Friday Morning News Roundup
Several Judges On Panel Appear Dubious Of Bonds Obstruction Conviction
Several members of an 11-judge federal appeals court panel appeared dubious of home-run champion Barry Bonds’ obstruction-of-justice conviction during a hearing in San Francisco Thursday.
Bonds, 50, is appealing his 2011 conviction in federal court in San Francisco for obstructing justice by giving misleading or evasive testimony to a U.S. grand jury in 2003.
The grand jury was investigating the sale of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes by the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
The former San Francisco Giants slugger has served his sentence of one month of home confinement, but he and his team of six lawyers are continuing his appeal in a bid to clear his name.
Bonds was convicted by the trial jury on the basis of a rambling statement in which he called himself the “celebrity child” of a baseball-playing father when asked whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, had given him anything to inject himself with.
He claims the verdict was unfair because he wasn’t given notice of that statement in an indictment, and because he answered the question directly three times a few seconds later, denying that Anderson gave him injectable drugs.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction last year, but the court granted a rare reconsideration by an expanded 11-judge panel. The judges took the case under consideration after an hour-long hearing Thursday.
Judges Jacqueline Nguyen and Susan Graber questioned Assistant U.S. Attorney Merry Jean Chan about whether Bonds hadn’t “cured” the alleged evasiveness in his subsequent answers to the question.
While playing with the Giants from 1993 to 2007, Bonds set the Major League Baseball career home-run record of 762, as well as the single-season record of 73, which he batted in 2001.
Bonds admitted to the grand jury he had taken substances known as “the clear” and “the cream” from Anderson, but said he thought they were flaxseed oil and arthritis ointment. The substances were later identified as so-called designer steroids that had been engineered to be undetectable.
Bonds is one of 11 people, including athletes, trainers, BALCO officials and a chemist, who were accused of either illegally distributing drugs or lying in connection with the BALCO investigation. The others all pleaded guilty or were convicted of various charges.
The obstruction count in Bonds’ indictment alleged he impeded the grand jury’s BALCO probe by giving “intentionally evasive, false and misleading” testimony, but did not specify any particular statements.
The “celebrity child” statement was one of seven statements later identified in jury instructions as possible examples of obstruction. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston told jurors they had to agree on at least one statement as an example in order to convict on the obstruction charge, and the jury chose that statement.
The appeals court panel has no deadline for issuing a decision.
Female Grabbed Gun In May Incident At 49ers Player’s Home
San Jose police on Thursday released a report about an incident in May at the home of San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald in which a female became upset and grabbed a gun during an argument.
The incident report, which did not name McDonald or his fiancé, came months before the 49ers’ player was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence at his San Jose home on Aug. 31.
The report stated that at 8:09 p.m. on May 25 at 2516 Bentley Ridge Drive — listed in property records as owned by McDonald — a male and female “engaged couple” were having an argument “when the female subject became upset, grabbed a firearm (handgun) registered to the male subject and held it at her side.”
“When the male subject informed the female subject that he was going to call 911, the female subject put the firearm away and fled without incident,” police stated in the report.
“The female subject did not make any threats or point the firearm at the male subject,” the report stated. “Both subjects have been identified and contacted.”
Police did not make any arrests.
On Aug. 31, San Jose police arrested McDonald, 29, and booked him into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of domestic violence with his pregnant fiancé during a party at his home.
According to police, officers responded to reports of violence in the 2500 block of Bentley Ridge Drive around 2:45 a.m.
McDonald was released from jail later the same day. The district attorney’s office has yet to file charges against him, citing an incomplete investigation.
The 49ers have permitted McDonald to continue to play pending the outcome of the investigation.
Supes Holds Hearing On Public Access To Hiv Preventative Drug
Medical professionals and supporters of free access to preventative HIV/AIDS drugs expressed their desire at a San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee hearing Thursday to see such drugs made available regardless of income.
Following a rally by supporters outside City Hall, Supervisor David Campos held a hearing of the board’s Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee to learn how San Francisco could become the first city to provide the preventative drugs to HIV-negative residents who otherwise can’t afford them.
Members of the public and the city’s medical community urged the committee to help pay for the drug for those who cannot afford it.
The pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), often referred to by its brand name Truvada, is the first drug approved by the FDA for preventing the spread of HIV.
Truvada was created by Foster City-based Gilead Science and was approved by the FDA in 2012.
According to the drug’s website, Truvada is designed for HIV-negative people who want to protect themselves from contracting the disease.
Truvada makes it harder for HIV-1 to multiply by blocking a particular enzyme in the body, thus helping lower the viral load and thereby decreasing the amount of HIV in the blood.
Serious side effects can include excessive amounts of lactic acid in the blood, liver problems and other issues, according to Truvada’s website.
Supervisor Scott Wiener said that he is currently taking the PrEP and that one of the reasons he chose to take the drug is to increase public awareness around it.
Of the 3,000 people who have been prescribed the drug worldwide, about 1,000 of those people are San Francisco residents, according to Wiener.
Father Is Charged For Accidental Shooting Of His 1-Year-Old Son
A 23-year-old Oakland man has been charged with three felony counts for the accidental shooting of his 1-year-old son last week, prosecutors said Thursday.
Onisema Tua, 23, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to one count each of child abuse, carrying a concealed firearm within his vehicle and carrying a loaded firearm in a city.
According to Oakland police, the boy was with his family in a stroller in the vicinity of the Eastmont Town Centre in the 2600 block of 73rd Avenue at about 12:25 p.m. on Sept. 11 when he was struck by gunfire in an accidental discharge.
Police said after the shooting that the boy was in stable condition at a local hospital but police didn’t respond to a request for updated information on the boy’s condition or additional details about the shooting.
Tua, who is being held at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $180,000 bail, is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Sept. 25 for a pretrial hearing.
Audit Finds City Employees Charged Unauthorized Computer Tablets, Wine, Sports Car Rental To Taxpayers
San Jose’s Office of City Auditor on Thursday reported that some city employees seriously violated rules of credit card use, such as unapproved purchases of computer tablets, rent on a BMW car, $700 on wine and $47,000 at an employee-owned company.
City Auditor Sharon Erickson,in her report sent to the City Council, reviewed of a sample of 3,500 transactions by 910 city credit cardholders who made 41,000 purchases totaling $12.8 million in all city departments and offices between April 2013 and this past April.
While most employees followed city procedures “with few exceptions,” Erickson said she discovered some “serious violations,” including p-cards of terminated employees that remained active and employees sharing charge card information with colleagues not authorized to use them.
Some p-card purchases were for “a large number of IT products, including tablets, which were made without IT approval,” Erickson reported.
In another case, while city policy explicitly states that p-cards not be used to make personal purchases, one employee who totaled his car used a p-card to rent a new BMW vehicle for two and a half weeks, Erickson stated.
That person will have to pay the city back, Erickson said.
In another instance, despite city policy that states p-card holders “shall purchase the least expensive item,” Erickson reported some employees shopped at high-end retailers and one cardholder feted delegates and city staff at “an expensive downtown restaurant,” paying for “48 dinners and $700 spent on alcohol, including 12 $55 bottles of wine.”
Another employee charged up 10 tickets at $225 apiece for a VIP table at an awards dinner to honor a city staff member, but the recipients of the tickets were not employed by the city, she stated.
In still another case, city cardholders from December 2011 to June of this year made 65 purchases totaling more than $47,000 at a company owned by a more senior employee of the same department, including $38,000 spent by one cardholder since June 2013, Erickson reported.
That situation entailed “a serious conflict of interest” under the city’s Code of Ethics and Outside Employment Policy. The case has been forwarded to the city’s Office of Employee Relations for possible discipline and the department’s card suspended.
Those who violate city spending policies face disciplinary actions, from paying the charged funds back to termination if a case can be made.
King Fire Arson Suspect Has Prior Convictions In Santa Cruz Co.
A man suspected of deliberately starting the massive King Fire burning east of Sacramento has prior felony convictions in Santa Cruz County, El Dorado County prosecutors said Thursday.
Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, of Pollock Pines was arrested Wednesday and charged with arson for allegedly setting the fire, which had grown to nearly 71,000 acres as of Thursday morning, according to Cal Fire.
Two people have been injured and more than 2,000 residences and 1,500 other structures are threatened by the fast-moving wildfire, but none have yet been destroyed, Cal Fire officials said.
So far 3,000 people have been evacuated as 3,600 firefighters work to contain the fire. It was only 5 percent contained as of Thursday morning.
Huntsman “willfully and maliciously” set a forest area on fire near Pollock Pines on Saturday, according to charging documents filed Thursday in El Dorado County.
He has connections to Santa Cruz County, and was convicted of assault and grand theft there in 1997.
New Cruise Ship Terminal Opens At Pier 27
The grand opening of the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27 in San Francisco next week is expected to attract more tourists and more cruise ships to the city, officials said Thursday.
The $100 million modern cruise ship terminal is designed to accommodate vessels carrying between 2,600 and 4,000 passengers, which means more passengers will arrive in San Francisco via cruise ships then ever before, according to the Port of San Francisco.
Among those who endorsed the development of a new cruise terminal in the city was Princess Cruises’ vice president of shore operations, Bruce Krumrine.
In a letter to the Port of San Francisco in 2010, Krumrine said that among other advantages, the Port would gain the ability to handle larger ships and a greater number of passengers, translating to more business for Princess Cruises.
According to Cruise Line International Association, the cruise industry’s official trade organization, the cruise ship industry has grown about 7 percent each year since 1980.
Arrest Made In Fatal Bar Bell Beating At Gym
A South San Francisco man was arrested Thursday morning after he allegedly beat another man to death at a gym where they were both members, according to police.
Police were called to the gym on the 100 block of El Camino Real in South San Francisco around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on a report of an assault.
Witnesses told officers that a gym member, later identified as South San Francisco resident Kenneth Osako, 46, had attacked another gym member with a solid steel bar normally used to lift weights.
Osako, a plumber, allegedly struck the man in the head several times, then dropped the steel bar and left the scene, police said.
The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died Thursday of his injuries.
Osako was located Thursday morning and arrested by South San Francisco police and a special agent from the Department of Homeland Security, police said.
He has been booked into San Mateo County jail on suspicion of murder.
Woman Who Hid Body Of Newborn Under Home For 2 Years Pleads No Contest To Involuntary Manslaughter
A woman pleaded no contest Thursday in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas to felony charges after admitting she placed her dead newborn baby beneath her home for two years, according to a prosecutor.
Jennifer Cecilia Warren, 41, formerly of Seaside, refused to contest charges of involuntary manslaughter, felony child endangerment with great bodily harm and an enhancement of harming a child under 5 years old, Deputy District Attorney Jeannie Pacioni said.
Warren faces a sentence of up to 11 years in prison at a hearing set for Nov. 20 before Judge Carrie Panetta, according to Pacioni.
Seaside police were called to Warren’s home in the 1200 block of Judson Street on Feb. 22, 2013, after she complained about being harassed by her neighbors.
During an interview with police, Warren volunteered that she gave birth to a baby in a bathtub of water in 2011, prosecutors said.
She told police that she did not want the baby and after washing herself off, allowed the newborn to remain in the water until it stopped moving, then wrapped it in a sweatshirt and put it in a large plastic container that she set beneath her home, Pacioni said.
Officers recovered the box, which contained only liquid and bones, and a medical examiner later could not tell if the newborn drowned, only that its bones had not been injured, the prosecutor said.
Police arrested Warren and four days later she pleaded not guilty in Salinas to murder charges while being held in the county jail on $1 million bail.
As the case progressed, the court ruled that Warren was not mentally able to relate to her legal counsel for her defense and so was sent to a state mental hospital for treatment, according to Pacioni.
Her psychological condition stabilized thanks to medication and she was returned to jail when experts determined her competency had been restored, prosecutor said.
Prosecutors decided to offer Warren a plea bargain to lesser charges than murder mainly based on her mental state.
Warren detailed in a videotaped interview with police what she did in the bathtub following the child’s birth and how she disposed of the body, Pacioni said.
There was no evidence to the contrary about what happened, according to the prosecutor.
The district attorney’s office has asked the judge to sentence her to the maximum 11 years on the charges.
Motorcyclist Dies From Injuries Sustained In Collision
A motorcyclist from Richmond has died from injuries he sustained in a collision at one of Berkeley’s busiest intersections last Friday night, police said Thursday.
Gregory Allen Scoggin, 48, collided with a pick-up truck driven by a 20-year-old Berkeley man at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and University Avenue at about 8:31 p.m. on Friday, police said.
Scoggin was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries and died on Monday, according to authorities.
Police said it doesn’t appear that drugs or alcohol played a role in the collision.
Berkeley police said traffic bureau investigators are still following up on the collision so they aren’t yet disclosing a primary collision factor.
Chp Looking For Witnesses Who Left Scene Of Fatal Crash Near Petaluma
The California Highway Patrol is looking for witnesses to a fatal crash that took place Thursday morning near Petaluma.
An 83-year-old man died in the crash when the Lexus he was driving slammed head-on into a BMW on Lakeville Highway, according to CHP officials.
The collision was reported around 11:45 a.m. on Lakeville Highway, an alternate name for state Highway 116 in the area, just south of Browns Lane, CHP officials said.
The Lexus driver, a Granite Bay resident, was driving north at about 50-55 mph when he drifted into the southbound lane of the highway and slammed head-on into a BMW, according to the CHP.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The BMW driver, a 53-year-old Sea Ranch man, was extricated from the car and suffered major injuries. A passenger in the Lexus, a 56-year-old woman, suffered moderate injuries. Both were taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and are expected to survive, CHP officials said.
Investigators have not determined what caused the Lexus driver to drift into oncoming traffic but do not believe impairment was a factor, according to the CHP. The roadway was closed until about 2 p.m. during the investigation into the crash.
Investigators now believe some witnesses to the crash left the scene without speaking to officers. They are asking anyone who might have witnessed the collision to call the CHP.
Two Injured, One Seriously, In Mission District Crash Involving Stolen Vehicle
The alleged driver of a stolen vehicle failed to stop at a stop sign and struck another vehicle and two parked vehicles in San Francisco’s Mission District Thursday evening, according to police.
Police were called to Bryant and 18th streets around 7 p.m. for a reported collision involving two vehicles, one of which was reported as stolen.
The driver of the stolen vehicle sustained life-threatening injuries, while a second occupant of that vehicle sustained injuries that were not considered life threatening, police said. Both were taken to San Francisco General Hospital.
The driver in the second vehicle sustained minor injuries, police said.
Police said they were not pursuing the stolen vehicle at the time of the collision, which remains under investigation.
Fruitvale Shooting Suspects Flee I-580 Crash; No Injuries
Three suspects in a Fruitvale District shooting fled from a crash on Interstate Highway 580 in Oakland Thursday morning, police said.
No one was injured in the shooting, which occurred at 11:36 a.m. near the corner of East 12th Street and 37th Avenue. Three suspects in that shooting fled in a white Lexus, police said.
Oakland police alerted the CHP to the suspects’ description. At 11:45 a.m., a white Lexus with three occupants crashed on westbound Highway 580 near the Interstate Highway 980 interchange, CHP Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said.
The Lexus had crashed into the highway’s center divider and the three occupants ran away, jumping over a fence and abandoning the car, CHP officials said.
There were shell casings in the backseat of the car and it appeared it had been shot at, according to the CHP. Oakland police seized the car as evidence.
One lane of the highway was briefly blocked during the investigation but reopened by 2 p.m., Wilkenfeld said. He said there is no active search for the suspects.
Gas Station, Service Center Owners Ordered To Pay $300k For Tank Leaks
The owners of a Redwood City gas station and auto service center were ordered Tuesday to pay $300,000 in civil penalties in a case over leaks in underground tanks, San Mateo County prosecutors said.
The leaks were discovered in 1992 when three underground tanks capable of holding 5,000, 7,500 and 10,000 gallons of fuel were removed from the property at 590 Canyon Road, according to the district attorney’s office.
County Environmental Health Services staff saw holes in two of the tanks and fuel floating in the groundwater that accumulated in the holes left by the excavation, prosecutors said.
The property’s owners tested the groundwater and found gasoline and ether, prosecutors said.
Environmental services staff instructed the owners to mitigate the contamination, but San Mateo County prosecutors filed a civil complaint in 2013 alleging that the property owners had not completed an appropriate survey, had not taken the necessary corrective actions, had not informed environmental services of ongoing groundwater monitoring and had not submitted a work plan.
The owners are now in compliance and testing just prior to Tuesday’s judgment showed that there is no threat to human health or the environment, according to the district attorney’s office.
The 590 Canyon Road property houses both the Oak Knoll Service Station and Canyon Gas and Propane. It has been owned since 1981 by Akbar Nazemian, Abbas Ali Nazemi, Mohammed Hossein Nazemi, Golnaz Agah Nazemi, Ali Asghar Nazemian and Shiran Agah Nazemian.