Thursday Morning News Roundup
Climbers Reach Summit Of El Capitan In Yosemite
Two rock climbers, including a Santa Rosa native, made it to the summit of 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park this afternoon after a weeks-long climb, a park spokeswoman said.
Kevin Jorgeson, 30, of Santa Rosa, and Tommy Caldwell, 36, of Estes Park, Colorado, reached the summit sometime after 3 p.m. with Caldwell reaching it first and Jorgeson following a short time later, Yosemite spokeswoman Ashley Mayer said.
The two rock climbers, who began their ascent Dec. 27, plan to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Thursday in the meadow below El Capitan to discuss their climb, Mayer said.
They are the first to “free climb” the Dawn Wall on the world’s largest granite monolith using ropes and pins only for safety.
The pair ate and rested in portaledges — small tents on ledges of the rock — and their endeavor attracted the attention of media from around the world.
Jorgeson and Caldwell posted updates of their climb on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. On Twitter Wednesday morning, Jorgeson wrote, “It’s not over until it’s over” before finishing the climb.
The weather in Yosemite Valley during the climb was mild, with daytime temperatures near 60 degrees and in the low and mid 30s at night.
Appeals Court Upholds First-Degree Murder Conviction And Life Sentences Of Yusuf Bey IV
The first-degree murder convictions of former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and an associate in the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey in Oakland in 2007 were upheld by a state appeals court in San Francisco Wednesday.
Bey, now 28, and Antoine Mackey, 28, were convicted in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland in 2011 and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
Bailey, 57, the editor of the Oakland Post, was gunned down near the corner of 14th and Alice Streets in Oakland on the morning of Aug. 2, 2007.
Prosecutors said Bey ordered the murder because Bailey was writing an article about the bakery’s financial problems and had previously written about child molestation charges faced by Bey’s father, bakery founder Yusuf Bey Sr., at the time of his death in 2003.
The shooter was a third man, bakery handyman Devaughndre Broussard, 26. In a plea bargain, he pleaded guilty to two counts of the voluntary manslaughter of Bailey and another man and became the chief prosecution witness against Bey and Mackey. Broussard was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Mackey helped Broussard rehearse the shooting and drove him to and from the street corner where he shot Bailey, Broussard testified.
In a 106-page ruling, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal turned down a series of appeal claims by Bey and Mackey, including an argument that the trial should have been moved out of Alameda County because of extensive pretrial publicity about the case in newspapers, on television and on the Internet.
The panel upheld trial judge Thomas Reardon’s conclusion that it was possible to select an unbiased jury and said Reardon had addressed the issue in a “methodical and comprehensive way” during jury selection.
“Although there was a great deal of negative pretrial publicity, defendants were not denied a fair trial,” Justice James Richman wrote.
Bey was also convicted of two other first-degree murder charges for ordering the slayings of Odell Roberson Jr. and Michael Willis in July 2007. Mackey was convicted in Willis’s murder.
Reardon sentenced Bey to a total of three life terms without parole and Mackey to two life terms without parole.
The bakery was in bankruptcy proceedings at the time Bailey was killed and closed its doors later in 2007.
Boy Injured In Fall In Bodega Bay Reunited With His Rescuers
A 4-year-old Santa Rosa boy had a cheerful reunion Wednesday with firefighters who rescued him after he fell from a cliff while visiting Bodega Bay on the Sonoma Coast with his family in November.
Sebastion Johnson hugged the firefighters and said, “Thank you” to them at a news conference at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, where he is still recovering from the injuries he suffered in the incident at Sonoma Coast State Beach at 3799 Westshore Road in Bodega Bay shortly before 5 p.m. on Nov. 10.
Sebastion fell off of the cliff while he was walking with his mother.
Bodega Bay Fire Protection District firefighters Jason Downing, Marcos Barros and Lou Stoerzninger brought several gifts for Sebastion, including a department T-shirt, a toy ambulance and a toy fire truck.
Sebastion said, “I love them!”
The firefighters also gave Sebastion a card signed by all of their colleagues.
Downing told Sebastion, “When you feel better you can come to the station.”
Sebastion’s grandmother, Leisa Davidson, said to the firefighters, “When we get out of here, we’ll visit you.”
Dr. Christian Newton, a surgeon at Children’s Hospital, said Sebastion “is looking pretty good now” but will have to stay at the hospital at least a little longer because he still needs help with daily activities such as dressing himself and going to the bathroom.
Sebastion uses a wheelchair but Newton said the boy is able to walk with assistance and is doing physical therapy to recover from his injuries.
Newton said Sebastion had to undergo a tracheostomy, a surgical procedure in which a tube was inserted into him to create an opening from his neck into his windpipe to help him breathe.
“He was completely comatose with multiple fractures and wasn’t waking up from his head injuries,” Newton said.
Sebastion has improved “remarkably” but still has the tube, although doctors hope to take it out soon, Newton said.
Dr. James Betts, another surgeon, said the impact from Sebastion’s fall “was tremendous – like jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge.”
Betts said, “It’s miraculous that he survived that fall. Truly miraculous.”
The firefighters who rescued Sebastion repelled 238 feet down the cliff using ropes to get to where the boy was.
Federal Magistrate Tentatively Approves $1.36 Million Occupy Oakland Settlement
A federal magistrate will hold a final approval hearing in San Francisco on April 1 on a proposed $1.36 million settlement by the city of Oakland with 360 Occupy Oakland protesters who claim they were unfairly arrested and detained in inhumane conditions in 2012.
U.S. Magistrate Nathanael Cousins gave preliminary approval to the settlement in a Jan. 5 order.
Cousins also certified a lawsuit originally filed by eight protesters as a class action on behalf of the full group of 360 people arrested by Oakland police as they marched past the Downtown Oakland YMCA on Broadway on Jan. 28, 2012.
The lawsuit alleged the protesters’ civil rights were violated because they were corralled and hemmed in by police in front of the YMCA without being given a chance to disperse and were forced to sit or stand on the street or held on buses for hours.
The protesters also alleged they were then inhumanely held in jails in Dublin and Oakland for 12 to 85 hours without adequate heat, food, access to toilet facilities or places to sit or sleep.
The arrestees were never charged with a crime, Cousins said in the Jan. 5 order.
The planned settlement would give each arrestee a payment of $2,600. The eight people who filed the lawsuit would each receive an additional $9,000. Their lawyers are tentatively due to receive $350,000, subject to final approval by Cousins.
The class members’ arrest records would also be sealed and destroyed under the agreement.
Dan Siegel, the lead attorney in the case, said, “It’s a good and fair settlement.”
Siegel said he hoped this settlement and a settlement in a related case “will convince the city of Oakland to modify its approaches to dealing with peaceful protests.”
Newly inaugurated Mayor Libby Schaaf, who took office on Jan. 5, said, “It is unfortunate that Occupy Oakland has wasted so much city money. I am committed to never seeing this level of liability again.”
Schaaf also said, “I do hope people see that the city has done a lot of training and clarifying of policy for police control of demonstrations.”
Schaaf noted there have been no incidents “that could lead to this type of liability” in this month or in December.
BART Warning Planned Friday Morning Protests Could Disrupt Service
BART is warning riders that a protest planned at the Montgomery Street BART station during Friday morning’s commute could disrupt service, particularly through downtown San Francisco.
The protest is planned at 7 a.m. on the Montgomery BART platform. Billed as the first in a weekend-long series of direct action events culminating in a march in Oakland on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the protesters are calling for “No Business As Usual” at BART.
The protesters have released demands ahead of the demonstrations, including for BART to drop all charges against the “Black Friday 14,” a group of 14 activists who were arrested for chaining themselves to a BART train at the West Oakland station on Nov. 28.
Those protests were part of a series protesting police killings of unarmed black men sparked by grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York to not indict white police officers who killed unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Protesters have said the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is seeking as much as $70,000 in restitution for the action, but BART officials have said they are looking into community service options in lieu of restitution.
The protesters are also calling for the disbandment of the BART police and fare discounts for low-income residents.
Organizers have asked those attending to bring a metal spoon but have not disclosed what purpose the spoon serves.
BART’s statement indicates the transit agency will facilitate demonstrations at the BART station, but “if protesters choose potentially dangerous actions that cause major service disruptions, BART police are prepared to enforce the law and ensure public safety.”
BART is recommending that commuters keep potential disruptions in mind Friday morning.
The weekend of protests is scheduled to culminate in another action at a BART station on Monday, an 11 a.m. march starting at the Fruitvale station in Oakland, where Oscar Grant III was shot and killed by a BART police officer on Jan. 1, 2009.
There will be numerous actions throughout the weekend, according to organizers.
Unions Voice Concern Over City College’s Future After Restoration Status Granted By Accrediting Commission
Unions and officials expressed concern Wednesday that City College of San Francisco’s future remains threatened despite an announcement by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges allowing the college two more years to fight for its accreditation.
City College faculty members and the California Federation of Teachers, which represents educators across the state, expressed distaste for the ACCJC’s announcement that it has granted CCSF restoration status, arguing that the status will do more harm than good.
The California Federation of Teachers called the ACCJC’s actions in sanctioning CCSF and pulling its accreditation in the first place, “arbitrary, inconsistent and illegal.” The union said that the commission has left CCSF without any right of appeal or review, allowing the college to be shut down unless it reaches full compliance with all requirements, yet allowing other colleges to remain open if they meet only “substantial compliance” standards.
Tim Killikelly, president of CCSF’s faculty union, AFT Local 2121, said the restoration is “deceptive” and that it is granted in order to deflect attention away from the commission’s questionable practices.
“It is a ticking time bomb for CCSF, not a real solution to the problems the ACCJC has created for us and our thousands of students,” Killikelly said.
The announcement by the western regional branch of the ACCJC Wednesday granting restoration status to City College comes more than two years after the commission initially placed the college on “show cause” status and later planned to terminate its accreditation, citing issues with the school’s finances and governance structures.
The announcement by the Novato-based commission comes just prior to a judge’s expected ruling in a civil lawsuit filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera against the ACCJC, alleging that the commission violated the state’s Unfair Competition Law and unfairly sought to remove the college’s accreditation.
The restoration status, which is effective immediately, is the result of a newly created process that allows CCSF to remain accredited and provides the college with two years to come into full compliance with the ACCJC’s eligibility requirements, accreditation standards and commission policies, according to commission president Barbara Beno.
49ers Defensive Line Coach Promoted To Head Coach
The San Francisco 49ers choice to succeed former head coach Jim Harbaugh is the coach who immediately preceded him.
Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula was named the 49ers head coach Wednesday, team officials announced. He previously was the 49ers interim head coach for one game in 2010 after Mike Singletary was fired. The 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals 38-7 in that game.
Harbaugh was then hired to take over in 2011.
Tomsula now takes over following the controversial departure of Harbaugh amid disagreements with the team’s front office.
Harbaugh was the 49ers most successful head coach in years, taking the team to three NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl while accumulating a 44-19-1 record over four seasons.
Team CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke called Harbaugh’s departure a mutual decision with ownership. Harbaugh went on to take over the football team at the University of Michigan.
“After conducting a thorough coaching search, and meeting with a number of outstanding candidates, Jim Tomsula clearly is the right man to lead this team,” York said in a statement. “Jim is a great teacher and a tremendous mentor who conducts himself with great class and integrity.”
Tomsula has worked with the 49ers for eight seasons as defensive line coach except for the single game when he was head coach. He has no previous experience as a head coach or a defensive coordinator in the NFL.
His defensive line has been dominant, ranking fourth in the league in rushing yards allowed per game since he came on board in 2007, according to team officials.
Tomsula may not have head coaching experience, but he was head coach of the NFL Europa team the Rhein Fire in 2006 and was defensive coordinator for the Berlin Thunder for two seasons, where he helped win World Bowl XII.
Tomsula lives in San Jose with his wife, Julie, two daughters, Britney and Brooke, and son Bear.
Suspect Arrested For Allegedly Setting Multiple Fires Identified
A suspect arrested for allegedly setting fires that burned four separate properties in Martinez Wednesday morning has been identified as 52-year-old David Stanley Boyle, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and Martinez police officials said.
Crews first received a report at 12:48 p.m. of a fire burning at 1595 Ashwood Drive and then another at 1577 and 1579 Ashwood Drive, fire officials said.
While en route to the scene, Martinez police notified the fire district of another fire located at 1422 Linton Terrace, Fire Inspector Lisa Martinez said.
Firefighters eventually got all of the fires under control by 2:07 p.m., a fire dispatcher said.
Boyle was arrested after a short foot pursuit in the 1900 block of Elderwood Drive, police said.
One neighbor, Allan Brown, said he saw police use a Taser stun gun to detain a man after a foot pursuit near the scene of the fire.
Mike Kindle, who was working to move a woman out of a nearby unit, said earlier in the day he saw a man arguing with law enforcement officials, then later saw smoke coming from the unit.
The fires caused at least $300,000 in damage at the four addresses, Martinez said.
She said no one was injured in the fire and that arson investigators remained at the scene this afternoon.
Sharon Donahoe said she has lived in the neighborhood for 27 years and has never seen anything like today’s scene.
“I saw the first fire engine go up the hill, then counted up to four more fire engines and I said to myself ‘There’s something wrong here,'” Donahoe said.
Six Injured After Car Crashes Into Newpark Mall, Macy’s Store Evacuated
Four people were injured and two others required medical attention after a car crashed into a NewPark Mall store in Newark late Wednesday afternoon, an Alameda County Fire Department spokeswoman said.
Fire crews responded to a report of a crash at the mall located south of Interstate Highway 880 at 4:48 p.m., fire spokeswoman Aisha Knowles.
The car went 50 feet into a Macy’s department store at the mall that left four people injured, she said.
One of the injured suffered serious injuries, she said.
Two others people not directly involved in the crash suffered injuries Knowles called “secondary medical emergencies,” such as a panic attack or shock.
Knowles did not know how many people were transported to a hospital.
Newark police evacuated everyone at the Macy’s store, Knowles said.
The evacuation order was still in place as of 6:30 p.m., she said.
Baby Born On Side Of Hwy 24 Is Healthy And ‘Doing Great’
A baby boy born inside a car on the shoulder of state Highway 24 in Lafayette Wednesday is healthy and “doing great,” according to the California Highway Patrol.
CHP Officer John Fransen said officers responded to a report of a woman in labor at 7:26 a.m. on Highway 24 near Acalanes Road.
Fransen said the father-to-be pulled over to the side of the road as soon as he realized the baby wasn’t waiting for them to arrive at the hospital.
“He was concerned, but apparently, he was pretty calm as his wife was going into labor,” Fransen said.
The mother gave birth to a boy, Fransen said and then he called back to say they didn’t need an ambulance to the hospital, but would drive themselves.
The threesome arrived at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, a roughly five minute drive, safe and sound, Fransen said.
“It’s definitely a miracle,” Fransen said. “Luckily, most people are able to get to the hospital, but sometimes, when the child wants to enter into this world, they don’t wait.”
Although the woman gave birth before officers arrived, Fransen said CHP officers are trained in the police academy how to deliver babies in an emergency.
The father indicated both the mother and son “are doing great,” Fransen said.
Banksy’s ‘Haight Street Rat’ Returns To Sf Next Week
The infamous graffiti artist Banksy’s “Haight Street Rat” is coming back to San Francisco, where it will be featured at a gallery starting next week.
The piece, which was painted on the side of The Red Victorian hotel at 1665 Haight St. sometime around May 3, 2010, during the semi-anonymous artist’s visit to San Francisco, will be featured at the 836M gallery on Montgomery Street starting Jan. 21.
The painting will be placed in the gallery’s window display since organizers feel visibility from the street, rather than the gallery’s interior, is an important element of the piece. The piece will be at the gallery through July 11.
In a prepared statement, Brian Greif, an independent filmmaker and founder of the group “Save the Banksy,” called Banksy the Andy Warhol of our time.
Unlike Warhol, however, the illegal nature of Banksy’s works requires them to be preserved before they get painted over, Greif said.
Greif partnered with 836M to bring the piece back to the city. Since its removal by experts in the field of repairing and restoring historic buildings, the Haight Street Rat has only been available for public viewing on two occasions, in Miami and Los Angeles. It also spent two years in storage.
The Haight Street Rat features a beret-wearing rodent with a large marker pen drawing a red line, with the words “THIS IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE,” appearing on an adjacent building.
The phrase is reported to be a reference to a nearby clothing store criticized for appropriating street art designs without crediting the artists or sharing the revenue generated by their work.
The establishment’s owners were reportedly planning to paint over it, in accordance with the city’s anti-graffiti laws, until Greif and his group stepped in.
Three Cars Destroyed, Residents Displaced After Carport Fire Spreads To Building
The residents of two apartments in San Jose were displaced Wednesday evening after a fire in a carport spread to a building, according to a fire official.
The fire at an apartment building in the 300 block of Northlake Drive was reported at 5:15 p.m., according to San Jose Fire Capt. Christopher Salcido.
Three cars were enveloped in flame when firefighters arrived on scene and the fire had spread to the first and second floors, Salcido said.
One resident was home asleep at the time of the fire, but neighbors banged on the door and woke him.
The fire crew knocked down the blaze within minutes and there were no injuries to residents or firefighters, Salcido said.
Firefighters initially called for a second alarm but canceled that after seeing the extent of the fire.
The cars were destroyed in the fire and residents will not be able to sleep in the affected apartments tonight, Salcido said.
County To Get $3 Mil. In Settlement With Office Depot In Overcharges For Office Supplies
Santa Clara County is to receive $3 million as its share of a $68.5 million statewide settlement of a dispute with the chain Office Depot about alleged overcharges for office supplies, county officials said Wednesday.
The county and 18 other plaintiffs in California reached the settlement agreement with the Florida-based Office Depot in November in Los Angeles County Superior Court and are waiting for a judge to formally order the payment, assistant county council Danny Chou said.
The county joined the whistleblower case of David Sherwin v. Office Depot, Inc., in 2012 when it discovered Office Depot had not fulfilled a requirement in its contract to sell office supplies at the lowest price available to governments, Chou said.
A former Office Depot sales representative, the late David Sherwin, filed the case in 2009 and made allegations about the company’s sales practices, said Steve Hasegawa, lawyer for Phillips and Cohen, a San Francisco firm that represented the county and other plaintiffs.
Office Depot had signed vendor contracts with a service called U.S. Communities that represented some California cities, counties and school districts and sought to obtain the lowest government pricing for office goods.
U.S. Communities offered the government entities the chance to join a group pricing organization, in this case buying products at a discount from Office Depot without having to put purchasing contracts out to bid, Hasegawa said.
But the plaintiffs discovered through Sherwin that they were paying higher prices than those the company charged the City and County of San Francisco in a separate contract, Hasegawa said.
The U.S. Communities signatories were given discounts of 45 percent off regular list price for Office Depot goods, but later learned that San Francisco was getting 70 percent off list, a violation of the agreement to provide the lowest price available, Hasegawa said.
Santa Clara County had its own contract with Office Depot, but like U.S. Communities the county was not given the best price available and so joined the lawsuit, Chou said.
The settlement, Chou said, “will serve as a deterrent to other contractors who might be considering overcharging the county in violation of their contracts.”
Schools Using Restorative Justice To Increase Graduation Rates, Reading Levels
Zero tolerance policies have failed students for decades, andthey disproportionately affect students of color, Oakland Unified School District officials said today.
But they’ve got a better plan.
District superintendent Antwan Wilson and other officials said at a news conference Wednesday morning at Lakeview Elementary School that restorative justice programs have had a measurable impact on school behavior and educational outcomes by keeping kids in class rather than sending them home as a disciplinary measure.
The district said they’ve documented a 60 percent increase in graduation rates and a 128 percent increase in reading levels for students at schools that use restorative justice.
“We can’t increase student achievement by finding ways to keep our students in the streets,” Wilson said.
By way of example, Wilson pointed to suspending students for skipping school, which he said makes no sense.
Moreover, these practices affect students of color at a disproportionate rate, district officials said.
In one case, implementing restorative justice practices reduced suspensions for disruption and willful defiance among African American students by 40 percent in one year.
Restorative justice practices are now being used in 24 OUSD schools. The district’s stated goal is to expand these programs into all of its more than 80 K-12 schools by the year 2020.
Statewide, the number of students expelled or suspended has dropped two years in a row as the California Department of Education works with districts to implement innovative new programs, including restorative justice.
In the 2013-14 school year there were 49,987 fewer suspensions than in the previous year, down 15.2 percent. There were also 1,655 fewer expulsions in the same time frame, down roughly 20 percent, according to a prepared statement from the CDE.
Before these programs were implemented, the single biggest cause of suspension or expulsion by percentage was “willful defiance.” Last year there was a 47.7 percent drop in the number of students expelled for defiance-related offenses, CDE officials said.
However, a racial disparity continues to adversely affect suspension rates for African American students, according to the CDE.
Former Bookkeeper For Doctor Accused Of Embezzling $243,000
A former bookkeeper for a San Francisco doctor has been charged in federal court in the city with embezzling $243,000 from the physician over four years to pay her personal credit card bills.
Catherine O’Shea, 42, of Daly City, was charged in a sealed grand jury indictment on Jan. 6. The indictment was unsealed Wednesday after she was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to five counts of wire fraud before U.S. Magistrate Jacqueline Scott Corley.
O’Shea worked for the unnamed doctor as a bookkeeper and office manager from 2004 through December 2012, according to the indictment.
The indictment alleges that she embezzled a total of $243,000 between June 2008, when the doctor gave O’Shea the password to the medical practice’s bank accounts, and November 2012.
O’Shea is specifically charged with five counts of wire fraud for five transfers from the doctor’s business account, totaling about $12,000, to O’Shea’s credit card account between 2010 and 2012.
The indictment alleges O’Shea falsely listed the transfer amounts as payments for office supplies or rent.
O’Shea was released by Corley on a $50,000 unsecured bond and is due to return to court Friday for a further bond hearing. She will also appear on Jan. 21 before U.S. District Judge Edward Chen, the trial judge assigned to the case.
Money Secured To Extend Public Toilet, Waste Program In Tenderloin, SOMA
A public toilet and waste program in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood that was set to end on Friday has been extended, with plans to expand, according to a city supervisor.
Supervisor Jane Kim announced Wednesday that $203,200 has been secured for the Tenderloin Pit Stop program, which currently operates at three locations in the Tenderloin neighborhood and will be adding another in the South of Market neighborhood sometime this year.
An ordinance for the program was appropriated during a meeting of the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance committee meeting Wednesday and will be voted on by the full board on Jan. 27.
The pilot program is a partnership with the San Francisco Department of Public Works and nonprofit San Francisco Clean City Coalition making available portable toilets and sinks, used needle receptacles and dog waste stations.
The facilities are staffed through the coalition and moved to the sites by truck, according the public works department.
The toilets run on solar power and are cleaned off-site everyday, city public works officials said.
The current sites are at Ellis Street between Taylor and Jones streets; Hyde Street between Eddy and Turk streets; and Golden Gate Avenue between Jones and Taylor streets. They are open Tuesdays through Fridays from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
In the past six months, the program saved the city 165 gallons in cleaning water daily and about 2,640 gallons per month, according to Sunny Angulo, legislative aide to Kim.
There were 275 syringes safely disposed during the first 14 weeks of the program, Angulo said.
“Public toilets are part of keeping a neighborhood healthy, safe and clean, and we are using data to help target the most cost-effective way to address the great need,” Kim said in a statement.
Cleaning Business Owner Arrested, Allegedly Defrauds Customers More Than $700,000
The owner of a Menlo Park dry cleaning business was arrested Wednesday for allegedly defrauding dozens of customers a total of nearly $700,000, police said.
Edwin Gary Smith, 63, was arrested at his Menlo Park home around 1:50 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of identity theft, credit card fraud, elderly fiduciary abuse and other charges, police said.
He is the owner of Menalto Cleaners located at 1921 Menalto Ave. and police had obtained an arrest warrant for 40 felony counts, according to police.
An investigation into the fraud began in September 2014 when officers were notified of a large-scale credit card theft and later learned seven people lost a combined total of more than $200,000, police said.
The following month, officers and detectives served search warrants at the business and Smith’s home in the 400 block of O’Connor Street in Menlo Park, police said.
Evidence of the alleged crimes was seized during the searches and on that same month police learned there were possibly 30 victims, according to police.
By late December, police determined there were 38 victims that in all lost $678,000 between December 2011 and October 2014 when they were overcharged large amounts of money on their credit cards.
Smith was arrested in front of his home Wednesday without incident and booked into San Mateo County Jail. His bail is set at $500,000.
One user on the business’s Yelp page wrote in September, “Gary runs a quality business. He takes pride in his work, is a good neighbor and will always do his best to satisfy his customers.”
Another user in January 2014 wrote of being charged $12,000 and was told by Gary “that this ‘error’ happened with a couple of other customers and he would get to it.”
Other users wrote that the business’s prices were expensive.
Three Girls Took 10-12 Cold Meds, Seen ‘Under The Influence’ In School Hallway By Custodian
Three girls treated for abusing cold medicine Monday at a school in Morgan Hill downed 10 to 12 tablets each before a custodian noticed their erratic behavior and reported them, the school’s principal said today.
The eighth grade students at Britton Middle School apparently meet during lunch break Monday after taking the Coricidin brand, over-the-counter tablets and emerged from the girl’s restroom when the employee spotted them, principal Glen Webb said.
The custodian observed them in the hallway where “they looked under the influence” and escorted them to the school office, Webb said
From an investigation into the girls’ drug abuse, a male student of the school is suspected of selling them two 32-pill boxes of Coricidin he purchased from a local store, Webb said.
Two of the girls took 10 tablets each – 10 times the normal dosage — and a third swallowed 12, Webb said.
The girls, ranging from 12 to 13 years old, suffered heart rates elevating sharply to 170 beats a minute and appeared disoriented and intoxicated prior to being sent to Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, Webb said.
They were treated and released the same day but health care providers will be monitoring them for the possibility of liver damage due to the high dosage of the drugs they abused, he said.
The principal called the store where the boy allegedly bought the medicine and the manager decided to pull all of the Coricidin from the shelves, Webb said.
Morgan Hill police have decided not to charge the boy suspected of selling the girls the cold remedy because it was legal, over-the-counter medicine, police Capt. Jerry Neumayer said.
Webb said that the school, however, could suspend any student for up to five days or recommend expulsion for, as stated under the state Education Code 48900, possessing or selling “an intoxicant of any kind.”
Any expulsion order for a student would have to come from the Morgan Hill Unified School District Board of Education, he said.
The girls involved were inspired to ingest the drugs from viewing videos on YouTube of children getting high and filming their “trips” on the medicine, he said.
Coricidin, which contains dextromethorphan, produces hallucinations in large doses but is not among the controlled substances held in locked compartments in retail stores, he said.
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Skies will be sunny today with patchy fog expected in the morning. Highs will be around 60 degrees and north winds could reach 5 to 10 mph.
Skies will be partly cloudy tonight with lows around 50 degrees and southwest winds of around 5 mph. There is a slight chance of rain tonight.
The forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies and a slight chance of rain Friday with highs around 60 degrees and southwest winds of 5 mph.