The man who started the Ponderosa Fire last August gets 14 years in prison. 30 year old John Ballenger received that sentence today in Butte County Court. The exact sentence was 14 years 4 months with a minimum of 12 years behind bars before he's eligible for parole. He must also pay 2 point 9 million dollars in restitution. He'd pled no contest to the arson charges.
Colusa County Sheriff's detectives say a man has been arrested after two women's bodies were found on his father's property _ one in a freezer and another in a pond. The Colusa County Sheriff's Office says Martin Ehrke was arrested Thursday. Detectives had been called to the property in Arbuckle with a report of a woman's body found. They discovered her in a large freezer in a bedroom. Hours later found the woman in the pond, and arrested Ehrke.
If you live in the Loma rica, Iowa City or Palemo areas, please take shelter immediately. Tornado Warning has been issued for Butte, Yuba Counties until 2:45pm. Take shelter immediately if in its path!
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A former Chico Police Sergeant charged with assaulting a suspect pleads not guilty in court Wednesday. It comes in the case of Scott Ruppel whose attorney gave his plea of not guilty in his place. The charges stem from body camera video reportedly showing Ruppel putting 21-year-old William Rowley the 2nd who was already in handcuffs in a stranglehold back in August. According to Chico Police, Ruppel was put on administrative leave and he has since retired from the police department.
Chico's Mayor says the State of the City Celebration is like Chico's Oscars. Chico Mayor Sean Morgan made that statement on our Morning News today in previewing tomorrow's State of the City at the Card Center at 3 in the afternoon. Morgan says he'll outline how people can help the problems pushed on the city by the state.
A domestic violence call leads to school lockdowns in south Chico. A girl called Chico Police stating that her stepfather, identified as 32-year-old Michael Sterling and her mother were engaged in an argument at their apartment on Notre Dame Boulevard before 10:30 Tuesday morning. That argument allegedly escalated into a physical altercation. Police received a report that Sterling had left the area on foot, allegedly armed with a pistol. This prompted police to place nearby March Jr. High School and Little Chico Creek Elementary School on lockdown. According to a Chico Police Department press release, officers quickly located and detained Sterling. Police called off the lockdown which lasted less than 5 minutes. Sterling was arrested for domestic violence and a felon in possession of a firearm.
Chico's Vice Mayor will not seek re-election. Vice Mayor Reanette Fillmer made that announcement Tuesday. Fillmer recently took the position of vice president and chief administrative services officer at Golden State Farm Credit. She said the new position would have a greater workload and time commitment. With Fillmer leaving that leaves 3 seats open for the Council for the election in November.
A Chico man considered a person of interest in the death of his mother late last week has been charged with auto theft. 32-year-old Alton Facciuto was arraigned in a Butte County courtroom Monday. He is charged with theft of his mother's car and for violating his parole. Facciuto and his mother Sherry were reported missing Thursday. Later deputies found Sherry's empty vehicle allegedly crashed into a fence near Bed Bath and Beyond in Chico. Early monday morning Sherry Facciuto was reportedly found dead at her home on Anita Road. Deputies found and arrested Alton Facciuto later that morning. According to court documents, Facciuto has an extensive criminal history including prison time for robbery.
According to the Butte County D-A's Office, Facciuto has not confessed to the murder.
A man with warrants out for his arrest is allegedly caught shoplifting at a Chico store. Loss prevention staff at Kohl's spotted a man inside the store around 4 Friday afternoon who was suspected of stealing merchandise from the store two days earlier. The employees believed the suspect was concealing merchandise and as he left the store they reportedly nabbed him. According to a Chico Police Department press release, a records check revealed that the suspect, 50-year-old Thomas Rainbolt had three warrants for his arrest. One of those warrants was for vehicle theft. Besides stolen merchandise police allegedly found a small amount of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
California's Department of Water Resources and other National dam safety experts come in for some harsh criticism in the final forensic report over the spillway collapses last February. The independent panel released its report today and said the Oroville Dam had inherent design and construction weaknesses. It says the fault lies not on any one thing, but a series of events that led to the evacuation order where some 200 thousand people were threatened. In the future, the panel says one person should be responsible for dam safety and the dam safety culture and program within DWR must change.
A low snowpack does NOT seem to have State Water Officials worried. The Department of Water Resources took its first snow survey Wednesday and the snowpack was only 24 percent statewide. DWR Spokesman Doug Carlson says last year's record rainfall helped a lot.
He says the sought after "rivers of moisture" have been blocked by a High Pressure System off the West Coast. He says that will kick the air into Canada, and that helps explain why it's so cold on the East Coast right now.
Butte County authorities are on the lookout for a suspect wanted on a felony. Deputies arrived to Jasper Way in Chico to serve an arrest warrant to 30-year-old Ryan Rash. He was wanted on a felony warrant for failing to complete the Butte County SWAP program. According to Butte County officials, SWAP is a program consists of working in the community rather than serving time in jail.
According to a Butte County Sheriff's Office press release, Rash allegedly fled on foot and then got into an Infinity sports car leading deputies on a chase. Deputies called off the pursuit due to the high speeds in residential neighborhoods.
Rash is wanted for the felony no bail warrent and for failing to yield with wanton disregard for public safety.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. Josh Brazzi at 538-7321.
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