Pedestrian dies after being hit by car
A man struck by a vehicle Wednesday evening has died of his injuries.
Robert Bendlin, 52, died around midnight Wednesday at San Joaquin General Hospital, Lodi police and family members said.
Bendlin was walking south across Lockeford Street at the Calaveras Street intersection around 5:10 p.m. Wednesday when he was hit by a westbound 2002 Chevy Camaro, Lodi police Lt. Bill Barry said at the time.
The driver, Cleta Eileen Jones, 59, of Woodbridge, cooperated with police, who said there was no sign of alcohol or drug involvement.
Bendlin hit the car's windshield and landed on the pavement with head and other injuries.
Police closed Lockeford Street between Washington and Calaveras streets for about two hours to take measurements and photos. They are trying to determine whether Bendlin was in the crosswalk, and whether he had pushed a button to activate lights that flash on the roadway.
The city of Lodi spent $41,000 on the lighted crosswalk, which was completed in March 2005.
The crosswalk is near Lawrence Park, where Bendlin, a transient, frequently spends his days.
The accident remains under investigation.
Abandoned house sustains fire damage
A fire burned some grass, a tree and an abandoned house in the 200 block of North Lincoln Way, up the street from Galt High School, late Wednesday morning.
No one was injured, and the fire didn't spread to three neighboring structures, said Peter Sakaris, a battalion chief for the Galt Fire Protection District. Wilton Fire helped put out the plaze.
Cause of the fire remained under investigation Wednesday, Sakaris said.
Smoking lounges prohibited
The Galt City Council prohibited smoking in lounges and in tobacco shops on Tuesday night.
The restriction was in response to complaints about businesses selling pipes and other smoking paraphernalia that can be used to consume illegal drugs.
The council, however, rejected a proposal to allow smoking lounges in light-manufacturing areas.
Elder abuse suspect released on reduced bail
A Lockeford rancher accused of taking at least $160,000 from an elderly woman in her care was released from custody on bail Wednesday evening.
Jan Ann Johnson Pestana, 44, appeared in San Joaquin County Superior court earlier Wednesday, where a judge lowered her bail from $500,000 to $50,000.
Her husband had been working to post the full amount of bail through a bond agent who collects a 10 percent fee, so prosecutors instead asked that the bail amount be changed to cash-only. The money will be placed in an account and held until the case concludes, said Deputy District Attorney Sherri Adams.
Pestana is charged with 42 felonies and five misdemeanors, accused of misusing money belonging to an 83-year-old woman in her care. Adams said the money went to pay for hay and other supplies at Pestana's Legacy Farms. The farm is not affiliated with Clements-based Legacy Ranch.
Pestana has pleaded not guilty to the charges and her daughter, who said she helped care for the elderly woman, on Wednesday stood by Pestana.
"Everything will come out in the end," said Hillary Houseweart, 18. "I hope the detectives will investigate the real criminals, and I just want the best for (the elderly woman."
Pestana is scheduled to return to court June 29.
Lockeford eyes property for sewage disposal site
In an effort to expand its sewage disposal capacity, the Lockeford Community Services District board will negotiate on Thursday the purchase of the property across from the sewer treatment plant on Tully Road.
The district, which provides water and sewer service for the Lockeford area, must borrow money to buy the land, said board President Mike Henry. However, loan payments will be made solely by developers of new homes, not existing ratepayers, Henry said.
The board will consider an agreement for professional financial services for the land purchase.
Thursday's meeting, most of which will be closed to the public, will begin at 4 p.m. in the Lockeford Community Center's McDonald Building, 19456 N. Jack Tone Road.
Chiropractor to stand trial on fraud charges
After a 15-day preliminary hearing, a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge has ordered a Modesto chiropractor and his two assistants to stand trial on insurance fraud charges.
However, the judge last week threw out 20 of the original 45 felony charges against Wilmer Origel, 46. Robin Barney, 41, and Rebecca Benedict, 46, were ordered to stand trial on 12 charges each, after the judge threw out an additional 18 counts, court records show.
The three were arrested in January 2005 after district attorney investigators alleged that they had fraudulently billed insurers for as much as $10 million. The case involved hundreds of patients, investigators said at the time.
Origel had been out of jail after posting $1 million bail, while Barney and Benedict were out of custody on $300,000 bail each. At their June 15 court appearance, a judge agreed to reduce Origel's bail to $250,000 and set bail at $50,000 each for Barney and Benedict.
All three will return to court Wednesday to be arraigned on charges including unlawfully practicing medicine, grand theft, forgery, conspiracy and workers compensation fraud. A trial could begin as early as October, according to court records.
- From staff and wire reports
First published: Thursday, June 22, 2006