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Bay Area News Briefs

By Mike Aldax

February 6, 2008

Southern Marin sewage spill second in one week

More than 2 million gallons of partially treated sewage were released from a Mill Valley treatment plant into Richardson Bay on Jan. 25, six days before the same plant's 2.7- million-gallon release Thursday evening, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board revealed late Tuesday afternoon.

The Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin's 2.45-million-gallon spill occurred on Jan. 25 at approximately 7:30 p.m., the water board said in a news release. The previous release was disclosed Tuesday in correspondence from the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin to the Regional Water Board.

The Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin used an incorrect date in reporting the earlier spill to the Regional Water Board staff and it appeared the spill was fully dispersed by the time the staff became aware of the spill, the Regional Water Board said.

The Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin reported the 2.45-million-gallon spill to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board by e-mail at 11:37 a.m. Jan. 26, but incorrectly gave the date of the spill as Jan. 15 and did not provide an estimate of the volume spilled, according to the Regional Water Board.

A Regional Water Board staff member received the Jan. 26 e-mail on Monday, Jan. 28, and believes the spill is "historic, not contemporary and does not follow up," the Regional Water Board said.

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the Regional Water Board received notification by conventional mail from the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin that contained the correct date of the spill but the Regional Water Board staff member did not detect the error in the date.

The second sewage spill of 2.7 million gallons occurred between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. from the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin's Mill Valley treatment plant into Richardson Bay via Arroyo Corte Madera del Presidio.

San Francisco carjacking suspect arrested

A San Francisco carjacking suspect was arrested Tuesday morning after allegedly crashing a stolen car in unincorporated Marin County and then stealing a vehicle from a Good Samaritan who stopped to help him, according to California Highway Patrol.

Mynor Aguirre, 30, of San Francisco, was booked into county jail on charges including vehicle theft, driving under the influence, misdemeanor hit and run, assault with a deadly weapon and carjacking, the CHP said.

Aguirre was allegedly driving a 2005 Honda sedan that crashed and rolled over on Redwood Highway Frontage near state Highway 131. A Tiburon man in a 2006 Infiniti M45 stopped to assist Aguirre, only to have Aguirre steal his Infiniti, officials said.

A description of the Infiniti was broadcast to law enforcement personnel, and at 5 p.m., a Marin sheriff's deputy located the Infiniti traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 101 at Interstate Highway 580.

The deputy followed the Infiniti and CHP officers were able to pull over and arrest Aguirre without incident on Highway 101 at Marinwood Avenue, officials said.

Authorities learned the Honda involved in the initial collision had been stolen by a suspect allegedly carrying a shotgun in San Francisco at about 3:20 a.m., the CHP reported. No weapon was found when police arrested Aguirre.

CHP to begin policing Richmond's Iron Triangle and Southside

California Highway Patrol officers will begin policing Richmond's most crime-ridden neighborhoods Tuesday afternoon alongside the city's police officers to quell the violence that claimed 47 lives in 2007, police reported.

Twelve CHP officers will be working mainly in the city's Iron Triangle and Southside neighborhoods during high-crime hours, according to Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan. They were scheduled to begin patrolling at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Richmond police and CHP officers will be stopping cars looking for guns, conducting code enforcement stops and saturating problem neighborhoods with high-visibility patrol, Gagan said.

In the past, the CHP worked independently from Richmond police officers, but Tuesday time the two agencies will work together more closely to target criminals and high-crime areas, Gagan said.

Gagan said the last time Richmond enlisted the CHP to supplement the city's police presence was in July 2005, following a particularly bloody June in which 10 people were murdered.

That July and the beginning of August the city went 45 days without a single murder, Gagan said.

CHP officers plan to remain in the city for three to six months, Gagan said.

Autopsy completed for East Napa fire victims

An autopsy was conducted Tuesday on four victims of a fire that burned an east Napa home Monday morning, according to the Napa Fire Department.

Aurora Castanon, 58, her boyfriend Eutimio Torres, 37, and Castanon's grandson, Giovanni Mendez, 4, died in the blaze, fire Capt. Jim Pope said. Matthew Castanon, 12, also a grandson of Aurora Castanon, died at Queen of the Valley Medical Center.

The fire occurred in the 1400 block of Vale Avenue just before 5 a.m. Monday. About 25 firefighters knocked down the two-alarm blaze within minutes, and after a simultaneous search, found the four victims in a bedroom. The fire appears to have ignited in the small home's living room, Pope said.

All four were found in a bedroom of the home and the fire started in a front living room, Pope said. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the blaze and hope to conclude the investigation by Tuesday evening.

Specialists are looking at specific items of the house, such as electrical components, circuits and portable equipment to determine what may have caused the fire.

One smoke alarm was found in the home, but it has not been determined if it was working at the time of the blaze, Pope said.

It's tragic incidents like this that highlight the importance of having several functioning smoke alarms in every home, said Pope.

"You need more than one in your home to make your home safe," he said.

The blaze caused an estimated $70,000 to the two-bedroom structure and about $30,000 to contents, according to Pope.

Federal Judge rules lawsuit between ACLU and CIA can continue

A federal judge in San Jose appeared uneasy Tuesday with allowing a lawsuit to continue over the CIA's terrorist rendition program.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit against Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary based in San Jose that allegedly provided logistical support for the flights the CIA used to transport suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogation.

The Bush Administration has argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because almost all information about the rendition program remains a "state secret."

"Public disclosure could do ... exceptional damage to national security,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Abate told Judge James Ware. "Without the information this case cannot be litigated.''

ACLU attorney Ben Wizner said the case should be allowed to proceed because while the Bush Administration has not confirmed many of the details about the program, they have been confirmed by other program participants such as the countries where the CIA flew the suspected

Wizner also said the administration has been very flexible about what it considers a "state secret,'' noting that it has previously released information about the program.

"The government is opportunistic in its secrecy claims. When the government wants to prosecute and execute a suspected terrorist, suddenly it's not a secret,'' Wizner said.

Ware appeared to give deference to the administration's position, wondering if it was the place of a federal judge to determine which secrets were "legitimate'' and which were not.

Vandalism leads to after dark closure of Union Cemetary

Broken headstones, damaged sprinklers and discharged fire extinguishers were enough to close the Union Cemetery after dark for the first time in 130 years, cemetery officials announced Tuesday.

The closure is in response to vandalism at the cemetery sometime between the evening of Jan. 15 and following morning. The vandals caused an estimated $6,000 in damages.

The vandals knocked over 67 headstones, breaking 17 of them, damaged the cemetery's sprinkler system, ripped a gate off its hinges, discharged fire extinguishers and littered the grounds with beer bottles, Cemetery District Manager Mark White said.

In response to the incident, the Byron-Brentwood-Knightsen Union Cemetery District board is planning to gate two of the three entrances to the cemetery in an effort to keep people out at night. The third entrance will be closed as soon as the district is able to install a gate, White said.

Once the gate is in place, visitors will only be allowed access to the cemetery from 8 a.m. to dusk each day.

Five-year-old testifies in Ansari case

A 5-year-old girl matter-of-factly testified Tuesday that on the afternoon of Oct. 19, 2006, she was walking with her mother, Afghan-born Alia Ansari, when a man approached them and fatally shot her mother in Fremont.

Flanked by her father, a Farsi language interpreter and a victim witness assistant as she testified against Manuel Urango, a 30-year-old Hispanic man with a lengthy criminal record, Latifa Ansari said the man who killed her mother had black skin.

But when prosecutor Jerry Herman showed Latifa a photo of Urango, whose complexion is light brown, not black, she said he was the man who killed her mother, who was 37 when she died.

According to Fremont police, the shooting occurred when Latifa, who was only 3 years old at the time, and her mother were walking in the area of 37637 Glenmoor Drive in Fremont on their way to Glenmoor Elementary School, where they were to pick up two of Latifa's older sisters.

The case generated widespread attention because some of Alia Ansari's family members as well as Muslim leaders said the shooting appeared to be a hate crime.

But authorities said there was no evidence that the incident was a hate crime. However, they have never said what the motive was for the shooting.

The question of whether Latifa, who moved to Afghanistan with her family after the incident and is only back in the Bay Area for a short while, can identify Urango as the shooter is one of the key issues in the case.

Police investigating East San Jose shooting

Police were investigating a fatal shooting in East San Jose on Tuesday night.

Officers responded to a 911 call at around 7:15 p.m. reporting that a young man had been shot in the 2700 block of Sussex Drive, said Sgt. Mike Sullivan.

He suffered a bullet wound to the upper torso and was rushed to an area hospital, where he died, Sullivan said.

No other information was available.

Russians indicted in $400K bank scheme

Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday that two San Francisco men have been indicted in an alleged $400,000 scheme to steal bank account information, withdraw victims' funds with fake ATM cards and send part of the stolen proceeds to Russia.

Dmitri Glaznikov, 33, and Maxim Leontev, 25, were indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on Jan. 29.

Both are accused of conspiracy to defraud, wire fraud and possession of equipment to make magnetic strip cards in 2005 and 2006.

Glaznikov is accused of an additional count of possession of more than 15 unauthorized magnetic strip cards encoded with stolen account information.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said the total amount stolen is allegedly more than $400,000.

Joshua Eaton, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said arrest warrants have been issued but no arrests have been made thus far.

The indictment alleges the two men lived in an apartment on 19th Avenue in San Francisco and plotted with two unnamed co-conspirators in San Francisco and Russia to steal financial account information including personal identification numbers.

The information was allegedly sent to Glaznikov and Leontev by their Russian accomplice via e-mail, according to the indictment.

Glaznikov, Leontev and the third conspirator in San Francisco then programmed the stolen information onto magnetic strip cards, such as Safeway Club cards and Walgreen's gift cards, and used the phony cards to withdraw funds from ATMs in the city, the indictment alleges.

The indictment charges that the San Francisco conspirators each took a share of the stolen funds and sent the balance to various individuals in Russia.


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