Wednesday Morning News Roundup
Police Release Video Of Man Suspected Of Burglarizing Computer Store
Santa Clara police are searching for a man who appeared in video footage captured by a surveillance system in a computer store that was burglarized Sept. 3, police announced Tuesday.
At about 4:20 a.m. Sept. 3, a man stole several laptop computers from Goldtek Computer at 500 Laurel Wood Road in Santa Clara, officers said.
The man, with a goatee and wearing glasses, gloves, a long white T-shirt and white athletic shoes, is seen on the video footage entering a storage room, according to the video posted by police on YouTube.
He shines a flashlight around the room at some shelves and boxes, then walks close to the camera and appears to tamper with it before the video comes to an end.
Police are asking anyone who may recognize the suspect or with any information about the burglary to call Detective Johnny Fanucchi at (408) 615-4825.
Search For Missing Belmont Man Shifts To Shasta County
The search for an elderly Belmont man missing for almost two weeks has shifted from Siskiyou County to Shasta County, Belmont police said Tuesday.
Paul Merrill, 87, disappeared on Sept. 4 after leaving a gas station in McCloud, a city in the Mt. Shasta area of Siskiyou County, prompting the California Highway Patrol to issue a Silver Alert.
A family member told police that Merrill had gone on a trip to the Mt. Shasta area, checked out of a McCloud hotel and hadn’t heard from him since, police said.
Siskiyou County Sheriff’s deputies on Friday received a tip that Merrill was seen on Sept. 9 with his car in the area of Dana Drive and Churn Creek Road in Redding, a city in Shasta County, according to police.
Last Wednesday, law enforcement agencies deployed crews by air and ground in the McCloud area searching for Merrill based on two reported sightings of him received on Sept. 8, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.
The first sighting was of Merrill’s car spotted on the side of the road on state Highway 89 about 15 miles east of McCloud.
The second sighting was of a man who matched Merrill’s description seen walking in the forest near Cattle Camp.
The search in Siskiyou County was suspended on Saturday after search crews did not find the Belmont man or his car.
Merrill is described as a white man standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing around 165 pounds. He was last seen wearing a green jacket, a brown plaid shirt, khaki pants, tan boat shoes, and possibly a blue sailor’s hat, CHP officials said.
He was driving a silver 1956 Mercedes convertible with California license plate EZX295 that his family said may be parked with a tan or brown cover.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search including Belmont police, Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office from Oregon, U.S. Forest Service and CHP.
Merrill’s family is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to his discovery and set up a Facebook page to assist in the search effort at https://www.facebook.com/findpaulmerrill.
Anyone who sees Merrill in Redding or Shasta County area is asked to call the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office at (530) 245-6025.
City Allocates $2.1m To Provide Legal Aid For Migrant Children, Families
About a dozen children attended the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday afternoon thanking the supervisors for passing an ordinance devoting more than $2.1 million over the next two years to legal services for unaccompanied minors and families without representation who face deportation to Central America.
The ordinance passed Tuesday afternoon allocates more than $1.06 million this year and a matching amount next year from the city’s General Fund Reserve to the Mayor’s Office of Housing for legal services for unaccompanied children and families on the San Francisco Immigration Court’s expedited removal docket, according to the Board of Supervisors.
The American Bar Association’s President William Hubbard addressed a letter to the board supporting the ordinance, stating that the massive influx of children “reflects a regional humanitarian crisis.”
He said children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico are fleeing acts of violence, abuse, neglect and even death threats.
Hubbard said many of the children who have been apprehended by the federal authorities at the Mexican border for illegally crossing into the country are eligible to apply for immigration relief.
However, he said that because there is no right to appointed counsel for unaccompanied children in removal proceedings, these children frequently have to represent themselves against experienced trial lawyers.
In a policy analysis report by the Board of Supervisor’s Budget and Finance Committee released this month, the cost of annual legal representation for the roughly 2,130 cases per year expected to be without representation in San Francisco Immigration Court, is estimated to be $6.25 million.
The ordinance passed Tuesday will fund $2.1 million of that overall estimated cost.
Among the young children at Tuesday’s meeting who addressed the Board and the public in Spanish through an English interpreter, was Fatima, who fled El Salvador.
She thanked the board for “helping her and other children find attorneys.”
San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, who authored the proposal presented certificates of honor to Fatima and a handful of other children who testified at the Board of Supervisor’s budget and finance committee.
Reputed Gang Leader Gets 8 Years For Conspiracy Conviction
One of the reputed leaders of an East Oakland gang was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in state prison for conspiracy to commit a home invasion robbery, prosecutors said.
Frederick Manning, 24, an alleged leader of the Money Team gang, pleaded no contest on Aug. 14 to conspiracy and a gang participation enhancement clause, according to prosecutor Ben Beltramo.
Manning was one of 13 reputed gang members who were arrested in August 2013 in raids led by Oakland police that were carried out in East Oakland, Hayward, Fremont and Antioch.
The arrests stemmed from Operation Ceasefire, an Oakland police crime-fighting strategy in which police tell gang members or their representatives that they will be arrested unless they stop their violent activities and change their lifestyles.
Beltramo said eight reputed gang members, including Manning, have had their cases resolved so far and the cases of the other five reputed members are still pending.
Among those who still faces prosecution is Shawn Hampton, 24, another reputed leader of the Money Team gang.
Among the charges against the alleged gang members are conspiracy to commit a crime, kidnapping to commit another crime, street terrorism, robbery and burglary.
Woman Struck, Killed By Amtrak Train On Tracks
A woman was struck and killed by an Amtrak train in Hayward on Tuesday evening, police said.
Officers responded to reports of a woman struck by a train on the tracks south of Industrial Parkway West around 5:10 p.m., Hayward police Lt. Jeff Lutzinger said.
The collision happened on the tracks where Amtrak had the right of way, Lutzinger said.
The train stopped and unloaded passengers who were shuttled away from the scene, he said.
There were 126 passengers on the Amtrak 542 train at the time of the collision, Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said.
No injuries were reported to passengers or crew members, she said.
The train was on the Capitol Corridor route heading toward Sacramento, according to Woods.
Amtrak service was delayed due to the collision, she said.
Union Pacific Railroad police are investigating the collision.
Defendant Convicted And Sentenced Twice For Kidnappings And Rapes
A Santa Rosa man was sentenced Tuesday to 75 years in prison for kidnapping and raping three women in 2006 and 2009.
Rogelio Carlos-Zaragoza, 29, was initially convicted four years ago of the abductions and rapes and sentenced to 75 years in prison.
The conviction was overturned by an appellate court because the jury was not instructed before deliberating that the prosecution must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Carlos-Zaragoza was retried and reconvicted of the same charges on Aug. 18. Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau sentenced Carlos-Zaragoza again to 75 years in prison.
“Conviction by a second jury reaffirms the truth of the allegations against this sexual predator,” Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.
Carlos-Zaragoza’s brother, Leonel Carlos-Zaragoza, was convicted of one of the rapes and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Rogelio Carlos-Zaragoza was reconvicted of raping one of the women in a vineyard with three of his friends on June 16, 2006 and raping another woman with his three friends in a vineyard on July 28, 2006, Ravitch said.
The jury also reconvicted Rogelio Carlos-Zaragoza of rape in concert with a kidnapping allegation on July 24, 2009 when his brother Leonel kidnapped a girl at knifepoint and raped her in the back seat while Rogelio drove, Ravitch said.
DNA tests linked Rogelio Carlos-Zaragoza to the two rapes in 2006, Ravitch said.
Deputy District Attorney Tania Partida prosecuted Rogelio Carlos-Zaragoza at both trials.
Bart Reviewing Police Officer’s Use Of Force After Video Of Incident Surfaces
BART police are reviewing an incident on a train at the Pittsburg/Bay Point station last week in which an officer slammed a woman to the ground as he attempted to detain her.
More than one passenger captured footage of the incident via cellphone as the train was stopped at the Pittsburg/Bay Point station last Wednesday night.
An officer at the station was called around 9:30 p.m. to respond to reports that a woman aboard a San Francisco International Airport-bound train was acting erratically, pounding on the windows and trying to pry open the train doors as they left the station, according to a BART police report.
When the officer arrived on the train he found a woman who appeared to be passed out and attempted to arrest her on suspicion of public intoxication, police said.
A video posted by a fellow passenger on YouTube shows the officer trying to handcuff the woman, who repeatedly asks why he is hurting her.
At one point the video shows the officer suddenly slam the woman on the ground.
The man recording the video and other passengers can be heard commenting on the officer’s treatment of the woman and the woman herself began crying and continued to resist arrest.
Paramedics and additional BART police officers arrived a short time later and took the woman into custody.
She was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and resisting arrest and taken to a hospital for medical clearance before being booked into county jail in Martinez.
Police said the woman was believed to be under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine at the time of the incident.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said BART police are reviewing footage from a camera worn by the officer involved in the use of force as well as other information.
“The standard use of force review is taking place now just as with all use of force incidents,” she said. “That review makes it to the chief’s office.”
Trost said she could not release the name of the officer involved or the woman who was arrested until a report on the use of force is complete.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no one had come forward to file a complaint against the officer, who has not been placed on leave or disciplined, she said.
Students Reenter Lowell High School After Bomb Threat
Students and staff were allowed back into Lowell High School in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon after police searched for a reported bomb, police and school district officials said.
The school at 1101 Eucalpytus Drive received a bomb threat in a phone call at about 1:15 p.m. and called police, according to San Francisco Unified School District officials.
Students and staff were evacuated and police arrived about five minutes later.
Police officers searched the campus but did not find any threat, police said. Students were allowed to reenter the school at about 4:20 p.m.
Claim Filed Against City Following Incident At Giants Game On Native American Heritage Night
Two Native Americans removed from San Francisco’s AT&T Park during a Native American Heritage Night at a Giants game in June are filing a claim of police brutality against the city and are urging the Giants to practice cultural sensitivity.
Kimball Bighorse, 35, of San Bruno, who is of Seneca, Cayuga, and Navajo descent, stood outside AT&T Park on Tuesday morning recounting the incident that occurred inside the ballpark on June 23 that led to police detaining him and a fellow Giants fan who he met that night, April Negrette.
Bighorse said he and Negrette peacefully confronted a man wearing a backwards, plastic Native American-themed headdress.
Bighorse described the headdress as “counterfeit” and said it was being worn in an “offensive” manner on a night that was meant to celebrate Native American heritage.
They expressed to the man that what he was doing was an insult and a highly offensive instance of cultural appropriation.
In a video about the incident posted on the YouTube channel WeCopwatch, Negrette says the man eventually gave the pair the headdress when he saw how upset it was making her.
As the pair was heading back to their seats, San Francisco police officers stopped them, Bighorse said.
San Francisco police officers ejected them from the ballpark, allegedly throwing Negrette to the floor by her hair, violently twisting her arms behind her back and keeping her in a painful compliance hold for an extended period of time, Bighorse said.
Bighorse, a software engineer who works at a San Francisco startup company, said he decided to capture video footage of the police officers’ conduct on his phone. He captured much of the incident on his phone before he too was removed from the stadium and handcuffed.
Negrette said in the YouTube video that police were violent and didn’t readily supply a female officer to search her despite her request. She said she was “harassed and abused.”
Bighorse said he hopes filing the tort claim will remind San Francisco police to think twice before stopping people from expressing themselves and will hold police accountable for their actions.
A letter delivered this week to the Giants’ director of special ticketing, Faham Zakariaei, from the pair’s attorney, Rachel Lederman, on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild urged the Giants to prevent a recurrence of “racist and culturally insensitive” actions.
The Giants have placed a message on a section of their team website saying, “Any fan wearing culturally insensitive attire, using obscene or abusive language, engaging in antisocial conduct offensive to those around them or displaying any other offensive behavior is subject to removal from the ballpark.”
Tony Gonzales, director of American Indian Movement West and a liaison to the United Nations, supports the pair’s claim, saying that the incident “goes to the heart of racism in America.”
Both Gonzales and Bighorse said Tuesday that they are longtime Giants fans and said they would like to see the Giants act in an exemplary manner.
Man Wearing ‘Rub Me For Luck’ T-Shirt Who Grabbed Girl At Target Sentenced To 5 Years
A man wearing a “rub me for luck” T-shirt who inappropriately grabbed a 6-year-old girl in a San Bruno Target store in 2012 was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Former UPS driver Glenn Albrecht, 51, was arrested on Aug. 26, 2012, after the girl pointed him out as the man who touched her buttocks when she wandered into another aisle while shopping with her family at Target.
He left the store right after touching her but then returned while the girl’s family was still there and she identified him. The girl’s father hit him and Target security detained him, prosecutors said.
After reviewing the store’s surveillance tapes, police identified a second victim that Albrecht touched the same day who had not reported him. Investigators were eventually able to locate the 11-year-old girl and interviewed her, prosecutors said.
Searching Albrecht’s home, investigators found a life-sized blow-up doll of a child and child pornography.
Albrecht pleaded no contest in April to two counts of felony child molestation and one count of possession of child pornography in exchange for a sentence of five years in prison, prosecutors said.
He was handed the sentence by Judge Jonathan Karesh on Tuesday morning and must also register as a sex offender for life, Wagstaffe said.
Albrecht was remanded into custody Tuesday morning after being free on a $300,000 property bond. He was released shortly after his arrest and will receive only 21 days credit for time served, Wagstaffe said.
STATE TAX RELIEF AVAILABLE FOR SOUTH NAPA EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS
California Franchise Tax Board officials said Tuesday that state tax relief is available to taxpayers affected by the South Napa earthquake last month.
President Barack Obama’s declaration of a major disaster following the 6.0-magnitude earthquake on Aug. 24 allows taxpayers affected by the quake to claim disaster losses in the 2013 or 2014 tax year.
Typically, taxpayers must deduct losses only in the year of the loss (2014).
The advantage of claiming the loss in the prior year (2013) is that the loss will generally reduce that prior year’s tax liability, according to the Franchise Tax Board. The claim generally creates a refund the tax board can quickly issue.
Disaster victims who have not yet filed their 2013 tax return can claim their disaster loss on their original tax return.
Taxpayers who have already filed their 2013 tax return can claim a disaster loss against that year’s income by filing Form 580X, an Amended Individual Income Tax Return. Disaster victims have until April 15, 2015, to make their prior year (2013) disaster loss deduction.
To get copies of lost or damaged state returns, people can file Form FTB 3516, a Request for Copy of Tax Return online or by writing “DISASTER-NAPA EARTHQUAKE 2014” in red ink across the top of the request.
A casualty loss occurs when a taxpayer’s property is lost or damaged from earthquake, fire, flood or a similar event that is sudden, unexpected or unusual.
Disaster victims usually qualify for a casualty loss tax deduction when insurance or other reimbursements do not cover the property damage.
More information is available online at ftb.ca.gov or irs.gov.
Judge Rules Against Demonstrators In Uc Berkeley Brutality Case
A federal judge on Tuesday issued several procedural rulings against demonstrators who are seeking $15 million in damages because they allege that they were victims of police brutality in an “Occupy Cal” protest at the University of California at Berkeley in November 2011.
But Shanta Driver, an attorney for the protesters, said she believes that the rulings that U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers delivered in an angry voice at a short hearing Tuesday are only a temporary setback because the judge gave the demonstrators one week to amend their suit to address her procedural concerns.
The activist group By Any Means Necessary and 29 other protesters filed suit on Nov. 29, 2011, accusing UC Berkeley and other agencies of police brutality, false arrest and violating their free speech rights during protests on Nov. 9, 2011.
The defendants include UC Berkeley, top university administrators, university police, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and the Oakland Police Department.
One of the issues on Tuesday was the demonstrators’ bid to amend their suit to allege that UC Police Department Lt. Marc Decoulode violated their First Amendment free speech rights and authorized false arrests.
The other issue was the university’s motion to dismiss allegations against two Alameda County sheriff’s deputies who are named in the suit.
Gonzalez Rogers denied the demonstrators’ motion and granted the university’s motion, telling Ronald Cruz, one of the attorneys for the demonstrators, that his legal filings on the matters were sloppy and violated her orders and rules.
Gonzalez Rogers told Cruz, “You have one week to file your papers in the proper way,” asking him, “Do you understand?
The judge then adjourned the hearing after Cruz said he understood.
According to Driver, attorneys for UC Berkeley previously sought to have former Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and other top administrators dismissed from the suit but Gonzalez Rogers denied their motion.
At a hearing in the case last year, an attorney for the university said UC Berkeley officials wanted to remove the protesters from Sproul Plaza because they were concerned about safety and sanitation problems that had plagued other “Occupy” encampments across the country in the fall of 2011.
The demonstrators’ case, which will still go forward even if Gonzalez Rogers re-affirms her procedural rulings against them, is scheduled for trial next year.
Man Killed In Early Morning Crash Identified
A man who died early Tuesday morning after his car crashed into a tree in South San Jose was 23-year-old Samuel Spencer, according to the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office.
Spencer, a San Jose resident, was driving a gray Honda Accord at 12:16 a.m. heading west on Blossom Hill Road near Cottle Road when he lost control and stuck a tree in the center median, according to San Jose police.
He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Police have not released any other information about the crash or whether the use of alcohol or drugs may have been a factor.
Two New Suspects Arrested In July Gang-Related Homicide
Two new suspects have been arrested in the gang-related shooting death of a man in East San Jose in July, police said Tuesday.
On Aug. 30, San Jose police arrested 20-year-old Roque Moravillalobos and last Thursday took Juan Casas, 23, into custody, both on suspicion of killing 22-year-old David Escalera, police Officer Albert Morales said.
At 3:40 p.m. on July 28, San Jose police were called to investigate a shooting in the 200 block of Gramercy Place, where they found a wounded man later identified as Escalera, according to police.
He was shot multiple times and died soon afterward at a hospital, police said.
The next day, police arrested German Alexis Arjona, 19, of San Jose, in connection with the murder, police said.
Then on Aug. 14, officers arrested 16-year-old Carlos Vargas, of San Jose, on suspicion of homicide with a gang enhancement while he was already incarcerated in Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall on an unrelated charge, Morales said.
Vargas was later transferred to the Santa Clara County Main Jail after the district attorney’s office charged him as an adult, Morales said.
Police detectives believe the killing was related to criminal street gang activity.
Highway 4 Ramp, Lane Closures Planned This Week
Motorists in Brentwood and Antioch can expect lane and ramp closures on state Highway 4 this week as crews continue work on a roadway widening project, according to Caltrans.
Both the on-ramp and off-ramps on Highway 4 at Sand Creek Road in Brentwoodare scheduled to be closed from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 4 a.m. today, Caltrans officials said.
In Antioch, all westbound lanes of Highway 4 at the Lone Tree Way/A Street exit will be closed from 11 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday.
Additional westbound lanes of Highway 4 will be closed during the same period from Hillcrest Avenue to Contra Loma Boulevard, according to Caltrans.
Motorists in the area will be directed to roadway detours.
Mother Suspected Of Dui And Toddler Injured In Hit-And-Run On Hwy 24
A suspected drunk driver and her 2-year-old daughter were badly injured by a hit-and-run driver after walking across state Highway 24 in Orinda on Monday night, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said Tuesday.
The collision happened around 9:50 p.m. on eastbound Highway 24 near St. Stephens Drive, where officers arrived to find a Honda minivan had crashed into the center median, CHP Officer John Fransen said.
Officers arriving on the scene heard a child crying and found a toddler and a 24-year-old woman down on the roadway’s right-hand shoulder suffering from major injuries, Fransen said.
The mother and her daughter were taken to hospitals to be treated for their injuries and are expected to survive.
Fransen said the mother, whose name was not immediately released, is believed to have been driving under the influence when her minivan went off of the roadway and into the center divider.
She will likely be arrested on suspicion of DUI and child endangerment but remained in the hospital as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Fransen.
It appears that after crashing into the center median, the woman and her daughter then crossed over to the highway’s shoulder on foot when a vehicle believed to have been a Mercedes-Benz struck them.
The driver did not stop at the scene and no further description of the suspect vehicle was immediately available.
Anyone with information about the collision is asked to call the CHP’s Contra Costa area office at (925) 646-4980.