Local/Breaking News

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Store owner and manager acquitted in catalytic converter case

Erik Brown

Erik Brown

SACRAMENTO, CA – Two men who were arrested in 2013 for purchasing stolen catalytic converters out of Firehouse Mufflers in Sacramento have been acquitted on all charges.

According to a press release, Erik Brown the former owner of Firehouse Mufflers was acquitted on Friday July 31, 2015 of all 15 charges against him.

The press release goes on to say that after the verdict, Judge Ernest Sawtelle noted that this was the first time in his career that he had given an instruction advising jurors that the police and district attorney’s office had deliberately withheld information from the defense. The press release did not go into details as to what information was withheld.

At the time of Brown’s arrest in September 2013, the case received widespread attention due to the high incidence of catalytic converter thefts in the area. Officers had laid out a number of supposedly stolen catalytic converters in the work bay of Firehouse Mufflers. However, not a single catalytic converter could be shown to have been stolen and Brown had documentation to back up the validity of the converters.

According to the Sacramento Police Department, the arrests were a result of a yearlong investigation by the department’s Metal Theft Task Force in which supposed stolen catalytic converters were purchased by the business from undercover officers.

According to police, multiple undercover operations were performed where supposed stolen catalytic converters were purchased in the beginning of 2013 by the business from undercover officers, leading to the arrest of Brown and the shop’s manager, 50-year-old William Lorch. Both subjects were charged with attempting to buy/receive stolen property.

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Roseville PD is looking for these two . . .

surveillance photo of suspects

surveillance photo of suspects

ROSEVILLE, CA – Roseville Police are looking for your help in locating two people believed to be responsible for a recent burglary of an optometry business on Sierra College Boulevard.   The burglars broke into the store at approximately 4:45 a.m. August 20, and took a large amount of merchandise.

The first suspect is a white male who appears to be in his late 20s, with a shaved head and a bushy reddish-brown beard.  He’s about 5’8” tall, has a medium build, and was wearing a black baseball cap, a black t-shirt with white writing on it (it said something about coffee), and long gray shorts.

The second suspect was a white woman in her early 20s, with dark-blonde hair pulled up in a bun.  She is about 5’5” tall and 125 pounds, and was wearing a white short-sleeved top with a scooped back, a short black skirt, and has a large round tattoo on her upper back.

Roseville Police also released a surveillance photo of a truck that was involved in the burglary.  It’s a white extended cab pickup, possibly a Ford, with a light bar or running lights on the cab and (possibly) dually tires.  It has a business logo on the door.  If anyone recognizes either of these people or the truck, Roseville detectives want to hear from you – call detectives at (916)746-1075.

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Homemade bomb explodes at a Roseville middle school

Police-lightsROSEVILLE, CA – A homemade bomb exploded Friday morning at a middle school in Roseville California.

According to Roseville Police, at 6:42 a.m this morning, a custodian at Warren T. Eich Middle School was near a homemade bomb when it detonated. The custodian was not injured in the incident.

The device was located on the schools main Sierra Gardens Drive campus. A second homemade device was found near the dumpsters, and Roseville Police Explosive Ordinance Disposal officers rendered it safe.

Both homemade devices were made from common household cleaning products. A search of the campus was conducted, and no other devices or hazards were found.   Students were kept off campus until that sweep was conducted, but then were allowed on campus.

Although no hazards were found, a Roseville Police officer will remain on campus throughout the school day to ensure safety. Roseville Police detectives are on scene and working with school officials to investigate the incident. If anyone has any information about who might have placed the devices, please call Roseville Police detectives at (916)774-5070.


Tuscany Retreat – a bed and breakfast review

June 2015: Ruth and Randy and Ruth's first visit to Italy and Sant' Andrea Di Compito to meet the Orsi side of the family.

Sant’ Andrea Di Compito is nestled in the hills south of Lucca

Charming, welcoming and friendly are all words you could use to describe the Tuscany Retreat Bed and Breakfast that’s nestled in the hills of Tuscany, but words alone can’t describe the feeling you get when you first arrive in the small village of Sant’ Andrea Di Compito, located just 20 minutes from the walled city of Lucca, and centrally located to many popular tourist destinations such as Florence, Cinque Terre, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and more.

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Ancient watchtower used to signal the city of Lucca in case of danger

Ancient watchtower used to signal the city of Lucca in case of danger

The medieval village of Sant’ Andrea Di Compito is the very essence of Tuscany with lush green hills covered with olive groves and vineyards, stone buildings dating back hundreds of years, ancient towers and a way of life that has changed little over time. Residents still to this day continue to get their drinking water from springs in the area, as they did hundreds of years ago. The villages in the area are located on an ancient pilgrim road called the via di San Colombano.

As you approach Sant’ Andrea Di Compito from the western valley (Pisa and the Mediterranean Sea) you can’t help but notice the ancient watchtower that was once used to signal the city of Lucca of possible attacks from neighboring Pisa. The tower was one of many watchtowers used by the Republic of Lucca. Still visible today is a metal basket that was used to signal the city of Lucca of impending danger. This was accomplished by burning materials such as hay or other material in the basket and sending smoke signals. The tower is made entirely of Guamo stone, which is produced in the region.

Roads are painfully narrow

Roads are painfully narrow

Driving to the Tuscany Retreat you quickly realize why everyone drives compact cars since some of the streets funnel down to a single lane road. Parking is at a premium in the village and while there is parking near the bed and breakfast, it is a short walk to the retreat.

When we arrived at the Tuscany Retreat Bed and Breakfast, we were greeted by the owner and operator, Alda Orsi Jorgenson. Alda, along with her family, has tirelessly restored the family villa, which has been in the family for over 300 years.

June 2015: Ruth and Randy and Ruth's first visit to Italy and Sant' Andrea Di Compito to meet the Orsi side of the family.

Ahhh . . . The sounds of peacocks in the morning!

The villa has been completely renovated and the décor is nothing short of amazing. During our stay the air conditioner was a welcome amenity since the area was undergoing a pretty intense heat wave. We stayed in Tarella’s Suite located in the south wing of the first floor (in Italy the first floor is what we Americans call the second floor).

During our stay we would be greeted in the morning to the sounds of the local church bells as well as the sound of a lone male peacock, who has apparently lost his way and appears to be happy just hanging out in the neighborhood.

The always accommodating Alda would race down to the local bakery every morning for some hot pastries fresh out of the oven. I say race, since there was another bed and breakfast operator in the area and the two of them would always compete to see who would arrive first at the bakery – Alda lost many of those races to Bill since we kept her up until all hours of the night talking about family, friends and all the things we had planned for the next day. Alda was an encyclopedia of knowledge about the area and would let us know the best way to travel into an area and, more importantly, things not to miss.

June 2015: Randy and Ruth's first visit to Italy and Sant' Andrea Di Compito to meet the Orsi side of the family.

Tuscany Retreat’s piazza – complete with stone oven and barbecue (upper left)

See more photos of Italy

After a long day of traveling and doing the tourist thing, we were able to unwind with a glass of local wine, a bit of crema di limoncello. We would visit with the locals at Pizzaria Tre Tigli and on the weekends we would eat at a wonderful restaurant called La Baita. They have great food and a wonderful owner named Bruno who entertains guests – Bruno is hilarious in any language. However, most nights we simply hung out in the piazza at Alda’s villa, sipping on wine and drinking more crema di limoncello.

Pizzaria Tre Tigli

Pizzaria Tre Tigli

Our trip to the territory of Capannori in Tuscany was not just a vacation, but a hunt for our relatives who were also from Sant’ Andrea Di Compito. Alda was instrumental in introducing us to my cousin Angelo Bartelena and his family. Angelo also helps manage the Frantoio La Visona in Pieve Di Compito and we were lucky enough to go on a tour with a group or Rick Steve’s tourists that were visiting the Frantoio. The Frantoio is a cooperative of small growers and lovers of traditional olive oil processing, which is accomplished with the old system of grinding the olives with millstones and squeezing strictly by cold press, which helps retain the natural fragrance and flavor of the olive juice.

Bruno - Owner and operator of La Baita

Bruno – Owner and operator of La Baita

Some readers from the Northern California area may recognize the family name of Orsi. Alda grew up in the Sacramento area and attended Roseville High School in Northern California and her family used to manufacture and sell extra virgin olive oil under the name Orsi Olive Oil. You can still see old empty cans of Orsi Olive oil in some restaurants in the area, including the Red Barn restaurant chain.

Since we rented a car we were able to venture out into the Tuscany region at our leisure. While I enjoyed driving in Italy, it’s not for the faint of heart. They have traffic cameras for speeding cars as well as stop lights. There are also limited traffic zones in popular tourist areas that carry a stiff fine when caught, which is usually by camera. You may not even realize you got a ticket until several weeks after you get back home. I would recommend purchasing a Nuvi 2559 with maps for both America and Europe. I downloaded points of interest that would warn me as I approached an area known to have had a camera in the past.

One of the many fountains in the Tuscany region.

One of the many fountains in the Tuscany region.

There are tour guides you can hire that will drive you around the region while providing little tidbits of information along the way. We took advantage of one such tour guide, Catia Pardini, who was raised in California and has been living in Italy for the past 30 years. She speaks fluent English and Italian and was extremely knowledgeable of the area. Her and her husband Stefano also manage the local restaurant in Sant’ Andrea Di Compito, the Pizzaria Tre Tigli.

Mill used at the Frantoio to extract olive oil

Mill used at the Frantoio to extract olive oil

The Tuscany Retreat is centrally located with the Mediterranean and all of its beautiful beaches only 30 minutes west and Florence an hour to the east. The walled City of Lucca is only 6 km from the village with Pisa and the Piazza di Miracoli only 20 minutes away.

Just behind Sant’ Andrea Di Compito sits Monte Sera where you can view the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Mediterranean Sea. From our location we were able to take day trips to a number of areas including Florence, Volterra, San Gimignano, Viareggio, Cinque Terre and more.

Many people traveling to Italy are looking for a centrally located place to stay where they can take day trips to the many areas within Tuscany and northern Italy. Sant’ Andrea Di Compito is definitely one of those prime locations and is centrally located. I would highly recommend staying at the Tuscany Retreat if you are interested in visiting any of the areas in and around Tuscany, including the coastal communities along the Italian Riviera.

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Rewind Fest returns to Thunder Valley Casino

11036623_385003315031250_8969011190701573968_nThe Rewind Fest 2015 is headed to Thunder Valley Casino Resort on September 5 at 6 p.m., featuring some of your favorite bands from the 80s including The Psychedelic Furs, The Tubes, A Flock of Seagulls, Dramarama and more!

Read: Rewind to the 80s at Thunder Valley

This year’s show is bound to be filled with even more excitement than previous years with English rock band The Psychedelic Furs headlining this powerful lineup. Founding members and brothers, Richard and Tim Butler will be bringing their original hits such as “Love My Way,” “The Ghost in You” and “Pretty in Pink.”

San Francisco based band The Tubes will be bringing their always popular and oft times irreverent performance to this year’s Rewind Fest. While The Tubes are rooted in the 70s their popularity carried well into the 80s with hits such as “White Punks on Dope” and “She’s a Beauty.”

The Grammy Award winning A Flock of Seagulls makes their way to Thunder Valley from England bringing their string of international hit singles including “I Ran (So Far Away),” “Space Age Love Song,” “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You),” and “The More You Live, the More You Love.” and they became notable in the 1980s for their video for “I Ran (So Far Away)”.

Dramarama will be playing their hits including “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” and “Last Cigarette” “Haven’t Got a Clue.”

Bow Wow Wow will also be performing their hits such as “I Want Candy” and “Sexy Eiffel Tower.”

WorldOne Presents will be donating $2 from every ticket to the Easter Seals. They are hoping to double their donations from last year’s Rewind Fest. Easter Seals provides exceptional services, education, outreach and advocacy so that people living with autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities can live, learn, work and play in our communities.

For more information and to get your tickets to this or any other show at Thunder Valley Casino’s Summer Concert Series click here.

Read: Thunder Valley kicks off their 2015 summer concert series

Ludacris is a complete entertainer



Now one of the most consistent and recognizable voices in hip-hop, Ludacris’s origins are those of a man just trying to make it in music. In fact, unlike today’s artists who are so frequently “discovered” by celebrity performers or by communities online, Ludacris pursued music much in the way anyone pursues an ordinary job: he got an internship at a radio station in Atlanta. The rest, of course, is history. With a strong discography and endless amount of hits, Ludacris has been a constant in the music industry.

But that doesn’t mean nothing has changed in the past 15 years or so since Luda arrived on the scene. Like many other artists, he ultimately started dabbling in other forms of entertainment, and the result is that he’s became one of the most dynamic and complete entertainers in the business.

The rapper has always shown an entrepreneurial spirit. Instead of simply channeling it into investments, he seems to have taken a liking to partnering with brands and products relevant to his fans. Most notably, Ludacris co-owns Conjure Cognac, marketed as a sort of high-end club spirit, and he’s also been responsible for a line of headphones called Soul By Ludacris. He’s had other business ventures and endorsements as well, but these are side projects he’s managed to use to bolster his image as an entertainer and major name in hip-hop.

Over the years, Ludacris has also connected with various fan bases through his evident love of casino games. Ever since InterCasino launched as the first major online casino back in 1996, a lot of celebrities have taken advantage of Internet gambling as a way to enjoy the activity without dealing with crowds. The original site provides a range of games that mimics the content of a true casino, so it’s a natural online haven for those seeking privacy—and Ludacris is known to be an online poker player. However, he’s also not one to shy away from poker and gambling in actual casinos. A few years back a photo of Ludacris playing blackjack with Tommy Lee made the rounds online, and since then he’s appeared at numerous casino events. He even had poker pro Phil Hellmuth appear at a poker table in the music video for “Sex Room!”

Beyond conducting side ventures in business or dabbling in celebrity poker, Ludacris has made a significant name for himself in film. His first major role was alongside Paul Walker in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and he ultimately became a key cast member in the Fast & Furious franchise. But Luda also appeared in CrashHustle & Flow, and No Strings Attached, among other projects. An emotional turn as part of the family of actors mourning the death of Walker in Furious 7 showed that Ludacris has come a long way as an actor, to the point that he probably has as much of a future on screen as in the recording booth.

All of this, and he’s still producing music. “Ludaversal,” the ninth studio album from Ludacris, was released in late March and got decent reviews even with Ludacris seemingly more focused on Fast & Furious obligations than music of late. Rolling Stone gave the album three stars, capping its review with the phrase, “Atlanta rap wild man hits middle age, stays potent.”

Maybe that’s the best way to describe Ludacris at this point. He just stays potent—no matter what he does or how long he does it. And at this point, that has made him one of the most complete entertainers.

Thunder Valley Casino kicks off their Summer Concert Series

LINCOLN, CA – June 6: Cheap Trick performs at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in in Lincoln, California on June 6, 2015

LINCOLN, CA – Thunder Valley Casino Resort kicked off their 2015 Summer Concert Series in style on Saturday in what is shaping up to be the biggest concert season to date.

Leading off the 2015 Summer Concert Series at Thunder Valley Casino was legendary guitarist Peter Frampton, who was joined by the always entertaining rockers Cheap Trick.

LINCOLN, CA – June 6: Cheap Trick performs at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in in Lincoln, California on June 6, 2015

Cheap Trick

As the crowd gathered into Thunder Valley’s 5,000 seat outdoor amphitheater the skies were dark, as lightening could be seen off in the distance. Many wondered whether or not the show would be canceled due to the looming clouds overhead. Just prior to the show, which was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., there were a few sprinkles, but that was it. The evening was comfortably balmy with a slight breeze.

Cheap Trick

Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick

Thunder Valley reconfigured the amphitheater this season to accommodate larger crowds, eliminating the side bleachers. Because the side bleachers were removed the venue felt roomier, even with a sold out crowd.

Guitarist Frank Hannon, of the rock band Tesla was on-hand to take in Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton’s performance. Shortly after the show Hannon performed on the main stage in the casino.

The crowd was on their feet as the first band of the 2015 Summer Concert Series took the stage. Cheap Trick’s original band members Robin Zander (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar) and Tom Petersson (bass guitar) were joined by Nielsen’s son Daxx Nielsen (drums). Starting off their set with “Hello There” and “Come On, Come On,” they had the crowd on their feet.

LINCOLN, CA – June 6: Peter Frampton performs at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in in Lincoln, California on June 6, 2015

Peter Frampton

The ever quirky Rick Nielsen was decked out in an outfit reminiscence of Huntz Hall of The Bowery Boys, and his constant changing out of guitars, of all shapes and sizes, had the audience captivated. Nielsen brought everyone to their feet when he pulled out the big guns, his 5-neck guitar made by Hamer Guitars, as the band finished their set with “Goodnight.”

Peter Frampton started his performance off with “Somethings Happening” and “Doobie Wah,” as fans cheered him on. The 65-year-old Frampton really got the crowd’s attention as soon as he struck up the first notes to “Show Me the Way,” with the crowd jumping to their feet.

Frampton was unable to perform his complete set, cutting “Off the Hook,” from the set as he performed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” for his encore.

LINCOLN, CA – June 6: Peter Frampton performs at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in in Lincoln, California on June 6, 2015

Peter Frampton

Thunder Valley Casino’s 2015 Summer Concert Series is shaping up to be the biggest ever, offering a variety of entertainment with comedian Brian Regan in June, country music legend Willie Nelson in July and Thunder Valley’s first annual Thunder Vibes Reggae Festival in September. And let’s not forget the ever popular 80’s Rewind festival featuring the Psychedelic Furs!

Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s 2015 Summer Concert Series lineup:

Jun 6, 2015 – Saturday @ 7pm Peter Frampton & Cheap Trick
Jun 12, 2015 – Friday @ 7pm 311 with Pepper
Jun 13, 2015 – Saturday @ 7pm Tesla with Y&T
Jun 19, 2015 – Friday @ 7pm George Thorogood and The Destroyers / Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot
Jun 20, 2015 – Saturday @ 6pm Summer Jam 2015 w/Bell Biv Devoe, Blackstreet, Naughty by Nature & more
Jun 26, 2015 – Friday @ 8pm Brian Regan
Jul 11, 2015 – Saturday @ 7pm Alejandra Guzman Y Camila
Jul 17, 2015 – Friday @ 7pm Willie Nelson w/Allison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas
Jul 24, 2015 – Friday @ 8pm Russell Peters
Jul 25, 2015 – Saturday @ 7pm Alice in Chains
Jul 31, 2015 – Friday @ 7pm Huey Lewis and the New w/Eddie Money
Aug 15, 2015 – Saturday @ 6pm Funk Fest 2015 w/George Clinton, Maze w/Frankie Beverly and Kurtis Blow
Aug 21, 2015 – Friday @ 8pm George Lopez
Aug 22, 2015 – Saturday @ 7pm Boyz II Men and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds
Aug 29, 2015 – Saturday @ 7pm 3 Doors Down
Sep 5, 2015 – Saturday @ 5pm Rewind Fest 2015 w/Psychedelic Furs, The Tubes, A Flock of Seagulls, Dramarama and more
Sep 10, 2015 – Thursday @ 7pm ZZ Top with Blackberry Smoke
Sep 11, 2015 – Friday @ 7pm Paul Rodgers with John Kay and Steppenwolf
Sep 12, 2015 – Saturday @ 6pm Block Party with Kool and the Gang and more
Sep 18, 2015 – Friday @ 7pm Heart with special guest
Sept 19, 2015 – Saturday @ 3pm Thunder Vibes Reggae Festival
Sept 25, 2015 – Friday @ 7pm Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs
Sep 26, 2015 – Saturday @ 7:30pm Chicago’s Heart and Soul Tour


89-year-old husband arrested for murder

Masaharu Ono Sacramento County Sheriff

Masaharu Ono
Sacramento County Sheriff

SACRAMENTO, CA – An 89-year-old man was arrested yesterday for the murder of his 85-year-old wife.

According to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, deputies responded to a call in the 8600 block of Florin Road after Masaharu Ono contacted deputies to inform them that his wife, Hiroko Ono, had died.

After a preliminary investigation by the Sacramento County Coroner, it was determined Hiroko had injuries which contributed to her death and were suspicious in nature.

The Sheriff’s Homicide team responded and through the course of their investigation, they determined that Masaharu was responsible for Hiroko’s death.

Ono was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail where he is currently being held without the possibility of bail.

Pedestrian killed in hit-and-run on Marconi identified

Area of deadly hit and run Google Maps

Area of deadly hit and run
Google Maps

SACRAMENTO, CA – The pedestrian who was struck and killed Wednesday morning on Marconi Avenue has been identified.

According to the Sacramento Coroner’s website, 54-year-old Stephen Vuletich was the victim in Wednesday’s deadly hit-and-run.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the deadly hit-and-run crash occurred just before 7 a.m. Wednesday, on Marconi Avenue near Calderwood Lane.

Apparently a driver struck Vuletich and then fled the scene in what was described as a small red sedan with major damage to the front right fender.

Vuletich died at the scene. So far no arrests have been made in connection to the hit and run.

8 youths arrested in string of vehicle break-ins

Police-lightsROSEVILLE, CA – Eight minors were arrested early Thursday morning after a string of vehicle break-ins.

According to the Roseville Police Department, they received a number of calls Wednesday night into Thursday morning to report a suspicious white van in the Cirby area. According to callers there were a number of people inside the van breaking into cars.

Arriving officers were able to locate the van near Vernon Street and Lyndhurst Avenue after another caller reported seeing the suspicious van in that area.

There were eight minors in the vehicle ranging from elementary school-age to high school-age. When officers approached the van, all eight fled on foot. However, officers were able to apprehend all eight by 4 a.m. Thursday morning. All eight suspects were from North Highlands.

At least one of the suspects may have been armed, ditching what appeared to be a hand gun while officers were in pursuit. There was at least one report that the gun was a replica, but that has not been confirmed.

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