Sacto 9-1-1
November 11, 2013
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November 8, 2013
Cameron Park man pleads guilty to bank embezzlement

A Cameron Park man today pleaded guilty in federal court in Sacramento to one count of bank embezzlement.

Ethan George Banaszak, 35, embezzled thousands of dollars from his employer, a federally insured bank, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

Court documents show that Banaszak made more than $660,000 in unauthorized withdrawals from bank customers' accounts and took $16,000 in cash from the bank's vault.

November 7, 2013
Somerset man killed in head-on crash in Sutter County

A 61-year-old Somerset man died this afternoon in a head-on collision on Highway 20 in Sutter County.

The crash occurred about 3:15 p.m. The man, whose name has not been released pending notification of family, was westbound on Highway 20, west of the Sutter Bypass Bridge, when for some reason he allowed his Ford F 250 pickup to enter the eastbound lane, according to a California Highway Patrol news release. The pickup collided head on with an eastbound big-rig truck and trailer.

Following the collision, the big rig bounced off the concrete guardrail on the south side of the highway and came to rest, on its wheels, against the north guardrail. The trailer was empty and also remained on its wheels, blocking the entire roadway, the CHP reported.

November 6, 2013
Teenager reported missing from Shingle Springs home

Juliet Riffey.PNGThe El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is asking the public's help in finding a 15-year-old girl who ran away from home last week.

Juliet Riffey (pictured) left her Shingle Springs home during the night Friday. There is concern for her safety because she is home schooled and has limited contact with anyone outside the home, according to a Sheriff's Office news release. Officials said her mother reported that the teenager had not packed belongings or otherwise prepared to leave home.

Riffey is described as 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 110 pounds with dark blond/brown hair, blue eyes and wearing oval-framed glasses. She also has a cleft lip, which causes her to easily become ill, authorities said.

Anyone with information regrading Riffey's whereabouts is asked to call El Dorado County sheriff's Detective Natasha Gallagher at (530) 642-4720 or the sheriff's dispatch center at (530) 621-6600.

November 1, 2013
El Dorado County jury convicts man in 1980s slayings of three teens

A man who previously served prison time for a murder in Washington state has been convicted by an El Dorado County jury of the 1980s slayings of three teenage girls, including 15-year-old Kathy Graves of South Lake Tahoe.

Joseph Michael Nissensohn was found guilty Thursday of three first-degree murders in the 1989 death of Graves, and the 1981 slayings of Tammy Jarschke, 13, and Tanya Jones, 14, in Monterey County, according to an El Dorado County District Attorney's Office news release. The jury also found true additional special circumstances allegations, including the 1989 Washington murder of Sally Jo Tsaggaris, 46.

The guilt phase of the trial began May 14 with jury selection. Nissensohn faces the death penalty, with the penalty phase of the trial to begin Nov. 12 in South Lake Tahoe, authorities said.

October 29, 2013
Fire damages building on El Dorado County high school campus

Classes for students enrolled in cosmetology and dental programs were canceled today after a fire damaged a building housing the El Dorado Union High School District's Regional Occupational Program.

Administrators on the Shenandoah High School campus on Koki Lane in the community of El Dorado discovered the fire just before 9 a.m. today in the ROP cosmetology building and called the fire department, according to a district news release. No staff members or students were present at the time of the fire.

In addition to the cosmetology program, the Shenandoah site includes multiple buildings that house the district's Virtual Academy, ROP dental program and the AP computer science classroom.

October 14, 2013
Dinner to benefit El Dorado County Sheriff's Explorers program

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Explorers will hold a fundraising spaghetti feed Saturday in Cameron Park.

All proceeds will go to Explorer Post No. 457 to fund competitions and the 2014 Explorer Nationals, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger.

October 7, 2013
Firefighters ask Apple Hill visitors to join in 'Fill the Boot' fundraising effort

Visitors to Apple Hill during the next two weekends will have an opportunity to join firefighters in an annual fundraising effort.

Employees of the El Dorado-Amador Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection will be conducting their "Fill the Boot" drive on behalf of the Muscular Dysrtophy Association/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Able's Apple Acres at Hassler and Carson Roads and on Oct. 19 at High Hill Ranch, 2901 High Hill Road.

"El Dorado County residents and Apple Hill visitors have been enormously generous in filling the boot in the past and we expect that they will give what they can again this year," Cal Fire Unit Chief Kelly Keenan said in a written statement.

October 7, 2013
Man with 8 DUIs convicted in death of Tahoe pedestrian

A man with eight prior convictions for driving under the influence has been convicted of vehicular manslaughter involving gross negligence in the 2011 death of a pedestrian in South Lake Tahoe.

An El Dorado County jury last week found Larry Lee Halverson guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run causing injury. The jury heard testimony that on Sept. 4, 2011, Halverson's driver's license was suspended for DUI and he was under the influence driving a Nissan Pathfinder on Ski Run Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe when he struck Patrick Purcell, 51, a pedestrian who was crossing the boulevard, according to an El Dorado County District Attorney's Office news release. Purcell, a South Lake Tahoe resident, was flown to Renown Hospital in Reno, where he died of his injuries 31 days later.

According to the District Attorney's Office, Halverson had convictions for driving under the influence starting in 1990 in Santa Clara County through 2008 in Nevada. He was indicted by an El Dorado County grand jury in April 2012 in Purcell's death.

Halverson faces sentencing under Courtney's Law, a 1996 amendment to the state law pertaining to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, according to the District Attorney's Office. This law provides for a 15-year-to-life sentence for habitual offenders with qualifying DUI convictions. Halverson, who is being held in El Dorado County Jail without bail, is scheduled for sentencing Nov. 1.

October 7, 2013
Sly Park prescribed burn to take place over next few weeks

Cal Fire crews plan to conduct a prescribed burn at Sly Park to keep the recreation area and nearby subdivisions protected from wild fire.

Crews plan to burn brush, litter from conifers and bear clover from underneath trees. The burn areas are near the corner of Sly Park Road and Park Creek Road in Pollock Pines.

Vegetation burning will happen between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. over the next few weeks.

Control lines will be in place and fire crews with firefighting equipment will stand by to maintain control of the fire. The effort will begin with a small test burn at the beginning of each day to ensure conditions are right.

If conditions are favorable, firefighters will ignite blazes around the perimeter, allowing a low-intensity, slow burn to consume fuels on the forest floor.

The use of a prescribed burn mimics the natural process, providing significant fire hazard reduction, according to Cal Fire.

October 1, 2013
El Dorado Sheriff participating in prescription drug take back day

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is providing residents the opportunity to properly dispose of unwanted or expired prescription medications on Oct. 26.

Collections stations will be staffed by sheriff's department personnel from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 26 at three locations:

  • The sheriff's office, 300 Fair Lane, Placerville.
  • The sheriff's substation, 4554 Town Center Boulevard, Number 112, El Dorado Hills.
  • Cool Physical Therapy, 5000 Ellinghouse Drive, Suite 100, Cool.

Prescription medicines can be a safety hazard for children and a tempting target for thieves. In addition, it is important to dispose of the drugs in an ecologically sensitive way, not by flushing or pouring down a drain.

Remove name labels and place containers in a plastic bag before bringing to a drop-off point.

September 27, 2013
One-way traffic now allowed on Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe after collision

One lane of Highway 50 has reopened after the highway was closed for more than an hour as the result of a major injury collision in South Lake Tahoe, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Westbound and eastbound traffic will get alternate opportunities to move through the area, near Echo Summit Road, according to CHP reports online.

The collision occurred about 11 a.m.

September 25, 2013
Fire restrictions lifted in Eldorado National Forest

Fire restrictions are removed today in the Eldorado National Forest because recent rains have dampened terrain.

The wetter conditions have returned to the Eldorado National Forest just in time for Saturday's start to the deer hunting season, according to a forest service press release.

Still, Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree reminds forest visitors to build campfires in accordance with permit regulations.

September 13, 2013
Rim fire's rapid spread cited as cautionary tale for residents in Amador, El Dorado counties

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."

September 11, 2013
Former South Lake Tahoe police officer sentenced to 18 months in prison

A former South Lake Tahoe police officer was sentenced to 18 months in prison today for obstructing an official proceeding, according to authorities.

John Gerald Poland, 45, pleaded guilty to the charge in federal court in May. Today, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller handed down the sentence. Poland was ordered to surrender himself to the Bureau of Prisons on Nov. 6.

In June 2011, Poland persuaded a South Lake Tahoe gang member's girlfriend to conceal and destroy evidence, interfering with a federal investigation of that gang member. In October and November of that year, Poland tampered with this witness in an investigation into his conduct and the conduct of the gang member, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

"Mr. Poland ended his career in law enforcement by abusing his position of trust at every turn," U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner was quoted as saying in the news release. "When faced with the consequences of his misdeeds, he then attempted to influence witnesses who were called to testify against him. Such behavior cannot be tolerated. Mr. Poland stands in contrast to the other outstanding men and women in law enforcement who conduct themselves with dedication and honor every single day."

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the South Lake Tahoe Police Department and the state's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rodriguez.

September 11, 2013
Man arrested for indecent exposure, burglary in Placerville break-in

Placerville police have arrested a man on suspicion of entering an apartment and undressing in the bedroom of a sleeping woman.

Tyler Mitchell, 32, was booked into El Dorado County Jail on suspicion of burglary, indecent exposure and violation of probation, according to a police press release.

When Mitchell turned himself in on Monday morning, police said they had been searching for him in connection with the incident at an apartment on Ray Lawyer Drive at about 3 a.m. the day before.

August 27, 2013
Novato man drowns in El Dorado County's Jenkinson Reservoir

A Novato man drowned at Jenkinson Reservoir on Saturday afternoon, authorities announced today.

The man, identified as 34-year-old Ramiro Nunez Magana, was swimming with family members near the Pinecone campground about 1:45 p.m. Saturday when he began to struggle. Before anyone could reach him, the man disappeared from sight in the waters of the reservoir, also known as Sly Park Lake, according to a news release from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.

Responders could not immediately locate the victim. About 3:15 p.m., the man's body was located about 30 feet from the shoreline. He was pulled from the lake and pronounced dead.

Among the units that responded were sheriff's department, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, El Dorado County fire, U.S. Forest Service, the El Dorado Irrigation District Lake Patrol and park rangers.

Sheriff's authorities remind residents and visitors that swimming in the county's lakes and rivers is "inherently dangerous," and recommend that life jackets are used when swimming in deep or swift water.

August 27, 2013
El Dorado sheriff's deputy involved in minor collision

An El Dorado County sheriff's deputy was involved in a minor collision this afternoon in El Dorado Hills, according to authorities.

Nobody was injured when the patrol car collided with another car, said El Dorado sheriff's Sgt. Jim Byers. He said the collision was "very minor."

The collision occurred near the El Dorado Hills Town Center, off Latrobe Road. It is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol, Byers said.

August 25, 2013
Update: Firefighters contain El Dorado County blaze

By Janelle Bitker
jbitker@sacbee.com

A fire near Georgetown in El Dorado County is fully contained, according to Cal Fire officials.

The fire began on Saturday at approximately 3 p.m., just off Highway 193 and Empire Creek Circle. By noon today firefighters reported full containment of the 38-acre blaze.

August 24, 2013
UPDATE: Blaze reaches Georgetown, burns two structures

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A fire started this afternoon near southern Georgetown in El Dorado County spread to 45 acres and burned two rural structures, forcing the evacuation of more than 80 homes, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported.

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said one of the structures was destroyed as the blaze spread into a rural subdivision near the perimeter of the community.

About 6 p.m. the blaze was about 35 percent contained, he said. Three helicopters were deployed to drop water over the area. Earlier, air tankers were also used in the fight.

August 21, 2013
Suspect sought in South Lake Tahoe bank robbery

SLT Bank Robber NO. 1 a.JPGSLT Bank Robber NO. 2 b.JPGSouth Lake Tahoe police seek to identify a suspect in the robbery of the El Dorado Savings ad Loan this morning.

The robbery occurred about 9:30 a.m. at 3443 Lake Tahoe Blvd. Based on surveillance footage, the suspect (pictured) appears to to be a white man in his 50s, approximately 6 feet, 2 inches tall, wearing a beige baseball cap, a short-sleeved plaid button-down shirt, khaki cargo shorts and flip-flop sandals, according to a Police Department news release.

The man walked into the bank and presented the teller with a demand note. He claimed to be armed but did not display a weapon, police said.

August 20, 2013
Alleged raccoon skinning leads to arrest of sex offender

Kevin Burroughs pic.JPGA man identified by police as a registered sex offender and parolee at large is in jail after he allegedly was found skinning a raccoon in South Lake Tahoe.

Two officers responded about 2 p.m. Monday to Modesto and Harrison avenues regarding a report of a man using a large knife to skin an animal in an open lot between the Snow Flake Drive-in and the Tahoe Daily Tribune building. When officers arrived, they found a man with bloody hands and an almost completely skinned raccoon, according to a South Lake Tahoe Police Department news release.

As officers began talking to the man, he ran from them, heading west on Harrison Avenue, and the two officers gave chase.

August 19, 2013
Boy, 17, dies in Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay

Associated Press

Deputies say a 17-year-old boy is dead after apparently drowning in Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay.

El Dorado County sheriff's officials say Javon Lamar Green was pulled from the water Saturday morning. His exact cause of death is still under investigation.

Deputies say they responded to reports of a possible drowning in the bay a little after 3 p.m. Friday. Family members in a rented boat told deputies the teen had been swimming toward Fannette Island went he vanished underwater.

Relatives say the boat had been about 25 yards away from the small island.

A California Highway Patrol helicopter and the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office Dive Team searched for the boy, who was eventually found in about 72 feet of water.


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August 16, 2013
Police say gas station patron might aid South Lake Tahoe homicide investigation

patron e.JPGPatron Truck.jpgSouth Lake Tahoe police seek help in identifying a USA gas station patron, who is believed to have been among the last people to interact with a clerk at the business before the clerk was fatally shot the night of Aug. 8 by an unidentified suspect.

Detectives have been poring over several items of evidence, including the video produced by the station's security cameras. They previously released a short video clip of a man inspecting the rear of the business on the day before the killing in hopes of identifying him. Police also have discovered another individual on the security video who they hope to identify with the public's help.

Because the man pictured in the video was among the last patrons to interact with the clerk, 27-year-old Manpreet Singh, before Singh was shot, detectives believe he might have seen or witnessed something that could prove valuable to their investigation, according to a Police Department news release.

August 16, 2013
UPDATE: Fire near Diamond Springs reported contained at 100 acres, home burned

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reports that a wildfire in the Diamond Springs area has been contained after burning 100 acres, including one residence and multiple outbuildings.

As of 4:30 p.m., fire crews were mopping up hot spots, and area residents who had been advised to evacuate earlier in the afternoon were being allowed to return to their homes, said Teri Mizuhara, a spokeswoman for Calfire's Amador-El Droado Unit.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office reported evaucation of the Lake Oaks Mobile Home Park and along Patterson Road in Diamond Springs due to the fire, which started shortly before 2 p.m.

Calfire reported that the fire began in the area of Koki Lane and Pleasant Valley Road, near Union Mine High School.

Sheriff's Department spokesman Lt. Tim Becker said people in the evacuation area were advised to go to the Firemen's Hall at 501 Main St. in Diamond Springs.

Placerville police sent out an email alert stating that students from Charles Brown Elementary School were being transported to Herbert Green Middle School, 3781 Forni Road, and parents were advised to pick them up there.

Mizuhara said fire crews will be going through the burned area to investigate the cause of the fire and assess the damage.

August 14, 2013
South Lake Tahoe police recover items stolen in vacation rental burglaries

A stolen motorcycle and neighbors who reported a man acting suspiciously led to recovery of items stolen in recent burglaries of several vacation rentals in South Lake Tahoe.

About 9 a.m. Tuesday, South Lake Tahoe police officers were conducting an investigation in the area of Elwood Avenue when they noticed a man standing next to motorcycle. The officers observed that after the man saw them, he left the motorcycle and began walking away from it.

When officers concluded their business in the area, the were told by neighbors that the man seemed to be acting suspiciously and had taken off on foot after police were out of his line of sight.

August 14, 2013
South Lake Tahoe man arrested in woman's stabbing death

Sean Paul MacIntire.jpgA 32-year-old man was arrested early this morning in connection with a fatal stabbing at a South Lake Tahoe residence.

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department received a 911 call about 1:45 a.m. from a woman who said that her adult son, 32-year-old Sean-Paul Andrew MacIntire (pictured), had just stabbed a family member who had been sleeping on a couch at the home on Wildwood Avenue, south of Pioneer Trail. The caller said she thought the victim, a 57-year-old woman, was dead and told the 911 operator that her son was still at the residence, a Police Department news release states.

Officers responded and arrested MacIntire inside the home. Police said medical personnel attempted to resuscitate the victim, who was transported to Barton Memorial Hospital, where she was declared dead.

August 13, 2013
Police seek possible witness in South Lake Tahoe killing

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department is asking the public's help in identifying a man who may have information regarding the shooting death of a USA gas station clerk last week.

In the late afternoon or early evening of Aug. 5, the man was observed walking in the vicinity of the gas station, according to a Police Department news release. Detectives seek to identify the man shown in a video clip as a possible witness. He is described as a white man, with light brown or bond hair, wearing a light-colored polo shirt.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Police Department by calling (530) 542-6100, or online at www.facebook.com/sltpd.detectives. A reward for information leading to solution of the case has been increased to $6,000 as a result of contributions by local business owners.

August 9, 2013
Clerk killed in South Lake Tahoe shooting identified

The South Lake Tahoe gas station clerk fatally shot Tuesday night has been identified as 27-year-old Manpreet Ghuman Singh.

Singh died after suffering a single bullet wound to his upper torso, according to a South Lake Tahoe Police Department news release. Police said robbery does not appear to have been involved.

Although a suspect has not been identified, police said it appears the crime was committed by a lone individual.

August 9, 2013
South Lake Tahoe police warn of vacation rental scam

South Lake Tahoe police are advising vacation home owners, rental companies and visitors to the area to beware of an Internet scam conducted through vacation rental websites.

At least three families have been victims of the scam, and police suspect there may be additional victims who have not reported the crime.

The scam, according to a Police Department news release, involves false postings on legitimate vacation rental websites advertising rental properties available in South Lake Tahoe. The fraudulent postings appear alongside legitimate postings and include photographs of residences in the area, which make the postings appear authentic.

August 9, 2013
Former fugitive sentenced in 12-year-old sex crime case

A man was sentenced today in El Dorado County Superior Court to 138 years to life in prison for acts of sexual misconduct committed more than a decade ago.

An El Dorado County jury in July convicted Patrick Senatore, 45, of 10 felony counts of sexual misconduct.

In October 2001, two children reported incidents of sexual misconduct and forcible rape to the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department. In May 2002, while the investigation was under way, Senatore fled the state, according to a District Attorney's Office news release. In March 2010, the District Attorney's Office initiated a fugitive apprehension investigation.

August 9, 2013
Cameron Park man indicted for possessing machine gun, meth lab equipment

A Cameron Park man was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Sacramento for possessing a machine gun, and the equipment and chemicals needed to operate a meth lab.

Joshua Bonn McGee, 31, was also charged with possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

According to court documents, El Dorado County sheriff's deputies went to McGee's residence May 12 in the 3400 block of Santos Circle to investigate reports that he had made threats against his estranged wife. As deputies approached the house, they noticed a machine gun in the bed of a pickup truck.

August 7, 2013
Suspect sought in shooting death of South Lake Tahoe gas station clerk

SLT Homicide Suspect c.jpg NO. 1.jpgSLT Homicide Suspect a.jpg NO. 2.jpgSouth Lake Tahoe police are searching for a homicide suspect after a clerk was found dead in a gas station convenience store Tuesday night.

A patron walked into the USA gas station at 2470 Lake Tahoe Blvd. about 10:50 p.m. and found the male clerk lying on the floor with blood around him, according to a Police Department news release. The patron called 911 and said the clerk needed immediate help.

Officers arrived within a minute of the call and found the clerk without a pulse. They administered CPR until fire personnel and medics arrived. The victim did not respond to the CPR and was declared dead at the scene.

August 6, 2013
South Lake Tahoe police seek witnesses to truck vs. bike crash

Tahoe truck.jpgTahoe Bicycle.jpgSouth Lake Tahoe police would like to speak with anyone who witnessed to an early morning collision in which a bicyclist was injured.

Police received a 911 call about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday from the driver of a 1-ton flatbed utility truck who said he had just been involved in a collision with a bicyclist in the area of Wildwood Avenue. The 29-year-old driver, a Visalia resident, works for a company that has been contracted to assist with the ongoing roadwork on Highway 50, a Police Department news release states.

The driver reported that he was traveling east about 25 mph in the No. 2 lane and did not see the bicyclist. He told police that he immediately stopped when he felt the impact. He then saw the damaged bicycle and the injured bicyclist lying on the south side of the highway, in the area of the newly rededicated children's memorial tree east of Wildwood Avenue.

August 5, 2013
South Lake Tahoe Police say Nevada sex offender allowed to seek work in California

Goetz2.jpgThe South Lake Tahoe Police Department has revised a warning it issued last month regarding terms of parole for registered sex offender from Nevada.

Contrary to a information in a July 26 Police Department news release, Wesley Goetz (pictured), 55, is permitted to travel into California to work and seek employment in the Lake Tahoe area, officials said.

Goetz must adhere to several special conditions, including staying away from areas or businesses that children frequent and not accessing the Internet without permission. However, police officials said, Goetz's attempts to obtain a business license through the city of South Lake Tahoe do not amount to a parole violation or other criminal violation.

August 5, 2013
Poor Red's owners plead guilty to tax evasion, insurance fraud

By Claudia Buck
cbuck@sacbee.com

The owners of Poor Red's, a popular BBQ-and-bar fixture in El Dorado, have pled guilty to seven felony counts of tax evasion and insurance fraud, the El Dorado County District Attorney's office reports.

Michael Adams and Brenda Adams, who reached a plea agreement Friday with their attorneys, were originally accused of 30 counts of evading nearly $350,000 in state income and employee tax payments. The couple also pled guilty to one misdemeanor charge of failing to secure workers' compensation.

They'll be sentenced Dec. 4. Both were required to surrender their passports as part of their plea bargain.

August 4, 2013
Update: Firefighters busy battling blazes throughout region

By Tillie Fong and Tony Bizjak

Firefighters were kept busy Sunday battling three fires in the Eldorado National Forest, and one in south Sacramento County near Highway 99.

A grass fire burned 20 acres off Highway 99 near Martin Luther King Boulevard Sunday afternoon before firefighters put it out at about 5:30 p.m., Sac Fire reported.

Fire crews were putting out hotspots Sunday evening at the two-acre Kentucky Fire off Blacksmith Flat Road near the middle fork of the American River in Eldorado National Forest. Five engines, one helicopter and one hand crew or roughly 40-plus firefighters have been working on the blaze. Officials said they expect full containment sometime Monday.

August 4, 2013
Firefighters fighting three fires in Eldorado National Forest

Firefighters were kept busy Sunday battling three fires in the Eldorado National Forest.

The Kentucky fire started at 11:45 a.m. Sunday off Blacksmith Flat Road. Five engines, one helicopter and one hand crew or roughly 40-plus firefighters have been working on the blaze, which had consumed two acres by mid-day Sunday.

"It is zero percent contained, but they were able to get a hose lane around half the fire," said Laura Hierholzer, fire information officer for the Eldorado National Forest.
"They are able to get water out to half the fire, so it's not progressing."

Not too far away, also in the northwest portion of the forest, 50 firefighters were able to contain 95 percent of the Volcano fire. That fire, which started at 3:15 p.m. Saturday off the Volcanoville Road, consumed 11 acres. Crews are eliminating hots spots.

July 30, 2013
Academy to acquaint El Dorado County residents with law enforcement procedures

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is accepting applications for its Citizens Law Enforcement Academy.

The 17-week academy, which begins Aug. 27, is intended to familiarize El Dorado County residents with aspects of law enforcement and the Sheriff's Office's role in the community.

The Sheriff's Office has instituted concepts of community-oriented policing and problem solving. The program aims to open a positive line of communication with citizens and involve the community in some of the decisions regarding law enforcement, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

July 27, 2013
13-year-old girl dies at Camp Sacramento

By Brittany Torrez
btorrez@sacbee.com

A 13-year-old girl is dead after she suddenly stopped breathing Friday night at Camp Sacramento, off Highway 50 in El Dorado County, officials said today.

According to a press release from the the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, at approximately 10:40 p.m. on Friday night, deputies responded to Camp Sacramento to assist paramedics with the girl.

Paramedics were performing CPR as deputies arrived and the girl was transported via ambulance to Barton Memorial Hospital, the release said, where she was pronounced dead at approximately 12:30 a.m. today.

The cause of death is unknown pending further investigation by the El Dorado County Coroner. The girl's family members were present during the incident. The girl's name was not released.

Call The Bee's Brittany Torrez, (916) 321-1103. Follow her on Twitter @BrittTorrez.

July 26, 2013
South Lake Tahoe police warn of Nevada sex offender accused of violating parole

Goetz 1.jpgGoetz 2.jpgGoetz 3.jpgSouth Lake Tahoe police are advising the public to be aware of a convicted sex offender from Incline Village who is not permitted to be in California, but who has allegedly been frequenting South Lake Tahoe in violation his terms of parole in Nevada.

Wesley Goetz (pictured), 55, was convicted in 1998 of felony lewdness with a child younger than 14 and is on lifetime supervision for the crime, according to a Police Department news release. He must adhere to several special conditions, including staying away from areas and businesses that children frequent, and not accessing the Internet without permission.

This month, according to police, Goetz has attempted to falsely obtain a business license from the city of South Lake Tahoe to become a photographer of children, a handyman and a traveling salesman. Police say he also has attempted to conduct an Internet-based business. The city has refused his requests for a business license.

July 26, 2013
Man has second thoughts about South Lake Tahoe bank robbery

A clean shaven man in his 70s had second thoughts about robbing a South Lake Tahoe bank on Thursday.

The man entered the El Dorado Savings Bank, 3443 Lake Tahoe Blvd., about 3:30 p.m. and handed the teller a note demanding money. No weapon was seen.

It then appeared that the man changed his mind about bank robbery, according to a police press release. He left the bank, exiting through the front door.

He was last seen riding away from the bank on a girl's bike with a large basket on the front.

July 24, 2013
South Lake Tahoe homicide victim identified

A South Lake Tahoe man who was stabbed to death Saturday near a residential complex has been identified by officials.

Police said Julian Acevedo Salvador, 28, was stabbed following an altercation near the Americana Village Suites, an apartment complex just south of Highway 50.

The suspect, identified as a white male in his early 20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, is still at large.

According to police, the suspect was walking on Pioneer Trail, not far from the Heavenly gondola, when he got into a confrontation with Salvador and two other men.

Salvador was taken by family members to Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe, where he died, according to police.

July 22, 2013
Six-year-old Latrobe boy drowns in El Dorado County lake

A 6-year-old Latrobe boy drowned Sunday at Jenkinson Lake in El Dorado County's Sly Park area.

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies, along with sheriff's marine units, U.S. Forest rangers, a Forest Service canine unit, fire department personnel and a California Highway Patrol helicopter responded about 4 p.m. to a report that the boy was missing along the shore of the lake in the Bumpy Meadows picnic area, a Sheriff's Department news release states. El Dorado Irrigation District personnel and visitors to the lake already were searching for the child.

The youngster, identified as Trip Demetri, was located about 5:20 p.m. underwater about 10 feet from the shore. He died at the scene.

Sheriff's officials said the boy was visiting the lake with his father and sister and had last been seen playing in the water with his sister.

July 22, 2013
Report: 1 killed, 1 injured in small plane crash near Lake Tahoe

A single engine plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the Lake Tahoe Airport late Monday morning, apparently killing the male pilot and injuring his wife, according to Lake Tahoe News.

The names of the Palo Alto couple were not released Monday, but the woman was apparently conscious when she was airlifted by Calstar to Renown Medical Center in Reno, according to the paper. She is expected to recover from her injuries.

According to the Lake Tahoe News, the plane took off from the Lake Tahoe Airport around 11:15 a.m., banked to the right, lost altitude and crashed about three-quarters of a mile east of the airport.

A Calstar flight nurse, Beth Frisby, who was walking in the area, was first on the scene. She called her husband, Damian Frisby a deputy with El Dorado County Sheriff, who was able to track her location via GPS on her phone. She was assessing the condition of the plane occupants when crews arrived.

"A lot of fuel was leaking, so we were concerned when we got here," Lt. Pete VanArnum, spokesman for El Dorado County Sheriff's told the Lake Tahoe News. He also said it was lucky that the plane did not explode or cause much of a fire.

July 19, 2013
Man dubbed 'Fedora Bandit' given nine-year prison sentence

A former Carson City man whom law enforcement officers dubbed the "Fedora Bandit" was sentenced today in Sacramento to nine years in prison for three counts of armed bank robbery.

David Griffith Osborne, 75, also will be subject to three years of supervised release following his time in prison, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

Osborne pleaded guilty in January to robbing Bank of the West in Gridley on April 26, 2010; American River Bank in Rancho Cordova on June 3, 2010; and Chase Bank in Paradise on June 29, 2010.

July 18, 2013
Bicyclist suffers head injury in South Lake Tahoe crash with skateboarder

A bicyclist was badly injured when he collided with a skateboarder on Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe.

Steven Magelssen, 20, of South Lake Tahoe was riding his bicycle southbound on Highway 50 in the center left turn lane approaching a red traffic signal at Heavenly Village Way about 8:30 p.m.

Pablo Bobadilla, 23, of South Lake Tahoe was riding his skateboard while attempting to cross Highway 50 in a marked crosswalk. The traffic signal was directing pedestrians to cross.

July 17, 2013
Weekend fires lead to warning on outdoor equipment use

Fire officials are reminding people to be cautious when using mowers and power tools outdoors in dry vegetation and to check extension cords following two equipment-related fires in El Dorado County last weekend.

A home and an outbuilding were destroyed Saturday afternoon in the Placerville area when a person mowing tall dry weeds caused a wildfire that quickly spread to the structures, according to news release from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Amador-El Dorado-Sacramento Unit. Residents of the home escaped with only the clothes they were wearing. Some of the family's pets perished in the fire.

A few hours earlier, a Swansboro family lost their shed, boat, horse trailer and Jeep when an extension cord used to power an electric fence caused a fire, officials said.

July 11, 2013
Forest Service reports Kyburz fire fully contained

The U.S. Forest Service reports that the Kyburz fire, which began Monday afternoon, is fully contained.

The Forest Service also released revised figures on the size of the fire, reporting a total of 572 acres burned.

The fire started at 12:41 p.m. Monday along Highway 50 west of Kyburz and snarled traffic through the Sierra as lanes were closed to accommodate fire equipment and allow crews to clear debris. The California Highway Patrol reported that the fire was caused by a blown tire on a vehicle.

July 11, 2013
Help sought finding woman missing from Pollock Pines home

Elise Hays.jpgThe El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is asking the public's help in finding a 20-year-old woman with a development disorder who has been missing since Saturday.

Elise Hays (pictured), who has the physical stature and mental capacity of a 12-year-old, left her residence about 7 a.m. Saturday, according to a Sheriff's Office news release. Authorities said she may be in the South Lake Tahoe area and has been known to take up with homeless people.

Hays is described a 4 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 80 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts is asked to call Detective Troy Morton at (530) 642-4712.

July 10, 2013
Officials say recent fire, power outage point to need for disaster plans

Fire officials say a wildland fire last week that left approximately 49,000 El Dorado County residents without power at the peak of a heat wave illustrates the importance of disaster preparedness.

The fire July 1 was started by a vehicle traveling along Highway 50 and closed a section of the freeway during the evening commute. The fire occurred near a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. substation, and power was cut for a short period.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said it was clear that many people in the area weren't prepared to cope with the relatively brief power outage. Emergency preparedness experts say people need to be prepared to do without water or power for a minimum of 72 hours.

July 10, 2013
Forest Service reports Kyburz fire 95 percent contained

The U.S. Forest Service reports that the Kyburz fire, burning for three days in the Eldorado National Forest, is 95 percent contained with 615 acres burned.

The fire started at 12:41 p.m. Monday along Highway 50 west of Kyburz and snarled traffic through the Sierra as lanes were closed to accommodate fire equipment and allow crews to clear debris. The California Highway Patrol reported that the fire was caused by a blown tire on a vehicle.

Highway 50 is open to two-way traffic, but motorists are advised to watch for debris on the roadway. Granite Springs and Webber Mill roads remain closed to the public, but the Forest Service reports that all campgrounds are open.

July 8, 2013
UPDATE: Blown tire starts fire, closes Highway 50 in Sierra

By Tony Bizjak and Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Highway 50 is closed to eastbound traffic at Pollock Pines and westbound traffic at Meyers due to a fire that is sending heavy smoke over the road, making it unsafe.

The fire, in a rural area between White Hall and Kyburz, has burned between 40 and 50 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which reported that eight air tankers and five helicopters are being used to battle the blaze.

The California Department of Transportation announced that eastbound traffic is being held at Sly Park Road in Pollock Pines. Westbound motorists are being diverted at Meyers, with Sacramento-bound travelers advised to take Highway 89 to Highway 88 or Highway 89 to Initerstate 80. Caltrans officials said they do not know when Highway 50 will reopen.

The California Highway Patrol reported that a blown vehicle tire started the fire.

Caltrans is tweeting at @D3PIO.

July 5, 2013
Man accused of crimes against horses in El Dorado County

Bryon Baker 05-24-57 .JPGEl Dorado County sheriff's officials say community efforts helped investigators identify and arrest a 56-year-old man in connection with the theft and death of one horse, and the attempted theft and sexual assault of another horse.

Bryon Baker (pictured), identified as a transient in the Cameron and Rescue areas, was taken into custody Wednesday after investigators conducted a probation search of his motor home, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

On Jan. 30, the Sheriff's Office began an investigation regarding a horse that was stolen from the stables of High Heart Ranch. The horse was found dead the same day in nearby Jay Hawk Cemetery. Investigators said the horse died from injuries sustained while under control of the individual who stole it.

July 4, 2013
Man reportedly brandishing handgun shot by El Dorado deputy

By Benjamin Mullin
bmillen@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County Sheriff's deputy shot a man in the hand Wednesday after he allegedly brandished a handgun, sending him to the hospital with injuries that are not life threatening.

Joshua Whitecotton, 21, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly threatened people shortly before midnight with a handgun near the El Dorado Hills Library on Silva Valley Road, according to a sheriff's office news release. Deputies suspect Whitecotton was trying to force people to give him a ride to a local grocery store.

Sheriff's officials said the deputy arrived at the scene and attempted to talk to Whitecotton, who allegedly brandished his shotgun. The deputy then fired one shot, which hit Whitecotton in the hand. He was taken to the hospital and will be booked into the El Dorado County jail after he is treated.

July 3, 2013
Officials say vehicle on Highway 50 sparked Monday fire

A vehicle traveling on Highway 50 sparked the fire that shut down the freeway during the evening commute Monday and resulted in a power outage affecting thousands of El Dorado County residents.

"The cause of the fire was related to a vehicle driving on eastbound Highway 50," Battalion Chief Chris Anthony of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a written statement.

Fire crews were dispatched at 4:03 p.m. to a report of a wildland fire at eastbound Highway 50 and Ponderosa Road. Fire officials said the fire was found to be between the freeway and Durock Road near a PG&E power substation. Because of the location, the California Highway Patrol closed Highway 50 and Durock Road in both directions until firefighters were able to get a handle on the blaze, according to a Cal Fire news release. The fire was reported fully contained at 8:31 p.m.

July 1, 2013
UPDATE: El Dorado County fire contained, Highway 50 reopened

A wildland fire that shut down Highway 50 and knocked out power to thousands of Pacific Gas and Electric customers in El Dorado County late this afternoon has been fully contained.

Westbound Highway 50 through the Cameron Park/Shingle Springs area and one of the eastbound lanes reopened about 7 p.m. Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the right eastbound lane remained closed because firefighters were working along the roadway.

Approximately 49,000 Pacific Gas and Electric customers in El Dorado County were without power after the utility, at the request of fire officials, deactivated power lines in the area to eliminate hazards to firefighters. As of about 7:30 p.m., PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris reported that power had been restored to all but about 1,700 customers in the Cedar Grove and Pollock Pines areas. She said power was fully restored at 9:09 p.m.

July 1, 2013
Abandoned pressure cooker prompts bomb concern in S. Lake Tahoe

With the Boston Marathon bombings still fresh in their minds, South Lake Tahoe police closed down part of Highway 50 last night when an abandoned pressure cooker was found after a competitive event.

Just before 7 p.m. Sunday, the dispatch center received at call that a pressure cooker was found on the ground at the Lakeview Commons beach, Lakeview Avenue and Highway 50. The call came in just before the end of the Race the Lake of the Sky paddle board event.

Event security staff and police cleared the area and Highway 50 traffic was diverted.

The Tahoe Douglas bomb squad unsuccessfully tried to destroy the cooker with a robot. Eventually, a bomb team member in protective gear destroyed the device with a water cannon.

It was determined that the cookware was an industrial-sized rice cooker with food inside. Traffic was diverted for about two hours.

Federal authorities say two brothers used shrapnel-packed pressure cooker bombs in the Boston bombings.

June 28, 2013
Phone scammers masquerade as FBI, El Dorado County sheriff

Phone scammers intent on bilking El Dorado County residents of their money are falsely identifying themselves as the FBI or the sheriff.

Telephone scams are not new. The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department investigates hundreds of phone and e-mail scams each year.

Recently, however, the department noticed a new wrinkle in scamming: A caller said he was an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

June 28, 2013
Camino man succumbs to injuries from Foothill Farms shooting

A man has died from a injuries suffered when the car in which he was a passenger was shot up earlier this week in Foothill Farms.

The Sacramento County Coroner's website states that Ralph R. Squires, 34, of Camino, El Dorado County, was pronounced dead at 4:50 p.m. Thursday.

Squires had been taken to the hospital after a shooting incident the day before at around 3 a.m. on Roseville Road. Details of the shooting are sketchy.

June 27, 2013
Stepped-up enforcement on Lake Tahoe to target impaired boaters

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department's marine units will participate this weekend in Operation Dry Water, a nationwide campaign highlighting the risks and dangers of operating boats under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Stepped-up enforcement Friday through Sunday is intended to raise awareness in advance of the Fourth of July, according to a Police Department news release. Independence Day, falling on a Thursday this year, will kick off a four-day weekend for thousands of California boaters looking to spend time on the water with family and friends.

Officials warn that alcohol can impair a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time, and can increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of immersion in cold water. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion, all common to boating, also intensify the side effect of alcohol, drugs and some prescription medications.

June 27, 2013
Traffic stop in South Lake Tahoe ends in arrest, sap confiscation

john liska.JPGWeapons.jpgA traffic stop in South Lake Tahoe of a convicted felon from Alaska resulted in his arrest on suspicion of burglary, possession of a sap and other charges.

An officer stopped a vehicle being driven by John Liska, 34, (pictured) in South Lake Tahoe at 6 p.m.Wednesday. Another officer recognized Liska's name as a suspect in a May vehicle burglary.

In the vehicle burglary, a check was stolen, forged and passed for cash at a South Lake Tahoe bank. Liska was arrested.

According to authorities, a search of Liska and his vehicle turned up a stolen firearm, ammunition, metal knuckles, an illegal spring-loaded knife and a sap, described by police as a flat, leather covered lead rod (pictured).

Police said it is against the law to possess a sap in California.

June 25, 2013
Celebrants reminded of El Dorado County fireworks ban

Fire officials are encouraging people who will be celebrating the Fourth of July in El Dorado County to attend a public fireworks show.

They also are issuing a reminder that all individual fireworks, including the "safe and sane" variety, are illegal in the county. Because of the risk of wildfires, an El Dorado County ordinance prohibits the use and possession of the type of fireworks commonly sold in surrounding areas such as Sacramento County.

"There is 'zero tolerance' when it comes to the use of possession of fireworks in El Dorado County by Cal Fire, local fire districts and local law enforcement agencies," Kelly Keenan, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Amador-El Dorado-Sacramento Unit, said in a written statement.

June 25, 2013
El Dorado County women indicted in tax refund scheme

Three El Dorado County women have been indicted in a nationwide a $60 million fraudulent tax refund scheme.

In an indictment unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, Teresa Marie Marty of Pollock Pines, Rebecca Bandera-Marty of Shingle Springs and Pamela Harris of Placerville were charged with conspiring to defraud the United States, according to a federal Department of Justice news release. In addition to the conspiracy count, Marty is charged with 33 counts and Bandera-Marty with 16 counts of false claims against the United States.

According to the indictment, in 2008 and 2009, the three women conspired to defraud the United States by filing at least 250 false individual federal income tax returns, claiming more than $60 million in false federal income tax refunds for clients in 26 states. In response to the false returns, the IRS erroneously issued more than 40 tax refunds, totaling more than $8 million, including refund for $277,832 for Marty's own tax return.

June 25, 2013
Suspects sought in second burglary at Shingle Springs laundry

laundry burglary.jpgLaundry burglary car.jpgA Shingle Springs coin laundry has been hit by thieves twice within a week.

The latest incident occurred about 1:30 a.m. Friday at the SS Coin Wash on Durock Road. Three men in a light-colored four-door sedan (pictured) with tinted rear windows were recorded on video as they committed the theft, according to an El Dorado County Sheriff's Office news release.

The suspects worked together to break into the quarter change machine using the same method burglars used five days earlier, officials said.

June 21, 2013
Man arrested in raid on marijuana garden near Georgetown

Omar Ruiz Talauera 13J06271.JPGEDC marijuana grow photo (14).JPGA 21-year-old man was arrested this morning at the site of a marijuana growing operation on U.S. Forest Service lands in the Georgetown area.

The West El Dorado Narcotics Enforcement Team, along with the Mountain and Valley Marijuana Investigations Team, this morning entered the marijuana growing site on public lands north of Stumpy Meadows Lake, east of Georgetown. When investigators entered the garden area, a man dressed in camouflage ran from the garden and attempted to evade officers, according to an El Dorado County Sheriff's Office news release.

Deputies suffered minor injuries in their attempt to catch the man, who was apprehended. Although a handgun was found in a nearby makeshift camp, no shots were fired, officials said.

June 21, 2013
Suspects sought in theft from Shingle Springs coin laundry

SS Coin Wash NO. 1  06-16-13.PNGThe El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is the asking public's help in identifying two men suspected for stealing approximately $2,000 from a Shingle spring coin-operated laundry.

About 4:30 a.m. Sunday, two men entered the SS Coin Wash on Durock Road and started wandering around the business, according to a Sheriff's Office news release. Both went in and out of the business several times over the course of five hours. Officials said the men appeared to have laundered items while they were there.

The men arrived at the business in what appeared to be a 14-foot U-Haul moving truck with decals that read "U can do it" and a green price tag with "$19.95" on the side.

June 13, 2013
Woman found dead after pickup crashes in El Dorado County

A woman was found dead this afternoon in a pickup truck that crashed on a winding rural road in southern El Dorado County.

A passerby reported the crash after coming upon the vehicle on Sand Ridge Road, about 4 miles east of Highway 49, shortly before 3:30 p.m. Officer Quinn Cuthbertson of the California Highway Patrol said there were no witnesses, and it is not known whether the victim, an elderly woman, died of injuries suffered in the crash or natural causes.

The woman was the only person in the maroon Dodge Ram pickup. Cuthbertson said the road is very windy and the driver was on a curve when the pickup struck an embankment. The truck sustained significant front-end damage.

June 12, 2013
Police report no sign of foul play in death of man found along South Lake Tahoe street

South Lake Tahoe police say a preliminary investigation indicates that a man found lying face down along a roadway late Tuesday likely died of natural causes.

Officers were dispatched to Lindberg Avenue, near Lodi Avenue, about 11 p.m. regarding a report of a man lying face down just off the south side of the roadway on Lindberg Avenue.

A 17-year-old youth who called police reported that he and several friends were visiting from outside the area and staying at a nearby residence. They had left the residence to go to the store about 11 p.m. after returning to the home from the beach only a couple of hours earlier. When their vehicle made a U-turn toward Lodi Avenue, the headlights illuminated the man lying face down on the edge of the roadway. The youth told police the man did not appear to be moving.

June 12, 2013
Pair accused of selling marijuana to South Lake Tahoe students

South Lake Tahoe police have arrested two residents who are accused of furnishing marijuana to students at South Tahoe High School and South Tahoe Middle School.

William Anderson (left photo), 30, and his fiance, Makayla Hoe (right photo), 25, were taken into custody Monday after a school resource officer discovered information regarding adults selling marijuana to local students. He passed the information on to patrol officers.

Officers followed up with an investigation and learned that students were buying marijuana from someone named "Will," according to a Police Department news release. Further investigation led them to William Anderson on Marjorie Street. Officers served a search warrant at Anderson's residence, where they found marijuana, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, officials said.

William Anderson+photo.jpgMakayla Hoehn+photo.jpg

June 7, 2013
Three men accused of fishing for trout with gill net

Three Sacramento men were arrested this afternoon, accused of fishing with a gill net on a tributary to the north fork of the Cosumnes River.

photo.JPG

Lt. Stacey LaFave or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said he was traveling in the area of Meiss Cabin Road and Forest Service Road 10N46 in the Eldorado National Forest about 1:50 p.m. when he spotted a vehicle parked on the side of the road where it didn't seem to belong.

"I decided to take a little hike," LaFave said.

June 7, 2013
El Dorado Sheriff's Office lawsuit resolved

The lawsuit brought by three community service officers against El Dorado County has been resolved.

The suits were filed by the three community service officers with the Sheriff's Office -- Nicole Sahaj-Myers, Stacie Walls and Jona Scher -- in June 2010.

The women complained that other members of the department had harassed and discriminated against them.

May 31, 2013
Amador County men face charges of illegally killing bears

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.

May 28, 2013
El Dorado supervisor booked on suspicion of perjury, filing false documents

El Dorado County Supervisor Ray Nutting has been booked into jail on an arrest warrant alleging perjury and other charges.

A press release from the El Dorado County District Attorney's office today said Nutting was arrested today on two counts of filing false documents, perjury relating to failure to disclose income and having a financial interest in a county contract and failing to recuse himself from voting.

Nutting is scheduled to be arraigned on June 10 at 1:30 p.m. in Dept. 1 of El Dorado Superior Court.

May 10, 2013
Las Vegas man sentenced for defrauding South Lake Tahoe investor of $2.9 million

A Las Vegas man is headed to prison after being sentenced in federal court in Sacramento for defrauding a South Lake Tahoe investor of $2.9 million.

U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. today sentenced Jed Baron, 55, to five years and three months in prison for wire fraud related to the investment scheme, according to a Department of Justice news release.

According to court documents, Baron made a series of false business proposals to a victim in the Lake Tahoe area, including investment in a venture to sell Irish seafood to restaurants in Las Vegas. Instead of using the victim's money for the intended purpose, Baron diverted the funds for personal use and to pay other investors from previous deals.

April 29, 2013
Cameron Park man arraigned on bank embezzlement charges

A 34-year-old Cameron Park man was arraigned today in federal court in Sacramento on charges of bank embezzlement.

Ethan George Banaszak pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on $75,000 bond, according to a federal Department of Justice news release. He is to appear before U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. for a status conference May 17.

A federal grand jury returned an eight-count indictment Thursday charging Banaszak with embezzling thousands of dollars from his employer, a federally insured bank. According to court records, Banaszak allegedly made more than $660,000 in unauthorized withdrawals from bank customers' accounts and took $16,000 in cash from the bank's vault.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

April 27, 2013
One dead, two injured in Highway 50 crash near Red Hawk Parkway

One man died and two women were injured in a single-vehicle crash Friday morning on Highway 50 just east of Red Hawk Parkway in El Dorado County.

Officer Dan Stark of the California Highway Patrol said the crash occurred about 11:05 a.m. when a 1996 Toyota Corolla eastbound on Highway 50 in the fast lane for unknown reasons drifted onto the center median. The vehicle over-corrected, hit a rock face on the right hand shoulder and overturned, according to police.

Vincent Rapolla, 19, riding in the back seat, was ejected through the rear window. Stark said the man was pronounced dead at the scene and had not been wearing a seat belt.

The driver, 25-year-old Laura Duggin, was transported by helicopter to Mercy San Juan Medical Center and is in critical condition.

Family members told the CHP that Duggin was several weeks pregnant, Stark said.

Ashley Valdez, 18, who was riding in the front seat, was transported by ambulance to UC Davis Medical Center with moderate injuries.

The three were residents of Diamond Springs. Drugs and alcohol do not appear to be a factor in the accident, but the cause is still under investigation, Stark said.

April 25, 2013
Permits required to burn residential debris beginning May 1

Amador and El Dorado County residents planning to burn debris on their property are reminded that residential burn permits will be required beginning Wednesday.

The permits are issued to the public free of charge and are valid for three years from the date of issuance. They allow for burning of dry vegetation -- not household trash -- that originates on the landowner's property, according to a news release from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Amador-El Dorado Unit. The permits are available at most of the area's staffed fire stations.

Cal Fire officials remind residents that the use of burn barrels is no longer legal in Amador and El Dorado counties.

April 24, 2013
SWAT used to arrest motorcycle club member in S. Lake Tahoe

Special weapons and tactics forces executed search and arrest warrants in South Lake Tahoe where a motorcycle club member was taken into custody on suspicion of committing several felonies.

South Lake Tahoe Police Department authorities used SWAT because they considered arresting Anthony Corbin a high-risk situation. Corbin, 46, is a member of the South Lake Tahoe Brotherhood Motorcycle Club.

He is suspected of beating a 34-year-old South Lake Tahoe man in mid-March. The victim was left with significant injuries, including broken bones.

April 17, 2013
Owners of Poor Red's Bar-B-Q arrested on suspicion of tax evasion, insurance fraud

El Dorado County authorities have arrested the owners of Poor Red's Bar-B-Q - a local institution in Diamond Springs - on suspicion of tax evasion and insurance fraud.

Michael and Brenda Adams are accused of evading almost $350,000 in taxes over the last six years, according to a news release from the El Dorado District Attorney's office.

Prosecutors have filed a complaint against the Adamses in El Dorado Superior Court alleging more than 30 counts of tax evasion and insurance fraud, the release states.

Search warrants were executed today at the couple's residence and business by El Dorado sheriff's deputies, District Attorney's investigators and agents from the Franchise Tax Board, Employment Development Department and the Board of Equalization.

The couple are being held in lieu of $350,000 bail in the El Dorado county jail in Placerville.

Poor Red's opened in 1948 and is best known for its signature drink, the Golden Cadillac, a frothy blend of Galliano, half-and-half, white cream de cacao and ice.

April 16, 2013
Garden Valley woman dies in head-on collision near Coloma

A 19-year-old Garden Valley woman died this morning in a head-on collision on Lotus Road in rural El Dorado County.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Quinn Cuthbertson said the woman was driving a silver Ford Focus southbound on Lotus Road south of Highway 49 near Coloma about 8:30 a.m. when for an unknown reason she crossed into the northbound lane, into the path of a white Ford Explorer.

Cuthbertson said the driver of the Focus did not appear to have been wearing a seat belt and suffered fatal injuries. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Her name has not been released pending notification of family.

April 15, 2013
Death of teen found on El Dorado County road investigated

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department is investigating the death of a teenager who was found critically injured in a roadway early Saturday morning.

Deputies responded about 4:19 a.m. to a report of a man lying on Sand Ridge Road in south Placerville. When they arrived, they found a 17-year-old boy lying in the roadway in critical condition, according to a Sheriff's Department news release. Emergency medical personnel transported the youth to Marshall Hospital in Placerville where he died of his injuries.

Sheriff's officials said the young man has been identified and his family has been notified of his death, but his name is being withheld pending further investigation.

April 15, 2013
Fresno man sentenced for role in El Dorado, Placer marijuana grows

A Fresno man who controlled marijuana growing operations in El Dorado, Placer and Tehama counties has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison.

Uriel Ochoa-Espindola, 44, today received a 17.5-year sentence in Sacramento from U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb for his part in a marijuana trafficking conspiracy, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

Ochoa-Espindola was the leader of a massive marijuana manufacturing operation and an interstate drug distribution ring, according to court documents. His operation was based near Delhi, but he and his partners grew tens of thousands of marijuana plants in three different counties and shipped their product across the country with the aid of commercial truckers.

April 11, 2013
Reward offered in case of long-missing Pollock Pines woman

missing.jpgThe El Dorado County Sheriff's office said a $10,000 reward is being offered to find a woman who has not been heard from in more than a year.

Sara Fawcett, (pictured) a Placerville Wal-Mart employee, called in sick Sept. 22, 2011. She was last seen or heard from the next morning, according to a missing person's bulletin.

The investigation into her disappearance continues. Her family is offering the reward.

Fawcett, 53, was reported missing by her father after she did not return home after several days.

Fawcett, who did not own a vehicle, usually borrowed her father's car, but the vehicle was not taken by the woman. Her belongings were also not taken from her residence on the family's Pollock Pines property.

At the time of her disappearance, the Sheriff's Department said it is unlike Fawcett to leave her home without her purse and cell phone.

She is described as 5 feet 1 inch tall, about 120 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Paul Hadjes at (530) 642-4713.

April 10, 2013
South Lake Tahoe man sentenced to prison for marijuana trafficking

A South Lake Tahoe marijuana dispensary owner has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for marijuana trafficking.

Gennaro DiMatteo, 43, was sentenced today in Sacramento by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller. DiMatteo had entered a guilty plea in January. As part of his plea agreement, DiMatteo will forfeit more than $40,000 to the United States, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

In pleading guilty, DiMatteo admitted that during a search of his South Lake Tahoe residence, law enforcement agents discovered a hidden door that led to several subsurface rooms under the structure. Equipment set up in the rooms was standard for indoor marijuana cultivation gardens.

April 9, 2013
El Dorado County volunteers offer home security services

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Team of Active Retirees -- STAR -- is offering two programs to help residents improve home security when they are away from their residences and on vacation.

The STAR Unit offers training, literature and outlines to help residents establish Neighborhood Watch programs for their neighborhood. The unit also will provide a one-time presentation about the program to an interested street or neighborhood.

STAR will also provide vacation checks of homes when residents are on vacation. While on patrol, STAR volunteers stop by the home, check the perimeter and make sure that the residence is in good condition and hasn't been a victim of crime. If they find a problem, the volunteers alert sheriff's deputies so they can investigate. The house checks are offered at least twice a week to homeowners on vacation.

The vacation house checks and help in establishing Neighborhood Watch programs are available free of charge to anyone living in the unincorporated area of El Dorado County. To request services, or information about becoming a STAR volunteer, call the Placerville STAR office at (530) 621-7545, or the Tahoe office, (530) 573-3005.

April 5, 2013
Six arrested in El Dorado County marijuana sales investigation

David+Sisson+040413.jpgStacy+Sisson+040413+(1).jpgRobert+Sisson+040413.jpgAn investigation into marijuana sales in El Dorado County has resulted in six arrests, as well as seizure of approximately 60 pounds of processed marijuana and $80,000 in currency.

A three-month investigation by El Dorado County sheriff's detectives regarding a conspiracy to sell marijuana culminated Thursday with the service of five search warrants, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

The investigation centered around the sale of marijuana through two businesses. River City Wellness, also known as Right Choice Wellness, in Cameron Park and C4C in Shingle Springs were operated by 45-year-old David Sisson (top left photo) of El Dorado, his wife, 44-year-old Stacy Sisson (top right photo), also of El Dorado, and David Sisson's brother, 34-year-old Robert Sisson (left photo) of Shingle Springs, authorities said.

March 31, 2013
Suspects sought in South Lake Tahoe armed robbery

Three suspects robbed a South Lake Tahoe motel late Saturday night, brandishing a handgun and holding a hunting knife at the neck of a clerk before getting away with cash, police said.

An unidentified woman knocked at the locked front lobby door at the Pinewood Lodge, 3818 Lake Tahoe Blvd., about 11:30 p.m. and told the clerk she needed a room, according to police.

When the clerk opened the door, two men wearing ski masks and gloves came into the office. One man allegedly showed a handgun and pushed the clerk behind the counter. The second man reportedly had a large hunting knife and placed it near the clerk's neck.

The female suspect demanded money, while the man with a gun opened the cash drawer and removed an undisclosed amount of cash, according to police.

The trio fled the scene in a brown four-door Cadillac headed eastbound toward the casino corridor.

The female suspect was described as a black woman, about 5-foot-4, wearing a gray sweatshirt with a hood. Both male suspects were described as black men, about 6-foot-2, wearing dark clothing. One was armed with a small black semi-automatic handgun and the other with a large hunting-style knife with a black blade.

Anyone with information on the robbery is urged to call South Lake Tahoe Police Department at (530) 542-6100.

March 27, 2013
Carmichael couple enter no-contest pleas in 2009 homicide

A Carmichael couple have entered no contest pleas in the 2009 death of a parolee whose body was found in a rural area of El Dorado County.

Charles Gaskin, 48, pleaded no contest today to the first-degree murder of Neil Hayes, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney's Office news release. Gaskin's wife and co-defendant, Sandra Sheaves, pleaded no-contest to a felony charge of being an accessory to murder. Gaskin also admitted an enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon, and his wife admitted an enhancement for misuse of information obtained from the Megan's Law website.

Hayes, 66, was released on parole in June 2009 and contacted Gaskin, whom he had met while both were incarcerated in the same prison, authorities said. Gaskin and Sheaves allowed Hayes to stay in their garage because he had no permanent residence.

March 24, 2013
Placerville inmate collapses in jail yard, dies at hospital

An El Dorado County jail inmate collapsed while exercising Friday evening in an outdoor recreation yard and died at a nearby hospital, said El Dorado County sheriff's deputies.

James Thomas Clark, 53, from West Sacramento, collapsed while in the yard about 8 p.m., officials said. Correctional officers immediately started CPR, and Clark was transported to Marshall Hospital in Placerville, where he was pronounced dead.

He never regained consciousness, sheriff's officials said.

There were no obvious signs of foul play, sheriff's reports said.

The incident is being investigated by the Sheriff's Office and the El Dorado County District Attorney's office.

March 15, 2013
Former Lions Education Foundation treasurer accused of embezzlement

Kent+Maloney.jpgThe former treasurer of the Lions Education Foundation was arrested today in El Dorado County, accused of embezzling more than $275,000 from the nonprofit organization.

The El Dorado County District Attorney's Office announced the arrest of Kent Maloney (pictured), 69, of Diamond Springs. The funds allegedly were embezzled over a period of seven years from the Lions Education Fund, which is associated with Lions Club International.

The DA's Office noted that according to the foundation's website, its budget is allocated to youth and education, with no administrative costs, and 100 percent of all monies going directly to support youth programs.

March 11, 2013
Shingle Springs teen accused of attacking sleeping couple

A Shingle Springs teenager is in custody, accused of attempted murder after allegedly assaulting a couple Sunday night.

The El Dorado County sheriff's dispatch center received a call about 10 p.m. from 42-year-old Deborah Lewis who reported her husband, Craig Templin, 51, had been stabbed. The couple had been living in a tent along the railroad right of way outside the town of El Dorado, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

Lewis told authorities that the man, whom the couple did not know, entered their tent while they were sleeping. They awoke when the assault began.

March 7, 2013
South Lake Tahoe police seek identity of bank robbery suspect

eldobank entry1.jpgSouth Lake Tahoe police seek to identify the suspect in a robbery that occurred this afternoon at the El Dorado Savings Bank at 3443 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

Officers responded to the robbery report about 2:06 p.m. They were told that a man entered the bank and passed a note to the teller demanding money. After receiving an undisclosed amount of money, the man left on foot.

No weapon was seen during the robbery, according to a Police Department news release.

February 28, 2013
South Lake Tahoe police identify pedestrian struck by SUV

A pedestrian who died Friday evening after he was struck by a vehicle in South Lake Tahoe has been identified by police as John Carleton, 51, a local resident.

Officers responded about 6:45 p.m. to 2681 Lake Tahoe Blvd. Police said Carleton was crossing the street when he was struck by an SUV. He was taken to Barton Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a Police Department news release.

The driver of the SUV, Gregory Stearns, 49, also of South Lake Tahoe, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol with a suspended license.

Police said the cause of the collision remains under investigation pending autopsy results.

February 23, 2013
South Lake Tahoe man killed after being struck by SUV

A man is dead after being hit by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol, South Lake Tahoe police said.

The fatality occurred Friday evening shortly before 7 p.m. in the 2600 block of Lake Tahoe Blvd., when a 51-year-old male pedestrian was crossing the street and was struck by a black SUV, authorities said. Emergency personnel transported the unconscious man to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police are not releasing his name at this time.

The driver of the SUV, Gregory Stearns, 49, of South Lake Tahoe was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and with a suspended license, according to reports. Police are still investigating the incident but said the pedestrian may have also been intoxicated.

February 22, 2013
Grant to promote aggressive DUI prosecution in El Dorado County

Motorists arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in El Dorado County will face specially trained prosecutors, thanks to a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The $313,325 grant to the District Attorney's Office will fund a "vertical prosecution" team that will work on DUI cases from arrest through sentencing, according to District Attorney's Office news release.

"The new vertical prosecution team will aggressively investigate and prosecute the most serious DUIs in our county in order to properly punish DUI offenders, and ultimately, to save lives and make the roads a little safer for the residents of El Dorado County," District Attorney Vern Pierson said in written statement.

February 22, 2013
Law enforcement to crack down on Sacramento's distracted drivers

By Tony Bizjak
tbizjak@sacbee.com

Law enforcement in the Sacramento region will launch a second round of targeted ticketing of distracted drivers next week, the state Office of Traffic Safety says.

The focus on drivers who talk on handheld cell phones or text is part of a $600,000 federal experiment to see if a series of focused ticketing events, along with public awareness announcements, succeeds in reducing the number of distracted-driving crashes on the road.

The targeted enforcement period will run from Monday through March 10. The California Highway Patrol and 37 local police agencies will participate.

February 19, 2013
El Dorado Hills teen dies in Sierra sledding accident

Dylan Ridolfi.jpgAn El Dorado Hills teen on a family outing died on Sunday in a Sierra sledding accident.

Dylan Ridolfi, 15, an offensive lineman on the unbeaten Oak Ridge High School freshman football team, was sledding with about 10 family and friends at Mt. Rose Sunday afternoon when the accident occurred.

Football was a passion for the teen, who stood 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 240 pounds. He also had a soft spot in his heart for kids, invariably being drawn to the smallest in the room at gatherings.

February 13, 2013
Simulator to demonstrate dangers of texting while driving

A car simulator in which drivers can safely experience the dangers of texting while driving will be at Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs on Thursday.

The simulator, provided by AT&T, is part of a joint effort by the telecommunications company and El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson to educate young drivers about the dangers of texting and driving, according to a District Attorney's Office news release. The simulator will be on campus from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

AT&T's national "It Can Wait" campaign encourages motorists to take the "No Texting and Driving" pledge. More than 1.2 million people have pledged never to text and drive as a result of the campaign.

Drivers can learn more about the It Can Wait campaign and download the AT&T DriveMode mobile app, intended to curb the urge to text and drive, at itcanwait.com.

February 12, 2013
Firefighters to hold 'Fill the Boot' drive in Cameron Park

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Amador-El Dorado Unit will hold its 11th annual Fill the Boot for Burns fundraising event Saturday at three locations in Cameron Park.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., firefighters will collect donations at the corner of Cameron Park and Country Club drives, Merrychase Drive and Cambridge Road, and Green Valley and Cambridge roads. Area residents can drive by and donate.

Money raised from the event will go toward sending young burn victims to burn camps, and to research programs for the advancement of burn treatment and rehabilitation.

February 7, 2013
South Lake Tahoe police officer indicted for witness tampering

A South Lake Tahoe police officer was indicted today by a federal grand jury in Sacramento for multiple counts of witness tampering and obstruction of an official proceeding.

John Gerald Poland, 44, was arrested Jan. 23 following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, South Lake Tahoe Police Department and the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.

According to court documents, on June 29, 2011, Poland, interfered with a federal investigation of a South Lake Tahoe gang member. Poland is alleged to have persuaded the gang member's girlfriend to conceal and destroy evidence.

February 6, 2013
Rockslide briefly closes Highway 50 east of Placerville

By Anne Gonzales

afgonzales@sacbee.com

A rockslide briefly closed Highway 50 east of Placerville, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Eastbound and westbound lanes on the highway 27 miles east of Placerville were blocked, starting at 9:24 a.m. today. A CHP dispatcher said after 11 a.m. that the roadway had been reopened.

Crews have been removing rock from the roadway.

Motorists can expect delays in the area, officers said.

January 23, 2013
South Lake Tahoe police officer arrested, accused of witness tampering

A South Lake Tahoe police officer was arrested today, accused of witness tampering.

The arrest of John Gerald "Johnny" Poland followed a three-year investigation, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation news release. He was taken into custody without incident this morning in South Lake Tahoe.

According to court documents, the violations include two counts of corruptly persuading a person to alter, destroy or conceal an object's integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding, and attempting to do so, as well as three counts of corruptly persuading another person with the intent to influence the testimony of a person in an official proceeding, and attempting to do so. Poland's alleged actions reportedly took place while he was on and off duty.

January 22, 2013
El Dorado Sheriff slams gun control in letter to VP Biden

The El Dorado County Sheriff has fired off an anti-gun control letter to Vice President Joe Biden.

"It is well known and proven with facts, not emotional inference, that gun control of any kind, has no effect on the reduction of crime, anywhere," wrote Sheriff John D'Agostini.

The letter, also sent out as a press release, was written to Biden Jan. 17.

To see the El Dorado County Sheriff's letter to Biden, click here.

The Obama administration is trying to get congressional support for a package of gun-control proposals, including an assault rifle ban. Biden helped formulate the proposals.

The gun control proposals come following the December shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that left 20 children and six staffers dead.

January 17, 2013
Teen booked on murder charge in El Dorado County

Wesley Ronald Hampshire.jpgAn 18-year-old is in jail on suspicion of homicide after the stabbing death of another young man last night in El Dorado County.

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies said they responded to the area of Brown's Road and Cold Springs Road, just north of Placerville, about 4 p.m. Wednesday where they were told a person had been stabbed.

They were also told that the person who stabbed 20-year-old Matthew Steele of Auburn had fled on foot. Paramedics arrived and transferred Steele to Marshall Hospital where he died about two hours later.

Deputies took Wesley Hampshire, 18, of Placerville into custody at his home on Brown's Road. He was later booked into county jail on suspicion of homicide.

Details on what lead up to the stabbing were not available.

PHOTO CAPTION: Wesley Ronald Hampshire

January 11, 2013
'Fedora bandit' pleads guilty to armed bank robberies

A 74-year-old man, dubbed the "fedora bandit" by law enforcement agents, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Sacramento to three counts of armed bank robbery.

David Griffith Osborne, formerly of Carson City, pleaded guilty to robbing the American River Bank, 9750 Business Park Drive, in Rancho Cordova on June 3, 2010, as well as the Bank of the West in Gridley on April 26, 2010, and the Chase Bank in Paradise on June 29, 2010, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

Osborne also admitted to four other bank robberies at Bank of the West branches in Grass Valley, Dec. 22, 2009, and March 31, 2010; South Lake Tahoe, Feb. 18, 2010; Kings Beach, March 9, 2010.

January 7, 2013
Woman arrested in fatal shooting of her husband in El Dorado County

A 70-year-old woman has been arrested after a man -- identified Tuesday as her husband --was found dead with an apparent gunshot wound at their El Dorado County home.

Colleen Ann Harris was booked Monday into El Dorado County Jail on suspicion of murder.

Deputies on Sunday responded to the 3200 block of Wilderness Court in the Hanks Exchange area south of Placerville after receiving a report of a homicide. Upon arriving, they met with Harris, then entered the home and found a man who appeared to have sustained a fatal gunshot wound, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

He was identified by the sheriff's department Tuesday as the woman's spouse, 72-year-old Robert Edward Harris.

Homicide detectives, crime scene investigators and coroner detectives were summoned, and sheriff's officials said investigation of the death continues. No details have been released regarding the circumstances of the shooting.

December 28, 2012
Sad end to Camino man's disappearance

clement.JPGThe body of a man missing for more than a month has been found in El Dorado County.

When David Clement, 30, of Camino, was thought to have gone for a jog on the morning of Nov. 6 and never returned, his father worried that he might have been attacked by a mountain lion.

Searchers looked many times for the Army veteran but had no luck. Then, on Dec. 19, his father and other searchers tried again and found Clement's remains in the Snows Road area of Camino.

December 26, 2012
Nearly 3,000 drivers caught in cell phone crackdown

Nearly 3,000 drivers were caught breaking cell phone rules during a crackdown in 37 police jurisdictions in and around Sacramento County.

"We are committed to saving lives on area roadways, and drivers should expect to continue to see officers enforcing cell phone driving laws time and time again," said state Office of Traffic Safety director Chris Murphy.

California was one of two states to receive grants for high-visibility law enforcement pilot programs to squelch motorists' hand-held cell phone use and texting. In addition to California, Delaware was selected to mount a pilot project.

The California program, dubbed "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other," was conducted in eight counties with 3.8 million residents in an area ranging from Modesto to Marysville and Vallejo to South Lake Tahoe. The crackdown occurred from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9.

December 19, 2012
Black ice causing accidents in foothills

Freezing conditions this morning have caused traffic accidents when vehicles slid out of control on black ice.

"It's all over the foothills," said California Highway Patrol officer Rich Wetzel. "We had two crashes on Bass Lake Road north of Highway 50. No injuries. Both are off the road."

Also this morning, around 7 a.m., north of Newcastle in Placer County, water run-off from a tree farm caused ice to form on Highway 193 near Gold Hill Road, according to a CHP traffic website.

December 17, 2012
El Dorado County Sheriff to clamp down on elder abuse

The El Dorado County Sheriff's office has added an investigator to focus on elder abuse.

Reports of elder abuse have increased nine percent since 2011 in the county. The county's population of residents over the age of 65 is 31.6 percent greater than the state's average.

Physical abuse takes in not only assaults, but inappropriate use of drugs, restraints and confinement. Financial exploitation involves the taking of an older person's money, either by a caregiver or a scam artist.

December 15, 2012
South Lake Tahoe man dies in crash on Pioneer Trail

A 26-year-old man died Saturday after a two-vehicle accident that knocked out power in the Ski Run neighborhood of South Lake Tahoe, police reported.

William Olazaba of South Lake Tahoe was pronounced dead at Barton Memorial Hospital after the 1:35 a.m. accident on Pioneer Trail at Ski Run Boulevard, the South Lake Tahoe police said Saturday.

Olazaba was a passenger in a sedan driven by Roberto Olazaba, 22, of South Lake Tahoe that broadsided a sport-utility vehicle passing through the intersection.

The driver of the SUV, Nick Corea, 26, of South Lake Tahoe, was treated and released at Barton Memorial. Roberto Olazaba was admitted to the hospital for observation.

The collision briefly shut off power to the Ski Run neighborhood after one of the vehicles stuck a power conversion box.

December 13, 2012
Sheriff IDs Pollock Pines man who died in officer-involved shooting

An El Dorado County man was killed in gunfire last night in an officer-involved shooting.

The dead man was identified as Christopher Michael Sheldon, 38, of Pollock Pines.

The incident began when the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office dispatch center received a call about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday from a resident in the 2900 block of Kimberly Lane in Pollock Pines. The caller said that a man at the residence was threatening to shoot himself.

December 10, 2012
Highway 49 near Diamond Springs reopens after utility pole repaired

A stretch of Highway 49 near Diamond Springs has reopened to traffic after being closed for several hours due to a downed utility pole.

The pole and utility lines were reported down about 3 this morning. A California Highway Patrol traffic website reported that the pole snapped, but the reason for the failure has not been released. A CHP spokesman said there was no evidence that it had been struck by a vehicle.

The highway, between Fowler Lane and Missouri Flat Road, reopened shortly after 2 p.m.

December 5, 2012
Man killed by falling tree is identified

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office has released the name of the man killed Tuesday when a large oak fell on his pickup truck

He was identified as Bryan Lee Vandeventer, 48, of Shingle Springs.

A California Highway Patrol officer said Vandeventer was driving his Ford 150 pickup westbound on Green Valley Road near Ponderosa Road near Rescue about 8 a.m. Tuesday when the tree fell.

Vandeventer died but a 10-year-old boy inside the crushed cab of the truck was not injured, according to the CHP.

December 4, 2012
Arrest made in Red Hawk Casino stabbing death

El Dorado County Sheriff's deputies on Monday arrested the 33-year-old man suspected in the Thanksgiving-eve murder at Red Hawk Casino.

After getting a tip on Juarez Estephen's location, deputies first set up surveillance on Cothrin Ranch Road and then took him into custody at around 10 p.m. Monday, authorities said.

Estephen, who was previously called a person of interest in the Nov. 21 stabbing death, surrendered peacefully, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff's department.

December 4, 2012
Driver dies, boy survives crushing tree in El Dorado County

A heavy oak tree fell on a truck this morning near Rescue, crushing the driver but sparing the life of a boy.

A California Highway Patrol officer said the Ford 150 pickup was traveling westbound on Green Valley Road near Ponderosa Road about 8 a.m. today when the tree fell. The limb crushed the cab of the truck.

The driver, about 50 years old, died but the 10-year-old passenger was not injured, according to the CHP.

December 4, 2012
Suspected child molester arrested in El Dorado County

Ellsworth.jpgEl Dorado County Sheriff's deputies have arrested a man who they allege was caught in the act of molesting a child by the youngster's mother.

Deputies were called at about 5 p.m. Monday to an apartment near Green Valley and Cambridge roads in Cameron Park by a mother who reported she had caught an acquaintance in the act of molesting her child. Deputies declined to identify the gender or age of the child.

Deputies spoke with the mother and their investigation revealed that the acquaintance was 52-year-old Jeffrey Michael Ellsworth. Ellsworth is a registered sex offender, according to a sheriff's press release.

Ellsworth, a transient living in the Cameron Park area, had fled the apartment complex before deputies arrived. He was later tracked to Oak Hill Road in the Pleasant Valley area where he was arrested on suspicion of child molestation.

PHOTO CAPTION: Jeffrey Michael Ellsworth

November 25, 2012
UPDATE: Victims identified in crash near Placerville

By Loretta Kalb and Kim Minugh
lkalb@sacbee.com

Officials released the names Sunday of four people, including two children, who were killed in a two-car collision on Highway 50 just east of Placerville.

The crash happened around 6 p.m. Saturday, when a 2004 Toyota Prius headed west in the Apple Hill area veered across four lanes of traffic and into the path of a minivan.

Three people in the Prius who died at the scene were identified by the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office as 38-year-old Sheng Kun Su, who was driving; 39-year-old Shu Zhen Zhao; and 8-year-old Shawn Su, all from Oakland.

November 23, 2012
Update: Photo of person of interest in Red Hawk Casino stabbing released

Juarez (1).jpgBy Melody Gutierrez
mgutierrez@sacbee.com

Authorities released a photo of who they call a person of interest in the stabbing death of man at Red Hawk Casino on Wednesday night.

After interviewing witnesses and analyzing the crime scene, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office reported in a news release that detectives are looking for a man named Estaphen Juarez (pictured) as a person of interest in the incident.

The sheriff's office reported that deputies were dispatched to the Shingle Springs casino at around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday following an alleged stabbing on the sixth floor of the casino parking structure.

Earlier today authorities identified the man stabbing victim as 19-year-old Gene Mcarn, from Sacramento County.

Mcarn was transported by friends to Marshall Medical Center in Placerville, where he was pronounced dead.

Call The Bee's Melody Gutierrez, (916) 326-5521. Follow her on Twitter @MelodyGutierrez

November 19, 2012
Two die in Pilot Hill house fire

Two people died last night in a fire that destroyed an old house in Pilot Hill.

The fire was reported at 4531 Salmon Falls Road at about 6 p.m. Sunday. An El Dorado County Fire District engine from Cool responded in seven minutes to the single-family home engulfed in fire.

Firefighters tried to enter the home but could not because of the flames. Neighbors told them that two people were inside the home, which investigators said was about a century old.

November 14, 2012
Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What is status of man arrested in 1980 South Lake Tahoe killing?

Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.

QUESTION: What is going on with the man/case who was arrested in Carmichael this year for a killing that took place 30 years ago in South Lake Tahoe?
Submitted by: George, Fair Oaks

ANSWER: Andrew Evan Sanford is in El Dorado County Jail awaiting trial in the death of 16-year-old Richard E. Swanson.

November 13, 2012
Three men arrested in September's state mining museum heist

The California Highway Patrol has announced the arrest of three men in connection with the Sept. 28 robbery of the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa.

The robbery involved the theft of more than $1 million in precious metals, mostly gold.

Search warrants were served this morning in El Dorado, Sacramento and Sutter counties.

November 13, 2012
Placerville-area man arrested in Monday night shooting

A 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder following a shooting at his Placerville-area home Monday night.

The victim, a 55-year-old Citrus Heights man, was taken by air ambulance to Sutter Roseville Medical Center and is expected to recover from his injuries, officials said.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Dispatch Center received calls about 7:30 p.m. reporting that gunfire was heard in the 3600 block of Wamego Road, southwest of Placerville. As deputies were en route to the location, a caller reported that someone had been shot at a residence.

November 2, 2012
Two arrested after chase through El Dorado, Amador counties

Brandon Remy 44.JPGKaren White 24.JPGTwo people, including a man wanted for parole violation, were arrested Thursday night after leading law enforcement officers on a 34-mile pursuit through El Dorado and Amador counties.

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.

October 30, 2012
Man arrested, accused of owing $600,000 in child support

A man accused of failing for 21 years to pay court-ordered child support has been arrested in El Dorado County.

Martin Seebach, 58, was arrested Monday and is charged in a criminal complaint with two felony charges of grand theft against his now adult children. He also is charged with four misdemeanor counts of disobeying a court order, for failing to pay the court-ordered monthly amounts toward his child support arrears, according to an El Dorado County District Attorney's Office news release.

Over the last 21 years, Seebach has failed to comply with his court-ordered obligations and currently has an arrears balance totaling more than $600,000, the highest in the county, authorities said.

October 19, 2012
Alert students, motorists called key to school bus safety

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.

October 12, 2012
Crashed vehicle belonging to missing man found near South Lake Tahoe

A vehicle registered to an Elk Grove man who was reported missing in May was located today down a steep embankment off Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe.

Sgt. Dan Paxton of the California Highway Patrol said the vehicle, a 2001 Honda Civic, was spotted near Johnson Pass Road about 2 p.m by a person walking a dog in an area above the crash site. He said the vehicle was about 100 feet down an embankment on the south side of Highway 50.

When officers reached the vehicle and found no one inside, the El Dorado County sheriff's search and rescue team brought in a dog to search the area. Paxton said human remains were found about 100 feet from the vehicle.

October 12, 2012
South Lake Tahoe broker sentenced for embezzling from clients

A South Lake Tahoe investment broker has been sentenced to three years and eight months in prison for stealing from clients' accounts.

Lori Zoval, 47, also will be subject to three years of supervised release following her prison term for embezzling client money while employed as a licensed investment broker with a brokerage firm in Folsom. She was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr., and a hearing was scheduled for Nov. 2 to determine the restitution amount, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

According to court documents, Zoval pleaded guilty to using her position of trust to embezzle at least $24,939 from the investment and retirement accounts of her clients between October 2005 and April 2006. At sentencing, however, the court found that she had stolen more than $430,000 from these clients, a married couple close to retirement.

October 2, 2012
UPDATE: Defensible space credited for sparing homes threatened by El Dorado County fire

Twenty-five homes in the Somerset area of El Dorado County were threatened this afternoon by a fire that burned 15 acres of heavy brush.

The Sand fire started at 11:35 a.m. on Sand Ridge Road near Bucks Bar Road southeast of Placerville. As of this evening, the fire's progress had been stopped and it was 50 percent contained, according to a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection news release.

No injuries or structural damage has been reported.

October 2, 2012
Brooklynite lost in Desolation Wilderness area finds way to out

A hiker from Brooklyn, N.Y., was lost but then found in El Dorado County's Desolation Wilderness area.

Chris Major, 38, went hiking Sunday in the Desolation Wilderness area with three friends. They set out from Echo Lakes Lodge for a hike to Lake Aloha and then Lake of the Woods.

At Lake of the Woods, they voluntarily separated, according to a press release from the El Dorado County Sheriff's office. Major was the only hiker who didn't return to the group's vehicle parked at Echo Lakes Lodge, prompting one of the friends to call deputies at 6 p.m. Sunday.

September 26, 2012
Big-box lumber store pickup used to flee from El Dorado deputies

woodruff.jpgA man was booked on attempted homicide charges and various other crimes after fleeing El Dorado County deputies Tuesday in a stolen lumber truck.

Dustin James Woodruff, 27, is suspected of shooting and beating Bryan Santana, 35, of Placerville on July 2. In July, Santana showed up at a Placerville hospital complaining of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.

Doctors thought he had been shot. Deputies were summoned and Santana admitted to being shot. However, at the time, he didn't know who did the shooting.

September 25, 2012
UPDATE: El Dorado authorities ID gunman in Placerville homicide

An El Dorado County Sheriff's official said today that the gunman in Friday night's homicide in Placerville is known to authorities, but is not in custody.

Sheriff's Lt. Tim Becker identified the shooter as Michael Steven Hayes. Earlier today, Becker said the shooter came forward to authorities after the shooting.

No charges have been filed and the investigation continues into whether Hayes is criminally culpable in the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Richard Lee Hart.

Authorities said Hart, a Sacramento resident, was armed with a gun when he entered a residence in the 3100 block of Lo Hi Way shortly before midnight Friday. He was then shot with a shotgun and collapsed while trying to leave the house.

September 24, 2012
Authorities ID man shot entering a Placerville home over weekend

The man fatally shot as he entered a Placerville home Friday night has been identified as 37-year-old Lee Hart of Sacramento, authorities said.

Hart was fatally shot with a shotgun after he entered a home in the 3100 block of Lo Hi Way carrying a handgun before midnight, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department reported.

Callers told dispatchers a man had been shot after trying to enter a residence and had tried to flee before collapsing on the ground, the Sheriff's Department said in a news release.

No arrests have been made.

September 21, 2012
Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What was sentence for mother, son in money laundering scheme?

Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.

QUESTION: What was the sentence for Betty Gracia and Anthony Portillo for money laundering?
Submitted by: Forty Niner Wayne, Sacramento

ANSWER: Anthony Portillo of El Dorado Hills and his mother, Betty Gracia, pleaded guilty in federal court in Sacramento in April 2011 to money laundering and concealing a felony respectively.

September 19, 2012
Victim of fatal crash in Cool identified as Georgetown woman

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office has identified the woman found dead Friday in an overturned vehicle in Cool as 22-year-old Marissa Forster of Georgetown.

Sheriff's deputies responded just before noon Friday to a report of a vehicle accident in the 2400 block of Highway 193 in Cool. They found a vehicle upside down 30 to 40 yards from the roadway. It appeared that the crash occurred some time before it was reported, but the time has not been determined, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

Authorities said Forster was the only occupant of the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner's investigation determined that she died of massive and immediate head trauma.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

September 18, 2012
Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What happened to wrong-way driver in fatal Highwy 50 crash in El Dorado County?

Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.

QUESTION: Several years ago, an employee of Home Depot in Placerville finished his work shift and was driving home on Highway 50 westbound when his vehicle was hit head on by a vehicle traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes. The driver of the westbound vehicle was killed in the accident and the driver of the wrong-way vehicle was seriously injured. The Home Depot employee had recently been married. Was the wrong-way driver ever convicted?
Submitted by: Pokopete, Garden Valley

ANSWER: Theresa Ghersanich pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter while driving intoxicated in the crash that killed Bruce Michael Bone of Orangevale.

September 16, 2012
Placerville's 'Rock Fire' is 60 percent contained, officials say

By Loretta Kalb
lkalb@sacbee.com

A wildfire near the hairpin turn where Highway 193 meets Rock Creek Road has burned 45 acres north of Placerville and is 60 percent contained, a battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said today.

Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson said no structures were threatened in the Rock Fire, which started shortly before 5:30 p.m. Saturday and burned in a northerly direction. The fire has burned mainly brush land north of Placerville and the Chili Bar Reservoir and south of Georgetown.

September 12, 2012
High-speed chase in El Dorado County ends in casino parking lot

A man on probation was arrested this afternoon after leading Placerville police on a high-speed chase with a child in his vehicle.

Placerville officers went to the Safeway parking lot about 12:30 p.m. to conduct a probation search of Paul Deocampo, 27, who had been seen in the area, according to a Police Department news release. When officers approached his parked vehicle, Deocampo refused to obey their commands and started to reach into his vehicle for an unknown object, police said. Deocampo then started his vehicle, and one of the officers reached in through the driver's side door try to keep him from driving away.

Police said Deocampo began to drive off, dragging the officer about 10 feet. The officer was able to break free, and Deocampo sped out of the parking lot.

September 10, 2012
Two El Dorado County men charged in teen's drug-related death

By Ed Fletcher
efletcher@sacbee.com

Two El Dorado County men were arrested Monday and are facing felony manslaughter charges in connection with the drug-related death of a Pollock Pines teen.

Jesse Howard Roberts, 21, and Elijah Lee Richter, 20, both of Camino, were arrested and booked into El Dorado County jail on felony charges of involuntary manslaughter, the El Dorado Sheriff's Office announced.

According to a news release from the sheriff's office, Alejandro Nunez Avila, 15, is believed to have voluntarily ingested a hallucinogenic drug sometime late Saturday or early Sunday.

September 8, 2012
2 teens arrested in South Lake Tahoe burglary, vandalism

By Richard Chang
rchang@sacbee.com

Two male juveniles are in custody on suspicion of vandalism and burglary at an art supply store, South Lake Tahoe police said today.

Police said the suspects, ages 15 and 16, broke into the store Friday and stole $3,000 worth of spray paint and markers. Today, police received reports of buildings, signs and vehicles tagged with graffiti.

Police received a tip that led them to a residence on Silver Dollar Avenue, where they conducted a probation search and found two juveniles hiding in a closet as well as the stolen art supplies. Both suspects admitted to the burglary, and one admitted to tagging property, officials said

A third juvenile suspect is still at large, police said. Property damage is estimated to be in the thousands of dollars. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call South Lake Tahoe police at (530) 542-6100.

September 7, 2012
El Dorado Hills massage therapist accused of sexual battery

Patrick Lockard.JPGAn El Dorado Hills massage therapist has been arrested, accused of false imprisonment and sexual battery.

Patrick Lockard (pictured), 46, of Shingle Springs was arrested Wednesday by El Dorado County sheriff's detectives.

A woman reported that she was receiving a massage from Lockard at Massage Envy in El Dorado Hills when Lockard held her down and sexually battered her, according to a Sheriff's Office news release. Detectives began an investigation to corroborate the woman's statements and eventually arrested Lockard.

September 4, 2012
Sacramento coroner: Woman injured in Jeep race has died

An El Dorado Hills woman. injured more than a month ago in an off-road crash on the Rubicon Trail, has died, according to the Sacramento County Coroner's office.

Rachel Anne Gray, 21, died at 12:08 a.m. Sunday.

She had last been reported in critical condition after her vehicle rolled off the Rubicon Trail on July 28, causing a 2-acre forest fire and stranding as many as 300 other Jeeps participating in the Jeepers Jamboree.

August 30, 2012
Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What is status of former El Dorado Hills man accused of financial schemes?

Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.

QUESTION: What is the status of the prosecution of Daniel Chartraw, accused of multiple financial schemes that duped people of millions of dollars? He was arrested and charged in May.
Submitted by: Sam Wiggins, San Diego

ANSWER: Former El Dorado Hills resident Daniel Chartraw was indicted by a federal grand jury in Sacramento on 18 counts of wire fraud in connection with uranium mines, oil commodities, precious metals in concentrate, dairy financing, gold refining and mining, and movie production.

August 30, 2012
Investigators conclude reclusive sisters died of natural causes

Reclusive twin sisters who were found dead in their South Lake Tahoe home in February died of natural causes, according to El Dorado County investigators.

The Sheriff's Office announced today that the determination regarding the deaths of Patricia and Joan Miller, 73, was made after a review of pathology reports and evidence from the Miller residence. A pathology report concluded that Patricia Miller died of coronary artery disease. Joan Miller, who relied heavily on her sister for care, died of probable environmental hypothermia, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

The women were found dead in their home Feb. 26, and sheriff's officials sought the public's help in locating relatives.

August 26, 2012
Multiple victims in weekend plane crash south of Lake Tahoe

Aviation and law enforcement officials today are investigating the Saturday night crash of a single-engine aircraft shortly after takeoff from Lake Tahoe airport at South Lake Tahoe.

Officials said there were multiple victims aboard the plane but no identities have been confirmed.

Witnesses reported hearing engine problems before seeing the plane dip downward as the pilot attempted a turn, according to a report from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department. The crash occurred about 9:50 p.m.

August 24, 2012
Agencies step up DUI checkpoints, patrols this weekend

Law enforcement agencies are continuing their summer/Labor Day campaign to keep impaired drivers off the road, with sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols scheduled this weekend in the Sacramento region.

The campaign began Aug. 17 and runs through Labor Day. Through midnight Thursday, officers representing 17 law enforcement agencies in Sacramento County reported a total of 132 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Placer County, officers representing seven agencies arrested 23 individuals for driving under the influence through midnight Wednesday, according to a news release. No DUI-related deaths were reported in either county since the campaign began last week.

A sobriety checkpoint is scheduled tonight in the city of Sacramento as the second week of the campaign gets under way. Extra DUI saturation patrols will be deployed in the cities of Folsom and Elk Grove tonight and in Citrus Heights and Elk Grove on Saturday night. Extra patrols also will be deployed in Elk Grove on Sunday night.

August 23, 2012
Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What happened to nuclear engineer who sent threatening letters to President Bush?

Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.

QUESTION: What happened to the engineer from Rancho Seco who was accused of sending threatening letters to President Bush? It seems like there wasn't actually anthrax but an inert powder used. Was the guy convicted and sentenced to prison or a medical facility?
Submitted by: Emmi, Sacramento

ANSWER: Michael Lee Braun, who worked as a nuclear engineer at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's now-decommissioned Rancho Seco nuclear generating plant, was arrested in 2006 for sending threatening letters and white powder to the Serrano Country Club in El Dorado Hills, where President Bush was appearing at a fundraising event for then-Rep. John Doolittle.

August 23, 2012
Culprits steal pickup in Folsom for El Dorado Hills ATM theft try

atm.jpgThieves stole a new pickup from a car dealership in Folsom, drove it up Highway 50 and this morning crashed into a drug store to steal an ATM.

In the end, the culprits failed to make off with the cash machine from the CVS store in El Dorado Hills. And after the attempted ATM theft, they abandoned the stolen Ford F350 a short distance away, engine running.

Deputies arrived at the store, 4400 Latrobe Road, shortly after an alarm went off at 2:18 a.m. to find the pharmacy front doors on the ground and shattered glass scattered.

Store video security cameras showed that three people in two pickups were involved in the break-in. The white pickup was backed through the front doors and the thieves then tried to pull the ATM out the door.

When that didn't work, the thieves fled in both trucks, abandoning the new truck in the road about a mile away.

atm2.jpg

PHOTO CAPTION: The attached photos are of the suspects and their vehicles as they attempt to take an ATM machine from the CVS store in El Dorado Hills.

August 20, 2012
Hondas top list of most stolen cars in U.S., California

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.

August 19, 2012
Notebook discovered in search belongs to missing coed

UPDATE: A notebook belonging to missing UC Davis student Linnea Lomax was found just off the American River Bike Trail, her family announced at a press conference this afternoon.

This was the first solid lead since her disappearance June 26, said Craig Lomax, the girl's father.

The notebook was found near the Sutter Medical Center outpatient facility on Howe Avenue where the 19-year-old Placerville woman was last seen. She was receiving treatment after having a mental breakdown while studying for finals, her father said.

The evidence has been turned over to police, but Lomax confirmed it belonged to his daughter. "I saw the handwriting on the notebook," he said. "It was Linnea's."

The notebook was found during a search by 250 volunteers over the weekend.

The KlaasKids Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to finding missing children, joined in the search. The Sausalito-based group was founded by Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly was kidnapped and murdered in 1993. "You shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel every time," Klaas said.

The foundation's Director of Search Operations Brad Dennis came from Florida to aid in the search. "We're doing a very thorough grid search," Dennis said.

"After seven weeks, we finally got a ground zero," Klaas said of Sunday's breakthrough.

Lomax said that as far as he knows, Linnea is alive. "I hope she's still alive, but I also have to believe every tip, theory and lead," he said.

The search has taken a toll on the family. In addition to Linnea, the Lomax's also have a son and daughter who are still in high school. "We're maintaining the search, but we also have to maintain life," Lomax said. "We still have to be mom and dad."

The number of rumors circulating, coupled with the time the case has dragged on, is challenging the viability of the search, Lomax said. "I'm not going to stop looking for her until I can confirm she's safe," he said at the press conference.

The family plans to organize another search Sept. 8. Anyone who wants to help or has information about the whereabouts of Linnea Lomax is asked to visit helpfindlinnea.org.

- Richard Chang

August 18, 2012
Vintage aircraft to honor fallen Marine