uSANTA ROSA (AP) — California regulators say a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur and winemaker has agreed to pay $3.76 million in penalties after his company bulldozed a protected wetland and filled in a stream bed to build a vineyard in Mendocino County.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports Saturday that the settlement is one of the largest ever involving water quality on the North Coast. It stems from a litany of environmental violations tied to unpermitted work by Rhys Vineyards on owner Kevin Harvey’s ranch near Laytonville.
Rhys’ lawyer said in a statement that the company “deeply regrets the mistakes made.” Harvey, a San Francisco Bay Area venture capitalist, could not be reached for comment.
Officials say the company illegally covered protected wetlands and filled in a stream bed near the North Fork Ten Mile River watershed.
uROMANIAN TOURIST DIES IN ACCIDENT AT YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (AP) — A Romanian tourist has died in a fall near a waterfall in Yosemite National Park.
Authorities say 21-year-old Lucian Miu was scrambling on wet rocks below Bridalveil Fall on Wednesday when he fell about 20 feet. He died at a hospital.
The Fresno Bee says two other people were injured in separate falls in the park this week.
One had hiked to a viewing platform below Bridalveil Fall on Monday and then slipped while climbing up a boulder field toward a pool at the base.
The other slipped off a boulder at Lower Yosemite Fall and fell into a creek Thursday, becoming trapped underwater between rocks before managing to escape.
uMULTIPLE FIRES JOIN, SCORCH BRUSH WEST OF STOCKTON: CLAYTON (AP) — Crews using water-dropping aircraft are making progress against multiple wildfires that joined and scorched nearly 700 acres of dry brush in Northern California.
Cal Fire Assistant Chief Michael Borrelli says about six or seven small blazes were reported shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday along a road bordering parkland in Contra Costa County.
Borrelli says no structures are threatened. Residents were ordered to shelter in place near the town of Clayton about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Stockton.
The fire was 50 percent contained by late morning. The cause is under investigation.
Further north, a wildfire in a sparsely populated area in Modoc County has burned more than 14,000 acres of brush and timber. It’s nearly contained.
uMAN REUNITES WITH $23K FOUND IN RECYCLING SORTING FACILITY: EUREKA (AP) — A man who accidentally tossed $23,000 into the recycling bin reunited with his life savings Saturday after a worker at a recycling facility in Northern California spotted a shoebox stuffed with money.
When the man from Ashland, Oregon, realized his mistake on Thursday, the recycling bin had already been emptied into a truck bound for the Recology sorting facility in Humboldt County.
The facility’s general manager told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat most of the recyclables from the truck had been sorted by the time the man contacted Recology. Workers were nonetheless told to be on the lookout for the box.
Someone spotted the box down the sorting line Friday and recovered all but $320. The money somehow stayed in the box during the 200-mile trip to the facility.
uMOTHER, DAUGHTER SUSPECTED OF SOCAL HOUSING FRAUD SCAM: WESTMINSTER (AP) — A Southern California mother and daughter are facing felony charges in what prosecutors say is the “largest housing fraud case” in Orange County history.
The Orange County District Attorney’s says 55-year-old Errica Madkins Mickens and 29-year-old Brittany Monet Mickens were arrested Thursday on suspicion of grand theft and fraud.
Investigators say they bilked more than $190,000 from county housing services. It wasn’t known Saturday if they have attorneys.
Prosecutors say the pair concealed their identities to gain funds from programs including Section 8, which provides rental assistance to low-income households.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports the mother and daughter allegedly used multiple birth certificates and ID cards to gain eligibility for the public programs.
Officials say they used to the money to buy luxury cars and fund a lavish lifestyle.