Lodi National Guard unit being deployed overseas
The Lodi unit of the California Army National Guard is being deployed overseas in what one soldier said was the biggest such event in the three years he's been in Lodi.
The first sergeant, who did not want to be identified further, said the unit is heading overseas and mentioned Cuba, though he declined to give specific details.
"It's our time. We are supporting the missions of the U.S. Army," he said.
It was not known how long the troops will be gone and where else they may be sent. The soldier did not say how many people were going, saying he did not want to compromise the safety of troops and their families.
Soldiers in uniform were seen Thursday evening near the National Guard Armory off Lockeford Street. Some were spending time with family members, at least one of whom had apparently been crying. Other soldiers were seen walking to a nearby market.
Inside the armory, some troops ate dinner. Nearby, green military bags were packed and ready to go.
Man to stand trial for possessing stolen bus stop
A former city employee was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on charges of stealing utilities and possession stolen property, including a bus stop.
Matthew Delker, 35, will be arraigned on the charges Sept. 22, according to court records.
Delker was arrested July 30 when city utilities employees arrived at his home to investigate a report that he was stealing utilities after being warned not to, Lodi Police said at the time.
At the home, employees allegedly recognized items that had been stolen from a city maintenance yard, including a large covered bus stop that was apparently being used as a patio.
After a preliminary hearing Wednesday, a judge ruled that there was enough evidence for Delker to stand trial, according to court records.
Police arrest 10 during warrant operation
Lodi police officers searched nine places and arrested 10 people during a Wednesday operation designed as both a training exercise and an effort to find people with warrants.
The goal, said Detective Dale Miller, was to show patrol officers how they can work as a team, rather than solo or in pairs.
After training for about two hours, a total of 17 officers, most of whom usually patrol in the east Lodi area, worked in two groups and conducted searches.
Several people were arrested on outstanding felony warrants, and in one apartment, officers found methamphetamine in plain sight, Miller said.
He considered the operation a success, not only because of the arrests. Officers told him they'd learned from the training, and that it had taught them how to work as a team, he said.
Utility relief program launched
A new program to help low-income residents pay their utility bill launched this month. The Lodi C.A.R.E. (Customer Assistance & Relief on Energy) package is designed to provide eligible residential customers a relief utility bill payment of up to $125 once every six months.
The program is being administered by the city's Electric Utility and the Lodi Salvation Army, and co-sponsored by Central Valley Waste and the Public Works Department. The program, which was approved by Lodi City Council last month, will be administered until available funds run out.
Contact the City of Lodi Electric Utility at 333-6815 for more information.
Council approves installation of ATM at flea market
The Galt City Council approved a two-year agreement to install an automated teller machine at Galt Market. People using the ATM will be charged $3.50. The city of Galt will receive 50 cents per transaction from the 300th to the 1,000th transaction. After that, the city will earn 75 cents per transaction.
Galt's flea market on Caroline Avenue, open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, draws about 750,000 visitors annually. The 10-acre market has 886 vendor spaces.
Firefighters support Flynn for council seat
The "Dixon for Council" campaign has announced that the Lodi Professional Firefighters Local 1225, has formally endorsed Dixon Flynn for Lodi City Council.
Flynn, the city's former city manager, is running against four other candidates for one of two vacant seats. Council members Keith Land and Emily Howard are not seeking re-election.
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Podesto endorsed by California Farm Bureau
The California Farm Bureau has endorsed Stockton Mayor Gary Podesto in his quest to unseat 5th Senate District incumbent Michael Machado, D-Linden.
The state Farm Bureau represents more than 90,000 members statewide.
Podesto, a Republican, was elected mayor of Stockton in 1996 and re-elected in 2000.
U.S. military academies to hold information meetings
There will be informational meetings held in Danville and Stockton next week for high school juniors and seniors interested in applying to a U.S. military academy next year.
Representatives will present information on applying to each academy and answer questions from attendees.
In addition, Congressional Academy Nomination application information will be available. Candidates seeking a congressional nomination must participate in an interview panel of military officials and citizens from the 11th Congressional District.
Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, represents that district.
Academies represented include the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force.
The Danville meeting will be held on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Danville Veteran's Memorial Hall, 400 Hartz Ave. The Stockton meeting will be held on Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Karl Ross Post, 2020 Plymouth Road.
For more information, call 951-3091.
Judge refuses to dropcharges against Nesler
SONORA -- William Nesler, who allegedly beat a disabled neighbor to death shortly after serving a prison term for striking the same victim, argued through his lawyers that the charges should be dropped for lack of evidence, since the body was cremated.
Nesler, who has a long criminal record, became known nationally 11 years ago when his mother, Ellie Nesler, gunned down his accused molester in a courtroom. He became a fugitive after his neighbor's death in July, then surrendered to police last month.
On Wednesday, his lawyers argued that murder charges in the death of David Edward Davis should be dropped because Davis' body could not be examined for more evidence, since his body was cremated after it was released to a funeral home with the approval of a prosecutor.
Nesler's attorney, Brian Chavez-Ochoa, said the Tuolumne County district attorney should have preserved the body as evidence. It was cremated at the request of Davis' family.
Judge William G. Polley rejected the defense request Wednesday, and will determine later this month if there is enough evidence against Nesler, 23, for him to stand trial in the death of Davis, 45. The next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 22.
Condit settles suit with tabloids over Chandra Levy stories
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Former Rep. Gary Condit, who represented the Modesto area in Congress for more than 16 years, has settled a libel lawsuit he filed against three tabloid newspapers.
Condit claimed in the $209 million suit that American Media Inc., which publishes National Enquirer, Star and Globe, had ruined his reputation and career.
The suit concerned articles written about Condit's alleged relationship with Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old Modesto woman whose remains were found in Washington, D.C. park a year after her death. An investigation showed she was a homicide victim, but no one was ever charged.
Police in the District of Columbia have said repeatedly that Condit is not a suspect in Levy's disappearance.
But Condit's attorney said the three newspapers whipped up a "media frenzy" over Levy's disappearance, and her connection to Condit, with headlines like "Missing Intern was Pregnant! Her Final Showdown with Congressman!" and "Condit Did It: Secrets of Chandra's Last Hours Revealed."
The Aug. 18 settlement was confirmed by Katharine Cloud, a Tennessee-based attorney for American Media, but she gave no additional details.
Condit's attorney, L. Lin Wood, said only that, "My client is satisfied with the settlement."
The terms and conditions of the settlement are confidential, attorneys said.
Author Dominick Dunne is the last remaining target of a Condit defamation lawsuit. The suit against him involve speculations he offered about the case. Dunne and Condit are scheduled to be deposed later this month.
-- From staff and wire reports.
Feds suing owner of medical marijuana shop
SACRAMENTO -- Federal prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against a Roseville medical marijuana shop owner to force him to forfeit his home and business.
The suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court followed a raid Friday by federal drug agents who seized 500 marijuana plants, 20 pounds of marijuana and $105,000 from Richard Marino's business and home.
"I'm kind of in a state of shock right now," Marino said. "I had no idea this was coming."
Marino said he would fight the forfeiture and said he was complying with state law that allows growing and selling marijuana for medical purposes.
The state's law conflicts with federal law, which says it is illegal to sell marijuana for any purpose. Under federal law, property used or intended to be used to violate drug laws can be seized.
The federal law has been thrown into question after two 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rulings said federal authorities cannot target noncommercial marijuana operations in the state. Those cases have been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
After the raid last week, Marino reopened for business on Saturday and the Drug Enforcement Administration said it couldn't stop him.
"I'm kinda getting mixed messages," Marino said. "They don't file charges against me. I open the next day. And now all of this has transpired."
Richard Meyer, special agent in the DEA's San Francisco division, said a new strategy is to seize assets from drug sales.
Fight near high school ends with shots fired
FAIRFIELD -- A fight near a high school led to gunfire that sprayed parked cars and one bullet hit a classroom.
Students were shaken up but no injuries were reported Wednesday afternoon at Sem Yeto High School.
Police said a man near the school was arguing with occupants of three parked cars. Another man with a gun emerged from the apartment complex and began shooting at the cars before retreating to the building. The cars sped away.
One of the bullets passed through a wall at the school, smashed a metal window frame and ricocheted into a light fixture. Six students and a teacher in the classroom dove to the floor to take cover, one parent said.
The shooting was under investigation. Students were not believed to be involved.