Sunday, 16 June 2024

News

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning this weekend for the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area, resulting in an elevated fire danger.


In response to the heightened fire danger, Cal Fire is increasing its staffing and urging the public to be extra cautious this weekend.


“The grass across the region is already dying or dead,” said Chief Andy McMurry, assistant deputy director for Cal Fire.


“Our firefighters are ready to respond to any wildfires, but we really need to the public’s help in preventing fires.”


On Friday, Cal Fire began prepositioning many of its air tankers from the department’s maintenance base at McClellan Air Park in Sacramento County to its air bases across Northern California. Throughout the winter the aircraft undergo extensive maintenance preparing them for firefighting activity.


Cal Fire has staffed its airbases in Southern California since the beginning of May, where conditions have dried out earlier.


The red flag warning stretches from Redding to Modesto and into the East Bay from 11 a.m. Friday to 8 p.m. on Saturday due to a combination of warm temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds.


Cal Fire officials are urging the public to remain extra vigilant this weekend and help them prevent fires.


Here are some tips to help prevent wildfires:


  • Don’t mow weeds after 10 a.m.

  • Never use a lawn mower in dry grass.

  • Completely extinguish any campfire.

  • Make sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished and never thrown outside.


For more fire safety tips visit the Cal Fire Web site at www.fire.ca.gov or www.ReadyForWildfire.org.


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LAKE COUNTY – Heated races, expectations for runoffs, upsets for incumbents and low voter turnout aren't unique to Lake County this year.


Tuesday's primary election saw incumbents around the region – some of them in office for many years – dismissed from office or set for November runoffs.


The Tuesday primary also was marked by voter turnout that was low both locally and around the state, which county election officials have previously noted is common for primaries.


In Lake County, just over a third of voters showed up to the polls, running higher than the overall state average, according to state and local records.


This year, local law enforcement races in the county have proved the most heated.


On Tuesday, incumbent Sheriff Rod Mitchell placed four percentage points and 445 votes behind challenger Francisco Rivero. The two men will face off in November after Jack Baxter, a retired police sergeant from San Jose, finished third and was eliminated from the race.


The story was different in Tehama County, where Sheriff Clay Parker – in office since 1999 – was defeated on Tuesday by Dave Hencratt, one of his own detectives and a 21-year veteran of the Tehama County Sheriff's Office, according to details on Hencratt's Facebook page.


Meanwhile, there were several uncontested sheriff's races in neighboring counties in the Sacramento Valley and the North Coast.


Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones, Colusa County Sheriff Scott Marshall, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, Napa County Sheriff Douglas Koford and Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto faced no opponents in seeking reelection Tuesday.


Sonoma County Sheriff Bill Cogbill did not seek reelection, and Windsor Police Chief Steve Freitas ran to succeed him unopposed.


In Humboldt County, Sheriff Gary Philp retired and was succeeded by Mike Downey, a veteran of his department, who defeated Michael Hislop, the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office's chief investigator and a former Eureka Police officer.


District attorney races show major upsets

 

 

District attorney races around the region this June appeared to be more contested overall.


Lake County District Attorney Jon Hopkins, who was seeking a second term in office, placed out of the running to reclaim his seat Tuesday. His challengers, Don Anderson and Doug Rhoades, will now race to November.


Hopkins, contacted by Lake County News on Wednesday, said he wasn't prepared to comment on the outcome of Tuesday's vote or his future plans.


The position in which Hopkins finds himself – an incumbent district attorney out of a job – isn't an isolated incident in races around the region this year.


In Glenn County, following a heated race, longtime District Attorney Robert Holzapfel was defeated by Robert Maloney, who he had beaten for the job in the early 1980s. Maloney currently is assistant district attorney in Shasta County.


Next door in Sonoma County, two-term District Attorney Stephen Passalacqua was defeated by Mendocino County prosecutor Jill Ravitch.


In other races, to the north, in Tehama County, District Attorney Gregg Cohen fended off challenger Kenneth Miller.


Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott finished first in the primary over challengers C. David Eyster and Matt Finnegan, with Lintott and Eyster slated to be in a November runoff.


In Humboldt County, District Attorney Paul Gallegos is facing a run to November against challenger Allison Jackson, who finished nearly three percentage points ahead of him, according to the Humboldt County Registrar of Voters. Gallegos and Jackson were the top finishers in a field of four.


Colusa County District Attorney John Poyner was unchallenged this year, as were Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

 

 

Fewer superintendent of schools races contested


Races for superintendents of schools around the region were mostly uncontested.


Superintendents Larry Champion in Tehama County, Barbara Nemko in Napa County, Garry Eagles in Humboldt County, Paul Tichinin in Mendocino County and Jorge Ayala in Yolo County all ran for reelection unopposed, while Steven Herrington had no challengers as he sought to succeed Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Carl Wong.


In Lake County, Wally Holbrook and Judy Luchsinger raced to succeed retiring Superintendent of Schools Dave Geck, with Holbrook winning Tuesday with a nearly 19-percent lead, or just over 2,000 votes.


In Colusa County, incumbent Superintendent Kay Campbell Spurgeon finished first in a field of four, followed by Jamie Myers, Julie Struckmeyer and Becky Van Kleeck Poyner, according to the Colusa County Registrar of Voters. Preliminary numbers indicate Spurgeon and Myers will race to November.


In a primary upset, one-term Glenn County Superintendent of Schools Arturo Barrera was defeated by Glenn County Supervisor Tracey Quarne, also a county educator, who chose not to pursue reelection for his supervisorial seat in order to run against Barrera. Preliminary Glenn County Registrar of Voters numbers indicate that Quarne bested Barrera by nearly 17 percent, or more than 1,000 votes.


Low voter turnout statewide


As to voter turnout, statewide approximately 24.9 percent of voters participated in the Tuesday primary, according to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's office. Lake County surpassed that state average with a 36.1-percent turnout.


Sierra County had the highest turnout of the state's 58 counties with 73.3 percent, while Riverside had the lowest, with 16.5 percent, according to state data.


Election officials are still processing mail-in ballots and conducting the official canvass. The following numbers – compiled from individuals counties and the Secretary of State – are preliminary results, and final results may differ.


Preliminary turnout results for Lake County, and neighboring and North Coast counties:


Colusa County: 39.6 percent (breakdown of precinct and absentee not immediately available).


Glenn County: 53.46 percent (precinct – 30.69 percent; absentee – 22.77 percent).


Humboldt: 38.3 percent (breakdown of precinct and absentee not immediately available).


Lake County: 36.1 percent (precinct – 17.3 percent; absentee – 18.8 percent).


Mendocino County: 26.59 percent (breakdown of precinct and absentee not immediately available).


Napa County: 26.37 percent (precinct – 16.30 percent; absentee – 10.08 percent).


Sonoma County: 38.9 percent (precinct – 14.8 percent; absentee – 24 percent).


Tehama County: 32.55 percent (precinct – 15.52 percent; absentee – 17.03 percent).


Yolo County: 29.9 percent (breakdown of precinct and absentee not immediately available).


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

The duties of a trustee carry great responsibility. In the case of family trusts managed by nonprofessional trustees, these duties involve responsibilities that are most often beyond the trustee’s expertise and experience.


Such trustees find themselves in a dilemma because they must actively administer the trust, but do not possess the expertise to do so without assistance. How then can a nonprofessional trustee – who was selected because of his or her familial relationship and position of trust – competently manage the assets and affairs of the trust? Let’s examine the trustee’s options.


Investments and management functions are important areas that require special competence not usually possessed by a family trustee.


Fortunately, a trustee may delegate these investment and management functions when it is prudent to do so under the circumstances. Such prudence requires that the trustee exercise care in selecting the investment advisor, establish the scope and terms of the advisor’s engagement, and periodically review the advisor’s performance and compliance with the terms of his or her engagement.


Prudently delegating such responsibilities protects the trustee from liability for the investment and management of trust assets so long as the trustee periodically oversees the actions of the trust advisor.


Should the trustee, in his or her periodic reviews of the trust advisor, discover any wrongdoings committed by the advisor, the trustee is personally responsible to make the advisor rectify the situation.


Failure by the trustee to act prudently, or active concealment by the trustee of any wrongdoings committed by the advisor, will make the trustee personally liable to the beneficiaries for any damages.


Except in the case of investments and management, a trustee may not delegate discretionary decision-making to a non trustee.


A trustee is selected because of the trustee’s personal judgment and so must use that judgment independently. For example, the trustee is responsible for deciding when and how to make discretionary distributions to, and on behalf of, the beneficiaries.


A trustee may, of course, consult with trust advisors in any and all areas that require or would benefit from professional expertise, such as in the areas of law, accounting, and taxes. Whenever a trustee consults an expert – but does not delegate responsibility to the expert – the trustee must still make his or her own decisions regarding the issues confronted.


Unlike a trustee who prudently delegates, a trustee who consults is personally responsible for making decisions and taking actions. Any time the trustee acts based on the recommendations of hired advisors, the trustee should keep records of the advisor’s recommendations, the trustee’s decisions (together with reasoning) and the trustee’s action.


A trustee may also hire agents to carry out so-called ministerial (day-to-day) activities that do not require any particular expertise or discretion. Such ministerial actions would be routine tasks that can be undertaken by an agent acting under the direction of the trustee.


The trustee is responsible for prudent selection of the agent, periodic oversight, and correcting any errors made by the agent. A trustee who acts prudently (as described) will not be liable to the beneficiaries for the agent’s own wrongdoing.


To conclude, any person entrusted with the duties of trustee is expected, and indeed should be encouraged, to utilize professional advisors.


Trustees may also hire agents, when necessary, to complete the day to day ministerial activities that do not require the trustee’s personal judgment.


Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 1st St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.


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Image
The new Lucerne fishing pier is located near the Third Avenue Plaza Project in Lucerne, Calif. Photo by Ron Keas.




 

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Lake County Redevelopment Agency officials have announced the completion of the fishing pier at Alpine Park in Lucerne.


The pier, which is the first phase of the Third Avenue Plaza Project, is open to the public from now until the start of the second phase of the project, which is slated for late summer.

 

The newly constructed fishing pier extends 180 feet out into Clear Lake, offering residents and visitors stunning views of the vastness of Clear Lake and the backdrop of Mount Konocti while providing anglers with impressive overwater access.

 

The pier is constructed of steel and concrete with a steel railing with stainless steel cable detail.


At the end of walkway is a large gazebo with an Alpine-styled roofline that sits atop a 60-foot-by-40-foot platform.


A number of benches are set along the platform, and several tables are placed beneath the shade of the gazebo, which creates a great spot for picnics. The park is open from dawn to dusk.

 

Major funding for the fishing pier project has been provided by a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board of the California Department of Fish and Game, with additional funding provided by the Lake County Redevelopment Agency.

 

Formed in 1999, the Lake County Redevelopment Agency works to eliminate blight in communities within the Northshore Redevelopment Project Area, which includes parts of Upper Lake, Nice, Lucerne, Glenhaven, and Clearlake Oaks.

 

For more information about the project, contact the Lake County Redevelopment Agency at 707-263-2580 or visit www.co.lake.ca.us/redevelopment.


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RED BLUFF – A Clearlake man died Tuesday after traveling the wrong way on a portion of Interstate 5 and subsequently colliding with a bridge.


Hubert Marks, 72, was the victim of the crash, according to the Red Bluff office of the California Highway Patrol.


At around 12:24 a.m. Tuesday Marks was traveling southbound in his 1996 Ford Ranger pickup in the northbound lane of Interstate 5 near Dibble Creek Bridge, south of the North Main Street overcrossing at an estimated speed of 70 miles per hour, according to the CHP report.


The CHP said there were no independent witnesses as to where he entered the highway going the wrong direction.


According to witness statements, Marks continued southbound in the northbound lane which ended at the Dibble Creek Bridge. Witnesses told CHP that Marks never hit the brakes before colliding with the raised concrete bridge abutment.


Marks' pickup spun in a clockwise direction and came to rest facing north within the highway's two northbound lanes, the CHP reported.


The CHP said Marks was wearing his seatbelt when the crash occurred.


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HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE – A local physician has been arrested and charged with the sexual battery of one of his patients.


The arrest of Corey Marcell Warner, 41, of Hidden Valley Lake on Thursday followed nearly a year of investigation into a report made by a female patient, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.


Bauman said in July of 2009 a Middletown woman had reportedly gone to Warner’s practice at Hidden Valley Medical Services in Hidden Valley for an examination.


The woman later alleged that Warner conducted himself inappropriately during her visit, Bauman said.


Bauman said deputies arrested Warner at his Hidden Valley Lake home without incident at about 5 p.m. Thursday on a felony warrant signed by Superior Court Judge Stephen Hedstrom.


Warner was booked at the Lake County Jail on a charge of sexual battery involving a restrained person, according to his booking sheet. He was released late Thursday evening after posting $10,000 bail.


Bauman said no further case details currently are available for release, and the case is pending further investigation.


Anyone with information on this or any other criminal matter is encouraged to contact the Lake County Sheriff’s Department at 707-262-4200.

 

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CLEARLAKE – More road work is set to begin in Clearlake next week.


The city of Clearlake reported that its contractor, Argonaut Constructors of Santa Rosa, will begin construction work on the city's Collector Street Rehabilitation Project Phase 2 on Monday, June 14.


Streets included in the project are Arrowhead Road between Golf Club Street and Modoc Street, Arrowhead Road between Park Street and Burns Valley Road, Burns Valley Road between Arrowhead Road and Woodland Street, and 40th Avenue between Moss Avenue and Phillips Avenue.


The road rehabilitation and paving work will start next Monday and continue through June 28. Work will commence on Arrowhead Road, then proceed to Burns Valley Road and then to 40th Avenue.


The schedule is weather dependent. Cooler weather than normal or rainy weather could delay the work schedule.


Electronic message boards will be in place prior to the start of paving work advising motorists of the work schedule and road closures.


Work hours will be Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The work will involve the excavation and removal (by grinding) the existing asphalt surfacing and old road base, and placement of new asphalt pavement and minor underground utility repair.


The new asphalt pavement will be placed in two lifts, a base asphalt course and finished asphalt course. The first, or base course of asphalt, will be placed immediately after the grinding. The finished asphalt course will be placed a day or two later.


Portions of Arrowhead Road, Burns Valley Road and 40th Avenue will be subject to closure. Through traffic will be detoured around the work site during construction hours. Access to local residents will be made available at all times during construction. However, delays should be expected.


Road closures will remain in effect during construction hours. Motorists are urged to drive carefully in areas of road construction.


For questions and information please call the city of Clearlake at 707-994-8201, Extension 180.


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SAN RAFAEL – A Clearlake Oaks man and his passenger who were driving with a group of Hells Angels were arrested Sunday after they was found with a number of illegal weapons during a traffic stop in San Rafael.


Jason Giannini, 23, and his passenger, 50-year-old Fred Heric of Santa Rosa, were both arrested following the stop, according to the Marin California Highway Patrol office.


The CHP said that at just after 10 a.m. Sunday a CHP officer made an enforcement stop for a gross polluter violation on a black 1991 Ford F-150 Giannini was driving southbound on US-101 on the Central San Rafael off-ramp.


The Ford allegedly had been emitting a large amount of black smoke as it was driving southbound US-101 with a pack of Hells Angels riders, the CHP reported.


During the course of the stop, CHP officers determined Giannini to be driving on a suspended license and impounded the vehicle, according to the report.


The CHP reported that while officers were searching the vehicle they found multiple switchblades, butterfly knives, brass knuckles and lead-weighted gloves, along with a loaded 9 millimeter pistol, loaded and expelled ammunition, a baton, counterfeit US currency and less than an ounce of marijuana.


Both Giannini and Heric of Santa Rosa were arrested and booked into Marin County Jail on misdemeanor charges of possessing a switchblade, a firearm with an obliterated serial number, a concealed firearm in a vehicle and a loaded firearm in a public place and felony possession of baton/metal knuckles, officials said.


The CHP said both Giannini and Heric will be charged with gang association enhancements.


In addition, Giannini faces a gross polluter infraction and a misdemeanor charge of driving on a suspended license, the CHP reported.


The Marin County Major Crimes Task Force will be assisting the CHP with the investigation.

 

Later that day, the CHP arrested a Novato man, 52-year-old David Cesena, who was taking place in the Hells Angels Memorial Ride after he failed to stop his motorcycle at the stoplight at the intersection the northbound US-101 off-ramp to San Marin Drive and Atherton Avenue.


During the search a CHP officer observed an out-of-place handle protruding from the handle bar/fork area of the 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycle. The CHP report said the item later was determined to be an ice pick designed to be concealed within the motorcycle.


Cesena subsequently was arrested for felony possession of a deadly weapon and several traffic infractions, including failure to stop at a red light, no insurance, improper display of license plates and expired registration.


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LAKE COUNTY – The state has withdrawn proposed cuts announced late last month that would have affected crime victims' restitution claims processing and closed three offices around the state dedicated to that task.


The Victim Compensation & Government Claims Board (VCGCB) announced the cuts late last month but changed the plans about a week later, officials reported.


Rather than going through with the proposed closures and 12-percent budget cuts for counties, the agency will make administrative-level cuts, said Lynn Margherita, a VCGCB spokesperson.


“The clear message is, we don't want victims to suffer,” she said, adding that the situation for the VCGCB and the services it offers is still unfolding.


The VCGCB works with prosecutors and probation officials around the state, as well as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Franchise Tax Board, to collect funds for the State Restitution Fund.


According to the VCGCB, the State Restitution Fund is a “key funding source” for crime victims, and is supplied by restitution fines, diversion fees, restitution orders and penalties paid by criminal offenders.


The agency reported that it also receives federal Victims of Crime Act funds, which come from penalties paid by offenders convicted of federal crimes.


Debbie Wallace, program administrator for the Lake County Victim-Witness Division, said the funds are used to support a wide range of services for crimes victims and their families – from medical and dental care to counseling, home and vehicle retrofits if a crime leaves someone with physical disabilities, and funeral expenses.


Wallace explained that crime victims either apply directly or the Victim-Witness Division goes to them as a result of case filings. The only real requirement for qualifying is that the person cannot have participated in the event.


Last month, the VCGCB notified district attorneys around the state that it was planning cuts to the 21 joint powers agreements it holds with counties, according to Jon Myers, VCGCB deputy executive officer for legislation and public affairs.


“It didn't come easy,” Myers said of the decision, adding, “It was kind of a last resort for us.”


In addition, three counties – Sonoma, Humboldt and El Dorado – initially received letters notifying them that the board's offices in those locations would be closed, Myers said.


Lake County's claims are handled in the El Dorado office, Myers said.


Wallace said the Lake County Victim-Witness Division processed 250 victims' claims last year. The annual monetary amounts of the claims aren't tracked.


Margherita said the office closures weren't a reflection on staff performance, but more about caseload size.


“The counties that were slated to close represented about 6 percent of our operating budget,” she said, but they only processed 3 percent of the total applications.


Myers added, “We had to look at who can overlap and fill in the most effective way,” which is why the three counties in particular were chosen. He explained that many of the 21 joint powers agreements across the state cover several counties.


The closures proposal grew out of a need to close a gap in the VCGCB's funding. The State Restitution Fund has been decreasing and could become insolvent, Margherita said. Therefore, the VCGCB was taking action to try to protect the fund.


Myers explained that the State Restitution Fund had in recent years shown some modest increases and had even built up a healthy reserve.


However, in the 2008-09 budget year the state borrowed $80 million from the State Restitution Fund to meet other needs, Myers said.


“There wasn't any payback time frame put on that,” he said.


Adding to the situation, over the last year the State Restitution Fund has fallen as much as 9 percent below its anticipated revenue. Myers said that is believed to be due to the economy, with criminal offenders unable to get jobs in order to pay their required restitution.


“That kind of caught us all off guard,” Myers said of the fund's dwindling resources.


Lake County District Attorney Jon Hopkins said his office received an e-mail notifying it of the office closures.


“Our staff was concerned because of the good working relationship we have with the El Dorado staff in getting victim compensation claims processed quickly and accurately,” Hopkins said.


Sonoma County District Attorney Stephen Passalacqua released a statement in which he said his office was notified by the board in a May 20 letter that the Sonoma County’s Victims Compensation Program Agreement would be terminated effective June 30, with no prior notice or consultation, and that 12-percent cuts were planned to county contract services across the state.


Passalacqua said the cuts would have completely shut down Sonoma County’s program, leaving victims with no means of submitting claims forms and receiving assistance locally for losses resulting from their victimization.


It also would have meant the loss of three and a half employee positions, including the layoff of two employees with 44 years’ expertise in the field, Passalacqua's office reported.


The counties weren't going to lose services altogether; instead, Myers said the work handled by the offices slated for closure was going to be moved to neighboring counties or sent to the board's Sacramento headquarters.


However, Hopkins said the quickness of the response to Lake County's claims would have been affected, especially if it was lumped in with larger, metropolitan areas.


“We heard back from a lot of the counties,” said Myers. “We knew it was hard.”


Passalacqua reported that he, other district attorneys and the California District Attorneys Association protested the decisions.


As a result, Myers said Julie Nauman, the VCGCB's executive officer, asked her staff to come back with a set of new proposals. The board subsequently decided to tighten its belts more in-house at its headquarters.


About a week after the initial letter went out about office closures and cuts to the joint powers agreements, the VCGCB sent another letter notifying district attorneys that the closures and cuts were being rescinded, Myers said.


Hopkins said the victim advocates who work in his office's Victim-Witness Division were very pleased that the closures and cuts were being rolled back.


Passalacqua, who was “thrilled” to receive that news, said the cuts would have been “a devastating revictimization of crime victims by removing local crime victims’ compensation services along the Northern California coast from San Francisco to the Oregon border.”


He noted that his unit's performance has bucked the statewide trend and actually increased Sonoma County's contribution to the State Restitution Fund over the last several years.


Passalacqua cited a December 2008 state audit that he said showed the value and efficiency of serving crime victims at the local level as compared to the state.


He said the audit also suggested the VCGCB work to increase the number of victims served through the units at local centers.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

WILLITS – A Willits man was arrested Wednesday evening and charged with stealing a vehicle from Lake County.


Dustin Bruce, 26, was taken into custody for possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property, possession of methamphetamine and a parole violation, according to Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.


Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies were on patrol at the Sherwood Valley Rancheria Casino Wednesday evening when they observed a white Jeep Cherokee in the parking lot. Smallcomb said a records check on the vehicle showed the vehicle was reported stolen out of Lake County.


The deputies learned, with the assistance of the casino security, that a male subject had driven the Jeep to the location and then left in a separate vehicle, Smallcomb said. Contents inside the vehicle led the deputies to suspect that someone would be returning to get the vehicle.


A short while later a vehicle pulled up to the Jeep, where a male and female entered the vehicle, which then began to drive away, Smallcomb said. The vehicle exited from the casino and into a nearby residence.


Smallcomb said the deputies responded to the location and observed a male driver matching a previous description, seated in the driver seat. The female companion was now exiting the vehicle.


The driver, Bruce, was taken into custody without any incident, Smallcomb said.


Sheriff's deputies located 2.5 grams of suspected methamphetamine sitting on the driver seat, which Bruce appeared to have placed there when exiting the vehicle. Smallcomb said the deputies learned the female companion was not involved with the incident and was released on scene.


Bruce – who is currently on active parole from Mendocino County – was transported to the Mendocino County Jail and booked without a bail amount.


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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – Three men alleged to have been involved in a multimillion-dollar bait-and-switch home refinance scam that victimized people around the state – including Lake County and the North Coast – have been arrested.


On Wednesday California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced the arrests of Sean McConville, 30, of Austin, Texas; Matthew Bourgo, 27, of Thousand Oaks; and Joseph Nguyen, 37, of Woodland Hills.


Brown alleged that the men used “deceptive promises and forged documents” to steal almost $1 million from homeowners falsely guaranteed attractive home loan refinancing packages.


The arrests were part of a continuing problem into the now-defunct Southern California mortgage brokerage, ALG Capital Inc., Brown's office reported.


“These criminals employed a classic bait-and-switch in their refinance scheme,” Brown said. “With deceptive promises and forged documents, they maliciously cheated homeowners who trusted them and just wanted a fair deal.”


Brown's office initiated its investigation in October 2008 in response to more than 70 complaints against the defendants and their mortgage brokerage business, ALG Capital, Inc. The brokerage operated out of Calabasas from early 2006 until late 2007 and then moved to Mission Hills until it shut its doors in 2008.


The Attorney General's Office's investigation found that from April 2007 to October 2008, the owners and their associates lured dozens of borrowers into refinancing home loans by falsely promising low interest rates, minimal broker fees and other attractive terms. The brokerage then negotiated different terms with lenders.


When homeowners were presented with closing documents, they bore the terms promised, but which the lenders never approved, according to Brown's report.


After homeowners signed the closing documents, key pages were removed and replaced with pages bearing the terms that the lender had actually agreed to, Brown's office said. The homeowners' signatures were then forged on the replacement pages, and ALG forwarded the forged documents to the escrow company.


Homeowners only discovered they had been defrauded when they received the final loan documents with the true terms and their signatures forged on closing cost disclosures, truth-in-lending disclosures, loan applications and other documents, the Attorney General's Office reported.


Additionally, ALG collected almost $1 million in undisclosed fees, charging homeowners up to $57,000 in broker fees. Officials noted that, in total, dozens of homeowners were locked into almost $30 million in loans with terms they did not agree to.


As a result of this scheme, many homeowners were forced to sell their homes, come out of retirement, or tap retirement savings, officials reported. Others paid significant prepayment penalties, including over $21,000 in one case. Borrowers also rarely received the large cash-outs they were promised as part of the refinance.


Investigators located victims both locally and around the North Coast, including Nice, Santa Rosa and Petaluma, and in dozens of California cities – Auburn, Altadena, Arroyo Grande, Azusa, Bakersfield, Berkeley, Burbank, Calabasas, Castro Valley, Chino, Compton, Corona, Fairfield, Fontana, Fremont, Fresno, Garden Grove, Glendale, Hemet, Highland, Huntington Beach, La Habra, La Mesa, La Mirada, La Quinta, Lancaster, Livermore , Los Angeles, Long Beach, Manteca, Martinez, Monterey, Murrieta, Northridge, Oakland, Ontario, Palmdale, Pasadena, Perris, Pomona, Quartz Hill, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Reedley, Rialto, Sacramento, San Clemente, San Diego, San Jose, Sierra Madre, Spring Valley, Stanton, Temecula, Whittier and Winnetka.


McConville, president and co-owner of the brokerage, was arrested early Tuesday morning at his residence and is being held at the Travis County Jail in Texas pending extradition. He was previously convicted of robbery in November 1997.


Bourgo, who posed as a licensed notary for the brokerage, was arrested Tuesday afternoon at his residence, and is being held in Ventura County Jail pending a transfer to Los Angeles County.


Nguyen, a former loan officer for the brokerage, also was arrested Tuesdasy afternoon at his business, where he worked as a chiropractor. He is being held by authorities in Los Angeles County.


The suspects are each being held on $29.5 million bail.


Attorney General's Offices spokesman Evan Westrup told Lake County News on Wednesday that more updates on the case are expected.


Last September, Brown's office arrested three others involved in the bait-and-switch scam, including Michael McConville, 32, of Simi Valley, Sean McConville's brother and co-owner of the brokerage; Alan Ruiz, 29, of Huntington Beach, a former loan officer; and Garrett Holdridge, 24, of Palmdale, who was convicted of seven felonies in March for his involvement in the scam.


The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, includes 38 counts of grand theft, 19 counts of forgery, three counts of elder abuse, and one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft.


Brown also filed suit against the McConville brothers in May 2009 for running a property tax reassessment scam which targeted Californians looking to lower their property taxes, as Lake County News reported. Numerous county residents received the scam letter and notified local officials about it.


Brown's office said the brothers billed tens of thousands of homeowners throughout California nearly $200 each for property tax reassessment services that were almost never performed and are available free of charge from local tax assessors.


Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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