The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

December 30, 2010
The Money Trail: Twin Rivers chief wants district reimbursement of $7,455 in legal fees

Twin Rivers Unified School District Superintendent Frank Porter is asking his district to reimburse him for legal fees totaling $7,455.

Little is being said, however, about why the district should pay Porter's legal bills, other than they were incurred "within the scope of his employment," according to an school board agenda item. Twin Rivers trustees will vote Tuesday on whether to pay the fees.

District spokeswoman Trinette Marquis said the fees in question pertain to a district-related legal matter.

The school board agenda said redacted invoices with Porter's legal fees were submitted to the district dated July 15, Aug. 4, Sept. 7, Oct. 6 and Nov. 4.

The invoices were from Henry Kraft of Parker and Covert LLP, a Southern California law firm specializing in education. Correspondence from Kraft, according to the Twin Rivers agenda item, indicates the Association of California School Administrators paid $1,400 to Parker and Covert on Porter's behalf.

That leaves Porter with $7,455 in legal fees. The school agenda item says Porter's contract with Twin Rivers requires reimbursement of expenses for "matters within the scope of his employment."

Twin Rivers staff is recommending trustees approve the payment.

- Melody Gutierrez

December 30, 2010
On Your Guard: Returning holiday gifts can offer new surprises - here are some tips

It's that time of year: gift returns. All those unwanted ties and toasters need to go back to the store to get what you really want.

Plan ahead, advises the Better Business Bureau, which always hears from consumers who are surprised by unexpected fees or terms.

"Every store has a different wrinkle, so pay attention to the stated return policies and what's printed on the receipt," said Gary Almond, president of the Northeast California BBB chapter in West Sacramento. For instance, he said, some stores have 14-day return policies; some are 30 days. Some charge a restocking fee, especially for electronics. Some give only store credit. Some sales are final, which should be stated clearly on your receipt or posted prominently at the cash register.

Here are the BBB's return tips:

• Monitor the "return clock." Some retailers only allow returns within a certain time frame, which usually begins when the item was purchased, not when it was given.

• Understand return policies for "sale" or "clearance" merchandise, which may be more restrictive than those for merchandise sold at full price.

• Don't remove electronics from their boxes because the original packaging may be required for a return.

• Check online terms. The original shipping may have been free, but you may have to pay for returns. Some online stores allow merchandise returns to a regular store instead of an online merchant.

- Claudia Buck

December 30, 2010
Report: dialysis oversight in California weakest in nation

Almost 40 years ago Congress expanded Medicare to cover dialysis treatment for all Americans suffering from kidney failure--regardless of age or income. Today taxpayers shell out $20 billion annually to provide the life-saving procedure for some 400,000 patients. Although the United States spends more per patient than virtually every other country, its mortality rate for dialysis care is among the highest in the industrialized world, according to the watchdog group ProPublica.

In an ongoing investigation, ProPublica discovered an alarming number of clinics that provide substandard care in unsanitary conditions. The result are needless hospitalizations and avoidable deaths. Equally troubling is the weak oversight of the dialysis industry. Checks of clinics, known as recertification surveys, are supposed to be conducted by state regulators every three years. But the frequency of government inspections of these 5,000+ facilities varies widely by state. In California--which has the biggest backlog in the nation--at least half the dialysis clinics haven't been inspected in five years or more. And some 10 percent haven't been checked since 2000.

Federal authorities have pressed California to boost its inspections or face withholding of funds. But federal money for recertification hasn't kept up with the growing number of clinics. That and the state's budget crisis has hampered oversight. And so the backlog continues to grow.

December 30, 2010
Top ten Public Eye items of 2010

It's a journalistic tradition this time of year: top ten lists covering everything from local news to celebrity gossip. At The Public Eye we're looking back at the year's most significant blog entries -- as determined by reader interest. Here are 2010's top ten items. Most of these were written by The Bee's lead data cruncher Phillip Reese, who often showcases statistics with interactive maps.

10. Study: Sacramento residents smoke pot often, see no great risk.

9. Interactive: California's most troubled schools.

8. Local government workers earning $250,000+.

7. Five horses dead in San Joaquin County. Did heat kill them?

6. Map: Where local fatal car wrecks happen.

5. Most city, county leaders earn $200,000+ each year.

4. Interactive: Areas where Sacramento cops spend the most time.

3. Interactive: California's biggest tax dodgers.

2. California's budget deficit compares poorly to other states.

1. Interactive: Gang activity in Sacramento.
December 28, 2010
State data shows drop in preventable hospitalizations

New statistics by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development show a significant decline in preventable hospitalizations over the period 1999-2008. The OSHPD report looked at 14 medical conditions "for which quality outpatient care or early intervention can potentially prevent the need for hospitalization or complications leading to a more severe illness."

Ten of these conditions, including chest pain, pediatric gastroenteritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, showed decreases in hospitalization rates. The rate for diabetes (short-term complications) stayed the same. Diabetes (long-term complications), urinary tract infections and hypertension increased. 

The OSHPD study examined the hospital data at the county level and the results are displayed in color-coded maps for easy comparisons. Of particular concern are the hospitalization rates for childhood asthma in Alameda County, which 2.5 times that of the state's, as well as hypertension rates in South Central Los Angeles, which are 3.3 times that of the state's.  

In general, the four counties of the Sacramento region show average or below average hospitalization rates for the 14 preventable conditions.

Hat tip: HealthyCal.

December 27, 2010
The Center for Health Reporting, state medical care watchdog

Today The Bee published the last of a 2-part series on baby boomer medical care produced by the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting. CHR is a non-profit journalism team based at the USC Annenburg School, which "partners with news organizations across the state to produce in-depth reporting on health-care issues of importance to consumers and policymakers."

The Center began operation in October 2009 and has shared some 20 news investigations with over 30 California news outlets, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Bakersfield Californian, Modesto Bee and Fresno Bee. Here are the latest projects published by CHR:

At Last, California Fights Infections With Disclosure. "Hospital infections kill an estimated 13,500 Californians a year, but critics say the state's hospitals and health department remain far behind other states in waging war against this largely preventable scourge."

Riverside County: Medi-Cal's Worst. "No county in California has a worse record than Riverside County for processing Medi-Cal applications."

Medicare Testing Ground: Lower Prices, Rising Concerns. "The Inland Empire is a new testing ground for whether the federal government and health consumers can finally do something about rising health costs."

Young Adults Get a Break with Their Parents' Insurance. "Health reform offers up a big benefit for young adults who haven't been able to get their own health insurance."

Broken Hearths: How the Economy is Endangering the Health of Our Families. "Joblessness is a scourge that hits hard at workers trying to make a life for their families. But it also hits hard at the families themselves, including the children."

Clinic Shutdowns Hit Tiny Towns Hard. "Kern County, with some of the state's highest rates for diabetes, heart disease and obesity, is home to a test case for the federal government's new Health Care Coverage Initiative."

December 23, 2010
On Your Guard: You can help prevent holiday house fires

Fire agency and insurance company officials urge safety precautions to prevent fires during the holidays and winter months.

State Farm Insurance reports that one-third of home fires and home fire deaths occur during December, January and February. California ranked fourth nationally in the number of Christmas Day fire and smoke-related claims for 2005-09.

To avoid fires:

• Pay attention to the stove. Cooking is one of the top causes of home holiday fires, usually from unattended cooking.

• Keep flammable materials at least 3 feet from space heaters, wood-burning stoves and other heating devices. Heating equipment ranks second as a cause of household fires.

• Make sure candles are in stable holders and placed where they can't be easily toppled. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials suggest using battery-operated candles instead of traditional candles, noting that they are safer, last longer and don't spill melted wax on the furniture.

• Inspect holiday lights for frayed wires, bare spots or broken sockets, and remember to turn them off before leaving home or going to bed.

• Don't overload electrical outlets for holiday lights.

• When keeping a live Christmas tree indoors, make sure the needles are fresh and green, and that the tree has plenty of water.

• Never burn trash or paper in a fireplace. Burning paper can float up the chimney onto the roof, or a neighbor's roof, causing a fire. Remove ashes from the fireplace in a metal container and allow them to cool outdoors for at least 24 hours before disposing of them.

For more information on fire safety, see the Cal Fire website at www.fire.ca.gov.

- Cathy Locke

December 23, 2010
The Crime Line: Cops note recent surge in south area burglaries

Sacramento police officials recently sent a note to residents of several south area neighborhoods warning of an increase in home burglaries. To combat them, police have formed a response team.

What the cops didn't say was that while there has been an uptick recently, burglaries in the area are actually down over last year.

In the second week of December, police reported 13 home break-ins in the Pocket/Greenhaven neighborhood - more than twice the number of burglaries from the previous week, department statistics show.

In Meadowview and Valley Hi, the past 90 days have seen 249 burglaries, an increase of 23 percent over the same time period last year.

But those numbers tell only half the story.

Burglaries in the Pocket/ Greenhaven area are down significantly, from 710 in 2009 to 535 this year. There have also been fewer of the crimes in Meadowview and Valley Hi (851 this year compared to 869 last year).

Police offer these tips:

• Lock your doors. Some recent break-ins were at homes left unlocked.

• Make your home appear occupied when you're not there. Leave some lights on.

• Report suspicious people in your neighborhood.

- Ryan Lillis

December 21, 2010
2009 teen births drop to record low

The birth rate for U.S. girls aged 15-19 fell to 39.1 births per 1,000 in 2009. That's the lowest it's been since recordkeeping began in 1940, says the Centers for Disease Control. Birth rates for teens of all ages, races and ethnic groups dropped to historic levels.

In its new preliminary report, the CDC also found the first decline since 2002 in total births to unmarried mothers. But since total U.S. births declined even more, the percentage of births attributed to unmarried mothers actually rose to 41.0 percent in 2009 from 40.6 percent in 2008.

Married or not, women in their early 20s showed a 7.0 percent drop in birth rate in 2009. It's the biggest decrease for that age group since 1973. The birth rate also fell for women in their late 20s and 30s, but increased for women in their 40s. 

December 20, 2010
DOJ: estimated 11.7 million were victims of identity theft

An estimated 11.7 million Americans (aged 16 and over) were victims of identity theft, according to a 2008 U.S. Justice Department study whose results were released last week. The survey of 56,500 household residents is the first time the Bureau of Justice Statistics has collected data on these types of property crimes.

BJS estimates that only 23 percent of those victimized suffered some financial loss, but the total cost to society came to $17.3 billion during the two-year period of the study. It also calculates that 6.2 million people were victims of the unauthorized use of credit cards, the most common variety of identity theft.

A demographic breakdown of victims (p. 3) shows that wealthier people (i.e. those living in households making $75,00 and over) are more likely to experience at least one attempted or successful identity theft incident.

December 16, 2010
On Your Guard: Restaurants warned of a phony health inspector scheduling visits

Restaurant operators and others in the food facility industry are advised to check the identification of health inspectors, following reports of an impostor calling eateries to notify them of pending inspections.

Sacramento County's Environmental Management Department reported a person using various names was calling up local food businesses and purporting to be a health inspector. The impostor announced an inspection was scheduled, usually for the next day, the county reported.

The impostor gave the business a phone number to call to verify the inspection, and in some cases a "confirmation number." But the inspector never arrived, and no county inspections had been scheduled.

County officials say other California counties and states have been targeted by similar scams.

"It's unclear how the scam works or if the impostor is attempting to get personal information from the operator for other fraudulent schemes," John Rogers, Sacramento County's environmental health chief, said in a written statement. "We urge owners and operators to contact our office if they have any doubt about the identity of a person claiming to be a health inspector."

Officials said food facility health inspections generally are announced and conducted by certified and trained registered environmental health specialists. Inspectors do not collect money at food establishments and do not sell or endorse specific products. State law also requires inspectors to carry official photo identification.

To report fraudulent activity, call the Environmental Management Department at (916) 875-8440.

- Cathy Locke

December 16, 2010
The Money Trail: Discipline at spruced-up schools improves - state funds increase

The Sacramento City Unified School District has spent $1.5 million since March for six "priority schools" to undergo face-lifts and deep cleanings. And officials are seeing returns on the investment.

Targeted were Jedediah Smith, Father Keith B. Kenny and Oak Ridge elementary schools; Will C. Wood and Fern Bacon middle schools; and Hiram Johnson High School.

Superintendent Jonathan Raymond said those schools were failing the 4,600 students they serve. He set aside deferred maintenance money to power-wash the schools, repaint classrooms and improve landscaping.

At Johnson High, $220,580 was spent on interior classrooms and offices, $126,388 was spent on exterior buildings and $28,779 was spent on the parking lot and lawn, a district report states.

The report details a significant decrease in suspensions at each of the priority schools. In September, October and November 2009, those schools had 1,654 days of suspensions. In the same period this year, suspensions dropped to 427.

Schools get state money based on student attendance. A suspended student costs Sacramento City Unified $38.99 a day. The reduced suspensions generated $47,800.

- Melody Gutierrez

December 15, 2010
Teen pot use takes a jump

Illicit marijuana use by teens is increasing according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That conclusion is based on the 2010 Monitoring the Future survey of eighth, 10th- and 12th-graders.

Eighth graders who reported illicit use of any type of drug in the past years rose from 14.5 percent in 2009 to 16.0 percent in 2010. That bump was largely due to an increase in pot smoking by this age group, whose daily use percentage rose from 1.0 to 1.2. Daily pot use also increased among high school sophmores and seniors, 2.8 to 3.3 percent and 5.2 to 6.1 percent, respectively.

Researchers also found a bump in the use of Ecstacy (MDMA) among youths. Reported use by eighth-graders rose 1.3 to 2.4 percent from 2009 to 2010. Tenth-grade use rose 3.7 to 4.7 percent.

December 15, 2010
Interactive: Gun crimes in South Sacramento

South Sacramento has long been one of the most dangerous spots in the county. During the first nine months of the year, Sacramento sheriff's deputies responded to reports of 113 shootings and other gun crimes in South Sacramento. On Tuesday, a shootout near Stockton and Florin left two woman dead and several injured.

Shootings and other gun crimes, South Sacramento, Jan.-Sep. 2010

View South Sacramento shootings, 2010 in a larger map
Note: Includes the following crimes: murder; assault with a firearm; assault with firearm on peace officer; assault with semiautomatic firearm; shoot at inhabited dwelling or vehicle; shoot at uninhabited dwelling or vehicle; discharge firearm in a negligent manor; exhibit firearm; grand theft: firearm.

Map shows gun crimes in Sheriff's Central District; click and drag map to see more. Updated at 1:45 p.m. 12/15 to correct some addresses that did not map properly.

December 13, 2010
Economic 'stress index' improves in nation, state and region

The nation's economic condition in October, as measured by the Associated Press' Stress Index, improved to its best level in 18 months.

AP launched the index in 2007 to track the overall effect of the recession on states and counties. It takes into consideration unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies. Scores run from one to 100, and the higher the score, the greater the economic stress. A place with a rating of over 11 is considered financially challenged.

In October California (16.01) fell to third place in the list of the most stressed states, giving up the second place slot to Florida (16.56) which struggles with a rising foreclosure rate. Nevada (21.68) continues to lead the pack by a large margin.

The most stressed county in the United States was California's Imperial County (33.26). It did show a 2.39 point improvement since September. In our region, all but Yolo County saw a monthly lessening of economic stress. The table below displays the latest figures, the monthly change and the pre-recession levels.

Associated Press Stress Index
Place Oct-10 Change from Sep-10 Oct-07
California 16.01 -0.13 7.23
Sacramento Co. 17.81 -0.33 9.20
Placer Co. 16.30 -0.39 7.37
El Dorado Co. 15.97 -0.23 6.82
Yolo Co. 14.80 0.13 6.86

 

AP's color-coded stress map provides comprehensive data for all states and counties and gives a good visual overview of which regions continue to be hit the hardest by the economic downturn.  

December 9, 2010
The Money Trail: Rancho Cordova sends 14 to San Diego convention

The city of Rancho Cordova, like other cities, has managed to balance its budget with belt tightening.

Nonetheless, it loosened the cinch a tad when it sent 14 city officials, including one consultant, to the League of California Cities convention in San Diego in mid-September.

That meant three of the five elected officials - Vice Mayor Robert McGarvey and council members Linda Budge and David Sander - attended in addition to three of the five appointees on the city Planning Commission.

Another seven people on the city payroll - in addition to the consultant - made their way to Southern California for the event.

Among executives in attendance were City Manager Ted Gaebler, Assistant City Manager Joe Chinn, the city's finance director and the city clerk.

Cost to taxpayers for travel, hotel accommodations, conference registrations, exhibits and staffing for the city's free convention booth: just under $21,000.

The seven city employees who attended represent about one out of every 10 workers on the city payroll.

City officials say the money was well spent. Participants were able to join in or lead sessions on best practices for running a city effectively.

Attendees at the latest convention could join sessions to learn how representatives from other locales cope with financial crises, how to aid the homeless in tight times, and how best to maintain good relationships with labor groups as revenues shrink.

Those active in the league also can shape the cities' agenda at the Legislature.

David Ivazian, a Rancho Cordova resident, examined the city expenditures and the comparative levels of participation from other cities.

The city of Rancho Cordova, the data show, went well beyond the statewide norm for sending people. Of the 375 cities in attendance, the average city sent three to four representatives.

In Rancho Cordova, registration for 12 of the 14 attendees reached $6,000. Airline tickets, for those who didn't drive, cost about $3,900. Hotel costs were $8,300. The booth exhibits cost $1,284. Meals, at just under $1,700, rounded out the city's expense.

"I said, 'Wow, that's a lot of money,' " Ivazian said when he first heard the cost. "I get really mad when people are wasting my money."

City spokeswoman Nancy Pearl said she was surprised at the focus on the city's convention attendance. "Several of our council members moderated or participated in sessions among their peers," Pearl said in a statement.

"The individuals who believe there is some scandal that they will uncover are brewing a tempest in a teapot," she said.

The positives tell the story, she said.

The city this year received the league's Helen Putnam Award for excellence in city administration, further showing the value of learning good practices at league events, she said.

Besides, Pearl said, the money spent was minimal compared with the city's $39.3 million general fund budget - about one-twentieth of 1 percent.

- Loretta Kalb

December 8, 2010
Debit card use up as Fed mulls fee controls

debitcard.jpgDebit card use has jumped in the United States, according to the Federal Reserve in a report on non-cash payments issued today. The Fed says debit card transactions grew 14.8 percent between 2006 and 2009. During the same period check transactions fell by 7.2 percent. For many consumers debit cards have become the dominant form of non-cash payment.

Legislation passed earlier this year will impose limits on "interchange fees," that is, the fees banks charge merchants for debit card transactions, which many believe are excessive. Next week the Federal Reserve will unveil its rules for such fees and the banking industry anticipates the loss of millions of dollars as a result of the new restrictions.

Major banks are reportedly shifting their marketing to reloadable prepaid cards that are not subject to Fed regulation. These cards are used increasingly by low-income families who don't have bank accounts. But Consumers Union and other advocacy groups warn that prepaid cards harbor a bevy of hidden fees buried in fine print. A CU report details the complicated fee structure of specific products, such as the WalMart Money and Account Now cards (p. 13). 

PHOTO CREDIT: A shopper swipes his debit card at a supermarket in Omaha, Neb., in 2007. AP Photo/ Nati Harnik

December 6, 2010
Pregnancy-related deaths creeping up in U.S.

Although it's rare for U.S. women to die of complications in pregnancy, a Centers for Disease Control study shows that such deaths are increasing in this country.

Researchers found that between 1998 and 2005 the national pregnancy-related mortality rate was 14.5 deaths per 100,000 live births. In 1986, the rate fell to a low of 7.4 per 100,000 before experiencing a gradual rise. (A pregnancy-related death is considered any death occurring during, or within a year after pregnancy, that is caused by a complication of pregnancy.)

The study doesn't identify a precise cause for the increase in these materal deaths. But it notes that in recent years more women of child-bearing age are dealing with obesity and chronic health issues such as hypertension and diabetes.

Back in February, California Watch reported that the rate of pregnancy-related deaths in the state tripled over the past ten years.

December 3, 2010
Nurses continue to dominate Gallup's 'honesty and ethics' ranking

Gallup, the public opinion research company, has been polling Americans since 1976 about their perception of the ethics and honesty of various professions. The survey covers such diverse jobs as pharmacists, politicians, car sellers, firefighters, teachers and lawyers.

But there's one profession that has ranked number one in all but one year since 1999. That's nursing. Nurses' honesty and ethical standards were judged "very high/high" by 81 percent of those Gallup polled last month. Nurses were trailed by military officers who were rated very high/high by 73 percent. At the bottom of the list are lobbyists with a score of just seven percent very high/high (61 percent rated them very low/low).

Television and newspaper reporters fall in the middle of the pack with scores of 23 and 22 percent very high/high in honesty and ethics.

December 2, 2010
On Your Guard: Experts say: Be a smart, and safe, holiday shopper

It's that time of year again, when customers flood the area's shopping centers for holiday gift buying. Unfortunately, so do plenty of grinches. Experts offer tips to keep you safe and free of crime during this holiday season.

• Stay alert to your surroundings. Do not overburden yourself with packages, making it easy for someone to snatch one.

• Keep your purchases out of sight in the trunk of your car - not in the passenger cabin.

• Ladies, carry your handbag close to you, rather than dangling off your arms or in your hands. Gentlemen, put your wallet in your front pocket or in a coat pocket, where it is harder for a pickpocket to reach.

• Stick to credit and debit cards or checks. If you must carry cash, stick to small amounts, and again, not in the back pocket.

• In case you do lose your wallet or purse, make sure you have your credit card information stored somewhere safe at home. Report stolen plastic immediately.

• If you bring along children, teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.

• For online purchases, shop with companies you know. If you want to check a company's complaint history, visit www.bbb.org.

• Pay only with credit cards. Don't comply with requests that you wire money or send a check.

• Use only websites that indicate some level of security, like a padlock symbol, and use a secure browser.

Save all information about your transactions, such as e-mails and online receipts.

- Kim Minugh

December 2, 2010
The Money Trail: City Hall has begun to clean up its fowl mess

They've had enough with the squawking over at Sacramento City Hall.

No, we're not talking about political infighting. This one's for the birds.

The city has installed noise makers on the roof of City Hall to scare away hundreds of birds that flock to the trees along 10th Street.

The past two winters, those birds - mostly crows - have been turning the sidewalks around City Hall into a slimy, slippery mess. It reached a nasty level last winter, when the walkways were so caked with excrement that women in high heels could barely stay upright and city crews were forced to clean the pavement three times a week with a power scrubber.

After hearing from angry residents, the city decided to flap its wings. Sacramento spent $2,852 last month on a sound system that plays predatory noises to scare away the birds. While the feathered nuisances are still leaving their mark on the sidewalks, it isn't nearly as bad as last year.

"We still have to tweak it a little," said Gina Knepp of the city's Department of General Services. "It takes a little time to get it right."

Knepp said the money spent on the new system - which included the cost of labor to install the devices - will offset what the city spent last year on manpower to wash off the sidewalks.

"We'll get a return on that investment," she said. "And we don't want it to be so dirty down there."

- Ryan Lillis

December 2, 2010
Study: percentage of fatal accidents involving drugs is growing

In a first-time study of drug use and accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found the percentage of fatalities involving legal and illegal drugs has grown over the past five years.

The NHTSA looked at post-mortem drug tests of drivers who died in vehicle accidents. Of the 27,491 drivers killed in 2005, 56 percent were tested. Of those tested, 3,710 or 13 percent tested positive for some type of drug. (Drug categories tested include: "narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabinoids, phencyclidines (PCPs), anabolic steroids, and inhalants".) That percentage rose in 2009 when 18 percent of drivers tested positive after fatal accidents.

Authorities caution that positive test results do not mean the driver was impaired or that drug use was the main cause of the crash.

December 1, 2010
Interactive: The Sacramento housing market's lost decade

If you bought a home in Sacramento nine years ago and didn't make major changes, it's likely worth about as much today as you paid for it.

In mid 2001, the median home price in Placer, Yolo, El Dorado and Sacramento counties was $204,000. Today, it's $205,000.

Median home prices, U.S. and Sacramento, 1991 to 2010
Hover over lines to see data ...



About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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