San Francisco Bay Area Friday Morning News Roundup

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Proposal To Beef Up Oakland Police To Fight Crime Moves Forward

A proposal to beef up the understaffed Oakland Police Department moved forward Thursday even though a City Council committee meeting had to be canceled because two council members failed to show up.

Although the absences of Ignacio De La Fuente and Desley Brooks forced the cancellation of the Rules and Legislation Committee meeting, City Council President Larry Reid was still able to use council procedures to forward the crime-fighting proposal to the Finance Committee for a meeting in mid-January.

Councilwoman Libby Schaaf, who authored the proposal with Reid, said if the Finance Committee approves it the full council will vote on it in late January.

Schaaf said she believes the measure is needed because the number of police officers in Oakland, which had been as high as 837 four years ago, is expected to drop to 605 in February and as low as 585 officers next June, before officers currently in a training academy come on board.

She said the big decrease in the number of officers is a big reason the number of homicides, burglaries and robberies has increased this year.

Reid and Schaaf said in a letter to their colleagues that their proposal is "in response to the unacceptable levels of crime in our communities."

Schaaf said the city must act because there is a "horrible fear and threat to our city" because of its crime problem and she hears stories every week of people moving out of Oakland because they don't feel safe.

The proposal by Reid and Schaaf calls for funding an additional police academy to train new officers next June, hiring 11 Alameda County sheriff's deputies for up to 180 days at a cost of up to $265,000 and hiring 20 police service technicians at a cost of $1.5 million to be assigned to field duty as well as one crime lab position.

Schaaf said the sheriff's deputies would work ten-hour shifts twice a week on violence suppression efforts in East and West Oakland.

She said they would supplement a small group of California Highway Patrol officers who have been working on violence suppression duties in those areas for the past month.

Schaaf said Oakland's agreement with the CHP is scheduled to expire at the end of January but she would like to extend it.

She said Oakland needs assistance from the CHP and the sheriff's office because it won't begin increasing its staffing until next July, after the recruits in the current police academy complete their classes and their field training.

Weather Service Warns Bay Area Residents Of Strong Winds, High Surf, Flash Floods

The National Weather Service and other agencies have issued various warnings and advisories for the onslaught of rain and wind.

Starting at 7 p.m. Thursday night a flash flood watch went into effect in the coastal North Bay and mountainous areas, parts of the Monterey Bay area, the Peninsula and Santa Cruz Mountains because of several inches of rain expected to fall in those areas, according to the National Weather Service.

The watch is set to remain in place through this afternoon.

This morning several severe weather advisories will be issued throughout the region.

Starting at 8 a.m. a wind advisory will be in place for strong and gusty winds blowing through with the potential to knock down trees and power lines.

Along the coast, gusts could reach up to 50 mph.

The advisory is expected to expire at 2 p.m. today.

A high surf advisory along the Bay Area coast will also be issued at 9 a.m. today and continue through 4 a.m. Saturday.

Swells are anticipated to reach up to 16 feet, and local beaches may experience rip currents and erosion from the strong waves and surf.

Thursday afternoon, the California Highway Patrol issued a high wind advisory around 1:10 p.m. on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The CHP advises motorists use caution while crossing the span.

Man Sprayed With Bear Spray During Noe Valley Burglary Pleads Not Guilty

A man who was sprayed with bear spray by a resident when he allegedly tried to steal a package from her home in San Francisco's Noe Valley neighborhood on Tuesday pleaded not guilty Thursday to residential burglary charges.

Andy Anduha, 51, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with first-degree residential burglary for the incident in the 3600 block of 22nd Street.

Officers were in the area shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday and were flagged down by a resident who said a suspect went through the front gate of her home and stole a package from the porch, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

The resident used the bear spray on the suspect, later identified as Anduha, who fled but was quickly taken into custody a block away on 23rd Street, Esparza said.

Anduha had to be treated in an ambulance because of the bear spray, Esparza said.

Sonya Yu, the resident armed with the bear spray, wrote about the incident on Twitter as it was happening that afternoon.

Yu wrote that a thief has been "rampantly stealing packages in our neighborhood. I put out a bait package today and will be quietly working."

A couple of hours later, she wrote, "I got him with the bear spray but he escaped."

Shortly afterward, she said police had taken the alleged thief into custody.

"The bear spray debilitated him and painted him orange so other cops picked him up within 5 minutes. GOT HIM!" Yu wrote.

Yu later wrote on Twitter that she did not want to talk to the media about the incident, citing the active investigation into the case.

Anduha's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Paul Myslin, argued in court Thursday that his client should be released on his own recognizance in what he said was a case of "vigilantism" on the part of the resident.

"It was a fake package, put there specifically there with the intent to entrap Mr. Anduha," Myslin said. "She took the law into her own hands rather than follow the proper procedures."

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Nancy Davis was not swayed by the attorney's arguments and ordered that Anduha be held on $150,000 bail.

He will return to court on Dec. 12 for a preliminary hearing. 

Esparza said despite this case leading to an arrest, police do not encourage people to confront possible criminals themselves.

"We suggest calling 911 and keeping a distance," he said. "You never know if they could inflict injury on you."

Woman Sentenced In Oakland To Nine Years For Conspiring In Prostitution Of Teenage Girls

A Sacramento woman has been sentenced in federal court in Oakland to nine years in prison for conspiring in the sex trafficking of teenage girls.

Helen Kearney Singh, 22, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who also ordered her to pay $45,000 in restitution to one of the victims.

Singh and her husband, Mahendar Singh, 40, both pleaded guilty before Hamilton in January to a charge of conspiring to cause children under 18 to engage in commercial sex acts by means of force, fraud or coercion. 

Mahendar Singh was also sentenced by Hamilton to nine years in prison, at a separate proceeding in April.

The couple was arrested by South San Francisco police on Aug. 20, 2011, at a motel near San Francisco International Airport after police found a 19-year-old woman and two 16-year-old girls in a room registered to Mahendar Singh.

A police spokesman said at the time that officers went to the motel after receiving a tip that a runaway girl had been seen near the property.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said that at Wednesday's sentencing, Helen Singh accepted responsibility for participating in a conspiracy involving the prostitution of teenage females.

A Dec. 1, 2011, grand jury indictment said the couple operated the prostitution enterprise in various locations between Sacramento and the Bay Area from April to August 2011, and used Internet websites to advertise the victims.

The couple promised the teenage girls money, drugs and a family-like environment and controlled them by providing drugs and using physical force and threats of force, the indictment said.

Fremont Police Nab Two In Smoke Shop Sting For Allegedly Selling Bath Salts, Other Drugs

Two men were arrested last month in a sting operation for allegedly selling illegal synthetic drugs at two Fremont smoke shops, police said Thursday.

On Oct. 23, police said a street crimes unit seized synthetic cannabinoids, known as "spice," salvia, and synthetic stimulants, commonly referred to as "bath salts," from Rocky's Smoke Shop at the Crossroads Shopping Center at 39471 Fremont Blvd. and Monsters of Rock Smoke Shop at 40675 Grimmer Blvd.

The owner of Rocky's, Vijay Patel, and the manager of Monsters of Rock, David Ghebreab, were arrested on suspicion of selling a synthetic stimulant compound and possessing concentrated cannabis, police said.

Both cases are under review by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

Fremont police said in total 6 pounds of synthetic cannabinoids and several grams of bath salts, with an approximate total street value of more than $25,000, were recovered during the October sting.

Police said bath salt use is new territory for law enforcement as the drug gains more widespread use.

Police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques said the department is trying to spread awareness about the bath salts that are packaged in a way that is alluring to children with bright colors and often with cartoons.

Fremont police have dealt with a few prior cases of people using the drug, which often causes out of control or highly irrational behavior.

On Tuesday around 10 a.m. a 24-year-old woman was found standing in the middle of the roadway on Fremont Boulevard near Becerra Drive without shoes and she could not speak or give her name to officers and would occasionally start screaming for no apparent reason, police said.

According to police, the woman appeared to be high on bath salts during the incident.

She was taken to Washington Hospital in Fremont and by 3:20 a.m. when she was able to give her name, a records check showed she had behaved similarly in May 2012 at the same intersection.

Anyone with information about sales of these illegal substances is asked to call Fremont police Officer D. Manrique at (510) 790-6800 or send a tip online at fremontpolice.org/tip.

Woman Who Struck And Killed Petaluma Victim Sentenced To Three Years Probation in Sonoma County

A Marin City woman whose car struck an killed a Petaluma woman in a gazebo at the Alliance of the Redwoods Conference Grounds in February was sentenced Wednesday in Sonoma County Superior Court to three years probation.

Johnella Thomas, 74, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and was immediately sentenced to the probationary term.

Nola Wolf, 61, was holding hands with her husband Charles while they waited inside a gazebo to ride a zip line operated by Sonoma Canopy Tours at the Camp Meeker conference grounds where the Wolfs were celebrating Nora's sister's birthday on Feb. 24.

Thomas was driving a 2010 Mercedes around 1:30 p.m. north on two-lane Bohemian Highway to visit the conference grounds when she mistakenly stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.

The Mercedes was going 65 mph when it left the road and plowed into the gazebo in the parking lot of the conference grounds and struck Wolf, who died instantly, Ravitch said.

Thomas had never received a traffic ticket and was driving about 35 mph when the Mercedes suddenly accelerated, Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said. Thomas and a passenger in her car suffered minor injuries.

Thomas apologized to Charles Wolf in court, and Wolf told the judge he preferred Thomas perform community service rather than spend time in jail, Ravitch said.

That could include advising seniors about the dangers of driving in their later years, Ravitch said.

Judge Peter Ottenweller ordered 300 hours of community service, ordered Thomas to speak twice before the congregation of her church, and ordered her driver's license revoked for three years.

There have been several incidents in Sonoma County this year involving motorists or pedestrians who were killed or injured by elderly drivers.

"We see this as a problem in the community. It's difficult to surrender the keys," Staebell said.

Prosecution And Defense Disagree About Reason For Fatal East Oakland Shooting

A prosecutor and a defense attorney agreed Thursday that Laron Logwood killed Edwin "Mikey" Grady outside a corner market in East Oakland in broad daylight three years ago but they disagreed on the reason why.

Telling jurors, "This case is not complicated, it's not a mystery," prosecutor Tim Wellman said in his opening statement that Logwood, 35, should be convicted of first-degree murder because he fatally shot Grady, 25, outside the Arrwa One Stop Market at the corner of 86th and Bancroft avenues just before 2 p.m. July 16, 2009, in cold blood after the two men exchanged words.

Logwood killed Grady, who was talking to a woman, "by firing a single bullet into an unsuspecting victim" as a large group of people hanging out next to the store watched, Wellman said.

Showing jurors a video of the incident that was captured by the store's surveillance camera, Wellman said Logwood pointed a gun at Grady at point-blank range, pulled the trigger and fired a single shot into Grady's chest, who then ran around the corner, collapsed and died a short time later. 

But Logwood's attorney, William DuBois, said Logwood acted in self-defense because he thought that his family members, who were at the scene, were in danger of being shot by Grady.

Logwood "acted with the sincere belief that he was acting in defense of others, his family members and the other people at that spot," DuBois told jurors.

He said Logwood came to the store after a female cousin told him a man -- not Grady -- had smashed her face and she needed his help.

DuBois said Logwood brought a gun with him as he sought to talk to the man who had injured his cousin because of "his life experience" and because he is "part of the Oakland violence."

DuBois admitted that Logwood, who has a criminal record and was well known to Oakland police, had been "a beneficiary" of committing violence but said he had also been a victim, as he had been shot three times.

The defense attorney alleged that Grady sold drugs in front of the market and was "really upset at all the people at his drug spot" that day because they were interfering with the location he used to sell drugs.

DuBois said Logwood became suspicious of Grady when arrived at the store in his white Infinity sports utility vehicle and "believed there was a potential for a drive-by shooting.

DuBois alleged that Grady was carrying a gun in his right hip pocket, telling jurors that the video shows Grady hitching up his baggy pants "in a sign indicating that 'I'm strapping and I'm carrying a gun.'"

He asserted that Logwood shot Grady only after Grady dropped his right hand to the area where he believed Grady was carrying a gun.

Six Arrested By Fremont Police At Slain Gang Member's Funeral 

Six people were arrested at a gang member's funeral in Fremont Wednesday afternoon, a Fremont police spokeswoman said.

The funeral was held at Berge Pappas Smith Chapel of the Angels on Fremont Boulevard at Chapel Way for a gang member who had been murdered in San Francisco, spokeswoman Geneva Bosques said.

A large group of people at the chapel's parking lot were dressed in gang attire and someone reported seeing a handgun around 12:45 p.m., Bosques said.

Arriving officers detained 20 people in the parking lot and arrested five men and a woman on various charges, Bosques said.

Two Hayward men, Jeremy Young, 36, and Eric Rice, 30, were arrested on suspicion of various firearms violations after a .22-caliber revolver and other weapons were found, Bosques said.

Rice was allegedly in violation of his federal probation by having a gun.

Young was taken to the Fremont Jail while Rice was taken to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, according to Alameda County records. They are both to be arraigned this afternoon at the Fremont Hall of Justice.

A 26-year-old San Lorenzo woman, April Fernandez, was arrested on suspicion of carrying a firearm when during a pat-down check she was allegedly found with a .25 caliber semi-automatic weapon in her jacket pocket.

She is also scheduled to be in court today.

Hayward resident Robert Pratt, 27, was arrested on suspicion of a parole violation.

Probationer Marcus Carter, 26, of Oakland, was arrested after he was allegedly found with ecstasy and marijuana.

A fifth man, Rafael Mejia, 22, of Union City, was arrested on suspicion of probation violation because he was allegedly wearing gang attire.

While officers were arresting funeral attendees the service was disrupted, police said.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Report

A wind advisory is in effect until 11 a.m. and a flash flood watch is in effect through Monday morning in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A high surf advisory is in effect from 9 a.m. this morning until 4 a.m. Saturday.

Rain is likely this morning. Highs are expected to be in the lower 60s, with southern winds reaching up to 30 mph. Gusts are expected to be up to 45 mph this morning.

Rain is likely to continue this evening, with lows in the upper 50s. Winds from the south are expected to reach up to 15 mph.

Rain is expected Saturday. Highs are expected to be in the mid 60s, with winds from the south reaching up to 20 mph.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137