Friday Morning News Roundup
President Signs Disaster Declaration For Napa Quake, Authorizes Financial Aid
President Barack Obama on Thursday declared a major disaster in California due to a 6.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Napa County on Aug. 24th, according to White House officials. The declaration will make federal funding available to state, local and tribal governments in Napa and Solano counties and some private nonprofits for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the quake.
Federal funding is also available statewide for hazard mitigation measures, officials said. While no final estimate of the quake’s economic impact has been made yet, Gov. Jerry Brown estimated around $87 million in state costs so far that are eligible for federal reimbursement in a letter written earlier this month requesting federal aid.
The quake damaged more than 1,000 buildings and more than 100 water lines in the city of Napa alone, according to city officials. The Napa Valley wine industry suffered more than $80 million in damage, and officials have estimated $400 million in damage in Napa County, according to county reports. One Napa woman, Laurie Anne Thompson, 65, died Friday of a head injury she suffered when she was struck by a television in her home during the quake.
Three others were reported critically injured after the quake, including one juvenile. More than 280 people sustained injuries in the earthquake, according to the governor’s office.
Labor Report Is Endorsed By Bart Directors And Union Leaders
In an unusual show of harmony on the 42nd anniversary of the beginning of BART passenger service, BART board members and labor leaders agreed Thursday that a consultant’s report provides a chance to avoid strikes such as the two walkouts that occurred last year.
After Rhonda Hilyer of Agreement Dynamics presented a summary of her 224-page report, Board President Joel Keller said, “This gives us a unique opportunity for doing something new.” Chris Finn, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1021, which represents maintenance and clerical workers, said “This is a huge opportunity to change.” Patricia Schuchardt, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3993, which represents middle managers, said, “I support this document wholeheartedly.
What matters is moving forward and making sure this mess (labor problems) never happens again.” She said, “I see a really bright light at the end of a long tunnel.” However, Finn cautioned, “We have a big ship to turn around” and “we still have a long way to go” before labor peace is achieved. BART directors hired Hilyer earlier this year to look at every aspect of how the transit agency negotiates contracts, including a system of checks and balances to prevent errors, such as a dispute over a paid family medical leave provision that caused a tentative agreement in talks last year to unravel.
BART management’s contract negotiations with employees lasted more than eight months last year and into January of this year and resulted in two four-day strikes. Among the key recommendations in Hilyer’s report are to start contract talks earlier, use arbitrators and remove abrasive negotiators.
Former Asst. School Superintendent Charged With Siphoning $77k In Bookkeeping Scheme
A former assistant superintendent of the Santa Clara Unified School District has been charged with steering $77,000 in public funds for bookkeeping services to himself and staff members, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Jinfa “Jim” Luyau, 59, of Saratoga, is set to be arraigned Friday on two felony conflict of interest charges in Superior Court in San Jose, Deputy District Attorney July Lee said.
Luyau, who faces up to three years and eight months in prison if convicted, allegedly signed two contracts to have the South Bay Area Schools Insurance Authority pay the district for bookkeeping services and collected $42,000 for himself and paid $35,000 to two members of his staff, Lee said. He managed the scheme undetected from 2006 to 2012 while serving as assistant superintendent for business services for the Santa Clara school district in Santa Clara, Lee said.
It is illegal for a government official to have a personal financial interest in a public contract, Lee said. “He himself profited from it,” Lee said. The two contracts, one for $67,500 and the other for $11,500, were negotiated and signed by Luyau to produce financial records for the insurance authority, a joint powers authority created to obtain the best insurance rates for school districts, according to Lee.
In his position overseeing the school district’s business services, Luyau managed the authority’s contracts with the school district and had the checks for payments made out to him and his staffers, Lee said. In 2011, the county Office of Education first uncovered what Luyau was doing in a random audit of school district accounts, according to prosecutors. “They discovered a couple of checks to full-time salaried people” which was “very unusual,” Lee said.
The Office of Education then hired an independent auditor and referred its findings to the district attorney’s office in late 2012, the same year that Luyau retired from the district, according to Lee. Luyau was arrested last week and released from county jail after posting a $20,000 bond, prosecutors reported.
Brentwood Police Officer Injured In Crash With Suspected Drunk Driver
A Brentwood police officer was recovering Thursday after being injured in a car crash with a suspected drunk driver in Oakley, police said. The on-duty officer was driving his patrol car on Brentwood Boulevard near Delta Road when the driver of a truck failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection and plowed into his car, according to police.
The officer was airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where he was treated for moderate injuries and later released. Police said the driver of the second car, identified as 25-year-old Joshua Juhl of Oakley, was treated for minor injuries suffered in the crash. Juhl was later arrested on suspicion of DUI and taken to county jail in Martinez.
Oakley police are handling the investigation into the crash.
Suspect Arrested For Allegedly Offering Money To Massage Juveniles
Novato police have arrested a man suspected of offering money to another man and five juveniles if they would let him massage them, a police sergeant said. The incidents occurred between September 2013 and Aug. 30, Sgt. Mike Howard said.
Jonathan Matthew Sobol, 27, of Novato, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of indecent exposure and annoying or molesting a child, Howard said. Some of the offenses occurred at the Novato Square Shopping Center and Harvest Marketplace.
The suspect allegedly exposed himself in one of the incidents, Howard said. On Tuesday, one of the juvenile victims, who saw the suspect and his vehicle in the downtown area, photographed the vehicle and informed police, Howard said.
Police used information from the photo to conduct a search of a license plate database. A vehicle in the database matched the previously reported vehicle descriptions and Sobol was tentatively identified as the suspect, Howard said.
Bar’s Alcohol License Suspended After Investigation Into Fatal DUI Crash
A San Jose bar Thursday had its license to sell and serve alcohol suspended for 30 days by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control after the department determined a bar employee in 2013 served alcohol to two 19-year-olds who were involved in a fatal DUI crash after they left the establishment. ABC agents posted the 30-day suspension notice at the Nowhere Bar and Grill, located at 2035 Woodard Road.
Officials said ABC agents opened an investigation immediately following the alcohol-related crash that killed the two 19-year-olds on Jan. 11, 2013. Officials said agents determined an employee at the Nowhere Bar and Grill served alcohol to the two men.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Louie Carlos Flores and Joseph Robert Sionne were then driving on northbound Interstate Highway 880 when the car went off the roadway and struck a dirt embankment and ditch. One of the teens was pronounced dead at the scene while the other succumbed to his injuries at a hospital shortly afterward, CHP officials said.
The ABC’s Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergencies (TRACE) program investigates serious incidents including car crashes, alcohol overdoses, poisonings and assaults where alcohol consumption by minors is a contributing factor.
Golf Pro Pleads Guilty To Abusing Boys He Taught
A Livermore golf instructor pleaded guilty Thursday to seven felony counts for sexually abusing three boys he was teaching and then trying to solicit someone to murder them. Andrew Nisbet, 32, had faced a total of 75 felony counts for allegedly abusing the boys, who were between the ages of 12 and 17, according to Livermore police. Nisbet was also charged with three felony counts of solicitation of murder for allegedly trying to hire a hit man to murder the victims in his case after he was in jail.
At a hearing in Alameda County Superior Court in Pleasanton Thursday, Nisbet pleaded guilty to one count each of forcible oral copulation, two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor, one count of possession of child pornography and three counts of solicitation of murder. Nisbet was arrested last Dec. 7, shortly before he was to receive the 2013 Junior Golf Leader Award from the PGA’s Northern California Section. Nisbet taught at the Las Positas Golf Course in Livermore and helped plan and run the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Nisbet was charged with the solicitation of murder counts earlier this year for allegedly trying to hire a hit man to murder the victims in his case. Alameda County District Attorney Inspector Jeff McCort said in a probable cause statement that Nisbet wrote letters from his cell at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin expressing interest in having the boys “taken care of.” McCort said, “From my training and experience that means he is asking to have the victims killed.” Authorities learned of the alleged plot on Feb. 25 when a confidential informant brought them to the attention of a sheriff’s deputy at the jail, according to McCort.
In March, a district attorney’s inspector who posed as a hit man visited Nisbet in jail in a meeting that was secretly recorded, prosecutors said. McCort said that during the jail conversation, Nisbet indicated that he was serious about trying to have the boys killed. Nisbet faces a term of 27 years in state prison when he is sentenced on Oct. 9.
1-Year-Old Boy In Stable Condition After Suffering Gunshot Wound
Police on are investigating a shooting in East Oakland that sent a 1-year-old boy to the hospital Thursday afternoon. Oakland police said officers responded at 12:25 p.m. to the 2600 block of 77th Avenue in response to a 1-year-old being shot.
The injury was not life-threatening and the child was transported to a hospital in stable condition. Police said the child was with his family when the shooting occurred and they are investigating whether the shooting was an accident. Police initially reported the victim was 2 years old and that the incident occurred on 73rd Avenue.
Former Mcdonald’s Manager Sentenced For Robbing Mcdonald’s
A former Pleasanton McDonald’s manager was sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday for robbing another McDonald’s in San Mateo last year, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. Felix Jeronimo Gonzalez-Becerra, 43, is also suspected of robbing his own McDonald’s and is expected to face separate charges in that case, according to prosecutors.
The San Mateo robbery happened at the Laurelwood Shopping Center at 1234 W. Hillsdale Blvd. at about 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2013, when Gonzalez-Becerra forced employees into a freezer at gunpoint, while ordering one of them to open a safe. He ran with the cash he stole, but responding officers broadcast a description of him and his car and he was spotted shortly after in his dark PT Cruiser headed toward the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, police said. Gonzalez-Becerra was pulled over on Interstate Highway 880 in San Leandro and found with the money, the clothes he wore during the robbery and a replica gun he used to threaten the employees.
Pleasanton police later learned that Gonzalez-Becerra was a manager at a McDonald’s at Santa Rita Road and Pimlico Drive and connected him to a similar robbery there at about 3 a.m. on Aug. 28, 2013. In that robbery, a man wearing white cloth gloves and a white full-face mask also forced employees into a freezer at gunpoint, Pleasanton police said. He pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and robbery charges for the San Mateo robbery and faced a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted but entered a plea of no contest in July in exchange for a maximum sentence of seven years.
Police Seeking Help Solving Four-Year-Old Murder Of Chilean National
Police are again asking for assistance in finding the killers of a Chilean national who was shot in Berkeley while walking home from a party with his fiancée four years ago. Adolfo Ignacio Celedon Bravo, nicknamed “Fito,” was shot and killed on Sept. 12, 2010, the morning of his 35th birthday. He had traveled to the U.S with his fiancée, Amber Nelson, after they met in Chile while she was vacationing there in 2008.
Celedon moved back to Berkeley with Nelson and the two had planned to get married in the near future. But while returning from a party that morning at 3:41 a.m. they were only a few blocks from their home when two robbers confronted them at Adeline and Emerson streets. One of the robbers shot Celedon, who was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.
The couple had rented a car for a sightseeing trip that morning to visit places in the Bay Area Celedon hadn’t yet seen because they usually got around by bicycle.
The case has drawn interest from the Chilean government, contributing to a $20,000 reward for information leading to arrests in the case. The two suspects were described only as black men between the ages of 25 and 35 who fled in what was described as a dark older model sports utility vehicle.
20-Year-Old Man Fatally Stabbed In Mission District Identified
A 20-year-old man who was stabbed to death in San Francisco’s Mission District late Tuesday night has been identified, the medical examiner’s office said.
The stabbing of Ronnie Goodman was reported at 11:49 p.m. near 24th and Capp streets, about a block from the 24th Street BART station, police said. Goodman was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Goodman’s city of residence had not been confirmed by the medical examiner’s office as of Thursday night. The suspects remain at large and police have said only that the suspects were described as two men believed to be in their 20s.
Board Of Supes Oks Fee Increase To Fund Centers For Domestic Violence Victims
A $1 fee increase for certified copies of marriage licenses, birth and death certificates and similar documents in Contra Costa County will be used to cover more services for domestic violence victims. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the fee increase, which will help the county expand on its existing Family Justice Center in Richmond as part of a Countywide Family Justice Center Network with two future centers in east and central parts of the county.
The fee hike will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015 and is expected to generate some $91,000 each year for the county’s Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence initiative, launched by the board in 2001, county officials said.
In 2011, the Family Justice Center opened its doors in a temporary location at the Richmond Police Department’s Hilltop Mall substation. Since then, the center has served 700 victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, elder abuse and their family members, providing legal aid, emergency shelter, counseling and other services, according to the center’s executive director, Susun Kim. A new, much larger center in a former county-owned facility on 24th Street in Richmond is set to open next spring.
Kim said the key to the Family Justice Center’s success is connecting clients with all the resources they need in one location. County officials are hoping the success of center’s model will extend countywide with another Family Justice Center in Concord in the planning stages and a third in east Contra Costa County under consideration.
Prosecutors Dispute Keith Jackson’s Bid For Information On Undercover Agents
Federal prosecutors, alleging that former San Francisco school board president Keith Jackson is “far from an innocent lured into criminal conduct,” have asked a U.S. judge to delay consideration of Jackson’s bid for information about FBI undercover agents. Jackson, 49, a political consultant, is one of 28 defendants in a corruption and organized-crime case that includes charges against suspended state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, and Chinatown association leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.
He faces 22 criminal charges, including racketeering conspiracy, soliciting campaign contributions for Yee in exchange for political favors, cocaine conspiracy, gun dealing and a murder-for hire plot. Jackson, a San Francisco resident, presided over the city’s Board of Education in 1997. In a request filed with U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer last month, Jackson’s lawyers asked for an order requiring prosecutors to turn over records of an undercover agent who investigated the bribery portion of the case.
They also asked for the identities of all of the seven or more undercover agents who had contact with Jackson. The defense motion alleged that the bribery investigator, known as Undercover Employee 4773, was investigated by the FBI for possible financial misconduct. It said information about that probe could be relevant to “potential defenses of entrapment and government misconduct” for Jackson in the not-yet scheduled trial.
Breyer is scheduled to consider the motion at a Sept. 24 hearing in his San Francisco courtroom. Eighteen other defendants have joined in the request. In a response filed on Wednesday, prosecutors disputed Jackson’s claim that he may need the information for an entrapment defense.
Prosecutors conceded in their response that a November 2012 FBI wiretap application stated “there has been an internal FBI program review related to the financing and financial record-keeping of the undercover program under which UCE 4773 was operating.” But they said there was no evidence in the documents disclosed thus far to support Jackson’s claim that the agent was removed from the case for financial misconduct. The agent posed as an Atlanta businessman and was introduced to Jackson by the lead agent in the case, who was posing as a Mafia member.