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Bay Area News Briefs

By Mike Aldax

February 14, 2008

Colma mayor resigns

Colma Mayor Larry Formalejo resigned from his newly elected post Wednesday, saying he acted unethically as a city council member in 2006 when his son was charged with driving under the influence.

In the letter to City Manager Diane McGrath, Formalejo explained that he had acted as a father and not as a city official when his son, who had just turned 21 at the time, was arrested for DUI.

"As a result of his arrest, I took some actions that may have been perceived as in conflict with my ethical obligations as a city councilman at that time," he said in the letter.

Formalejo would not go into detail about the incident, explaining that his attorney advised against it.

The resignation is effective immediately, the mayor said, and was submitted to avoid a "long protracted legal battle."

"Rather than engage in such a battle, I am stepping down to avoid causing any further disruption in the governance of the town of Colma," Formalejo said.

Formalejo was elected to the city council in 2004 and was serving as vice mayor when he was selected by council members to serve at mayor beginning November 2007. His term would have ended in November.

Sonoma District Attorney files complaint against kidnapping suspect

The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office filed a multi-count complaint Wednesday afternoon against the Santa Rosa man accused of kidnapping a mother and her pre-school child from a Safeway store parking lot and of raping the mother while her child was in the car.

Aristotle Quadra, 30, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on the charges at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he is recovering from what police say is a self-inflicted stab wound with a spear at his home early Sunday morning. He did not enter a plea to the charges and will appear in Sonoma County Superior Court Feb. 19.

Quadra is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping with intent to commit rape, rape, kidnapping a child under 14, assault with a deadly weapon, criminal threats, false imprisonment, robbery and child endangerment.

Quadra approached the 29-year-old Bennett Valley woman as she was loading groceries into her car in the parking lot at 2785 Yulupa Ave. on Feb. 7 and he allegedly threatened to harm the woman's child if she resisted, according to Santa Rosa police.

Quadra forced the woman to drive to a dark location in the 3700 block of Montgomery Drive where he sexually assaulted her and stabbed her between 10 and 20 times before fleeing on foot, police said. The victim sought help at the Park View Gardens convalescent home.

After police released a detailed sketch of the Asian or Filipino male suspect, a witness reported seeing Quadra in the parking lot around the time of the 6 p.m. kidnapping, police said.

Police went to Quadra's Mayette Avenue home to serve a search warrant at 2 a.m. Sunday and found Quadra in the kitchen where he had stabbed himself in the stomach with a homemade spear. He was taken to the hospital and was arrested Sunday night.

Quadra's no bail status will be reviewed Feb. 19.

Nina Reiser's mother says Nina wouldn't abandon children

The mother of Nina Reiser testified Wednesday that Nina wasn't the type of person who would have disappeared on her own or abandoned her two children.

In her second day on the witness stand in the trial of Oakland computer engineer Hans Reiser on charges that he murdered Nina, who was last seen alive on Sept. 3, 2006, Irina Sharanova said she hasn't seen her daughter since July of 2006, when Nina visited Russia, or had any communication with her since she disappeared.

Prosecutor Paul Hora asked her, "Based on spending your entire life knowing Nina, was she the type of daughter who would do that to you? Just disappear and not contact you or call you?"

Fighting back tears, Sharanova said, "No. That would have been impossible."

Hora asked, "Would she have been the type of mother who would have left her kids up for grabs and abandoned them?"

Sharanova said Nina wouldn't have done that.

Nina Reiser, who was 31 at the time, was last seen alive on Sept. 3, 2006, when she dropped off the couple's children at Hans Reiser's home at 6979 Exeter Drive in the Oakland hills.

Her body has never been found, despite extensive searches in the Oakland hills and elsewhere, but Hans Reiser was charged with murdering her because prosecutors believe that DNA and blood evidence proves that he killed her.

Hans and Nina Reiser married in 1999 but Nina filed for divorce and separated from him in 2004. They were in the midst of an acrimonious divorce and a battle over the custody of their children when she disappeared.

Hans Reiser has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

San Jose City Council schedules vote for naming of Vietnamese business district

The San Jose City Council will decide on March 4 if and when city voters should consider possible names for a Vietnamese business district along Story Road.

The council's rules committee voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to put the controversial matter on the March 4 agenda following a lengthy hearing that included comments from approximately 75 members of the public.

On March 4, the council is likely to rescind its November 2007 vote naming the mile-long stretch of Story between U.S. 101 and Senter Road the "Saigon Business District.'' However, various council members have proposed multiple plans for what to do after that.

"We owe it to the community to have certainty, to have some consistency to what we do,'' Councilman Pete Constant said at Wednesday's committee meeting. "In this case we've kind of made a mess.''

The council will discuss the competing options on March 4. The city attorney's office and the city clerk will also report to the council if they are legally able to put a measure on the ballot that allows city voter to choose a business district name from multiple options rather than simply approving or denying one choice, according to Michelle McGurk, the spokesman for Mayor Chuck Reed.

Napa County woman charged with involuntary manslaughter

Napa County Superior Court Judge Diane M. Price reinstated a felony involuntary manslaughter charge Wednesday morning against an Angwin mother whose daughter died a heat-related death in the back seat of her car in May.

Haley Wesley will be arraigned on the charge March 4.

Price's ruling on the prosecution's motion to reinstate the involuntary manslaughter charge reverses that of Judge Stephen Kroyer, who ruled in October that Wesley should not be held accountable for her 10-month-old daughter's death.

Kroyer said the prosecution did not establish Wesley acted willfully or intentionally when she left her daughter Maddison in the back of her Honda on May 18.

Wesley's attorney Douglas Pharr said Wednesday afternoon he is considering, as the county district attorney's office did, requesting a review of the judge's decision to reinstate the involuntary manslaughter with gross negligence charge.

Pharr argued Wednesday the girl's death was an accident and her conduct wasn't willful and didn't consist of gross negligence.

Oakland shooting suspects arraigned and charged for Rodriguez case

One of two suspects in an Oakland shooting in January that left a 10-year-old boy partially paralyzed had his arraignment continued Wednesday, while the other pleaded not guilty to all charges, according to Alameda County Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy O'Malley.

Jared Adams, 24, faces a laundry list of charges in connection with a Jan. 10 incident in which an errant bullet he allegedly fired during an attempted robbery at a gas station struck and injured Christopher Rodriguez, 10, who was taking piano lessons at a nearby music school.

Adams had his arraignment continued Wednesday because his attorney, Michael Wilson, was assigned to the case only Wednesday morning, O'Malley said. Adams' arraignment will now take place Feb. 22 at 8:30 a.m.

Maeve Clifford, Adams' girlfriend, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to robbery charges and denied all clauses in connection with the charge, O'Malley said.

Adams allegedly attempted to rob a Chevron gas station at 4400 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley Road. Police said he fired shots and one of the bullets hit Christopher, who was across the street at a piano lesson at Harmony Road Music School.

The bullet struck Christopher's abdomen and ripped through his kidney, spleen and spinal cord and he could face permanent paralysis, doctors at Children's Hospital said.

Police said Adams and Clifford attempted to flee the scene in their car but were eventually detained by pursuing officers after crashing at 51st Street and Telegraph Avenue.

Candidates for District 12 must file by Feb. 25

Candidates hoping to run in the April 8 special election to fill the vacant congressional seat left by the late Tom Lantos must file Declaration of Candidacy and Nomination papers by Feb. 25, according to an election calendar released Wednesday afternoon by the secretary of state's

A list of certified candidates for the election will then be sent to county officials by March 3.

Lantos died early Monday morning at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland due to complications from cancer.

The 80-year-old congressman, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in late December, announced he would not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, but had committed to serving the rest of his 14th term through December, his spokeswoman Lynne Weil said.

Former state senator Jackie Speier announced her intention to run for the open congressional seat on Jan. 13 at Leo Ryan Park in Foster City. Before his death Lantos had endorsed her for his congressional seat.

Now Speier will be running in the April 8 special election, her spokesman said Wednesday.

"We thought the June primary was first step, but now with the recent news that date has been pushed up we will certainly be running in April," spokesman Alex Tourk said.

Segnment 1 and Highway 4 will open this weekend

Two new sections of highway known as Segment 1 of the state Highway 4 bypass and the Laurel Road Extension are scheduled to open this weekend, authorities said.

Segment 1 of the 12.4-mile bypass connects state Highway 4 east of Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch to Segment 2 of the bypass just south of Lone Tree Way, located on the border between Antioch and Brentwood.

Segment 2, which opened in 2002, connects Lone Tree Way to Balfour Road in Brentwood.

The Laurel Road Extension provides a direct connection from existing Laurel Road in Oakley to Segment 1 of the bypass in Antioch halfway between existing state Highway 4 and Lone Tree Way.

Because of the complexity of the project and some final work required on the roadway, the new sections of highway will open in stages over a three-day period beginning Friday.

Plans for the project began in the mid-1980s and construction began in 2005, Program Manager Dale Dennis said.

Construction of the third and final segment of the bypass is scheduled to be completed in August. Segment 3 continues from Balfour Road in Brentwood to Marsh Creek Road and then connects back up with existing state Highway 4.




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