a Folsom office and confronted three men associated with the alleged scheme.

They were wearing bulletproof vests, handcuffs, badges and earpieces. Sanders, according to one report, was carrying a stun gun.

Pacing around the room, they announced they worked for the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission and demanded that the three men wire $378,300.16 to an account at an area credit union, authorities said.

No money was wired. Prosecutors have said the four appeared to be genuinely working on behalf of people who had lost money investing with Equity Investment Management and Trading Inc. of Folsom.

Co-conspirator Craig Anderson, 39, of Chicago, pleaded guilty on Feb. 1 to impersonating an officer. Cassandra Moore, 26, of Beverly Hills, and Sean Smartt, 41, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of illegally possessing false documents.

Sanders and Anderson are to be sentenced in May and April, respectively, and face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge. Moore and Smartt face up to a year in prison. Their sentencings are scheduled for next month.

By Bee Staff

An ex-guard at Folsom Prison has been ordered to repay $170,000 more over a bogus disability claim.

June Ann Lucena, who was convicted of disability fraud, has been ordered to pay more another $170,000 in restitution on top of a previous $244,000 restitution payment, according to Sacramento District Attorney Jan Scully.

This follows a court order in December to repay $244,400 to CalPERS in December 2009, Scully's office said.

Lucena's problems began in 1999, when she suffered a work-related injury after a fall. She had surgery in the summer of 2000 and began receiving workers' compensation benefits.

Lucena also filed for disability retirement with CalPERS, claiming she was "severely restricted in her physical activities," according to previous Bee reports.

Despite those claims, private investigators filmed her in the summer of 2002 "repeatedly going down the water slides" at the Oakwood Lake Water Park in Manteca, Scully's office said in December.

"The very next day she was seen at Folsom Lake riding a Jet Ski at various times throughout the day, in choppy waters, and at high rates of speed," Scully's office said.

She later denied under oath that she had been on the watercraft, saying, "I don't know what that would do to my back," according to the District Attorney's Office.

Lucena went to trial and Deputy District Attorney Debbie Glynn won convictions on 14 counts against her in December 2007, Scully said. Lucena also received a 7-year prison sentence (an earlier version of this story omitted this detail).

By Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com

Folsom police say a robbery on Friday at a local pharmacy shared many similarities with one that happened a month ago at the same business.

No one was injured in both incidents, police said.

About 6:30 p.m., employees at Folsom Medical Pharmacy reported the robbery at the store in the 1300 block of East Bidwell Street.

They told police that a masked man entered the store, displayed a handgun and demanded pain medication. He then fled the store with an undisclosed amount of a controlled substance, police said.

The man is described white, about 6 feet tall weighing about 200 pounds. He was wearing a ski mask and a red sweatshirt. No vehicle was seen, police said.

Police said the way the crime was committed was similar to what happened during a robbery at the store Jan. 25. Suspects' descriptions in both cases also matched. In both cases, the men were masked and asked for pain prescription before fleeing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact WeTip at 1-800-78-CRIME or www.wetip.com. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A man selling roses Saturday night along Cameron Park Drive landed in jail after he attracted the attention of El Dorado County sheriff's deputies.

Deputies contacted John Lea, 51, about 8:40 p.m. regarding the roadside sales and found that he was on searchable probation for offenses involving weapons and narcotics, according to the Sheriff's Department's daily activity log.

Lea was found to be in possession of a switchblade knife, and during a search of his residence, deputies found narcotics paraphernalia, ammunition and an explosive device, according to the report.

Lien_Tu_On[1].jpgFrom Kim Minugh and Bill Lindelof:

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies seized nearly $875,000 in marijuana this morning after locating a large indoor marijuana growing operation in a gated residential community in El Dorado Hills, according to authorities.

Culminating a three-month investigation that started with complaints from neighbors, deputies and agents from the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement served a search warrant on a residence on Calabria Court, off Sophia Parkway, said Lt. Bryan Golmitz, sheriff's spokesman.

Inside, authorities found about 1,000 marijuana plants, most of them 2- to 2 1/2-feet tall, Golmitz said. Authorities estimate the plants are worth about $875,000, based on estimates of how much marijuana each plant would yield and current market value.

They also found what Golmitz described as an "elaborate growing environment" that included ventilation systems and a light system. Electricity in the home had been wired to bypass the meter, and officials from Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to the home, Golmitz said. County officials responded and condemned the structure because of the conditions, he said.

Most of the plants found in the home were in the growing stage, and authorities did not find much processed marijuana, the lieutenant said.

Authorities are confident the grow was intended for illegal sales, rather than for medicinal marijuana use, Golmitz said.

"This is totally different. This has nothing to do with Prop. 215 sales or (co-op sales)," he said. "This is a marijuana grow operating for profit."

Arrested in connection with the grow was 47-year-old Lien Tu On (top left photo), who was at the home at the time authorities served the search warrant, according to Golmitz.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@ascbee.com

A woman driving in Folsom with her two young daughters drifted onto light rail tracks after falling asleep at the wheel earlier tonight, but the family was saved by passersby who pulled them from the vehicle minutes before a a train smashed into the car, police said.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred just after 7 p.m. near the Iron Point light rail station, Folsom police Lt. Perry Albers said.

The woman was driving a 2007 Honda Civic northbound on Folsom Boulevard with her daughters, ages 10 and 7, when she fell asleep and the car drove through a ditch and onto the railroad tracks, where it came to a stop, Albers said.

Witnesses stopped and rushed to the car, helping the family of three get out of the vehicle. Two minutes later, a Regional Transit light-rail train with one operator and four passengers smashed into the car and demolished the passenger side, Albers said.

The wreck slightly damaged the train, but it was able to continue after the tracks were cleared of debris.

Albers said no one in the car or on the train was hurt.

"Not a scratch," he said. "It could have been a whole different outcome."

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

By Loretta Kalb
lkalb@sacbee.com

One man is dead and another hospitalized after an apparent fight and hit-and-run collision outside a sports bar in historic Folsom early today.

Folsom Police identified the dead man as John Sandler, 44, of Sacramento.

Police said they received a 911 call at 1:40 a.m. reporting that a pedestrian had been hit by a truck in the parking lot of City Slickers Sports Bar and Grill, 97 Natoma St.

The driver of the truck reportedly drove away from the area, and police found the pedestrian critically injured at the restaurant.

Sandler was declared dead minutes later by Folsom Fire Department personnel.

About 15 minutes after the 911 report, a woman called Folsom Police and said her father-in-law had been assaulted outside the same restaurant

Police responding to her home found a truck parked outside that matched the description of the the hit-and-run vehicle. The woman's father-in-law was injured and required medical help, police said.

Folsom Fire personnel took the driver of the truck to a local hospital for treatment. His identity was not immediately available.

The case is under investigation by the Folsom Police Major Accident Response Team, which is looking into whether an argument between the truck driver and pedestrian may have been related to the fatal encounter.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the department at (916) 351-3553.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A 28-year-old Diamond Springs man died in a traffic collision Wednesday on Highway 49 south of Placerville in El Dorado County. El Dorado County Coroner's officials identified the man who died in the Highway 49 crash Wednesday night as Frank Wilson Thompson III.

The California Highway Patrol reported that the accident occurred about 7 p.m. near Post Road when a Chevrolet pickup traveling south on Highway 49 collided with a Ford Escape sports utility vehicle that was traveling north.

The pickup driver, who was not wearing a seatbelt, died at the scene, the CHP said. The driver and a passenger in the SUV were taken to Marshall Hospital with minor injuries.

The CHP reported that the pickup drifted to the shoulder of the road and the driver lost control. He then over-corrected and veered into the northbound lane, where his vehicle collided with the SUV.

The front end of the SUV hit the side of the pickup.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department is looking for a man who robbed a Cameron Park check-cashing business Tuesday.

Deputies responded to a silent alarm at the Check Into Cash store at 3490 Palmer Drive about noon. They arrived to find an employee unhurt but very distraught, according to a news release.

The employee told deputies a man entered the store and asked if the manager was there. The manager was not, and the man left but returned carrying a newspaper.

He walked around the counter, drew a handgun and demanded all the money, the news release says.

The clerk complied, handing over more than $1,000, and the man left.

The robber was described as black, approximately 20 years old, 5 feet tall and weighing about 115 pounds.

He was wearing dark jeans, shiny black tennis shoes, a black or gray zip-up jacket and a dark gray beanie-style cap with ear flaps.

Anyone with information is asked to call the El Dorado County Sheriff's office at (530) 621-6600.

By Dale Kasler
dkasler@sacbee.com

Three people have pleaded guilty to a bizarre strong-arm scheme to recover money for victims of an alleged $40 million Ponzi ring in Folsom.

But the alleged leader of the strong-arm operation, Michael David Sanders, continues to maintain his innocence and is set to go to trial March 1 in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

Prosecutors said the foursome walked into a Folsom office last March, equipped with badges, handcuffs and bulletproof vests, and began intimidating three men who were associated with the alleged Ponzi scheme. Saying they represented the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the four demanded the return of exactly $378,300.16 belonging to investors, according to prosecutors. At least two of the four were carrying guns.

Prosecutors have said they believe the four were sincere in their efforts to recover money on investors' behalf. Their demands were unmet

Craig Anderson, 39, of Chicago, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to impersonate an officer. Cassandra Moore, 26, of Beverly Hills, and Sean Smartt, 41, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing false documents.

The three are to be sentenced in April. Anderson could get up to five years in prison; Smartt and Moore could get up to one year.

A couple of days after their visit, federal officials obtained a court order shutting down a Folsom company called Equity Investment Management and Training Inc. The firm's principal, Anthony Vassallo, has pleaded innocent to multiple fraud charges in connection with the alleged Ponzi operation.

Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066.

Previous coverage:

Alleged anti-Ponzi vigilante is enigmatic - Jun. 7, 2009

Charges say 4 tried to intimidate Ponzi suspect - May. 23, 2009

Alleged leader in Folsom Ponzi scheme freed on bail - April 3, 2009

$40 million Ponzi swindle in Sacramento area alleged; two arrested - March 21, 2009

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County woman has pleaded guilty to murdering her husband and attempting to kill her co-defendant, the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office says.

Patricia Presba, 48, entered the guilty pleas in El Dorado Superior Court last week. She is scheduled for sentencing March 5.

According to prosecutors, Presba and her lover, Jaime Ramos, 22, killed her husband, Ron Presba, 54.

Firefighters battling a wildland fire along Highway 193 near Kelsey found Ron Presba's body June 25, 2008, inside a charred sport-utility vehicle in a ravine. A month later, Patricia Presba vanished from the couple's Garden Valley home. A friend found the front door of the home open and covered in blood. More blood later was discovered inside the house, authorities said.

A day after Patricia Presba was reported missing, a Utah Motor Vehicle Enforcement officer was looking for stolen vehicles at a Salt Lake City motel and found a vehicle sought in connection with Presba's disappearance.

Investigators found Presba and Ramos inside the motel. When the two were arrested, Ramos had three gunshot wounds and Presba had stab wounds to her arms. Both later were extradited to El Dorado County.

In July 2009, Ramos pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, but his sentencing was delayed pending his testimony in Presba's trial, which was to have begun last week. Ramos is scheduled for sentencing on March 15.

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

Previous coverage:

Man pleads guilty in killing, will testify against victim's wife - Aug. 1, 2009

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Steven Paul Colver and Tylar Marie Witt pleaded not guilty today in the murder of Witt's mother.

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

El Dorado Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Melikian set a hearing on attorneys' motions for March 26.

Following the arraignment, Witt's attorney Mark Ralphs declined to elaborate on the reasons for his client's insanity plea.

Colver's attorney Dain Weiner also had no comment on the effect Witt's insanity plea might have on Colver's case. Weiner said he will seek to have the teens tried separately.

Weiner said of his client, "He is in good spirits and wants very much to participate in his defense."

Prosecutors contend that Colver and Witt conspired to murder Witt's mother after she discovered they were having sex and filed a statutory rape report against Colver. Joanne Witt was found stabbed to death June 15 in the master bedroom of her El Dorado Hills home. Authorities say she was murdered in her sleep.

During Monday's court appearance, Colver and Witt sat in separate rows at opposite ends of the jury box. Colver, clad in orange jail attire, looked down or gazed straight ahead. Witt, wearing a purple sweater, looked out a courtroom window while waiting for proceedings to begin.

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


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

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

From Bill Lindelof:

Investigators have arrested a former El Dorado County car dealer and his general manager today on suspicion of grand theft, embezzlement and money laundering.

Larry Carmean, 61, former owner of the now-defunct Carmean Dodge in Shingle Springs and El Dorado Hills Dodge, and former general manager John Catalano, 38, were arrested on 34 felony counts that allegedly resulted in losses to customers and financial institutions.

The El Dorado County District Attorney's Office and the California Department of Motor Vehicles say the arrests concluded an 18-month investigation.

The DMV said the investigation revealed that Carmean Dodge defrauded Chrysler Financial of $6.1 million in new-car inventory and $750,000 in used-car inventory.

Also, a DMV news release stated that 92 transactions between May and July 2008 had possible violations, including failure to transfer title and registration, failure to return down payment and failure to pay for warranties, extended service contracts and gap insurance policies.

Carmean and Catalano are being held without bail in El Dorado County Jail.

ksha.jpgBy Hudson Sangree
hsangree@sacbee.com

El Dorado County authorities announced Monday that they had made an arrest in the case of a homeless man shot to death Saturday in Placerville.

According to a news release from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office:

Investigators arrested Kenneth Sharonoff (left photo), 42, a transient, as a suspect in the homicide at a homeless camp behind the K-Mart store in Placerville.

They did not identify the victim, pending notification of next of kin. The statement described him as a white male, approximately 60 years old.

About 1 a.m. Sunday morning, deputies were dispatched to the site behind a shopping center on the 3900 block of Missouri Flat Road after the report of a possible homicide.

The caller told sheriff's dispatchers that one of the transients living at the property was shot and killed by another person residing at the site, the department said in a news release.

The victim was located and pronounced dead at the site with a gunshot wound to his upper torso.

Lt. Bryan Golmitz said the shooting was apparently the result of an argument over personal property between the two men.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

A man whose decomposed body was found in Folsom last month likely died a natural death, although the cause has not yet been officially determined, according to authorities.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office recently identified the man as 44-year-old Earl Barrett Jr., according to a Folsom Police Department news release.

Three young boys riding bikes in the Briggs Ranch neighborhood last month found Barrett's body. Barrett suffered from medical issues that could have lead to his death, and there were no obvious signs of trauma to his body, according to the release.

Barrett's family and friends described him to police as a "roamer" who would disappear without notice for lengths of time, traveling to Oregon, Nevada and throughout California, the release states. He frequently visited a home in the Briggs Ranch residence, although his family had not been in touch with him since September, according to the release.

Folsom police will continue their investigation into Barrett's death until an official cause of death is determined.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Folsom Police Department's Criminal Investigations Bureau at (916) 585-4110 or email crimetip@folsom.ca.us.

By Loretta Kalb
lkalb@sacbee.com

One man was found dead and another person was detained for questioning Sunday after a fatal pre-dawn shooting at an apparent transient camp in Placerville.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department said the identity of the 60-year-old shooting victim would be withheld until family members could be notified.

Officers were dispatched to the site behind a Kmart store at the 3900 block of Missouri Flat Road at about 1 a.m. after a report of a possible homicide. The caller told sheriff's dispatchers that one of the transients living at the property was shot and killed by another person residing at the site, the department said in a press release.

The victim was pronounced dead at the site with a gunshot wound to his upper torso.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Four people have been arrested in connection with a residential burglary in El Dorado Hills last week, breaking up a ring responsible for more than 20 break-ins, according to Sheriff's Department investigators.

Arrested on suspicion of burglary were (photos from left below) Aaron Duarte, 27, of Folsom; John Giltner, 28, of Citrus Heights; Max Hill, 24, of El Dorado Hills; and Nicole Chance, 20, of North Highlands.

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies responded about 5 a.m. Jan. 20 to a home in the 6000 block of Creekberry Way, in the gated Four Seasons community. A caller reported that the garage door of the home was open, which was not normal.

Deputies saw lights moving around inside the residence, and a believed burglary was in progress, according to a news release. They set up a perimeter around the home when they heard noises coming from the garage area.

A vehicle started to back from the garage. Deputies saw four people inside and ordered them to stop, but the driver disregarded the commands and drove off. Deputies pursued the vehicle through the gated community, and when the vehicle came to a stop, the occupants jump out and ran.

Two of the suspects were captured within the hour in a nearby area. The other two were located about six hours later.

One had called for a ride and made his way to a residence on Westgate Lane in Citrus Heights, investigators said.

Sheriff's detectives, however, got there ahead of him and watched as he arrived and began loading stolen property from the El Dorado Hills residence into a vehicle, according to the news release. When he began to drive off, he was arrested by local law enforcement, and the stolen property was recovered.

The fourth suspect, who had been hiding in the bushes, broke into a residence and the homeowner located him in the garage, sitting in a vehicle. The suspect fled and walked to the Creekberry residence where he surrendered to deputies.

During the investigation, two residences were identified as possibly storing stolen property, according to the news release.

A warrant search of a Citrus Heights residence on Westgate Lane and a probation search of an El Dorado Hills residence on Berkshire Drive together turned up large quantities of stolen property. Recovered property included power tools, guns, furniture, household items, art work, computers, electronics, sports memorabilia and jewelry, investigators said.

Detectives believe the suspects are responsible for more than 20 burglaries in the El Dorado Hills area, and they are attempting to return the property to their rightful owners, the news release says.

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From Peter Hecht:

An El Dorado County prosecutor announced today that authorities will not seek the death penalty for 19-year-old Steven Paul Colver who is accused in the stabbing death of the mother of his 14-year-old lover.

"The district attorney's office will not be seeking the death penalty against Mr. Colver," prosecutor Lisette Suder said in a Placerville court this morning as Colver and Tylar Marie Witt, now 15, appeared for a scheduled arraignment on murder charges.

The teens are accused of carrying out a plot to kill Witt's mother, Joanne M. Witt, the woman who stood in the way of their relationship and who reported Colver to authorities for alleged statutory rape.

Witt and Colver sat with their attorneys at opposite ends of a jury box -- separated by orange-clad El Dorado County jail inmates awaiting court hearings -- as Suder made her announcement before Judge Kenneth J. Melikian.

"I'm happy with the decision, obviously," said Colver's attorney, Dain Weiner, after Melikian postponed an arraignment in the case until Feb. 1.

Suder said a district attorney's office committee reviewing the case made the decision not to seek the death penalty but declined to elaborate.

Weiner said he believed prosecutors decided against the death penalty for Colver "due to his youth and his complete lack of a prior record."

Witt, who was not eligible for the death penalty, could face 25 years in prison in her mother's June 12 killing in the master bedroom of their home in El Dorado Hills. Authorities allege that Witt summoned Colver to stab her mother to death after the woman fell asleep.

Suder said outside of court that she will seek special-circumstance sentencing enhancements for Colver for lying in wait and killing a witness, meaning he could get life in prison without parole if convicted.

She contends that the pair wanted to stop Joanne Witt from testifying or working with authorities in the statutory rape claim against Colver over his relationship with her daughter. The judge in a recent preliminary hearing, Douglas Phimister, suggested there wasn't sufficient evidence to support the prosecution's claim.

Weiner said defense lawyers will file motions to try the teen lovers separately. Suder said prosecutors want them tried together.

Previous coverage:

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

Bee Staff

The Folsom Police Department will conduct a DUI checkpoint beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday and running until 3 a.m. on East Bidwell Street, according to a news release.

Twelve Folsom police officers, a Folsom police community service Officer, and four volunteers from the Citizens Assisting Public Safety will conduct the checkpoint. Members from Mothers Against Drunk Driving will also be in attendance, the release states.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

West Sacramento police have arrested a 30-year-old Cameron Park resident who they allege killed a man at a nightclub last fall, according to authorities.

Jesus Ventura Solis was booked today into the Yolo County jail on suspicion of murder, according to a Police Department news release. He is being held without bail.

Police are still searching for the other suspect in the Sept. 13 fatal shooting of Jesus Cortez-Heredia: 32-year-old Rocios "Rosie" Ibanez. Ibanez is described as 5 foot-5 inches tall, 135 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes, the news release states.

Police say Cortez-Heredia was shot in the parking lot of Ortega's West Night Club after an argument in the early morning of Sept. 13.

A security officer returned fire on the suspects as they fled in a getaway car - described at the time as a red or burgundy sports utility vehicle with large chrome rims.

On Tuesday, police developed information that helped them identify one of the suspects. They obtained a search warrant and an arrest warrant and took Solis into custody in Cameron Park, the news release states.

By Dale Kasler
dkasler@sacbee.com

A Folsom man has been accused of running an investment fraud scheme.

Luis Fernandez was indicted Monday by a federal grand jury on fraud charges following an investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

Prosecutors said Fernandez's company, Fernandez Financial Inc., took in $7.5 million from investors by promising 36 percent annual returns. Investors wound up losing a total of $2.1 million, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

According to the indictment, Fernandez took some of the investors' money - $168,000 - to buy a home in Folsom.

He was released after pleading not guilty in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, according to court records.

Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

In some rural communities, being a good neighbor means firing your gun in a different direction.

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies reported that they contacted two neighbors on Ant Hill Road in the Mount Aukum area Sunday. One neighbor had a firing range on his property, and the other had bullet holes in his shed, according to the sheriff's log.

Deputies asked the owner of the firing range to change its location because it posed a danger to his neighbor, and the range owner obliged.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County judge today ordered teen lovers Tylar Marie Witt and Steven Paul Colver to stand trial for murder after authorities presented writings by Colver discussing "taking the life of another to be with the one you love."

Witt, who recently turned 15, and Colver, 19, are charged with killing Joanne M. Witt in her El Dorado Hills home after she filed a statutory rape complaint against Colver and handed over her daughter's diary to authorities.

Judge Douglas Phimister declared there was sufficient evidence that Witt and Colver "did plan to do this and conspired to do this."

He ordered Witt and Colver to be arraigned on murder charges Jan. 22.

Earlier testimony today in El Dorado County Superior Court revealed that the teen lovers made plans to marry as they struggled to conceal their sexual relationship from Witt's mother.

Joanne Witt, 47, was stabbed to death on the night of June 11 or the morning of June 12 soon after she provided authorities with copies of her daughter's journal detailing the teen's sexual relationship, according to El Dorado County District Attorney prosecutors.

Prosecutors say Witt, then 14, summoned Colver to kill her mother after she fell asleep at home.

In a journal authorities said was written by Tylar Witt, the teen detailed her romantic relationship.

"Last night, he repeatedly told me he loved me; that he wanted to marry me," an El Dorado County Sheriff's detective read. After offering details on their sexual relationship, Witt allegedly added, "I don't know how long we can keep our love away from my mother... It's so dangerous. I wish it wasn't though."

Earlier today, Witt's public defender, Mark Ralphs, sought to bar the preliminary hearing. He charged that prosecutors had committed "misconduct or at the very least gross negligence" in failing to provide toxicology reports to the defense until just a day before the hearing.

Ralphs said the reports confirmed that his client could not have drugged her mother before the murder, as prosecutors had alleged.

Authorities say Witt told a friend that she spiked her mother's drink so she would pass out, and then called Colver to come over to kill her.

Judge Phimister denied the prosecutorial misconduct motion and allowed the hearing to proceed.

Previous coverage:

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A inmate at California State Prison, Sacramento in Folsom suffered multiple stab wound when attacked by his cellmate, prison officials said.

The prisoner, a 22-year-old inmate from Los Angeles County, was listed in critical but stable condition at a hospital off prison grounds, a prison spokeswoman said. His name was not immediately available.

The stabbing occurred shortly after noon on Tuesday when the victim was returned to his cell in a security housing unit after a medical appointment. An inmate-manufactured weapon was found after the attack.

The inmate suspected of the attempted homicide was a 24-year-old prisoner from Los Angeles County in prison for first degree murder, serving a life sentence. His name also was not immediately available.

The reason for the attack is under investigation.

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

From Bill Lindelof and Sheila Kern:

A man on probation for drug possession has been arrested on suspicion of stealing mail.

Keith Allen Skipper, 35, was arrested by postal inspectors on suspicion of stealing mail and is being held in Sacramento County Jail. Allen is ineligible for bail.

A criminal complaint alleges that Skipper took large amounts of mail belonging to people in Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties from personal neighborhood collection boxes.

The complaint noted that on Dec. 9 officers found Skipper parked in an Auburn shopping center parking lot, apparently sleeping.

Authorities found a large amount of mail, about 241 items, on the front passenger seat and floor of his vehicle, the complaint states. The mail was addressed to 51 different addresses, including some in Auburn and Grass Valley.

Among the mail in his possession was some from a Placer County neighborhood collection box that had been pried open, the complaint states.

On Dec. 22, while on bail from state charges that came from the Dec. 9 arrest, El Dorado authorities stopped Skipper because his vehicle had a broken brake light. During a search of his vehicle, about 190 pieces of mail, addressed to people other than Skipper, were found on the front seat.

Much of the mail was addressed to people in the Placerville area. Some of the mail was opened.

In Skipper's wallet was the driver's license of a woman who had been expecting a new license in the mail, the complaint stated.

That same day, a postal inspector interviewed Skipper. The complaint states Skipper confessed that, the night before, he found mailboxes and pried them opening looking for cash and gift cards.

"Skipper admitted he stole mail from a lot of mailboxes," the complaint said.

Frm Bill Lindelof:

A parolee was apprehended Sunday morning when his car caught fire during a police pursuit.

Paroleedude.JPGFolsom police stopped a car near Oak Avenue Parkway and Santa Juanita Drive for traffic violations about 2 a.m. Sunday. Driver Earnest Paul Hovey II, 38, (left) of Sacramento told officers he was on parole before stepping on the gas and driving away.

Officers said they chased Hovey, who was driving a 1995 BMW, at speeds of more than 100 mph into Fair Oaks. The chase ended when the engine compartment caught fire and the BMW rolled to a stop in the Walmart shopping center at Hazel Avenue and Greenback Lane in Orangevale.

Hovey was taken into custody, and a large amount of money was seized as evidence, Folsom police said. Hovey was booked into jail on parole violation and suspicion of evading arrest

From Bill Lindelof:

Folsom police say a juvenile who wanted to make a new start in 2010 gave himself up in a dramatic way on Sunday.

Police say the young man, a suspect in a car theft who they believe evaded arrest a few days earlier, gave himself up in the middle of a park soccer field.

The suspect "dramatically waited for officers to arrive by standing dead center of a soccer field in the park," a Folsom police news release stated.

The incident started Wednesday when officers tried to pull over a stolen red Honda near Willowmere Drive and Montrose Drive. However, the car drove away and then pulled into a school parking lot.

Both the driver and passenger fled on foot in Ed Mitchell Park, leading to an unsuccessful search of the area.

On Sunday, officers were dispatched back to Ed Mitchell Park.

"It appeared that guilt had set in, and the juvenile perpetrator decided the right way to start the New Year would be to admit last year's misgivings," the press release stated. "He was forthright with officers regarding his crime and associated vehicle burglaries he used the stolen vehicle to commit."

The young man was arrested on suspicion of auto theft and multiple counts of vehicle burglary.

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:

A Sacramento County coroner's autopsy has revealed that a 64-year-old Folsom woman found dead in her apartment last week was the victim of a violent assault.

Alice Lynn Murphy, found dead in her home in the 1700 block of Creekside Drive, had bruises to her face and head. She also had broken ribs, according to the autopsy.

A Folsom Police investigation also revealed that Murphy had patronized Folsom-area bars and restaurants in the days before her death. Police are requesting help from anyone who saw Murphy on the weekend of Dec. 19-20.

"We suspect that within the 24 hours prior to her passing away that she either went out alone or found a friend to go to a bar or restaurant," said Jason Browning, Folsom police public information officer. "So what we are asking for is the public help in determining that. Hopefully, somebody saw her out there and will be able to help."

Browning said Murphy might have met the person who killed her a bar or restaurant, although police are not focusing exclusively on that possibility.

"We know she had an interest in going back out the night she passed away," Browning. "It is a good possibility she met somebody or met up with a friend and spent the night on the town, and they may have information that could help us in this investigation."

Murphy's death has been under investigation ever since the Folsom Fire Department found her in her apartment just before noon Dec. 21. Fire officials called in police after noting possibly suspicious circumstances.

Police are asking anyone with information about this death to call the department at (916) 930-1098 or e-mail CrimeTip@folsom.ca.us.

From Bill Lindelof:

A inmate slashed a correctional officer with a prison-made knife in an attack Sunday night at California State Prison, Sacramento, in Folsom.

Prison officials said that wounds suffered in the 7 p.m. attack required 68 stitches to the 33-year-old officer's neck, jaw and ear. The officer was taken to a Folsom hospital where he underwent treatment and has since gone home.

The inmate suspected of attacking the officer is 39-year-old Jonathan McClaurin, serving a 135-years-to-life sentence from Los Angeles for three counts of first degree robbery, vehicle theft and disregard for safety.

"Basically, he tried to murder the correctional officer," said prison spokeswoman Rhonda Carter. The officer has been with the department for about four years.

The inmate and the officer were moving about a maximum security unit when the attack occurred. Authorities are trying to determine a reason for the attack.

The prison houses maximum-security inmates serving long sentences or those who are management problems at other institutions.

From Carlos Alcala

The death of a 64-year-old Folsom woman is under investigation after the Folsom Fire Department found her in her apartment under possible suspicious circumstances, Folsom police reported.

The woman, identified by Sacramento County coroner's officials as Alice Lynn Murphy, had injuries consistent with assault, though no cause of death has been determined, police reported.

Fire officials called in police after noting suspicious circumstances when they responded to Murphy's apartment in the 1700 block of Creekside Drive just before noon Monday.

Police are asking anyone with information about this death to call the department at (916) 355-7230.


View Larger Map

Bee Staff

Folsom police assisted by officers from other agencies will conduct a DUI checkpoint Friday on East Bidwell Street at Orchard Drive.

The checkpoint will run from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., according to a Folsom Police Department news release.

Members from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will also be in attendance, the release states.

As are many DUI checkpoints in the region, this action is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

From Denny Walsh:

Kenneth Jerome Nelson, widely known as self-appointed guardian of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Capitol Park, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to wearing a Silver Star he did not earn.

Nelson, 60, of Sacramento, had garnered coverage by local television and The Bee as the unofficial caretaker of the memorial. He posed as the recipient of medals from his time as a Marine in Vietnam.

According to Assistant U. S. Attorney Camil Skipper, he wore the Silver Star, the military's third highest decoration, and claimed to have earned three Purple Hearts, the third one after he stepped on a spike while carrying a wounded soldier on his back for 26 miles.

But it was all a charade; he never served in a combat zone. Nelson was prosecuted under the federal Stolen Valor Act of 2006, which makes it a misdemeanor to wear medals not awarded or to falsely claim they were awarded.

"The Silver Star is a symbol of heroism, patriotism, and honor," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner. "Mr. Nelson would seek to diminish the sacrifice of others by wearing the unearned medal. He received years of praise and admiration from the public that he did not deserve, and now he is exposed as a fraud."

Nelson is scheduled to be sentenced March 1.

From Jim Wasserman

Folsom police detectives are investigating a decayed body found by three boys riding bicycles early this afternoon near the intersection of East Natoma Street and Blue Ravine Road, police spokesman Sgt. Rick Hillman said.

Hillman said it's not known if it's a man or woman.

"The remains are decaying," he said.

"There are no signs of foul play at this time, but we're treating it as a suspicious death because of the location." Hillman said from the scene.

The brushy area is near a grocery store and several houses.

Hillman said police received a call at 1:30 p.m. alerting them to the discovery.

"Three young boys were riding bicycles and went into the bushes and found what they thought to be a body. "Their mom was nearby and called police."

Hillman said Folsom police have no cases of missing persons, but are checking reports elsewhere.

The Sacramento County Cororner's office is expected to take possession of the body, he said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Folsom Police Department Criminal Investigations Bureau hotline at (916) 980-1098.

From Bill Lindelof:

Investigators say excessive speed might have caused a motorcycle crash Tuesday night in Folsom that killed a 24-year-old Orangevale man.

Sacramento County coroner's deputies today identified the victim as Lawrence Joseph Schumacher.

Folsom polce say their investigation so far shows Schumacher might have been speeding on his black 2003 Kawasaki Super Sport RS motorcycle along Glenn Drive west of Sibley Street when the bike left the road and struck a tree.

A motorist came upon the accident at 7:08 p.m., called 911 and performed CPR until emergency personnel arrived, Folsom police Sgt. Rick Hillman said, but despite those efforts, Schumacher died at the scene.

Police don't know of any witnesses to the accident and are asking anyone with information to call the investigators at (916) 351-3553.

From Bee staff:

El Dorado County sheriff's officials are seeking information about a reported kidnapping and possible sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in the Pollock Pines area.

Sheriff's deputies responded to the incident about 5 p.m. Thursday.

A department news release provided these details:

The victim reported that she had been walking along a local trail, when she was attacked by a man. The suspect dragged the victim off the trail and attempted to sexually assault the victim. The victim was able to fight off her attacker and flee.

The victim provided this description of the suspect: white male adult in his late 20s, 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 180 pounds, medium to muscular build, short straight brown hair, light complexion, with a reddish goatee beard. The suspect was wearing dark tight-fitting pants and a long-sleeve red/black checkered shirt.

Officials said the suspect was not found after an extensive search of the area.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information about the incident to call (530) 621-6600.

From Cathy Locke:

A report of an open front door at an El Dorado Hills residence led to the discovery of a large indoor marijuana-growing operation.

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies responded about 8 a.m. Saturday to a report that the front door of a house in the 300 block of Arches Avenue was open and nobody appeared to be home. The caller also reported a trail of potting soil and marijuana leaves extending from the house into the driveway, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

Deputies reported that the front door appeared to have been kicked open. Inside they found a marijuana-growing operation and summoned detectives. Approximately 260 marijuana plants were found along with a sophisticated growing system, including grow lights and room ventilation, according to the news release.

Sheriffs officials said the plants seized had an estimated street value of $250,000.

The people responsible for the operation are believed to have illegally bypassed the residence's power meter, avoiding an estimated $6,000 in monthly utility charges.

An investigation is under way to identify the growers. No arrests have been made.

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From Chelsea Phua:

Authorities in three Northern California counties, including Sacramento and El Dorado, on Friday arrested several people they say hit a man and kidnapped a woman at Red Hawk Casino.

Three of those arrested -- Jesse Madrigal (top left photo), Steven Santiago (center photo) and Ricky Mora (right photo) -- are from Sacramento County, according to a news release by the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office. El Dorado sheriff's spokesman Lt. Bryan Golmitz said the men were arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment and assault with a deadly weapon.

Two others, Stephen Lizotte and Ernie Lizotte, are from Riverbank in Stanislaus County. It was not specified what they were charged with.

Golmitz said he was informed later that two more people connected to the incidents were arrested, but said he did not have their identities as of Friday evening.

Authorities said the men belonged to a large group of men and women who confronted two men and a woman at the casino, asking them if they belonged to a gang.

The two men who were confronted denied any gang affiliation and investigators said they did not have gang ties. One of the men from the larger group allegedly also made threats to sexually assault the woman in the smaller group, which caused her to become angry and attack that man. One of the men from the smaller group tried to break up the fight, and was punched and hit with a beer bottle, authorities said.

Red Hawk Casino security eventually separated the groups.

Some members of the larger group later went inside an elevator, where they confronted a woman who had not been involved in the first incident. They told her that she was going to get them out of the casino with her vehicle and they would let her go once they were on the highway, authorities said.

The group allegedly forced her to through the casino floors and to the garage, where she escaped and contacted casino security guards, then sheriff's deputies.

El Dorado County sheriff's detectives were able to identify six of the men from surveillance video.

SWAT members from El Dorado County sheriff, Folsom Police, Sacramento County Sheriff and Stanislaus County sheriff departments on Friday served search warrants at four locations. They seized several guns, gang-related items, ecstasy, marijuana and a large amount of money during the search.

From Cathy Locke:

A family of four reported missing from the Georgetown area has been located in Antioch.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office said one family member, Sarah Jean Smith, 28, telephoned officers about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday after a friend saw on television that the family had been reported missing and at risk.

Smith said they were not missing and were staying with friends in Antioch, the sheriff's officials announced.

Earlier in the afternoon, Smith's mother, Judy Brown of Georgetown, said she was informed by a detective that Smith had been sighted Sunday in the Antioch area.

Brown said she last saw her daughter, 7-year-old grandson Joshua Todd Bargus, 15-month-old granddaughter Kylie Jean Just and Smith's boyfriend, Jason James McClellan, 40, on Oct. 20.

The family failed to return to Brown's home after picking up Joshua at Georgetown Elementary School. Brown reported them missing Friday.

The family made a similar abrupt departure from Brentwood about six weeks ago, following a dispute with the younger child's father, Brown said, but they came to Georgetown with clothing, children's toys and important documents.

Last week, they left all those items behind.

"They took absolutely nothing -- no underwear, no socks," Brown said, leading her to fear the worst.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Bryan Golmitz said there was no evidence of foul play, but the family was considered "at risk" because they disappeared with no notice and left without their belongings.

Golmitz said the California Highway Patrol made a flyover of the rugged Georgetown area Tuesday and the Sheriff's Department's Search and Rescue coordinator drove the area looking for possible evidence the family's car had gone off the road.

The FBI and several missing persons organizations also assisted in the search, he said.

From Bill Lindelof:

The public is invited to see mounted units from several police jurisdictions put their steeds through their paces in the Folsom Police 2009 Equine Challenge.

The free event at the Dan Russell Rodeo Arena, 202 Stafford St., will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

An equine challenge highlights the trust and partnership between horse and rider. Competitive teams will exhibit mounted patrol and search and rescue skills.

Folsom Police has four equine units. They will be joined by other officers and search and rescue personnel teams on horseback.

By Andy Furillo

Sean Nicholas Coyle caught a little bit of a break from California's Third District Court of Appeal.

Sentenced to three life terms with no chance of parole for a 2003 El Dorado County murder conviction, a three-judge appellate panel ruled Oct. 9 that Coyle only has to serve one of them - but still with no possibility of parole.

Coyle had been convicted in the robbery-murder of a suspected methamphetamine dealer. At sentencing, El Dorado County Superior Court Judge James R. Wagoner cited California's "three-strikes" law and tripled the life term on the defendant, who had 14 prior burglary convictions.

Justices Rick Sims, Ronald B. Robie and Tani Cantil-Sakauye voted unanimously to make Coyle serve his life term only once.

From Bill Lindelof:

A two-day Internet predator sweep by the FBI, state and local law enforcement led to the arrest of 28 people for a variety of crimes, including child sexual exploitation.

Code named "Operation Traps," the effort by officers from Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, El Dorado and Placer counties targeted suspected child predators and pornographers, the FBI said.

The effort was part of a the FBI's "Innocent Images National Initiative" to reduce sexual exploitation and abuse of children associated with the Internet.

About 150 officers participated in the operation, conducting 169 searches and seizing 30 computers. Also seized were digital cameras, cell phones, external hard drives, thumb drives, compact discs, DVDs and floppy disks.

More arrests are likely once the evidence is reviewed, the FBI said.

Among people contacted were suspects in ongoing sex crime investigations, sex crime parolees and registered sex offenders. Authorities also contacted suspected traders of child pornography identified "through the use of advanced undercover techniques," an FBI news release states.

From Chelsea Phua

Authorities seized 96 marijuana plants worth more than $76,000 after a California Highway Patrol helicopter pilot spotted them growing along a popular bicycle and walking trail in Folsom.

In a Thursday news release, Folsom police said the plants were found along the trail in the Sibley Street and Glenn Drive area. (See photo below supplied by the Folsom Police Department.)

Authorities said the plants might have been growing the hidden location for about six to seven months. Police said they do not know who planted the marijuana and are looking for suspects. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Jon Lasater at (916) 355-7343.

The CHP helicopter pilot, Kevin Vinatieri, has spotted two other crops in Folsom in four years, Folsom police said.

Marijuana Grow.pdf - Adobe Reader.JPG

From Bill Lindelof:

The man officials say led a nationwide drug-sales operation and two others have been arrested in El Dorado Hills.

michael klaisle.jpgdana marie allen.jpgsamuel perez.jpgSacramento County drug task force detectives also seized 47 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $300,000.

Investigators confiscated $6,000 and impounded two vehicles, said Tim Curran, spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities arrested Michael Francis Klaisle (far left), 26, Dana Marie Allen (left), 22, and Samuel Alex Perez, 30, at a home on the 4700 block of Concordia Drive.

Curran said Klaisle was head of a drug-sales network that stretches across the country.

"We do believe that Klaisle, the ringleader, was distributing marijuana locally and nationwide," said Curran.

The investigation began several months ago in Sacramento County, Curran said.

From Bill Lindelof

Thousands of pot plants worth what authorities say was $58 million were found and pulled from the ground in El Dorado County.

The sheriff's department said the marijuana-growing operation off Salmon Falls Road near the Dorado Ridge Trail and Salmon Valley Lane was taken apart last week.

A department news release said authorities found and destroyed 32,000 plants, some as tall as 6 feet, that were growing over a three-mile area covering private, state and federal land and watered with a mile of irrigation lines fed by dammed creeks.

No suspects were found at the site and no arrests in connection with the operation have been made.

No other information was available.

Droese arrest.JPGFrom Sandy Louey:

Folsom police have arrested an 18-year-old Folsom High School student who allegedly planned to sell marijuana-laced brownies to his classmates.

Around 12:30 p.m. Friday, a vice principal at Folsom High contacted police after being alerted by a student. The student indicated that Kevin Michael Droese (photo left) had made brownies laced with marijuana, Officer Michelle Beattie said in a news release Tuesday.

Police said Droese was going to sell the brownies at school. All the brownies that he was suspected of baking were recovered.

On Friday, Droese was arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sale.

From David Richie:

A multiple agency drug task force hit nine suspected indoor marijuana growing operations in rural El Dorado County and Nevada County earlier today, seizing pot, guns, cultivation equipment and about $625,000 in cash.

A total of 10 search warrants and five arrest warrants were served.

About 200 law enforcement officers from the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Forest Service and many other agencies participated in the coordinated raids.

"All the locations were hit around 10 a.m. and everything went smoothly," said Sgt. Bryan Golmitz, spokesman for the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.

In a press release, Attorney General Jerry Brown noted that armed guards protected the sites and he called the indoor growing operations "a threat to public safety."

Officers confiscated approximately 2,100 plants, 100 pounds of processed marijuana, about $625,000 in cash along with numerous lights and generators used in the growing operations.

They also found two handguns, three rifles, and five shotguns.

Search warrants were served at six locations in El Dorado County. Those homes were located on Silver Ridge Court, Camino, High Twist Lane, and Grizzly Court, Somerset, Fort Jim Road, Placerville, Mosquito Road, Swansboro, and Spring Valley Road in Pollock Pines.

Three warrants also were served Nevada County but Golmitz did not have those locations.

The raids came after a two-month investigation.

State officials said the investigation started with the discovery of an outdoor marijuana growing operation in Pollock Pines. Agents then determined that the same suspects had recently spent millions of dollars to purchase other properties in El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Mendocino, Sacramento, Alameda, and San Francisco counties.

That land-buying spree had been going on for four years.

Numerous suspects were detained during the raids but officials were still questioning them late Tuesday afternoon and none had been booked yet into local jails.

From David Richie:

Owners of two homes in rural El Dorado County reported major losses last week after break-ins.

At 1:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, a couple locked their home on Happy Valley Road in Somerset and departed to have dinner with friends. They returned about 7:30 p.m. to find the home ransacked. The owner told El Dorado County sheriff's deputies that his estimated losses were more than $30,000.

The burglar's take included over $10,000 in medical marijuana, two flat-screen televisions worth almost $7,000, $800 in cash and a laptop computer, as well as antique guns, clocks and knives.

A deputy determined that entry was probably made by popping open a locked dining room window.

On Nov. 23 deputies were called to a disturbing crime scene on Oakley Circle in the Pleasant Valley area. A homeowner told deputies that the break-in must have occurred during the previous 24 hours when the home was unattended.

Nothing had been stolen but a deputy commented that it looked like someone had kicked in the front door and then had gone through the entire home, systematically damaging with rooms with a sledgehammer. Walls, windows, countertops, toilets, and every light fixture had been wrecked. Appliances like the refrigerator and microwave oven also were damaged.

The homeowner said that it will probably cost $65,000 to repair the damage.

Deputies questioned people living nearby, but nobody had noted suspicious activity.

From Niesha Lofing:

Five people were charged Thursday in connection with marijuana growing operations at homes throughout the Sacramento region.

A federal grand jury returned the two-count indictment against Tony Le, of Lincoln; Tien Le, of Sacramento; Hung Le, of Elk Grove; Cuong Le, of Sacramento; and Minh Le, of Sacramento. All were charged with conspiracy to manufacture at least 1,000 marijuana plants and manufacturing at least 1,000 marijuana plants, according to a news release by U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott's office.

The indictment alleges that from Nov. 1, 2006 to last week, the defendants conspired and manufactured marijuana plants in Placer and El Dorado counties.

An investigation commenced after Pacific Gas and Electric reported a possible power theft to the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

Federal and state search warrants were served at 10 houses in Foresthill, Auburn, Placerville, Lincoln, El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park, Elk Grove and Sacramento, the release states.

Authorities uncovered active indoor marijuana grow operations in four homes and seized 3,364 marijuana plants. A fifth house contained the components for an indoor growing operation that appeared to have been harvested, the release states.

If convicted, the defendants could face a maximum sentence of life in prison with a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence, the release states.

From David Richie and Sam Stanton:

In a series of raids, federal agents and police targeted three indoor marijuana growing operations in El Dorado Hills and Placerville on Tuesday, serving eight search warrants and arresting six suspects in what was described as a "family-based" operation.

Indoor marijuana raids have become so common in quiet suburban neighborhoods of the region that they hardly merit headlines. But this operation was different, authorities say.

"This is a three-level home and backs up to an elementary school," Gordon Taylor, special agent in charge of the Sacramento office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said outside the home at 349 Arches Ave. "This is the first time we've seen this kind of operation in such a high-end neighborhood."

Here is the full Bee story.



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