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POSTED March 29, 2013 9:39 p.m.

I-5 TRUCK ACCIDENTS IN LATHROP, STOCKTON: LATHROP  - A Fed Ex truck overturned in a ditch off the side of Interstate 5 in Stockton Friday morning, forcing the closure of one lane for an extended period.

According to California Highway Patrol reports, the truck overturned on the northbound side of I-5 near the Eight Mile Rd. offramp around 12:31 a.m.

The number three lane was closed to offload and upright  the truckr, and remained so through 5:15 a.m.

The incident was the second in less than an hour on Friday. 

Another big rig overturned at Lathrop Rd. on I-5 south in Lathrop at 1:25 a.m.

The accident was cleared by 6:45 a.m., according to CHP.

No injuries were reported in either incident.

STOCKTON, LODI SCHOOLS OFFERING UKULELE LESSONS: STOCKTON  (AP) — Two Central Valley schools are offering kids ukulele lessons — with no strings attached.

Dennis Yamamoto is teaching introductory classes at Ansel Adams Elementary School in Stockton and Borchardt Elementary in Lodi.

He says the school district provided 30 ukuleles.

Yamamoto says the four-stringed instrument brings, in his words, 'a lot of joy." He's hoping some kids will be inspired to continue lessons.

POLICE ARREST 12 IN MODESTO FOR ILLEGAL GAMBLING: MODESTO, Calif. (AP) — Modesto police arrested 12 people at two businesses that authorities say were fronts for illegal gambling operations.

Local and state authorities on Thursday raided the businesses, Andthen.com and LinkNet, which had advertised as an Internet cafe and a computer services company.

Sgt. Ivan Valencia told the newspaper that neither business was offering the services they advertised, and were instead allowing people to gamble at all hours.

Detectives seized 63 computers and $8,000 in cash.

The raid came after neighbors complained about public intoxication, fights and gang activity around the businesses.

Neighbor Nancy Breshears applauded the police, saying people were afraid to go to nearby businesses because of the people who hung out at the alleged gambling parlors.

CHAMABER OPPOSES STOCKON SALES TAX HIKE: STOCKTON  - The Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter to Mayor Anthony Silva and the rest of the council urging their business be done in public.

The letter comes in response to Silva's announcement this week that he wants to raise Stockton's sales tax to fund 100 additional police officers. While no one from the police department or city council was present at the press conference, other Stockton business leaders showed their support for the plan. Silva said Tuesday the $18 million raised each year could only be used for public safety.

"It is widely known that there are those, out of public view, fronting either tax increases or other unknown solutions that must see the light of day and full public review," wrote chamber president Gary Long and past president Rick Goucher.

"Most distressing is that the six elected members of the Stockton City Council and city staff have been totally kept in the dark and no honest effort has been made to include them in the process," the letter continued.

Opponents of the tax plan, like City Manager Bob Deis and business leader Fritz Grupe, have said raising taxes while the city is in bankruptcy court is unwise.

For the sales tax idea to make it to the local ballot, 12,000 signatures would have to be gathered.

MAN SAYS HE WAS MADE TO GROW ILLEGAL POT: MODESTO - A man who says he was made to tend to an illegal marijuana grow to pay off a debt is under arrest.

Neighbors of the home on the east side of Modesto told police was strange behavior they saw. The home is along Codington Way, across the street from Peter Johansen High School.

Investigators kept an eye on the home, and served a search warrant Thursday. Inside they found more than 660 plants, with an estimated street value of almost $2 million.

The man inside the home, 25-year-old Fabian Ballesteros-Mendoza, was arrested for cultivation of marijuana and theft of power. The house was wired to steal electricity.

 “Fabian said he was brought to this house to tend to the grow. He said he did not know the owners of the house of who he was working for. It appears he may have been working off a debt for being brought into the United States,” said Sergeant Kelly Rea, with the Modesto Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Officers say it is common practice, where someone pays to be smuggled into the country and then must tend to illegal grows until the debt is paid off.

The home on Codington Way reportedly had the ability to grow four harvests a year, which could have brought in about $8 million.

MAN POSING AS STORE MANAGER ARRESTED IN SEX CASE: +STOCKTON - A man who posed as a store manager and coerced a teen girl to perform sex acts is under arrest in Stockton.

The man, identified by police as Thomas Brink, posed as a manager of Rite Aid, and confronted the 17-year-old girl as she left the store along Pacific Avenue about shoplifting.

He then walked the girl to the back of a nearby Safeway. Investigators say Brink coerced the teen into lewd and lascivious acts.

Brink is not employed by Rite Aid.

He was arrested for kidnap for a sexual crime, sexual battery, and other charges in connection with stolen beer he was found with.

 

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