Tag Archives: west sacramento community news

Life without parole for killing of janitor at West Capitol nightclub in 2006

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — MARCH 4, 2014 —

  Juan Antonio Gonzales has received a sentence of “life without the possibility of parole” for the killing of a nightclub janitor in West Sacramento in 2006, reports the office of Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

  Gonzales was convicted earlier this year after a break in the “cold case” investigation for the murder/robbery near the west end of West Capitol.

  Gonzales, a 29-year old from Sacramento, had been found guilty of first degree murder, with the “special circumstance” of killing during a robbery. He robbed and shot Alfonso Prado, a janitor at Ortega’s West bar, on June 18, 2006.

  According to the D.A.’s office, Prado was cleaning the bar at 4205 West Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento when “unknown intruders” robbed him and shot him in the chest, killing him.

  “Three days later, the Sacramento Police Department recovered a handgun and entered identifying information into the National Ballistics Network,” said the D.A.’s office. “Two years later, a ‘cold hit’ established that the gun, which was last in the possession of an associate of defendant Gonzalez, was the weapon used to kill Mr. Prado. A year later, the Department of Justice Criminalistics Laboratory received a ‘cold hit’ identification establishing that a small amount of blood found at the scene matched DNA from defendant Gonzales.”

  Gonzales was sentenced Monday by Judge Stephen L. Mock.

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Cockfighting conviction in northern Yolo

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 26, 2014 —

A Dunnigan man was sentenced to 20 days in county jail and three years probation for operating a cockfighting operation on his property. That sentence was passed down last week for 63-year old Lorenzo Pena Ponce, who was found guilty by a jury last month for permitting cockfighting on his premises, owning game birds with intent to fight, and possession of gaffs – the knives or blades attached to the legs of fighting roosters.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig’s office said the charges resulted from a sheriff’s department visit to the northern Yolo County property in February of 2013. Responding deputies found what they estimated to be 70 people enjoying the “blood sport.”

“After dozens of participants ran away, deputies located a barn containing a fighting pit where roosters continued to fight,” reports the D.A.’s office. “The Sheriff’s Animal Control Division arrived shortly afterwards to assist. Many of the roosters found on scene were dead or had to be euthanized due to the inhumane treatment. Deputies also found gambling paraphernalia, gaffs, and vitamin B  shots. . . There were nearly 90 roosters being raised on the premises for cockfighting.”

Ponce was also convicted of cockfighting crimes on his property after a 2005 incident.

The District Attorney’s Office is demanding $106,235 from Ponce for costs to the County for impoundment, care, and euthanasia of the birds taken from his property.  Ponce contested that amount at sentencing, and a restitution hearing is scheduled before Judge Maguire on April 11.

In a press statement, District Attorney Reisig denounced the “sport” of cockfighting:

“Along with inhumane treatment of the birds, cockfighting often involves illegal wagering of thousands of dollars, firearms and other weapons,” said Reisig.  “Cockfighting is not a sport.  It’s a crime.”

Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Commie-hating draftee had a plan —

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 19, 2014 —

A few weeks ago, I was out golfing with some of my college fraternity brothers and while waiting for our turn to tee off on the back-nine, one of them said to me, “I hear you ended up going to Vietnam. What was that like?”

“Oh,” I said, “there was good and bad in it like everything else I guess. So, you didn’t have to go?”

“No, thankfully I injured my knee playing basketball about a year before I was drafted and I didn’t pass the physical. And I can still remember how happy I was about that on the bus ride back to Sacramento.”

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Features Editor

As our conversation continued, I found myself thinking back to the long ago day that I took my Army physical. The year was 1968 and there were anti-war demonstrators all over the place as the bus I was in crawled up to the United States Army Induction Center in Oakland, California, where I and hundreds of other young men were scheduled to receive our Army physicals.

When I was finally allowed to get off the bus, I soon found myself among a dozen or so of the more vocal demonstrators. They were carrying assorted signs and chanting, among other things, “Hell no, we won’t go!” As I tried my best to push and shove my way into the building, the guy in front of me suddenly took a swipe at one of the demonstrators and shouted a number of unprintable epithets at her.

“Damn commie!” he concluded, spitting in her direction.

Once inside, we were quickly formed into groups and told to follow one of the painted lines on the concrete floor. My group’s line was yellow and we soon found ourselves at Station One, Processing.

“My name’s Ken,” said my new, commie-hating companion, offering his hand for me to shake. “What’s yours?”

After I told him my name he asked me where I was from.  Before I could answer, we were herded into a large room full of ancient classroom desks and told to take a seat and keep the noise down. On each of the desks was a large stack of papers and a soldier with a no-nonsense voice began explaining how we were supposed to fill them out.

Everyone except Ken, who was seated in front of me, seemed to take this task very seriously. He messed around with a few of the papers, but left the rest of them untouched.

“You better hurry up,” I finally suggested to him.

“No sweat,” he said confidently, “I won’t be getting past the general examination room, which is the next station.”

“How do you know that?” I asked with interest.
“I’ve been here before,” he explained, “and more than once, too.”

“Really?”
“Yeah, I’m an old pro at flunking my physical.”

I wanted to ask him how one manages to do that, but we were suddenly ordered to gather up all our paperwork and begin following the yellow line again.

Sure enough, just as Ken had said, the next station turned out to be a large, cold examination room where we were told to strip down to our shorts and form a big circle. I thought it was a little strange that everyone but Ken took off their socks and I decided to bring it to his attention.

“I don’t want to gross everyone out,” he explained matter-of-factly.

Then a single, obviously bored-to-death doctor in a white coat stepped into the room and   began strolling around the inside of the circle. On his first trip around the room, he haphazardly checked everyone’s eyes, throats and necks. Then he reversed his direction and began examining feet. One of the young men he passed yelled out, “Hey, I’m missing a toe here! Doesn’t that make me 4-F?”

“Afraid not,” said the doctor without even bothering to look up as he continued inspecting feet.

When he finally came to me and Ken, he angrily ordered Ken to remove his socks. Ken quickly complied, and I’m absolutely sure that everyone within view of those feet will never forget that sight for as long as they live.

Ken had the worst case of athlete’s foot I, and apparently the doctor, too, had ever seen!

“That’s disgusting!” exclaimed the shocked physician.

“I know, sir,” said Ken proudly.

“Young man,” shouted the doctor, “you get those socks back on those feet and immediately report to processing for a new physical date. And I don’t want to see you back here again until that mess is completely cleared up! Do you understand me?”

As Ken threw back on his socks, he happily explained to me and a couple of the other guys (to whom he was already a cult-hero) how he had actually been cultivating his athlete’s foot fungus for months. He apparently had been wearing the same pair of soggy, disease-infested gym socks to bed each and every night, often with a heating pad strapped around each foot.

“Ain’t nobody sending this dude to Vietnam,” he said with a smile as he began shaking hands with some of his fellow draftees.

“Get the hell out of here!” shouted the doctor from across the room.

“Damn it! Now I’m going to have to find a way to get past all those worthless, hippie scum-of-the-earth commie demonstrators again,” were the last words I heard Ken say.

 

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For CHiPs, the path starts here

  The CHP Academy’s memorial fountain, in a central part of the Reed Avenue campus . The fountain is ringed with brass plaques honoring each of the California Highway Patrol officers killed in the line of duty since the agency was founded. Some of the brass markers can be seen in the foreground              (News-Ledger photos/Steve Marschke)

The CHP Academy’s memorial fountain, in a central part of the Reed Avenue campus . The fountain is ringed with brass plaques honoring each of the California Highway Patrol officers killed in the line of duty since the agency was founded. Some of the brass markers can be seen in the foreground (News-Ledger photos/Steve Marschke)

NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 19, 2014 —

By Thomas Farley
News-Ledger Correspondent

“Safety, Service, Security”: that’s the motto of the California Highway Patrol.

The men and women officers who uphold that motto begin their careers right here in West Sacramento. Located on 457 acres off of Reed Avenue in the city’s northwest, the present CHP Academy began construction in 1974 and graduated its first class of recruits in 1976.

Capt. Chuck King CHP Academy Commander (News-Ledger photo)

Capt. Chuck King
CHP Academy Commander
(News-Ledger photo)

The Academy Commander, Captain Chuck King, recently invited the News-Ledger to tour the property. Judging by the number of cars in the parking lots, it was apparent upon arrival that the Academy is a major employer. Approximately two hundred part-time and full time employees work at the site, including sixty non-uniformed CHP employees. These people do everything from administrative tasks to cooking in the kitchens.

Next to the lobby in the headquarters is the recently completed CHP museum. It houses three motorcycles from years’ past as well as exhibits detailing the history of the Highway Patrol. Clearly evident are tradition, pride in service, and an esprit de corps among C.H.P. staff.

Step through the administration building, and you’ll find a central courtyard and the badge-shaped, five-pointed Memorial Fountain. The fountain pays tribute to the 225 California Highway Patrol Officers that have been killed in the line of duty since the organization was founded in 1929. (The most recent officers to give their lives were Officers Juan Gonzalez and Brian Law, partners and friends who graduated together in 2008 from the academy. The pair died Monday morning in a crash while responding to a call near Fresno.)

Every week, in a tradition that binds the generations of graduating classes to each other, cadets polish the brass name plaques that are affixed to the sides of the fountain.

CADETS -- mostly men with fresh short haircuts -- listen as instructors explain how to investigate a traffic accident   (News-Ledger photo)

CADETS — mostly men with fresh short haircuts — listen as instructors explain how to investigate a traffic accident (News-Ledger photo)

King led News-Ledger reporters toward the dormitories, which accommodate recruits during their 27-week training session. Nearby were classrooms, a gymnasium, and even a PX (a market). Facing the courtyard is a dining commons that can seat 400 people at a time. Some two hundred cadets in two training classes are presently at the school.

“We’re a completely self-contained facility,” King says. “The cadets live here for the duration of their training. And we are the only CHP Academy in the state. A lot of people are surprised at that. Since 1976, every officer you see working the road has gone through this academy.”

Inside the classroom was an amphitheater with rows of seats perched high above each other. Instructors in the well of the room supervised the class. Cadets looked on intently as two of their peers demonstrated how they would conduct a hypothetical accident investigation.

A rifle range, a pistol, range, a helipad, and a running track, are just some of the facilities beyond the main campus buildings. But the pride of the Academy is its Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, or EVOC. This is a set of specialized tracks that allow cadets to practice everything from wet-weather driving to high-speed maneuvers.

One of those driving courses is a “skid pad” – a large stretch of pavement outfitted with pop-up sprinklers, and graded to create puddles several inches deep. The sprinklers were activated for a driving demonstration. Patrol cars used for foul-weather driving practice are deliberately equipped with “bald” tires – all the better to practice hydroplaning and emergency steering techniques on wet roads.
Captain King explained that all of the water from the sprinklers is re-circulated and recycled.

Officer Julie Saraiva, an EVOC instructor, introduced herself to reporters and promptly threw a practice car around two laps and a dozen “S” turns. At each curve she accelerated and then put on the brakes, sliding the car into one turn and then another.

 CHP driving instructor Julie Saraiva demonstrates how to get a patrol car into a skid -- and, more importantly, how to get out. A reporter is in the passenger’s seat.  (News-Ledger photos/Steve Marschke)

CHP driving instructor Julie Saraiva demonstrates how to get a patrol car into a skid — and, more importantly, how to get out. A reporter is in the passenger’s seat.
(News-Ledger photos/Steve Marschke)

Then a visiting reporter took the wheel, at one point overcorrecting in a wet skid and spinning the car 180 degrees to face the wrong way. Instructor Saraiva nevertheless gave him good marks for a first session on the skid pad.

“Skid pad” driving is just part of their total EVOC training, one of 42 total “learning domains” that a cadet must master.

The CHP is selective. Captain King stated that over 20,000 people applied last year. The cadets now on-site represent just one percent of that number.

What quality does an applicant need most?

“The most important characteristic for a future officer is integrity, a good moral compass,” said King. “After they get to the Academy, the most important thing is dedication and staying focused on the training.”

To patrol California’s highways, C.H.P. officers must first take the road through West Sacramento.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

West Sac man convicted in bee theft

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 26, 2014 —

On Thursday, a Yolo County jury found 51-year old Viktor Zhdamirov of West Sacramento guilty of a felony charge involving receiving stolen property.

The property consisted of about 80 bee hives and their colonies.

According to the office of District Attorney Jeff Reisig, the theft was discovered by Tauzer Apiaries in 2012, after two sites were “ransacked” and hives stolen. Judging by the characteristic behavior of bees that have lost their queens, Tauzer estimated the theft occurred about eight days before the discovery on Sept. 11, 2012.

Owner Mark Tauzer and his employees went looking for the “distinctively marked” hives, and found their lids abandoned next to Jefferson Boulevard south of West Sacramento. There was also an empty five-gallon bucket of green paint.

Two days later, Tauzer’s hives were found – partially repainted green in an attempt to cover up the original markings. Hives were mixed with those belonging to Zhdamirov.

Sheriff’s deputies contacted Zhdamirov, who admitted taking the property. Even after the hives were recovered, damages were estimated at $65,000.

Zhdamirov will be sentenced on April 4. He faces up to three years in prison, plus restitution to Tauzer.

The D.A.’s office gave credit to Tauzer for marking his hives and then finding his own stolen property.
Copyright News-Ledger 2014

Former West Sac police officer faces up to life in prison after jury finds him guilty on 18 counts

SERGIO ALVAREZ, accused West Sacramento Police Officer (booking photo, Yolo County Jail)

Former West Sac
police officer
Sergio Alvarez
(booking photo)

Former West Sac
police officer
Sergio Alvarez
(booking photo)

NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — FEB 27, 2014 —

A Yolo County jury today announced “guilty” verdicts on 18 felony counts related to sexual assault and kidnapping, in a case involving former West Sacramento Police Officer Sergio Alvarez, reports the Yolo County D.A.’s office. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison.

The jury deadlocked on nine other counts.

Alvarez, 38,  was accused of taking advantage of five women he encountered while patrolling West Sacramento on the graveyard shift as a local officer in 2011-2012.  He was arrested a year ago, and pleaded not guilty.

His defense attorney conceded misdeeds by the officer, denying some charges and saying that other relationships involving the alleged victims and Alvarez had been consensual.

More in next week’s News-Ledger.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2014

New leaders for W.S. Historical Society

Meet the 2014 board members and officers of the West Sacramento Historical Society:   BACK ROW: Treasurer Billi Hanlon, Secretary Alfonso Sanchez, Vice President Jeri Hughes-Wingfield and President Thom Lewis.   FRONT ROW: Board members Roger Sornsen, Kathy Perrigo, Katherine van Diest, Lana Paulhamus and Mickey Fausett. (Photo courtesy of Katherine van Diest)

Meet the 2014 board members and officers of the West Sacramento Historical Society:
BACK ROW: Treasurer Billi Hanlon, Secretary Alfonso Sanchez, Vice President Jeri Hughes-Wingfield and President Thom Lewis.
FRONT ROW: Board members Roger Sornsen, Kathy Perrigo, Katherine van Diest, Lana Paulhamus and Mickey Fausett.
(Photo courtesy of Katherine van Diest)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 12, 2014 —

New leaders of the West Sacramento Historical Society took their posts on Sunday, after being sworn in by News-Ledger editor Steve Marschke. The society reports various activities on the calendar, including ongoing history displays at the community center and a survey of historic local houses done on behalf of the City. For more information, visit www.westsachistoricalsociety.org or call 374-1849.

Copyright News-Ledger 2014