TOLL OFFICIALS APPROVE $5.6M BAY BRIDGE BASH: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Bay area transportation officials have agreed to spend up to $5.6 million to pay for part of the inaugural celebration for the new east span of the Bay Bridge.
The Bay Area Toll Authority on Wednesday approved the funding for a walk across the new span planned for Labor Day. The money is slated to come from toll revenues although officials are also considering charging each walker a fee.
Suggestions have ranged from $5 to $20.
The number of walkers is expected to be limited to the first 120,000 people who sign up in advance.
Additional celebrations are planned by the Bay Bridge Alliance, a private foundation that is hoping to raise at least another $3.5 million for a bike ride, footraces and fireworks' displays.
HOME INVASION ROBBER FORCED WOMAN TO COOK A MEAL: SANTA ANA (AP) — Investigators say a methamphetamine-addled home invasion robber held a woman for hours and forced her to cook a meal.
The suspect was smoking a meth pipe when he finally left the woman's Santa Ana apartment and rode away on her son's bicycle.
Santa Ana police released a composite sketch of the suspect on Wednesday and asked for public help in finding the man who broke into two apartments on Monday.
He stole $100 from a woman at daybreak and that afternoon he forced his way into another apartment where he confronted a woman in her kitchen.
The intruder demanded that she cook him some food, which she did.
He took out a pipe and began smoking methamphetamine at one point during the three-hour ordeal.
TAX CONSULTANT IMPERSONATES CONGRESSIONAL AIDE: FRESNO (AP) — A California tax consultant is facing three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for telling federal officials she was an aide to a San Joaquin Valley congressman.
Prosecutors said on Wednesday that a federal jury in Fresno deliberated only 15 minutes before finding 52-year-old Susan Tomsha-Miguel guilty of impersonating an officer or employee of the United States.
Tomsha-Miguel was hired by a client to resolve a tax dispute with the Internal Revenue Service and the Atwater tax consultant sought help from the office of then-Rep. Dennis Cardoza.
Cardoza staff members agreed to help and sent Tomsha-Miguel information that included a form on official congressional letterhead.
Tomsha-Miguel used that letterhead to send her client a counterfeit letter, purportedly written and signed by a congressional aide.
INSURANCE COMMISSIONER WANTS AUTISM LAW ENFORCED: SACRAMENTO (AP) — California's insurance regulator has been getting complaints and wants last year's autism treatment law enforced.
There's been an explosion in autism and demand for behavioral therapies.
The California Department of Insurance says insurers have been skirting their obligation under the state law requiring insurers to provide costly behavioral therapies for autism. The treatments can cost $50,000 a year for each child.
The agency is now proposing emergency regulations aimed at getting insurers to cover the treatments. The Office of Administrative Law will decide in March whether to put them into effect.
State officials say they have received dozens of complaints that insurers have been delaying and denying coverage by imposing limits on how much therapy a child can receive and who can provide it.
MAN ESCAPES TRUNK OF OWN CAR AFTER KIDNAPPING: RIVERSIDE (AP) — Riverside County sheriff's officials say they've arrested three people suspected of beating and kidnapping a man who had to escape from the trunk of his own car.
Sgt. Wallace Clear says the two men and one woman were arrested Wednesday, and are being held on $1 million bail apiece.
Clear says the suspects approached the victim, a man in his 40s, while he was buying gas in East Hemet early on Dec. 29. They allegedly beat the man and put him in the trunk of his own car.
The victim says he was taken somewhere, beaten again, and put back in the trunk before the suspects drove to Highway 74.
After the vehicle stopped, the victim escaped and hid until he was able to flag down a patrol vehicle.
DEAD WHALE FOUND STUCK TO SHIP'S BOW AT LA PORT: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say a dead whale has been found stuck to the bow of a cargo ship at the Port of Los Angeles.
A 50- to 60-foot male fin whale was found splayed belly-up on the bow of the container ship Ever Dainty Tuesday evening at the port.
National Marine Fisheries Service spokesman Jim Milbury says it appears the whale died recently. Officials will try to discover where along the ship's route it may have been struck.
On Wednesday, the whale was moved out of the main channel to a maintenance yard. It will be towed out to sea this week.
Fin whales are the second-largest whale species, behind blue whales. Both kinds have been spotted off the Southern California coast this winter.
NAIL SALON CHAIN AGREES TO $750K WAGES SETTLEMENT: REDWOOD CITY . (AP) — A Northern California nail salon chain has agreed to a $750,000 wage and workplace settlement with 125 employees.
Natalie Salon workers said they weren't paid legal wages or overtime, they were denied lunch breaks and they were forbidden from speaking Vietnamese, among other things.
Natalie Salon has outlets in Redwood City, San Mateo, Menlo Park, Los Gatos and Palo Alto.
The deal between Natalie Salon and current and former employees got preliminary approval on Tuesday in San Mateo County Superior Court.
A final hearing is scheduled June 27. It's unclear how the money will be divided among employees and lawyers.
VEGAS SHOOTING SUSPECT ARRESTED IN LOS ANGELES: LAS VEGAS (AP) — A self-described pimp was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles, ending a weeklong manhunt that began after a shooting and spectacular, fiery crash that killed three people on the Las Vegas Strip, police said.
Ammar Harris, 26, surrendered to a fugitive apprehension team of police and FBI agents who found him a little after noon inside a Studio City apartment where a woman answered the door, authorities said.
His arrest ended an intense multi-state search that began after the Feb. 21 attack at a neon-lit intersection home to posh casino resorts such as Bellagio, Bally's, Flamingo and Caesars Palace.
Court documents allege Harris was driving his black Range Rover SUV when he fired into a Maserati sports car, killing self-promoted rapper Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr. The two men had argued minutes earlier in the valet area of a Las Vegas Strip resort, authorities said.
The Maserati, with Cherry mortally wounded at the wheel, sped forward and slammed into a taxi that burst into flames. The 62-year-old cabbie, Michael Boldon, and his passenger, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, of Maple Valley, Wash., were killed.