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State news briefs
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PENSION-REFORM GROUP SUSPENDS INITIATIVE CAMPAIGN: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — A conservative group announced Wednesday that it was suspending its campaign to put public employee pension reform on the November ballot.

Dan Pellissier, president of California Pension Reform, said his group could not raise enough money to mount a petition-signature drive. A successful drive typically requires at least $2 million.

He blamed unfavorable language issued by the office of Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, which he said undermined the effort even though pension reform is popular with Californians.

The group submitted two measures that qualified for signature gathering. One would have put new public employees into defined contribution plans, while the other would have put new workers into a hybrid plan that blends pensions with a 401(k)-style system.

4 PLEAD GUILTY IN NORCAL MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME: DISCOVERY BAY  (AP) — Four people have pleaded guilty to charges in a $20 million mortgage scheme that involved more than a dozen Northern California properties.

Seventy-six-year-old Ronald Nelson and his wife, 53-year-old Edith Nelson, both of Discovery Bay, entered the pleas to federal charges of bank fraud and tax evasion last week.

Two San Francisco Bay area real estate agents, 49-year-old Cristeta Lagarejos and 68-year-old Nelda Asuncion, also pleaded guilty in the case.

Prosecutors say the defendants obtained loans for at least 20 properties — many of them care facilities — using fake buyers and false employment and earnings information between 2002 and 2007.

EX-HAWTHORNE MAYOR PLEADS GUILTY TO MIXER THEFT: LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former mayor of the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne has pleaded guilty to stealing a commercial food mixer from the local school district to make dough for his home pizza oven.

Los Angeles County prosecutors say Larry Guidi entered the plea Wednesday to a felony count of grand theft. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and a year's probation. A commercial burglary charge was dismissed.

Guidi was a warehouse operations manager for the Hawthorne School District until he was fired last year. Prosecutors say a security camera video recorded him loading the giant mixer and a cart into his pickup truck in 2010.

The $1,300 mixer was later returned.

COMMISSION VOTES DOWN CITYHOOD EFFORT FOR EAST LA: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A county commission has voted down a grass-roots movement's effort to make East Los Angeles its own city.

Local Agency Formation Commission Executive Director Paul Novak says the council voted 8-1 Wednesday to deny the incorporation request.

Commissioners say it's not financially feasible for East L.A. to become a city. The area's revenue is projected to be $28 million while it would cost $40 million to run it as a city.

Cityhood proponent and resident Ben Cardenas says those numbers are off and the grass-roots movement will regroup to continue to pursue cityhood.

East L.A. has about 126,000 residents in more than 7 square miles.

SCHWARZENEGGER JOINS STALLONE IN 'THE TOMB': LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's an action superstar reunion: Arnold Schwarzenegger is joining Sylvester Stallone for the thriller "The Tomb."

The filmmakers said Wednesday that Schwarzenegger has signed on to star alongside Stallone in the prison-break adventure.

Schwarzenegger previously had a cameo in Stallone's action hit "The Expendables" and also appears in its upcoming sequel.

"The Tomb" will feature Schwarzenegger as an inmate opposite Stallone, who plays the designer of a master prison forced to escape from his own jailhouse. Directed by Mikael Hafstrom, "The Tomb" begins shooting in Louisiana this spring.

Schwarzenegger is just finishing work on "The Last Stand," his first starring role since returning to acting after serving as California's governor.