Robbery suspect to face more charges
A man who allegedly robbed eight stores, including three in Lodi, was arraigned Thursday on one count of armed robbery, but authorities say more charges are coming.
Alex Gabriel Rodriguez, 20, of Isleton, appeared in Stockton court Thursday, where he did not enter a plea to one count of armed robbery and a gun enhancement that carries an additional 10-year prison sentence. A judge set bail at $500,000, according to court records.
Jail records, however, show that he is being held on nearly $2 million bail. Sheriff's deputies and Lodi Police detectives believe Rodriguez committed eight robberies between Aug. 29 and Sept. 9.
In seven of the incidents, the suspect was armed with a laser-equipped gun and ordered employees to place cash in a pillowcase he supplied. He did not get cash in one Lodi robbery, where he fired shots as the market owner ran out the door, police said.
Rodriguez was scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Lodi on the local charges, but prosecutors have decided to consolidate it into one case, Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Wellenbrock said Friday.
Rodriguez will appear in court again Tuesday.
In addition to the San Joaquin County robbery charges, Stanislaus County prosecutors are also investigating Rodriguez in connection with an incident that led to a shoot-out with Turlock police.
A warrant has been issued in that case, according to jail records.
Baby formula theft suspect sent to prison
An Oakland man has been sentenced to 16 months in state prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than $500 worth of baby formula from Safeway in Lodi. Antoine Green, 30, was arrested Aug. 30 with his twin sister and their mother after a citizen followed them from the West Kettleman Lane store and stayed on the telephone with police dispatchers until officers caught up.
Green, a wanted parolee who had a warning in his file that he could be armed and dangerous, was jailed without bail.
On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced and also fined $351, according to Lodi court records.
Three men to stand trial on kidnapping charges
Three Lodi men were ordered Thursday to stand trial in connection with an August incident in which a man was allegedly kidnapped, imprisoned and assaulted. Eduardo Alberto Blanco, 36, Jose Jimenez DeLaCruz, 19, and Eduardo Blanco, 41, are each charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment. Eduardo Blanco is also charged with assault. The three were arrested Aug. 10 after allegedly kidnapping Francisco Jimenez, 50, of Lodi, the night before and demanding money from him, Lodi Police said at the time.
The District Attorney's Office dismissed the case Aug. 31, then refiled it.
On Thursday, a Lodi judge ruled that there is enough evidence for the men to stand trial, according to court records.
They will be arraigned in Stockton court Sept. 30, and each remains jailed on $150,000 bail.
No campaign signs allowed at General Mills
Lodi City Council candidates have until Monday morning to remove their campaign signs from General Mills' private property at Mills Avenue and Turner Road.
It is the first time the Minneapolis-based company has banned the signs, according to one council candidate.
A Lodi company representative could not be reached for comment Friday.
California Coastal Clean-up at Lodi Lake
Civic-minded Lodians are encouraged to come out to Lodi Lake today from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. to participate in the second annual California Coastal Clean-up project, organized in Lodi by the San Joaquin County Public Works department.
Volunteers will be assigned to help clean up either the Lodi Lake, Mokelumne River or Woodbridge Regional Park area.
Garbage will be picked up, bagged and brought to the Lodi Lake Discovery Center for documentation. California Waste Removal Systems has donated a 20-yard bin for the event.
"It's the grossest thing you can imagine," said Kathy Grant from the Public Works department of the trash sorting. But, she added, kids just love digging through the guck.
After all contents have been collected, a submission will be made to a statewide contest for the "most unusual item found by a volunteer."
Interested participants need to sign a liability release form and bring a pair of work gloves if they have them. The first 40 people who show up will receive "Mokelumne River Clean-up" buttons, provided by Kathy and Jay Bell.
For more information on the Coastal Clean-up project, visit www.coastforyou.org or call Kathy Grant at 327-2063.
Skate Park's fate could be decided next week
City officials will meet early next week to decide if the skate park will be re-opened or closed permanently.
The park, which originally opened in June of 2002 at Kofu Park on Ham Lane, has been closed for the past three months after the City Council decided to make the park a skate-at-your-own-risk facility.
Since the city must carry liability insurance to operate a skate-at-your-own risk site, the park has yet to re-open.
At the Wednesday's council meeting Mayor Larry Hansen asked that the matter be taken care of quickly because it has gone on long enough.
Kirk Evans, Lodi's risk manager, will meet with Interim City Manager Janet Keeter and Parks and Recreation Director Tony Goehring.
"We want to come to a final resolution," Keeter said. "Essentially the city will either open the park or shut it down for good."
Stockton City Council members endorse Flynn
Lodi City Council candidate Dixon Flynn has been endorsed by Stockton City Council members Gary Giovanetti and Larry Ruhstaller. Just this week, the Lodi council voted to sue Stockton over expanding onto property around Lodi's wastewater treatment plant.
Flynn is seeking a seat in this November's two-seat race. Council members Keith Land and Emily Howard, who also endorsed the former city manager, are not seeking re-election.