Suspect in Mexico killing caught at hotel
A Mexican national wanted on suspicion of killing a man who tried to pay off a debt with a "Star Wars" action-figure collection has been captured while working at an Antioch hotel, federal officials said Tuesday.
Pablo Christian Larumbe Rojas, 34, was wanted for the slaying of Carlos Palomares Maldonado, who was killed in Mexico City in September 2010, authorities said.
Maldonado purportedly owed Rojas' criminal associates $3,000, so he offered his "extensive collection" of "Star Wars" action figures to cover the debt, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He showed up at Rojas' house with the memorabilia -- said to be worth more than the debt itself -- on Sept. 22, 2010, and was never seen alive again.
His body was found days later when authorities arrested several men, who implicated Rojas in the kidnapping and killing, according to ICE.
Nearly four years later, on Feb. 14, federal authorities got a tip that Rojas was using an alias and working as a night auditor at an Antioch hotel. He was arrested a short time later.
Authorities believe he entered the U.S. in September 2011 on a visitor's visa. Last week, he was sent back to Mexico after an immigration judge ordered his deportation on June 4, officials said.
-- David DeBolt, Staff
Woman pedestrian fatally hit by truck
A woman struck by a truck in the Upper Happy Valley neighborhood died Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.
Police did not immediately release any details about the person who died. The driver of the truck was cooperating with police.
The collision happened at 1:13 p.m. near the intersection of El Nido Ranch and Upper Happy Valley roads, police said. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
The intersection remained closed until at least 7 p.m. as police investigated what happened.
-- Rick Hurd, Staff
Information session on Tassajara cemetery
The city will hold a public meeting Tuesday to discuss plans for the proposed Creekside Cemetery in the Tassajara Valley.
The controversial 59-acre project, which could include 100,000 to 150,000 burial plots, has been proposed by Danville developer Sid Corrie. To be built, it will require approvals from the Contra Costa County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
Mayor Bill Clarkson and Vice Mayor Phil O'Loane are hosting the 7 p.m. session at City Hall, 2222 Camino Ramon, to build public awareness of the project that would be located near the Tassajara Ridge Regional Trail, about 2,300 feet from existing homes on Windemere Parkway.
City staff and representatives of the county and the proposed development also have been invited to share their updates of the project. The city will also be taking public comments.
The project's environmental review documents are online at http://bit.ly/1lBPI4C.
-- Joyce Tsai, Staff
Man sentenced for defrauding investors
A San Ramon resident was sentenced Monday to 41 months in prison for defrauding nearly a dozen investors out of an estimated $1 million, the Department of Justice said.
Alfred John Schlette, 60, had promised investors to turn a profit through day trading, but instead used clients' money for personal expenses, according to the DOJ. To cover his tracks, Schlette generated fake statements assuring his clients their assets were earning returns.
Earlier this year, Schlette was found guilty on nine counts of mail fraud. As part of his sentence, Schlette is also required to pay $1.7 million in restitution to his victims.
-- Karina Ioffee, Staff
Farmers market set to launch next month
Residents on the hunt for fresh produce will have one more local option starting next month, with the formation of a new Sunday farmers market in Alamo Square.
The Contra Costa County Zoning Administrator on Tuesday approved plans for the weekly market, to be held every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot adjacent to the Bank of America along Danville Boulevard and Stone Valley Road. An opening day ribbon-cutting ceremony has been set for July 27.
For the plans to be approved, the applicants had to agree to a list of conditions, including doing garbage cleanup from the market and using space efficiently enough to not adversely affect parking availability. Alcohol sales will not be permitted.
The zoning panel also set limits for how long vendors' stands could be up each market day; vendors will be allowed to show up starting at 7:30 a.m. and must be gone by 2 p.m.
After the opening date of July 27, the market will run through November. Beginning in 2015, it will run weekly from May through November.
-- Nate Gartrell, Staff
City latest to adopt ban on e-cigarettes
Citing the potential harm from secondhand exposure to smoking and its influence on kids, city leaders agreed Monday to add e-cigarettes to its public smoking ban.
The City Council's unanimous decision means that electronic cigarette use will not be allowed outside city-owned properties, including parks and recreation areas, parking lots and plazas, along with other places where smoking tobacco cigarettes is restricted.
In adopting the ban, city officials cited uncertainties about long-term health implications from e-cigs and the likelihood they could promote social acceptability of smoking, especially to youths.
Once it takes effect 30 days after formal adoption, the ordinance will make Pittsburg the fifth city in the county to regulate the use of e-cigarettes; Oakley, Concord, Richmond and Walnut Creek already have adopted similar rules, as has the county for unincorporated areas.
-- Paul Burgarino, Staff
County schedules numerous road repairs
Drivers headed through rural parts of the county should expect delays for the next three weeks as construction crews complete road repairs.
Work will be done from 7 a.m. through 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
County maintenance crews will be grinding out and repaving failed sections of road this week on Camino Diablo between Holway Drive and Vasco Road in the Byron area, and Bixler Road between Marsh Creek Road and Point of Timber Road in Discovery Bay.
Next week's work will continue on Bixler, along with Pleasant Hill Road between Reliez Valley Road and Greenvalley Drive, in the Pacheco area on Donna, Irene and Michelle drives, and on Bear Creek Road in Orinda.
Work for the week of June 30 will include La Paloma Road in El Sobrante, between Appian Way and Hilltop Drive.
For updates on road conditions, go to www.cccpublicworks.org.
-- Paul Burgarino, Staff