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NEWS FROM ACROSS CALIFORNIA

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POSTED May 19, 2014 8:05 p.m.

• OFFICIALS: ILLEGAL FIRE PIT CAUSED MODESTO BLAZE: MODESTO (AP) — Fire authorities in Modesto say they believe a fast-moving grass fire that damaged or destroyed nine town houses spread from an illegal outdoor fire pit.

Authorities are following up on suspect descriptions as the investigation continues into Friday’s blaze.

Modesto Regional Fire Authority Battalion Chief Hugo Patino said the fire started on the grassy berm of a freeway project frequented by homeless people.

Strong winds and hot weather fueled the blaze, which quickly spread to a row of single-story town houses west of Highway 99.

Patino said three of the structures were destroyed, two were badly damaged and four had minor damage. Three vehicles were also damaged.

Initial estimates put the damage at $1 million, though that number could rise.

The American Red Cross helped at least 17 displaced residents.

 

• EX-TEACHER GETS 23 ½ YEARS FOR CHILD PORN: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Southern California teacher who used the Internet to lure a 14-year-old boy into having sex has been sentenced to 23 ½ years in federal prison.

Prosecutors say 52-year-old John Boyle of Glendora was sentenced Monday. He’d pleaded guilty to producing, possessing and distributing child pornography and using the web to entice a minor into sex.

Boyle was an English teacher and athletic coach at Royal Oak Middle School in Covina. He was arrested last year after being caught in an online sting operation where an undercover agent pretended to be a pedophile.

Authorities say Boyle arranged to meet the agent in his school classroom on a Sunday to watch child porn and have sex.

Investigators say Boyle acknowledged molesting a 14-year-old. The boy wasn’t a student.

 

• DAY AT DISNEYLAND NOW $96: ANAHEIM (AP) — The price of a ticket at Disneyland is creeping closer to triple-digits.

A single-day ticket for either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park is now $96 for those 10 and up.

The $4 hike went into effect Sunday and is about the same as previous boosts, which usually happen about once a year. Single-day ticket prices have more than doubled since 2003.

The cost for annual passes went up too.

A Disneyland statement says the price hikes were brought on by a variety of factors, but the tickets represent a great value given the breadth and quality of attractions and entertainment at the parks.

 

• MAN SENTENCED IN SAN FRANCISCO PRIDE ATTACK: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A man accused of robbing a woman and kicking her in the head in a brutal attack during San Francisco’s gay pride festivities has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Police say surveillance video of the June 30 attack shows 23-year-old Oakland resident Christopher Porter-Bailey kick the woman in the face while she is on the ground, seemingly for no reason. The woman had been robbed of her purse and cellphone.

The woman was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion and other injuries.

A jury convicted Porter-Bailey in February of robbery, assault and battery with serious injury. Prosecutors tell the San Francisco Chronicle a judge sentenced him on Friday to a six-year term

 

• BODY FOUND BY HIKER ON TRAIL NEAR UC BERKELEY: BERKELEY (AP) — Authorities say a body found near a hiking trail that winds above the campus of the University of California, Berkeley is that of a 22-year-old San Francisco Bay Area resident.

The man was identified on Monday as 22-year-old Lorenzo Baltazar-Trujillo, of Concord. It was not immediately known whether he was a UC student.

KTVU-TV reports that a hiker came across his body Sunday afternoon in the brush at the base of a 100-foot cliff near Grizzly Peak.

The victim parked his Honda Civic at the overlook and then apparently hiked down alone. Investigators have not reported any signs of foul play.

In November 2012, a man in his mid-twenties accidentally plunged from the same steep outcropping and died. He was with friends, who told police they had all been drinking.

 

• FATHER ARRESTED AFTER LEAVING BABY IN HOT CAR: VISALIA (AP) — Authorities say an infant is recovering and his father is under arrest after the boy was left in a hot car with the windows rolled up during 90-degree weather in Central California.

KFSN-TV reports a husband and wife found the crying baby inside the locked car parked outside a grocery store in Visalia on Saturday.

The couple called 911 and arriving officers smashed two windows of the car. Emergency medical crews gave the baby electrolytes.

When the boy’s father, 32-year-old David Ruiz, came out of the store he was questioned by police and arrested on suspicion of child endangerment.

Police Sgt. Jim Car says the interior temperature of the vehicle was about 130 degrees.

Investigators say it appears the child was left alone for at least 15 minutes.

The boy was handed over to his mother.

 

• PLAINTIFF IN LA CEMETERY SUIT CRIES FOUL OVER FEES: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A plaintiff in a successful class action lawsuit against a Los Angeles cemetery accused of dumping bodies is crying foul over lawyers’ fees that topped $23 million.

After the lawyers get their money there won’t be enough of the $35 million settlement left for the thousands of family members involved in the lawsuit against Eden Memorial Park, Joseph Naiman said last week in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

Owners of Eden Memorial Park agreed to a settlement in February in the midst of a jury trial, and a Superior Court judge granted preliminary approval.

The lawsuit accused the cemetery in Woodland Hills of damaging burial containers to maximize profits.

Naiman, whose mother was buried at Eden Park, spoke against finalizing the settlement that could affect 25,000 family members because it directs $23.5 million to the attorneys who filed the lawsuit. The amount each family gets will depend on how many claims are filed - 5,000 have been submitted so far.

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