SALINAS VALLEY FERTILIZER SELLER FACES PRISON TIME: GONZALES (AP) — The former president of Salinas Valley farming company has been sentenced to nearly a year in prison after pleading guilty to falsely labeling chemical-based fertilizer as organic.
Federal officials say Peter Townsley, who formerly operated California Liquid Fertilizer in Gonzales, was sentenced to 364 days in prison and fined $125,000 Wednesday in federal court. He had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.
Officials say Townsley admitted that he changed the ingredients of his fertilizer to include ammonium chloride and ammonium sulfate after it received an organic certificate from the Organic Materials Review Institute. Both chemicals are prohibited from use in products labeled organic.
The 50-year-old Canadian was also ordered to serve six months of house arrest upon his release from jail and perform 1,000 hours of community service.
NRC REJECTS HEARING ON CALIF. NUKE PLANT ISSUES: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal regulators have rejected a request from environmentalists to hold a court-like review of equipment issues at the long-shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant in California.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted unanimously in Maryland Thursday to set aside the request from Friends of the Earth, but left open the possibility a hearing might take place after further reviews.
The group argued that modifications to steam generators installed in 2009 and 2010 should have triggered a lengthy NRC review and amendment to the plant's operating license.
The generators turned out to be defective, and the plant hasn't produced electricity since January.
Operator Southern California Edison agreed with the agency's decision to deny the hearing.
The NRC has promised a transparent review of Edison's proposal to restart San Onofre's Unit 2 reactor.
CALIF. CHANGES POLICIES ON PRISON ISOLATION UNITS: SACRAMENTO (AP) — State corrections officials have announced new policies aimed at dealing with prison gangs and reducing the number of inmates held in isolation cells.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Thursday the new policies will give inmates more incentives to drop their gang activities.
Gang members can earn more privileges and get out of the isolation units in three to four years — instead of six — if they behave and participate in rehabilitation programs.
Prison officials say they recently began reviewing the 3,100 inmates currently held in isolation cells to see if they can be sent back to the general prison population.
Other portions of the new policies will take effect early next year.
Conditions in the isolation units have repeatedly led to widespread inmate hunger strikes.
MAYORAL CANDIDATE ARRESTED ON ELECTION DAY: PASO ROBLES (AP) — A Central Coast candidate for mayor lost big this week.
Paso Robles write-in candidate Jeff Rougeot was arrested on Election Day for investigation of crimes that include felonies for making criminal threats and brandishing a firearm.
The 45-year-old car audio business owner remained in the San Luis Obispo County jail Thursday with bail at $1.1 million.
Besides the felonies, Rougeot was booked for investigation of four misdemeanors for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and four violations of a court order involving domestic violence.
Rougeot doesn't have an attorney of record, and a telephone call Thursday to his car stereo business rang unanswered.
Mayor Duane Picanco got 86 percent of the vote to easily defeat Rougeot and another candidate.
TWITTER MISTAKENLY RESETS PASSWORDS OF SOME USERS: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter says it mistakenly reset the passwords of some users as part of a routine security check-up.
Thursday's mix-up triggered warnings on technology blogs and in tweets that the online messaging service had been attacked by computer hackers.
Twitter sought to clear up the confusion with a post on its website a few hours after it sent out emails alerting some users that their accounts had been compromised. Twitter says its security specialists had reset a larger number of passwords than they intended.
Despite the mistake, Twitter says only a very small percentage of its more than 140 million users had their passwords affected.
Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, regularly resets the passwords of accounts believed to have been infiltrated by hackers or suspicious websites.
HUNDREDS OF VOTES BRIEFLY MISLAID IN GLENDALE: GLENDALE (AP) — Southern California authorities say they've recovered all the ballots that went flying Tuesday night in Glendale when a ballot box fell from a moving car.
KNBC-TV says a poll worker was taking 350 ballots from Chevy Chase Drive to a check-in center at City Hall when he put the box on top of the car and drove off.
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan says the man only realized the box was missing when he arrived. Horrified, he rushed back and found some ballots strewn across the road.
A strolling couple later found other ballots and the box. They called police, who helped them pick up the ballots.
Logan says all the ballots are now accounted for and will be counted.
5 JAILED AFTER GUNFIRE DURING ATTEMPTED POT HEIST: SANGER. (AP) — Investigators say three men trying to steal marijuana from a California pot garden were confronted by two other men in a chase that led to a rolling gunfight.
Fresno County sheriff's deputies say three men in a pickup truck were trying to steal marijuana from the Sanger grow site on Tuesday afternoon when a Lexus pulled up.
The pickup drove away with the Lexus following behind.
Someone in the pickup fired shots at the Lexus and the car's occupants returned fire.
Deputies stopped the pickup and arrested three men who were booked for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon.
Sanger police arrested the men in the Lexus and they were booked for investigation of drug and weapons possession.