Thursday Morning News Roundup
City College Will Defend Its Accreditation Following Court Injunction
The chancellor of City College of San Francisco said Wednesday that the college will take up the opportunity provided by a court injunction to seek reconsideration of a regional commission’s decision to revoke its accreditation.
“We plan to avail ourselves of the remedy afforded by Judge Karnow and look forward to a fair hearing where we can present our case,” Chancellor Art Tyler said in a statement.
The final injunction was issued by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow on Tuesday together with a 73-page final ruling in a lawsuit filed in 2013 by City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
The injunction requires the Novato-based western regional branch of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to give the college a new opportunity to defend itself against the commission’s 2013 decision to revoke its accreditation.
The college was not a party in the lawsuit, which was filed by Herrera on behalf of the people of California. Thus Karnow’s decision could not order the college to seek reconsideration, but rather, gave it the chance to opt into the reconsideration process outlined in the injunction.
Tyler’s statement affirms that the college will take that opportunity.
Karnow’s final injunction and statement of decision finalize a Jan. 16 tentative ruling in which he concluded the commission violated the college’s due process rights when it decided in 2013 to revoke the accreditation.
The termination was to have gone into effect on July 31, 2014, but was halted by a preliminary injunction handed down by Karnow.
In the meantime, in a separate action, the commission decided last month to allow the college to participate in a newly created process called restoration, in which it will have two years to achieve full compliance with accrediting standards.
Karnow’s final injunction gives the college a separate right to have the commission reconsider the termination.
It also orders the commission not to take away the college’s restoration status or subject it to any adverse consequences in retaliation for opting to follow the reconsideration procedures in addition to the restoration process.
21-Year-Old Shot, Killed In December Was Victim Of Mistaken Identity
A young man fatally shot in front of his San Leandro home in December was the victim of mistaken identity and was apparently only killed because he lived behind a marijuana grow operation, police said Wednesday.
Joel Ramirez was shot and killed the morning of Dec. 14, just three days after his 21st birthday. He was found when a neighbor walking her dog in the 400 block of Kenilworth Avenue saw Ramirez’s car parked and running outside his home at about 9:35 a.m., San Leandro police Lt. Robert McManus said at a news conference Wednesday.
When she returned a few minutes later and the car remained there, she became suspicious and called police. Officers arrived and found Ramirez shot dead in the driver’s seat of his car, McManus said.
Ramirez lived in a rear in-law unit on the block. Investigators served a search warrant on the front house the next day and discovered it was vacant and housed a marijuana grow operation with 250 plants at various stages of development, McManus said.
Police initially looked into the possibility that Ramirez was involved in the grow operation, but McManus said Wednesday it quickly became clear he was targeted in a case of mistaken identity. Police suspect the killer was attempting to kill someone involved in the operation but shot Ramirez instead.
In order to prevent the killer from learning of the mistake and making another murder attempt on the intended target, McManus said investigators held off on releasing Ramirez’s identity. But now they are making a plea for public assistance in solving the case.
The San Leandro City Council approved a $25,000 reward for information leading to criminal charges against the killer on Tuesday night, McManus said.
Ramirez was a San Leandro native who graduated from San Leandro High School and was attending classes at Chabot College in Hayward, McManus said. He worked at El Torito restaurant on the San Leandro Marina and had aspirations of becoming a police detective.
Boy’s Discovery Of Gun Leads To Gang Member’s Arrest
An 11-year-old boy’s discovery of a loaded gun while he was walking to school in San Leandro led to the arrest of an alleged gang member for a shooting outside a bar last week, police said.
The boy was walking to Washington Manor Middle School at about 7:20 a.m. last Thursday when he saw the handle of a gun in the bushes adjacent to the bar Shilo’s at the corner of Manor Boulevard and Zelma Street, where there had been a shooting about six hours earlier, at 1:35 a.m., according to San Leandro police.
The boy believed the gun was a toy but when he picked it up he found out that it was a real handgun so he phoned his parents, who came to his assistance, secured the firearm and called police, authorities said.
Officers who came to the scene determined that the firearm was loaded and also discovered that it had been reported stolen to the Alameda County sheriff’s office last August, police said.
The shooting earlier in the morning had occurred as two uniformed California Highway Patrol officers in a marked patrol car conducted an enforcement stop on a suspected DUI driver in the parking lot of Shilo’s, according to police.
While the CHP officers were conducting their investigation, they heard three or four gunshots coming from inside or near the bar. They called for backup, which resulted in a large response by CHP and San Leandro officers, police said.
About 20 patrons were inside the bar at the time of the shooting so police ordered them to go outside for their own safety, according to police.
Detectives continued their investigation and developed information that a known gang member from San Leandro was responsible for the shooting, police said.
The 25-year-old man, who is currently on probation for firearm-related offenses, was one of the patrons contacted by police inside the bar after the shooting, according to police.
Undercover officers from the San Leandro Police Department’s crime suppression unit located the suspect on Thursday night and arrested him on suspicion of negligent discharge of a firearm in public for the purposes of further promoting his gang, police said.
The reputed gang member was found to be in possession of narcotics and has also been booked on that charge, as well as for allegedly violating the terms and conditions of his probation, police said.
Co-Owner Of Petaluma Slaughterhouse Pleads Guilty In Diseased Cattle For Consumption Case
The co-owner of a Petaluma slaughterhouse that processed sick cattle for human consumption, some with eye cancer, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in San Francisco Wednesday to a conspiracy charge.
Jesse “Babe” Amaral Jr., owner of the now-defunct Rancho Feeding Corporation, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute adulterated, misbranded and un-inspected meat, United States Attorney Melinda Haag, said.
Amaral, 77, is the fourth former Rancho Feeding Corporation employee to plead guilty to charges stemming from the investigation of the slaughterhouse’s practices.
Amaral admitted that between 2012 and Jan. 10, 2014, he knowingly and with intent to defraud directed Rancho employees to process for human consumption cattle that had been condemned by the United States Department of Agriculture’s veterinarian, Haag said.
Amaral also admitted directing employees to circumvent inspection procedures for cattle with symptoms of eye cancer and to process those cattle for human consumption without full inspection, Haag said.
Amaral also admitted knowingly causing Rancho Feeding Corporation to submit fraudulent cattle invoices to farmers between at least 2012 and January 2014, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The maximum penalty for mail fraud and mail fraud conspiracy is 20 years imprisonment, three years supervised release and a $250,000 fine, Haag said.
The maximum penalty for conspiring to distribute adulterated meat is five years in prison, three years’ supervised release and a $250,000 fine, Haag said. Amaral is scheduled to be sentenced July 1 before U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer.
The offenses between 2012 and January 2014 led to a nationwide recall of 8.7 million pounds of beef in February 2014 and the closure of Rancho Feeding Corporation. The USDA’s Office of Inspector General, Investigations, Western Region investigated the slaughterhouse’s practices.
On Aug. 18, 2014, a federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Amaral, 78, Eugene Corda, 66, Rancho’s yardman, and Felix Cabrera, 56, Rancho’s “kill floor” supervisor.
Police Identify Officer Who Shot, Wounded Allegedly Knife-Wielding Man
Oakland police identified the officer who shot and wounded an allegedly knife-wielding man on Friday morning as an eight-year veteran with training in crisis intervention.
Officer Michael Cooper shot the 28-year-old Oakland resident after a confrontation in the area of 88th Avenue and E Street, police said. He was on patrol with an officer in training, but was the only officer to discharge his firearm, according to police.
The two officers were on patrol in that area at 9:42 a.m. when the man’s mother flagged them down to say her son was acting erratically and armed with a knife. She said he had talked about committing suicide by forcing police officers to shoot him, according to police.
When the officers found the man armed with a knife, he refused to drop the weapon and lunged at his mother and one of the officers. Cooper fired his gun at the man, striking him.
He was taken to a hospital in critical but stable condition, according to police.
Neither officer was injured. They both were equipped with police body cameras, which were activated at the time of the shooting, according to police.
Cooper is one of 84 Oakland police officers who have received crisis intervention training, specialized training for dealing with people suffering mental health disorders or emotional crises.
“However, even when an officer is CIT-trained, sometimes circumstances arise that require the use of force,” Oakland police said in a statement.
Police Seek Two Woman Who Used Credit Card Of Man Who Was Found Dead
Police in Gilroy have ruled the death of 56-year-old Robert Joseph Heiser, found dead at his home Monday, a homicide and are seeking two women who used his credit card in East San Jose, a police spokesman said Wednesday.
Police believe there was foul play in Heiser’s death based on preliminary information obtained by officers and the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office, which is still trying to determine what caused him to die, Sgt. Pedro Espinoza said.
The department publicly released surveillance video and photos of two woman considered persons of interest in the homicide probe as they strolled smilingly into a convenience store on White Road in East San Jose, Espinoza said.
The women had Heiser’s credit card with them and used it to purchase some items at the store early the same Monday morning that his dead body was found, he said.
At 2:59 a.m. Monday, Gilroy police answered a call from a neighbor who complained about a noise near Heiser’s suburban residence in the 1400 block of Bay Tree Drive near Santa Teresa Boulevard.
Arriving officers learned that the neighbor had heard dogs barking in the area of Heiser’s home. After they entered the residence, police discovered the man lying unconscious inside.
Medical personnel could not revive him and he was pronounced dead at his home.
Police found no visible evidence of violent death on his body but considered Heiser’s death suspicious based on the report of dogs barking before his body was found, Espinoza said.
Officers later obtained evidence that the two women used his credit card at the store early Monday and want to question them as persons of interest in the case.
The department is also waiting for results of an autopsy on Heiser’s body to learn the reason for his death and the approximate time he died, he said.
The women are described as Hispanic, aged 18 to 23 years, with black hair, one wearing a black parka and a black and white shirt and black pants, the other wearing a dark blue polo shirt and dark blue basketball shorts.
No One Hurt After 2 Police Officers Shoot At Suspect
No one was hurt after two police officers shot at a person in a motel room while serving a search warrant in San Pablo Wednesday morning, police said.
Around 8:30 a.m., officers served a high-risk search warrant at 14771 San Pablo Ave. at the request of Berkeley police to help further an armed robbery investigation, San Pablo police said.
While officers were serving the search warrant, one of the suspects allegedly pointed a handgun at officers, who subsequently shot at the suspect.
Police said there were two people inside the motel room — a male and a female — and neither was struck by the gunfire.
Officers seized a handgun from the room, police said.
In addition to the Berkeley robbery, officers believe the suspects were involved in armed robberies in two other local jurisdictions, police said.
The San Pablo Police Department and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the incident.
Food Bank Officials Worry Drought Could Reduce Fresh Produce For 250,000 Needy People
San Jose-based Second Harvest Food Bank, the country’s largest distributor of fresh produce for the needy, is concerned that another drought year for California could reduce its supply of surplus food, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The lack of precipitation in California this January has Second Harvest, which provides fresh fruit and vegetables to 250,000 people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties every month, worried that the state is in for a fourth straight year of drought, the group’s chief executive officer Kathy Jackson said.
Crop yields in places such as California’s Central Valley could be down, meaning that less of the state’s yield would be available for donation to food banks by grocery stores, Jackson said.
In 2014, Second Harvest received almost 30 million pounds of fruits and vegetables from growers and the California Association of Food Banks for low-income people, the largest amount of any food bank in the nation, she said.
Second Harvest doled out the produce to 330 non-profits for 770 sites such as pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, schools and community centers run by groups including the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and YMCA, she said.
Most of the donated produce is in “grade B” condition, cosmetically marred, too large or thin for markets to accept for sale and so made available for free by growers to food banks, which pay only the costs of packaging and transporting it, she said.
“We’re the wholesales and aggregators of the food,” she said.
But Second Harvest officials believe that as the drought continues there will be smaller crops, causing the markets to relax their standards and accept the grade B produce for sale to shoppers, meaning less for the food banks.
Also, less rainfall may encourage farmers to grow fewer of the row crops Second Harvest uses the most, including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, watermelon, onions and tomatoes, to save more water for trees and vines, she said.
Less produce from the Central Valley and environs would also mean that Second Harvest would have to import more farm products from Yuma, Arizona, increasing the bank’s packaging and transportation costs.
Police Responding To Double Shooting In Mission District
San Francisco police are searching for a suspect who shot two males in the Mission District Wednesday evening during an argument, leaving them with life-threatening injuries.
The victims were standing at the corner of 17th and Capp streets around 7:10 p.m. arguing with the suspect when he pulled out a handgun and shot both of them, according to police.
The suspect fled the scene, and the victims were taken to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Former Wells Fargo Manager Pleads Guilty To Fraud, Theft
A former lending manager at a Wells Fargo bank branch in San Jose has pleaded guilty to four counts of defrauding the bank and two counts of theft by a bank officer.
Sharon Lynn Shaw, 67, of San Jose, entered the guilty plea to all six counts in a 2014 indictment before U.S. District Judge Beth Freeman in San Jose on Tuesday.
Shaw will be sentenced by Freeman on May 19. The convictions each carry a maximum possible sentence of 30 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Shaw admitted during her guilty plea to submitting and approving fraudulent loan applications by using her parents’ names, Social Security numbers and other identification information.
Shaw admitted converting loan proceeds to her own personal use, including paying off the mortgage on her house, Haag said. Authorities did not disclose the amounts of the loans.
Shaw also admitted embezzling from the bank by using her parents’ identification information to obtain a $12,800 line of credit advance in January 2010 and a $20,000 line of credit advance the following month, Haag said.
Faith Leaders Hold Rally To Protest Federal Injunction Halting Immigration Execution Actions
A group of activists and clergy members gathered on a busy sidewalk in San Francisco’s Financial District Wednesday to urge the community to help protect immigrant children and families who are facing deportation following a temporary injunction issued by a federal judge on Monday.
The handful of faith leaders and members of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights gathered in front of the Immigration Courthouse at 120 Montgomery St. around noon today for an event marking the Christian holiday of Ash Wednesday. They placed crosses of black ash on the foreheads of the faithful as families, many with youngsters, passed by on their way to their afternoon immigration court hearings.
Today’s ceremony and rally was held in response to a temporary injunction issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville, Texas, in a lawsuit filed by Texas and 25 other states challenging executive actions on immigration announced by President Obama last year.
Unless overturned on appeal, the judicial order will remain in effect until a trial or further court order on the lawsuit.
The injunction blocks two actions protecting certain groups of immigrants from deportation. One of the two actions blocked by Hanen would have expanded an existing program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which postpones deportation for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was due to start accepting applications today for the expanded program, which might have applied to an estimated 270,000 people nationwide.
The existing DACA program applies to people who are younger than 31 years old as of June 15, 2012 and arrived in the United States before June 2007. About 636,000 people have received deferred deportation and a renewable two-year work permit under that program, according to Hanen’s ruling.
The injunction does not affect applications for the existing DACA program.
However, the now-blocked DACA expansion would lift the age requirement, apply to people who arrived before 2010 and defer deportation for three rather than two years at a time.
The second program blocked by Hanen’s injunction is known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA, and was due to begin in May.
DAPA, if unblocked, would provide deportation protections for an estimated several million people who have lived in the United States for at least five years and are parents of citizens or legal residents.
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Skies will be mostly cloudy today with patchy fog in the morning and highs in the lower 60s. Winds will be from the west at 5 to 15 mph.
Tonight, skies will be mostly cloudy with patchy fog after midnight and lows in the lower 50s. Winds will be from the southwest at 5 to 15 mph.
Friday morning, skies will again be mostly cloudy with areas of patchy fog. Later in the day, skies will become sunny. Highs will be in the mid-60s with south winds reaching 5 mph.