Diese Seiten spiegele ich mit der freundlichen Genehmigung des kalifornischen Generalstaatsanwaltes. Die Originale dieser Web-Seiten werden im WWW gespeichert auf der Web-Presse-Site des California Attorney General: http://caag.state.ca.us/press/
The Attorney General of California kindly allowed me to mirror these
web-pages, the originals of which are at the California Attorney General's
Press Release site are at:
12.1.2001, Aribert Deckers
October 10, 2000 00-129 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced an $85 million antitrust settlement over the international price-fixing scheme by six major vitamin manufacturers that resulted in California consumers and businesses being overcharged for a variety of products over the last 12 years.
"After secret meetings in Belgium, Switzerland, Mexico and other places around the world, the companies imposed a hidden ¡vitamin tax' on everyday products that was passed to consumers and businesses," Lockyer said. "This caused Californians to pay millions of dollars more over the years for fortified food such as breakfast cereals, milk, juices, pet food, dietary supplements and animal feed, as well for beauty products such as shampoos, conditioners, lipstick and creams."
The settlement was reached with three European and three Japanese companies, which together control more than 80 percent of the world's vitamin market. The companies are Aventis Animal Nutrition (formerly Rhone-Poulenc), BASF Corporation, Daiichi Pharmaceutical, Eisai Co., Hoffman-LaRoche and Takeda Chemical. The vitamin products include vitamin A, C, E, H, several B vitamins, and other vitamins and carotenoids. The settlement agreement, which was signed by the parties, will be filed in San Francisco Superior Court. The settlement agreement, along with proposed plans for distribution of company payments, would become effective only upon approval by the court.
Lockyer said the settlement provides $42 million for refunds to California businesses, including farmers and grocery store owners who were harmed by the price-fixing. Because of the difficulty in determining how much individual consumers paid in higher prices over 12 years, the consumer portion of the settlement * about $38 million * will be used to fund projects of general benefit to Californians such as nutrition and aging research, food banks, health education and dairy and poultry industry grants. The State of California also will receive some $5 million for state government purchases.
California's settlement is separate from the $225 million settlement reached by other states. The vitamin manufacturers, which pleaded guilty in federal court in 1998, agreed to pay another $30 million to settle the claims of California and most states for government purchases of vitamins. California's settlement also resolves several class action cases filed last year. San Francisco attorneys William Bernstein and Guido Saveri led settlement talks for those cases.
(SAN FRANCISCO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today issued an advisory to alert California consumers about their rights to obtain replacements for the Firestone tires listed on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Consumer Advisory dated September 1, 2000.
"While there has been much attention on replacement tires for products listed by Firestone, Californians may not be aware of their consumer rights regarding the tires on the NHTSA advisory," Lockyer said. "Consumers basically may obtain replacement tires from authorized dealers or a credit of up to $140 per tire replaced by another company."
For products listed in the advisory of the NHTSA ( http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ ), consumers may obtain:
FREE REPLACEMENT TIRES VIA BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE AUTHORIZED DEALERS. Consumers who have tires on the NHTSA list may obtain replacements free of charge by going to a Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. authorized dealer. You can locate an authorized dealer by going to the store locator section of the Bridgestone/Firestone web page ( http://www.firestone.com ). Your tires will be replaced regardless of use and condition. They will be replaced without a pro rata payment. The consumer advisory tires can be replaced even if they are not currently on a vehicle.
Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. will replace consumer advisory tires for individuals or companies. If you previously had a road hazard warranty or insurance, Bridgestone/Firestone will replace that warranty free of charge when the replacement tire is installed. You will not be charged for mounting, balancing, valve stem, sales tax or disposal fees for the replacement of consumer advisory tires at the Bridgestone/Firestone authorized dealer. Bridgestone/Firestone will select the brand and type of tires used as a replacement under this option. Under this option, the replacement of the tire should be absolutely free to the consumer.
$140.00 REIMBURSEMENT OPTION FOR COMPETITORS TIRES. If a consumer does not want to go to an authorized Bridgestone/Firestone dealer for replacement tires or prefers to replace the consumer advisory tires with their choice of competitor tires, Bridgestone/Firestone will reimburse the consumer up to $140.00 per tire for any tire purchased to replace a tire that is listed on the consumer advisory.
If electing this option, a consumer must return the listed tires to an authorized Bridgestone/Firestone retailer and obtain a reimbursement form. The consumer will need to attach an original receipt for the tires purchased to replace the Firestone tires. Actual reimbursements from Bridgestone/Firestone may take 4-6 weeks. The consumer may elect this option regardless of the use or condition of the tire. The $140.00 reimbursement includes mounting, balancing, valve stem, sales tax and tire disposal fees. If the consumer previously had a road hazard warranty, Bridgestone/Firestone will pay to replace the warranty on the new tires.
NO WAIVER OF RIGHTS. Bridgestone/Firestone has removed any release language from reimbursement forms. Consumers do not have to waive legal rights they may have to take advantage of any of the Bridgestone/Firestone tire replacement options. Bridgestone/Firestone has agreed not to enforce any "releases" previously signed by consumers.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration List Tire Line Size Tire Code Tires Originally Installed On New Vehicles ATX P205/75R15 VD 1991 Chevy Blazer ATX P225/75R15 HY ATX 30X9.50R15LT VD ATX 31X10.50R15LT VD 1991-94 Nissan Pick Up ATX 32X11.50R15LT VD ATX 31X10.50R16.5LT VD ATX 33X12.50R16.5LT VD Firehawk ATX 27X8.50R14LT VD Firehawk ATX 235/75R1 or LTP 235/75R15 VD Firehawk ATX 30X9.50R15LT VD Firehawk ATX 31X10.50R15LT VD Firehawk ATX 32X11.50R15LT VD Firehawk ATX 33X12.50R15LT VD Firehawk ATX 265/75R16LT VD Firehawk ATX 255/85R16LT VD Firehawk ATX 31X10.50R16.5LT VD Firehawk ATX 33X12.50R16.5LT VD ATX 23 Degree 31X10.50R15LT VD ATX 23 Degree 33X12.50R16.5LT VD Widetrack Radial Baja P225/75R15 HY Widetrack Radial Baja A/S 32X11.50R15LT VD Wilderness AT P235/70R16 W2 1996-98 Ford F150 Wilderness AT 33X12.50R16.5LT VD Wilderness HT P255/70R15 VD
To view the chart in its original format, visit the California Attorney General's Press Release site at the following address:
October 19, 2000 00-130a FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued the following statement on the California State Auditor Report issued today regarding the Department of Insurance:
"The State Auditor's report adds to the public understanding about recent settlement and enforcement practices in the Department of Insurance and outlines serious problems under the administration of former Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush. This reinforces many of the findings we made in bringing legal action against the nonprofit California Research and Assistance Fund, which was set up to receive the settlement payments from insurance companies. While we pursue our legal action and criminal investigation of past Insurance Department practices, it is encouraging to see new Insurance Commissioner Harry Low committed to improving accountability and other changes cited in the legislative audit report."
Partial Settlement of Multi-state Antitrust Complaints Against Major Contact Lens Companies
November 2, 2000 00-134 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced the partial settlement of antitrust complaints against three major contact lens manufacturers that will provide rebates and other product benefits to Californians who bought replacement disposable contact lenses from any of these three companies in the last 12 years.
The proposed settlement was reached with one of the defendants, CIBA Vision. U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Schlesinger of Jacksonville, Florida, approved California's motion to provide consumers with notice of the pending lawsuits and the terms of the settlement with CIBA Vision.
The antitrust lawsuits brought by California, 31 other state attorneys general, and a national consumer class are still pending against the American Optometric Association, Johnson & Johnson Vision Products, Inc. ("Vistakon"), Bausch & Lomb ("B&L") and individual optometrists for restricting competition in violation of antitrust laws.
"An estimated one in ten Americans wear contact lenses," Lockyer said. "Under the proposed settlement, Californians who bought disposable contact lenses from any of these three manufacturers since 1988 will be eligible for up to $45 in cash rebates and product coupons. While the settlement involves only CIBA Vision, the consumer benefits will be available to past purchasers of replacement contact lenses from any of the three contact lens makers."
The proposed settlement with CIBA includes: a $35.00 cash rebate directly to consumers on the future purchase of certain CIBA replacement lenses, a package of discount coupons for consumers to use in purchasing CIBA Vision products and a $5 million payment. The settlement also would require CIBA to continue for five years its now current practice of selling replacement contact lenses directly to pharmacies and mail order firms for resale to consumers. The federal court is scheduled to consider formal approval of the proposed settlement on February 27, 2001 at 9:30 a.m.
Consumers may register for the benefits package and obtain additional information on the rebate process by calling toll-free 1-888-811-0385 or through the Internet at http://www.contactlenssettlement.com. Information also is available from these same sources on how to file objections or opt out of the settlement. The deadline for registering for benefits, filing objections or opting out is January 31, 2001.
Lens wearers who bought replacement disposable contact lenses from Vistakon, B&L and CIBA - at any time since January 1, 1988 - are eligible for the rebate and benefits package after final court approval of the settlement. Some of the more popular names of the replacement lenses are: Acuvue [R], Surevue [R], SeeQuence [R], Focus [R], and NuVues [R]. A full list of brand names may be viewed at the settlement web site http://www.contactlenssettlement.com.
The antitrust lawsuits against the contact lens makers allege that, beginning in 1988, consumers were forced to pay artificially high retail prices for replacement disposable contact lenses because Vistakon, B&L and CIBA had agreed with optometrists, acting through the American Optometric Association, to restrict competition. The lawsuits allege that consumers were forced to obtain their replacement contact lenses only from eye care professionals and not through other outlets such as mail or phone order, the Internet, pharmacies and drug stores.
In addition to restraints on supplies of lenses to competitive sellers, the antitrust lawsuits allege a conspiratorial restraint imposed on patients that made it difficult for many consumers to obtain their prescriptions or other information needed to buy replacement lenses from these more convenient outlets and often cheaper outlets. Both Vistakon and B&L continue to place restrictions on distribution of their replacement lenses, and the pending lawsuits seek to eliminate these continuing restrictive policies of Vistakon and B&L.
Part of Efforts to Dissolve Nonprofit California Research and Assistance Fund
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer was joined today by new Insurance Commissioner Harry Low in asking the court to void certain insurance company settlements that resulted in donations to the nonprofit California Research and Assistance Fund, whose expenditures have been under scrutiny.
The First Amended Complaint filed in Sacramento County Superior Court now seeks to dissolve the nonprofit corporation and void the administrative settlements arranged by former Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush with 21st Century Insurance Company; Allstate Insurance Company; State Farm, Farmers Insurance, and affiliates of these insurance companies.
The amended complaint contends that Quackenbush lacked the authority to enter into the settlements that provided for the creation of a nonprofit corporation and diversion of funds to CRAF to support activities unrelated to the regulatory enforcement responsibilities of the California Department of Insurance. The challenged settlements also resulted in another nonprofit group, the California Insurance Education Project, receiving a payment from Farmers.
The Attorney General earlier this year filed a complaint in Sacramento County Superior Court seeking to dissolve CRAF, contending that the organization was a sham nonprofit corporation. Pending its decision, the court ordered the assets of CRAF be frozen and any expenditures be subject to court review.
In addition to challenging the settlements, the amended complaint alleges that CRAF board members Ronald Weekley and Eric Givens, and former Deputy Insurance Commissioner George Grays, a de facto board member of CRAF, breached their fiduciary responsibility in the operation of the charitable trust. Damages are being sought for this alleged violation.
The amended complaint also seeks damages for self-dealing and the diversion or distribution of charitable assets by Weekley, George Grays and as yet other unnamed defendants. The complaint states that Grays and Weekley "used their positions as directors of CRAF to wrongfully appropriate, divert, convert and distribute charitable assets of CRAF for their own personal, private benefit." The alleged payments included $18,000 to Weekley's sole proprietorship, Community Connections, and at least $149,000 to Grays through the Skillz Athletic Foundation.
Number of crimes in large jurisdictions during the first six months of the year increased 1.3 percent compared to same period in 1999
(San Diego) * During a speech to the California Law Enforcement Executive Summit on DNA, Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that preliminary figures show that during the first half of this year, the number of crimes in the most populous cities and counties in California increased 1.3 percent when compared to 1999.
The preliminary report, "Crime 2000 In Selected California Jurisdictions, January through June," compares crime counts for six major offense categories during 1999 and 2000 for 77 jurisdictions with populations of 100,000 or more. These jurisdictions represent about 65 percent of the state's population. Within these jurisdictions, crimes tracked by the California Crime Index increased 1.3 percent:
Homicides increased 4.7 percent; Forcible Rapes increased 9.7 percent; Robberies decreased 1.5 percent; Aggravated Assaults increased 2.5 percent; Burglaries decreased 0.7 percent; and Motor Vehicle Thefts increased 3.3 percent.
While the overall figures showed a statewide increase in the rate of reported crime, the 77 jurisdictions were evenly split between those showing increases and decreases. In fact, if the Los Angeles Police Department had been taken out of the report, the state would have seen a 1.1% decrease in the rate of reported crime. The Attorney General expressed particular concern during his speech about the fact that 49 jurisdictions reported an increase in the number of forcible rapes during the first six months of 2000.
"Statistics suggest that sex offenders commit an average of seven to eight rapes during their criminal lifetime," Lockyer said. "Today, through the use of DNA evidence and improved investigative techniques, we can identify and convict sex offenders more effectively than at any time in history. We must send a message to criminals that if you commit the crime, we will catch and convict you."
The California Law Enforcement Summit on DNA Evidence was convened by the Attorney General, San Diego District Attorney Paul Pfingst and leaders of the California State Sheriffs', Police Chiefs' and Peace Officers' associations. Over the course of two days, the summit will give law enforcement officials important information on recent law changes pertaining to DNA as well as training on improved crime scene investigative techniques and prosecution strategies to ensure convictions of criminal offenders.
Attorney General Lockyer has made improved use of DNA science and technology a priority of his administration. This past year, Governor Gray Davis signed into law two bills sponsored by the Attorney General to give law enforcement more tools to protect public safety. The laws, which take effect on January 1, 2001, extend the statute of limitations for sex crimes and allow law enforcement to use DNA evidence gathered from persons arrested for the commission of a violent crime to solve other unsolved crimes. Through a $50 million rape kit program, the Governor's Office of Criminal Justice Planning and the Attorney General are also working cooperatively to help local agencies re-open an estimated 15,000 unsolved sex crimes.
The Attorney General also noted that the state's DNA Databank will have eliminated a decade-old backlog by the summer of 2001. The Department of Justice's DNA Databank contains DNA profiles of individuals who have been convicted of one of nine different violent and sexual offenses. Law enforcement agencies use the Databank to solve crimes by matching crime scene evidence against DNA profiles contained in the Databank. The Databank is such an effective public safety tool, that the Attorney General announced he will sponsor legislation this year to expand the list of qualifying offenses to cover all felonies.
"In states that use all felonies for the DNA Databanks, 50% of all the cases they solve involve offenders who had previously committed an offense that would not qualify for inclusion in California," Lockyer said. "If we want to hold criminals accountable for their actions, we must expand the Databank."
"In spite of this latest increase, the crime rate in California remains at record lows * a rate we haven't seen since 1965," Lockyer noted. "But we must continue to develop new strategies to prevent and deter criminality in California, as well as identify and punish criminal offenders."
The preliminary report, which includes crime statistics for each individual law enforcement agency and contract city with a population of more than 100,000, is available on the Attorney General's web site at http://caag.state.ca.us/cjsc/prel00/jjrpt.pdf.
Computer Company Agrees to Pay State and Local Government Agencies More Than $30 Million
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced today that the Toshiba Corporation and three of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay more than $30 million to California public agencies in settlement of a lawsuit alleging violation of the state False Claims Act. The False Claims Act provides damages and penalties for the knowing sale of defective products to the government.
The cash settlement, in which Toshiba will pay $30.13 million with interest, was negotiated by the Attorney General's Office on behalf of the State of California and local governments. The case involves Toshiba computers sold to California public agencies that contained an alleged defect in the micro-code that controls the transfer of data to and from the floppy disk. The defect caused varying amounts of data to be lost or altered under certain operating conditions without the user's knowledge.
While settling the case, Toshiba has denied liability. The company has said it would correct the micro-code in its newly manufactured computers beginning in November of 1999 and has begun offering a free software patch for notebook computers already sold.
Under terms of the settlement, Toshiba will receive an offset against the $30.13 million judgment or the amount of cash and coupons provided to California state and local government agencies as a result of a separate class-action lawsuit settled in federal court in Texas. The class-action lawsuit resulted in a separate settlement fund to compensate purchasers of Toshiba computers who submit a valid claim. A claim was filed by the Attorney General in the federal court class action on behalf of state agencies at the request of Governor Davis.
The settlement with Toshiba is subject to approval by the San Francisco Superior Court. The case remains under seal pending further court proceedings. If approved by the court, proceeds from the judgment will be distributed among eligible state and local government agencies, including school districts, special districts, the California State University system and the University of California.
Handbook Created to Inform the Public About the Death Penalty Appeals Process
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced the creation of a new informational guide to the death penalty appeals process.
The Attorney General's Office of Victims' Services prepared this handbook, A Victim's Guide to the Capital Case Process, in order to give victims, and the public, a comprehensive and understandable guide to the death penalty appellate process. This guide seeks to clearly explain the capital appeals process from the original trial through to the execution.
The capital punishment process can be a lengthy and emotionally trying experience. Nationwide, convicted persons executed in 1999 spent an average of 11 years and 11 months on death row. In California, persons convicted of a death penalty offense can spend as many as 20 years on death row before implementation of their sentence. According to the California Department of Corrections, as of March 2000, there were 565 inmates under a death sentence in California. The California State Supreme Court has affirmed 188 of those sentences. Among other things, the death penalty appeals process is a lengthy one due to constitutional safeguards guaranteed each inmate. These delays often cause frustration for surviving victims and their families.
"The death penalty appeals process can be a harrowing experience for surviving victims and their families," the Attorney General said. "I hope that this guide will help inform victims about the death penalty and lift the veil of mystery that sometimes obscures the appeals process."
If you would like more information about the death penalty process or other information pertaining to victim assistance, please contact the Office of Victims' Services at 1-877-433-9069. To obtain a copy of this brochure, the public can also write to the Attorney General's Office, 1300 I Street, Suite 1740, Sacramento, California, 95814, Attn: Victim's Capital Case Process Guide. Copies of the guide are being mailed to victim advocacy organizations, government agencies and more than 150 identified surviving victims and family members of killers on California's death row. This guide can also be viewed on the California Attorney General's website, http://caag.state.ca.us/
Reynolds Agrees to Further Protect Against Marketing to Children
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced a settlement with R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company over allegations the company violated terms of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) and state consumer protection laws in its mailing of free cigarettes to Californians.
The dispute concerns Reynolds' nationwide program of distributing massive quantities of free cigarettes through the mail to individuals' homes. The MSA prohibits tobacco companies from giving away free samples where children might gain access. According to Reynolds, the reason for this distribution was consumer evaluation and testing, which is allowed by the MSA. However, many of the persons who received the free cigarettes had not asked to receive them, and some were non-smokers.
The settlement, approved by the San Diego Superior Court on December 28, 2000, provides that Reynolds may mail free cigarettes only to adults who have given their prior consent to receive the free cigarettes specifically for evaluation or testing purposes. Reynolds must verify that each person who signs one of its consent forms is indeed an adult, and may only mail free cigarettes to persons whose consent forms or consumer evaluation forms are recent (received within the prior 180 days). The settlement also limits the number of packs per mailing and limits the size of mailers so they fit into the smallest slot allowed by Postal regulations. Under the settlement, Reynolds must report the number of free cigarettes it mails to Californians.
"The Master Settlement Agreement is designed to help protect children from inappropriate marketing practices," Lockyer stated. "Thanks to this settlement agreement, we will be protecting children from the marketing tactics used by tobacco companies."
R.J. Reynolds also agreed to pay $175,000 for investigative costs, to be shared between California and Arizona. Lockyer worked with Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano to reach the settlement agreement with Reynolds.
To enforce state laws involving tobacco, Attorney General Lockyer has established a full-time state tobacco enforcement unit. Consumers can call a complaint line, 916-565-6486, to report suspected violations of the Master Settlement Agreement. Inquiries and reports of suspected violations can also be mailed to the Tobacco Litigation Section at P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550. Additional information is available on the Attorney General's Tobacco Litigation and Enforcement website, ( http://caag.state.ca.us/tobacco/ ).
Veteran US Attorney Brings Crime-Prevention Experience and Commitment to New Job
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that he will appoint Paul Seave as Special Assistant Attorney General for Crime and Violence Prevention responsible for managing the Crime and Violence Prevention Center in the California Department of Justice.
Seave will join the California Department of Justice next month after he steps down as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California. Seave, an honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, has served as a federal prosecutor for 16 years.
"Paul Seave has been on the front lines prosecuting crime for nearly two decades and now will bring his extensive experience and knowledge to developing effective crime prevention and education strategies for law enforcement and the public in the state," Lockyer said. "With Paul on our team, we have the opportunity to push California further into the forefront in the crime prevention and education arena."
Over the years, the Attorney General's Crime and Violence Prevention Center has been recognized as a valuable resource for state and local agencies working to prevent violence and protect communities from crime. Recent initiatives include an anti-drug abuse campaign focusing on methamphetamine and "Safe from the Start," a series of 10 regional forums in which law enforcement, child protection and other local agencies have been able to exchange best practices and new ideas for protecting children from violence and preventing crime.
Lockyer said he noticed and appreciated Seave's commitment as US Attorney to crime prevention and community education efforts while working with him on several initiatives aimed at fighting hate crimes and major drug-related crimes. As US Attorney since April 1997, Seave has co-chaired the Greater Sacramento Area Hate Crimes Task Force; chaired the executive committe of the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which has been taking a regional approach to combat the manufacture of methamphetamine; and was co-founder of Project Help: Sacramento Mobilizing Against Substance Abuse.
"Crime prevention is slowly but surely progressing from an art to a science," Seave said. "Having spent more than 16 years as a federal prosecutor, I am convinced that prevention is now an absolutely essential aspect of our state's crime-fighting strategy. The Crime and Violence Prevention Center is dedicated to implementing effective prevention strategies, and I am honored and excited to join Attorney General Lockyer's team."
As head of the Crime and Violence Prevention Center, Seave will oversee a staff of 27 and be responsible for developing effective crime prevention and education strategies for law enforcement and the public.
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced the appointment of Sheridan Downey III, of Oakland, to the five-member California Fair Political Practices Commission.
Downey, who has deep civic roots in the West, has been a lawyer in private practice for more than 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in bankruptcy law. He also has been a law professor at the University of Santa Clara School of Law. Downey is the grandson of former US Senator Sheridan Downey, who was the running mate of unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Upton Sinclair in 1934, and the great grandson of a Wyoming congressman.
"I'm pleased to appoint Sheridan to the FPPC," Lockyer said. "He is a well-respected business lawyer and very committed to public service."
Downey received a bachelor of arts degree from Stanford University and law degree from the University of California Berkeley School of Law, where he also was a member of the Boalt Law Review.
Downey, a Democrat, will begin serving on the FPPC in February, replacing Commissioner Kathleen Richter Makel, whose term expires this month. The FPPC was created in 1974 as a non-partisan, independent body to administer and enforce the Political Reform Act. Members do not receive a salary and do not require Senate confirmation.
(San Diego, CA.) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced today that a "cold hit" to the California Convicted Felon DNA Databank at the Department of Justice (DOJ) DNA Laboratory has led to the identification and arrest of a suspect in a 1981 murder and sexual assault case.
Michael Adams, 44, of Salinas, was arrested today and charged with the June, 1981 murder, rape, and kidnap of then 48-year old Sylvia Edgren in the city of Monterey.
Adams was identified when evidence from the 1981 crimes yielded a DNA profile that matched Adams' DNA profile stored in the DOJ Databank. Adams was not considered a suspect for the 1981 crimes until the DNA database match produced a "cold hit" last week.
California law requires blood and saliva samples to be taken from individuals convicted of sexual assaults and other violent crimes. The samples yield DNA profiles, which are stored in the state DOJ Convicted Felon DNA Databank in Berkeley. DNA profiles extracted from crime scene evidence are compared to DNA profiles in the databank. Adams' DNA profile is in the databank as the result of a 1987 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.
"No matter how 'old and cold' an unsolved murder case may be, this investigation proves that no California law enforcement agency should ever give up trying to solve it," Lockyer said. "Today skilled scientists using new technologies like DNA can re-examine evidence and solve cases which have stumped investigators for years. Through the use of this new science, our DNA Databank and law enforcement agencies are making California a safer place."
This is the 24th case since the DOJ DNA Convicted Felon Databank was established in 1994 where a "cold hit" has resulted in the identification of a suspect.
Seeks To Allow Replacement By Consumer-Oriented Members
January 23, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today filed suit to have the 26 stakeholder members of the California Independent System Operator Corporation vacate their office, seeking to pave the way for a newly reconstituted board representing the interests of consumers.
The "quo warranto" action was filed in Sacramento County Superior Court. The lawsuit asks the court to have the 26 sitting ISO members ousted from their positions. The Attorney General has offered current members an opportunity to resign and avoid further litigation.
The legal move seeks to speed implementation of the new law, AB 5X, which reconstitutes the ISO into a board of five members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Electricity Oversight Board.
Governor Davis has appointed the five new members of the ISO governing board pursuant to the new law.
The ISO board is responsible for operating, controlling and managing the power transmission lines that deliver electricity throughout California and between neighboring states.
January 24, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(LOS ANGELES) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today obtained a preliminary injunction to allow Southern California Edison to keep its long-term electricity contracts from being canceled and resold by the California Power Exchange, pending a court hearing February 2.
Superior Court Judge David Yaffee granted the preliminary injunction in Los Angeles. The Attorney General asked the court to grant the temporary protection to help preserve the supply of power at current rates for more than 670,000 California homes now served by Southern California Edison. The utility had been facing imminent cancellation of long-term power contracts for failure to make a $21.5 million payment.
In legal papers filed with the court, the Attorney General argued that preserving the long-term contracts of Southern California Edison was vital to avoid worsening the energy shortage in California, which already has been declared a State of Emergency by Governor Davis.
"The California Power Exchange Corporation's potential auction of long-term energy contracts owned by Southern California Edison may have a severe effect on California's already calamitous electricity situation," the Attorney General stated in the complaint to intervene in support of Southern California Edison. The complaint added that the contract cancellation and resale of power by the California Power Exchange "could potentially worsen the State's energy shortage by (among other things) reducing the availability of electricity to the citizens of the State of California."
January 25, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(SAN FRANCISCO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent Pacific Gas & Electric's long-term electricity contracts from being canceled and resold by the California Power Exchange.
Superior Court Judge David Garcia in San Francisco issued the order to protect PG&E's long-term contracts that the utility says would provide hundreds of megawatts to Californians. The next hearing on the matter is set for February 5.
The court order follows similar action Wednesday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Yaffe, who granted the preliminary injunction sought by the Attorney General to help preserve the supply of power at current rates for more than 670,000 California homes now served by Southern California Edison. The utility had been facing imminent cancellation of long-term power contracts for failure to make a $215 million payment.
In the San Francisco case, the court was asked to issue a temporary restraining order because the auction or liquidation of PG&E's block-forward market contracts could worsen the energy shortage in California, which already has prompted a State of Emergency declaration by Governor Davis.
"Although it is not clear what impact the auctioning or liquidation of the block-forward market contracts may have on the emergency situation in the State, given the extremely fragile energy situation in the state, such action may have the detrimental effect of reducing the availability of needed electricity to the citizens of California; result in further disruption of service to Californians; impact the solvency of a utility; or require additional blackout periods," the Attorney General stated in the PG&E case.
January 25, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sacramento) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today released the results of a slot machine census conducted by the California Department of Justice's Division of Gambling Control (DGC).
Last year, Governor Gray Davis signed gaming compacts with 62 separate Indian Nations authorizing specified forms of gambling, including the use of slot machines. Prior to the May 15, 2000 effective date of these compacts, the tribes had a total of 19,137 slot machines in operation at their casinos. Over the last several weeks, agents from the DGC conducted a census of the state's 39 compacted tribes with gaming facilities currently in operation and determined that there are 25,196 slot machines currently in operation on Indian lands. (see list at http://caag.state.ca.us/press/2001/01-009.htm#list)
Last year, the tribes conducted a "draw" for the rights to additional slot machines which, consistent with the terms of the compact, will result in a modest increase in the total number of machines in operation in California. The Attorney General noted, however, that the number of slot machines currently in use is significantly less than the total number of slot machines authorized under the terms of the Tribal-State Gaming Compacts.
The DGC, in its capacity as the State Gaming Agency pursuant to the compacts, is responsible for the investigation of the qualification of financial backers, vendors and key employees at tribal casinos within the geographical boundaries of the state. The DGC is also responsible for ensuring compliance with the terms of the compacts in the regulation of Class III gaming by reporting its findings and making recommendations to the Gambling Control Commission.
Grants Part Of 9-West Antitrust Settlement Approved By Court
January 30, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that $2.9 million from the antitrust settlement with the Nine-West Group will be used to support California domestic violence shelters, the prevention and prosecution of domestic violence against women, and informational and legal assistance to women with gynecological or breast cancer under a court-approved plan.
"The Nine-West antitrust case involved the alleged fixing of retail prices for women's shoes for over a decade," Lockyer said. "Through the services targeted for grant support, California women from all walks of life will be able to benefit from this settlement."
Under the plan approved by the US District Court in New York, the settlement funds will be used for one-time grants as follows:
- $1 million to supplement state funding for domestic violence centers serving more than a dozen communities. Many of these centers have been operating for over 20 years. Centers receiving support grants will include: Tri-Valley Haven in Livermore; Women's Shelter in Long Beach; Victor Valley Domestic Violence, Inc. in Victorville; La Casa de San Mateo in Burlingame; and Haven's Women Center in Modesto. Additionally, a consultant will be working closely with the shelters to develop "best practices" guidelines and protocols for effective nonprofit management for sharing with domestic violence shelters statewide. The grants will be overseen by the California Department of Health Services.
- $1 million to assist local law enforcement agencies in the prevention and prosecution of domestic violence against women. Local grants will be made through the Spousal Abuser Prosecution Program in the California Department of Justice. The bulk of the money will be used to enhance investigations, reduce current caseload backlogs, and assist existing multi-disciplinary vertical prosecution teams, which allows a victim to work with the same prosecutor and investigator from the time charges are filed through the sentencing of the offender. Grants totaling $400,000 also will be made to improve outreach to underserved women, such as those who rarely contact service providers or law enforcement agencies to escape domestic violence because of language, cultural or disability barriers.
- $400,000 to expand legal services available to women with breast cancer who may face legal problems ranging from employment discrimination, difficulty accessing Family and Medical Leave, disputes with insurance companies, to lack of access to medical treatment or follow-up health care. The grant to the California Women's Law Center, Breast Cancer Legal Project, will allow services to be expanded for two years. The grant also will support development of informational materials in a variety of languages and training for advocates who speak other than English to help women overcome the legal cultural and linguistic barriers that many women in California face.
- $500,000 to the Gynecological Cancer Information Program in the Department of Health Services for the development of fact sheets and pamphlets in six languages to educate women about gynocological cancer. Health officials consider this kind of outreach an important investment for prevention and to avoid the need for more costly health care for cancer victims.
The settlement resolves an antitrust complaint that Nine West Group entered into illegal agreements with shoe stores to fix the retail price of women's shoes between January 1988 and July 1999. Nine West Group of White Plains, NY, was acquired by Jones Apparel Group, Inc., in June 1999. According to the antitrust complaint filed in federal court in New York by California and numerous other states, the company's alleged price fixing resulted in consumers being denied an open, competitive market and paying higher prices for women's shoes and other footware. An investigation by the states with the Federal Trade Commission found evidence that various Nine West divisions, including Easy Spirit, Enzo Angiolini and Nine West, engaged in illegal vertical resale price fixing by prohibiting retailers from discounting certain footware and by restricting when the stores could offer shoe discounts to consumers.
February 2, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Sacramento) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today ordered the Phoenix Arms Company to immediately stop selling and manufacturing their HP 22-three-inch barrel model handgun in California due to the weapons inability to meet the recently enacted handgun safety standards. The Phoenix Arms Company of Ontario, California -- known as one of the state's "Ring of Fire" handgun manufacturers * served as an impetus for the safety standards created by Senate Bill 15, the "Saturday Night Special" law, authored by Richard Polanco in 1999.
"The purpose of the unsafe handgun law is to protect families and children from dangerous guns," Lockyer said. "I won't let Phoenix Arms or any other gun manufacturer needlessly put the lives of Californians at risk in order to make a profit."
Under state law, effective January 1, 2001, handguns manufactured or sold in California must first pass a series of tests conducted by a DOJ-certified independent laboratory relative to safety and functionality. Handguns that fail to meet the safety standards are deemed to be "unsafe" and are prohibited from being manufactured or sold in California. Among the tests used by DOJ-certified labs are a 600-round firing test with six or fewer malfunctions and a drop-safety test from six different positions at a height of 1 meter.
Late last year, Phoenix Arms submitted their HP 22-three-inch and HP 22-five-inch barrel models for testing. While the original testing report indicated that the five-inch model passed the safety tests, the three-inch model experienced a series of malfunctions during the testing process. Prior to the completion of the official testing process, the owner of Phoenix Arms Company requested that the lab discontinue testing, and submitted new handguns for continued testing. The laboratory found that only by using a specific brand of ammunition were the handguns able to pass the safety tests, and reported to the Attorney General's Firearms Division the difficulty encountered during the testing procedure.
Due to the unusual nature of the testing results, the Attorney General's Firearms Division submitted both firearm models for re-testing by another certified laboratory. The subsequent testing resulted in the approval of the HP 22-five-inch model and the failure during the firing test of the 22-three-inch model. During the firing test, the 3 three-inch model handguns each malfunctioned more than six times within the first 200 rounds using the specified ammunition.
For more information about the handgun safety law and a comprehensive list of the more than 260 handguns already certified as not "unsafe" in California, go to the Attorney General's Firearms Division website at http://caag.state.ca.us/firearms.
Texas inmate identified as suspect in February, 2000 Los Angeles sexual assault/robbery case
February 6, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) DNA Laboratory in Berkeley made five "cold hits" last week that identified different suspects for five unrelated crimes, and that so far, one of the suspects has been located and will be charged with sexual assault and robbery.
"The use of DNA technology to identify suspects and solve crimes is revolutionizing public safety in California and throughout the country," Lockyer said. "By ramping up our DNA Databank and aggressively pursuing unsolved crimes, we are telling repeat criminals that they have now run out of options. If you do the crime, we will identify you and you will do the time."
Christopher Walter Cardwell, 40, currently incarcerated in Texas, will be charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office with the February, 2000, robbery and rape of a Los Angeles woman. Cardwell was identified when evidence from the crime yielded a match to Cardwell's DNA profile stored in the DOJ Convicted Felon Databank. Cardwell was not a known suspect for the crimes until the DNA database match produced a "cold hit" on January 29, 2001.
California law requires blood and saliva samples to be taken from individuals convicted of any of nine specified felony sexual assaults and other violent crimes. The samples yield DNA profiles, which are stored in the state DOJ Convicted Felon DNA Databank in Berkeley. DNA profiles extracted from crime scene evidence are compared to DNA profiles in the databank.
Cardwell's DNA profile is in the databank as the result of numerous California felony convictions, including rape, forced oral copulation, and robbery, and he is currently incarcerated in Texas awaiting trial for similar crimes. The February, 2000 rape/robbery case was investigated jointly by the Los Angeles Police Department and the local DOJ California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Sexual Predator Apprehension Team.
Four other matches, or "cold hits" were made by the state's DNA Lab on January 29 when 21,000 newly developed DNA profiles of convicted felons were compared for the first time to DNA profiles extracted from crime scene evidence from unsolved cases.
Local law enforcement agencies have been notified about the identified suspects and are proceeding appropriately with that information. Details will be made available as the suspects are arrested and/or charged with those crimes.
Upon taking office in 1999, Attorney General Lockyer pledged to eliminate the backlog of over 100,000 unanalyzed convicted felon blood samples. The lab is now on pace to have eliminated this backlog and add an estimated 100,000 new samples by July 1, 2001, when all of the projected samples from qualifying convicted felons will be analyzed, profiled, and searchable against DNA profiles from crime scene evidence.
The improvements in the state's DNA Databank have been strongly supported by Governor Gray Davis and the state legislature in the last two state budgets. "I see these recent hits as an indication of the potential of this program once it gets fully under way," said Frank Grimes, executive director of the Governor's Office of Criminal Justice Planning. "I am confident that this program will bring closure to thousands of sexual assault victims who believed that their assailant would never be caught. Finally, they will see justice served."
With these five "cold hits," a total to 29 suspects have been identified since the DOJ DNA Convicted Felon Databank was established in 1994 - with 22 "cold hits" occurring in the last 13 months.
(Sacramento) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced that as a result of a recent "cold hit" made in the California Department of Justice (DOJ) DNA Laboratory in Berkeley, the suspect for a January, 2000 sexual assault of a Santa Rosa developmentally disabled woman has been identified and apprehended.
Perry Lee Tatmon, 36, of Santa Rosa, was arrested today by the Santa Rosa Police Department, and booked on a number of charges, including rape, and oral copulation, by force or fear. Tatmon was identified when evidence from the crime yielded a match to Tatmon's DNA profile stored in the DOJ DNA Convicted Felon Databank. Tatmon, who was on parole at the time of the January, 2000 sexual assault, was not considered a suspect for the crimes when the DNA database match produced a "cold hit" on January 29, 2001.
"We are beginning to take full advantage of DNA technology to help law enforcement agencies solve crimes," said Lockyer. "This case is another example where the suspect was unknown to law enforcement until an identity was determined based on DNA."
California law requires blood and saliva samples to be taken from individuals convicted of any of nine specified felony sexual assaults and other violent crimes. The samples yield DNA profiles, which are stored in the state DOJ Convicted Felon DNA Databank in Berkeley. DNA profiles extracted from crime scene evidence are compared to DNA profiles in the databank. Tatmon's DNA profile is in the databank as a result of a 1992 Alameda County felony conviction for attempted murder.
Four other matches, or "cold hits" were made by the state's DNA Lab on January 29 when 21,000 recently developed DNA profiles of convicted felons in the Short Tandem Repeats (STR) format were compared for the first time to DNA STR profiles extracted from crime scene evidence from unsolved cases. The matches identified five separate suspects for five unrelated cases.
Local law enforcement agencies were notified about the identified suspects and have proceeded appropriately with that information. So far, the identity of the suspect for one of those cases, Christopher Cardwell, has been released. Cardwell was charged last week with the February, 2000, rape and robbery of a Los Angeles woman.
As a result of DNA "cold hits" a total to 29 suspects have been identified since the DOJ DNA Convicted Felon Databank was established in 1994.
(Sacramento) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker announced today that a recent "cold hit" made in the California Department of Justice (DOJ) DNA Laboratory in Berkeley identified the suspect of a 1984 Tehama County sexual assault and murder.
David James McIntosh, 53, is currently serving a term in Folsom Prison for parole violations associated with a conviction for failing to register as a sex offender. He will be charged Wednesday, February 21, for the 1984 sexual assault and murder of 13-year-old Heidi Fredette. McIntosh was identified when evidence from the crime yielded a match to McIntosh's DNA profile stored in the DOJ Convicted Felon Databank. McIntosh was not considered a suspect for the crimes when the DNA database match produced a "cold hit" on January 29, 2001.
"Our DNA cold hits have identified criminals who mistakenly believed they got away with rape and murder," Lockyer said. "Not only are we holding violent criminals accountable, but we are also reducing the number of future victims and devastated families."
California law requires blood and saliva samples to be taken from individuals convicted of any of nine specified felony sexual assaults and other violent crimes. The samples yield DNA profiles, which are stored in the state DOJ Convicted Felon DNA Databank in Berkeley. DNA profiles extracted from crime scene evidence are compared to DNA profiles in the databank. McIntosh's DNA profile is in the databank as the result of a 1987 California felony conviction for assault with intent to commit rape.
Based on the recent proven success of the state's DNA Databank, Lockyer is sponsoring legislation this year to expand the list of qualifying offenses to include residential burglary, first-degree robbery, carjacking and arson.
The January, 1984 sexual assault and murder case was investigated by the Tehama County Sheriff's Office, and the forensics work was done by the DOJ Bureau of Forensics Services Crime Laboratory in Redding. Although biological materials were collected from the crime scene in 1984, the use of DNA technology to identify crime suspects was in its infancy and seldom used at the time. The FBI analyzed the biological sample, but only for enzymes, and the result was to eliminate a person who was considered a suspect. The forensic work was re-examined in recent years as part of the DOJ "Old and Cold" program, and a DNA profile was developed in 1999.
Four other matches, or "cold hits" were made by the state's DNA Lab on January 29 when 21,000 recently developed DNA profiles of convicted felons in the Short Tandem Repeats (STR) format were compared for the first time to DNA STR profiles extracted from crime scene evidence from unsolved cases. The matches identified five separate suspects for five unrelated cases.
Local law enforcement agencies were notified about the identified suspects and have proceeded appropriately with that information. So far, the identity of suspects for two of those cases has been released. Christopher Cardwell was charged earlier this month with the February, 2000, rape and robbery of a Los Angeles woman, and Perry Tatmon was charged last week with the January, 2000 rape of a developmentally disabled Santa Rosa woman.
"Even after many years, law enforcement and criminal justice professionals involved with this case, including Sheriff Parker, who as a Deputy Sheriff was the first officer on the scene, remain haunted by the viciousness of this crime," said Lockyer. "The Tehama Sheriff's Department never gave up on this case, and neither did we."
Upon taking office in 1999, Attorney General Lockyer pledged to eliminate the backlog of more than 100,000 unanalyzed convicted felon blood samples. The lab is now on pace to eliminate this backlog by July 1, 2001, when there will be a projected total of 200,000 DNA profiles from convicted felons that will be searchable against DNA profiles from crime scene evidence.
As a result of DNA "cold hits" a total to 29 suspects have been identified since the DOJ DNA Convicted Felon Databank was established in 1994.
(Sacramento) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court's decision denying certiorari to the Kasler v. Lockyer case and upholding California's "Roberti-Roos" law, the country's first assault weapons law:
"The highest court in the land has spoken, and the nation's first assault weapons law has been upheld. By denying cert in this case, the court has declared victory for states seeking to protect public safety through the enactment of reasonable gun control laws. "
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today praised an Orange County Superior Court ruling that upholding the validity of Measure H, a locally-approved initiative which requires that the county's share of the national tobacco settlement be spent on specified purposes.
"Today's ruling represents an important victory for Orange County voters and for the initiative process in California," Lockyer said. "The voters of Orange County spoke, and the court listened. The court's ruling is also a victory for public health in California because the national tobacco settlement envisioned that the funds would be used predominately for health-related purposes."
Measure H, which was approved by 64.6% of the Orange County electorate in November 2000, allocates Orange County's share of the nationwide settlement with the tobacco industry for local health care, tobacco control and public safety purposes. Attorney General Lockyer, appearing as amicus curiae, personally argued that Measure H was a valid exercise of the initiative power. Lockyer also challenged the county's decision to sue Dr. J. Brennan Cassidy, one of the measure's proponents, as violative of California's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute. Lockyer argued that requiring a proponent to defend the legality of a measure enacted by the public is likely to discourage citizens from participating in the political process. The court, however, denied the anti-SLAPP motion on the ground that the county met the minimum legal requirements for such lawsuits.
Lockyer announces Blue Ribbon Commission on SWAT Team Practices
(Modesto) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Stanislaus County District Attorney Jim Brazelton today announced that no criminal charges will be filed against Officer David Hawn as a result of their joint investigation to determine whether criminal violations occurred in the shooting death of Alberto Sepulveda.
On September 13, 2000, 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda was shot and killed by a single gunshot fired from the shotgun of Officer David Hawn, a Modesto Police Department SWAT team member. The SWAT team was participating in serving federal search and arrest warrants on a major methamphetamine manufacturing ring. After the shooting, the Modesto Police Department opened an investigation into the procedure used by the SWAT team and the circumstances surrounding Alberto Sepulveda's death. At the request of local law enforcement agencies, Attorney General Lockyer assigned special agents from his California Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent review of the Modesto Police Department's investigation. The Attorney General's Criminal Division lawyers also worked jointly with District Attorney Brazelton to review police reports and make a determination as to whether any criminal charges would be appropriate against Officer David Hawn.
Lockyer's California Bureau of Investigation concluded that the Modesto Police Department's investigation into the SWAT team shooting was comprehensive. Upon concluding its investigation, the Modesto Police Department forwarded its findings to District Attorney Brazelton and Attorney General Lockyer to determine whether Officer Hawn's actions merited criminal charges. After close review of all the evidence, including all police reports, transcripts of interviews, physical evidence and autopsy and lab reports, both prosecutors determined that no criminal charges should be filed.
Lockyer and Brazelton released their conclusion today in a detailed 15-page report in Modesto. In reaching their conclusion, the prosecutors noted that "(t)he evidence, without exception, does not support any suggestion that Officer Hawn acted with any unlawful intent; and the evidence strongly supports the inference that the gun discharged by accident and not by any volitional act. As such, Officer Hawn's acts cannot constitute any chargeable crime."
"The death of Alberto Sepulveda is a horrible tragedy that can never be erased," Lockyer said. "In the vast majority of cases, SWAT teams carry out their missions flawlessly and save lives in the process. And, while we can not find any criminal wrongdoing in this shooting, I believe we must doing everything possible, starting today, to avoid future tragedies."
"The impact of Alberto Sepulveda's death on his family, the community of Modesto and law enforcement agencies statewide has been deep and devastating," Lockyer stated. "Over the last several years, there have been several tragic episodes resulting from the deployment of SWAT teams. These incidents included the unintended loss of life for members of the public, injury or death for law enforcement personnel, and/or significant civil liability for local governments."
In order to improve officer and public safety, Lockyer announced his intent to immediately convene a Blue Ribbon Commission on SWAT Team Practices to review guidelines and develop statewide recommendations for local law enforcement agencies on the use of SWAT teams. The commission will include representatives from police and sheriffs departments, district attorney offices, judges and other state and local government officials. (See partial list of members below.)
"The circumstances surrounding the death of Alberto Sepulveda compel us to ask hard questions about the procedures and policies governing when, where, under what circumstances, with what training and with what information our SWAT teams are deployed in California communities," Lockyer said. "Unfortunately, too many times the deployment of a SWAT team has resulted in the unintentional death or injury to a peace officer or member of the public. I will ask my Blue Ribbon Commission to recommend guidelines for local law enforcement agencies to improve safety for SWAT teams and our communities safety in California."
ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL LOCKYER'S BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION ON SWAT TEAM PRACTICES
Sheriff Ed Bonner
County of Placer
Ed Chavez, Chief of Police
City of Stockton
Jim Gardner, Chief of Police
City of San Luis Obispo
Bill Lentini, Chief of Police
City of Brea
Undersheriff Jack Drown
County of San Diego
Pat McKinley, Chief of Police
City of Fullerton
Bernard Melekian, Chief of Police
City of Pasadena
Bernard Parks, Chief of Police
City of Los Angeles
Art Venegas, Chief of Police
City of Sacramento
Sheriff Les Wiedman
County of Stanislaus
Richard Word, Chief of Police
City of Oakland
(LOS ANGELES) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced a court-approved settlement that will provide refunds to tenants who lost security deposits because of improper charges by R.W. Selby & Co., Inc., a Los Angeles-based property management firm with apartments in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside Counties.
In the consumer protection case, Selby was accused of making unreasonable charges against the security deposits of departing tenants and other violations of California's landlord-tenant law. In many cases, tenants were automatically charged the entire amount of the security deposit regardless of the condition of the apartment. Selby also was accused of imposing improper charges for ordinary wear and tear, failure to timely provide tenants with itemized statements explaining security deposit deductions, and the improper insertion of lease provisions that made a portion of the security deposit non-refundable. The complaint also stated that the company failed to pay accrued interest on security deposits for rent-controlled units within the City of Los Angeles.
Under the settlement approved by the Los Angeles Superior Court, Selby will provide $450,000 for refunds to tenants who were found to have been charged unreasonable rates for repairs and cleaning costs. Selby under a court-issued injunction also is prohibited from charging a tenant for cleaning apartments that were left in a reasonably clean condition. The company is prohibited from charging for minor touch-ups like plaster repairs and fill-in of nail holes, charging for ordinary wear and tear, and making any charge that is in excess of prevailing marketplace prices. In agreeing to the settlement, Selby does not admit wrongdoing.
To implement the injunction, the Better Business Bureau of the Southland will be hired for one year by Selby to monitor apartment inspections and act as an arbitrator of disputes. Selby is further required to pay any outstanding small claims court judgments obtained by former tenants, and to pay accrued interest on rent-controlled units. The company also will pay $138,000 in civil penalties and legal costs.
Selby manages some 1600 units in 17 complexes in the cities of Marina Del Rey, West Los Angeles, Brentwood, Whittier, Long Beach and Dana Point. Selby also has managed a unit in Corona.
(ORANGE COUNTY) - Agents from Attorney General Bill Lockyer's Firearms Division and Division of Law Enforcement today served search warrants upon two separate southern California business locations of B & B Sales pursuant to an ongoing investigation into allegations that the stores defrauded consumers by forcing them to pay unnecessary fees for private party firearms transfers in violation of state law.
The search warrants were served at two separate locations today at 14522 Goldenwest Street in Westminster and 12521-3 Oxnard Street in North Hollywood. The two stores are the second and third largest firearm retail outlets in California.
Under California law, all firearms sales must be conducted through a properly licensed gun dealer. In the case of a private party transfer involving two individuals who are not licensed gun dealers, the seller and purchaser of a firearm must conduct the transfer through a licensed gun dealer. The gun dealer is responsible for conducting the required background check on the purchaser and, if cleared, deliver the firearm to the purchaser within 10 days. B & B Sales is alleged to have overcharged customers an estimated $25 over the legal limit for the private party transfer fee and a special "storage fee" caused by a requirement that firearms be held at the store for 12 days instead of ten.
The investigation into B & B Sales was initiated as a result of public complaints received by the Attorney General's Firearms Division. Agents verified the alleged overcharging practice by acting as purchasers at each location. The agents were overcharged for each transaction they conducted at the stores. Attorneys from the Firearms Division advised the owner of B & B Sales, Robert Kahn, and his attorney that the practice was illegal and they should cease from overcharging and adding extra storage fees. Because B & B Sales has failed to stop the practice, today's search warrants were issued.
If proven and convicted, each alleged violation carries the potential for civil and criminal penalties.
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today issued a report showing just over $193.27 million in charitable donations were raised by commercial fund-raisers in 1999, but less than half of the total actually reached the charity on whose behalf the solicitations were made.
The Attorney General also issued a supplemental report showing donations of used cars remains a popular way of giving to charity. Commercial fund-raisers reported raising $32.38 million in revenues from 120 used vehicle donation campaigns. Of the total, charities received 32.7 percent or $10.59 million, slightly more than a year earlier.
"While improving in 1999, the trend seen over the years continues with charities receiving less than half of every dollar raised by their commercial fund-raiser," Lockyer said. "Compared to the static 43 percent of recent years, commercial fund-raisers reported giving 48 percent of the $193 million collected to charities. Still, most of these commercial enterprises are using significant portions of the money raised on behalf of charities for solicitation expenses and fund-raiser profits."
In addition to being able to view the new summary reports on the Attorney General's web site, Lockyer announced that Californians now will be able to search whether a commercial fund-raiser is registered and view the latest copy of annual reports filed by these paid solicitors on behalf of charities. The new feature available at http://caag.state.ca.us/charities is similar to the searchable data base for charities registered in California made available by the Attorney General.
The Attorney General's Summary of Results of Charitable Solicitations by Commercial Fundraisers covers the results of 496 fund-raising campaigns reported for 1999, generally for-profit businesses that contract with a charity to raise donations for a fee or percentage of the money raised. Historically, only about one-third of the total dollars collected by commercial fund-raisers in California actually went to charities.
The Attorney General's Supplemental Report on commercial fund-raising activities covers vehicle donations and for-profit thrift store operations for 1999. For-profit thrift stores reported $65.6 million in revenues and $12.82 million in payments to charities. This included $7.5 million in revenues for vendors who receive management fees or commission from charities, who gave 8.4 percent or $631,361 to charities.
The Attorney General noted that commercial fund-raising accounts for only some 5 percent of the billions in donations solicited annually by charities. Most of the 80,600 charities registered in California use direct solicitations for donations.
To provide a better snapshot of commercial fund-raising activities, the latest report was changed to include only multi-year fund-raising campaigns that were concluded in the reporting period of 1999. This will allow revenues and expenditures by commercial fund-raisers to be more accurately reflected since on-going campaigns could result initially in higher expenditures. The change resulted in 29 fewer fund-raising campaigns in the reporting period. Of the total 496 commercial fund-raising campaigns reported in 1999, 192 (39 percent) gave over 50 percent to charities; 82 (17 percent) gave 31-50 percent to charities; 44 (10 percent) gave 21-30 percent to charities; 48 (10 percent) gave 16-20 percent to charities; and 130 (26 percent) gave 15 percent or less to charities. There were 33 commercial fund-raising campaigns that resulted in zero dollars going to the intended charity.
The number of vehicle donation campaigns in 1999 was similar to a year earlier but more than double the activity in 1997 when 47 campaigns raised $24.1 million with 24.5 percent being paid to charities.
Lockyer noted that the summary reports intended to help donors, potential donors and charities to review commercial fund-raising activities so they may make better informed choices.
Lockyer also issued guidelines for use charities when hiring a commercial fund-raiser. The guidelines include general advice on selecting a fund-raiser and a "model contract" that outlines key issues for consideration by a charity when contracting with a commercial fund-raiser. The model contract may be viewed on the Attorney General's charities web site.
"High Activity" California Customers Eligible for Refunds
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that California, 31 other states and the District of Columbia have reached a settlement with The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., one of the nation's largest sweepstakes mailers, to require dramatic changes in what it tells consumers and provide refunds to "high activity" customers.
"Responding to sweepstakes mailings, some consumers are lured into buying magazines and other products with the mistaken belief they are improving their chances of winning," Lockyer said. "Through this and other recent settlements with sweepstakes companies, consumers will be able to clearly see that buying products will not improve their odds of winning."
The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. (RDA) sends out millions of pieces of mail annually, most of which offer consumers the opportunity to enter a sweepstakes. As part of the sweepstakes mailers, consumers are offered subscriptions to Reader's Digest and other magazines, as well as the opportunity to buy books, audio tapes or video tapes sold by RDA. The sweepstakes offers at times have been combined with skill contest offers that require the recipient to buy something to enter the skill contest.
The agreement provides more than $6 million for refunds to "high activity" sweepstakes customers, which includes about $1.5 million for California. An estimated 1,890 California consumers will be eligible for refunds, having made purchases of more than $2,500 in any of RDA's fiscal years 1998, 1999 or 2000. The company will contact consumers eligible for refunds. In addition, RDA will pay more than $2 million for attorneys' fees and the costs of the investigation.
The terms of the settlement with Reader's Digest requires that all sweepstakes mailings provide a clear and conspicuous "Sweepstakes Facts" disclosure notice to consumers. The Sweepstakes Facts will include a statement that buying won't help the consumer win the sweepstakes, that the consumer has not yet won, that the consumer doesn't have to buy anything to enter the sweepstakes and the odds of winning a prize.
"One of things that we wanted to make certain is that consumers who receive sweepstakes mailings understand they don't have to buy anything to have a chance to win and that buying will not help their chances of winning," Lockyer said. "We believe the Sweepstakes Facts disclosure notice will help consumers do this."
Under the terms of the agreement, RDA will not be able to misleadingly state that a consumer is the winner or about to become the winner of a sweepstakes, misleadingly tell consumers that they have a better chance of winning a sweepstakes than they actually do or represent that the sweepstakes mailing has been sent by special courier or a special class of mail, if it has not been.
Attorney General Lockyer noted that RDA has agreed to not continue soliciting any future "high activity customer" who meets one of three threshold purchase amount tests, unless RDA actually makes contact with that customer to protect against inappropriate purchases. Reader's Digest also has agreed to establish a "Do Not Contact List" which requires RDA to stop sending consumers on the list new sweepstakes or skill contest solicitations.
The settlement requires RDA to identify and send special letters to individuals who spend more than $1,000 in a six month period telling them they are not required to make purchases in order to have a chance to win the sweepstakes, that making a purchase will not improve their chances of winning and that all entries have the same chance to win whether or not the entry is accompanied by a purchase. RDA also has agreed:
* future mailings will contain separate entry forms for skill contests and sweepstakes contests, that nothing on the sweepstakes entry form will refer to the skill contest and that there will be a clear and conspicuous statement telling consumers that they can enter the sweepstakes without also entering the skill contest
* to clearly disclose to consumers if automatic renewals are being used for any subscriptions made. The company also will provide advance notice to consumers that the renewal will take place unless the consumer cancels, and provide a notice with the first billing that a consumer can still cancel and receive a full refund.
* to severely restrict its use of "customer only" sweepstakes. The multistate settlement is the fifth entered into with major sweepstakes companies since public hearings the Attorneys General held into sweepstakes sales activities, policies and procedures during the Spring of 1999 in Indianapolis. Settlements requiring increased consumer notices through the use of sweepstake fact sheets and refunds to high activity customers were reached last year with US Sales Corporation (also known as USPE), Time Inc., American Express Publishing Corp., and Publishers Clearing House.
The other states involved in the settlement are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
Assembly Member Wesson Introduces Legislation to Support New Office
(LOS ANGELES) - Citing California as the most diverse region in the world, Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced creation of the Office of Immigrant Assistance in the California Department of Justice.
"California is the most diverse region in the world with 244 different languages spoken here," Lockyer said. "Many new immigrant working families are contributing to this diversity. To help overcome language and cultural barriers that may contribute to immigrants becoming victims of discrimination and exploitation, I am establishing a new Office of Immigrant Assistance in my Civil Rights Section to help protect the rights of these California consumers and working families."
Although often victimized, many immigrants are reluctant to seek assistance from law enforcement agencies, such as the local police, sheriff or even the California Department of Justice. The new Office of Immigrant Assistance will provide education and outreach services to immigrant communities throughout the state. The office also will be able to direct complaints to appropriate law enforcement agencies and help immigrant communities to understand and use the legal system to seek redress.
"In America, nearly every family started out as immigrants," Lockyer said. "New immigrants have always been among the hardest working members of society and they continue to make enormous contributions to California in terms of energy, optimism and productivity. No matter when we entered this country, we all deserve justice. By creating this Office of Immigrant Assistance, I want to ensure that Californians who happen to be new immigrants have the benefit of protection under our laws and that there is truly 'justice for all' in California."
Lockyer was joined by Los Angeles Assembly Member Herb Wesson, who is authoring legislation, AB 698, to ensure the continuation of the Office of Immigrant Assistance in the California Department of Justice.
"Everyone who lives in this state, regardless of his or her race, ethnicity or national origin is entitled to the same protection with respect to civil rights, consumer safety and protection against harassment and discrimination," Wesson said. "My legislation would ensure that the education, outreach and civil rights protections being put in place now by Attorney General Lockyer will remain available to help immigrants to California for years to come."
According to a recent University of Southern California study, 26 percent of California's residents are foreign-born. Like immigrants of the past, the new and emerging immigrant communities in California are enriching the state's culture, increasing our labor pool and helping to build our ever-changing and dynamic economy.
Lockyer said the focus of the Office of Immigrant Assistance is to ensure that foreign-born Californians are aware of the protections afforded them by the State's civil rights and consumer protection laws. As an example, the Attorney General provided a sample brochure that will be made available by the new office to help consumers avoid falling victim to fraud and abuse by immigration consultants who have charged thousands of dollars without providing promised services.
Lawsuits are part of multi-state effort to enforce national tobacco settlement
(SACRAMENTO) -- Attorney General Bill Lockyer today filed suit in San Diego Superior Court to stop R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company from violating the terms of the November 1998 national tobacco settlement that prohibits tobacco companies from targeting children through their magazine advertising.
Under the terms of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), tobacco manufacturers are prohibited from taking "any action, directly or indirectly, to target Youth within any Settling State in the advertising, promotion or marketing of Tobacco Products."
"While the other three major tobacco companies have all taken meaningful first steps to reduce or eliminate their advertising in magazines having a substantial youth readership, Reynolds has continued to thumb its nose at the MSA," according to Lockyer. "By targeting our kids, Reynolds is attempting to auction the health of our children for future profits."
Studies demonstrate that Reynolds' expenditures on advertising in youth-oriented publications increased after the signing of the MSA. Since that time, and unlike other tobacco companies, Reynolds has continued to place large amounts of advertising for its cigarette brands in publications with a substantial youth readership, exposing millions of youth to its advertising a substantial number of times. The Attorney General's own investigation and analysis shows that in 2000, Reynolds' ads in magazines whose readership is measured by national surveys reached 95% of America's youth ages 12-17 an average of fifty times during the year. In the past two years, Reynolds' ads have reached an almost equal percentage of youth as its claimed target audience: adults who smoke.
Reynolds' ads are reaching a huge number of children despite the fact that they could, but have refused to, design an ad campaign that reaches adult smokers*without exposing large numbers of children to its tobacco advertising. Magazines with high youth readership where Reynolds has placed advertisements include: Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, People, Vibe, Allure, Spin and In Style.
In a second lawsuit filed also filed today in San Diego Superior Court, Lockyer is seeking to stop Reynolds from violating a separate provision of the MSA that restricts outdoor advertisements for cigarettes. Although the MSA restricts outdoor advertising of brand name sponsorships to 90 days before and 10 days after the sponsored event, Reynolds displays advertising for such sponsorships all year long. The large outdoor signs advertising Reynolds' Winston sponsorships are viewed by millions of people both at the track and on television broadcasts of events at the track, including youth races and other events which the MSA prohibits Reynolds from sponsoring in the name of its Winston brand.
The lawsuits filed today are part of a cooperative effort on the part of the Attorneys General in five states to put an end to Reynolds' violations of the MSA in a number of critical areas. In addition to California, the states of Arizona, New York, Ohio and Washington also filed lawsuits today alleging continued violations of the MSA by Reynolds. Despite repeated attempts by the states to persuade Reynolds to address their concerns before the filing of the lawsuits, the company refused to make any meaningful changes to advertising practices.
"Reynolds has repeatedly violated key provisions of the MSA, which are intended to reduce youth exposure to tobacco advertising. We are certain that this multifaceted and multi-state response will send a strong message to Reynolds that it cannot continue to violate the MSA with impunity," Lockyer said.
Attorney General Lockyer's full-time state tobacco enforcement unit's consumer complaint line, 916-565-6486, allows individuals to report suspected violations of the MSA. Inquiries and reports of suspected violations can also be mailed to the Tobacco Litigation Section at P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550. To learn more about the Master Settlement Agreement, please visit the California Attorney General's website, (www.caag.state.ca.us).
(SACRAMENTO) * Seeking to protect the state's unique and irreplaceable giant redwoods for all Californians, Attorney General Bill Lockyer today filed motions in federal court defending the newly created Giant Sequoia National Monument in the western Sierra Nevada.
The Attorney General said California has a strong interest in defending the national monument in the Sequoia National Forest and in preserving the original intent of a decade-old settlement agreement for forest management which does not create the personal rights to resource use and access that are now being suggested by those who want to overturn the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The Attorney General added that President Clinton acted within his authority under the federal Antiquities Act to establish the monument.
The Attorney General's motion to intervene was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where the President was sued by Tulare County and a number of timber interests, off-road vehicle associations and private property owners to overturn the monument. As part of the court filings, the Attorney General asked for dismissal of the lawsuit.
"Californians have a strong and long-standing interest in achieving permanent and effective protection for these unique and irreplaceable giant sequoias," Lockyer said. "The giant redwoods and their surrounding ecosystems were identified for important protection by the presidential proclamation."
The Giant Sequoia National Monument was established on April 15, 2000, by Proclamation No. 7295 under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect numerous objects of scientific and historical value, including the world's largest trees. Relatively modest, the 328,000-acre monument contains such natural wonders as giant sequoias that are found nowhere but the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada.
In 1990, a settlement agreement for the management of the Sequoia National Forest was reached after a 17-month mediation process with 27 parties, including the California Attorney General's Office, the US Forest Service, several environmental groups, timber and off-road vehicle user groups and other stakeholders. The settlement resolved a variety of environmental concerns and resource use issues in the management of the Sequoia National Forest. Under the agreement, the US Forest Service was directed to amend its land management plan for the forest to provide, among other things, greater assurance of protection for forest resources, including the giant sequoia groves. The Attorney General's motion expressed concern that the settlement agreement be interpreted properly "and that it is not used to advance the interests of certain private signatories over others."
"The People of California have at least two important interests at stake in this litigation," the motion states. "First, plaintiff seeks a ruling from this Court that the 1990 Agreement creates personal rights to particular types of resource use and access within the Sequoia National Forest that, in the People's view, the Agreement does not, and was never intended to, bestow. Second, the People of California have a compelling interest in a full and vigorous defense of the Monument. The People seek to assure that the Proclamation establishing the Monument is recognized as a proper exercise of presidential discretion under the Antiquities Act, and that it is not unduly altered by the handling or outcome of this litigation."
Number of crimes in large jurisdictions during the year increased 3.5 percent compared to 1999
(Fresno) - During a meeting with Central Valley law enforcement officials, Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that preliminary figures show that during 2000, the number of crimes in the most populous cities and counties in California increased 3.5 percent when compared to 1999.
The preliminary report, "Crime 2000 In Selected California Jurisdictions, January through December" compares crime counts for six major offense categories during 1999 and 2000 for 77 jurisdictions with populations of 100,000 or more. These jurisdictions represent about 65 percent of the state's population. Within these jurisdictions, crimes tracked by the California Crime Index increased 3.5 percent:
"For the first time in eight years, we are reporting an increase in crime in California," said Lockyer. "That's why we can no longer rely on the public safety strategies of the past. We must continue to invest in new, improved investigative techniques and crime prevention strategies so that the generation that needs more schools today doesn't need more prisons tomorrow."
Lockyer has made the use of DNA evidence to solve crimes a top priority of his administration and is sponsoring legislation this year to expand the list of crimes that qualify for inclusion in the state's DNA database. Lockyer has also stressed the need for early intervention efforts, such as the "Safe from the Start" program administered by his Crime and Violence Prevention Center, that is designed to help local agencies identify and help children at risk of becoming victims and/or perpetrators of crime.
The preliminary report, which includes crime statistics for each individual law enforcement agency and contract city with a population of more than 100,000, is available on the Attorney General's web site at http://caag.state.ca.us/cjsc/prelJD00/rpt.pdf
(SACRAMENTO) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer and San Diego Police Chief David Bejarano today announced that a "cold hit" made earlier this month in the California Department of Justice (DOJ) DNA Laboratory in Berkeley links a suspect to the murders of two San Diego children.
Scott Thomas Erskine, 38, is currently serving a 70-year sentence in Wasco State Prison for sexual assault, kidnaping, and weapons possession convictions. He was linked to the March, 1993 murders of 9-year old Jonathan Sellers and 13-year old Charlie Keever when evidence from the crime yielded a DNA profile which matched Erskine's DNA profile stored in the DOJ Convicted Felon Databank.
"Eight years ago, these murders devastated two families and stunned the community," said Lockyer. "But the investigators and forensic scientists never gave up, and when they turned to our expanding DNA database, we were able to provide a crucial element * the identity of the suspect."
"This case is a dramatic example of scientific advances in law enforcement," said Chief Bejarano. "Criminalists in our lab had the foresight in 1993 to recover, document and preserve evidence that some day might be unlocked through new generations of DNA testing. That day has come -- and two families can begin to find closure to their personal nightmares."
California law requires blood and saliva samples to be taken from individuals convicted of any of nine specified felony sex and violent crimes. The samples yield DNA profiles, which are stored in the DOJ Convicted Felon Databank in the Berkeley DNA Lab. DNA profiles extracted from crime scene evidence are compared to the profiles in the Databank. Erskine's DNA profile is in the Databank as a result of the numerous felony sexual assault convictions, as well as conviction for kidnap and weapons possession convictions, in April, 1994.
Upon taking office in 1999, Attorney General Lockyer pledged to eliminate the backlog of more than 100,000 unanalyzed convicted felon blood samples. The lab is now on pace to eliminate this backlog by July 1, 2001, when there will be a projected total of 200,000 DNA profiles from convicted felons that will be searchable against DNA profiles from crime scene evidence.
Lockyer believes that expanding the qualifying offenses for inclusion into the DNA Databank will increase the number of suspects identified and crimes solved, and he is sponsoring legislation to add residential burglary, first-degree robbery, arson, and carjacking to the current list which includes rape, murder, attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter, domestic violence, kidnaping, child molestation, mayhem and torture.
Three additional unrelated DNA "cold hits" were made by the state's DNA Lab between March 2nd and March 6th when 10,000 newly developed DNA profiles of convicted felons were compared to DNA profiles extracted from crime scene evidence from unsolved cases. Local law enforcement agencies have been notified about these identifications and are proceeding appropriately with that information. Details will be made available as the suspects are arrested or charged with those crimes.
Including these four "cold hits," a total of 33 suspects have been identified by the DOJ DNA Convicted Felon Databank since it was established in 1994. Twenty-nine of these "cold hits" have made since January, 1999.
Ex-boyfriend arrested and charged with murder of 20-year old Andrea Born, whose body was found in Madera orchard
(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Madera County Sheriff John Anderson have announced that a man has been arrested for the July, 1997 murder of 20-year old Fresno State University student Andrea Born, whose body was found in a Madera County orchard.
Jacob Lee Travis, 31, was arrested March 19 in a suburb of Seattle, Washington, by Special Agents from the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and members of the FBI Fugitive Task Force. He has been charged with the murder of Andrea Born. At the time of the murder, Travis was a Fresno area resident and ex-boyfriend of Born.
Andrea Born's body was discovered by California Highway Patrol Officers July 4, 1997 when they investigated what appeared to be a burning automobile in a Madera County orchard. Officers determined that Born had been shot to death before her body was taken to the orchard and burned.
Because the crime involved multiple law enforcement jurisdictions, in 1999, Special Agents from the Fresno CBI office joined the Madera County Sheriff's Department and the Madera County District Attorney's Office in the investigation. Working together, investigators developed information that along with the re-examination of forensic evidence led to an arrest warrant for Travis. Travis was located in Des Moines, Washington, arrested, and returned to Madera County to face charges. Also, because of the involvement of multiple jurisdictions, prosecutors from the Attorney General's office will prosecute the case.
"My heart goes out to Andrea's family and friends, who suffered a tragic loss and have waited nearly four years for justice," said Lockyer. "Investigators from Madera County and our Bureau of Investigation never stopped working on this case, and the thousands of hours of investigative and forensic work paid off."
"Our department urges anyone with any information to please call our office at (559) 675-7770. In July of 1999, my request was honored by Governor Davis to issue a $50,000 reward to anyone with information about the Born murder case. This is still available," said Sheriff Anderson.
Recommendations for Improving Reporting by Communities, Law Enforcement, Schools
March 29, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE, LOS ANGELES) * Attorney General Bill Lockyer today released the final report of the Attorney General's Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes which found social and cultural barriers continuing to discourage the reporting of hate crimes. The report outlines 16 recommendations to improve the reporting of hate crimes in local communities, in schools and by law enforcement agencies.
"There is much to consider in this report for improving the reporting of hate crimes in California," Lockyer said. "We are moving ahead on some of the recommendations through legislation proposed this year. Improving reporting in our communities and our schools will be important steps to undertake."
Lockyer was joined by members of his Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes, state Sen. Kevin Murray of Los Angeles, who is among several lawmakers with bills sponsored by the Attorney General to implement recommendations in the report, Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley and Ismael Ileto, brother of slain Filipino American postal worker Joseph Ileto whose white supremacist killer was sentenced to life in prison for the hate crime.
Participating Commission members included: Maria Alegria, Pinole City Council Member; Salam Al-Mayarati, executive director, Muslim Public Affairs Council; Gwen Baldwin, executive director, LA Gay and Lesbian Center; Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center; Mary Figueroa, trustee, Riverside Community College Board of Trustees; Rusty Kennedy, executive director, Orange County Human Relations Commission; Mary E. O'Gorman, adminsitrator, Santa Barbara Human Relations Commission; Sue Stengel, western states counsel, Anti-Defamation League; Robin Toma, executive director, LA County Human Relations Commission; Howard Welinsky, past chair, Jewish Community Relations Committee, Jewish Federation; and Fred Persily, executive director, California Association of Human Relations Organizations.
"In preparing this report, Commission members visited nearly two dozen large and small diverse communities throughout the state," Lockyer said. "The Commission found that while many communities are responding and taking steps to address hate crimes, more still needs to be done so California can truly reflect the wealth of its social and cultural diversity."
Among the legislative proposals being pursued is the "Community Intergroup Relations Act." The bill, SB 143, by Senator Murray, would encourage the development of city and county human relation commissions to sponsor hate violence prevention and response networks. The Commission found these hate crime prevention networks to be effective in improving the way law enforcement and schools identify and report hate crimes. Victims also gain a better awareness of hate crime laws and the services available to help victims of these crimes.
Another bill, SB 1139, by Senator Liz Figueroa would require K-12 schools to have the technical resources required to institute programs on the prevention, identification, reporting, and appropriate responses to intergroup tensions, hate incidents, and hate crimes. A third bill, SB 257, by Senator Sheila Kuehl, would require schools to develop hate crime reporting procedures.
The report, which may be viewed on the Attorney General's web site (http://caag.state.ca.us) outlines 16 recommendations that fall into four main areas:
Grants Will Be Used by Local Education Agencies to Combat School Violence
(SACRAMENTO) -- Attorney General Bill Lockyer and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin today announced $10.8 million in grants to 34 school districts throughout California to help combat school violence.
The grants are part of the School Community Policing Partnership Program, which provides competitive grant funding each year for the development of school/law enforcement/community partnerships. Each grantee is eligible to receive up to $325,000, to be spent over three years. The grants are administered jointly by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education under the School Community Policing Partnership Act of 1998.
"The recent school shootings at Santana and Granite Hills high schools have shown how valuable partnerships between schools and law enforcement can be," said Lockyer. "There is no question that lives were saved due to the quick reactions of cops on those campuses. While this is the third year of our school safety grant funding, we need to continue to support and pursue new strategies that prevent school violence from erupting at our schools."
Eastin emphasized the importance of student relationships with support staff by announcing her proposal to increase the number of counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses that work in our schools. California is last among the states in the ratio of support staff provided for K-12 students. Eastin's proposal would add 1,000 new staff each year for the next five years to bring California up to the national average of 561 to one.
"Key strategies that create physical and psychological safety for our youth focus on the positive connections that we must all make with students," noted Eastin. "We need to find ways to decrease the size and anonymity of our larger schools, and my proposal to expand the number of support staff will help our children reconnect with their schools and each other."
A total of 75 applications were received for grants this year. Through the comprehensive review process, staff from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education determined that 34 of the 75 submissions for Fiscal Year 2000-2001 provided the greatest likelihood of success. The grant selections become final later this week after a public review period.
The grantees represent schools in rural, urban, and suburban areas throughout California. This year there are a total of 18 grantees from Northern California,10 from Central California, and 16 from Southern California. Applicants were evaluated on two basic criteria: need and collaboration. A needs assessment was performed based on data from the California Safe Schools Assessment, school crime reporting information, and law enforcement statistics for the community. Existing collaboration among law enforcement, schools, health, and community-based organizations was also considered important. The best candidates for the grants had full collaboratives in place, and demonstrated a high need for this assistance.
The School Community Policing Partnership will begin accepting new application for grants for Fiscal Year 2001-2001 on or before November 1, 2001. Additional information about the School Community Policing Partnership Program is available through the Department of Justice website at http://caag.state.ca.us/cvpc or Department of Education website at http://www.cde.ca.gov/spbranch/safety
Seeks Court-Ordered Improvements for Facilities in Riverside, San Bernardino, San Joaquin Counties
(LOS ANGELES) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced the department's first-ever civil enforcement action against the owner and corporate operator of four nursing homes for patient neglect and poor quality care.
"Less than a year ago, we filed the first-ever criminal enforcement action against the owners of a Los Angeles nursing home for elder abuse for embezzlement, theft and conspiracy," Lockyer said. "Now, we are bringing the first civil enforcement action filed in the history of the Department of Justice against the owners of a chain of nursing homes where more than 100 patients suffered harm. Investigators found over two dozen different types of violations."
Lockyer said that these cases reflect the priority given upon assuming office in 1999 to investigating and prosecuting elder abuse.
The civil complaint against Rocky Lemon and TLC Health Care, Inc., was filed this week in Riverside County Superior Court. The complaint alleges 37 different categories of violations of state and federal regulations which resulted in serious patient harm, such as major bed sores, dehydration, malnutrition, injuries from falls requiring surgery and inadequate care resulting in poor personal hygiene.
The facilities involved are Crescent Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Indio in Riverside County, where conditions have improved under new owners; Crescent Care Center of Yucca Valley and Crescent Alzheimer's Care Center, both in San Bernardino County; and Lodi Health Care Center in San Joaquin County.
"As public guardians, we have a responsibility to protect frail and elderly Californians who entrust their care to nursing homes," Lockyer said. "The civil remedies being sought hold the nursing home owners accountable for poor quality care and would result in court-ordered improvements to protect current and future nursing home residents."
The civil complaint initially seeks $2 million in civil penalties and restitution of no less than $50,000 to the Medi-Cal program for failure to provide adequate care, treatment and services to elderly patients at four nursing homes. The complaint also seeks injunctive relief to ensure that Lemon and TLC Health Care, Inc., raise the level of care, treatment and services. The complaint may be amended upon the finding of new evidence of violations during discovery proceedings.
Upon assuming office, Lockyer dedicated 20 new investigators and prosecutors to pursuing elder abuse cases. The criminal complaints against the nursing home and adult day care center are the first to be filed by the Attorney General's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse. Lockyer also launched "Operation Guardians," a new partnership of state, local and federal agencies working to combat the abuse and neglect in nursing homes. Under Operation Guardians, surprise visits are being made to nursing homes to check for health and safety violations, as well as encourage all facilities in the state to deliver quality care all the time, not just before an anticipated inspection.
In the criminal complaint filed last May, Orchard Gables, nursing home owner, Regina Mizrahie, and the owner's daughter, Lily Mizrahie, were charged with elder abuse, felony embezzlement and defrauding the Medi-Cal program. Among the victims of embezzlement was a World War II Nazi concentration camp survivor who lived at Orchard Gables. The case is pending trial.
(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Locker today released the following statement regarding Pacific Gas & Electric's decision to file for bankruptcy:
"The uncontrolled increase in electricity prices by generators and marketers has claimed another victim with the bankruptcy of one of California's oldest businesses. While this is a significant and unwelcome development, our team of bankruptcy litigators has been preparing for several months to defend California taxpayers in the event of a utility bankruptcy. This morning, I spoke with a PG&E executive, and he personally assured me that the utility will honor its legal obligation to pay the state for its purchase of energy and to repay its renewable energy supplier-creditors ("qualified facilities"). I am prepared to enforce those assurances in the courts to the extent necessary. Over the last several months, our state attorneys have fought hard in the courts to ensure that out-of-state generators continue to deliver adequate electricity and natural gas supplies to Californians in spite of the precarious financial condition of the state's two major utilities. The health and safety of Californians and the future of our economy require that our state not be left holding the bag for greedy business decisions of generators, marketers and utilities. Justice requires that those who have reaped unconscionable profits at the expense of Californians must pay back what they owe. I will use all the considerable resources of the law to help our policymakers keep the lights on and the bills affordable for every California home and business, to recover California tax and ratepayer dollars that have been illegally or unfairly taken, and to punish wrongdoers."
AWARD TO INFORMANTS
"It is possible that one or more members of the public can help with information, and if so, the financial reward to such a person or persons could be enormous. My office is conducting an aggressive investigation into whether energy providers have violated any laws. Over the last four years, state and local government agencies have spent billions of dollars in state and local taxpayer money to purchase electricity and natural gas. Under California false claims law, any person or corporation who obtains state taxpayer money by fraud or illegal acts is liable for financial penalties that can be as high as three times the actual losses. And anyone who provides information leading to the successful prosecution of a false claim action may be entitled to a percentage share in that award. Since billions of state dollars may be recovered, the award to an informant could potentially range from $50 million to the hundreds of millions of dollars. I am asking any member of the public with personal knowledge of any wrongful act which may have resulted in reduction in the California supplies or increase in the price of natural gas or electricity to contact my office immediately by calling: 1-800-952-5225 (w/in CA) or (916) 322-3360 (local or out of state), or e-mail the Attorney General's Energy Emergency Task Force at firstname.lastname@example.org."
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