News

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Efren Carrillo Charged with Misdemeanor Peeking, Victim 'Disappointed'

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 3:32 PM

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Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo will not face a felony charge from his Aug. 20 arrest for trying to break into a woman's bedroom at 3am wearing only his socks and underwear, according to paperwork filed today by prosecutor Cody Hunt of the Napa District Attorney’s Office. Instead, he faces a single misdemeanor count of "peeking," which carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

“My client is relieved that Efren Carrillo is finally being brought to justice,” says Rosanne Darling, the lawyer for the unidentified victim in the case, “but she is disappointed because… the charge seems inadequate for what she went through that night.” Speaking today on the phone, she added that her client was “terrified” and says, “this has changed her life forever.” Darling also notes that the rumor of a relationship between Carrillo and her client, romantic or otherwise, is “simply rubbish.” They were neighbors, she says, but “barely know each other.”

Darling, a prosecutor with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office before leaving this summer for private practice, sounded disappointed with the charges as well, especially after so many delays granted to the prosecutor to allow him to gather evidence to build his case. “There are homicides that are filed quicker than this,” she says. “As a former prosecutor, if all you’re bringing is a misdemeanor charge, it seems odd that it would take you three full continuances to come to this decision.”

The Napa DA’s office, which was assigned to the case by the state Attorney General, has a conviction rate of almost 84 percent for felonies in the past three years, and over 90 percent for misdemeanors in the same period. According to statistics from the Grand Jury Foundation, that’s among the highest in the state, and near the top of all counties in the Bay Area.

Carrillo does not have to register as a sex offender, despite being found wearing only his underwear and socks at 3am. He will be formally arraigned tomorrow morning.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

13 Year-Old Boy Fatally Shot by Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputies

South Santa Rosa incident involved replica assault rifle

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 11:25 AM

This fake assault rifle was being carried by 13-year-old Andy Lopez when he was shot by sheriffs deputies
  • Sonoma County Sheriff's Departmant
  • This fake assault rifle was being carried by 13-year-old Andy Lopez when he was shot by sheriff's deputies

An eighth-grader who attended Cook Middle School in Santa Rosa was fatally shot in South Santa Rosa by Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies Tuesday afternoon after failing to comply with deputies’ orders to drop what turned out to be a replica assault rifle, Sheriff's deputies said.

The shooting took place at Moorland and West Robles avenues just after 3pm. Two deputies saw a male subject with what looked like an AK-47-style assault rifle. Deputies say they repeatedly ordered the 13 year-old to drop the gun. When he did not comply, deputies fired several rounds, striking him several times. Unresponsive, the boy was handcuffed before deputies requested emergency medical assistance. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

The boy was identified in the Press Democrat as 13-year-old Andy Lopez. After he had been shot, deputies discovered the weapon he had been carrying was a replica. He also had a plastic handgun in the waistband of his pants, deputies said. He reportedly lived in the area with his family.

This is the third officer-involved shooting in Sonoma County this year. The investigation will be handled by the Santa Rosa and Petaluma police departments, in addition to the District Attorney’s Office.

Officials from the Santa Rosa Police Department did not immediately return calls seeking comment Wednesday morning.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Efren Carrillo Charges Postponed Again

Next court date set for Nov. 1, despite judge's previous warning

Posted By on Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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Charges for Efren Carrillo were delayed for a third time this morning, with the Sonoma County supervisor's next court date set for Nov. 1. The postponement was requested by prosecutor Cody Hunt, the lawyer with the Napa Valley District Attorney's office assigned to the case, for more time to review unnamed documents that he said were recently received. Judge Gary Medvigy agreed to the postponement.

The attorney for the woman involved complained about the delays, suggesting the motivation might be political. Hunt denied the allegations. Carrillo’s attorney, Chris Andrian, denied political motivation and said that he’s “taking [prosecutors] at face value.”

This morning's postponement marks the third time charges have been delayed for the supervisor. Medvigy originally heard the case on July 18, and agreed to an initial postponement to Aug. 30. On Aug. 30, Judge Julie Conger allowed a postponement to today's date, Oct. 11, stating clearly, "I’m expecting a complaint to be filed at that time. No further delays, please.”

Carrillo was arrested on July 13 when a woman called 911 twice to report someone outside her home at 3:40am in Santa Rosa. Someone had tried to break into her bedroom window, and Carrillo was arrested in his underwear and socks on suspicion of burglary and prowling. Police at the time said they suspected Carrillo of attempted sexual assault. After posting bail, he reportedly checked himself into an alcohol treatment facility. Carrillo returned to the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 20 to harsh criticism from his fellow board members and the public.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

New Addition for Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail

Posted By on Thu, Sep 26, 2013 at 11:44 AM

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Hikers rejoice—the addition of new open space and trails for 2013 isn’t over yet. The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District announced today the addition of 1.3 miles of trail to the Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail, making it accessible from Jack London State Park. The trail will likely be open by late spring or early summer, 2014, says Sheri Emerson of the Open Space District.

The new trail will be about seven miles northwest of Sonoma and features beautiful views of the valley. It will likely be maintained by the nonprofit Valley of the Moon Natural History Association, which also operates Jack London State Park.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Guerneville Offers Free Wifi

Posted By on Fri, Aug 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Free wifi is just about everywhere these days¬—including Guerneville. The Guerneville Chamber of Commerce announced today that it has taken the plunge and made wifi coverage available free throughout the riverside city all the way to Johnson’s Beach.

Though the idea is somewhat high tech, it’s not new. Santa Rosa has offered free, wifi downtown for years, though Petaluma hasn’t caught on. Come on, Petaluma, you’re the heart of what used to be called Telecom Valley and you can’t get free downtown wifi? Guerneville beat you to that? Really?

Remember when people paid for Internet by the minute? Crazy!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Not Much to Feel Good About in DeSantis Settlement

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 12:47 PM

How long before Santa Rosa will compensate the family of a mentally unstable victim of a police shooting? The most recent estimate is about six years.

Richard DeSantis was killed by a Santa Rosa police sergeant in 2007 after DeSantis’ wife called to report that her husband had been shooting a handgun into the ceiling of his home during a manic episode. When he charged at officers outside, they weren’t sure if he still had the gun, and shot him to death.

It was reported that the city agreed to a $1 million settlement in May of this year, with no admission of wrongdoing. The settlement is a “business decision,” as Santa Rosa police chief Tom Schwedhelm coldly refers to it, that benefited mostly the DeSantis family’s attorneys.

There’s so much to this story, and most of it makes me sick. It’s a lose-lose-lose kind of thing, just the ticket to brighten up a Thursday afternoon.

That lawyers benefit handsomely from this settlement should not come as a surprise to anyone (insert your favorite bloodsucking lawyer joke here), but the numbers are shocking to the casual reader. Of that $1 million settlement, $735,000 goes to lawyers. That’s not the worst of it. After the verdict, the attorneys reportedly asked for $1.8 million (because how would they feed their families on a measly $735,000?).

Continue reading »

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Get Thee to a Museum

Posted By on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 3:29 PM

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Earlier this year a group of fifth grade students from Brook Hill Elementary in Santa Rosa took a field trip to the Santa Rosa Junior College planetarium. Sounds like a nice little jaunt across town—except the fact that they had to walk half way there and then take a city bus the rest of the way.

Over 30 students and chaperones walked a mile and a half to the downtown transit mall to then catch a bus—and have each child pay for his own ticket¬—for a three minute ride the rest of the way to SRJC. Why did they do this? Because it was less than half the cost of reserving a school bus for the whole trip.

The Sonoma County Museum is looking to defray those transportation costs, at least for trips to the museum, for all Sonoma County students. The museum started a Razoo campaign to raise funds for the upcoming school year. Over 3,000 students took advantage of the free transportation and tours at the museum last year, which wiped out the program’s funding. School bus trips cost between $175 and $250 for a round trip, and the museum hopes to have enough money to show off its Day of the Dead Altars and SFMOMA Mexican Photography exhibitions, especially considering the large number of Hispanic students in the county, says the museum.

The funding campaign ends September 8, and the minimum donation is $10. Think of walking two miles to catch a city bus with a group of fifth graders, then go and donate.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Maliciously Unflushed

Posted By on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Sir Richard Branson probably isnt smiling about this predicament.
  • Sir Richard Branson probably isn't smiling about this predicament.
Flying in a commercial plane sucks so much nowadays, even the BEST airlines inspire acts of defiance and rudeness from passengers.

Virgin America, recently rated highest in terms of customer satisfaction in an Airline Quality Rating (AQR) study conducted by researchers at Purdue University and Wichita State University, is finding itself in hot water after a man filed a $500,000 lawsuit on Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Franisco. He was detained by the FBI after causing a scene on a Philadelphia-to-San Francisco flight. He says the allegations that he swore at flight attendant are untrue, but says nothing about the accusation of "maliciously leaving a toilet unflushed" on his April 28 flight.

Even on a plane, the old adage rings true: if it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Huey Lewis' Laptop Still Missing

Posted By on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM

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There’s a couple things about the Huey Lewis car theft story that caught my interest. The gist of it is a 31-year-old woman stole his rental car, which contained his laptop, from a Holiday Inn Express in Mill Valley. She was caught and sentenced this week, but the laptop is still missing.

1) The laptop has not been recovered. Was he working on new tracks for Huey Lewis & the News? Will the unfinished masters be leaked to the Internet?

2) Lewis, a longtime Marin County icon, now lives in Montana. Further investigation shows he also does not like people hunting ducks on his property, and that the way to deal with this is to set out duck bait, signaling to hunters (and legally declaring) that duck hunting is not allowed on the property.

3) He was staying at a Holiday Inn Express. I’m sure that is a nice place and all, but really? That’s one step up from a Best Western. Let’s get Huey Lewis a real hotel to stay in. A nice B&B or something.

4) The woman only received a 50-day sentence and it can be reduced to a misdemeanor in a year. Stealing a candy bar and stealing a car with a laptop inside are the same crime now? Really?

5) This is only news because the victim is the front man of a band called the News, and journalists love to use that word in print.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Mortgage Modifiers under federal investigation

Posted By on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 at 1:23 PM

The Press Democrat reports that a Petaluma-based mortgage company is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice. According to the article, several people who were in the midst of foreclosures claim they were swindled by owner Miguel Lopez, who allegedly charged an up-front fee to restructure their mortgages. They claim that he took $2000 and then never actually did anything to help them.

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You can read the story here. It reports that the offices of Lopez are apparently unmarked. His Website is down as well.
We have covered the foreclosure crisis before, showing the desperate measures people will take when faced with losing their homes. In Leilani Clark's story House and Home, about the Homeowner Bill of Rights, a Forestville resident tells her: "There have been times that suicide was an option for me."
You can read her story here.

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