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KVTA Local News

Amgen Announces Major Layoffs

KVTA News Tuesday July 29, 2014

Thousand Oaks-based biotech giant Amgen announced Tuesday it will be laying off between 2400 and 2900 of its 20,000 employees starting later this year and next.

The cutbacks will not only impact the headquarters but also facilities throughout the United States and the world.

Ventura County economist Bill Watkins, a professor and Executive Director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, tells KVTA News there's no doubt the downsizing will hit the local economy hard.

He says when you have a major player like Amgen do something like this it's going to be felt throughout the county.

Amgen officials say their plan is to keep the company strong by making it more efficient, keeping it on the cutting edge technologically, and reinvesting the savings.

Amgen's second quarter performance this year far exceeded Wall Street's expectations and the company is raising its forecasted earnings for 2014.

Retired Oxnard Officer Gets Life For Molestations

KVTA News Tuesday July 29, 2014

A Ventura County judge Tuesday sentenced a retired police officer to 83-years-to-life in prison for molesting two children.

In June, a jury convicted 57-year-old Michael Williamson of six counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14, one count of aggravated sexual assault on a child under 14, and one count of aggravated sexual assault on a child under 14 by means of rape.

Prosecutors say Williamson molested one of the children from 1993 through 1997 and the other from 2004 through 2008. 

Those victims were female.

Evidence was presented to the jury that Williamson molested another girl and a boy in the early 1990's and in 1997, but those crimes could not be prosecuted.

Williamson retired from the Oxnard Police Department in 2001.

Trial Ordered For Ventura Woman In Keys Killing

KVTA News Tuesday July 29, 2014

(Photo courtesy Ventura County Sheriff)

A judge Tuesday ordered a Ventura woman to stand trial for murder in connection with the killing of her aunt in the Ventura Keys in June of 2009.

47-year-old Gina Drake is accused in the fatal stabbing of her aunt, 61-year-old Wendy Di Rodio.

Di Rodio was found dead in a bedroom of her parents' home on Sailor Avenue.

She had been living there in order to take care of her father.

The investigation into the killing lasted almost three years and was complicated by the fact that Drake was married to a Ventura Police officer at the time.

Police had to make sure there were no conflicts in the investigation and they had to make sure that Drake's husband was cleared of any involvement.

He divorced Drake not long after the killing.

Testimony during the two day preliminary hearing indicated that Drake and her aunt were involved in disagreements over several family issues and there had been prior confrontations.

Drake remains free on $1 million and will return to court on August 13th to be araigned and have a trial date set.

Woman Threatens To Jump Off Oxnard High Rise

KVTA News Tuesday July 29, 2014

Oxnard police say a suicidal woman was talked out of jumping off the roof of the 22-story Morgan-Stanley building Tuesday.

Officers responded to the structure around 11:15 AM to a report of a woman on the roof of the high rise.

When they arrived they found a 40-year-old Ventura woman straddling the short wall that runs around the top of the building.

She was threatening to jump.

A crisis intervention officer began talking to the woman and about an hour later she was convinced to surrender without further incident.

The woman was taken to Ventura County Mental Health for evaluation.

Police were not releasing how the woman got onto the roof in the first place.

SUV Crashes Into Ventura Condo

KVTA News Tuesday July 29, 2014

(Photo courtesy Ventura City Fire)

A woman suffered minor injuries after her SUV crashed into a condo building in the 2800 block of Harbor Boulevard in Ventura Tuesday morning.

They say it was reported around 10:17 AM.

The driver managed to get out of the wreckage on her own by the time firefighters arrived on scene.

No one in the condo was hurt.

Once the vehicle was removed from the building, fire crews were able to shore up the damaged structure so it was safe for occupancy.

Ventura Building and Safety and the building owner were assessing long term impacts and repairs.

Ventura police were investigating the crash.

Hearing Underway In Ventura Keys Killing

KVTA News Monday July 28, 2014 

A preliminary hearing will continue Tuesday for the Ventura woman charged with murder in the stabbing death of her aunt in the Ventura Keys in June 2009.

47-year-old Gina Drake is accused in the death of 61-year-old Wendy Di Rodio.

Di Rodio's mother found her stabbed to death in her parents' home in the 2800 block of Sailor Avenue.

Di Rodio had been staying with her parents to care for her father.

Ventura police conducted an extensive investigation over almost three years before arresting Drake for murder. 

The investigation was complicated by the fact that at the time of the killing, Drake was married to a Ventura Police Officer who divorced her shortly after she became a suspect in the killing.

Police wanted to make sure there were no conflicts in the investigation and that Officer Drake was fully cleared of any involvement.

At Drake's preliminary hearing Monday, a detective and two other witnesses testified.

The hearing, which is for the judge to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for Drake to stand trial, recessed for the day and will resume 9AM Tuesday.

Drake remains free on $1 million bail.

Ventura Man Pleads Guilty To Day Care Molestation

KVTA News Monday July 28, 2014


A Ventura man who was originally accused of molesting a young girl under his supervision at an after school day care camp pleaded guilty Monday.

27-year-old Matthew Winton was charged in connection with the molestation of two girls, ages 7 and 11 at the time.

Only the case of the 7-year-old had to do with the after school day care camp.

Winton entered a guilty plea to lewd acts with a child and admitted a specially allegation in one of the cases, the other case against him will be dismissed at sentencing.

Winton, who is currently being held without bail, faces eight years in prison when he is sentenced on October 23rd.

Fatal Stabbing Suspect In Juvenile Hall

KVTA News Monday July 28, 2014

Ventura County Sheriff's officials say the suspect in last week's fatal stabbing near west Ventura is now in Juvenile Hall.

Captain Don Aguilar tells KVTA News that 18-year-old Howard Lovett was released from the County Jail Friday and transferred to juvenile hall in El Rio.

Aguilar says Lovett was never out of custody.

He would not give specifics about the transfer to juvenile hall but it's believed that Lovett is in juvenile hall on an unrelated juvenile case which allows prosecutors to keep him in custody while they determine what charges should be filed against him in the fatal stabbing last week of 25-year-old Devin Morris.

Details of juveniles cases are by law kept confidential except in rare circumstances so no one would provide any details about the juvenile case that is allowing the authorities to keep Lovett locked up without charges being filed in the fatal stabbing case.

And because of that, Lovett was being housed in juvenile hall even though he is over 18 years of age.

Deputies accused Lovett of fatally stabbing Morris while the two were involved in an altercation on Holt Street in the early morning hours of July 23rd.

Lovett was arrested about 12 hours later and initially booked into the Ventura County Jail.

But his scheduled arraignment Friday came and went without charges being filed and he was later taken to juvenile hall on the prior unrelated juvenile matter.

Defense Wants Plea Deal In Faria Beach Murder Case

KVTA News Sunday July 27, 2014

A hearing is set for August 8th on whether accused Faria Beach killer Joshua Packer would be allowed to plead guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

Packer is currently facing the possibly of the death penalty if convicted in the killings of Brock and Davina Husted and their unborn child at their oceanfront home in May of 2009.

A motion was filed Friday by Packer's defense attorneys who say that in light of a recent federal judge ruling that California’s death penalty system is unconstitutional, a motion should be considered that would allow Packer to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without parole rather than the death penalty.

Defense attorneys believe the DA's office will oppose the motion.

The case has been bogged down in pretrial issues and is not likely to go to trial before next year.

The recent federal judge’s ruling regarding the state’s death penalty is not binding on the Packer case and only applies to a Los Angeles case.

But it is seen as one of several recent developments that have placed the death penalty under serious attack.

VPD Says Unrelated Crashes Involved Stolen Vehicles

KVTA News Saturday July 26, 2014

Ventura police say two people are in custody after they crashed stolen vehicles in unrelated incidents Saturday afternoon.

The first crash happened shortly before 1 PM in the 1800 block of E. Thompson Boulevard.

Police say the suspect driver, 37-year-old Conrad Moraga of Oxnard, tried to run from the scene but was caught and arrested.

They say the vehicle he was allegedly driving was stolen in Oxnard earlier in July and contained property taken in some vehicle burglaries in Ventura Friday.

Police say they also found some drugs, drug paraphernalia, a steel baton, and pepper spray.

Then, about an hour later Saturday afternoon, there was an unrelated crash in the 4200 block of Dean Drive near Camino Real Park.

Police say the driver, 24-year-old Eric Bujak of Ventura, was in a vehicle that was stolen sometime Friday night or early Saturday morning while parked in the 200 block of W. Lewis Street in west Ventura.

The vehicle owner reported it stolen Saturday morning and told police she had inadvertently left her purse containing her car keys in the front yard of her residence overnight.

Bujak was taken to VCMC to be treated for minor injuries and then was booked into the Ventura County Jail.

Motorcyclist Suffers Major Injuries In Ventura Crash

KVTA News Saturday July 26, 2014

Updated--A motorcyclist suffered major injuries in a crash on the NB 101 Freeway in Ventura Saturday afternoon.

It happened shortly before 6 PM on the NB 101 between the 126 and Seaward Avenue.

Initial report indicated the motorcyclist down in the roadway, not moving, and had suffered a traumatic leg injury.

The motorcyclist was rushed to VCMC, current condition is unknown.

The incident stopped all northbound traffic for a time but the roadway was cleared about an hour later.

The CHP is investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.

No other details are available.

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.