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The blog can now be found at: http://www.sacbee.com/crime/
The RSS feed for the blog is now at: http://www.sacbee.com/crime/index.rss
Please come see us in our new home.
As the Rim fire continues to burn in the Stanislaus National Forest, officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Amador and El Dorado counties say such fires could occur in their jurisdiction.
The Rim fire is burning in terrain similar to that found in Amador and El Dorado counties, and residents are advised to be prepared and not ignore the risk. Fire officials say people need to recognize how quickly a wildfire can spread.
"I imagine the residents of Tuolumne County never thought it could really happen to them, or that the Rim fire could have burned 255,848 acres -- 400 square miles -- in 28 days, but it has with ferocity that one seldom sees," Kelly Keenan, chief of Cal Fire's Amador-El Dorado-Sacramento Unit, said in a written statement. "With 80 percent of the fire contained, the third largest wildfire in the state's history is still spotting ahead of itself and causing Yosemite National Park to close four of its campgrounds and the Stanislaus National Forest to close two of its ranger districts, not to mention the road closures in the area."
Two people were killed in a plane crash Tuesday morning about five miles from Paradise in Butte County.
Sheriff's officials said the two bodies are scorched - the plane was found engulfed in flames - and can't be identified yet. But Paul Moreno, spokesperson for PG&E, identified them as contract workers for the company.
Moreno said one was employed by AA Aerial Services and the other by Frontline Energy Services. The two victims were conducting an air patrol over a natural gas pipeline before the crash.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the employees at AA Aerial Services and Frontline Energy Services and their families," Moreno said.
Shortly after 8 a.m., inmate Robert Daniel Perry, 61, arrived for a medical appointment at the prison. Without warning, he grabbed the doctor by her hair and started choking her, a Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation news release states.
During the struggle, the doctor activated her personal alarm device. Other medical staff members responded and grabbed the doctor from the inmate's hold, officials said.
The Amador County Sheriff's Office is trying to find three men in connection with an armed robbery involving a marijuana deal at a Pine Grove residence earlier this week.
Deputies were dispatched about 5 p.m. Monday after a 911 call was received from a Pine Grove resident reporting the robbery, but they were unable to find the fleeing suspects.
The victims were identified as a 34-year-old woman, a 29-year-old man and a 14-year old girl.
Detectives who responded to the scene learned that the two adults had recommendations for the use of medicinal marijuana, and both marijuana plants and processed marijuana were found on the property, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.
Bee Metro Staff
Two men from Amador County are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in El Dorado Superior Court after they were arrested April 20 on suspicion of unlawfully killing bear and being in possession of bear parts for sale.
Peter George Vitali of Pioneer and Arthur Martin Blake of River Pines were arrested in the Eldorado National Forest and are suspected of killing three bears -- a sow and two bear cubs -- after bear-hunting season was closed.
The two men allegedly were in possession of 20 bear claws and three bear gall bladders, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Bile from bear gall bladders is believed by some to have medicinal properties and is sold on the black market, the department said.
It is a felony offense in California to sell, buy or possess for sale any bear part. Possession of more than one bear gall bladder is considered evidence that the bear gall bladders are possessed for sale.
The California Highway Patrol said that a U-turn and a passing pickup resulted in the fatal crash over the weekend on a country road between Ione and Rancho Murieta.
Gerard Sprague, 19, of Concord died at UC Davis Medical Center from injuries suffered in the crash. Two others suffered major injuries.
The CHP said that Sprague was a passenger in a car driven by Adam S. Vanlandingham, 20, of Pittsburg, Contra Costa County, southbound on Ione Road, just south of Carbondale Road, early Saturday morning.
Jeffrey P. Allgeyer, 48, of Ione, approaching in the same direction, saw Vanlandingham's car stopped, according to the CHP. Vanlandingham was about to make a U-turn.
Allgeyer's pickup truck began to pass the car in the northbound lane when Vanlandingham started a U-turn, causing a violent crash of the pickup into the driver's side of his car, according to the CHP.
Vanlandingham, Sprague and another passenger in the car, Xavier D. Ward, 21, of Pittsburg, suffered major injuries. Sprague died later that same day.
Allgeyer suffered minor injuries. The CHP said only the drivers of the vehicles were wearing seatbelts.
The collision is still under investigation.
An Amador County sheriff's deputy was dispatched to a residence on Toyon Road in Pine Grove about 8:40 a.m. Monday regarding a report of a suspicious man and vehicle. While en route, the deputy was informed that the man had approached a home, knocked on the front door and looked through windows before leaving.
The deputy contacted the witness and checked the area. While doing so, the deputy found the suspicious vehicle parked in another driveway on Toyon Road, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.
The 23-year-old woman told deputies she had performed sex acts for money at a home on Cosumnes Lane in Plymouth in the past, according to a Amador County Sheriff's office press release.
She alleged that on Jan. 23 that two men she knew as Vince and Mike beat her, tied her up and forced her to perform sex acts with a shotgun held to her head.
She was then driven around before being thrown out of a car. She eventually was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Deputies went to the home where the attack was said to have occurred, gathering evidence at what they said was the residence of Vincent M. Brewer.
Detectives identified the woman's suspected attackers as Brewer, 30, (pictured right) of Plymouth and Michael L Gunn, 38, (pictured left) of Martell via a photo lineup.
Gunn and Brewer were arrested Friday on suspicion of kidnapping and sex charges.
Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: What ever happened to Jack Sackrider for the murder of his girlfriend sometime in the early '90s?
Submitted by: Terry A. Fulton, Sacramento
ANSWER: Jack Sackrider pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 1999 death of his girlfriend, Tina Ray Foligno.
The bodies of an Amador County woman and her 5-year-old daughter reported missing earlier this week were found this morning in an ice-covered pond on their Pine Grove property.
Divers recovered the bodies of Karen Diane Anderson, 46, and Amelia Noelle Arago, 5, about 30 feet from the shore of the pond, according to an Amador County Sheriff's Office news release. Officials said there was no evidence of trauma or foul play.
The Sheriff's Office received a report about 3 p.m. Monday of a loose llama at 14130 Spring Canyon Lane in Pine Grove. A deputy and a county animal control officer secured the llama, but they were unable to locate anyone at the home at the time.
Security camera video shows that at 4:49 a.m. Sunday a man opened a locked gate at Guy's Saw Center in Pine Grove and guided a white van onto the property.
Four men wearing gloves and attempting to hide their faces then jumped from the back of the van. One used a sledge hammer to smash the glass door of the business.
The incident began about 9:30 p.m. when an El Dorado County sheriff's special enforcement detail attempted to stop a stolen motorcycle near the Quick Stop Market at 615 Pleasant Valley Road in Diamond Springs. The motorcycle was driven by Brandon Remy (left photo), 44, of Pollock Pines, who was accompanied by a passenger, Karen White (right photo), 24, of Placerville. Remy did not pull over and instead tried to evade deputies, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.
Authorities said Remy was released from prison about five months ago, and deputies knew that a warrant had been issued for his arrest for a parole violation.
The California Highway Patrol is reminding school bus riders and motorists to pay attention to each other to ensure safety.
"I see the driver -- the driver sees me" is the theme of this year's National School Bus Safety Week, Oct. 22-26.
Studies show that the most dangerous part of the school bus ride for children is when they get on and off the bus, according to a CHP news release. Motorists are urged to pay close attention to school buses on local roads and to be aware of their flashing lights. In California, flashing yellow lights on a school bus are a warning to slow down and prepare to stop, while flashing red lights require all motorists to stop.
Jackson police officers responded about 1 p.m. Tuesday to the Best Western motel regarding a disturbance involving Ryan Bran Knowlesbrowder (pictured). Officers subsequently reported that Knowlesbrowder had left the area and was last seen driving a stolen purple sedan.
About 1:25 p.m., Amador County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the Sundance Motel, 12484 Depot Road in Martell regarding a report that a man matching Knowlesbrowder's description unlawfully entered several rooms, two of which were occupied, and attempted to obtain keys to vehicles. He reportedly fought with one person over vehicle keys, then left on foot, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.
The annual list of top ten stolen cars was released today by an insurance industry crime-tracking bureau.
The Hot Wheels list from the National Insurance Crime Bureau tracks all theft data, without regard to whether the stolen vehicle was insured.
A recent trend being monitored: thefts of late model vehicles that theoretically are harder to steal due to sophisticated key code technology.
NICB president Joe Wehrle said in a press release that thieves have figured out how to
get the key code for a vehicle, have a replacement key made -- and steal the vehicle within a matter of days.
The Sacramento County Coroner's office has identified the woman who died in a crash on Jackson Road Wednesday afternoon as a 62-year-old Amador County resident.
Janis Anita Lankford of Pioneer, Amador County, died at the scene of the crash in Rancho Murieta that involved a motor home and a pickup truck.
Assistant Chief Walt White of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District said rescue crews responded at 12:35 p.m. to a report of a collision on Jackson Road east of Murieta South Parkway.
Sixteen lightning-sparked fires have burned 78 acres in El Dorado and Amador counties.
What fire officials have dubbed the Amador Lightning Complex started at 11: 30 p.m. Sunday and was reported 20 percent contained this evening. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported that more than 1,800 lightning strikes hit the two counties in the past two days.
Cal Flre spokesman Daniel Berlant said the agency has responded to about 50 fires throughout Northern California as a result of lightning strikes Sunday and today. The largest single fire burned 75 acres near Copperopolis in Calaveras County.
By David Ruiz
Amador County resident Johnny Irvin Walters was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of child molestation, Amador County Sheriff officials said. Walters, 38, worked as a correctional officer at Mule Creek State Prison.
According to a news release, the Amador County Sheriff's Office received a report June 2 from the parents of a 14 year old girl claiming their daughter had been molested by Walters.
During the initial investigation, multiple sources informed detectives about Walters' tendency to host parties where minors were served alcohol. Detectives found photographs on social networking sites which verified the claims, the news release said.
As Independence Day approaches, state fire officials remind residents and visitors to El Dorado and Amador counties of fireworks restrictions.
Because of the risk of wildfires, an El Dorado County ordinance prohibits the use and possession of fireworks, including the "safe and sane" fireworks commonly sold in surrounding areas including Sacramento County.
The California State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, local fire agencies and law enforcement take the prohibition of fireworks seriously, said Chief Kelly Keenan of Cal Fire's Amador-El Dorado Unit. Anyone caught with fireworks in El Dorado County will have their fireworks confiscated. They also could be cited and face misdemeanor charges that include up to six months in jail, a $500 fine or both.
A settlement has been reached with an Arizona company that provides medical advice over the telephone.
The business, Company Nurse LLC, agreed to pay $200,000, according to a press release from Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully. The company provides medical advice services for numerous businesses and public entities in the state.
An investigation found that the company failed to register with a state telephone medical advice bureau and failed to ensure that those providing phone advice were registered nurses licensed in California, according to a press release.
After the investigation, the company came into compliance. Company Nurse agreed to pay $150,000 in civil penalties and $50,000 for costs of enforcement.
Sacramento County will receive $9,000 in costs and penalties. The civil law enforcement action was announced Friday by district attorneys in Sacramento, Monterey, Amador, San Joaquin and Yolo counties.
In a statement issued by Company Nurse, president Paul Binsfeld said the problem was found to be in a subcontractor and that his company "remain committed ... to abiding by all regulations."
"All of our nurses are licensed in the State of California and always have been. We were greatly disappointed to discover that, contrary to the contractual terms with our subcontractor, the subcontractor did not uphold the same staffing guidelines for state licensing; we ended our agreement with them two years ago," he said in the statement.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced that burn permits in areas within its jurisdiction in Amador County and the western slope of El Dorado County will be suspended July 2.
That leaves property owners with a little more than a week to burn residential debris piles on permissive burn days.
If it is unsafe to burn because of outdoor temperature, wind, terrain or other factors, fire officials advise waiting until winter to complete burning activities.
The federal Bureau of Land Management announced today that fire restrictions are in effect for all public lands managed by the bureau's Mother Lode Field Office.
Included are approximately 230,000 acres of BLM-managed lands in Nevada, Yuba, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Sacramento, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Stanislaus, Sutter and Mariposa counties. Campers are urged to familiarize themselves with special restrictions before visiting public lands in these counties.
The restrictions prohibit all open fires on public lands because of extremely dry conditions, according to a news release.
Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: What is going on with the case of the Asian gangsters in Amador County, where the marijuana farm went wrong and a worker was killed? Do each of them have separate cases in court? What are they looking at? Any updates?
Submitted by: Sac, Sac
ANSWER: Five men remain in Amador County Jail charged with murder in the Sept. 27, 2011, shooting death of 45-year-old He Ting Fu.
Arrested in connection with the shooting were Andrew Minh Manisap, 18, Michael Saechao, 21, David Van Tai, 23, Vu Xuan Tran, 23, all of Sacramento, and Son Thai Nguyen, 20, of Elk Grove. According to Amador Superior Court online information, the next court date for all five is Thursday. Each defendant is represented by a separate public defender or court-appointed attorney.
The five were arrested following a shootout at the site of medicinal marijuana cultivation operations on Carbondale Road that were reportedly operated by Fu and three other individuals. Fu was found dead, grasping a shotgun, in a bullet-riddled trailer.
Sheriff's officials said all five are known gang members.
The 2012 "fire season" will officially begin at 8 a.m. Monday, and fire officials urge residents, especially those living or recreating in rural areas, to use caution as the state enters a period of increased risk for wildfires.
The state's final snow survey May 1 found the statewide snowpack water content is only 40 percent of normal. From January though April, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection crews responded to more than 800 wildfires, nearly two and a half times the approximately 300 the agency responded to during the same period in 2011. This year's number also exceeds the five-year average of more than 600 wildfires for January through April, said Terri Mizuhara, spokeswoman for Cal Fire's Amador-El Dorado Unit.
So far this this month, she said, Cal Fire crews have responded to numerous small fires. Several in Amador and El Dorado counties have been escaped debris fires, Mizuhara said.
The number of drivers cited for using their cell phones while driving in April was up over a year earlier.
The California Highway Patrol and 265 local police agencies last month handed out more than 57,000 tickets to drivers who were using a hand-held cell phone or texting. The compares to 52,000 tickets issued in April 2011.
"Unfortunately, we're seeing that the problem of cell phone use for talking and texting while driving is not going away anytime soon," said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the state Office of Traffic Safety.
His office has conducted an advertising campaign that has included the "Don't Be a Distracted Driving Zombie" television commercials that emphasize how up to 37 percent of brain power needed for driving gets switched to cell phone talking.
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and law enforcement agencies throughout the Sacramento region urge drivers to look twice for motorcyclists so all motorists can safely share the road.
California is home to more than 1 million licensed motorcycle riders, according to a California Highway Patrol news release.
"Whether a driver is at an intersection or changing lanes, they should always keep an eye out for motorcyclists," CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a written statement. "Because motorcycles have a much smaller profile than other vehicles, it can be difficult for drivers to judge the distance and speed of an approaching motorcycle."
In 2010, the most recent year for which data is available from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, 361 people died in California and nearly 11,000 others were injured as a result of a crash involving a motorcycle.
In addition to using safety equipment and riding gear, motorcyclists are encouraged to seek professional training before beginning to ride.
The CHP-administered California Motorcyclist Safety Program offers rider courses for beginning motorcyclists and for riders interested in improving their skills. The program operates more than 120 training sites statewide and expects to train 65,000 motorcyclists this year. For course information and locations, see the the website at http://www.ca-msp.org/.
Law enforcement's job was made easy when a Galt police officer received an unexpected text message from an unsuspecting source.
About 10 a.m. today, an officer was alerted by the sound of his cell phone. Thinking it might be a call from dispatch or a fellow officer, he stopped what he was doing and grabbed the phone.
It turned out that he had received a text message from a person who wanted to sell some drugs and mistakenly contacted the officer instead of the potential buyer, according to a Galt Police Department news release.
A bicyclist riding on Highway 70 at Lake Oroville was killed Monday when he was hit by a pickup truck, California Highway Patrol officials reported.
The 22-year-old cyclist, who has not been identified, was crossing the West Branch Bridge over an arm of the lake in darkness at about 7:25 p.m.
According to witnesses, he was in a lane of traffic and not equipped with lights or reflectors.
The cyclist was struck by a 2012 Ford F350 driven by a motorist from Grants Pass, Ore.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
One person was arrested and nine others received notices to appear in court during a recent Contractors State License Board sting operation in Amador County.
The undercover operation was conducted Friday at a Pine Grove home by the board's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team and investigators from the Amador County District Attorney's Office.
Investigators, posing as homeowners, sought bids for general construction and painting projects at a multievel house on 7 acres. The 10 people who bid more than the legal threshold of $500 for labor and materials will be required to appear in court for contracting without a license, according to a Contractors State License Board news release. They also face an additional misdemeanor charge for illegal advertising.
Fire officials are reminding people with medical conditions requiring oxygen therapy to steer clear of fire, whether in the form of burning cigarettes, or open flame from gas stove tops, lighters, matches, candles or wood stoves.
"The oxygen molecules from an oxygen tank literally cling to clothing, hair, bedding, furniture, etc. and can cause a fire to burn faster, hotter and at lower temperatures," Unit Chief Kelly Keenan, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Amador-El Dorado Unit, said in a written statement.
The warning comes following a recent fatal fire in Pollock Pines that officials say may have been started by a individual smoking while on oxygen therapy. One person died and another was injured.
A young prisoner who was driven away from a work project by accomplices on Tuesday was taken back into custody early this morning in Sacramento.
Angel Iniquez, 19, was driven from a roadside clean-up project about 11 a.m. Tuesday in Sutter Creek, Amador County, by two men. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officers were distracted at the time by another prisoner who needed medical attention.
Law enforcement immediately began looking for Iniquez. At about 2 a.m. today he was found in a home in the 2400 block of Connie Drive in Sacramento.
The California Highway Patrol is reminding motorists to buckle up before taking to the road.
The CHP will be paying particular attention to drivers and passengers who aren't wearing seat belts during a Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign beginning Friday and continuing through the Thanksgiving weekend.
The minimum cost of an adult seat belt violation in California is $142, and up to $445 for not properly restraining a child younger than 16 years old. If the parent is not in the car, the driver is issued a ticket.
The names of five men arrested last week in connection with the shooting death of 45-year-old He Ting Fu in Amador County have been released by the Amador County Sheriff's Department.
All were arraigned Friday in Amador Superior Court, and Judge David Richmond ordered them held in Amador County Jail without bail, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.
The men were identified as Andrew Minh Manisap , 18 (photo, top row, left), Michael Saechao, 20 (top center), David Van Tai, 22 (top right), and Vu Xuan Tran, 23(bottom left), all of Sacramaento, and Son Thai Nguyen, 19 (bottom right), of Elk Grove.
By Tony Bizjak
California Highway Patrol officials say they believe their two-year motorcycle safety campaign, now ending, has helped reduce injury and fatality rates. The federally funded campaign, "Look Twice, Save a Life," was designed to increase drivers' awareness of motorcyclists on the road.
Preliminary 2010 CHP statistics show the number of people killed in motorcycle-involved collisions was down 9 percent from the previous year. The number of injuries was down 8.5 percent.
"Although this campaign is coming to a close, we're pleased with the encouraging results," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "There is still more work to be done, and our efforts to raise awareness through education and enforcement will continue."
One man is dead and five others are under arrest following a Tuesday night shootout at the site of a commercial marijuana growing operation in rural Amador County.
The Amador County Sheriff's Office received a call at 9:10 p.m. Tuesday from a resident on Carbondale Road who reported hearing several gunshots. At 9:18, a second caller reported hearing 15 to 20 gunshots. One of the callers reported seeing a white full-sized extra cab truck and dark-colored sport utility vehicle leaving the property where the gunshots originated.
Deputies spotted the two vehicles traveling southwest on Carbondale Road. The vehicles took off at high speeds when occupants spotted patrol cars. Deputies lost sight of the white truck as it turned onto Michigan Lone Bar Road but overtook the second vehicle, a green Expedition.
An autopsy of a man shot by sheriff's deputies Saturday in Pine Grove revealed that he had numerous self-inflicted stab wounds, including one that would have been fatal, according to the Amador County Sheriff's Department.
The man, who appeared at a neighbor's house shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday covered with blood, was identified as Gaylord Neil Story, 59.
Story was shot by deputies after he tried to attack them with a large knife, officials said. The forensic examination of Story was conducted by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office.
Automobile travel is expected to be up slightly this Labor Day weekend -- and the California Highway Patrol will be ready to pull over any drunken drivers.
The American Automobile Association estimates that 27.3 million people plan to travel on the nation's roadways, a 0.5 percent increase from last year. Overall, travel is expected to dip due in part to higher air fare costs.
A well-maintained vehicle can help prevent wildfires, according to state fire officials.
The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Amador-El Dorado Unit reports that several recent fires have been caused by vehicles, citing areas along Highway 50, Bass Lake Road, Gold Hill Road and Cameron Park Drive in El Dorado County. In Amador County, recent fire scars can be seen along highways 49 and 88 and Ridge Road, where vehicles caused strings of wildland fires.
"When a vehicle's engine is not well maintained, the exhaust system can become overtaxed, thereby allowing fuel to enter the exhaust system, which in turn overheats the catalytic convertor that melts and disintegrates," Scott Hogan, fire equipment manager for the Amador-El Dorado Unit said in a written statement. "Pieces of the catalytic converter exit the muffler at about 1,200 degrees F and can bounce onto the dried grass along the edge of road and start fires."
By Sam Stanton
California prison officials expect to fall just short of a court-ordered reduction in inmate populations by December, but say they will be in compliance by next June and do not expect to have to ask federal courts for more time to achieve a lower inmate population.
Papers filed today with a panel of three federal judges who have ordered the state to improve medical and mental health conditions inside California prisons say moves by Gov. Jerry Brown will substantially meet the court's requirements.
The state's inmate population is required to be at 167 percent of capacity by December, and prison officials said they expect to reduce populations by 9,200 inmates, or about 169 percent of capacity.
By Kim Minugh
The California Highway Patrol is urging residents to sign up for a service that sends Amber Alerts to cell phones via text message - one more way residents can help authorities find missing children fast.
The service, which is free regardless of your wireless plan, sends alerts tailored to your area based on the zip code that you provide. You can provide up to five zip codes, and authorities recommend you at least add the zip codes in which you live and work.
To sign up, visit www.wirelessamberalerts.org. Alerts can also be sent in Spanish.