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California construction crew frees donkey stuck in sinkhole
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PALM SPRINGS  (AP) — A California construction crew were deemed heroes after digging a path to freedom for a donkey stuck in a sinkhole.

The Desert Sun reported Thursday that Riverside County Department of Animal Services confirmed the animal was found in Reche Canyon north of Moreno Valley.

Agency spokesman John Welsh says a resident noticed the donkey’s head and neck peeking from underground.

Welsh says he believes the animal was grazing and walked over a spot of soil compromised by heavy rainfall Wednesday before falling into the crevice.

Welsh says a six-man crew from Temecula-based Inland Erosion Control Inc. was working nearby and went over reaching the scene before animal-control officers.

Welsh says the crew widen the hole, so the donkey could walk out.

Surgeon sentenced in

 hospital kickback scheme

SANTA ANA (AP) — An orthopedic surgeon who received at least $5 million in kickbacks to perform hundreds of spinal operations at a Southern California hospital is going to prison.

Dr. Daniel Capen of Manhattan Beach was sentenced to 2 ½ years in federal prison Friday. He pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and receiving kickbacks.

Prosecutors say Capen was one of many doctors and other medical workers involved in a 15-year-long scheme centered at Pacific Hospital in Long Beach.

Authorities say they were paid to refer thousands of patients for surgeries at the hospital, which submitted some $580 million in insurance bills, mostly to California’s worker compensation system.

The hospital received about $56 million.

Ten people have been convicted in the scheme. Pacific Hospital’s owner, Michael Drobot, is serving a five-year sentence.

Man convicted in LA marijuana

 warehouse robbery

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury has convicted a man of working with a corrupt Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy to stage a $2 million robbery at a marijuana distribution warehouse.

Christopher Myung Kim of Walnut was convicted of drug crimes and conspiracy Friday by a federal jury.

Prosecutors say Kim had worked at the warehouse in downtown Los Angeles and supplied blueprints and other information for an October 2018 holdup.

The robbers pretended to be law enforcement agents conducting a raid. They stole more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana and safes containing some $600,000.

Former Hollywood executive

pleads in $22M embezzlement

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former executive at a Hollywood digital marketing company has pleaded guilty to federal charges for embezzling $22 million from his employer.

Prosecutors say Dennis Blieden of Cincinnati used the money for personal expenses, including $150,000 buy-ins to enter two professional poker tournaments.

Blieden pleaded guilty Friday to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Blieden was a vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul, which relocated this year to London. It represents “influencers” on YouTube and Instagram.

Commuter train hits RV in

fiery collision near LA

SANTA FE SPRINGS  (AP) — An RV stopped on the tracks was hit by a commuter train and burst into flames near Los Angeles, causing widespread rail delays at rush hour Friday, officials said.

There were no reports of major injuries following the fiery collision around 5:30 a.m. at an intersection in an industrial area of Santa Fe Springs.

Passengers and crew on Metrolink’s OC Line 681 were safely evacuated, agency spokesman Scott Johnson said.

Passenger Ryan Hajek said he felt the train operator slam on the brakes as it approached the intersection.

“The lights inside went dark, so we knew something went wrong, I knew we crushed into something,” Hajek told KABC-TV. “As we stopped, I saw all the debris of what looked like a car on the side of the tracks, and I knew then that we had hit something.”

Four people on board complained of pain and were treated at the scene, said Whittier police Officer Hugo Figueroa.

Investigators will try to determine why the RV was stopped on the tracks, Johnson said.

Fire crews doused the flames, which gutted the RV and charred a rail car on a freight train stopped on a parallel track.

The freight train was also unable to stop in time and ran over some of the crash debris, according to Lena Kent, spokeswoman for BNSF, which maintains tracks in the area.