SILICON VALLEY TECH EXEC CONVICTED OF LEGO THEFTS: PALO ALTO (AP) — A former Silicon Valley software executive has been convicted of burglary for cheating Target stores out of Lego collectors' sets.
Thomas Langenbach pleaded no contest to one count of felony commercial burglary, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Duffy Magilligan said.
Under the plea deal reached Monday, prosecutors agreed to drop three other counts.
Langenbach was accused of putting fake bar codes on Lego sets at Target stores, buying the toys at a steep discount, then selling them online for thousands of dollars.
When police searched his posh home in San Carlos, they found hundreds of unopened Lego sets. They said the house was also filled with Lego creations Langenbach had built himself.
Magilligan said Langenbach swapped the barcodes on seven sets, costing Target a loss of $345.
Defense attorney Geoffrey Carr told the San Jose Mercury News his client was not motivated to make money but to experiment with software his Palo Alto company, SAP Labs, had created.
"It was just a guy doing something dorky and for not a lot of money," Carr said. He added that Lagenbach was fired from his executive job at SAP Labs shortly after he was arrested.
Langenbach faces one month in jail, five months of home detention and three years of probation when he is sentenced in September.
Carr said Lagenbach took the plea deal to avoid potentially being deported to his home country of Germany if convicted of two felonies.
FORMER LA COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY EXEC ARRESTED: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former executive director of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County was arrested Friday for allegedly sending sexually explicit messages to a 16-year-old girl.
Scott Hounsell, 30, was booked on two misdemeanor counts of sending harmful matter to a child, Los Angeles police Lt. Andrea Grossman said. The girl told detectives Hounsell sent her sexually explicit chat messages on a social media website. Hounsell is being held on $40,000 bail.
Jonathan Wilcox, a spokesman for the county's official Republican organization, said Hounsell resigned June 15. Wilcox said the organization didn't know about the case until contacted by the LAPD on Friday.
"We take this issue very seriously and will fully cooperate with law enforcement any way we can," Wilcox said.
Calls to Hounsell and his family were not immediately returned.
According to his LinkedIn page, Hounsell worked previously as a field representative and internship coordinator for California state Assemblyman Cameron Smyth.
DUPLEX OWNER FACES CHARGES IN FATAL PASADENA FIRE: PASADENA . (AP) — Prosecutors have filed more than 100 counts against the owner of a Pasadena duplex where two men died in an explosion and arson fire last November.
The Los Angeles Times reports (http://lat.ms/17nQeIA) 74-year-old Jeanette Broussard was charged with 136 misdemeanor counts, including operating an illegal boarding house. Broussard could face up to six months in jail. She's scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.
Authorities say 20 people were living in the three-story residence when a fire broke out. Fifty-six-year-old Cliff Juan Clark and 75-year-old Paul Richard Boyd died in the fire. Garth Allen Robbins has pleaded not guilty to arson, murder and attempted murder charges. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
The case against Broussard is being brought as part of a broader crackdown on unlicensed boarding homes.
RICHMOND SUES CHEVRON OVER REFINERY FIRE: RICHMOND (AP) — Richmond is suing Chevron for damages from a massive fire that shut down the energy giant's refinery at the San Francisco Bay area city last year.
A lawsuit filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court Friday alleges the crude-oil pipeline leak that led to the Aug. 6 fire was the result of "years of neglect, lax oversight and corporate indifference to necessary safety inspection and repairs."
The city is seeking unspecified damages, including compensation for emergency response to the fire, environmental cleanup and loss of property values.
Chevron said in a statement that the lawsuit had no merit.
Both Chevron and government investigations have determined that corrosion in a pipe caused a leak that sparked the fire, sending a plume of black smoke over nearby areas.
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said the City Council voted to sue after months of negotiations with Chevron failed to reach an agreement.