Bay Area News Briefs

Written by FCJ Editor. Posted in News


Published on February 27, 2008 with No Comments

By Ananda Shorey

February 27, 2008

FBI leads raid of alleged family-run meth operation

A two-year investigation into an alleged methamphetamine operation centered in the South Bay culminated today with the service of numerous search and arrest warrants, according to the FBI.

The investigation was a combined effort led by the FBI and involving the San Jose and San Francisco police departments, the San Mateo Narcotics Task Force and the San Jose Bureau of Narcotics, said Patti Hansen, public affairs specialist with the FBI.

Warrants were served primarily at homes in San Jose, however two homes in San Francisco and one home in Gilroy were also visited this morning, said FBI spokesman Joe Schadler.

At least 13 arrests have been made in what Schadler described as a “family-run organization.”

Individuals involved in the ring allegedly conspired to distribute methamphetamine and possessed methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, Hansen said.

Federal appeals court strikes down Marine Vessel Rules

A federal appeals court in San Francisco today struck down California regulations that would have limited sulfur and nitrogen oxide air pollution from auxiliary diesel engines on ships near the state’s coast.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state was required under the U.S. Clean Air Act to get permission from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and that it failed to do so.

The regulations known as Marine Vessel Rules were put into effect by the California Air Resources Board last year. The rules applied to auxiliary diesel engines on ocean-going vessels within 24 miles of the California coast. The auxiliary engines are used to provide electricity for on-board use and they burn bunker fuel, which has a high sulfur content.

David Pettit, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the fuel is “extremely dirty” and the rules would have required cleaner fuel.

Pettit said that attorneys in his organization, which joined the case to defend the regulations, had not yet seen the ruling and could not say whether they will appeal.

The regulations were challenged by a shipping group, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

Air Resources Board spokeswoman Gennet Paauwe said the board had not seen the decision and could not comment. The requirement for permission from the EPA is similar to another provision of the Clean Air Act that required California to get approval from the agency for regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

In the case of cars, the state sought permission for its regulations but was turned down by the EPA in December and is now suing to challenge that decision.

Defense attorney focuses on Reiser’s state of mind

For the second day in a row, Hans Reiser’s defense attorney focused today on his client’s state of mind two weeks after his estranged wife Nina disappeared in September 2006.

Instead of concentrating on Hans Reiser’s activities on Sept. 3, 2006, when Nina was last seen alive when she dropped off the couple’s two children at the home in the Oakland hills where he lived with his mother, defense attorney William DuBois grilled a family law attorney about a hearing on Sept. 18, 2006, about awarding custody of the children.

Attorney Cheryl Hicks, who represented Hans Reiser in family court and first took the witness stand in his murder trial on Tuesday, testified that Reiser, a 44-year-old computer engineer, was upset that a court commissioner placed the children in a foster home and thought Oakland police were out to get him.

DuBois’ questions of Hicks didn’t have anything to do with the disappearance of Nina, but appeared to be an attempt to explain why Reiser engaged in countersurveillance measures aimed at avoiding police officers who followed him on Sept. 18, 2006, and other occasions.

When Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman asked DuBois about the relevance of his line of questioning, DuBois said. “We’re offering to explain his (Reiser’s) conduct that day” (Sept. 18, 2006).

East Palo Alto man charged with arson

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced today that an East Palo Alto man has been indicted on federal charges in connection with an alleged July 1, 2007, arson that destroyed downtown Palo Alto Walgreen’s drug store.

Donald Ray Williams was indicted on a single felony count of arson by a federal grand jury Jan. 30. He was arraigned Friday in federal court in San Jose and is being held without bail.

His next scheduled court appearance is March 5. Williams faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Pinole man dies from gunshot wound

A Pinole man who was fatally shot in unincorporated North Richmond on Tuesday night died from a gunshot wound to the head, according to Contra Costa County sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee.

The sheriff’s office received a call reporting that a body was in the middle of the street near the intersection of First Street and West Grove Avenue at about 11 p.m., Contra Costa County sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Jennings said.

Responding deputies found 30-year-old Abdifatah Robleh in the street suffering a gunshot wound. Robleh was still breathing when deputies found him, Jennings said.

They administered CPR, but were unable to save him and he was pronounced dead at the scene, Lee said.

“We have no witnesses, no motive and no suspects at this time,” Lee said.

Robleh is the second person to be fatally shot in unincorporated North Richmond this year. The first victim, a 28-year-old Richmond-area transient identified as Marcus Bryant, was gunned down Feb. 4 in the 100 block of Malcolm Drive about three blocks from where Robleh was killed, according to the sheriff’s office.

Motorcycle accident victim identified

San Jose police today identified the victim in Saturday’s fatal motorcycle accident on Lawrence Expressway as Sunnyvale resident Randy Hammack.

Hammack, 20, was apparently traveling northbound on Lawrence Expressway near Interstate Highway 280 at a high rate of speed when he collided with a guardrail and was thrown from his motorcycle, according to police.

Investigators believe that following the guardrail collision, another vehicle, possibly a 1995 to 1999 Nissan or Infiniti may have struck Hammack’s body inadvertently.

Sonoma County adds positions under reorganization plan

The Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District will be adding four new employees and converting two existing part-time positions to full time to keep up with its workload.

The district won approval for its reorganization plan Tuesday from the county’s Board of Supervisors. The supervisors also serve as the district’s Board of Directors.

The district will be adding another assistant general manager, an administrative aide, a stewardship program manager and an associate planner.

The positions of open space technician and assistant planner will be converted to full-time posts.

The annual cost of the six salaries and benefits will be $685,861starting with the fiscal year 2008-2009 budget. The district will now have 24 full-time employees.

Policy identify teenage shooting victim

Police identified 17-year-old Jose Merales today as the victim of a fatal shooting that occurred in Mountain View on Tuesday night.

Authorities found the high school student from Mountain View lying on the sidewalk in the 100 block of Higdon Avenue at around 6:15 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

There are no reports of suspects or a motive. Police were at the scene investigating the shooting this morning.

Menlo Park to break ground on police station

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held Thursday afternoon for a $2.2 million Police and City Service Center in Menlo Park.

The two-story, 3,800-square-foot building at Willow Road and Ivy Drive will replace the existing police substation located at Newbridge Street and Willow Road, according to the city. It will be more than three times larger than the current substation.

The new center will function as a satellite station of the main police station, as well as a service center for the community, according to the city.

Residents will be able to obtain police reports, parking permits, pay water bills and receive other useful information from the center.

Harvey Milk library to host renovation celebration

San Francisco Public Library’s Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Branch will host a celebration Saturday before closing its doors to undergo a $5.4 million renovation.

The party, which will be held at 1 p.m. at the library, located at 1 Jose Sarria Court, will feature live music and other festivities. The event will honor former Library Commissioner Steve Coulter for his years of service to city’s libraries and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The renovation will provide the library with more computers, accessible restrooms, improved public and staff spaces, a designated teen area, new furniture and more, according to library officials.

The project is being designed by the San Francisco Bureau of Architecture’s Library Design Studio under the management of the Department of Public Works. The renovation is part of the major capital improvement project, which was approved by voters who passed a $106 million bond measure in November 2000, according to officials.

Starting March 8, the library will provide bookmobile service on 16th Street between Pond and Prosper streets from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Hold materials not picked up by the branch closing date will be taken to the Mission branch and library goers can designate a pickup location through the library’s Web site.

The library is scheduled to reopen in late 2009.

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