Wednesday_Morning_News Roundup

State Senator Says “Californians Should Rejoice” Over Cpuc President’s Departure

“Californians should rejoice” over the decision of California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey to not seek reappointment to a new term amid allegations of corruption and inappropriate communications with PG&E, state Sen. Jerry Hill said Thursday.

Hill, D-San Mateo, on Wednesday had announced his intention to call for the state legislature to remove Peevey if Gov. Jerry Brown reappointed him after his current term expired at the end of his year, but Peevey announced Thursday that he would not seek a new term.

“Twelve years as president is enough,” Peevey said in a statement. “The governor, of course, will make a decision as to my successor in due time.”

After Peevey’s announcement, Hill said in a statement, “the PUC will now be able to turn over a new leaf and fulfill their mission of serving the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring safe, reliable and affordable utility service.”

Allegations of corruption arose against Peevey and Commissioner Mike Florio after the release last month of emails between PG&E officials and Peevey, his then-chief of staff and Florio that allegedly show judge-shopping by the utility for an administrative law judge in a gas transmission and storage rate case.

One of the emails recounted a dinner shared by Peevey and Brian Cherry, PG&E’s former vice president of regulatory relations, after which Cherry reported that he had the impression that PG&E could get a favorable decision on a proposed rate increase if the company made a $100,000 donation to the CPUC’s upcoming 100th anniversary celebration.

Hill said the email showed “quid pro quo arrangements” between Peevey and Cherry.

Other emails have shown PG&E staff communicating with Florio and Peevey’s former chief of staff, Carol Brown, attempting to influence the choice of judge in the rate case.


Blue Angels ‘Rested’, ‘Ready’ For Fleet Week Shows In SF

After a year off, nothing’s going to stop the Blue Angels from giving San Francisco a show this Fleet Week.

Under a gray sky near Oakland International Airport Thursday, members of the world’s second oldest flight demonstration squadron showed off their aircraft and talked about their plans for two air shows this weekend.

Maj. A.J. Harrell of the U.S. Marine Corps, who operates the “Fat Albert” squadron maintenance vehicle, said the team has different shows it can put on depending on weather conditions, so the show can go on just as well on an overcast day as a sunny day.

Harrell said that’s just a part of being in the military. They can “accomplish the mission in all kinds of different environments,” he said.

Harrell, a Maryland native who has served with the famous squadron for the last three years, said in its nearly 70-year history, the Blue Angels have never had to cancel a flight for maintenance reasons, in large part because of efforts of the crew on board the “Fat Albert.”

The plane, a four-propeller Lockheed C-130 Hercules, carries equipment and maintenance crews to each of the 35 to 40 show sites the squadron visits each year. The Blue Angels do two or three shows at each stop, typically doing about 70 shows per year.

Typically they fly 100,000 miles per year carrying 30,000 pounds of gear, Harrell said.

But all Blue Angels shows were canceled last year by federal budget cutbacks. Harrell said he remained with the squadron during that time and they used it for “self-reflection” while based in Pensacola, Florida.

The team expanded and streamlined their processes to put on a better show than ever this year.

“We’re rested, we’re motivated, we’re back and we’re ready to make an impression,” Harrell said.


Reward Offered For Tips In Five-Year-Old Unsolved Homicide

A reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in a five-year-old unsolved homicide, Oakland police said Thursday.

Phat Vinh Le, 20, was shot dead by one or more armed suspects outside his home in the 2100 block of E. 23rd St. in Oakland on Oct. 10, 2009 around 6:40 p.m.

Le was returning home from work at the time of his death, and was found in his vehicle, police said at the time.

Crime Stoppers of Oakland is offering a reward of $10,000 with an additional private donation of $15,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for Le’s death, police said.

Antioch Homicide Suspect Also Skipped $150k Bail In Sf, Could Be Hiding In Nevada

A suspect in an Antioch homicide believed to be hiding in Nevada also skipped out on $150,000 bail in San Francisco after he was allegedly caught with a loaded gun at an April marijuana celebration in Golden Gate Park.

Carlos Gabrielle Ventura, 22, is wanted in the Aug. 24 murder of 30-year-old Deon Anderson of San Francisco, according to Antioch police. Anderson was found shot multiple times in the 200 block of Lawton Street at about 12:20 a.m. that morning.

U.S. Marshals in Nevada said last Friday that Ventura is believed to be hiding in the Stead area of Reno and has significant ties to the northern Nevada area.

A statement from the Marshals Service said that Ventura has a significant criminal history and should be considered armed and dangerous.

He had previously been arrested allegedly carrying a loaded gun and concentrated cannabis at the 4/20 celebration in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on April 20.

A convicted felon on parole, he was prohibited from owning a gun and was charged with carrying the gun, having a concealed firearm and possession of the concentrated cannabis, San Francisco district attorney’s spokesman Alex Bastian said.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges in April and was released on $150,000 bail in June, but missed a Sept. 15 court appearance and is also considered a fugitive in San Francisco, Bastian said.

Ventura is described as a Hispanic man standing 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 165 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. He has several tattoos on both arms and hands, according to the Marshals Service.


Golden Gate Transit Workers Call Strike For Oct. 17

A group of Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District workers comprised of mechanics, servicers and dispatchers announced plans Thursday afternoon to go on a one-day strike over contract negotiations next Friday that will stop bus service between the North Bay and San Francisco.

Employees of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and their supporters gathered near St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco near the Golden Gate Bridge this afternoon to announce their decision to hold a one-day strike next week.

The strike is the third by members of the Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition. A union of machinists held a strike on Sept. 16 that did not affect transit service and ferryboat captains held a strike on Sept. 26 that halted ferry service that day.

Tim Jenkins, a labor representative of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 856, said the District’s bus workers, servicers, mechanics and dispatchers work hard and fear that the new contract proposed by the District will deprive them of quality, affordable health insurance.

Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition co-chair Alex Tonisson, representing 13 unions totaling about 450 bridge, bus and ferry workers, said the strike would begin at about 3 a.m. on Oct. 17 and remain in place for the remainder of that day.

He said bus drivers have promised to honor the picket lines, and that while all union members will stand in solidarity, the strike is not expected to impact ferry or bridge service.

Bridge district spokeswoman Priya Clemens said the District’s contribution of more than 95 percent of its’ employees’ health care benefits package, “is significantly more generous than most public agencies in the Bay Area.”

Clemens said that the District doesn’t want any more strikes and has reached out to state mediation services to request help in negotiating a contract, but she said that the coalition has refused to engage in mediation.

The announcement of the strike comes after machinists and ferryboat captains each staged one-day strikes last month.


Man Tied Up, Robbed Inside Home Wednesday

Two suspects tied a man up inside his Mountain View home and robbed him on Wednesday morning, police said.

The two male suspects entered the home on San Marcos Circle in the Rex Manor neighborhood some time between 10:30 a.m. and noon Wednesday, according to police.

Police said the suspects found a 24-year-old resident inside and tied him up, then stole a cell phone and cash from the home before fleeing.

Officers searched the area but were unable to locate the suspects.

The robbery occurred about a block away from two elementary schools, but because the crime wasn’t reported until later, neither of the campuses was placed on lockdown during the police search.

Police said a dark-colored, four-door sedan seen in the area at the time of the robbery might be related to the crime.


Sutter Delta Worker Arrested For Allegedly Embezzling $1M In Hospital Supplies

An employee at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch has been arrested for allegedly embezzling up to $1 million in medical equipment and supplies from the hospital and selling them online, police said Thursday.

Gary Lee Childress, 23, of Rio Vista, was arrested in the parking lot of the hospital on Monday evening on suspicion of embezzlement and possession of stolen property, according to police.

Police said Childress had been stealing supplies from the hospital and selling the stolen items to unknowing buyers on eBay for the past several months. He has been employed as an Environmental Services worker at Sutter Delta since 2011, according to police.

A hospital spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the arrest.

Detectives served a search warrant at the suspect’s Rio Vista home, where they found “evidence of this extensive theft” both at the residence and in his car, police said in a statement.

Proceeds from these sales were also found and seized under the warrant, according to police.

Police said Childress has cooperated with their investigation and that some of the stolen hospital property has been recovered.


Reputed Gang Leader Gets Three Life Terms For San Leandro Murders

A reputed gang leader was sentenced Thursday to three consecutive terms of life in prison without parole for his role in a shooting after a tattoo party in San Leandro three years ago that left three people dead and three others wounded.

Anthony Perry, a 24-year-old Oakland man who prosecutors said is the head of the Oakland-based Mob Squad, was one of three alleged gang members who were convicted on April 18 of three counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder for the shooting. It occurred in a parking lot outside a warehouse in the 2600 block of Alvarado Street in the early morning hours of Oct. 2, 2011.

Also convicted were reputed associates Paul Stevenson, 23, of Oakland, and Aaron Stewart, 22, of Fairfield.

In addition to the murder and attempted murder counts, the three men were convicted of the special circumstance of committing multiplemurders, an outcome mandating that they all face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutor Jimmie Wilson told jurors during the trial that the shooting was “a gang-related assassination” and the alleged Mob Squad members targeted a member of the rival FE gang because they were upset about a confrontation with the other group at a San Francisco nightclub several months earlier.

Wilson said the instigator of the shooting was Perry, who he said is the leader of the Mob Squad gang and is known as “A-1″ and “A-Uno.”


Ex-Wife Of Murdered Monte Sereno Man Testifies About Nightmarish Home Invasion

The ex-wife of a Monte Sereno man who died during a 2012 home invasion recalled Thursday in Santa Clara County Superior Court how robbers invaded their home, bloodied her, tied up her and her former husband and had her lay next to his motionless body for hours.

Harinder Rani Kumra said that the nighttime ordeal had such an affect on her that she felt scared when she saw a police photo of the man she identified as the one who walked into her dark bedroom, struck her in the lip and threatened to kill her.

“That’s why I don’t want to be here,” Kumra said from the stand, as the jury and several members of her family watched. “Every night when there is a noise, I see him walking. It’s like an imprint in my brain.”

Her court appearance was the first time Harinder Kumra has spoken in public about the Nov. 30, 2012 home invasion robbery of the large Monte Sereno estate she shared with her ex-husband Raveesh “Ravi” Kumra, 66, a wealthy one-time owner of a Saratoga winery.

Ravi Kumra choked to death that early morning after the robbery suspects gagged him by duct tape, beat and bound his ex-wife beside him in the kitchen and left with jewelry, coins and tens of thousands in cash and other valuables from his home.

Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith called her as a witness Thursday in his case against defendant Marcellous Drummer, being tried on murder and robbery charges with gang enhancements in the home invasion.

His alleged cohorts in the crimes, DeAngelo Austin and Javier Garcia, are charged with the same crimes but will be tried in a separate future trial.

Another former co-defendant in the murder-robbery, Katrina Fritz, a former prostitute who worked with Ravi Kumra for years, has agreed to testify for the prosecution against the three defendants in exchange for the dismissal of the murder charge and a sentence of up to 17 years.


Two Men Shot After Argument With Four Suspects

Two men were shot in San Bruno Wednesday night after an argument with four suspects who fled in a sedan, police said.

The shooting was reported at 9:22 p.m. in the 900 block of Hensley Avenue.

Police found the 31- and 22-year-old victims there suffering from gunshot wounds. They were taken to a hospital for treatment and are expected to survive, police said.

The victims were on the street when four suspects got out of their dark-colored sedan and got into an argument with the two men. Shortly after that they were shot, police said.

The suspects fled in the sedan on Hensley Avenue.

Investigators believe the two men were targeted by the suspects and are looking into whether the incident was gang-related.


Man Killed In Officer-Involved Shooting In Soma Tuesday Identified

San Francisco police shot an Oakland man Tuesday during an alleged vehicle burglary in the city’s South of Market neighborhood after he refused to drop a handgun, Police Chief Greg Suhr said at a community meeting Thursday.

Officers assigned to monitor the area of AT&T Park around the time that a San Francisco Giants’ playoff game was ending on Tuesday saw a suspicious vehicle casing other cars near Jack London Alley and Bryant Street around 9 p.m., Suhr said.

Officers watched two suspects emerge from their car and then burglarize a Mercedes SUV parked on Jack London Alley near South Park, Suhr said.

When the officers approached the suspect vehicle to make contact with the suspects, they noticed that the driver, identified as Oshaine Evans, 26,had a handgun, according to Suhr.

One of the officers ordered Evans to drop the handgun but he refused, Suhr said.

In defense of himself and others, an officer was forced to discharge his firearm, Suhr said.

Evans, 26, and the rear passenger in the vehicle, identified as a 28-year-old San Leandro resident, were both struck by the gunfire.

Evans was declared dead at San Francisco General Hospital at 9:30 p.m., according to the medical examiner’s office.

The injured passenger is in stable condition at San Francisco General Hospital, Suhr said.

The vehicle’s front passenger, identified as Steven Oliver Moore, 25, of Oakland, was arrested on Bryant Street as he attempted to flee on foot.

Evans’ firearm was recovered at the location of the shooting. It has been determined to have been stolen out of the state of New York. All of the stolen property from the Mercedes SUV was also recovered, including a laptop, Suhr said.

Evans’ mother, brother and niece attended the meeting and stated that they believed the shooting was the result of racial bias on the part of officers.


Boy Recants Story He Was Attacked By Man With A Knife

An 11-year-old student has recanted a story that he was attacked by a man with a knife on the way to school Wednesday morning, police said.

The boy said a man in his 60s threw him to the ground and threatened him with a knife around 8 a.m. as he walked to the Grange Middle School.

Police searched the area at the intersection of East Tabor Avenue and Falcon Drive but did not find the suspect, who was wearing a brown jacket with a fur collar according to the boy.

When police interviewed the boy again Thursday he admitted making up the story, police said.


Case Against Marin City Man Who Was Shot By Deputy Dismissed

The Marin County District Attorney’s Office has decided not to prosecute a Marin City man who was shot by a county sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop last year.

Chaka Grayson, 45, faced a trial in Marin County Superior Court later this month on misdemeanor charges of resisting, delaying and obstructing a police officer, failing to comply with a lawful order of a peace officer and driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Grayson was shot three times by Marin County sheriff’s deputy Evan Kubota during a traffic stop on Terners Drive in Marin City on July 7, 2013.

The Marin County Sheriff’s Office said Kubota recognized Grayson driving in his gold Buick and knew his license was suspended. When Kubota walked toward Grayson’s car, Grayson accelerated toward Kubota who then fired several rounds, striking Grayson three times, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office said Kubota saw Grayson duck down in his car and believed his life might be in danger.

Grayson was booked into Marin County jail on a parole hold pending the filing of charges against him in the shooting incident, which angered the Marin City community. The Marin County District Attorney’s Office later lifted the parole hold and Grayson was released.

In December 2013, District Attorney Ed Berberian said his office would not charge Grayson with assault with a deadly weapon – the weapon being Grayson’s car – but would charge him with the misdemeanor offenses. The trial was scheduled for Oct. 20.

Berberian also said at that time that Kubota did not commit a criminal violation of the law in discharging his weapon.

Berberian said “new information” came to his attention and he decided the prosecution could not prove the misdemeanor allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Marin County Superior Court Judge Terrence Boren dismissed the case against Grayson Wednesday afternoon.

Kubota was “separated” from his employment from the sheriff’s office on Aug. 27, 2013, according to the Marin County Human Resources Department.


Student With Gun Arrested After Exchange Of Gunfire With Police Near Dixon HS

Police arrested a 15-year-old Dixon High School student who exchanged gunfire with an officer Wednesday morning, according to police and the Dixon Unified School District.

A student alerted Dixon High School Principal Nick Girimonte at about 9 a.m. Wednesday that another student was armed with a handgun in nearby Hall Memorial Park, school district officials said on Facebook.

The school contacted police, who responded to the park. When one of the officers arrived, the student came up behind the patrol car and opened fire, striking the car multiple times, Dixon police Chief Jon Cox said.

“It was very fortunate the officer was not struck,” Cox said.

The officer got out of the car and returned fire and the student tried to run. Other officers arriving at the park ordered him to the ground and he was safely arrested, police said.

The student had apparently been hit in his torso by the officer’s gunfire and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

He was later released from the hospital and booked into a juvenile detention facility in Fairfield on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer, Cox said.

The school, located at 555 College Way, was placed on lockdown as police responded. The school provided counseling support for students Thursday, district officials said.

“It was a good example of how important it is for the school district and law enforcement to work together,” Cox said. “Because of their diligence in immediately notifying us, we were able to take this person into custody without any further violence.”


Bart, AC Transit Directors Approve Late Night Bus Service

Expanded late night transbay bus service could begin as early as December after BART and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit directors voted to approve the service.

BART directors approved the one-year pilot program Thursday and AC Transit directors approved it Wednesday night.

The plan calls for AC Transit to run its existing late-night lines that run from San Francisco to Richmond and Fremont more frequently and add a line to the Pittsburg-Bay Point BART station. The routes would also be lengthened in San Francisco to 24th and Mission streets.

Buses would run every 20 minutes between 12:30 and 2:30 a.m., about the frequency of BART trains during non-commute hours.

Bus riders will pay a $4.20 fare for a trip across the Bay and the regular AC Transit fare of $2.10 for local trips.

AC Transit officials said the pilot program augments their regular “owl service” that began in 2005 to provide important transbay service for hundreds of night-shift workers and others from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m., when BART trains have stopped for the night.

BART Director Robert Raburn said, “These extra buses will provide more frequent and expanded service to those who rely on transit when BART isn’t in service.”

Raburn said, “This pilot program is part of a larger effort to seek ways to offer the public more options during the overnight hours.”

BART officials said they’re not able to operate trains during overnight hours because they lack extra tracks to run trains on while they perform essential overnight track maintenance to keep the rails safe and reliable.

BART developed the late night bus plan after three years of study.

BART has anticipated the program will cost $838,000 and has secured $496,000 in grants and set aside $200,000 in operating funds. It anticipates recovering $100,000 in fare revenue from the buses.