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Saturday, March 23 , 2019, 8:42 am | Overcast 50º

 
 
 
 

Bill Macfadyen: Alleged Shoplifting Crew Runs But Can’t Hide from Prying Eyes

What’s else is news in NoozWeek’s Top 5? A rollover wreck, a fatal collision, a flimflam man’s comeuppance, and a Dollar Tree is planted. But first, I have something to ask you

Suspects Click to view larger
Sit tight. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)

“I read Noozhawk every day.”

“I rely on the Noozhawk for updated and accurate local news.”

“You are an invaluable resource for the community.”

“We love Noozhawk!”

“You provide reliable local news. Please extend your in-depth reporting as much as possible. Thank you.”

“Already a Hawks Club member but want to increase my monthly support.”

“I like Mcfadyen’s nooz articles.”

These are just a sampling of the hundreds of messages we received from new Hawks Club members after our initial March 13 email appeal was sent. We are elated at the response, and very grateful.

(Just so you know, that last response was not from my mom. After 60 years with it, I know she can spell our last name correctly.)

As I mentioned in my letter, we started Noozhawk in 2007 with the belief that readers were online looking for professional local news but not able to find a reliable source. We wanted to create a news organization that could meet the news and information needs of our community every day.

We’ve more than upheld that commitment, and Noozhawk is proud to have become the go-to source of news for locals, 24/7.

What many of you may not know is that we’ve been funding this critical community journalism largely with just the support of local advertising revenue.

While we are extremely grateful to our advertisers, most of whom have been with us for years, we recognize that we need to expand our revenue sources if we are to continue growing and covering even more of Santa Barbara County, and at a deeper level.

We believe the best way to do that is to ask our readers to contribute what you think we’re worth, and I’m asking you to do just that. You know you rely on us. Can we rely on you? Click here for our membership levels and benefits.

Journalism is vital to our democracy and to a functioning, engaged society, but journalism is under severe pressure — from within, from readers, from advertisers, from politicians and governments, from technology and from cultural trends.

It’s a tumultuous time to be a journalist, but we at Noozhawk think it’s never been more exciting, and our team has never been more energized. But we need your help.

Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll also hear from my business partners, executive editor Tom Bolton and business development vice president Kim Clark, who will share their perspectives on today’s rapidly evolving editorial and business models and their impacts on the reporting and delivery of local news.

In the meantime, thank you very much for an eye-opening vote of confidence in what we’re doing. We are grateful for your ongoing support, and we can’t wait to tell you what else we’ve been working toward in 2019 and how it’s going to benefit you.

We’re not quite ready to reveal that, but I can regale you with another edition of my Best of Bill column, in which I give you my take on the Top 5 stories of the past week, as tracked by our Google Analytics.

According to those analytics, there were 125,307 of you reading Noozhawk over the last seven days. These are the stories you read most:

1. 4 Arrested in Connection with Commercial Burglaries in Santa Barbara Area

A hawk-eyed Santa Barbara police officer and equally observant eyewitnesses helped break up what authorities say was a string of commercial burglaries on Santa Barbara County’s South Coast.

According to SBPD spokesman Anthony Wagner, a shoplifting theft was reported just after 9 a.m. March 12 at the Rite Aid drug store at 1976 Cliff Drive on the Mesa. Unfortunately for the suspects, witnesses gave responding officers pretty good descriptions of them, as well as the getaway car.

“Another Santa Barbara police officer investigating an unrelated call became aware of a vehicle matching the description of the Rite Aid investigation,” Wagner told our Tom Bolton.

“That officer located the vehicle in the 100 block of West Cabrillo Boulevard, occupied by two females.”

With backup converging on the West Beach neighborhood, two more suspects — a man and a woman — were quickly taken into custody, he added.

Wagner said all four were arrested in connection with the Rite Aid case after officers successfully conducted in-field lineups of the suspects with the witnesses.

SBPD detectives determined that the alleged perps were also suspects in recent thefts at a Vons supermarket in Santa Barbara and The Home Depot in Goleta.

Wagner identified the suspects as Alisha Marin, 43; Blaine Page, 24; Cassandra Romano, 27; and Sara Romano, 21. He said they were booked into County Jail on various felony, misdemeanor and probation-related charges, including shoplifting grand theft and drug possession.

Sara Romano was being held without bail, and bail for Marin and Cassandra Romano was set at $20,000 each. As of March 13, jail records showed that Page was no longer in custody.

2. Extrication Required After Rollover Crash on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara

Wreck Click to view larger
And full stop. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

A middle-of-the-night collision sent an SUV rolling over off Highway 101 in Santa Barbara on March 10. The driver had to be extricated from the wreckage of the vehicle, which took out an above-ground electrical vault on its way off the freeway.

According to Santa Barbara fire Capt. Dave Ward, the crash occurred just after 3 a.m. when the SUV collided with another vehicle and tumbled off the roadway near the northbound Hope Avenue exit ramp.

He said the SUV driver somehow avoided a row of palm trees before slamming into an electrical vault that controls the traffic signal at the intersection of Hope and Calle Real across from Santa Barbara Auto Group.

“It’s amazing that he threaded between the palm trees, which would have been a lot worse for him had he hit them,” Ward told our Tom Bolton.

Firefighters used “Jaws of Life” hydraulic equipment to cut away the SUV’s roof and free the driver. He was taken by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The man’s identity and medical condition were not disclosed. There were no other injuries in the wreck — save for the obliterated electrical vault.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the circumstances of the crash.

3. Fatality Reported in Summerland Rear-End Crash During Morning Commute

A medical emergency appears to have been a factor in a fatal rear-end collision on Highway 101 during the March 11 morning commute through Summerland.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the crash was reported at 8:35 a.m. in the northbound lanes near the Evans Avenue exit.

First responders indicated that one of the drivers may have had a heart attack. Battalion Chief Mike Gallagher of the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District told our Giana Magnoli that the driver was not breathing and had no pulse when emergency personnel arrived.

Firefighters and an ambulance crew administered CPR, but the driver was declared dead at the scene.

Gallagher said authorities were not sure if the medical emergency caused the collision or if the collision caused the medical emergency. He added that the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Bureau will investigate the cause of death.

The CHP is investigating the circumstances of the wreck.

“A person driving a Kia had a medical emergency then collided into a VW on the No. 1 lane in stop-and-go traffic,” the CHP said in an initial statement. “Medical personnel could not revive the driver of the Kia.”

No identities were disclosed and there were no other injuries reported.

Montecito Fire Protection District personnel also responded to the scene.

4. Santa Barbara Man Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Federal Fraud Case

Lompoc police vehicle Click to view larger
It seems so unassuming and nondescript from the outside, right? (Janene Scully / Noozhawk file photo)

A federal judge has unplugged the former bass guitarist for the rock band The Ataris after the Santa Barbara resident’s guilty plea in a multimillion-dollar, multistate real-estate telemarketing scam.

Michael S. Davenport, 50, pleaded guilty last September to a one-count federal indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

As our Janene Scully reported, U.S. District Judge Staci Yandle in the Southern District of Illinois on March 6 sentenced him to seven years in prison.

According to his indictment, Davenport was accused of running a Santa Barbara County-based business that defrauded thousands of would-be renters and homebuyers nationwide of more than $25 million between 2009 and 2016.

The company was known variously as American Standard, American Standard Online, Anchor House Financial, Housing Standard LLC, MDSQ Productions LLC and Your American Standard. Whatever its name, federal prosecutors say it was set up to hornswoggle unsuspecting marks around the country.

Court documents say that, for $199, call center employees promised customers that they would receive access to a list of houses that were either for sale or in foreclosure or pre-foreclosure, the latter of which they could acquire by simply taking over the monthly mortgage payments.

In fact, according to the documents, the houses on the list were not for sale, didn’t exist, or had owners not interested in selling or not at risk of foreclosure.

Federal agents and local authorities raided Davenport’s office at a Lompoc strip mall on North V Street in 2016, as well as three other locations in Santa Barbara County.

At his sentencing, Yandle chastised Davenport for what she characterized as a crime of greed.

“You were intoxicated with making all this money,” she told him. “You did horrible things.”

As part of his sentence, Davenport was ordered to forfeit $853,210 in fraud proceeds that were recovered from his credit card processing accounts, as well as $79,000 in cash.

Four of Davenport’s former employees also have been charged.

Cynthia L. Rawlinson, 52; Mark A. Phillips, 50; and Semjase E. Santana, 37, all of Santa Barbara, were sentenced to five years of supervised release. Carlynne L. Davis, 34, of Lompoc, is to be sentenced next month.

Now, although I played my share of Atari’s Pong when I was a teenager, I’m a country music guy and had never heard of The Ataris before this case. But the Eagles and Don Henley are exceptions in my playlists, and it turns out that I do know one of The Ataris’ songs, and so do you:

(Hun Dengizik video)

5. BizHawk: Dollar Tree Store Coming to Fairview Center in Goleta

Fairview Shopping Center Click to view larger
Money may not grow on trees, but a Dollar Tree is about to sprout here. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

When Sprouts Farmers Market moved into the Fairview Center location in Goleta that was formerly occupied by the hapless Haggen grocery store and, before that, Vons, it didn’t take the entire space. Sprouting soon there at 175 N. Fairview Ave. will be a Dollar Tree store.

Dollar Tree, a Chesapeake, Va.-based national chain of more than 6,500 stores, offers a wide variety of items, from kitchen, dining and home furnishings to toys, books, crafts and health and beauty supplies.

As our Josh Molina first reported, the store is expected to open in the fall.

“I’m looking forward to Goleta offering an expanded range of pricing options for food and furnishings,” City Councilman James Kyriaco said. “I am looking forward to more choices and a broader range of choices.”

And speaking of Sprouts, my friend, KEYT News reporter John Palminteri, tweeted March 12 that the health food store is adding a Santa Barbara location at the former home of Trader Joe’s, at 29 S. Milpas St.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Jack Cantin of Montecito, 2000-2018.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Watch this space: Mercury Is in Retrograde. Don’t Be Alarmed.

                                                                 •        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

“Couldn’t Refresh Feed.”

That’s what I’ve been seeing in my Instagram feed this past week, but maybe you’ll be able to look, and like, because I was on one of the very last Boeing 737-Max8s in the air when the planes were grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration.

As for Instagram’s grounding, it would be a real shame if it went the way of its parent company, Facebook, which annoys me and I’ve all but abandoned. Just sayin’.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

If you know Alaskan malamutes like I know Alaskan malamutes, you know this can happen. And you’ve probably seen it in your kitchen, too. Including bringing back the plate for seconds. And thirds.

(The Adventures of Tonka the Malamute AKA WaterWolf video)

                                                                 •        •        •

How You Can Help Noozhawk

Noozhawk is proud to be the go-to source of news for locals like yourself. You trust and rely on us to provide timely, relevant and thorough coverage of the issues that shape Santa Barbara County.

And we get up early — and stay up late — excited to report what’s going on in our community so we can keep you informed and engaged.

While most of Noozhawk’s revenue comes from advertising and sponsorships, we believe that reader contributions are a vital source of support — financially and fundamentally. We believe that if we ask our readers to contribute what you think we’re worth, we can build a sustainable business model for local news.

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Thank you for your support.

— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk and Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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