Here's a round-up of Friday news reports from around the Bay provided by the Bay City News bureau.
The California Supreme Court handed consumers a victory Thursday
by ruling that it is illegal for businesses to collect ZIP codes from
customers who pay with credit cards.
The court said unanimously that collecting ZIP codes from
cardholders violates California's Credit Card Act, which prohibits businesses
from requesting and then recording "personal identification information"
during credit card transactions.
"The Legislature intended to provide robust consumer protection by
prohibiting retailers from soliciting and recording information about the
cardholder that is unnecessary to the credit card transaction," Justice
Carlos Moreno wrote for the court.
Moreno said ZIP codes qualify as personal identification
information because they can easily be used together with a customer's name
to locate the person's complete address, thus "end-running the statute's
The court ruled in San Francisco in a 2008 lawsuit filed against
Williams-Sonoma Stores Inc. by Jessica Pineda of San Mateo County.
Pineda said in the lawsuit that she was asked for her ZIP code
when she used her credit card to buy an item at a Williams-Sonoma store, and
thought she was required to comply.
She alleged that the store kept the ZIP code together with her
name and then, by using computer software to search databases, found her
address and marketed products to her.
Williams-Sonoma, a home furnishings and cookware chain founded in
Sonoma and now based in San Francisco, unsuccessfully argued that ZIP codes
are not covered by the law because the codes do not reveal a specific
Craig Cardon, a lawyer for the company, said he had no immediate
comment on the decision. A company spokesman could not be reached for
Pineda's lawyer, Gene Stonebarger, said the ruling "furthers the
privacy rights of California consumers."
Police have booked a Walnut Creek man believed to have been
responsible for a fatal crash in the Inner Richmond neighborhood early
Thursday morning, a police spokeswoman said.
Frank Mabry, 31, is accused of driving a black Audi A4 at high
speeds into a gray Mazda, killing 57-year-old Leonid Stoliarov of Pacifica,
police Lt. Lyn Tomioka said.
Witnesses said they saw Mabry driving east on Geary Boulevard near
Arguello Boulevard at about 2:15 a.m. He had been running red lights, and he
crashed into the Mazda after crossing Arguello, according to police.
Stoliarov was pronounced dead at the scene. Mabry was taken to a
local hospital, where he is being treated for injuries sustained in the crash
before being transferred to county jail, Tomioka said.
Traffic along Geary Boulevard was detoured for nearly five hours,
with several buses re-routed, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
spokesman Paul Rose said.
Mabry faces charges of felony vehicular manslaughter, driving
without a license, and a misdemeanor charge of speeding.
He also faces two charges of running a red light, Tomioka said.
Police believe it's unlikely alcohol or drugs played a factor in
The father of a woman who was strangled and whose body was set on
fire in October 2009 said he could start living his life again after a jury
Thursday found her boyfriend, a Palo Alto hookah bar owner, guilty of
"Nothing is going to bring Jenny back," 52-year-old Jim Schipsi
said of his daughter, 29-year-old real estate agent Jennifer Schipsi, who was
killed on Oct. 15, 2009.
"But when I heard the word 'guilty,' I thanked Jesus. Now I can go
on living life," Schipsi said, leaning back against a wall and weeping behind
A jury of eight women and four men found the man suspected in
Schipsi's murder, Bulos "Paul" Zumot, 37, who owns Da Hookah Spot on
University Avenue, guilty of first-degree murder and arson after only one day
of deliberation following a trial that lasted nearly 4.5 weeks.
Zumot, who appeared in a full suit throughout the trial, walked in
Thursday without a tie. Shortly after the verdict was read at about 3:15
p.m., he walked away, his shoulders hunched and his face flushed.
His attorney, Mark Geragos, said Zumot was "bewildered, and so am
"He's a strong guy," Geragos said. "He's more concerned about his
Zumot's family, which included his mother, two brothers and
sister, looked stunned but composed. They left the courtroom immediately
following the verdict.
Several members of Schipsi's family and friends were emotional
even before the verdict was announced.
Roy Endemann, a 27-year-old Los Gatos resident and Schipsi's best
friend, later told reporters he was glad the trial had come to an end, but
said it was still a sad occasion.
"Throughout this whole time I've had so much anxiety," Endemann
said, tears running down his face. "My friend is really gone."
Thursday's verdict was the culmination of a case that began 16
months ago at a cottage on Addison Avenue in Palo Alto where prosecutors said
Zumot killed Schipsi and then set their Addison Avenue home on fire with her
body inside to hide the evidence.
Prosecutor Charles Gillingham relied heavily on circumstantial
evidence, such as text message exchanges, to show that Zumot was emotionally
and physically abusive toward Schipsi.
Geragos pointed out that if Zumot had strangled Schipsi, there
would have been a struggle between them and he would have had marks on his
hands and arms.
Geragos repeatedly tried to discredit a trained dog named Rosie
that detected accelerant in the house and on Zumot's clothes, saying that a
lab test of Zumot's clothes did not reveal any traces of fuel.
Less than six weeks before the long-delayed perjury trial of
former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, federal prosecutors Thursday
pared down the number of charges from 11 to five.
Bonds, 46, now faces four counts of lying and one count of
obstructing justice in 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury that was
investigating the distribution of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
He is due to go on trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan
Illston in San Francisco on March 21.
The revised charges issued by a federal grand jury Thursday
afternoon are the fourth version of an indictment originally obtained by
prosecutors in 2007.
In the last version, the home-run champion was accused of 10
counts of lying and one count of obstructing justice.
The latest allegations are simplified but similar to those lodged
Bonds continues to be accused of lying when he allegedly told the
grand jury he never knowingly received steroids or human growth hormone from
his trainer, Greg Anderson; never was injected by him; and "never took
anything" except vitamins from him before 2003.
Illston is scheduled to hold a hearing today on pretrial motions.
The 2003 grand jury was looking into the distribution of sports
drugs by the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
Bonds is one of 11 people -- including other sports figures, BALCO
officials and a chemist -- who were indicted on charges of either drug
distribution or lying in connection with the probe. The others either pleaded
guilty or went to trial and were found guilty of various charges.
Twenty-three hotel workers were arrested at a sit-in Thursday
evening to protest management at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco near the
Embarcadero, a spokeswoman for the workers' union said.
The workers were cited and released for misdemeanor trespassing
after they blocked the front entrance of the hotel, Unite Here Local 2
spokeswoman Riddhi Mehta-Neugebauer said.
About 360 members and supporters of Unite Here Local 2, which
represents hospitality workers for the Chicago-based hotel chain, gathered at
the protest at about 4:30 p.m.
Most of them picketed in front of the Hyatt Regency, located at 5
Embarcadero Center, while the others staged the sit-in, Mehta-Neugebauer
The protesters were cleared out by 6:30 p.m., and no one was
injured in Thursday's event, she said.
The group was protesting what they say is hotel management's
refusal to agree to a fair contract with more than 800 of its workers in San
Negotiations began in August 2009, and although the two sides met
earlier this month, no agreement has been reached.
"Hyatt has shown no indication that they're willing to bargain in
good faith," Mehta-Neugebauer said.
The union has organized numerous boycotts, strikes and other
actions during the negotiations, which Mehta-Neugebauer said has only
resulted in proposals from management that would "increase the burden of
health care costs on workers...and increase workloads that would jeopardize
A Hyatt spokesman was not immediately available for comment
Thursday, but David Nadelman, general manager of the Grand Hyatt near Union
Square, said last month that union leadership should try to help bring
business into San Francisco rather than boycott the hotels.
"Boycotts are not good for anybody," Nadelman said. "If the
boycott works, my associates don't."
The next negotiating session between the two sides is scheduled
for Feb. 24, Mehta-Neugebauer said.
A Napa County Jail inmate who lit himself on fire in his cell
Wednesday night faced a state prison sentence next week for assault with a
deadly weapon, a Napa County sheriff's captain said Thursday afternoon.
The assault occurred at Napa State Hospital, where the inmate,
29-year-old Vernon Cannon, was a patient until he was booked into the Napa
County Jail on Sept. 14, county spokeswoman Elizabeth Emmett said. He was
slated to start his prison sentence on Wednesday.
Cannon suffered second - and third-degree burns to his legs,
sheriff's Capt. Tracey Stuart said.
Napa City fire Capt. Conrad Perez said Cannon was burned over 60
percent of his body -- including his torso, arms and hands. Jail staff used
their hands to extinguish the flames.
Cannon was taken by ambulance to Queen of the Valley hospital in
Napa before being flown to the University of California, Davis Medical
Center, Emmett said.
The incident began when the sheriff's office received reports of a
structure fire in the jail at about 7:35 p.m., sheriff's Sgt. Doug Pace said
Corrections officers discovered it was actually an inmate who was
on fire and were able to quickly extinguish the blaze, Napa City Fire
Battalion Chief John Callanan said.
The inmate had wrapped himself in toilet paper and used a chord
with a spark from a TV to ignite the toilet paper and set his clothes on
fire, Callanan said.
Stuart said Cannon was alone in his cell.
The fire was contained to Cannon's cell, but smoke from the blaze
forced the evacuation of about 100 inmates from the third floor to other
parts of the jail, Emmett said.
A San Carlos man pleaded guilty Thursday to involuntary
manslaughter for the one-punch death of another man in a fight outside San
Francisco's AT&T Park during a San Francisco Giants game in 2008, a
Taylor Buckley agreed to a plea bargain Thursday morning that
includes one year in jail and five years of probation for his role in the
death of 18-year-old Anthony Giraudo on May 9, 2008, San Francisco Assistant
District Attorney Brian Buckelew said.
Buckley, who was also 18 at the time, punched Giraudo in the heat
of an argument outside the stadium during the Giants game.
Giraudo, a baseball player who had been attending Canada College
in Redwood City, fell and struck his head on the pavement, and died the next
day at San Francisco General Hospital.
Prosecutors contend Buckley sucker-punched Giraudo once on the
side of the face with a closed fist, but did not charge Buckley with murder
because the killing was deemed not to have occurred with malice.
Buckley's attorney, Douglas Horngrad, has said his client did not
intend to kill Giraudo and has called the incident "a tragic accident."
Buckley initially pleaded not guilty to the involuntary
manslaughter charge, but agreed to the plea deal at a hearing Thursday in San
Francisco Superior Court that was attended by members of both his family and
Giraudo's, Buckelew said.
Buckley was out of custody prior to Thursday's hearing, but was
handcuffed and remanded into custody after accepting the plea deal, Buckelew
Formal sentencing in the case is scheduled for March 22.
Fairfield police are looking for a man who assaulted and tried to
abduct a girl who was selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door in a mobile
home community on Walters Road Tuesday evening.
The suspect attacked the 14-year-old girl from behind and shoved
her to the ground around 6:30 p.m., Lt. Greg Hurlbut said.
He then dragged the teen along the ground toward his car but the
girl broke free, ran to a nearby home and called 911, Hurlbut said.
Police searched the area but did not find the suspect.
The assailant is a Latino man in his mid-20s, 6 feet tall with a
medium build. He has short dark hair, bushy eyebrows, a goatee and tattoos on
his arms, Hurlbut said.
The man was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and
boots, police said.
His vehicle is a 1990s green Honda four-door sedan with new tires,
A Solano County coroner's deputy Thursday identified the victim of
a fatal crash in Fairfield on Wednesday as 37-year-old Arnolfo Encisoroque,
Deputy Ray Lamb said Encisoroque was pronounced dead at 12:33 p.m.
at the scene of the crash on Peabody Road.
Fairfield police said a full-size Dodge pickup was traveling north
on Peabody Road near the Vacaville city limit around noon when traffic came
to an unexpected stop.
The driver of the Dodge, who was not identified, braked hard to
avoid a collision, causing the pickup to cross the center divider and enter
the southbound lane, Fairfield police Lt. Greg Hurlbut said.
The Dodge struck a small white Nissan pickup traveling south on
Peabody Road. Encisoroque, who was driving the Nissan, was trapped inside the
truck, Hurlbut said.
Fire crews cut Encisoroque free and began life-saving measures but
he died the scene, Hurlbut said.
Fairfield police and the Solano County District Attorney's Office
are investigating the crash, Hurlbut said.
Bay Area residents who have had recent trouble paying utility
bills will get a leg up with keeping their lights on with a $1.5 million
contribution by PG&E, the utility's president announced Thursday.
In partnership with the Salvation Army, PG&E made a $1.5 million
donation to its REACH program, which stands for Relief for Assistance Through
The program gives up to $200 to qualifying families who have
experienced uncontrollable or unforeseen hardship.
Interested customers can visit any Salvation Army branch to apply
or call PG&E's customer service line at (800) PGE-5000 to work out a payment
Applicants need to bring the PG&E bill that warns of service
PG&E President Chris Johns and Lt. Colonel Joe Posillico of The
Salvation Army announced PG&E's contribution Thursday afternoon at The
Salvation Army Family Services Center at 519 Stevenson St. in San Francisco.
Johns presented a large check to The Salvation Army.
San Mateo County sheriff's deputies Thursday afternoon found the
car of a missing Riverside County couple parked and unoccupied on Highway 1
near Devil's Slide, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said.
Search and rescue crews and other sheriff's personnel searched the
area for Billy and Colleen Waterman, who were reported missing on Monday, the
sheriff's office said. Their car was found at about 2:30 p.m.
Highway 1 was closed in both directions for part of the search but
was reopened as of about 9:30 p.m., the California Highway Patrol said.
It's unclear if the Watermans left the Devil's Slide area on foot
or by other means.
Anyone with information about their location is asked to call the
sheriff's office at (650) 363-4911.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching an
investigation into water quality issues affecting fish in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta, the agency announced Thursday.
The investigation will begin with a 60-day public comment period
in which the EPA, working with other state, local and federal agencies, will
seek to identify all the water quality issues impacting aquatic species in
the Delta, said Karen Schwinn, assistant director of the EPA's water division
in San Francisco.
Once those issues have been identified, EPA officials will examine
them to see if current regulations are sufficient. If they aren't, EPA
scientists will begin developing the research needed to recommend stricter
regulations, Schwinn said.
The Delta is at the center of California's water distribution
system. It provides drinking water to 25 million people, sustains irrigation
for 4 million acres of farmland, and supports 750 species of plants, fish and
According to the EPA, the water quality in the Delta is known to
be impaired, and many fish populations are at all-time lows.
There will not be an easy fix since the condition of the Delta
comes from the cumulative and interactive effects of multiple factors,
including water pollution, invasive species, water diversion and habitat
degradation, according to the EPA.
The investigation, known as the EPA's "Advanced Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking", is part of the Obama Administration's efforts to address water
issues in California under the Interim Federal Action Plan released in
The Bay Area is forecast to be sunny today, with highs in the 60s
and northeast winds around 5 mph expected.
Clear weather is expected tonight, when the forecast is calling
for lows in the 40s and variable winds around 5 mph.
Sunny, warmer weather is expected Saturday, with coastal and
inland highs in the mid 60s to lower 70s predicted. Light winds around 5 mph
are also expected.