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NEWS FROM ACROSS CALIFORNIA

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POSTED April 15, 2014 7:13 p.m.

• FORMER FIRE CHIEF PLEADS NO CONTEST TO RADIO THEFT: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Southern California fire chief has pleaded no contest to stealing more than $300,000 of radio equipment to sell on eBay and setting a fire in a bungled attempt to hide the theft.

Los Angeles County prosecutors say former Compton Battalion Chief Marcel Dione Melanson entered the no contest plea Tuesday to arson and embezzlement. He’ll be sentenced to three years and four months in prison and must make restitution.

Authorities say Melanson stole nearly 100 city-owned radios and sold many of them. They also say Melanson set fire to radio equipment in 2011 in a failed attempt to cover up the theft.

 

• YOUTH BASEBALL COACH SENTENCED FOR MOLESTATION: MARTINEZ (AP) — A judge has sentenced a longtime San Francisco Bay Area youth baseball coach convicted of molesting children to nearly 11 years in prison.

 Joel Kaufman, 53, was sentenced Monday after he pleaded guilty to four counts of felony child molestation.

Kaufman had coached at Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School and Palo Alto High School in addition to having led Little League and youth traveling teams.

The abuse for which Kaufman was convicted occurred from 2005-2012, though during the investigation numerous accusers came forward detailing abuse over a 30-year period.

 

• UTILITY PLANS JOB CUT: LOS ANGELES (AP) — One of California’s largest utilities is poised to cut hundreds of jobs.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Southern California Edison is planning the reductions as it streamlines operations and outsources some operations.

Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles tells the newspaper Edison plans to cut 500 employees and as many as 500 contract workers beginning this summer. The figures were provided by Senate consultants.

Most of the layoffs would be at Edison’s office complex east of Los Angeles. A labor official told the Times the cuts do not involve unionized workers.

The company has about 14,000 workers.

 

• GAS SMELL PROMPTS EVACUATION OF ALHAMBRA SCHOOL: ALHAMBRA (AP) — Classes have resumed at Alhambra High School following an evacuation prompted by a report of a gas smell.

Police and fire officials along with a hazmat crew swept the campus as a precaution Tuesday morning.

In a post on its Facebook page, Alhambra police said nothing was found that would indicate a critical or hazardous situation existed.

Students gathered for several hours on a campus ball field after someone reported smelling gas in a classroom before school started. They were let back inside around 10 a.m.

During the evacuation police limited traffic on the streets surrounding the suburban school east of Los Angeles.

 

• SWIMMER DIES OFF HUNTINGTON BEACH: HUNTINGTON BEACH (AP) — Authorities say a swimmer has died after being pulled from the water off Orange County.

Emergency crews responded to the Sunset Beach area north of Huntington Beach around 6 p.m. Monday following reports from lifeguards about a missing swimmer.

The swimmer was located and pulled from the water before being taken to a hospital.

 

• MAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY IN 2008 SWORD SLAYING: LANCASTER, (AP) — A man has pleaded not guilty to killing his girlfriend with a sword in front of her four children in Lancaster nearly six years ago.

City News Service says 34-year-old Jesus Canales entered his plea Monday to charges including murder and child abuse.

Canales, who was profiled on the television show “America’s Most Wanted: America Fights Back,” eluded capture until last November. He was tracked down by Mexican authorities in the town of Jalisco and turned over to U.S. marshals.

The El Salvador native is accused of killing 26-year-old Lucy Preciado with a sword at her Lancaster apartment in 2008. Preciado’s then-9-year-old daughter called 911 to plead for help for her wounded mother.

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