Tuesday, May 24 , 2016, 1:55 am | A Few Clouds 55º

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.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.