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Bay Area briefs
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CHECK 'N GO SETTLES LAWSUIT FOR $4.3M: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Californians charged interest rates of up to 400 percent by the loan company Check 'n Go could be eligible for refunds after a $4.3 million legal settlement agreement.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said that anyone who obtained a loan from the company between November 2006 and June 2008 could qualify for the refunds.

Herrera's office in 2007 sued payday lenders MoneyMart, Loan Mart and Check 'n Go for their unlawful interest rates. More than $8,100 refunds from Money Mart and Loan Mart were doled out earlier this year after a legal settlement.

People have until March 29 to claim a $20-to-$4,675 refund for the latest Check 'n Go settlement.

TORNADO DAMAGES NURSERY IN WATSONVILLE: WATSONVILLE  (AP) — The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down along the Central California coast over the weekend.

According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel (, a weather service meteorologist determined that a weak tornado had struck Watsonville in Santa Cruz County after evaluating radar data and visiting a damaged nursery on Wednesday.

The meteorologist, Logan Johnson, says the tornado that hit Saturday morning had winds of about 75 mph and headed inland about a mile from the coast on a path 20 yards wide.

It crushed one greenhouse at the Kitayama Bros. nursery and left four others damaged. Nursery President Robert Kitayama estimated the repair costs at more than $100,000.

Johnson said the last recorded tornado in Watsonville was 10 years ago.

MAN FOUND SHOT IN BART PARKING LOT: PITTSBURG (AP) — A man was found shot in a Bay Area Rapid Transit parking lot and his wounds are considered life-threatening.

The Contra Costa Times reports the man was found in the Pittsburg/Bay Point parking lot shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday. The man had gunshots wounds to his chest and elbow and was taken to a nearby hospital.

No arrests have been made and it was unclear if the man was shot in the parking lot or had been wounded somewhere else. Police say they will be reviewing video from a surveillance camera.

Train service was stopped for about 45 minutes as BART police officers searched for two possible witnesses who might have been on one of the trains.

SF MUNI CELEBRATES 100 YEARS WITH FREE RIDES: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's municipal railway is celebrating its 100th anniversary with free rides.

Service on Muni buses, light-rail trains, cable cars and streetcars will be free all day Friday and until 5 a.m. on Saturday.

Muni — the nation's first publicly-owned, land-based transit agency — began service with 10 streetcars and one line on Dec. 28, 1912. It has since grown substantially.

As part of the celebration, the first streetcar Muni put into service has been brought back. Car No. 1 will ply the streets again on Friday.

1 DEAD IN CRASH AFTER CHP TRAFFIC STOP IN OAKLAND: OAKLAND  (AP) — One person is dead and at least two others injured after the driver of a BMW pulled over by the California Highway Patrol in Oakland fled and crashed into another vehicle.

KGO-TV reports that a young woman in the back seat of that vehicle died. The two others who were hurt were also in that vehicle.

The California Highway Patrol says the crash occurred late Thursday night after the driver of the BMW was pulled over on suspicion of speeding. They say he fled and the officers lost sight of him. He crashed about a minute later.

CHP spokesman Sam Morgan says it's not clear why the driver fled. The vehicle was not stolen.

He was arrested after the crash. Authorities, however, are still looking for a passenger in his vehicle.

SIXTH PERSON CHARGED IN SF BOUND AND GAGGED CASE: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A sixth person has been charged in the case of a man and his girlfriend who were assaulted and left bound and gagged on a San Francisco street.

Twenty-six-year-old Catherine Uong appeared in court on Friday on charges including murder and first-degree residential robbery. She did not enter a plea.

Prosecutors say Uong and four co-defendants stormed a home in the city's Visitacion Valley neighborhood on Dec. 9. Twenty-six-year-old Stephen Reid and his girlfriend were assaulted before being put in a GMC Yukon, where Reid was shot in the neck.

The two were then dumped on the street.

Authorities have not released a possible motive in the attack. Another defendant has been charged as an accessory.