Kidnapping suspects return to court today
The six people arrested last week on suspicion of kidnapping and other charges are scheduled to return to Lodi court this morning to allow time for four of the defendants to get attorneys.
Lodi residents Salvador Rodriguez Estrada, 32, Javier Rodriguez Estrada, 37, Jessica Ramos, 24, Luis Vargas, 27, Galt resident Benjamin Rodriguez, 21, and Lockeford resident Jose Emilio Hernandez, 42, appeared in court Monday.
They are accused of kidnapping and beating a Lodi man who said he had been held against his will for 20 hours after being taken from a hotel Wednesday night to a residence in the 1500 block of South School Street, police said at the time.
Several of the suspects live in that residence, they said during court Monday.
All wore the clothes they had been wearing Thursday night, when they were arrested and booked into the Lodi jail.
At that time, each was read the charges against them, including kidnapping, robbery, torture, conspiracy and false imprisonment. Four of the suspects required the use of a translator.
Little was said during the hearing, except for Ramos who, when charged with being armed with a firearm during the alleged crime, blurted out, "No, that's not true."
Ramos was scolded by the bailiff earlier for trying to communicate with an audience member. Talking with in-custody defendants is prohibited.
The more-than-$100,000 bail each was previously jailed on was increased by Judge David Warner to $200,000, each.
The six are expected to enter pleas during this morning's appearance.
Flu prevention forum scheduled
Lodi Memorial Hospital is holding an informational forum titled "How to survive the flu season without a flu shot." The event, open to the community, will be held Oct. 28 from 4-5 p.m. in hospital classrooms A and B, 975 S. Fairmont Ave. For more information, call the hospital's mainline at 334-3411.
Public Works ask: 'Turn off your sprinklers'
The Lodi Public Works Department is asking residents to turn off their automatic sprinklers for the winter. Recent rains have been accompanied by pre-programmed sprinklers needlessly wetting lawns throughout the city, officials said.
They suggest watering once every two weeks when there is no rain.
Instead, use this time to fertilize and aerate your lawn. Aeration allows rains and dew to more effectively water a lawn.
Water conservation rules are in effect year-round. Those with odd-numbered addresses may water on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, while even-numbered can on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There is no water allowed on Mondays.
For more information, call the Public Works Department at 333-6740.
Bail hearing set for historical society worker
A San Joaquin County Historical Society employee accused of forging court documents for convicts who were supposed to work off their jail time is scheduled to reappear in Lodi court Thursday for a bail hearing.
William Lester Ashlock, of Lodi, has been held in the San Joaquin County jail since Thursday on more than $500,000 bail.
Ashlock, a 19-year employee with the society and museum on Micke Grove Road, was arrested Thursday afternoon following a monthlong investigation, the Sheriff's Department said.
Investigators believe Ashlock, 46, accepted cash, checks, marijuana and beer from county jail inmates in exchange for work the convicts were supposed to perform, said spokeswoman Nellie Stone.
Ashlock was arrested on suspicion of felony forgery of public office documents, altering or forging entries in a book of records with intent to defraud, forgery and a misdemeanor count of receiving or asking for gratuity or rewards in exchange for doing an official act.
During a court appearance Monday, defense attorney Ralph Cingcon asked Judge David Warner to review Ashlock's bail. The hearing was set for Thursday at 9:30 a.m. Formal arraignment is also scheduled for that time.
More than two rows of supporters attended Monday's proceeding. One teenage boy left the courtroom teary-eyed.
Man arrested after alleged assault
A Lodi man was arrested Sunday night after he allegedly assaulted his mother and rammed his father's pick-up truck, San Joaquin County Sheriff's officials said.
Around 5:30 p.m., James Tonn, 39, reportedly took his father's tractor for a drive after painting it in the 13800 block of North Vintage Road, east of Curry Road and North of Harney Lane.
His father, Louis Tonn, confronted him, but when James Tonn became upset, his father got in his truck and began driving away, a sheriff's report said. James Tonn then allegedly got into his own truck, followed his father and rammed his truck several times.
During the incident, James Tonn allegedly hit his mother, Jill, several times in the head and on the shoulder.
James Tonn was later found at a payphone in Linden, and he was booked into the county jail on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon, felony elder abuse and misdemeanor battery.
Free movie on western sprawl tonight at library
Campaign for Common Ground will be showing a free movie at the Lodi Library tonight at 6.
"Subdivide and Conquer" is a timely film about how the Western states have historically developed and how some communities are using alternative strategies to absorb the burgeoning population without the associated negative impacts of sprawling growth plans, a press release issued by the group said.
The movie will be shown at the Lodi Library, 201 W. Locust St.
Galt Concilio declared out of bankruptcy
A federal bankruptcy judge declared the Galt Community Concilio out of bankruptcy after a brief hearing Monday morning in downtown Sacramento.
Judge Michael S. McManus of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of California, closed the concilio's case on Monday, said Marylou Powers, the concilio's executive director.
The concilio provides social services primarily to low-income residents in Galt, Thornton, Walnut Grove, Isleton and parts of Acampo. The concilio will be required to submit quarterly financial reports to the bankruptcy court.
City of Galt mails General Plan surveys
The city of Galt has mailed a survey on the city's General Plan to all Galt residents, businesses and property owners to determine how much they want the city to grow in the next 20 years.
The survey asks for each respondent to choose which of four General Plan maps the city should follow. One would pursue expanding Galt's boundaries north along the Highway 99 corridor from Twin Cities Road to Arno Road, west along Twin Cities to Christensen Road and east from Marengo Road to Cherokee Lane. The map, also known as Option 4, would expand Galt's population from its present 22,000 to almost 50,000 in 20 years.
The other three maps would expand the city's population to about 45,000, but growth would be closer to Galt's existing boundaries.
The surveys were mailed on Thursday, and the city's Planning Department would like responses no later than Nov. 5. For more information, call 366-7230.
Measure R opposition affirmed by GOP group
The San Joaquin County Republican Central Committee has voted unanimously to oppose Measure R in Lodi, due to the harmful effects the measure would have on consumer choice, the local economy and private property rights.
The announcement was made in a press release sent by Executive Director Sara Blicharz to the News-Sentinel on Monday.
Candidate forum set for Wednesday
The Small City Preservation Committee is coordinating a public candidate forum Wednesday. Chairwoman Betsy Fiske said she hopes candidate Stephen Mackey will be able to attend since he has missed the other public forums held over the last month.
Mackey is running against four other candidates for two open seats. His challengers include Dixon Flynn, Bob Johnson, Steve Jarrett and JoAnne Mounce.
On Wednesday, Fiske said audience members will be encouraged to ask questions.
The forum will be held in the fellowship hall of the United Congregational Christian Church, 701 S. Hutchins St.
Candidates forum Thursday in Lockeford
The three candidates vying for two seats on the Lockeford Community Services District board have been invited to a candidates forum at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Mokelumne fire station, 13157 E. Brandt Road.
Incumbent Gary Gordon and challengers Richard Eklund and Chris Littlefield are competing for the two available seats. Incumbent Betsy Robinson is not seeking re-election.