Wednesday, 24 July 2024


VVA members and volunteers prepared the gifts on Dec. 13. Photo courtesy of Dan Davi.


LAKE COUNTY – This week a group of local veterans will visit local care facilities to share the holiday spirit with seniors and let them know that they're not forgotten.

For the second year Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 951 will deliver gifts to seniors in four local long-term care facilities as part of its “Seniors Not Forgotten” campaign, said chapter member Dan Davi.

Davi, along with fellow chapter member Frank Parker, coordinated the project this year. In about two weeks David and Parker also raised the funds – now estimated at about $2,300 – to provide about 265 seniors countywide with fleece blankets and slipper socks.

“Last year we were concentrated on veterans,” said Davi, with 30 veterans in local nursing homes receiving the gifts.

This year, VVA voted unanimously to take on the challenge of providing gifts for all the county's nursing home residents, said Davi.

On Dec. 13 at St. Mary's Parish Hall, members and volunteers rolled the 40-inch by 50-inch burgundy and blue fleece blankets and tied them with colorful ribbons to deliver next week, the group reported.


Jennifer Fox sewed and donated a colorful red 5-foot by 4-foot Santa Claus bag to hold the gifts.

Davi said VVA members will begin making their deliveries on Monday, Dec. 17, in Lakeport at 10 a.m. at Edelweiss Assisted Care Facility and at 2:30 p.m. at Lakeport Skilled Nursing Facility.

On Friday, Dec. 21, they will visit Meadowood Nursing Facility in Clearlake at 10 a.m. and Evergreen Nursing Facility in Lakeport at 1:30 p.m.

“I jumped on it when we had this idea last year,” said Dean Gotham, VVA Chapter 951's president.

He said he thought it was “particularly poignant” for Vietnam vets to reach out to seniors in this way.

Gotham said it's his personal opinion that Vietnam veterans have a particular bond with seniors such as those they're honoring this year.

“Vietnam veterans can relate to being alienated and pushed aside and looked down upon,” he said.

He added that he believes the people in nursing homes suffering from a similar loneliness to that experienced by vets of his generation. “I think people should understand that there is a particular bond there.”

Davi said the community's generosity has been terrific.

“It's amazing all the merchants that have contributed and participated in this program,” said Davi.

Some have even given VVA money towards next year's program.

VVA gave special thanks to the Sea Scouts Of America (USS Whisper 960), including Ed Collins, Sarah Schultz and Trina Lane; Girl Scouts-Juliettes, Mrs. Kosolcharoen and Bundita Kosolcharoen; Boy Scouts Troop 45, and Julius and Donna Nelson; and VVA chapter members Bill Becker, Larry and Suzanne Schneider, Steve Sayer, Genevieve Snow, Ginny Craven, Dean Gotham, Suzi and Frank Parker, and Daniel Davi.


The chapter also expressed its gratitude to the following generous Lake County merchants for their monetary contributions, energy and support: Sleep Shop Ltd., American Legion Post 194, Frank and Suzi C. Parker, Lakeview Super Market and Deli, S and K Automotive, Hillside Honda, Ink Spot, Mackey Tires and Spas, Lucerne Pharmacy, Mendo Lake Office Equipment and Stationery, Sun Dental, United Veterans Council, Guy Strohmeier Auto Center, Shoreline Storage, Umpqua Bank, Dock Factory/Steel Starts, Piedmont Lumber, Rotten Robby, Pro-Mart, K-Mart, VVA Christmas Party Donations, Holy Joe’s, Hi-Way Grocery, M.J.’s Place, Gracious Ladies and Country Carpets.

If you would like to make a donation to the chapter for its programs, send checks to the VVA Chapter 951, P.O. Box 1313, Lakeport, CA 95453.

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LAKEPORT – A man being held for murder has been arraigned on a new charge stemming from his alleged possession of a weapon at the Lake County Jail.

Ivan Garcia Oliver, 29, was arraigned in Lake County Superior Court on Friday on a felony charge of possessing a weapon in jail, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

Hinchcliff also is prosecuting Oliver for the Nov. 20 murder of Michael Anthony Dodele, 67, of Lakeport.

Oliver is alleged to have stabbed Dodele multiple times in the chest with a knife, as Lake County News has reported.

Sheriff Rod Mitchell said Friday that Oliver was found with a plastic toothbrush that had been sharpened on one end and had a makeshift handle created out of paper on the other.

“It was very plainly what we would consider a shank,” said Mitchell.

On Thursday afternoon Lake County Sheriff's Detective Corey Paulich arrested Oliver on the weapons possession charge in addition to a felony charge of damaging jail property in an amount less than $400, according to jail records. Hinchcliff said he is not pursuing that second charge against Oliver.

Jail staff were preparing to move Oliver from one secure area of the jail – called an administrative segregation unit – to another when the item was discovered, said Mitchell.

When “high risk” inmates are moved from one area to another, Mitchell said it's standard practice for officers to thoroughly search the new destination, then to search the inmate, including changing out clothes, in order to make sure no illegal items are taken with them.

In this case, Correctional Officer Jeremy Wichlaz was searching Oliver when he noticed that Oliver was holding something high up between his legs, said Mitchell.

If Wichlaz had been more cursory in his inspection, the item may have been missed, said Mitchell. “I really have to give accolades to the correctional officer.”

Oliver refused to grant detectives an interview or explain why he allegedly made the weapon, said Mitchell, so they don't know his motives for having it.

Mitchell said there was no legitimate reason for Oliver to have made or hidden the weapon, which could have been used to seriously hurt an officer or another inmate. He said there is no reason to believe any threats have been made against Oliver.

The sheriff called the weapon a “sophisticated effort.”

Mitchell said he's seen many weapons fabricated by inmates. “This was as good an edged weapon as an inmate can make with a toothbrush.”

He added, “All of that leads me to be exceedingly grateful that none of my officers were hurt by him.”

Jail officers will now increase the frequency of their inspections when it comes to Oliver and any items he may have access to, including legal pencils, and his comb and toothbrush, said Mitchell. “His actions have increased the level of scrutiny that we will apply to him in our routine procedures.”

Hinchcliff said he's uncertain yet if he will try Oliver on the weapons possession charge separately from the murder case.

At the time of his arrest for the Dodele murder, Oliver was on parole from San Diego County, according to Lake County Sheriff's officials.

Steve Walker, a spokesman for the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, told Lake County News that Oliver was convicted in June of 2003 on one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon with force likely to cause great bodily injury. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Walker said that Oliver and two other men had left a restaurant without paying their bill. When a security guard confronted them, Oliver stabbed the guard multiple times with a knife.

At the time of his sentencing Oliver had no prior record, said Walker.

Oliver was released on parole in 2005 after having served less than two years in state prison, according to state parole spokesman Jerome Marsh.

A week after his arrest for the Dodele murder Oliver was indicted on federal charges stemming from a March 2005 incident in which he and his half-brother, Guillermo Garcia, are alleged to have dumped hazardous materials into a San Diego County creek.

Oliver is due to be arraigned on those federal charges next month, according to Hinchcliff.

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CLEARLAKE – A funeral service to honor the man friends called Clearlake's greatest cheerleader will be held this Friday.

Bernie Edwards, a force in the community for 30 years who loved and promoted his adopted city of Clearlake, died Dec. 5 in his sleep, according to his family. He was 75.

Edwards' funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at the Clearlake Elks Lodge, located on the corner of Crawford Ave. and Old Highway 53.

A visitation will be held prior and will begin at 10 a.m., according to his obituary. Jones and Lewis Clear Lake Memorial Chapel in Lower Lake is handling the arrangements.

Edwards retired from the Navy as a Lieutenant after 23 years. He moved to Clearlake in 1977 and stayed active in community projects.

Among his many recognitions are the 1999 Stars of Lake County Humanitarian of the Year Award, citizen of the year and past president of the Chamber of Commerce, besides being a tireless volunteer who served his community without hesitation.

For his full obituary, see our obituary section.


KELSEYVILLE – The county's largest resort is back on the market after once again falling out of escrow.

Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa is being listed for sale by Irvine-based Atlas Hospitality Group, a brokerage firm specializing in hotel sales in California.

Earlier this fall a Palo Alto firm was considering buying the resort, as Lake County News has reported.

Atlas Hospitality President Alan Reay told Lake County News that the company is just beginning the listing process.

In the sale, Reay said Atlas is representing WhiteStar Advisors of Boca Raton, Fla., which is running the resort for Local 38 Convalescent Trust Fund, which has owned the resort for about 50 years.

The asking price?

“There is no asking price on it,” said Reay.

Reay said the large property is appealing to many different kinds of buyers, from hotels to developers, at different price points.

That, he said, led to the consensus that there should be no specific asking price in order to encourage the various interests.

Atlas' listing on Konocti Harbor offers 58 acres for sale, with 255 guest units, a 100-boat slip marina, a 5,000-seat amphitheater, 20,000 square feet of meeting space, a 1,000-seat indoor showroom and a 19,000-square-foot spa.

That actually only accounts for roughly half of the resort's overall acreage. Reay said the union wants to keep some vacant acreage and the location of a children's camp.

The camp, dubbed “Camp Konocti,” is entering its 44th year, according to the Local 38 Web site, and is reportedly for the children of Local 38 members.

“We're basically selling the site that has the improvements,” said Reay.

Reay described the resort as having a wonderful location on “irreplaceable real estate.”

Atlas hopes to find the right buyer, who has the time and money to put into the property's renovations, said Reay. “If someone does that there's an opportunity to make a lot of money.”

The resort is being sold without management or franchise encumbrances, said Reay, which means that if a new buyer comes in they don't have to retain management staff.

“From an investor standpoint it's great because it offers them a lot of opportunities,” said Reay.

Different interests abandoned resort purchase

Konocti Harbor has so far fallen out of escrow twice this year.

In the spring, Kenwood Investments decided against purchasing the property in the wake of community resistance to a plan to locate an Indian casino at the property, as Lake County News previously reported.

The resort, which also was at the heart of a federal lawsuit settled earlier this year, was then considered for purchase by Page Mill Properties of Palo Alto for a reported $25 million price tag, according to court documents.

As part of the federal settlement, Local 38 agreed to appoint WhiteStar Advisors of Boca Raton, Fla., as an independent fiduciary to oversee the resort's operations and its sale, according to court documents.

Jim Bishop, managing director for WhiteStar, told Lake County News this summer that the company has been working for about two years on the resort's sale.

In taking over the resort's operations, Bishop said WhiteStar planned to keep the existing management and operation in place, with the resort's president and chief executive officer, Greg Bennett, acting as their representative at the resort.

Konocti is in the middle age range for some resort properties; Bishop said there are some resorts more than 100 years old that remain premier destinations, while some newer south Florida results are not in good shape.

Bishop said the market for resorts such as Konocti Harbor “generally is pretty good,” with buyers usually investment funds or institutional and real estate investment trusts – not unlike the resort's current owner.

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Veterans Circle at Hartley Cemetery will be the site of a special holiday ceremony Saturday. Courtesy photo.



LAKEPORT – A special ceremony to honor the county's veterans will be held this Saturday.

For the first time, Christmas wreaths will be laid at the Veterans Circle at Hartley Cemetery at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. The ceremony will take place concurrently with wreath-laying ceremonies around the country that day, scheduled for noon Eastern Standard Time.

Lakeport resident Slick Hultquist is working with local veterans groups on the Saturday ceremony.

Hultquist recently heard about the Worcester Wreath Co. – based in Harrington, Maine – which each year supplies wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery.

The company's Web site reported that the effort began in 1992; each year they supplied more than 5,000 wreaths to adorn the headstones of fallen veterans.

In 2006, the company launched Wreaths Across America, and began doubling its wreath donation to Arlington, now sending 10,000 each year, its Web site reported.

Besides the Arlington wreaths, the company reported that beginning in 2006 it donated another 2,500 wreaths to the Maine Veterans Cemetery at Togus, and more than 1,800 ceremonial wreaths to more than 200 other state and national veterans cemeteries across the country.

This year, the company reported that it added 24 veterans cemeteries on foreign soil and US ships sailing in all seven seas to their donations.

On Dec. 10, 51 wreaths were donated for special wreath-laying ceremonies at each state capitol and the US Capitol, according to the company.

Hultquist said he emailed the company and sent a picture of Veterans Circle. Hultquist then got a call back from the company.

“They said they were so impressed that they're sending us seven [wreaths],” said Hultquist.

The wreaths were due to arrive Wednesday.

Hultquist said the ceremony will be informal. He will lay a wreath at the base of the flagpole, and a member of each of the military's five branches also will lay a wreath during the Saturday ceremony, he explained. A bugler will then play “Taps.” United Veterans Council Chaplain Woody Hughes also will lead a prayer.

“It's basically a show of respect,” said Hultquist.

All of the local veterans groups have been invited to participate, said Hultquist.

Dean Gotham, president of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, said Thursday his group will be represented at the morning ceremony, and he anticipates other local veterans groups also will take part.

Veterans Circle, said Gotham, was dedicated on Veterans Day 2006.

Originally meant to be a final resting place for indigent vets, Gotham said the rules for burial in the special area have since been changed. Restrictions on indigent status were so strict that nobody could qualify, he said.

No one has yet been buried there, he said. However, under the new rules, it is open to all veterans, but is for cremated remains only.

Hultquist said he plans to organize a wreath laying next year as well.

Hartley Cemetery is located at 2552 Hill Road East in Lakeport.

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LAKEPORT – State officials are conducting their own investigations into the activities of a parolee who is accused of a Nov. 20 murder in Lakeport.

Construction worker Ivan Garcia Oliver, 29, is facing a murder charge for the Nov. 20 death of 67-year-old Michael Dodele at the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport.

A week after Dodele's murder, Oliver and his half-brother were indicted on federal charges for a March 2005 hazardous dumping case in San Diego County, as Lake County News previously reported.

Oliver was on parole at the time of both alleged incidents, which has triggered a state parole investigation into alleged parole violations, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

That investigation, in turn, has revealed more information about Oliver's background and whereabouts in the last few years, up until days before the murder.

Oliver was sent to prison in July 2003 after being convicted of assault with force causing great bodily injury, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records. Those records did not include specific information on the offense or what kind of weapon, if any, Oliver may have used.

Although he was sentenced to four years in prison, Oliver was released on parole in February of 2005, said Jerome Marsh, a state parole spokesman for Region 4, which covers Southern California counties including San Diego, where Oliver was convicted of the crime.

Marsh said Oliver was released from the California Rehabilitation Center, a medium-level facility in Norco.

Oliver was required to make monthly reports to the El Cajon parole office, said Marsh. His parole was due to end next February.

Marsh said Oliver had been making those monthly reports; in fact, he last reported, in person, to the El Cajon office on Nov. 13, exactly one week to the day before the Dodele murder.

Oliver's last legal residence was in San Diego County, said Marsh. According to the terms of his parole, Oliver wasn't supposed to travel 50 miles from his residence or leave San Diego County without permission.

Oliver's arrest in Lake County, where he wasn't cleared to be, triggered a parole violation charge, said Marsh.

Marsh said Oliver signed an “optional waiver” on Tuesday, which says he agrees to accept a 12-month sanction making him ineligible for parole. If he's released on the murder charge, Oliver could request a parole violation hearing on the matter, Marsh added.

Parole violations only bring, at most, 12 months back in prison, said Marsh, although in Oliver's case it's a moot point because he's being held for Dodele's murder.

As to what Oliver was doing in Lake County in violation of his parole, Marsh said parole officials are investigating the matter. In particular, they suspect he may have been coming and going between San Diego and Lake counties for some time, since he had a residence at the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport. That's where he was arrested after Dodele's stabbing death.

“It's not uncommon for parolees to want to play the address game,” said Marsh.

With Oliver accused of the hazardous dumping charge in March 2005 – just a month after his release from prison – Marsh said parole officials are now investigating that as a parole violation as well. “We'll be submitting the hazardous waste incident as a supplemental charge.”

The materials Oliver and his half-brother allegedly dumped were large quantities of acrylic paint that contained toluene, according to court documents. Toluene is a highly toxic solvent reportedly used in methamphetamine manufacture.

Asked if the materials were being used to make meth, Marsh said, “That's the first thing that always crosses our mind.”

While Marsh said there is no evidence at this point to indicate that meth manufacture was involved, “Our suspicions generally go in that direction and most of the time we're right.”

District Attorney addresses speculation

Oliver's case has received growing attention because of reports that he attacked Dodele because of Dodele's listing on the state's Megan's Law Web site.

Dodele was convicted in Sonoma County in 1988 of rape and oral copulation, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who issued a statement on the case in an effort to clear up speculation that Dodele was attacked because of the Megan's Law listing.

Not all of those listed on the Megan's Law Web site were convicted of offenses involving children. Such was the case with Dodele, according to Hinchcliff.

However, the Megan's Law listing – which was taken down Nov. 26 by the California Attorney General's Office – listed Dodele's offenses as 261(2), “rape by force,” and 288a(c), “oral copulation with person under 14/etc. or by force/etc.”

Explaining the ambiguous wording on the second charge, Hinchcliff said that 288a(c) can be violated in one of three ways: by performing the act on a person who is under 14 years of age and who is more than 10 years younger than the suspect; when the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by means of force or violence; or when the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threat to retaliate against the victim or another person.

Hinchcliff said he obtained information from Lake County Sheriff's investigators that confirmed that Dodele's charge involved a 37-year-old woman.

“We have no information or evidence that Michael Dodele was ever arrested for, accused of, or convicted of a crime involving child molestation or child sexual assault,” said Hinchcliff.

Hinchcliff said Oliver will be in court on Jan. 7, 2008. At that time a preliminary hearing is expected to be scheduled.

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LAKE COUNTY – As the official beginning of the election season nears, potential candidates are stepping forward to show their interest in running for supervisorial seats.

Lake County Registrar of Voters Diane Fridley on Friday gave an update on those county residents who have come forward so far to file a Form 501.

Called a “declaration of intentions,” the candidates must fill out the Form 501 before they can begin to solicit funds for a campaign, said Fridley.

With Supervisor Ed Robey not seeking reelection in 2008, as Lake County News was first to report earlier this year, a big field of potential candidates is forming.

Fridley said so far Voris Brumfield, Jim Comstock, Scott Fergusson, Susanne La Faver and Bobby MacIntyre have filed their Forms 501 for the District 1 seat.

Also up for election in 2008 are Supervisor Anthony Farrington's and Supervisor Rob Brown's seats for Districts 4 and 5, respectively.

Fridley said no one has filed a declaration of intention so far to run against Farrington. In District 5, Robert Stark has filed his form to begin a campaign against Brown.

However, Fridley pointed out that the election season hasn't even technically begun.

She said an individual isn't officially a candidate – even those who are incumbents – until they file all the necessary paperwork and follow the required steps.

From Dec. 28 through Feb. 21, candidates will begin gathering signatures in lieu of paying a filing fee to run for office, said Fridley.

The fee to run, said Fridley, is based on 1 percent of the annual salary of the position they're seeking.

In this year's budget supervisors make $4,807.46 a month, or $57,689.52 annually. That would mean the fee would be just under $600.

However, enough signatures can replace the fee. Fridley said, on average, four signatures equal $1 of the fee, meaning each candidate would need to collect about 2,400 signatures.

If a candidate decides not to collect signatures, they can simply pay the fee and collect nomination signatures.

The nomination period to officially file to run for supervisor will then run from Feb. 11 through March 7, 2008, said Fridley.

“Once someone files as a candidate for supervisor and files their declaration of candidacy, they can't withdraw. their name will be on the ballot,” said Fridley.

If there is an eligible incumbent who doesn't file for office by March 7, as is expected to be the case in District 1, the nomination period will be extended until March 12, said Fridley.

The supervisorial primary will be held in June.

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UKIAH – A Lake County woman was arrested Thursday after authorities allege she caused a crash while driving intoxicated.

The California Highway Patrol reported that officers arrested Natalie Reed, 27, of Kelseyville for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The CHP reported that Reed was driving her 1999 Volvo eastbound on Highway 20 near Ukiah when her vehicle crossed into the highway's westbound lane.

As a result Reed collided head on with a 1975 Ford driven by 55-year-old Luis Miranda of Fort Bragg, the CHP reported.

Both Reed and Miranda were transported to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center.

Miranda sustained major injuries as a result of the collision and was admitted to the hospital, according to the CHP.

The CHP reported that Reed, who was uninjured, was arrested for driving under the influence and booked into the Mendocino County Jail.

The collision remains under investigation by the CHP.

Both drivers were wearing their safety belts, the CHP reported.

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LAKEPORT – A potential breach of Sutter Lakeside patient records has put the information of an estimated 45,000 people at risk, hospital officials reported Monday. {sidebar id=45}

The statement from Sutter Lakeside followed a Dec. 6 letter sent to the thousands of patients in question, informing them of the data breach, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Lake County News.

Sutter Lakeside spokesman Mitch Proaps said Monday that a laptop computer containing personal and medical information of certain former patients, employees and physicians was stolen from the residence of a man working as an information technology contractor on Nov. 18.

The information on the laptop included names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, said Proaps. “There were a small number that included insurance billing and health diagnosis information as well,” he added.

Most of the names were contained in a radiology system upgrade, one of a handful of hospital databases, said Proaps.

He said the hospital did not know how many of the affected individuals live in Lake County. The number of patients was high because it included individuals who had had both outpatient and inpatient care. This year, Proaps reported that the hospital had 2,600 inpatient discharges, with 82,000 outpatient visits.

“What we know about these names is the list dates back to 2005 and prior, but we don't know how far back prior,” he said.

Besides the unauthorized transmission of the information to the laptop, Proaps said, “At this time we have no knowledge of any misuse of this information.”

The theft, said Proaps, did not occur in Lake County, but another city, which he did not reveal because of an ongoing investigation. He said a police department in the contractor's city of residence is investigating the theft.

The contractor in question, said Proaps, was working with the hospital's information technology department on a system upgrade. The information, dating from 2005 and earlier, was to be transferred from one secure system to another as part of a system upgrade process.

Proaps said the contractor had authorization to access the information through a secure virtual private network.

“He was not authorized to transmit the data directly to the laptop hard drive,” said Proaps, because it takes the data out of the hospital's control.

The contractor did not explain why he transferred the information to his laptop, said Proaps.

Initially, hospital officials “had no reason to suspect” that the laptop contained confidential data; however, an internal review of archives confirmed the probability that the hard drive had contained personal information, according to Sutter Lakeside's report.

Once the hospital discovered that the laptop had contained confidential information, officials “immediately began taking steps to notify those individuals whose information may have been involved and to establish a hotline for people with questions.”

Proaps said Sutter Lakeside is pursuing a deductive investigation to determine just what was on the laptop.

The laptop was password protected; hospital officials reported that makes it difficult, but not impossible, for someone to break into the machine to access the patient information.

Sutter Lakeside emphasized that they have no reason to suspect the information on the laptop has been accessed or misused but have notified approximately 45,000 people of the incident via mail.

Proaps said Sutter Lakeside also contacted the Sutter organization's legal and risk compliance departments for guidance after the information loss was discovered.

While there is no mandatory reporting agency on such data breaches, Proaps said the hospital reported the situation to the Department of Health Services.

Sutter Lakeside Chief Executive Officer Kelly Mather said in a written statement issued Monday morning that the hospital is making every effort to address the situation.

“We work in an environment where protecting individuals’ information is absolutely as important as providing quality service and care. Storing this type of information on a laptop hard drive is at variance with our organization’s strict policies,” said Mather.

“We have discontinued our business relationship with the contractor involved,” said Mather. “To reinforce a secure data environment this day forward, we already have taken aggressive steps to provide additional training to our managers, to conduct audits of all portable computer devices and to re-evaluate our policies and procedures where appropriate. Additionally, we have ordered the latest encryption software and will be installing it on our computer devices.”

Proaps said the hospital terminated work with the contractor as soon as its investigation revealed that protected information was on the laptop.

The investigation into the theft is ongoing, said Proaps. Mather's statement noted that the hospital is “fully cooperating with law enforcement in hopes of retrieving the stolen laptop.”

Proaps said the most important thing for the hospital to do now is let people know of the potential breach and inform them of how they can protect themselves.

Although such a data breach hasn't happened in other parts of the Sutter organization, there are hundreds of such data breaches on an annual basis around the country, said Proaps. “But that doesn't comfort any of us.”

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit group that tracks data breaches, reports that more than 216 million records containing sensitive personal information have been compromised in security breaches across the United States since January 2005.

The group also reported that between 2002 and 2006, 478 laptops were lost or stolen from the Internal Revenue Service, with 112 of the computers holding sensitive taxpayer information.

In this month alone, several instances of stolen laptops at research and health care facilities and blood banks were reported, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

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LAKEPORT – The prosecutor and defense attorney in the Renato Hughes case received unexpected news Friday when they went to court to find out where the state proposes to move the trial.

The surprise is that the state Administrative Office of the Courts suggests that the trial be moved to Southern California.

On Friday morning District Attorney Jon Hopkins and defense attorney Stuart Hanlon were in Judge Arthur Mann's court to hear what alternate counties could host the trial, which Hopkins estimated will take about eight weeks.

The 23-year-old Hughes is being tried for murder in the deaths of Rashad Williams and Christian Foster, who he was allegedly accompanying during a residential robbery in Clearlake Park on Dec. 7, 2005.

Williams and Foster were shot by homeowner Shannon Edmonds as they ran from his home, but Hughes is being held responsible for their deaths under the provocative act theory.

On Nov. 15, after weeks of jury selection, the judge assigned to the Hughes case – retired Alameda Superior Court Judge William McKinstry – granted Hanlon's change of venue motion.

McKinstry cited the number of potential jurors who were dismissed for various reasons as the basis for his concern that Hughes might not receive a fair trial in Lake County.

Although Mann had not received a formal written report from the Administrative Office of the Courts by Friday, Hopkins said Mann reported that he had a conversation with an official who proposed the trial be moved either to Los Angeles or San Diego County.

Neither Hopkins nor Hanlon welcomed the proposal for those counties, based largely on concerns of distance and additional cost.

“I have a real problem because it's so far away,” said Hanlon.

Hanlon said he proposed Solano, Alameda or San Francisco counties, wanting to avoid counties with less diverse populations.

In the case of Solano, it has the highest per capital population of black residents of any county in the state. “I think Solano would be really good,” said Hanlon. “They don't want it but that's not the issue.”

Alameda and San Francisco also are diverse. However, Hanlon added, “We all know San Francisco is not the best place because of the media.”

Hanlon said it will be up to Mann to decide where the trial may go, and convenience to the parties has to be a consideration.

“The cost and expense of moving the case that far is humongous,” said Hanlon.

Hopkins also was concerned about the distance involved in moving the trial so far south.

As to where he wants to see the trial move, he said, “I would like to be close and also not in the counties that have had a lot of publicity in the case, and the Bay Area has.”

Hopkins suggested Yolo or Sacramento counties would be better choices, and considerably closer for all parties. Hanlon agreed that a Sacramento Valley location would be preferable.

Said Hopkins, “I'm actually surprised that they're having trouble finding a court to accommodate a two-month trial.”

Official explains reasons for suggesting LA, San Diego

Brad Campbell, supervising analyst for the Administrative Office of the Courts, told Lake County News he had spoken directly with Judge Mann about the possibility of moving the trial to either Los Angeles or San Diego counties.

Campbell said Judge Mann should have his official report on the change of venue early next week.

It's been difficult to find a place to host the case, said Campbell.

“We had other courts that would be able to do it but not until much later in the year,” said Campbell, explaining that late spring would be the earliest some of the alternate courts could take the trial based on their caseloads.

In Los Angeles and San Diego, Campbell said they were looking at having the trial on the calendar as soon as January or February. “You want to get a case on schedule as quickly as you can.”

Hanlon, however, said he was not available in either January or February, so the trial can't be held then. He suggested late spring would be better.

Hopkins said they'll be back in court on Jan. 4, 2008, at which time they'll discuss the change of venue location.

Campbell said if the defense and prosecution can't agree on where to hold the trial, Mann must schedule a McGowan hearing, in which the two sides will make their arguments about where they want the trial to go.

State and local responsibilities

Campbell said the county and state will share the expenses for moving the trial.

While trial courts are funded by the state, the home or “sending” court bears the cost of any extraordinary costs, including daily transcripts and extra security, said Campbell. The receiving court won't bear any charges.

Lake County would have to share costs of having Hughes housed at a jail facility in the county where the trial is held, said Campbell. The county won't have to pay for defense costs, he added.

As to the number of changes of venues he works on, Campbell said the number is very small – only about two to three across California each year.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


WASHINGTON – On Wednesday night, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) voted to bring immediate tax relief to 23 million American families who would otherwise pay higher taxes under the alternative minimum tax (AMT), including 42,000 families in California’s 1st Congressional District. The AMT Relief Act (H.R. 4351) is completely paid for, meaning the tax relief would not add to our national debt.

“This Administration has presided over seven years of fiscal mismanagement: spending has skyrocketed, entitlements have expanded and taxes have been cut – without any regard to the bottom line,” said Congressman Thompson. “As a result, our budgets haven’t balanced, our surpluses turned into deficits, our national debt exploded and our borrowing from other countries more than doubled. If there was ever a time when fiscal discipline was paramount, it is today.”

This bill would extend the one-year AMT relief for nonrefundable personal credits and increase the AMT exemption to $66,250 for joint filers and $44,350 for single filers, ensuring that no additional taxpayers are liable for the AMT this year.

“The AMT was created to fairly tax multi-millionaires, not burden middle-class families,” said Thompson. “Congress is committed to making sure millions of Americans do not end up with a tax hike next year.”

In addition to a temporary relief from the AMT, the bill also provides additional tax cuts to an estimated 12 million families by enhancing the child tax credit. The bill lowers the income eligibility floor to $8,500.

“We pay for this tax relief by closing loopholes that allow tax avoidance for wealthy folks who move their money off-shore,” added Thompson. “And we take what we gain from closing that loophole to pay for middle-class tax relief.”

Although the end of the year is approaching, Congressional leaders have been in constant communication with the IRS to ensure that tax forms will account for the AMT relief and the 2007 filing season is as seamless as possible.


LAKE COUNTY – Federal and county officials have agreed to wait until early next year to transport a local murder suspect to a Southern California arraignment for federal dumping charges.

Ivan Garcia Oliver, 29, who is charged with the Nov. 20 murder of 67-year-old Lakeport resident Michael Dodele, has been indicted on federal charges of dumping hazardous materials in San Diego County, as Lake County News reported Monday.

Court documents filed last week by the US Attorney's Office's Southern District showed that federal officials intended to have Oliver brought to San Diego for a Dec. 21 arraignment on the charges.

However, on Monday Assistant US Attorney Melanie K. Pierson said the plans have changed.

A writ of habeas corpus that Pierson had filed to have Oliver transported was returned unexecuted, said Pierson. Instead, Pierson said a new writ for a different date is being filed.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who is prosecuting Oliver for Dodele's murder, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins asked the US Attorney's Office to put off the Dec. 21 arraignment so that it wouldn't interfere with the murder case's proceedings. “They've agreed to try to work with us.”

Hinchcliff said Oliver will be in Lake County Superior Court on Jan. 7, 2008, at which time he expects a preliminary hearing to be set in the murder case.

Oliver is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in San Diego County on Jan. 30, said Hinchcliff.

In federal court Oliver is facing charges of conspiracy and aiding and abetting his half-brother and co-defendant, Guillermo Garcia of El Cajon, in dumping hazardous wastes in and around Slaugherhouse Canyon Creek in San Diego County in March 2005, according to court records.

Pierson said the two men worked for a company called Wagner Construction when they allegedly agreed to dump five 55-gallon drums of acrylic paint containing the highly toxic solvent toluene. The men allegedly dumped the paint at night in order to save the time and expense of properly disposing of the materials.

Court documents allege that Garcia subsequently lied to authorities about the materials, allegedly saying they had been spilled accidentally.

The month before the alleged dumping incident, Oliver was released on parole after serving time in state prison on a charge of assault with force causing great bodily injury, according to state parole records.

Asked if these federal charges could constitute a violation of Oliver's parole, Pierson said that will be a matter for the state to investigate.

The US Marshal's office agreed to transport Oliver to and from the San Diego appearances, said Hinchcliff, which will save local taxpayers the expense of sending the Lake County Sheriff's Office down to pick Oliver up.

Pierson confirmed that the US Attorney's Office will work with Lake County to coordinate Oliver's court appearances both locally and in San Diego.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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