SEX WORKERS-VICTIM COMPENSATION
California prostitutes win victim compensation
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California officials have voted to allow prostitutes to receive money from a victim compensation fund if they have been raped or beaten.
The vote by the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board on Thursday changes a 1990s-era anti-crime regulation.
The rule had excluded prostitutes from the list of people who could be reimbursed for medical costs and related expenses if they were harmed during violent crimes, because their activities are illegal.
Chairwoman Marybel Batjer called the rule "repugnant" and said "rape is rape, period."
The three-member board voted unanimously to end California's status as the only state with such a prohibition.
The board heard testimony from several sex workers who said they have been assaulted on the job.
It will take several months to formally repeal the regulation.
BINGO GAME ROBBERY
Players: Robber invades California bingo game
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Witnesses say about 100 people were playing bingo in San Jose, Calif., when a man who said he had a gun burst through the doors and stole the night's receipts.
Bingo player John Esparza tells KNTV no one was hurt Wednesday night during the robbery at Oak Grove High School. The bingo fundraisers pay for the school band's uniforms and trips to Spain, France and Italy.
The man was wearing a ski mask. He told people he had a gun and took money from the cash box.
Esparza says several people chased the man when they realized what was going on, but he got away. Others called 911.
Esparza says the game ended because there was no cash left to pay winners.
SAN FRANCISCO AIRLINER CRASH
Crash probe renews debate over culture in aviation
WASHINGTON (AP) - New details about the crash of an Asiana Airlines jet have renewed questions about whether a culture of strict deference to more-senior pilots can compromise air safety.
Evidence from the National Transportation Safety Board this week shows there was confusion and poor communication in the cockpit of the Asiana jet as it approached San Francisco International Airport in July.
Two of the pilots told investigators they opted against voicing critical concerns or grabbing the controls because they were subordinate to the instructor.
The plane's tail clipped a seawall, and the aircraft spun down the runway. Three Chinese teens died, including one who was run over by two fire trucks as rescuers rushed to the scene.
The NTSB hasn't identified a cause of the crash yet.
4 suspects in Calif. 7-Eleven killing
MILPITAS, Calif. (AP) - Four suspects have been arrested in the killing of a convenience store clerk in Northern California during a robbery that netted just $200.
Milpitas Police Sgt. Gene Smith says 67-year-old Mohammad Reza Sadeghzadeh was attacked inside a 7-Eleven in Milpitas at about 2 a.m. on Sept. 8, 2012.
Smith says video surveillance showed three men with handguns enter the store in hooded shirts and masks.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the suspects - Delmon Armstead, Jerry Coneal, Warner Travis, all 19, and 20-year-old Bianca Barrow - were arrested on suspicion of murder and second-degree robbery.
Coneal and Armstead were 17 at the time but are being prosecuted as adults, police said.
Driver arrested in fatal CA crash on I-580
LIVERMORE, Calif. (AP) - A driver who rear-ended another driver on Interstate 580 in Livermore has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Creel says the collision happened just after 10 a.m. Thursday when 53-year-old Primitivo Garcia failed to slow his Hummer for traffic and rear-ended a Jeep, causing the Jeep to burst into flames in the westbound lanes near North Livermore Avenue.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the driver of the Jeep has died. His name has not been released.
Garcia is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
The eastbound lanes were shut down but reopened about an hour and a half later. Two westbound lanes reopened after that.
PRECIOUS GEM HEIST
5th man sentenced in 2012 museum robbery
MARIPOSA, Calif. (AP) - The fifth man convicted in the brazen robbery of $1.3 million worth of gold, gems and artifacts from a California state museum last year has been sentenced to five years and four months in prison.
Judge Wayne Parrish handed down the sentence Tuesday to 44-year-old Christopher Scott Sheffield, one of five men convicted in the Sept. 28, 2012, heist of the California State Mining and Mineral Museum. The museum houses 13,000 artifacts dating back to the 1800s, including a 14-pound gold nugget called the Fricot Nugget that the thieves unsuccessfully tried to steal.
The Merced Sun Star reports that the other men - Michael Anthony Gomes; Edward Rushing III; Matthew Campbell; and Jonathan Matis - will also serve time ranging from less than a year to 15 years.
FATAL TANK EXPLOSION
1 dead, 2 injured in fuel tank blast near Merced
MERCED, Calif. (AP) - Sheriff's deputies say one worker was killed and two others seriously injured in a fuel tank explosion on a ranch near Merced.
Merced County deputies say the explosion occurred a little before 4 p.m. Wednesday on the edge of an orchard near a farm home. The men were employed by a company contracted to do work in the area.
Sheriff's Deputy Delray Shelton says the injured men suffered burns and were flown to the Modesto area for treatment. The name of the man who died has not been released.
Shelton says the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health will investigate.
15 Calif. counties may share $500M to build jails
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Fifteen counties are in line to split $500 million in state-issued bonds to upgrade jails and build classrooms for inmate rehabilitation programs.
The Board of State and Community Corrections announced Thursday that it will vote on allocating the money next month.
A committee recommended the 15 counties from among 36 proposals.
For the first time, the counties had to detail how part of the money would be used for efforts to keep offenders from committing new crimes.
The proposed allocations are: Tuolumne, $20 million; Napa, $13.5 million; Kings, $20 million; Shasta, $20 million; Lake, $20 million; Tehama, $6.5 million; Santa Cruz, $24.6 million; Santa Barbara, $39 million; Solano, $23 million; Tulare, $40 million; San Joaquin, $33.3 million; San Mateo, $24.4 million; Fresno, $79 million; Orange, $80 million; Sacramento, $56.4 million.
CRUCIFIX NECKLACE STOLEN
Police: Gold crucifix stolen from dead body
OAKDALE, Calif. (AP) - Authorities in Northern California are trying to locate a man they have identified as a person of interest in the theft of a gold crucifix necklace from a dead body.
The necklace was later sold to a pawn shop.
Oakdale police say the necklace belonged to 51-year-old Melvin Luiz, a Stanislaus County man who died last month from natural causes a day after he retired from the dairy industry.
Police believe Luiz's necklace was stolen off his body while en route to a funeral home and then sold to a pawn shop in Turlock for $380.
They have named David Spurlin as a person of interest. They say Spurlin worked at a mortuary service in Modesto.
Luiz's daughter, Melissa Luiz, told KTXL-TV the family is thankful a tipster led police to the necklace.
CA car dealer to be sentenced for $1 million fraud
SUNNYVALE, Calif. (AP) - A luxury used car dealer in Northern California faces prison time after pleading no contest to defrauding customers of more than $1 million in cash and cars.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Georg Behrens says 50-year-old Wisal Ameen, also known as Andy Paul, is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 26 for grand theft, conspiracy, passing insufficient funds checks, and money laundering.
Behrens says Ameen, who ran Sunnyvale Motorcars, would promise to pay sellers after he sold their cars for them, but instead he would pocket the money he received.
To car buyers, he would falsely promise to pay off the prior owner and facilitate title transfers, Behrens says, leaving them without the titles to the cars they had purchased.
It was not immediately clear whether Ameen had a lawyer.
He is being held in lieu of $400,000 bail.
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