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State news briefs
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• JUDGE REFUSES TO TOSS TICKET OVER CORPORATE CLAIM: SAN RAFAEL (AP) — A Marin County man has failed to convince a judge to toss out a ticket for driving alone in the carpool lane despite his claims the incorporation papers riding along with him qualified as a person.

Jonathan Frieman was issued a ticket in October for driving alone in the carpool lane during restricted hours.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the officer wasn’t convinced when Frieman claimed the incorporation papers were the same as having a person next to him.

During a hearing in Marin County Superior Court on Monday, the attorney for the 56-year-old Frieman, pointed to a section of the California vehicle code which says the definition of a person includes “natural persons and corporations.”

But the judge found Frieman guilty of the carpool violation, noting the code also says the intent of carpool lanes is to reduce traffic congestion.

Frieman says he will appeal.

: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A medical marijuana dispensary that bills itself as the nation’s largest has won another round in its fight to stay open amid a federal crackdown.

A federal magistrate in San Francisco on Monday refused to order Harborside Health Center to stop selling pot while the government tries to prove the establishment are illegal under federal law and must close.

Harborside’s landlords in San Jose and Oakland had asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James to enjoin the dispensaries’ ongoing operations.

They argued that they remain at risk as long as pot continues to be sold on their premises because U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag has threatened to seize the rented properties.

But James said she was unconvinced that allowing Harborside to stay in business for now would undermine the value or ownership of the buildings it occupies.

: VICTORVILLE  (AP) — A Southern California woman has been arrested in connection with the death of a 2-year-old girl who died from complications after eating chili powder.

The San Bernardino Sun reports 21-year-old Amanda Sorensen was arrested Monday after an initial investigation of the girl’s death.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies went to an Apple Valley home Sunday and found the child suffering from a seizure after ingesting the kitchen spice. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Spokeswoman Jodi Miller says the girl is the daughter of Sorenson’s boyfriend.

An autopsy will be performed to determine cause of death.

Sorensen is being held on $500,000 bail and is due in court Jan. 9.

: CUDAHY (AP) — The former city manager of Cudahy has been sentenced to five years of probation for his role in taking a $17,000 bribe from a businessman who wanted to open a medical marijuana dispensary.

A federal judge in Los Angeles also ordered Angel Perales Monday to serve 1,500 hours of community service and pay the $5,000 he accepted from the businessman, who was working as an FBI informant.

The term was much less than the two-year prison sentence prosecutors had recommended.

Prosecutors say Perales brokered the bribery scheme that also involved Cudahy’s former mayor, David Silva, and former councilman, Osvaldo Conde. They pleaded guilty to extortion and bribery charges in August.

City News Service says Perales tearfully apologized to the people of Cudahy for violating their trust at his sentencing hearing.

: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says crime in Los Angeles fell for the 10th straight year in 2012, and the city has the lowest violent crime per capita of any big city.

The Los Angeles Times reports the number of homicides increased by one, to 298, compared to 2011.

Police Chief Charlie Beck says crime was down 1.5 percent overall, with violent crime down 8.2 percent.

Gang homicides were down 12 percent from the previous year, and overall gang crime was down about 11 percent.

However, there were 160 more property crimes last year, up less than half a percent.

Villaraigosa says the city’s 10,000 officers have been key to the continuing crime drop, and cities that cut police see crime rise.

: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former federal court employee in Los Angeles and her husband have pleaded guilty accessing and leaking confidential information to tip off suspected criminals, including Armenian Power gang members.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Riordan says Nune Gevorkyan and her husband Oganes Koshkaryan entered their guilty pleas Monday to conspiracy and other charges.

Gevorkyan worked as a clerk where criminal documents are filed for two years, and looked at sealed indictments before raids on Armenian Power associates across Southern California in February 2011.

Koshkaryan acted as an intermediary, selling information his wife collected in exchange for cash.

A records search revealed Gevorkyan had accessed sealed court documents in at least two ongoing investigations.

A defendant in the Armenian Power case told FBI about the couple while seeking a reduced sentence.

E: SAN DIEGO (AP) — A San Diego County grand jury has indicted 15 people in a widening corruption case involving construction contracts at school districts.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Monday the defendants include San Ysidro School District Superintendent Manuel Paul, school board members of the Sweetwater Union High School and San Ysidro districts.

Also indicted were former board members of Southwestern Community College, the former president of the college and others.

Five of the 15 were previously charged.

Dumanis says the indictments consist of 232 charges, including bribery and perjury.

Prosecutors say some accepted bribes from contractors seeking multimillion dollar school contracts.

If convicted, defendants face between six months and seven years in state prison.

Attorneys for the defendants say they plan to prove their clients’ innocence.