ACCIDENT CLOSES HIGHWAY: An empty milk tanker overturned early Tuesday, closing Highway 99's northbound lanes at Crows Landing Road for six hours. The tanker crashed at 2:39 a.m., and was then struck by another big rig, according to reports from the California Highway Patrol. There were no injuries. Motorists were redirected using South Ninth Street in Modesto. The crash was cleared and all lanes reopened by 8:34 a.m.
POLICE WARN OF HOME RENTAL SCAM: Police on Tuesday warned the public of an overseas rental scam that has entangled some victims in Modesto. Police detectives have been informed of three incidents believed to be rental scams linked to Nigeria, said department spokesman Sgt. Brian Findlen. In each of these cases, the suspects placed an advertisement with Craigslist for rental homes in Modesto. Findlen said the homes are vacant, for sale or foreclosed properties, but the homes are not owned by the suspects. He said the suspects ask the prospective renters for personal information that can be used for identity theft. The prospective renters also are asked to send money to a country believed to be to Nigeria. Findlen said the renters are asked to send the money via Western Union in exchange for rental documents and the keys to the home. The suspects correspond with the prospective renters via e-mail, but overseas phone numbers always are placed in the advertisement. Findlen said a phone number with a country code of "234" usually is included in the e-mail. Detectives urged prospective renters insist upon "in-person" transfer of documents, money or other personal identification information. Findlen said victims can report incidents online at the Internet Crimes Complaint Center Web site at www.ic3.gov.
TWO GUARDS SHOT IN STOCKTON: Stockton police are investigating the murder of two security guards who were patrolling an apartment complex. Police spokesman Pete Smith says a resident found the two men shot in their patrol car at about 2 a.m. Tuesday. The guards worked for Ad Force Private Security and were assigned to Park Village Apartments in Stockton. Their names have not yet been released. Smith described the men as in their late 20s or early 30s. Smith says the apartment complex has been associated with gang activity, but it's unclear whether Tuesday's shootings were gang related.
FAMILY SUES PRISON BUREAU: The family of a 22-year-old guard killed at a Central California prison sued the Bureau of Prisons on Tuesday claiming poor management of the facility created dangerous conditions. The lawyer for the family of Jose Rivera also disclosed a U.S. Department of Justice report that said the U.S. Penitentiary Atwater had lax discipline, trouble luring employees and management that ignored warnings of potential violence and weaponry. "It's a clear indictment of how totally messed up the Bureau of Prisons is," said attorney Mark Peacock after filing the wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fresno. A prison spokeswoman declined to comment directly on the report, dated April 2009, because she said it's part of an internal investigation.
DRUG MAKER SENT TO PRISON: A tip led authorities to a Turlock mobile home that contained a lab capable of producing 1 pound of methamphetamine per cooking cycle, according to a statement from the Stanislaus County district attorney's office. Drug agents who entered a home in the Magic Sands Trailer Park on North Soderquist Road on Dec. 15 found numerous chemicals needed to manufacture methamphetamine, as well as cooking vessels and a variety of liquid forms of the drug, authorities said. Christian Devon Blum, 33, admitted that he was manufacturing drugs, authorities said. He also told authorities that he was providing drugs to his live-in girlfriend, who was 17. And he had a rifle in his closet, even though a prior conviction prohibited him from possessing firearms. Blum, pleaded no contest to three felonies and was sentenced to five years, four months in prison.
DRUNKEN DRIVER GETS 6 YEARS: A two-time drunk driver from Modesto was sentenced to six years, eight months in prison, according to a statement from the Stanislaus County district attorney's office. Dean Michael Jackson, 53, did not cause any accidents or injure anyone, but his blood-alcohol level was well over the legal limit of 0.08 percent during two traffic stops. Authorities said Jackson was pulled over in Ceres on Dec. 9 because he was driving erratically, and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20 percent. When he was pulled over March 8 in Modesto, while on bail for the incident three months earlier, Jackson had a blood-alcohol level of 0.37 percent.
THREE YEARS IN ROBBERY: A Modesto teenager who robbed a clerk at Video King on Jan. 22 was prosecuted as an adult and sentenced to three years in prison, according to a statement from the Stanislaus County district attorney's office. Authorities said Richard Sandoval, 16, entered the store about 10 p.m., wearing a black hoodie and gloves, then demanded money from a clerk who was working alone. The assailant punched the young woman in the face when she could not get one of two cash drawers open, then told her not to call police. Sandoval was arrested two blocks away after a struggle with police.