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Driver Sentenced to 300 Days in Jail in Death of Businessman Clarence Minetti

Elvia Tello, who pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter, also loses her license for three years and is ordered to pay restitution

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor | @tombol |

A 38-year-old woman was sentenced Monday to 300 days in the Santa Barbara County Jail for her role in a crash last year near Guadalupe that fatally injured prominent Santa Maria Valley rancher and businessman Clarence Minetti.

Elvia Tello was sentenced by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Kay Kuhns. In addition to the jail term, Tello was placed on five years of supervised felony probation, according to Deputy District Attorney Brooke Girard, who prosecuted the case.

Kuhns also ordered Tello to pay restitution to Minetti’s family and to another woman injured in the crash, with the amounts to be set at a future hearing. She also will lose her driving privileges for three years.

Tello, who was immediately taken into custody, will be eligible for up to one-third time off her sentence for good behavior, Girard said.

Tello pleaded no contest last month to a single felony charge of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated like a conviction for purposes of punishment.

Girard asserted that the crash was not an accident, but the result of Tello being inpatient and disregarding the rules of the road.

“This whole thing is a great tragedy,” Girard said after the sentencing. “The sentencing will not bring Mr. Minetti back, but I hope that people reading about the amount of loss will pay attention and be patient when they are driving.”

Minetti, 93, was a rancher businessman and restaurateur who was highly regarded in the Santa Maria Valley as a community servant and public leader. He co-founded and operated the Far Western Tavern in Guadalupe, served as general chairman of the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo from 1967 to 1993, and actively supported numerous charitable causes.

Tello was driving on West Betteravia Road on March 25, 2011, when she attempted to pass a commercial truck and trailer, crossing over a double yellow line on a curved portion of the roadway, according to prosecutors. She then collided with a vehicle driven by Irene Medina in which Minetti was a passenger.

Minetti suffered major injuries and died a few days later. Tello and Medina also were hospitalized for injuries suffered in the crash. Girard noted that Medina, who submitted a victim-impact statement to the court, still suffers ill effects from the crash

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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» on 04.17.12 @ 02:58 PM

I cannot fathom how someone who so crassly ignored the rights of others and rules of the road should get her driving priviledge back in three years.  Will Mr. Minetti receive his life back in three years.  The man was a tough older gentleman who had his life taken from him by the thoughtless actions of another.  Not to mention the survivor who will continue to suffer from these actions.

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