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State news briefs
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ELEPHANTS' MOVE HAS TO WAIT FOR COOLER WEATHER: SAN ANDREAS (AP) — A trip to move three elephants from the Toronto Zoo to a Performing Animal Welfare Society sanctuary in Northern California has been delayed because of extreme heat expected in Canada in early August.

PAWS co-founder Pat Derby says moving elephants is risky enough without adding unpredictable obstacles.

To protect the elephants, Derby says the society and the city of Toronto decided to postpone the trip.

When it occurs, the trip will start with a one-hour truck ride from the zoo to the airport, where the elephants will be put on a Russian cargo jet and flown to San Francisco. Trucks will then take the elephants to their retirement home in San Andreas.

Derby says they hope to make the move by the end of September.

DOCTOR CHARGED IN ALLEGED MEDICARE SCAM: YUBA CITY  (AP) — A Northern California doctor is facing charges in connection with an alleged $1.3 million Medicare scam.

Irving Schwartz was arrested and arraigned in federal court on Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors accuse Schwartz of writing dozens of prescriptions for power wheelchairs in Southern California between July 2007 and September 2008 to patients who didn't need them. They say Schwartz sold the bogus prescriptions for $300 kickbacks.

Prosecutors allege that other suspects in the case then used Schwartz's prescriptions to claim more than $1.3 million in Medicare reimbursements.


TEMECULA MOM CHARGED FOR LEAVING NAKED GIRL IN CAR: TEMECULA  (AP) — A Southern California teacher's aide has been charged with child endangerment after her naked 12-year-old daughter was found wandering the streets and eating garbage.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise reports 41-year-old Tracy Lynn Betts was charged with the misdemeanor Thursday.

The Murrieta resident is accused of leaving her naked daughter in a parked car to wait while she was at work.

Sheriff's officials say Betts apparently took her daughter's clothes to prevent her from leaving the vehicle before she was found eating food from trash cans on Feb. 2.

Neighbors told officials she was trying to cover herself with a car floor mat.

Betts had worked as a teacher's aide at Vail Elementary School and has been on paid leave since the incident.

AUTHORITIES SEIZE SUSPECTED ILLEGAL 'SPICE' DRUGS: ESCONDIDO  (AP) — Authorities conducting Southern California raids have seized thousands of packages of what they believe to be the illegal drugs known as "spice" and "bath salts."

Federal and state authorities raided a home and a shop called Magic Blends in Escondido on Wednesday as part of a larger national operation.

Drug agents say they found packages labeled as glass cleaner or shoe deodorizer but believe they actually contain the banned chemicals.

DA WON'T FILE CHARGES IN CAPITOL ARRESTS: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — More than four dozen protesters arrested at the state Capitol last month won't face criminal charges.

Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully says that although the 54 protesters technically violated state law, they were not violent and did not resist arrest.

The advocates were arrested as they objected to proposed budget cuts to home health care and other programs for the needy.

Scully said in a statement Thursday that the California Highway Patrol properly arrested the protesters for refusing to leave the Capitol building.

However, she says the cases do not merit prosecution in a time of limited resources for prosecutors and the courts.

Democratic legislative leaders say they prevented deeper cuts to in-home health care programs in the final budget eventually negotiated with Gov. Jerry Brown.

BODY OF MISSING BAY AREA HIKER FOUND: SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK  (AP) — Friends are mourning the loss of an experienced Northern California hiker whose body was found after a two-day search in the Sierra Nevada range.

Authorities say 31-year-old Thomas Heng's body was found Wednesday on the steep Old Army Pass in the John Muir Wilderness in Central California. They did not immediately provide a cause of death.

Sequoia National Park spokeswoman Dana Dierkes says Heng separated from two fellow hikers on his trek to the top of Mount Langley, one of the mountain range's highest peaks. Dierkes says the San Rafael man was last seen near the summit.

Heng co-led a Bay Area hiking group and scaled mountains every weekend.

Helicopters and crews from Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks had been searching for Heng since Tuesday.

COUNCILMAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO SEX OFFENSES: SANTA ANA  (AP) — A former Orange County executive and current Santa Ana City Council member has pleaded not guilty to sex-related felonies and other charges.

Carlos Bustamante entered the plea Thursday in Orange County Superior Court.

Prosecutors say Bustamante sexually assaulted seven women who worked for him between 2003 and 2011 while he worked in the county Public Works Department.

Bustamante is charged with six felonies, including false imprisonment, assault with intent to comment a sexual offense, stalking and other charges.

Prosecutors say Bustamante called women into his office under the pretense of discussing work and then hugged, kissed and groped them and sometimes masturbated in front of them.

Defense attorney James Riddet says the charges should be dismissed because prosecutors made inflammatory comments.

MEDICAL POT PATIENTS MAY DOOM STRICT SMOKING BAN: SANTA MONICA  (AP) — Medical marijuana users appear to be partly responsible for Santa Monica's decision to shelve a strict residential smoking ban aimed at secondhand smoke.

The measure passed 4-2 after a first reading two weeks ago.

But the City Council voted 4-2 against the law on Tuesday's final reading, citing concerns about its impact on medical marijuana users and condominium owners.

The original law prohibits smoking for new apartment and condominium dwellers and forces existing residents to designate their units as smoking areas. Those residents will lose the right to smoke at all in their homes if they fail register as designated smoking units.

Opponents argue that it violates their privacy.

Medical marijuana users and others would be forced to disclose smoking habits to landlords.