Man sentenced for role in gang rape
A Richmond man who as a 15-year-old joined in a hate-crime gang rape of a Richmond lesbian was sentenced to 31 years in prison on Friday.
Robert Ortiz, now 20, pleaded guilty Friday to rape in concert, forcible oral copulation in concert, carjacking, and a charge enhancement for committing the crimes for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
The victim was walking home Dec. 13, 2008, when she was attacked by gang elder Humberto Salvador, who had been looting cars at 14th Street and Visalia Avenue with fellow gang members. Salvador sexually assaulted her several times before ordering Ortiz and then-16-year-old Darrell Hodges to do the same.
Hodges, now 20, also took a plea deal and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Salvador, 36, was convicted at jury trial and is expected to be sentenced to life in prison Feb. 21. He was convicted of 15 felonies, and a hate-crime enhancement for repeated comments about the victim's sexual orientation during the attack.
-- Malaika Fraley, Staff
Spare the Air alert called for Saturday
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued the season's 30th Winter Spare the Air Alert for Saturday, tying a record set in 2006.
The alert bans the burning of wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuels indoors and outdoors for 24 hours, including in fireplaces, woodstoves, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning device. Homes in which wood stoves or fireplaces are the only heat source are exempt.
First-time violators are subject to $100 tickets or given the option of taking a wood smoke awareness class online or by mail. Subsequent violations can result in tickets of $500 or more. According to the district, a high pressure system with dry, still conditions has settled in over the region causing air pollution to build up to unhealthy levels.
The Winter Spare the Air season runs until Feb. 28. -- Jeremy Thomas, Staff
Camping ordinance aims to curb problems
Livermore would effectively ban homeless encampments with passage of a proposed ordinance aimed at restricting overnight camping.
The Livermore City Council will consider introducing the ordinance at its Monday meeting. The ordinance would ban tents and makeshift shelters on public property, or private property with a public right of way.
First-time violators would be subject to civil infractions and fines of $100 or less. Subsequent offenses would be misdemeanors punishable by jail time and/or a fine of up to $300.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Council Chambers, 3575 Pacific Ave.
Livermore assistant city manager Troy Brown said the ordinance isn't to punish the homeless, but to address health and safety issues caused by camping near waterways and other public areas.
A staff report says the city has gotten complaints from residents worried about noise, trash, health and vegetation impacts from encampments in arroyos and near established neighborhoods.
-- Jeremy Thomas, Staff
Teacher arrested over pot-laced potluck
A Benicia elementary schoolteacher has been arrested on suspicion of feeding her colleagues food laced with the active chemical in marijuana at a potluck, police said.
Teresa Gilmete Badger, 47, was arrested Friday after a months-long investigation stemming from a potluck in late November where several of Badger's colleagues fell ill, Benicia police Lt. Frank Hartig said.
Badger, a teacher at Matthew Turner Elementary School, brought an undisclosed type of food to an after-hours potluck dinner at a colleague's home on Nov. 21, Hartig said. Later in the evening, several guests reported feeling sick, saying they thought they may be under the influence of something.
On Dec. 4, the police department was notified by Benicia Unified School District Superintendent Janice Adams of the incident, and detectives later determined Badger was the person responsible for bringing the cannabis-laced food to the party.
Badger has been booked into the Solano County Jail in Fairfield and is being held on $15,000 bail.
-- Katie Nelson, Staff
Homeless art exhibit opens Saturday
An exhibit of artworks by and for the homeless that opens Saturday will help raise money for local nonprofit groups.
The Homeless Art Show features creations by more than 60 artists in mediums of painting, photography, printmaking, digital art and sculpture, and craft artists will have jewelry, ceramics and other items available for sale.
The show, which runs through April 18 at Expressions Art Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave., is a collaborative effort of the gallery, the city, community artists and nonprofit organizations that work with the homeless, including BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency) and St. Mary's Center.
According to organizers, any sales or tax deductible donations will go to help support the nonprofit organizations that have helped make the show possible.
An opening reception will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. The free event will include food and entertainment by local musicians. For more details call 510-644-4930.
-- Chris Treadway, Staff
New Black Angus to donate to food bank
When Black Angus Steakhouse celebrates the grand opening of its Brentwood location next month, a local food bank will be celebrating with them.
The new Streets of Brentwood location will open at 4 p.m. Feb. 6, the company's 50th anniversary. Black Angus plans to donate 10 percent of its sales that night to the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano, according to David Wolfgram, the chain's president and CEO.
According to food bank Executive Director Larry Sly, they are able to feed about 149,000 people monthly because of such donations.
The Brentwood restaurant is around 7,900 square feet and features an outdoor patio with heating and misting systems and several televisions. For details, visit www.blackangus.com.
-- Paula King, Staff