News

Friday news round-up from around the Bay

Merchants can't ask for Zip Codes when customers pay by credit card, state Supreme Court rules

Here's a round-up of Friday news reports from around the Bay provided by the Bay City News bureau.

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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

clear purpose."

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

address.

Craig Cardon, a lawyer for the company, said he had no immediate

comment on the decision. A company spokesman could not be reached for

comment.

Pineda's lawyer, Gene Stonebarger, said the ruling "furthers the

privacy rights of California consumers."

-0-

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 crash.

-0-

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

murdering her.

"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

dark shades.

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

I."

"He's a strong guy," Geragos said. "He's more concerned about his

family."

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.

-0-

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

before.

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.

-0-

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

said.

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

Francisco.

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

worker safety."

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.

-0-

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

Wednesday.

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.

-0-

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

prosecutor said.

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

said.

Formal sentencing in the case is scheduled for March 22.

-0-

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,

police said.

-0-

A Solano County coroner's deputy Thursday identified the victim of

a fatal crash in Fairfield on Wednesday as 37-year-old Arnolfo Encisoroque,

of Vacaville.

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.

-0-

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

Community Help.

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

plan.

Applicants need to bring the PG&E bill that warns of service

disconnection.

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.

-0-

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.

-0-

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

other wildlife.

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

December 2009.

-0-

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.

Janna Brancolini, Bay City News

Comments

Posted by PZ_is_Innocent, a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm

www.paulzumot.com


Posted by retailer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2012 at 9:12 am

"prohibiting retailers from soliciting and recording information about the
cardholder that is unnecessary to the credit card transaction"
Idiots. Try running the CC transaction to the point where the card reader or computer asks for the zip code and don't put one in. The transaction will fail to go through. If CA wants to make this illegal then get the CC companies to stop REQUIRING it as part of the validation for the transaction.


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