SF News

"Moving Planet" Rally, One Of Thousands Worldwide, Calls For Cleaner Fuels

Thousands of people are expected to descend on downtown San Francisco this afternoon for the "Moving Planet" parade and rally, which organizers say is a call for solutions to global climate change.

The Bay Area event is the flagship event of more than 2,000 similar rallies being held worldwide today that are demanding the adoption of clean, renewable energy.

Bay Area residents, business owners, faith leaders and members of conservation organizations, among others, are expected to unite to urge local leaders to move beyond fossil fuels.

State Sen. Mark Leno, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune and Bill McKibben -- founder of the climate change website 350.org -- are expected to attend.

The noon parade will begin at Justin Hermann Plaza and proceed down Market Street. The subsequent rally in Civic Center Plaza is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

 

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San Francisco Bay Area Saturday News

Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill To Finance Waterfront Improvements

Gov. Jerry Brown Friday signed a bill that officials say will allow San Francisco to finance waterfront improvements in preparation for the 2013 America's Cup. AB 664, introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, will allow the City and County of San Francisco to create a special waterfront infrastructure financing district and issue bonds without seeking approval from voters. The funds will be used in part to build a new cruise ship terminal at Pier 27, which will host cruise ships that will provide additional lodging for race attendees. Speaking at Pier 27, which will serve as the starting and ending points for the international yacht race, Brown said the bill would cut red tape and streamline the funding and development process.

The bill's signing was attended by current San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and two former San Francisco mayors, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Willie Brown, as well as by Speaker of the Assembly John Perez. The America's Cup is expected to draw more than 450,000 visitors, create more than 8,000 jobs and generate $1.2 billion in economic activity, according to proponents. Newsom, who helped push through the agreement for the city to host the event in his final days as mayor, said analysis from past America's Cup events showed the projected benefits were, if anything, understated.

14-year old in Oakland Put in Group Home 

A judge Friday ordered that a 14-year-old Oakland high school student be placed in a group home for at least a year for causing the death of a store owner in a violent confrontation over two bottles of vodka in May. The boy, whose name was not disclosed because he is a juvenile, was initially charged with murder for the death of 57-year-old Dong Suk Kong on May 31, but prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. The boy also pleaded guilty to robbery. Alameda County Juvenile Court Commissioner Mark Kliszewski, who barred reporters from the boy's hearing, took the middle road in placing the boy in a group home.

The most lenient sentence would have been allowing to return home to his family and the harshest would have been sending him to a state Department of Juvenile Justice facility until the age of 20. In between those two extremes was placing him in a group home or committing him to a juvenile camp. The boy will participate in a structured rehabilitation program at the group home. Authorities said Kang died after suffering a heart attack following a confrontation with the boy at the Oak Knoll Market at 7980 Mountain Blvd. in Oakland at about 11:35 a.m. on May 31.

Napa Police Arrest Murder Suspect

Napa police have arrested a man suspected of killing another man whose body was found Wednesday in unincorporated Napa County near Napa. Police Capt. Jeff Troendly said 22-year-old Daniel Flores, of Napa, was in custody in Napa County Jail for a burglary and forgery case when he was arrested and charged with murder Thursday. The deceased man, who had been shot, was found around 4:30 p.m. in a wooded area between Syar Industries at 2301 Napa-Vallejo Highway and the Hillside Christian Church at 100 Anderson Road. His body had been there for several days, Troendly said. His identity is pending DNA results although police believe they know who he is, Troendly said. He said police are investigating whether the victim of the burglary and forgery also is the homicide victim. Police discovered the body after someone reported seeing it in the area, Troendly said.

San Mateo County Transit District Reach Agreement for Bus Drivers

Under a three-year agreement reached among San Mateo County Transit District bus operators, maintenance workers and the agency, employees are required to contribute toward benefits and will not receive raises in the next two years, the agency announced Friday. According to the agency, the contract will help the transit district to stay on budget for the current fiscal year. The contract, which retroactively went into effect on Sept. 6, 2011, calls for a wage freeze the first two years and a 2.5 percent increase the third year -- assuming the agency's budget projections and economic forecasts remain valid, the agency said. Employees are now also required to contribute to monthly health coverage premiums as well as to retirement pensions, essentially taking home less pay during the wage freeze. The 10 percent total medical contribution is stepped across the three years, with workers paying 3 percent this year, an additional 3 percent next year, and the remaining 4 percent in the third year.

Employees will pay 5 percent of the pension contribution -- starting with 2 percent this year, an additional 2 percent next year and the remaining 1 percent the final year. SamTrans General Manager Michael Scanlon said the belt-tightening was necessary to continue to provide services that are indispensable to the agency's customers. A man convicted of trying to kill his estranged wife with a hammer in 2008 at her home near San Francisco's Twin Peaks was sentenced Friday to 142 years to life in state prison, a district attorney's spokesman said. Steve Acosta, 59, used a hammer to attack Kimberly Celoni, on April 16, 2008, at her home on Glenview Drive, where he had also repeatedly threatened and vandalized her property in the days leading up to the assault, prosecutors said.

Celoni was left with permanent cognitive and physical injuries from the attack. Acosta, who had two prior convictions for assault in 1974 and 1986, was convicted on Aug. 6 of 20 of the 22 charges filed against him in connection with the attack, acquitting him only of two of the criminal threat charges. Because of the state's three strikes law, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jerome Benson handed down the lengthy sentence Friday, district attorney's spokesman Seth Steward said. Both Celoni and her daughter addressed the court at Friday morning's sentencing hearing, Steward said. Acosta's defense attorney, Floyd Andrews, said following the conviction in August that his client was a recovering addict who began using drugs again after having back surgery and getting painkillers. He and Celoni had been married for 11 years, but after using drugs again, he began accusing her of having affairs, even one with a man who had been dead for years, Andrews said.

Antioch Murder Mystery

A Contra Costa County Coroner's jury has returned a finding in the death of an Antioch man who was killed earlier this year in an officer-involved shooting, the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office said Friday. An inquest found that the March 28, 2011 death of Johnny Angel Salgado Ochoa, 24, was "at the hands of another person other than by accident," Sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said. Jurors at an inquest can choose from four options when making their finding: accident, suicide, natural causes and at the hands of another person other than by accident. Ochoa was shot by a Contra Costa County sheriff's deputy in Bay Point after a traffic stop that occurred around 1:15 a.m. on the 300 block of Hanlon Way.

When deputies ran a check on Ochoa and discovered that he had allegedly given them a false name, he restarted his car. When a deputy reached in to grab the key, he allegedly accelerated with the deputy still partially inside the car and struck another deputy with his car. That deputy, fearing for his and his partner's lives, shot Ochoa, who was declared dead of a gunshot wound to the abdomen at John Muir Medical Center a short time later. One of the deputies suffered minor injuries in the incident, and both were put on leave pending investigation of the shooting. Lee said the officers are back on duty. The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office will review the inquest's findings and determine if there is a basis for any further action, said Paul Mulligan, chief of inspectors.

SOMA Murder Case Closed After 17 Years

A man convicted of murdering a woman in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood in 1984 was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Friday, according to the San Francisco District Attorney's Office. Dwight Culton, 62, was convicted of first-degree murder in San Francisco Superior Court on May 6, 2011, after a month and a half-long trial. A jury found Culton guilty of fatally stabbing 43-year-old Joan Baldwin. Her body was found naked and mutilated on the morning of April 6, 1984, by employees of the former Earl Schieb auto shop at 555 Bryant St., where Baldwin worked, district attorney's officials said. A bloody fingerprint was found on Baldwin's inner right thigh, and in November 2006 a DNA hit linked it to Culton -- a former employee at the auto shop -- after he was arrested on an unrelated parole violation. "While at times justice can be delayed, it cannot be denied," District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement Friday.

Alameda County Deputy Arraigned Friday

An Alameda County deputy probation officer was arraigned Friday on a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge for striking and killing a bicyclist with her car in Castro Valley three months ago. Eunique Wesley, 32, of San Francisco is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Oct. 20 for a pretrial hearing, according to District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick. The California Highway Patrol said Wesley was driving east on Fairmont Drive near Foothill Boulevard at about 9:40 a.m. on June 15 when she looked down, allowing her car to veer to the right. The 1995 Honda Civic hit Timothy Bucher, a 56-year-old San Leandro man who was also traveling east on Fairmont Drive on his bicycle. He hit his head on the car's windshield before landing in the roadway, according to the CHP. Bucher was wearing his helmet but still suffered major injuries. He was taken to Eden Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to the CHP. Wesley was driving about 35 mph at the time of the collision, the CHP said.

Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District Awarded $15 Million Grant

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District has been awarded a $15 million grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation through its Federal Transit Administration program, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, announced Friday. Lee said the funds will be used to support AC Transit's bus rapid transit project, including dedicated bus lanes, transit signal priority, real-time bus arrival information and 47 bus stations from the downtown Berkeley BART station to the downtown San Leandro BART Station. The purpose of the bus rapid transit project is to provide high-quality, fast, and frequent express bus service along that 14-mile corridor, which is heavily urbanized. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012 and be completed in 2014. Based in Oakland, AC Transit serves parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Forecast

Cloudy skies with patchy fog in the morning are expected to become partly cloudy in the Bay Area today, with highs near 60. Partly cloudy skies are anticipated this evening before becoming cloudy later in the night. Lows are expected to be in the mid 50s. Sunday is expected to be mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain. Highs in the upper 50s are expected.

Illegal Tobacco Sales To State's Minor At Record Low

Illegal tobacco sales to minors in California have dropped to a record low, but certain types of stores continue to break the law at higher rates, according to state health officials.

Only 5.6 percent of retail outlets sold tobacco to minors in the 2011 Youth Tobacco Purchase Survey, the lowest rate in the 16-year history of the survey, officials said.

When the survey started in 1995, teens were able to buy tobacco products in 37 percent of purchase attempts.

The rates have declined most among stores considered traditional tobacco retailers, such as liquor stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, drugstores and pharmacies, gas stations and tobacco shops.

However, among non-traditional tobacco retailers, such as doughnut stores, delis and meat markets, gift stores and produce markets, rates remain higher. Delis and meat markets showed rates of 11.6 percent in this year's survey, while discount and gift stores were at 8.3 percent.

"It is important to protect our youth from using tobacco which is deadly and addictive," said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health. "We are proud that fewer retailers are selling cigarettes to minors, but we have more work to do to guarantee that all kids in California grow up tobacco-free."

California has the second-lowest adult smoking prevalence in the nation at 11.9 percent.
 
 
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San Francisco Bay Area Friday Midday News Roundup

Nurses On Strike Told Not To Come Back Til Tuesday

A nursing strike at Bay Area hospitals is over today, but participating nurses at Sutter hospitals and Children's Hospital in Oakland have been told they cannot report back to work before Tuesday, officials said today.

The California Nurses Association is calling the action by the hospitals a punitive lockout, but hospital officials denied the charge, saying they had to sign five-day contracts with nursing staffing companies that provided temporary nurses for the strike.

Thursday's one-day strike involved an estimated 23,000 nurses at Sutter Health hospitals, Children's Hospital in Oakland and Kaiser Permanente. Contract negotiations are in progress at many of the affected hospitals, including those in the Sutter chain, but Kaiser nurses went out on strike in sympathy.

Today, Kaiser nurses are back at work, but Sutter and Children's Hospital say they will continue to use temporary staff through Tuesday, when contracts with staffing companies expire. Erin Goldsmith, a spokeswoman at Children's Hospital, said the union knew in advance that this would be the case.

"It's not a lockout, a lockout means that no members of a union are allowed into the hospital," Goldsmith said. "Nurses that chose to cross the picket lines are allowed into the hospital."

"We had to contract with our nurse replacement agency for a total of five days," Goldsmith added. "We had to give them five days for the replacement nurses to provide a good incentive for them to come."

Of the approximately 700 nurses at Children's Hospital, around 125 crossed the picket line to work during the strike, Goldsmith said. The remaining 575 nurses will not be able to work until Tuesday, although many may not have been scheduled to work before then anyway. The hospital has hired around 120 contract nurses.

Union spokesman Charles Idelson called the claim that the hospitals had to contract for five days "ludicrous," and pointed to the fact that Kaiser was able to return the nurses to work after just one day.

Idelson said the willingness of the hospitals to spend large amounts of money on contract nurses belied their claims in contract negotiations that they needed to save money.

"It's obviously an unwarranted and unnecessary lockout," he said. "It certainly reflects the mentality of Sutter and Children's. It's indicative of the way Sutter has treated their communities and their employees and patients for years."

At Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, nearly 40 percent of the hospital's 1800 nurses chose to cross the picket lines, hospital spokeswoman Carolyn Kemp said. The hospital has contracted with 500 temporary nurses through Tuesday.

"We didn't choose for [nurses] to not come in to care for their patients, so we had to do whatever we can to care for our patients," Kemp said. "We have excellent nurses on a regular basis here and we compensate them with excellent compensation and benefits, so I think the whole thing is unfortunate. We'll welcome them back on Tuesday."

Unions have said the hospitals are seeking to roll back RN rights and limit nurses' input regarding patient care, in addition to cutting benefits.

Sutter hospitals have countered by noting that nurses in the chain are "among the highest compensated in the country," with the average nurse there earning a $136,000 salary.

 

Two Arrested During Protests On UC Berkeley Campus

Two people were arrested on the University of California at Berkeley campus Thursday night during protests of the UC system's proposed plan to hike tuition by as much as $10,000 per year.

Students and other demonstrators gathered at noon in Sproul Plaza to express their frustration over the university's plan to require more money from students because of wavering funding support from Sacramento.

Some 60 sixty protestors later occupied Tolman Hall, which is located on the northern edge of campus near the UC Chancellor's House.

Both people who were arrested were not students, campus police Lt. Marc DeCoulode said this morning.

One person was arrested after a confrontation between demonstrators and campus police in which an officer became penned in by students blocking the building's doors.

DeCoulode said that the protestors allegedly grabbed the officer's gun belt and removed the magazine from her service weapon. At that point, officers used pepper spray on the demonstrators in self-defense, according to DeCoulode.

The second arrest occurred as demonstrators exited the campus building at about 9:30 p.m. DeCoulode said the person arrested had attacked an officer from behind.

Callie Maidhof, a UC Berkeley doctoral student speaking for "Resistance Social," the group that organized Thursday's protest, recounted the events differently.

The protestors inside Tolman Hall were in the building's lobby at about 9 p.m. and Maidhof said that she and others noticed police lining up outside the glass doors.

"People started panicking and were trying to leave, but police officers were pushing the doors shut and wouldn't let us leave," she said.

About half of the 60 people were able to leave, but she said in the confusion that one person ended up in a chokehold and was screaming "please stop hurting me" before he was arrested on suspicion of obstruction and battery against a police officer.

"They were shouting 'Leave, the building is closed,' but they were standing in front of the building with their sticks," Maidhof said. "I was terrified. If I moved toward them, they would hold up their stick menacingly."

According to DeCoulode, police never told students that they needed to exit the building.

"There may have been some confusion during the scuffle," DeCoulode said.

He said that people outside Tolman Hall had been throwing rocks, pieces of concrete and chairs at officers and at the doors so officers blocked the building's exit "in part for (the safety of the people inside) and for the officers' safety."

One officer was hit in the head with a large piece of hard rubber -- a traffic cone base -- and sought medical treatment at a hospital, DeCoulode said.

Campus police requested aid from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, which coordinated the resources for the request, he said. Officers from nearby UC campuses in San Francisco and Davis also responded, as well as Oakland police officers.

DeCoulode said campus police monitored the area for several hours after the protestors vacated the building and that they would remain vigilant today.

Last week, the UC Board of Regents met in San Francisco to weigh a proposal on how to close a budget deficit projected to grow to $2.5 billion over the next four years.

The university is seeking renewed assurance from the state that it will provide long-term funding to address $1.5 billion of that deficit. The remaining $1 billion in solutions would be provided through expansion of funding streams -- such as corporate sponsorships -- and through implementing academic efficiencies.

If the state does not increase funding it provides to the UC system, the $1.5 billion would come from a 16 percent annual tuition hike for the next four years, according to the proposal.

Otherwise, the gap would be patched from a combination of tuition hikes and state funding, depending on how much the Legislature pledges to provide.

 

UPDATE: 25-Year-Old Man Fatally Shot In Visitacion Valley Identified

A man fatally shot in San Francisco's Visitacion Valley neighborhood on Thursday night has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 25-year-old Deshaun Randle.

The shooting was reported at about 8 p.m. in the first block of Brookdale Avenue. Officers responded to find Randle lying on the grass near the sidewalk suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said.

He was pronounced dead shortly afterward, Manfredi said. No arrests had been made in connection with the shooting and no suspect information was available as of this morning, he said.

The homicide is San Francisco's 41st of 2011. There were 37 at the same date last year.

Anyone with information about the shooting is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a ttip by text message to TIP411.

 

Brief Standoff At Denny's Restaurant Ends Peacefully

A brief standoff with a man armed with a knife at a Denny's restaurant in San Jose ended peacefully this morning, a police spokesman said.

The man went into the restaurant at 1015 Blossom Hill Road at 4:39 a.m. and ordered everyone to leave, police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.

Employees and customers left the Denny's, and officers responded and surrounded the restaurant, Dwyer said.

After contacting the man inside the restaurant, police were eventually able to convince him to surrender peacefully around 6 a.m., according to Dwyer.

The man, whose name is not being released, was taken into custody and will undergo a psychiatric evaluation, Dwyer said.

No one was injured during the standoff, he said. 

 

Man Injured When Shots Fired Into Home Near Alamo Square

A man was injured when someone opened fire into a home near San Francisco's Alamo Square on Thursday night, a police spokesman said.

The shooting was reported at 8:17 p.m. in the 800 block of Webster Street.

The victim, a 32-year-old man, was struck in the right side of his lower back when the gunfire came into the home, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said.

He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which are not considered life-threatening, Manfredi said.

A green coupe was seen leaving the area following the shooting, but no other suspect information was immediately available today, Manfredi said.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

 

Murder Sentence In 1995 Disapperance Of Teen Girl

Nearly 16 years after a 17-year-old girl disappeared from Campbell, her killer pleaded guilty Thursday to the murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced.

Sylvia Ann Lee was last seen on the afternoon of Oct. 31, 1995, by her boyfriend as she boarded a transit bus blocks from the Campbell Police Department. She had planned to transfer to a light-rail train to reach her grandmother's house in San Jose.

She never arrived.

Wilbur Wade Atcherley, a recent resident of Campbell at the time, had been at the Police Department that day to complete his registration as a convicted sex offender. Atcherley had been convicted of a number of forcible sexual assaults, including kidnapping and rape.

Atcherley, now 50, was not a suspect at the time Sylvia vanished, but on the fifth anniversary of her disappearance he contacted investigators and offered to assist in solving the case, although he did not claim responsibility, according to the district attorney's office.

In the time in between, Atcherley was convicted of the attempted murder and sexual assault of a woman in Gilroy whom he took to a remote area and beat before he cut her throat and left her to die. He was sentenced in 1999 to 36 years to life in prison. During an interview conducted by Campbell police investigators, Atcherley confessed to murdering Sylvia and provided details that only the killer would have known, according to the district attorney's office.

He allegedly said he met the girl at the Curtner light-rail station and took her by taxi to a remote location in New Almaden, where he murdered her and left her body on the bank of a creek bed.

Records from the Yellow Cab taxi company indicated a fare on that date near the light rail station with a drop-off in New Almaden, prosecutors said.

Atcherley was transported from prison earlier this year to the area where he murdered Sylvia to indicate to investigators where the crime happened. Investigators did not locate her remains.

Atcherley faces a total sentence of 76 years to life for the murder of Lee, the 1999 Gilroy case and a conviction in 2000 of possession a weapon in prison, prosecutors said.

 

Partially Built House Destroyed In Fire Determined Arson

A fire in Concord that caused about $385,000 of damage to a house under construction and two nearby homes earlier this month has been determined arson, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District officials said Thursday.

The fire at the two-story partially built house at 5217 Skyler Court was reported at 4:43 p.m. on Sept. 5. The fire burned the entire house to the ground and significantly damaged two nearby homes on Marvue Circle, fire officials said.

The destroyed home is owned by Discovery Builders and was about 3,500 square feet.

The fire spread to the surrounding area because of high temperatures and radiant heat produced by the wood-framed home. The fire was also exacerbated by the construction at the home, fire officials said.

After a fire investigation that included an accelerant detection K-9 unit, investigators determined the cause of the fire as arson. Evidence and witness statements indicate that the rapid spread of fire was inconsistent with an accidental, naturally progressing fire, officials said.

Fire officials said all reasonable accidental causes were ruled out.

Specifics about the arson will not yet be released, fire district officials said, due to the complex nature of the investigation.

Although the fire is part of an active investigation, fire officials said they still need help from the public to identify the arson suspects. Officials encourage anyone who knows what happened, saw something suspicious or noticed unfamiliar people in the area that day, or have heard anything about the cause of the fire to call the District Fire Investigation Unit at (925) 942-9140 or the arson tip line at (866) 502-7766.

 

Five Drug Arrests In Napa And Sonoma
Counties Wednesday

Napa and Sonoma County narcotics investigators arrested five people on drug charges and recovered more than 80 pounds of processed marijuana during searches in both counties Wednesday.

The arrests capped a month-long undercover investigation by the Napa Special Investigations Bureau.

Victor Almonte, 32, of Santa Rosa, was arrested for allegedly selling methamphetamine to an undercover agent at an Arco gas station in Calistoga Wednesday evening.

He also was arrested for possession of cocaine for sales, selling cocaine, and conspiracy, Napa Special Investigations Bureau Sgt. Oscar Ortiz said.

Napa County narcotics agents then searched a residence in the 2400 block of Flagstone Drive in Napa where 296 marijuana plants were growing, Ortiz said.

The growers, two Windsor brothers, were using lamps and bypassed a PG&E meter to grow the pot, Ortiz said.

At a residence at 9500 Kristine Way in Windsor, narcotics agents arrested Jose Luis Valdovinos Paramo, 33, and Gonzalo Valdovinos Paramo, 25, for cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and theft of utilities over $400 at the Napa house.

Jose also was arrested for sale of a controlled substance, sale of cocaine and conspiracy.

Narcotics investigators found more than 80 pounds of processed marijuana, a couple grams of methamphetamine and $56,000 in U.S. currency at the Windsor home, Ortiz said.

At a mobile home on Evergreen Avenue in Windsor, narcotics investigators found four pounds of marijuana and arrested a third brother, Victor Valdovinos Paramo, 35, for possession of marijuana for sale, Ortiz said.

The mobile home was associated with all three Valdovinos Paramo brothers, Ortiz said.

Leticia Cuevas, 25, of Windsor, was arrested during a vehicle stop for possession of marijuana for sale and possession of two grams of methamphetamine, Ortiz said. She was booked into Sonoma County Jail.

The three Valdovinos Paramo brothers were booked into Napa County Jail on suspicion of charges related to the Flagstone Drive grow, Ortiz said. The Napa County Sheriff's Office's detective bureau and SWAT team, the Napa Police Department's SWAT team, Sonoma County Sheriff's Office's narcotics investigators and the Calistoga Police Department also participated in the arrests.

 

Theft Suspect Also Charged With Posing As Marines, Sheriff's Deputy

A Santa Rosa man charged with stealing $100,000 from his wife's 97-year-old grandfather now also faces charges of representing himself as a U.S. Marine and a sheriff's deputy.

Paul Tart, 29, was arrested last Saturday after sheriff's investigators found forged documents and canceled checks in his home that indicated he took money from the elderly man's checking account, Sonoma County sheriff's Sgt. Mike Raasch said.

Tart obtained power of attorney of the elderly man without his wife's knowledge and withdrew the money from his bank account over a few months, Raasch said.

The grandfather reported the missing money on Sept. 2.

Tart admitted he took the money to support a prescription drug habit, Raasch said.

During the search of Tart's home Saturday, sheriff's deputies also discovered Tart was representing himself as a Marine, Raasch said.

Tart had a Marine uniform with medals, including a Purple Heart, attached to it, Raasch said.

Tart also had photos of him in the Marine uniform posing with members of his family who actually thought he was in the Marine Corps, Raasch said.

Tart even got a U.S.M.C. tattoo on his lower left leg, Raasch said.

Tart also told friends he worked as a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy, dressed in public in a sheriff's office polo shirt and had a gun belt with a replica firearm, Raasch said.

Tart recently purchased a black 2006 Crown Victoria vehicle, attached a push bumper to the front of it and glued antennae on top to resemble a police car, Raasch said.

After being arrested Saturday for the forgery and fiduciary theft from an elder, Tart was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of false representation of military service and false representation of a police officer, Raasch said.

Tart is being held in Sonoma County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned on the latest charges this afternoon.

 

5-Year-Old Boy Struck By SUV, Breaks Ankle

A young child ran into traffic in Livermore Wednesday afternoon and was hit by a passing SUV, police said.

A 5-year-old boy apparently ran into traffic around 1:35 p.m. Wednesday in the 5400 block of Kathy Way, near an elementary school.

Police said the boy suffered a broken ankle and minor face injuries and was taken to a hospital.

The preliminary investigation indicates that the vehicle involved in the accident was not speeding, police said.

Livermore police said they want to remind the community to be especially cautious driving in school areas. Parents are also encouraged to talk to their children about how they interact with traffic.

Wednesday's accident followed two similar incidents in August that also involved school-aged children, police said. 

 

Woman Infected With West Nile Virus, First Human Case Of 2011

A 49-year-old woman has been infected with West Nile virus, Contra Costa County's first human case of the virus this year, county officials confirmed Thursday.

The woman, who lives in the eastern part of the county, was confirmed to have the virus by a state laboratory in Richmond on Thursday, according to the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District.

She is expected to make a full recovery.

There were four confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in 2010. No one in the county has died as a result of the disease since 2006, officials said.

The primary symptoms of West Nile virus are fever, head and body aches, nausea and vomiting, swollen lymph nodes and skin rash, according to the district.

People can protect themselves from the virus by eliminating mosquito breeding grounds, getting rid of stagnant water, wearing insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, and reporting neglected swimming pools.

People can call (925) 771-6195 to report neglected pools and (877) 968-2473 to report dead birds, which are a warning sign indicating the presence of the virus.

 

Woman Pleads No Contest To Embezzling From Engineering Company

A Hayward woman pleaded no contest Thursday to charges that she embezzled $93,000 from a Brisbane engineering company where she worked as a bookkeeper until she was fired this summer, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Claudia Prior, 46, worked for the company for two years, but it wasn't until after her termination that the company discovered she had used the company's credit card to pay for hundred of personal purchases and had forged the signature of one of the firm's partners on checks used to pay those credit card bills.

Prosecutors said Prior used the credit card to make personal purchases at Starbucks, drugstores and Safeway as well as to purchase gift cards.

She pleaded no contest Thursday to charges of felony embezzlement and felony identity theft.

Prior is expected to be sentenced to two years in state prison on Nov. 16.

She currently remains out of custody on the condition that she have no contact with the engineering company or its employees. 

 

Three-Day Food Festival Gets 'Real' With Local Eats

Oakland is kicking off a three-day food festival this afternoon that hopes to encourage participants to engage with their food, event organizers said.

The third annual Eat Real Festival kicks off at 1 p.m. with the "Get Lit" event and continues until Sunday.

The festival, which organizers described as a mixture of a state fair, street food festival and block party, is set to celebrate and showcase good food at Oakland's Jack London Square.

This afternoon's festivities include the official lighting of wood-fire ovens, tapping of beer kegs and opening of the festival's bar to get the weekend food celebration started.

With nonstop food action, participants will be getting up close and personal with Bay Area food.

The festival will include do-it-yourself demos, butchery contests, backyard farming installations and opportunities to learn where food comes from, who produces it and how it can be cooked and made, organizers said.

The festival is free to attend. Food from carts and other food options will each cost about $5. All vendors will be using regionally sourced and sustainable ingredients, according to organizers.

Jack London Square is located at 55 Harrison St. in Oakland. Today the festival runs until 8 p.m. On Saturday, the festivities begin at 11 a.m. and end at 8 p.m. The last day of the festival is Sunday, running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

 

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Nurses On Strike Told Not To Come Back Until Tuesday

A nursing strike at Bay Area hospitals is over today, but participating nurses at Sutter hospitals and Children's Hospital in Oakland have been told they cannot report back to work before Tuesday, officials said today.

The California Nurses Association is calling the action by the hospitals a punitive lockout, but hospital officials denied the charge, saying they had to sign five-day contracts with nursing staffing companies that provided temporary nurses for the strike.

Thursday's one-day strike involved an estimated 23,000 nurses at Sutter Health hospitals, Children's Hospital in Oakland and Kaiser Permanente. Contract negotiations are in progress at many of the affected hospitals, including those in the Sutter chain, but Kaiser nurses went out on strike in sympathy.

Today, Kaiser nurses are back at work, but Sutter and Children's Hospital say they will continue to use temporary staff through Tuesday, when contracts with staffing companies expire. Erin Goldsmith, a spokeswoman at Children's Hospital, said the union knew in advance that this would be the case.

"It's not a lockout, a lockout means that no members of a union are allowed into the hospital," Goldsmith said. "Nurses that chose to cross the picket lines are allowed into the hospital."

"We had to contract with our nurse replacement agency for a total of five days," Goldsmith added. "We had to give them five days for the replacement nurses to provide a good incentive for them to come."

Of the approximately 700 nurses at Children's Hospital, around 125 crossed the picket line to work during the strike, Goldsmith said. The remaining 575 nurses will not be able to work until Tuesday, although many may not have been scheduled to work before then anyway. The hospital has hired around 120 contract nurses.

Union spokesman Charles Idelson called the claim that the hospitals had to contract for five days "ludicrous," and pointed to the fact that Kaiser was able to return the nurses to work after just one day.

Idelson said the willingness of the hospitals to spend large amounts of money on contract nurses belied their claims in contract negotiations that they needed to save money.

"It's obviously an unwarranted and unnecessary lockout," he said. "It certainly reflects the mentality of Sutter and Children's. It's indicative of the way Sutter has treated their communities and their employees and patients for years."

At Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, nearly 40 percent of the hospital's 1800 nurses chose to cross the picket lines, hospital spokeswoman Carolyn Kemp said. The hospital has contracted with 500 temporary nurses through Tuesday.

"We didn't choose for [nurses] to not come in to care for their patients, so we had to do whatever we can to care for our patients," Kemp said. "We have excellent nurses on a regular basis here and we compensate them with excellent compensation and benefits, so I think the whole thing is unfortunate. We'll welcome them back on Tuesday."

Unions have said the hospitals are seeking to roll back RN rights and limit nurses' input regarding patient care, in addition to cutting benefits.

Sutter hospitals have countered by noting that nurses in the chain are "among the highest compensated in the country," with the average nurse there earning a $136,000 salary.
  

 

 

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Five Drug Arrests In Napa And Sonoma Counties Wednesday

Napa and Sonoma County narcotics investigators arrested five people on drug charges and recovered more than 80 pounds of processed marijuana during searches in both counties Wednesday.

The arrests capped a month-long undercover investigation by the Napa Special Investigations Bureau.

Victor Almonte, 32, of Santa Rosa, was arrested for allegedly selling methamphetamine to an undercover agent at an Arco gas station in Calistoga Wednesday evening.

He also was arrested for possession of cocaine for sales, selling cocaine, and conspiracy, Napa Special Investigations Bureau Sgt. Oscar Ortiz said.

Napa County narcotics agents then searched a residence in the 2400 block of Flagstone Drive in Napa where 296 marijuana plants were growing, Ortiz said.

The growers, two Windsor brothers, were using lamps and bypassed a PG&E meter to grow the pot, Ortiz said.

At a residence at 9500 Kristine Way in Windsor, narcotics agents arrested Jose Luis Valdovinos Paramo, 33, and Gonzalo Valdovinos Paramo, 25, for cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and theft of utilities over $400 at the Napa house.

Jose also was arrested for sale of a controlled substance, sale of cocaine and conspiracy.

Narcotics investigators found more than 80 pounds of processed marijuana, a couple grams of methamphetamine and $56,000 in U.S. currency at the Windsor home, Ortiz said.

At a mobile home on Evergreen Avenue in Windsor, narcotics investigators found four pounds of marijuana and arrested a third brother, Victor Valdovinos Paramo, 35, for possession of marijuana for sale, Ortiz said. The mobile home was associated with all three Valdovinos Paramo brothers, Ortiz said.

Leticia Cuevas, 25, of Windsor, was arrested during a vehicle stop for possession of marijuana for sale and possession of two grams of methamphetamine, Ortiz said. She was booked into Sonoma County Jail.

The three Valdovinos Paramo brothers were booked into Napa County Jail on suspicion of charges related to the Flagstone Drive grow, Ortiz said.

The Napa County Sheriff's Office's detective bureau and SWAT team, the Napa Police Department's SWAT team, Sonoma County Sheriff's Office's narcotics investigators and the Calistoga Police Department also participated in the arrests.

 

 

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Update: 25-Year-Old Man Fatally Shot In Visitacion Valley Identified

A man fatally shot in San Francisco's Visitacion Valley neighborhood on Thursday night has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 25-year-old Deshaun Randle.

The shooting was reported at about 8 p.m. in the first block of Brookdale Avenue.

Officers responded to find Randle lying on the grass near the sidewalk suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said.

He was pronounced dead shortly afterward, Manfredi said.

No arrests had been made in connection with the shooting and no suspect information was available as of this morning, he said.

The homicide is San Francisco's 41st of 2011. There were 37 at the same date last year.

Anyone with information about the shooting is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.
 
 
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Man Injured When Shots Fired Into Home Near Alamo Square

A man was injured when someone opened fire into a home near San Francisco's Alamo Square on Thursday night, a police spokesman said.

The shooting was reported at 8:17 p.m. in the 800 block of Webster Street.

The victim, a 32-year-old man, was struck in the right side of his lower back when the gunfire came into the home, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said.

He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which are not considered life-threatening, Manfredi said.

A green coupe was seen leaving the area following the shooting, but no other suspect information was immediately available today, Manfredi said.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

 

 

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25-Year-Old Man Fatally Shot In Visitacion Valley Thursday NIght

A 25-year-old man was fatally shot in San Francisco's Visitacion Valley neighborhood on Thursday night, a police spokesman said.
The shooting was reported around 8 p.m. in the first block of Brookdale Avenue.
Officers responded to find the victim lying on the grass near the sidewalk with multiple gunshot wounds to his chest, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said.
He was pronounced dead shortly afterward, Manfredi said. The victim's identity is not yet being released, according to the medical examiner's office.
No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting and no suspect information was available as of this morning, Manfredi said.
Anyone with information about the shooting is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.
 
 
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San Francisco Bay Area Friday News Roundup

San Francisco Giants Fan Brian Stow Is Making A Recovery

Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan who suffered brain damage when he was beaten after a baseball game in Los Angeles, is making progress in his recovery and is speaking, his family said Wednesday.

In a hard-to-hear gravelly voice, Stow was been able to say the names of his children, Tabitha and Tyler, and when shown pictures of them he said, "I would like to see them soon," Stow's family said on a website they created to chronicle his progress.

In August, Stow, a 42-year-old Santa Cruz man who was attacked outside Dodger Stadium after the March 31 season opener between the Giants and the Dodgers, encountered setbacks in his recovery as he battled infections related to surgery to replace a missing part of his skull with a bone flap.

Swelling in Stow's brain had prompted Los Angeles doctors to remove a portion of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain. Doctors at San Francisco General Hospital said the procedure saved Stow's life, but that replacing the missing skull fragment has proved challenging.    

Doctors have had to attempt that surgery several times in recent months because of complications. Doctors performed the most recent surgery to insert the bone flap on Aug. 10. 

His temperature shot up as his body fought off a urinary tract and staph infections, according to his family, and he became less responsive. Before then, he had been showing signs of improvement, mouthing words and giving kisses to family members.

The infections had prevented doctors from performing additional necessary procedures, according to his family.

By the beginning of this month, Stow's condition had improved enough that on Sept. 13 doctors inserted a shunt to permanently divert fluid from his brain. In the week since the surgery, Stow has made facial expressions, and began talking on Wednesday, his family said.

Jaycee Dugard's Attorneys Filed Complaint Against United States Government

Attorneys for Jaycee Dugard filed a complaint Thursday against the United States government for what she alleges was negligent supervision of then-parolee Phillip Garrido, her kidnapper and captor for 18 years who fathered her two children.

The complaint, filed in federal court in San Francisco Thursday morning, states that the federal government had supervision over Garrido, a convicted sex offender, from his release from federal prison in 1988 until 1999, when the state of California assumed responsibility for his supervision.

The state already agreed in July to pay Dugard and her two daughters a $20 million settlement.

The U.S. government has rejected two previous requests by Dugard for private mediation, according to her spokeswoman, Nancy Seltzer.

Seltzer said Dugard, who is now 30, is not seeking to enrich herself by suing the government, and plans to donate any money awarded to the JAYC Foundation, an organization that provides supportive services to victims of kidnappings and other traumatic experiences.

Garrido kidnapped Dugard in 1991 as she was walking near her home in South Lake Tahoe. He and his wife, Nancy Garrido, held Dugard captive in the backyard of their home outside of Antioch.

Phillip Garrido is now serving a 431-years-to-life term in state prison while Nancy Garrido is serving 36 years to life following the couple's sentencing in June.

San Leandro Murder Suspect In Stable Condition After Being Shot By Police

A San Leandro murder suspect was in stable condition Thursday after he was shot by police officers early Thursday morning, ending an overnight standoff, Richmond police said.

Raphael Zarate, 42, barricaded himself in a home on the 15000 block of Central Avenue Wednesday morning when police arrived to serve an arrest warrant. He was shot by Richmond SWAT Team officers at around 2 a.m. Thursday morning after aiming what appeared to be a rifle at them, according to police.

Zarate was transported to a nearby trauma center in critical condition before officers arrested him on suspicion of killing 30-year-old San Pablo resident Jensy Romero, whose body was found Tuesday in a restroom at Angie's Bakery & Restaurant in Richmond, where she worked.

Richmond police believe Zarate killed Romero, his ex-girlfriend, after stalking her for the past month.

"He showed up at her work every day and made threatening comments to her," Richmond Police Lt. Bisa French said.    

French said Zarate already had four warrants out for his arrest before police obtained the homicide warrant.

The standoff began Wednesday morning after San Leandro police officers arrived at the two-story home and tried to coax the suspect outside. Hours later, the SWAT team took over, waiting on the first floor of the house for Zarate to emerge from upstairs.

French said that during negotiations with the suspect, Zarate made threatening comments and insisted he would not go to jail.

Federal Judge Criticized Oakland Police Department For Slow Pace In Reforms

A federal judge criticized the Oakland Police Department Thursday for its slow pace in making reforms required by the settlement of a major police misconduct case eight years ago.

U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson said Oakland is "a city that has still not complied with the reforms that were proposed by its own experts nearly a decade ago."

Henderson said police issues that have arisen in the past year "indicate that the city and the police department still don't get it" in terms of making major changes.

However, Henderson stopped short of placing the department under federal control and set another hearing for January to see how much progress the department has made since then.

Thursday's hearing was the latest in a long series of hearings stemming from an agreement on Jan. 22, 2003, that settled a lawsuit filed by 119 Oakland citizens who alleged that four officers known as the "Riders" beat them, made false arrests and planted evidence on them in 2000.

Three of the four so-called "Riders" officers were tried in two lengthy criminal trials in 2002-03 and 2004-05, but all of the charges were eventually dismissed after the trials ended in a combination of acquittals on some counts and jury deadlocks on others.

The fourth officer is believed to have fled the country to avoid prosecution.

The settlement included payments of $10.5 million to the plaintiffs and their attorneys and calls for the department to make reforms such as increased field supervision, better training and improved investigation of citizen complaints.

Berkeley Students Occupy Tolman Hall

Around five dozen students continued what they called their open occupation of Tolman Hall on the University of California at Berkeley campus Thursday afternoon in a protest against the UC system's proposed tuition fee hikes.

Since the protest began around noon in Sproul Plaza, organizers and university police said there had been one confrontation between police and protestors involving pepper spray.

Callie Maidhof, a Cal student speaking for "Resistance Social," the group that organized Thursday's protest, said she saw police spray at least four students with pepper spray Thursday afternoon.    

University police said that one university police officer was "penned in" by students blocking the building's doors and used pepper spray to escape the situation.

Cal spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said campus personnel continued to monitor the protest without incident.

University officials said protestors would be expected to leave Tolman Hall at around 9 or 10 p.m. Thursday night when the building closes.    

Anyone who refuses to leave would then be subject to citations or arrest, she said.

Just before 5 p.m. Thursday, Maidhof said about 40 protestors were sitting inside an empty classroom, while about two dozen others gathered in the hallways or walked around outside.

Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting And San Francisco Supervisors Call For Legislative Action To Assist Homeowners

Three San Francisco supervisors and Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting Thursday called for legislative action to assist homeowners facing foreclosure and seek restitution from banks whose actions fueled the crisis.

Supervisors John Avalos, Malia Cohen and Ross Mirkarimi joined Ting at City Hall Thursday to talk about solutions for the foreclosure crisis in San Francisco, which is primarily affecting the south and southeast parts of the city where low-income residents live.

There have been more than 12,400 foreclosures in the city since 2008, and Cohen said more than 3,000 were in District 10, the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhoods that she represents.

Cohen said being foreclosed on is "a dehumanizing experience" that also has a destabilizing effect on the neighborhood since abandoned homes can often be a magnet for squatters or illegal activity.

A recent report commissioned by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and the California Reinvestment Coalition found that there are also 16,355 homeowners in the city who are "underwater," meaning that more money is owed on a mortgage than a home is worth.

Ting said the foreclosure crisis, which began around 2008, has led to about $42 million in lost property tax revenue for San Francisco and nearly $7 billion in decreased values of homes.

Woman Pleads No Contest To Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter

An 18-year-old woman pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge in Sonoma County Superior Court Thursday morning for the death of a 2-year old girl she struck with her car in a Rohnert Park crosswalk last year while texting on her phone.

The maximum penalty for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without malice is one year in the county jail.

However, during a meeting with attorneys in his chambers Thursday morning, Judge Bradford DeMeo indicated that he will not initially impose any county jail time on the teen, Kaitlyn Dunaway, and will suspend a six-month jail sentence, defense attorney Chris Andrian said.

Instead, DeMeo will likely require Dunaway to serve 300 hours of community service and place her on three years' probation, Andrian said.    

Dunaway, a Sonoma State University student, struck and killed Calli Murray and seriously injured her mother, Ling Murray, 42, both of Rohnert Park, in the crosswalk at the intersection of Snyder Lane and Medical Center Drive in Rohnert Park on Dec. 1.

The complaint by the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office alleged that the death resulted from Dunaway sending text messages while driving, failing to yield the right-of-way in a crosswalk and driving at an unsafe speed for the conditions.

Hayward Police Identify Man Who Was Fatally Shot In Fairway Park

Hayward police have identified the 65-year-old man who was fatally shot at his Fairway Park home Sunday morning as Amador Carrera.

Police received several reports at about 8 a.m. Sunday of gunshots in the area of the 100 block of Saint Andrews Street. Responding officers found Carrera shot dead in his driveway, police said.

His wife, 59, had also been shot and was taken to a hospital for treatment. Police Lt. Roger Keener said that she is expected to recover from her serious injuries.

The shooter fled before police arrived, and a search of the neighborhood failed to locate a suspect.

Keener said that a motive has not yet been identified.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Forecast

Cloudy skies with patchy fog in the morning are expected to become sunny in the Bay Area today, with highs in the 60s to lower 70s.

Mostly clear skies are anticipated this evening before becoming cloudy with patchy fog after midnight. Lows are expected to be in the mid 50s.

Saturday is expected to be cloudy in the morning with patchy fog before becoming partly cloudy. Highs near 60 are expected.

 

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After-School Program To Break Ground On New Bayview Center

An after-school program is breaking ground on a new facility in San Francisco's Bayview District today that will have the capacity to serve more than twice as many students as the program's current center.

College Track, a program that helps underserved communities around the country, is starting construction on its new center with a ceremony today that will be attended by city and school officials.

The organization will be unveiling the design for its new 13,000-square-foot facility at Third Street and Jerrold Avenue, which it says will allow it to grow from serving 200 students to 500 over the next five years.

College Track opened its existing center at Bayshore Boulevard and Jerrold Avenue in 2007 with a group of 50 students. It has added an additional 50 each year since and has "totally outgrown the space," said Julienne Oyler, director of development for the center.

The new center will have an additional 10,000 square feet, and is "more centrally located in the heart of the neighborhood," where San Francisco Municipal Railway's T-Third line runs, so students will more easily be able to get to the center after school, Oyler said.

College Track starts working with students in the ninth grade and continues until they finish high school. The group's goal is to create a college-going culture in the neighborhood, which is historically underrepresented in higher education.

Today's groundbreaking ceremony is set for 5 p.m. at the site of the new center.

Supervisor Malia Cohen and school district Superintendent Carlos Garcia are among those expected to attend.

Those wishing to donate to College Track, inquire about volunteering at the center or apply for the program can visit www.collegetrack.org.

 

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Man Accused In Labor Day Fatal Shooting Pleads Not Guilty

A San Francisco man accused of fatally shooting another man in the city's Mission District on Labor Day pleaded not guilty to murder charges today.

Joseph Johnson, 31, was arrested last Friday in connection with the killing of Dwayne Spruell, 45, police said.

Spruell, also a San Francisco resident, was shot at about 2:15 a.m. on Sept. 5 in the first block of Camp Street, near Guerrero Street, police said.

Johnson was charged with murder and firearm violations, and pleaded not guilty to all charges in San Francisco Superior Court this morning.

Prosecutor John Rowland said in court that the shooting was "a particularly brutal crime" in which Spruell was shot twice in the face and once in the chest.

Judge Jeffrey Ross maintained the previously set bail amount of $2 million, saying Johnson is a public safety risk.

But Johnson's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Roberto Evangelista, said outside of court that there is no hard evidence linking his client to the shooting.

Evangelista said Johnson does not have a violent criminal history, and has a 7-month-old daughter.

"He's a family man," he said.

Several of Spruell's family members and friends attended the hearing.

"My nephew shouldn't have been shot down like that," said his aunt, Diane Jeffers. "He didn't deserve that."

Johnson will return to court on Oct. 11 for a hearing on evidence in the case.

 

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Bernal Heights Fatal Beating Suspect Found Incompetent To Stand Trial

A man accused in a fatal beating in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood in March was found incompetent to stand trial at a hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors said.

Anthony Pacrem, 32, is accused of punching and kicking another man during a fight in the 400 block of Prentiss Street on March 22, according to police.

The victim, Sherman Brown, 59, blacked out during the beating and was taken to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries on May 3.

Pacrem was located and arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault, and the charges were later amended to murder after prosecutors learned that Brown had died.

Following his arrest, Pacrem was held for psychiatric evaluation, and criminal proceedings against him were suspended while a judge weighed whether he was competent to stand trial.

Pacrem, whose attorney says he has a long history of mental illness, was ruled incompetent to stand trial on Wednesday, according to the district attorney's office.

A hearing will be held Oct. 15 to determine which state hospital will house him.

 

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Two Women Robbed, One pistol-Whipped In Mission District

Two women were robbed early this morning at a home in San Francisco's Mission District after one of them answered a knock at the door and was pistol-whipped, police said.

The robbery was reported at about 2 a.m. in the 1000 block of Valencia Street.

After the first woman, age 23, was pistol-whipped, the attacker entered the home and stole a computer, two cellphones and cash from her and a 26-year-old woman who was also at the residence, according to police.

The suspect then fled and had not been found as of this morning.

Neither woman reported any injuries.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

 

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Two Men Attacked, Robbed By Group Of Hooded Suspects

Four suspects attacked and robbed two men walking in South San Francisco Tuesday evening, seriously injuring one, South San Francisco police said.

Around 6 p.m., the two men, both San Francisco residents, were walking in the 100 block of Linden Avenue when four male suspects attacked them, striking them numerous times and hitting one of the victims with a rock.

The man hit with the rock was seriously injured but is expected to survive, police said.

The suspects demanded money from the victims but only stole a cellphone before fleeing north on Linden Avenue toward Baden Avenue, police said. They are still at large.

Police describe them as three Hispanic males and one African-American male. All four were wearing black hooded jackets or sweatshirts and appeared to be between 17 and 20 years old and between 5 feet 7 inches and 6 feet tall, with husky builds.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call South San Francisco police at (650) 877-8900 or the anonymous tip line at (650) 952-2244.

 

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Fallen Firefighters Remembered At Memorial Unveiling This Afternoon

The two San Francisco firefighters that died in the line of duty while battling a Diamond Heights house fire in June will be honored this afternoon at an unveiling of a memorial wall, San Francisco fire officials said.

A marble wall at the fire department's headquarters will be unveiled to display the names of Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, and firefighter-paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53, at 4 p.m.

The two firefighters perished after a flashover explosion at a house fire at 133 Berkeley Way on June 2. Perez died that day, while Valerio died two days later. Both were badly burned.

Dignitaries, families, friends and coworkers of the two firefighters will attend the dedication ceremony, fire officials said. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is expected to be at the unveiling, which will be held at 698 Second St. in San Francisco.

 

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San Francisco Bay Area Thursday News Roundup

San Jose Detectives Identified Man And Woman Who Aided In Suspected Murder

Detectives in San Jose have identified a man and woman who they say aided and abetted suspected murderer Paul Ray Castillo, who was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on eight felony charges.

San Jose residents Diana Figueroa, 43, and Juan de la Cerda, 36, are suspected of helping Castillo evade capture after police say he went on a violent one-man crime spree on Friday morning. Castillo, 33, of San Jose, was arrested on Sunday in West Sacramento.

Police have arrested Figueroa and de la Cerda is at large and wanted on a $500,000 warrant charging him with accessory, according to police.

Public defender Kenneth Mandel said authorities have placed Castillo on suicide watch while he is being held at Santa Clara County Jail.    

Castillo appeared for about a minute in court Wednesday afternoon -- handcuffed, face scrunched up, and tears running down his cheeks.    

He was ordered to return to enter a plea on Oct. 5.    

If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole and could also be eligible for the death penalty, according to Deputy District Attorney James Leonard.

Prosecutors have charged Castillo with murder, kidnapping in the commission of a carjacking, attempted robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and causing bodily injury on a peace officer or firefighter, robbery with use of a firearm, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, and unauthorized use or theft of a vehicle.

 

One Killed, Another Critically Injured In Oakland Shooting

One person was killed and another was critically injured in a shooting near Children's Hospital in Oakland Wednesday morning, a police spokeswoman said.

The shooting was reported around 11 a.m. in the 800 block of 52nd Street, about a block and a half from the hospital, spokeswoman Johnna Watson said.

Two victims, both males, were struck by the gunfire. One succumbed to his injuries while the other is at a hospital with life-threatening injuries, Watson said.

A third person was injured but the wound was not from a gunshot, and it was unclear whether the injury occurred at the scene or elsewhere, according to Watson.

Children's Hospital was shut down as a precaution for about 15 minutes following the shooting, according to Rebecca Casais, a nurse who works at the hospital.

No one is in custody for the shooting and no suspect information was immediately available, Watson said.

Marin County Sheriff's Deputies Eradicated Marijuana Plants

Marin County sheriff's deputies eradicated more than 7,000 marijuana plants on private property near Marshall on Tuesday.    

The value of the marijuana when processed is estimated at $9 million, the sheriff's office said.

Narcotics deputies received a tip about the grow from deer hunters a few days ago, sheriff's Lt. Barry Heying said.

They found the plants, many four or five feet tall, off Point Reyes-Petaluma Road in the Hicks Mountain area, Heying said.    

The plants were removed from the site by a California Highway Patrol helicopter during the daylong operation, Heying said.

The campsite at the grow indicates three people were tending the growing plants, Heying said. The growers escaped when they heard narcotics agents arriving, he said.

Marijuana from California is selling between $3,000 and $4,000 a pound in the East, particularly in the New York area, Heying said.    

Several shipments of marijuana from Marin County to the East Coast have been intercepted this year, Heying said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration also participated in the eradication operation, Heying said.    

Narcotics deputies eradicated nearly 13,000 marijuana plants near Kent Lake in June and 7,000 in the same area in August 2010.

23,000 Registered Nurses Expected To Rally During Strike For RN Rights

Some 23,000 registered nurses throughout much of the state are expected to rally during a one-day strike today in a bid for RN rights.

California Nurses Association officials said nurses would hold a walkout at 34 Northern and Central California hospitals to protest a range of issues, including restrictions on nurses' rights to speak out for patients and cuts in nurses' and other hospital workers' health care and retiree coverage.

The strike will affect the Bay Area's biggest hospital chains, Sutter and Kaiser, plus Children's Hospital Oakland.    

Picketing is slated to begin at 7 a.m. and will continue throughout the day, with the largest turnout expected at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland and Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame.

Speaking on behalf of many striking nurses in a statement, Children's Hospital RN Martha Kuhl said these hospitals "are taking advantage of the economic times and trying to roll back improvements we have won over many years."

Meanwhile, Children's Hospital officials called the strike "irresponsible and misguided" and pledged to keep the hospital open during the planned walkout by contracting with replacement nurses.

Many of the RNs set to take part in the strike are in the midst of ongoing contract negotiations with their employers, hospital officials said.

San Pablo Man Pleaded Not Guilty To Allegedly Pointing Gun At San Francisco Police Officers

A San Pablo man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to allegedly pointing  gun at San Francisco police officers during a foot pursuit in the city's North Beach neighborhood early Saturday, which led an officer to fire at him and accidentally strike two bystanders.

Jesus Paredes Rodriguez, 20, was arrested following the shooting, which occurred around 2 a.m. Saturday in the 400 block of Broadway, police said.

As officers approached Rodriguez, they saw him allegedly conduct a narcotics transaction, and when they approached and patted him down, he escaped and ran away, according to police and prosecutors.

As he fled from the officers, Rodriguez allegedly pulled out a TEC-9 handgun and pointed it at officers, police Chief Greg Suhr said at a community meeting about the shooting on Monday.    

He did not fire the gun, but an officer fired a shot in defense, which missed Rodriguez but struck two innocent bystanders behind him in a parking lot, Suhr said.

The victims, an Oakley man and Yountville woman, were hospitalized but their injuries were not life-threatening, he said.

Rodriguez was charged with two counts of assault on a police officer, two counts of exhibiting a deadly weapon with the intent to resist arrest, one count of carrying a loaded weapon in public, and an infraction for possession of marijuana, district attorney's spokesman Seth Steward said.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment hearing Wednesday afternoon, where he was ordered held on $1 million bail, Steward said.

Rodriguez will return to court on Oct. 4 for the preliminary hearing in the case.

Center For Spiritual Living Business Manager Suspected Of Stealing Money

The business manager for the Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa is suspected of stealing more than $712,000 from the Center over a seven-year period, the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday afternoon.

Eleanor Zapanta, 51, of Guerneville is wanted on a $1 million arrest warrant, Chief Deputy District Attorney Bill Brockley said.    

She will be charged with seven counts of grand theft, seven counts of forging business documents and an enhancement alleging theft by an employee of more than $500,000, and faces 12 years in prison, Brockley said.    

Brockley said he ask Zapanta be held under $1 million bail when she is arrested.

The alleged thefts and forgery of more than 250 checks occurred between 2004 and 2010 when Zapanta was the Center's business manager, Brockley said.

Brockley and Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook would not disclose how the allegedly stolen money was spent or how the thefts occurred.    

The investigation by Santa Rosa police began several months ago in the spring, Brockley said.

The Center's Assistant Minister, Rev. Joyce Duffala, did not return a phone for call for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Two Boys Arrested In San Leandro In Connection With Graffiti Spree

Two 15-year-old boys were arrested in San Leandro this week in connection with a graffiti spree on Labor Day Weekend that vandalized more than 30 businesses in the city's downtown area, a police spokesman said.    

On Sept. 4, police received word from the city's Department of Public Works that businesses along East 14th Street between Callan and 135th avenues had been tagged, causing thousands of dollars in damage, police Lt. Jeff Tudor said.

The cleanup materials alone cost the city approximately $1,800, Tudor said, not including overtime pay for the public works employees, who had been called in on a day off to get rid of the graffiti, which was visible from the street.

On Monday, the detective handling the case stopped the two boys, who had been jaywalking, and "developed probable cause to make the arrest," Tudor said.

The detective allegedly located several sketchbooks containing drawings of tags identical to those written on the vandalized businesses, police said.

The boys were arrested and released to their parents.   

Tudor said that the case will be forwarded to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office to determine if charges will be filed.    

District attorney's office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said Wednesday afternoon that the office had yet to receive information on the case.

Daly City Bank Employee Accused Of Embezzling Thousands

A Daly City bank employee accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from private accounts was sentenced to serve four years and eight months in state prison by a San Mateo County judge Wednesday.    

Norielyn Bautista, 43, apologized for her actions before being sentenced by Judge Lisa Novak, who denied defense attorney Steven Whitworth's request for probation on behalf of his client.

Bautista's long and sophisticated embezzlement scheme, which occurred over a four-year period from March 2006 to 2010, warranted the heavy sentence, San Mateo County District Attorney Steven Wagstaffe said.

While employed at Pacific Advantage Federal Credit Union in Burlingame, Bautista embezzled more than $428,000 from 15 different customer accounts and one of the bank's general funds, according to the district attorney's office.

None of the stolen money was ever recovered, Wagstaffe said.   

In August, Bautista pleaded no contest to one felony count of embezzlement, three counts of grand theft, one count of forgery and one count of identity theft.

She will likely be transported from county jail to state prison this week, Wagstaffe said.

A hearing will be held Dec. 2 in San Mateo County Superior Court to determine the exact amount of restitution that Bautista will be required to pay to her victims as part of her sentence, Wagstaffe said.

Gov. Jerry Brown Lifts Ban On Infused Alcoholic Beverages

Cocktail purveyors statewide will soon have flavorful new options to choose from since Gov. Jerry Brown signed a senate bill Wednesday lifting the ban on infused alcoholic beverages.

Senate Bill 32, authored by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, updates state law to allow the sale of alcohol infused with fruit, vegetables, herbs or spices.

This type of alcohol is often used in cocktails and is the product of a widespread artisanal practice, according to Leno's office.

"In San Francisco and other cities where tourism is critical to the local economy, restaurant owners have been asked to stop serving infused cocktails in the name of an outdated law written decades ago," Leno said in a statement.

"This Prohibition-era statute did nothing more than punish California restaurants and small businesses that are using culinary innovations to survive in this difficult economy," he said.

The bill includes an urgency clause that allows the new law to take effect immediately.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Forecast

Mostly cloudy skies with patchy fog in the morning are expected to become partly cloudy in the Bay Area today, with highs in the 60s.    

Partly cloudy skies are anticipated this evening before becoming cloudy with patchy fog after midnight. Lows are expected to be in the mid 50s.

Friday is expected to be cloudy in the morning with patchy fog before becoming sunny. Highs in the 60s are expected.

 

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Giants Fan Who Went Missing Found Safe In Los Angeles

The San Francisco Giants are breathing a sigh of relief after a man known for greeting players as they arrived at AT&T Park was found safe in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

For years, 43-year-old Billy Chamberlain was a constant presence at Giants games, greeting team members as they arrived at the ballpark's entrance at Second and King streets, San Francisco police said.    

But after Chamberlain was not seen at any games for about a month, police launched an investigation into his whereabouts earlier this month.    

While the Giants were in Los Angeles for a series with the Dodgers this week, Chamberlain was spotted outside Dodger Stadium before Tuesday's game, according to the team's website.

Chamberlain, who is homeless, said he is healthy and was unaware that a missing persons report had been filed against him, according to the team.

"We're obviously glad to hear he's been found and safe," Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said today.

 

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Update: Families Say Release Of Hikers Is 'Best Day Of Our Lives'

Two University of California, Berkeley graduates who have been detained in Iran on espionage charges for more than two years were finally released today, according to their families.    

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, and a third UC Berkeley graduate, Sarah Shourd, were arrested on July 31, 2009, after embarking on a hike in Iraq's Kurdistan region near the Iranian border.    

Iran accused all three of them of espionage and last month Bauer and Fattal were sentenced to eight years in prison.

But the hikers and their families said they aren't spies but instead were detained after they accidentally crossed an unmarked border into Iran.

Iran released Shourd, 32, who is engaged to Bauer, last September because she was in poor health. Shourd announced in May that she would not return to Iran for a trial because she is suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Shourd and family members of Bauer and Fattal greeted the two men in Muscat, Oman, when they arrived there after being released and flown out of Iran, according to a statement issued by the three families.

The families said, "Today can only be described as the best day of our lives. We have waited for nearly 26 months for this moment and the joy and relief we feel at Shane and Josh's long-awaited freedom knows no bounds."    

They said, "We now all want nothing more than to wrap Shane and Josh in our arms, catch up on two lost years and make a new beginning, for them and for all of us."

The families thanked the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman and his envoy Dr. Salem Al Ismaily, for their roles in securing the release of Bauer and Fattal.

They also thanked the hikers' lawyer, Masoud Shafii, and the Swiss Ambassador to Iran, Livia Leu Agosti. The Swiss Embassy in Iran acted as a liaison between the U.S. and Iran because the two countries don't have diplomatic relations.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a statement, "It is so wonderful that Shane and Josh are finally coming home to be reunited with their loved ones. But I deeply regret that their release has taken so long. Shane and Josh have been forced to pay too great a price by the Iranian government."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, issued a statement today welcoming the release of the pair but said the U.S. government should now "address the issue of Iranian citizens detained in the U.S. with the same spirit of compassion that resulted in the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal."

 

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Man Robbed Of More Than A Pound Of Marijuana Tuesday Afternoon

A man was robbed of more than a pound of marijuana as he exited a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon, police said.

The robbery was reported at 12:53 p.m. in the 900 block of Geary Street near Larkin Street.

The victim, a 34-year-old man, was walking out of the dispensary when a suspect pointed a gun at his face and demanded "weed," according to police.

The victim handed over a satchel that contained 1.25 pounds of medical marijuana and cash, police said.

The suspect, a man in his late teens or early 20s, fled in a black pickup truck with dealer plates. He had not been found as of this morning, according to police.

The victim was not injured in the robbery.    

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

 

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