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KVTA Local News

Former Ventura County Worker Sentenced For Stealing

KVTA News Friday July 25, 2014

A former employee of the Ventura County Human Services Agency has been sentenced to four years in state prison for stealing public money.
Prosecutors say that 38-year-old Ana Maria Castro of Oxnard worked as a client benefits specialist for HSA for 10 years.
They say during that time she used her position to appropriate food stamp benefits and cash aid benefits for two inactive clients and also created an account for a non-existent family, adding numerous bogus household members to each account to maximize the illegal benefits she received.
Prosecutors say Castro also provided CalFresh (food stamp) cards to two relatives who also illegally obtained benefits.
She earlier pleaded guilty to misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement of public funds, public benefits fraud, and filing forged documents.
She was ordered to pay $252,903 in restitution to HSA.

A former employee of the Ventura County Human Services Agency has been sentenced to four years in state prison for stealing public money.

Prosecutors say that 38-year-old Ana Maria Castro of Oxnard worked as a client benefits specialist for HSA for 10 years.

They say during that time she used her position to appropriate food stamp benefits and cash aid benefits for two inactive clients and also created an account for a non-existent family, adding numerous bogus household members to each account to maximize the illegal benefits she received.

Prosecutors say Castro also provided CalFresh (food stamp) cards to two relatives who also illegally obtained benefits.

She earlier pleaded guilty to misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement of public funds, public benefits fraud, and filing forged documents.

She was ordered to pay $252,903 in restitution to HSA.

Warm Weather Will Continue In Ventura County

KVTA News Friday July 25, 2014


While today's high temperatures are likely to be slightly cooler than Thursday's in Ventura County, the National Weather Service says the warm temperatures will be with us through next week.

On Thursday, the hot spot in Ventura County was Ojai at 104 with the other valleys areas ranging in the 90's.

Areas along the coast like Ventura and Oxnard were in the low 80's.

Camarillo was 87 which broke the previous record for that date in Camarillo which was 86 in 1974.

We can expect highs in the 80's and 90's to continue until at least the middle of next week, although some coastal areas could drop into the mid to upper 70's.

Gasoline Prices Drop In Ventura County

KVTA News Friday July 25, 2014

The average price for gasoline in Ventura County has been dropping.

According to the Triple-A Fuel Gauge Survey, the average for regular unleaded in the county as of Friday morning was $4.01 which is a penny less than Thursday, a nickel below a week ago, and 11 cents under a month ago.

It's eight cents less than a year ago.

Diesel is more expensive.

As of Friday morning the average was $4.12 a gallon which is about the same as Thursday, a penny under a week ago, a nickel below a month ago and about the same as a year ago.

Santa Paula Police Investigate Homicide

KVTA News Thursday July 24, 2014

Santa Paula police say a homicide investigation is underway after they found a man shot to death in a home Wednesday afternoon.

They say officers were called to the 400 block of Grant Line around 3:42 PM to a report of a man injured under suspicious circumstances.

Officers found 33-year-old Hector Alamillo Jr. of Santa Paula dead from a gunshot wound.

No other details were released by police.

Another Convenience Store Robbery In Oxnard

KVTA News Thursday July 24, 2014

Oxnard police are looking for a gunman who robbed a convenience store Wednesday night.

They say that shortly before 9:30 PM, the suspect walked into the 7-Eleven at 1955 S. Patterson Road wearing a cloth over his face.

Police say the suspect brandished a handgun and demanded cash from the register.

The clerk gave the suspect the money and the suspect fled the store.

There were no injuries.

Police say the suspect was a male in his 20's who was wearing a Laker's cap, a black sweatshirt, and black pants.

If you have any information for police regarding this incident call the Violent Crimes Hotline at (805) 987-7070 or Crime Stopper at 1-800-222-8477.

Suspect In Oxnard Robbery Spree Arrested For Ventura Robbery

KVTA News Thursday July 24, 2014


Ventura police say the suspect in a July 13th robbery at the Burlington Coat Factory on Telephone Road in Ventura turns out to be the same person Oxnard police arrested three days later following a spree of robberies and one attempted robbery in Oxnard.

Ventura police arrested 39-year-old Salvador Medrano of Oxnard at the Ventura County Jail where he's been since being arrested on July 16th following a botched robbery at the cafeteria at Saint John's Medical Center in Oxnard.

His arrest came after Oxnard police say he robbed a Subway sandwich shop, the Food for Less, Home Depot, and Vallarta Market in Oxnard in a 12 hour period from the night of July 15 through the morning of July 16th in Oxnard.

He was caught that morning trying to flee the attempted holdup at Saint John's cafeteria.

Ventura police say two days before that Oxnard crime spree, Medrano allegedly went to the check out stand at the Burglington Coat Factory in Ventura and pretended to be buying a soda from the refrigerator.

Police say he instead demanded money from the sales clerk, put the cash in a bag and then fled.

Ventura police searched for him but he was not found.

Medrano is in jail on $750,000 and has pleaded not guilty to the Oxnard crimes.

Pair Arrested For Ventura Homicide

KVTA News Wednesday July 23, 2014

Ventura police say they've arrested two suspects in connection with the killing of a young man near the Ventura County Fairgrounds almost a year ago.

On July 31st of last year, 18-year-old Gabriel Gutierrez of Ventura got involved in an altercation with two other young men at the fair.

Police say they left the fair and went to an area between the fairgrounds and the Ventura River where Gutierrez was shot to death.

Police say that they've arrested two suspects in that killing.

25-year-old Erick Estrada of Ventura was arrested in the Ventura County Jail where he's been in custody for an unrelated crime.

Police say 18-year-old Timothy Adams of Ventura fled the country after the killing but had recently returned to the United States and was hiding out with relatives in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

With the help of the authorities in Idaho and the federal authorities, Adams was located and arrested on July 14th as he left his father's home.

He is currently awaiting extradition.

Both will be charged with murder with a gang enhancement.

Train Kills Ventura Woman

KVTA News Wednesday July 23, 2014

Ventura police say a 54-year-old woman was struck and kiled by a train as she stood on the tracks along Harbor Boulevard just west of California Street Wednesday morning.

It happened around 9:45 AM.

Police say the northbound Amtrak was traveling at 55 mph when train personnel spotted the woman standing on the tracks.

They sounded the horn, but the woman did not move.

They tried to stop the train, but it was too late and she was struck and pronounced dead at the scene.

Her name has not been released yet.

Suspect Arrested In West Ventura Homicide

KVTA News Wednesday July 23, 2014

Updated--A suspect has been arrested in connection with the stabbing death of a young man near west Ventura early Wednesday morning.

Sgt. Denise Sliva tells KVTA News that 18-year-old Howard Lovett of Ventura was taken into custody at the sheriff's headquarters in Ventura early Wednesday afteroon.

He is being charged with the death of 25-year-old Devin Morris of Ventura.

Sliva says the two knew each other and lived in the same neighborhood.

She says that around 12:45 AM, they were involved in an altercation in the area of Holt Street near Ventura Avenue when Lovett fatally stabbed Morris.

Morris died at the scene.

Deputies conducted an extensive search of the area during the predawn hours and followed up on several leads provided by witnesses which led to Lovette's arrest.

Lovett was booked into the Ventura County Jail with bail set at $515,000.

Man Dies In Apparent Drowning Near Ventura Harbor

KVTA News Tuesday July 22, 2014

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department says that a 32-year-old Altadena man pulled from the ocean near Ventura Harbor Tuesday afternoon has died.

Around 3:30 PM there was a report of a swimmer in distress in the ocean south of the entrance to the harbor in the area of Surfer's Knoll.  Witnesses said the man went out for a swim then suddenly started yelling for help.

Ventura City Fire, AMR ambulance, State Beach Lifeguards, and the Ventura Harbor Patrol all responded to the scene.

They found a male floating face down in the surf zone with someone in the process of rescuing him.

The victim was in full cardiac arrest and CPR was administered.

A pulse was restored and the victim was taken to the hospital, but he later died.

Cause of death will be determined by the Medical Examiner's Office.

The victim's name has not been released yet.

Driver Accused Of Killing Ventura Pedestrian Pleads Not Guilty

KVTA News Tuesday July 22, 2014

The driver accused of killing a pedestrian in Ventura over the weekend while driving drunk denied those charges Tuesday.

27-year-old Sara Roche of Ventura pleaded not guilty to Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated which is a felony.

She also denied a number of special allegations including one that accuses her with having a .15 or higher blood alcohol level at the time of the incident.

Ventura police say that around 1:30 AM Saturday morning, Roche was southbound on Seaward Avenue at San Marcos Street when she allegedly struck and killed 53-year-old Matthew Alvarado of Ventura as he walked along the west curb of the street.

Police say Roche ultimately crashed her vehicle into a utility pole along southbound Seaward at Alessandro Drive.

The judge also lowered her bail from $500,000 to $100,000 and she was released from the Ventura County Jail early Wednesday morning and is due back in court in August.

Deputies Check Up On Registered Sex Offenders

KVTA News Tuesday July 22, 2014

Registered sex offenders in the unincorporated areas near the cities of Ventura and Oxnard got a visit Saturday from Ventura County Sheriff's deputies.

The deputies were conducting what are known as compliance checks to make sure the offenders are living where they are supposed to be living.

Forty offenders living in areas like Saticoy, El Rio, Nyeland Acres, Hollywood Beach, Silver Strand and the beach communities north of Ventura were contacted.

Deputies say 35 of them were in compliance, but five were not found.

They were either not home or possibly had moved.

Either way, deputies will do follow up checks to make sure they are in compliance.

Deputies conduct these compliance checks in those areas of Ventura County that are under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's department.

Goleta Explosion And Fire Caused By Honey Oil Lab

KVTA News Tuesday July 22, 2014

Santa Barbara County fire investigators now have a cause for an explosion and flash fire in Goleta Monday afternoon that sent one person to the hospital with third degree burns.

They say it was what they called a Butane Honey Oil operation in an apartment in the 400 block of Ellwood Beach Drive.

Fire officials say butane is used to extract oil from marijuana.

They say however that if the butane gas finds and ignition source, it can cause and explosion and flash fire, as it did Monday.

No word on the condition of the victim from Monday's incident.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department is now conducting an investigation into the incident.

Fire At Old Halaco Site In Oxnard

KVTA News Monday July 21, 2014

(Photo by Joel Garcia)

Update--Oxnard City and Ventura County firefighters have knocked down a fire in an abandoned building on the site of the old Halaco Engineering facility in south Oxnard.

Battalion Chief Sergio Martinez tells KVTA News they received several 911 calls around 6:45 PM.

He says when firefighters arrived on scene in the 6200 block of Perkins Road they found the abandoned two story office building well involved in flames.

There was an initial report of a victim, but Martinez says that they found no victims and there was no one injured.

He did say the building has been used by transients in the past and they believe the fire was started by those transients, possibly due to a cooking or warming fire.

The fire put up a large column of black smoke that could be see over a wide area.

Firefighters had it knocked down around 7:30 PM but are still on scene doing overhaul and making sure none of the water used to fight the fire runs off into the sensitive wetlands area.

The Halaco metal recycling facility was the site of much controversy in Oxnard for several decades, even after it was shut down completely about ten years ago and it became an EPA Superfund site.

Body Of Ventura County Man Found In Lake Cachuma

KVTA News Monday July 21, 2014

Ten days after he went missing in Lake Cachuma, the body of an El Rio man was found.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department says a group of citizens on a rented pontoon boat spotted the body of 22-year-old Isaiah Sanchez around noon Monday.

He was found about a hundred yards from the spot where he went under on July 11th.

Deputies say that Sanchez apparently drowned while trying to make it to shore to get help after the boat he and two other young men were on broke down on the lake.

The Coroner's Office will determine cause of death.

Driver In Fatal 101 Crash Near Ventura Arrested For DUI

KVTA News Monday July 21, 2014

The California Highway Patrol says a Los Angeles man who was critically injured in a crash that killed his passenger Sunday has been arrested for felony DUI.

They say that 27-year-old Luis Martinez was driving his 1990 Honda southbound on the 101 south of Padre Juan Canyon around 6:15 PM when he ran off the right side of the freeway, struck a tree, and overturned into a ditch.

His 26-year-old passenger Thalia Lazo of Los Angeles was pronounced dead at the scene.

Martinez was airlifted to VCMC in critical condition and later charged in connection with the fatal crash.

The incident tied up Sunday evening traffic on the southbound 101 heading into Ventura.

Port Hueneme PD Looks For Gunmen In Store Robbery

KVTA News Monday July 21, 2014

Port Hueneme police are looking for two gunmen who held up a store in that city over the weekend.

It happened around 9:50 PM Saturday night at the Rite-Aid store at 2480 Victoria Avenue.

Police say the two men, both armed with handguns, entered the store wearing dark clothing with their faces covered.

They demanded money, got the money, and then fled on foot.

No one was hurt.

Thousand Oaks Man Sentenced In Bribery Case

KVTA News Monday July 21, 2014

A former Bank of America employee from Thousand Oaks was sentenced Monday to two-and-a-half years in federal prison for taking more than $1.2 million in bribes to approve artificially low-price short sales of bank-held properties.

In addition, the judge ordered 29-year-old Kevin Lauricella to pay the bank $5.7 million in restitution and give up his home which was purchased in part with the bribery money.

Lauricella had earlier pleaded guilty to felony charges of taking bribes and falsifying bank documents.

Federal prosecutors say Lauricella worked for Bank of America's "short sales" department in Simi Valley in 2010 and 2011 and was responsible for negotiating short sales transactions.

They say in return for the bribes, Lauricella approved short sales that he was not authorized to make that were for sales prices far below the fair market value of the property.

Proseuctors say he then altered bank computer records to make it look as if the transaction was authorized.

PHPD Investigate Weekend Stabbing

KVTA News Monday July 21, 2014

Port Hueneme police are investigating a weekend stabbing in that city.

It was reported around 9:50 PM Saturday night in the 1300 block of N. 7th Place

The victim sustained several stab wounds but none of them life threatening.

Detectives say it appears there was a family dispute that turned into a fight which led to the stabbing.

They are still trying to determine who was responsible for the stabbing.

The victim was taken to VCMC for treatement.

Contractor Interrupts Burglar In Ventura

KVTA News Monday July 21, 2014

Ventura police say a contractor caught a burglar in the act Monday afternoon.

They say shortly before 2 PM officers responded to the 700 block of Via Ondulando to a report of two men fighting in the street.

When they arrived at the scene they discovered that a contractor showed up for work at a house in the area and found the suspect stealing tools and other items.

The contractor tried to detain the suspect but the suspect got away.

Police located the suspect and took him into custody.

They say 34-year-old Joshua Davis of Ventura was booked into jail for residential burglary.

Meanwhile, two other people who were detained and questioned were not involved in the crime and were released.

One Dead, One Injured, In 101 Crash Near Ventura

KVTA News Sunday July 20, 2014

One person is dead, another critically injured, in a crash on the 101 Freeway near Ventura.

The crash happened around 6:15 PM Sunday on the southbound 101 south of Padre Juan Canyon.

Initially reports indicated a vehicle went off the right shoulder of the roadway and crashed into a ditch.

One person was pronounced dead at the scene, another was airlifted by sheriff's helicopter to VCMC in critical condition.

No details yet on what caused the crash or who was involved.

Ojai Playhouse Evacuated After Water Main Break

KVTA News Sunday July 20, 2014

(Photo courtesy Ventura County Fire Department)

A water main break in Ojai Sunday afternoon forced the evacuation of the Ojai Playhouse and another business in the area.

The incident was reported around 2:40 PM in the 100 block of E. Ojai Avenue.

The break was in an underground water main and was threatening to flood the structures.

Fire crews at the scene have called for at least three dozen sandbags so they can protect the buildings however some water has entered the buildings.

They report that the water flow is diminishing.

There is also concern this will create a sinkhole.

Ojai Avenue between Signal and Ventura Street is closed.

Customer Injured In Oxnard Bakery Explosion

KVTA News Sunday July 20, 2014

Oxnard fire officials say a customer was injured early Sunday morning in an explosion at a local bakery.

The incident happened at 4 AM Sunday but the fire department wasn't notified until about an hour later.

Fire investigators determined that around 4 AM the owner had opened up the Ortiz Bakery at Pleasant Valley and Saviers roads and was starting the oven when a customer came in.

They say when the owner opened the oven door, there was an explosion that blew out five windows and caused other damage.

The customer was also injured and was taken to Saint John's by private vehicle.

It wasn't until 5:12 AM that the fire department was notified and when they arrived all they found was a lot of broken glass and other damage consistent with an explosion.

They secured utilities and called in the gas company.

Cal Osha, Building and Safety, and Environmental Health were also notified as the investigation into what happened is continuing.

This was the same Ortiz Bakery that was severely damaged when a vehicle smashed into it in October of 2012.

Suicidal Subject In 2 Hour Standoff With VPD

KVTA News Sunday July 20, 2014

Ventura police were involved in a two hour rooftop standoff with an armed suicidal subject Sunday morning.

Officers were called to the 100 block of W. Main Street around 6:30 AM to a report of a suicidal subject inside a business.

When they arrived, they found the 56-year-old Ventura man on the roof of the building, refusing to come down.

They were told he might have guns, so a perimeter was set up, a crisis intervention officer was called in and the department's armored vehicle was dispatched to the scene.

Police say two hours later the subject came down voluntarily and was taken into custody without further incident.

He was taken to Ventura County Behavioral Health for evaluation.

No one was  hurt.

They did find several guns at the scene.