San Francisco Bay Area Tuesday Morning News Roundup

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Santa Clara Co.:  Suspect Killed in Officer-Involved Shooting Was Trying to Ram Officer 

A single shot from a San Jose police officer killed a suspect who was allegedly trying to ram the officer with a suspected stolen car Monday night, sheriff's officials said.

The officer-involved shooting was reported at about 6:45 p.m. in an unincorporated area of Santa Clara County near East San Jose, just north of the intersection of Story and South White roads.

San Jose police were conducting a follow-up investigation on an unrelated case but saw a suspicious vehicle nearby that had license plates reported stolen, sheriff's Sgt. Jose Cardoza said.

When they tried to pull the car over, the driver rammed the police car and then crashed into another parked car nearby.

The officer got out of his damaged car, and the suspect then pulled away from the crash and drove directly toward the officer.

Fearing for his life, the officer fired a single shot at the driver, striking and wounding him, Cardoza said.

The suspect was conscious when he was taken to a hospital but died there from his injuries.

There was a passenger in the suspect's car and he is cooperating with the police investigation and is being considered a witness.

Cardoza said that investigators have not yet determined the identity of the driver.

San Jose: Former Supervisor Pleads Guilty to 12 Criminal Acts, Admits Won $400,000 Gambling with Campaign Money  

Former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa pleaded guilty Monday to a dozen criminal charges for filing false campaign and expense reports and revealed to prosecutors he won $400,000 gambling with the campaign donations.

Shirakawa, appearing in Superior Court dressed in a dark pinstripe suit, replied "Guilty, your honor" to each of the five felony and seven misdemeanor charges against him read aloud by Judge Philip Pennypacker.

Pennypacker told the defendant to report to the county probation department within two days for an evaluation and then set a hearing date of April 30 to receive Shirakawa's probation report.

Shirakawa's sentencing hearing would then be scheduled and prosecutors will argue for a term of one year in the county jail, Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery said.

Pennypacker, who noted that Shirakawa's plea agreement with prosecutors states he would not be sent to state prison, told him he could be sentenced to years of supervised probation and sent to jail for up to one year if he violated probation.

Shirakawa, 51, resigned from office March 1 as part of a deal with the district attorney's office to plead guilty to four felony counts of perjury, one count of felony misuse of public funds and seven misdemeanors for filing inaccurate campaign and government finance reports.

Elected to his District 2 seat in 2008, Shirakawa ran unopposed last year and won a second term last November.

His plea arrangement requires Shirakawa to make restitution related to his crimes, including repaying the county Department of Revenue $12,000 and paying $50,000 in fines to the state Fair Political Practices Commission for 10 campaign report violations, Sinunu-Towery said Prosecutors are still investigating the sources of funds Shirakawa deposited into a private "Slush Fund" bank account associated with donations to his supervisor campaign from 2010 to 2012, Sinunu-Towery said.

Shirakawa apparently withdrew money from campaign donors to gamble with it at casinos and turned over to prosecutors IRS tax records detailing the large amounts he won gambling, Sinunu-Towery said.

"Today they gave me some documents that proved he won about $400,000 gambling, so we're going to check that out and get back to you on that," she told reporters outside the courthouse.

During Shirakawa's court hearing, Sinunu-Towery revealed that Shirakawa had surrendered four firearms worth about $1,000 as part of a bankruptcy filing by the former supervisor.

After his hearing, Shirakawa followed his attorney John Williams outside the courthouse, looked down at his smartphone and said nothing to reporters before entering an SUV that sped away down Hedding Street.

SF: Folk Singer's Anti-Gay Comments Cause Online Stir, Concert Cancellations

A folk singer's reported anti-gay comments at a San Francisco concert venue on Sunday night has caused a stir online and prompted at least one other Bay Area venue to cancel an upcoming concert with her.

Michelle Shocked, a Grammy-nominated singer whose career started in the 1980s, reportedly said "God hates fags" and made other anti-gay remarks during a show at Yoshi's, located in San Francisco's Fillmore District.

The comments prompted concert organizers to say Shocked will never be invited back to Yoshi's.

"We at Yoshi's SF do not and will not ever tolerate the type of bigotry and hatred exhibited last night," a representative from the venue wrote on Twitter Monday afternoon.

"She will never be back."

Shocked's comments also received widespread criticism from social media users.

One Twitter user wrote, "You just committed career suicide. If you believe that nonsense you deserve the ignominy ur gonna get."

Another wrote that Shocked "ended her career last night. You should probably know who your fans are before you spew hate at them."

Other concert venues, including HopMonk Tavern in Novato, announced Monday that they are canceling upcoming shows that were set to feature Shocked in light of her comments.

Shocked has not commented publicly since Sunday's show.

The media contact listed on her website, Cary Baker, said he has not been associated with her for four years.

Baker said he was "shocked" by the comments and is asking the artist to remove his name from her website.

Oakland: Police Chief Hopes Second Reorganization Effort Will Be Successful

Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said Monday that he hopes his department's second attempt at reorganizing into smaller geographical districts will be more successful than its first.

Jordan said the second effort, which began on Saturday, will be phased in gradually, instead of all at once, and will aim to have "the right people in the right jobs."

Jordan said his department also will focus more on building better relationships with the community than it has in the past.

The reorganization plan, which was announced several months ago, calls for switching from two large police districts to five districts that Jordan said will be "smaller and more manageable geographic areas."

In the first phase of the plan, East Oakland, which has the highest crime rate in the city, has been divided into two districts, one overseen by Capt. Ersie Joyner and the other by Capt. Steven Tull.

The other new districts will be created later this year, Jordan said.

Assistant Chief Anthony Toribio said the captains will manage the day-to-day operations in their districts and oversee officers who respond to emergency calls and other service calls.

Toribio said the captains also will identify neighborhood crime reduction strategies to address crime and other quality of life issues and strengthen the department's partnerships with local communities.

He said that will include forming community advisory committees that will consist of religious leaders, neighborhood crime prevention councils, business leaders and others.

The captains will be held accountable to Jordan, Toribio said.

Tull said, "Our core function will be to work with the community and change the way we did business in the past."

Joyner said another priority is "being proactive in reducing crime instead of reactive." Toribio said, "The idea is to provide the community with a more intimate and personal relationship with high-ranking officers and have clearer communications and better directions for officers."

Jordan said the new reorganization plan was developed by Robert Wasserman, a police consultant who was hired by the city last fall.

He said the plan is supported by William Bratton, a police consultant working with Wasserman who formerly headed departments in New York, Los Angeles and Boston.

Santa Clara: City Wants Super Bowl Committee to Pay for City Services if 2016 Bid Succeeds

Santa Clara wants the group bidding for the San Francisco 49ers to host the 2016 Super Bowl to pay for government services if the event is played at the city's planned new stadium, a spokesman said Monday.

The city, which has drawn up a proposal to provide public safety services for the National Football League, will ask the San Francisco Super Bowl Committee to cover the costs, city spokesman Dan Beerman said.

Under the proposal, the Super Bowl committee would reimburse the city for services related to the Super Bowl at the city's $1.2 billion Santa Clara Stadium, to be completed in 2014, Beerman said.

To win the bowl bid, Santa Clara would have to give government services requested by the NFL for the game and special events such as the NFL Tailgate party, the on-field Media Day and the NFL On Location hospitality event, Beerman said.

Seeking to save itself money, the NFL has asked the city to exempt it from paying for things like the $4.45 parking space fee for off-site parking the city plans to charge at stadium events to defray police and traffic management costs.

The Santa Clara City Council will consider voting for the pacts -- reimbursement for city services and exemptions requested by the NFL -- at a special meeting in City Hall today.

The 49ers team, which has been at Candlestick Park in San Francisco since 1971, is to start playing in Santa Clara starting with the 2014 season.

The NFL team's only rival in the bidding for the 2016 game, the 50th anniversary of the first Super Bowl, is the Miami Dolphins in South Florida.

NFL team owners will select the winner on May 22. The San Francisco Super Bowl Committee is a non-profit corporation coordinating the 49ers' bid package for the game.

Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for the committee, based in San Francisco, said the group is working with governments in San Francisco and San Jose as well as Santa Clara to make the Bay Area's bid a strong one for the NFL.

The committee supports Santa Clara's request to be compensated for the costs of government services if the 49ers host the game, Ballard said.

"We are looking for incentives to make the Bay Area even more attractive," Ballard said. "We are going to get this done," Ballard said. "We've had nothing but the highest cooperation between the cities and the host region."

Under the NFL proposal up for a vote today, Santa Clara would waive off-site parking and other fees on game tickets and hotel rooms if team owners choose the 49ers.

That second agreement could be the key to the 49ers winning the bid, which city officials said in a staff report last week pumped as much as $300 million into the regional economies of other host regions.

Beerman said that officials representing South Florida in its Super Bowl bid have declined to exempt the NFL from paying hotel taxes, thus strengthening the 49ers' bid.

"The regional effort here is what is really going to help us," Beerman said. "Everybody is putting their best face on it."

SF: Former CalPERS CEO and Investment Agent Indicted on Conspiracy Charges

A former chief executive of the California Public Employees Retirement System and an investment placement agent have been indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on conspiracy charges related to allegedly fraudulent letters concerning $14 million in fees.

The system, known as CalPERS, is the nation's largest pension fund, with $255 billion in assets.

It provides pension and health benefits to 1.6 million current and retired public workers.

Former CEO Frederico Buenrostro, 64, of Sacramento, and former agent Alfred Villalobos, 69, of Reno, are accused of conspiring to deceive federal investigators and conspiring to commit fraud in connection with letters related to $14 million in fees received by Villalobos.

Villalobos received the fees from a private equity firm, Apollo Global Management LLC, for a $3 billion investment CalPERS made in funds managed by New York-based Apollo in 2007 and 2008.

The indictment was issued on March 14 and announced by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag Monday after the two men made initial appearances before a federal magistrate in San Francisco. Both were released on $500,000 personal bonds.

The indictment alleges that Buenrostro and Villalobos fabricated investor disclosure letters that falsely stated CalPERS was aware of fees that Villalobos had arranged to be paid by Apollo.

As a result of the letters, Apollo paid $14 million to Villalobos's company, ARVCO Capital Research LLC, the indictment says. Buenrostro was chief executive officer of CalPERS from 2002 to 2008.

The day after he left CalPERS, he began working for Villalobos, on July 1, 2008. Villalobos was a member of the CalPERS board from 1992 to 1995.

The two men have previously been sued for fraud in civil lawsuits filed by the state attorney general's office in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2010 and by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in federal court in Las Vegas in 2012.

Both lawsuits are pending.

CalPERS Board President Rob Feckner said, "This long-awaited indictment of two former officials is another step on the road toward justice for California's taxpayers, public employees and for all of CalPERS staff and stakeholders.

"This type of behavior has no place in our organization," Feckner said in a statement.

Feckner said CalPERS has been implementing a series of reforms recommended in an outside law firm's review of its use of placement agents.

The indictment charges Buenrostro and Villalobos each with one count of conspiring to deceive agents in the SEC civil investigation and an FBI criminal probe, one count of engaging in deceit, and one count of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud related to the letters.

The former CEO is additionally accused of two counts of making a false statement to investigators in 2012 and obstructing justice.

Buenrostro and Villalobos are due to return to court on March 25 and April 9, respectively, for arraignment, further bail hearings and identification of their defense lawyers.

They will appear before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, the trial judge assigned to the case, for a status conference on May 8.

The charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison upon conviction.

The other counts each have a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

SF: Postmaster General Speaks at Convention; Postal Workers Protest Outside

As the U.S. postmaster general spoke in San Francisco Monday at the nation's largest mailing industry convention, postal workers gathered outside to criticize the state of the postal service.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe was in San Francisco Monday morning to deliver the keynote address at the National Postal Forum and outlined recent budget cuts that have led the U.S. Postal Service to reduce its workforce by 193,000 employees since 2006.

"No other organization that I can think of -- either public or private -- has gone through a similar downsizing so rapidly and continued to function at a high level," Donahoe said.

However, those cuts -- as well as proposals to eliminate Saturday mail service and close more post offices -- were what prompted a rally outside the convention center by dozens of current and former postal workers and their supporters.

"We're here to say no to excessive closures and consolidations," said Kim Garcia, a mail handler at a postal facility in San Francisco's Bayview District.

"We need a postmaster who supports the postal service and not one who is actively trying to dismantle it."

David Welsh, a retired letter carrier in Daly City, said the move to five-day mail service will be a big blow to customers, particularly the elderly and disabled who could see delays in receiving prescription drugs.

"It's going to be a big cutback," Welsh said.

Postal officials have blamed a mandate instituted by Congress in 2006 requiring the agency to pre-fund its retiree health care costs as well as customers' changing mailing habits as reasons for the downsizing.

Donahoe Monday encouraged the mailing industry to use technology such as imbedded QR codes or augmented reality to improve the experience of customers who are increasingly relying on e-mails or other online means of communication.

"We must continue to work to drive innovation and leverage data and technology to improve the consumer experience and grow revenue," Donahoe said.

"Our challenge as an industry is to shape those moments when people are experiencing mail, and make them more powerful in the future."

The protesters outside acknowledged the congressional mandate has prompted some layoffs and called for its removal, but argued that new technology was not a reason to cut the budget further.

"The Postal Service was there before the Constitution," said Harvey Smith from the group Save the Berkeley Post Office.

"This is an organization that survived the telegraph, survived the telephone, survived the fax ... it'll survive e-mail."

The National Postal Forum runs through Wednesday at Moscone Center West.

Regional: Fatal Racecar Crash Investigation Will Consider Speed, Disconnected Steering Wheel

The Yuba County Sheriff's Office is investigating why a racecar crashed and killed a Santa Rosa teen at the Marysville Raceway Park Saturday evening.

Marcus Johnson, 14, and 68-year-old Dale Richard Wondergem Jr. of Grass Valley died after a sprint racecar driven by Johnson's 17-year-old cousin, Chase Johnson of Penngrove, left the track and crashed in the pit area of the raceway in Marysville.

Wondergem died at the scene and Marcus Johnson died soon after he his arrived at Rideout Hospital in Marysville.

Yuba County Undersheriff Jerry Read said the investigation will include the possibility the steering wheel in Chad Johnson's car became disconnected, and that the car was traveling around 90 mph when it entered the pit area around 6 p.m.

"We have the car and we'll examine it. No one has reported seeing the disconnected steering wheel in his (Chase Johnson's) hands," Read said Monday afternoon.

Read also said, "We don't know how fast the car was going."

Wondergem owned one of the racecars at the track but not the one Chase Johnson was driving, Read said.

Chase Johnson was not injured in the crash that happened as the drivers of six or seven winged sprint cars were completing their "hot", or warm-up laps before the race.

Johnson's car tipped onto its side and stopped after it hit Marcus Johnson and Wondergem who were standing near each other, Read said.

It was reported that Marcus Johnson was not an official member of Chase Johnson's pit crew, and his presence in the pit area is still being investigated, Read said.

The racetrack was hosting its Battle of Marysville for the sprint cars Saturday.

The race is part of the California Sprint Car Civil War Series.

SF: Man Accused of Impersonating Law Enforcement Misses Court Hearing

A man cited last month for allegedly posing as a law enforcement officer in San Francisco is now being sought by authorities after not showing up to his arraignment in court Monday, prosecutors said.

Angel Wilfredo Castro, 47, faces three misdemeanors and four infractions for the Feb. 11 incident in the city's Mission District.

Castro is charged with unlawful use of a badge to impersonate law enforcement, reckless driving, unlawful carrying of a loaded firearm, impersonating a federal agent, and operating an unregistered vehicle that had an unlawfully equipped light bar and siren.

He was set to be arraigned Monday in San Francisco Superior Court but did not come to the hearing.

A $50,000 bench warrant has been issued for his arrest, district attorney's office spokesman Alex Bastian said.

The incident began at about 5 p.m. on Feb. 11 when a patrol officer at 24th and Capp streets heard a siren approaching and then saw an unmarked white Ford Crown Victoria pass by, Bastian said.

The officer, who hadn't heard any radio calls or emergencies and thought the car might be from an outside agency, followed the vehicle as it went through a red light and stop sign and then stopped in the 2600 block of Mission Street, according to Bastian.

A man got out of the car wearing a polo shirt with an FBI emblem on it and a silver star in his belt.

The officer asked him what was going on and the man allegedly said, "There was an emergency there but it's over now," Bastian said.

After circling around the block, the officer decided to check the license plate number and determined it was not a law enforcement vehicle.

The man, later identified as Castro, eventually returned and told the officer he worked for a security company and that the emergency was that, "I had to pay my phone bill," Bastian said.

The officer took custody of Castro's loaded weapon, cited him for the various violations and released him at the scene, Bastian said.

Berkeley: Ashkenaz Managing Director, Second Employee Recovering After Violent Robbery

The managing director of a Berkeley music venue is recovering along with another employee who was shot during a robbery at the center early Saturday morning, a center spokesman said.

Larry Chin, who has worked at Berkeley's Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center for about 30 years, was shot in the head just after midnight Saturday and another employee was struck in the arm at the center located at 1317 San Pablo Ave., Joe Balestreri said.

The Ashkenaz Music and Dance Center is an international music and dance venue and teaching center.

Chin was expected to be released from the hospital Monday, Balestreri said, and to go to his Concord home to continue his recovery.

The other employee, who has worked at Ashkenaz for about five years, underwent an operation Sunday and is expected to fully recover, Balestreri said.

The two were shot early Saturday morning when two armed suspects entered the center and demanded cash.

The suspects shot and wounded Chin and the other employee before fleeing, Berkeley police said.

Officers arrived on the scene within moments and attempted to stop one of the suspects who was fleeing from the area.

The suspect ran into a yard and officers surrounded the block.

Police conducted a yard-to-yard search of the area with the aid of an Alameda County sheriff's K-9 deputy and found the suspect hiding behind a building in the 1300 block of San Pablo Avenue.

Police have not released the name of the suspect who was arrested. As of Monday afternoon, the second suspect remains at large.

Balestreri, who has worked at the venue for 16 years, said this weekend a series of events were held for the center's 40th anniversary and continued as planned despite the early morning violence.

"We felt a real solidarity over the weekend," he said with many supporters and former employees coming to anniversary events after hearing about the shooting.

"All went well and smoothly and peacefully," he said.

Before Saturday night's show a community leader led a prayer and ceremony for the two shooting victims, he said. The violent robbery has prompted Ashkenaz staff to re-evaluate their security policies, Balestreri said.

Balestreri said the center is looking into having security staff and having less cash out.

A security camera at the front door captured some of the violence and the footage has been given to Berkeley police investigators, he said.

"I still feel completely safe here," he said, emphasizing the staff's prime concern is keeping patrons and employees protected.

Balestreri said the community is generally peaceful and this was only the second violent incident in the venue's 40-year history.

"Seems like a good record to me," he said.

Bay Area Tuesday Morning Weather Forecast

Mostly cloudy skies are forecast for the Bay Area this morning. Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s, with southwest winds up to 10 mph.

Rain is likely this evening. Lows are expected to be around 50, with winds up to 10 mph.

Showers are likely Wednesday morning. Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s, with winds up to 15 mph in the afternoon.

 

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