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Gas Tax Increase Fast Tracks LA County Road Repairs

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) —  Los Angeles County will benefit from $23.7 million in fast-tracked road repairs beginning this summer made possible by the recent passage of the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1), a California gas tax increase expected to raise $54 billion over the next decade to fix transportation infrastructure. The public works projects include a $7.2 million pavement preservation project on a nearly 22-mile stretch of State Route 1 between Long Beach and Hermosa Beach. “This legislation provides for needed investments to fix California’s roads, and Caltrans is acting quickly to get to work,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said. “This summer we will deploy construction teams across the state to resurface highways, improve safety for motorists and start filling more potholes than ever before.” The California State Transportation Agency and the Department of Transportation are expediting $285 million worth of road repair projects across the state as a result of the tax even before revenue from SB 1 starts to accrue this fall. For complete details on SB 1 visit http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/ . (©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.) Read More »

VIDEO: Car Bursts Into Flames In Brick, N.J.

BRICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A car fire was caught on camera in New Jersey. Police in Brick Township said a woman was driving her car Saturday when it suddenly burst into flames. She pulled into a nearby Sunoco gas station and managed to get out without getting hurt. The gas pumps were secured and the flames were quickly extinguished. There was no word on what sparked the fire. Read More »

Dodgers Star Kershaw Gives Free Backpacks To Families In Need

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw pitched in to help Los Angeles school children get free backpacks. The Dream Center held its annual Back to School Backpack Bash Saturday, offering up games, fun and backpacks full of supplies for families in need. “School’s not cheap,” said Kershaw. “There’s a lot of things you need to help with your education. If we can do a little part in that to help out that’s great for us.” And clearly giving runs in the family — Kershaw’s 2-year-old daugther Cali — who is about the size of a backpack — joined in to hand them out. Kershaw has been involved with the event for the last four years. However, this is the second year in a row his foundation Kershaw’s Challenge has taken up all the purchasing of the school supplies for the kids. “Hopefully if you have the right equipment and supplies, you can get off on the right foot in the school year,” said Kershaw. Soon-to-be 5th grader Isela Matul was one of the 2,500 young people getting free school supplies. That meant getting in line six hours early. Time spent so tough choices won’t have to be made. Matul’s favorite subject is math so although she may not know Kershaw’s stats, she knows the value of his gift. “I’ll tell him thank you because he bought everything and and it costs so much,” said Matul. Money well spent, making Kershaw an ace on the diamond — and off. Read More »

Christie Signs Bill Setting Transgender Bathroom Policies For N.J. Schools

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation Friday requiring the state to give guidance to public schools about policies for transgender students, including blocking the schools from forcing the students from using bathrooms that conflict with their gender identities. The civil rights group Garden State Equality applauded the Republican governor for signing the measure saying that Christie took a stand for LGBT youth. The law was passed by the Democrat-led Legislature after school districts around the state began passing their own rules to allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom they choose. The state education department said last year that districts should pass policies to explain how they handle gender identity issues, but didn’t suggest what they should say. “These guidelines are needed to ensure that transgender students can safely be themselves without fear of being persecuted, and can help promote a culture of understanding and acceptance that will hopefully influence how students treat each other in and outside of school,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, one of the Democratic sponsors of the measure. Among the requirements of the law is that the state give guidance on students using the name, pronoun and dress that corresponds with their gender identities. Schools would be blocked from requiring transgender students from using bathrooms that conflict with their gender identities and at a minimum would have to find “reasonable alternative arrangements.” Christie recently approved measures to raise the smoking age to 21 and toughen penalties in deadly drunk driving crashes. He also declined to impose a tax on Airbnbs and other online rentals. (© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.) Read More »

Students Robbed Near UCLA By Armed Men Donning Gold Grills

WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) – Authorities are looking for two armed men with gold teeth grills who committed two separate armed robberies near the University of California, Los Angeles overnight Friday. According to UCLA police, just before 1 a.m. Saturday, officers responded to reports from two separate groups who said they had been robbed by two men brandishing a handgun and pocket knife. One robbery occurred in the 400 block of Landfair Avenue, and the second in the 500 block of Glenrock Avenue. The victims told police the suspects approached them and demanded property. After taking it, the suspects were last seen fleeing on foot south on Glenrock Avenue. There were no injuries. Some of the victims were UCLA students, police said, and some were not. The first suspect was described as black, 20s, 5-foot-6 with a skinny build, gold teeth grills, a black hooded sweater and red hood. The second was described as black, 20s, 6-foot-2 with a skinny build and also with gold grills. Anyone with information on the suspects should call UCLA police at 310-825-1491. Read More »

Queens DA: 4th Suspect In Sex Assault Of Churchgoer Charged

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The fourth suspect wanted in connection with the sexual assault of a woman who was attacked at gunpoint after leaving church in Queens has been charged for his role in the crime. Isiah Shorter, 20, turned himself in Friday in connection with the July 11 incident. Police said Shorter and three other suspects can be seen on surveillance video walking down 150th Street in Jamaica when one of them starts running towards the victim who had just left evening service and was walking to the subway. Police said they held her up at gunpoint and stole her debit card and cellphone. Detectives say her clothes were then torn before the men sexually assaulted her. She ran back to her church, Celestial Church of Christ, where her pastor called police. Twenty-year-old Brandon Walker, 17-year-old Justin Williams and 19-year-old Julisses Ginel  have all been charged with robbery, criminal sex act, criminal use of a firearm and sex abuse, according to police. Walker and Williams are also charged with menacing, authorities said. Shorter, 20 has been charged with first degree criminal sexual act and first degree sexual abuse. If convicted, he faces up to 25-years in prison. Ginel and Williams have also been accused in a separate crime — they allegedly robbed three men at gunpoint the night after the assault. Shorter being held on $500,000 bail and is due back in court Friday. Read More »

Queens DA: 4th Suspect In Sex Assault Of Churchgoer Charged

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The fourth suspect wanted in connection with the sexual assault of a woman who was attacked at gunpoint after leaving church in Queens has been charged for his role in the crime. Isiah Shorter, 20, turned himself in Friday in connection with the July 11 incident. Police said Shorter and three other suspects can be seen on surveillance video walking down 150th Street in Jamaica when one of them starts running towards the victim who had just left evening service and was walking to the subway. Police said they held her up at gunpoint and stole her debit card and cellphone. Detectives say her clothes were then torn before the men sexually assaulted her. She ran back to her church, Celestial Church of Christ, where her pastor called police. Twenty-year-old Brandon Walker, 17-year-old Justin Williams and 19-year-old Julisses Ginel  have all been charged with robbery, criminal sex act, criminal use of a firearm and sex abuse, according to police. Walker and Williams are also charged with menacing, authorities said. Shorter, 20 has been charged with first degree criminal sexual act and first degree sexual abuse. If convicted, he faces up to 25-years in prison. Ginel and Williams have also been accused in a separate crime — they allegedly robbed three men at gunpoint the night after the assault. Shorter being held on $500,000 bail and is due back in court Friday. Read More »

2 Killed, 1 Critically Hurt In Violent Corvette Wreck In Irvine

IRVINE (CBSLA.com) – Two women were killed and a man was critically wounded when their Corvette crashed in Irvine early Saturday morning, shearing a fire hydrant in the process. The Corvette carrying three people crashed at Jamboree Road, between Main Street and Kelvin Avenue, a little before 2:20 a.m., according to Irvine police. Officers and Orange County Fire Authority crews responded to find two women dead at the scene. A man was rushed to a nearby hospital with critical injuries. No names were released. Crews had to shut off water because a fire hydrant was sheared off by the Corvette, police said. No other vehicles were involved. Jamboree Road remained shut down as of 9 a.m. The cause of the crash is under investigation. Read More »

New Jersey Becomes Third State To Raise Smoking Age To 21

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a law Friday making New Jersey the third state to raise its smoking age to 21. Christie cited the strain on the health care system caused by tobacco-related illnesses. He also noted his mother died from the effects of smoking. “By raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, we are giving young people more time to develop a maturity and better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place,” Christie wrote. Previously, the age was 19. The restriction applies to tobacco products and electronic smoking devices. Christie vetoed a similar measure last year. Raj Sadu works at a bodega in Elizabeth and is glad he sells them, but he doesn’t like doing it. “Because we have to, because it brings the customer. That’s all,” he tells WCBS 880’s Mike Sugarman. Down the street at Pastime Tavern, barkeep Betty Gatarski isn’t so sure. “It’s like anything, if you’re gonna do something, you’re gonna do it no matter what,” she said. Gatarski started smoking when she was 12 but recently quit, and thinks kids are going to get them anyway. “No matter if they raise the age or not,” she said. Hawaii and California are the only other states where the smoking age is 21. A bill raising the age in Maine from 18 to 21 is awaiting Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has not said whether he will sign it. The measure in New Jersey will help save lives, according to the state’s health director Cathleen Bennett. “Because we’re preventing youths from purchasing tobacco products and establishing an addiction,” she tells WCBS 880. Reports show smoking causes about $4 billion in health care costs to New Jersey each year, said Democratic Sens. Richard Codey and Joseph Vitale, co-sponsors of the bill Christie signed into law. That amount doesn’t include costs related to secondhand smoke or smokeless tobacco use, they said. “Data surveys show that if individuals aren’t smokers by 21 years of age, they will most likely not start later in their lives,” Vitale said. “Making it harder to buy cigarettes by raising the age to legally purchase them in New Jersey will help prevent our youth from becoming lifelong smokers and suffering the long-term effects of the habit.” (© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.) Read More »

Suspect Arrested In Spree Of Attacks On Women In Beverly Hills

BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) – A suspect in a series of batteries of females in Beverly Hills, possibly sexual in nature, was arrested Friday night. The crimes occurred between 6 and 10 p.m. Thursday in the 200 block of North Rodeo Drive, 400 block of North Canon Drive and 9600 block of South Santa Monica Boulevard, according to Beverly Hills police Lt. Elisabeth Albanese. “In each case, the suspect approached a female victim and made physical contact by grabbing the victim,” Albanese said. “The victims were each able to retreat from the suspect and sustained minimal or no physical injuries. The preliminary investigation indicates the suspect’s motive may have been sexual in nature.” All the batteries occurred in Beverly Hills’ commercial district. The suspect, identified by police as 26-year-old Joshua Stevens of Culver City, was arrested at 9 p.m. Friday at Dayton Way and Canon Drive, said Beverly Hills police Lt. Scott Dowling. Police distributed Stevens’ photo to area businesses and the public. Dowling said someone recognized Stevens from the photo and called police. Stevens is being held in lieu of a $100,000 bond, according to online sheriff’s inmate records. He is due in court Tuesday. (©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.) Read More »

Suspect Arrested In Spree Of Attacks On Women In Beverly Hills

BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) – A suspect in a series of batteries of females in Beverly Hills, possibly sexual in nature, was arrested Friday night. The crimes occurred between 6 and 10 p.m. Thursday in the 200 block of North Rodeo Drive, 400 block of North Canon Drive and 9600 block of South Santa Monica Boulevard, according to Beverly Hills police Lt. Elisabeth Albanese. “In each case, the suspect approached a female victim and made physical contact by grabbing the victim,” Albanese said. “The victims were each able to retreat from the suspect and sustained minimal or no physical injuries. The preliminary investigation indicates the suspect’s motive may have been sexual in nature.” All the batteries occurred in Beverly Hills’ commercial district. The suspect, identified by police as 26-year-old Joshua Stevens of Culver City, was arrested at 9 p.m. Friday at Dayton Way and Canon Drive, said Beverly Hills police Lt. Scott Dowling. Police distributed Stevens’ photo to area businesses and the public. Dowling said someone recognized Stevens from the photo and called police. Stevens is being held in lieu of a $100,000 bond, according to online sheriff’s inmate records. He is due in court Tuesday. (©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.) Read More »

Driver Surrenders In Lancaster Hit-And-Run That Killed Girl, 11

LANCASTER (CBSLA.com) – A 25-year-old man suspected in a hit-and-run crash in Lancaster that killed an 11-year-old girl this week was in custody, being held on $250,000 bail after he turned himself in to authorities. Eduardo Medrano Jr. (LASD) Eduardo Medrano Jr. turned himself in at 6 p.m. Friday at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lancaster Station, authorities said. The two-vehicle crash occurred just after midnight Tuesday at 20th Street East and Lancaster Boulevard. Emily Tovar Echeverria of Lancaster, a passenger in one of the vehicles, suffered critical injuries in the collision and was airlifted to a hospital, according to Deputy Yeni Deciga of the Lancaster Station. She died surrounded by family members at 11 a.m. Thursday, coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said. Both vehicles were disabled in the crash, but according to the sheriff’s department, the suspect was driven away from the scene in a gold or tan Infiniti four-door sedan, the license plate number of which was broadcast by the sheriff’s department along with a photo of Medrano as authorities stepped up their search for him on Friday. Medrano had been “positively identified by multiple witnesses and (was) seen fleeing the scene,” according to a sheriff’s department statement. Investigators had also been seeking the driver of the Infiniti as a “person of interest” in the case, according to the sheriff’s statement, but it’s unclear whether that individual has been identified and located. Medrano was booked at the Lancaster Station on suspicion of felony hit and run, according to Deciga. “We want to thank the public for their help in locating the suspect and convincing him to turn himself into authorities,” Deciga said. (©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.) Read More »

Driver Surrenders In Lancaster Hit-And-Run That Killed Girl, 11

LANCASTER (CBSLA.com) – A 25-year-old man suspected in a hit-and-run crash in Lancaster that killed an 11-year-old girl this week was in custody, being held on $250,000 bail after he turned himself in to authorities. Eduardo Medrano Jr. (LASD) Eduardo Medrano Jr. turned himself in at 6 p.m. Friday at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lancaster Station, authorities said. The two-vehicle crash occurred just after midnight Tuesday at 20th Street East and Lancaster Boulevard. Emily Tovar Echeverria of Lancaster, a passenger in one of the vehicles, suffered critical injuries in the collision and was airlifted to a hospital, according to Deputy Yeni Deciga of the Lancaster Station. She died surrounded by family members at 11 a.m. Thursday, coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said. Both vehicles were disabled in the crash, but according to the sheriff’s department, the suspect was driven away from the scene in a gold or tan Infiniti four-door sedan, the license plate number of which was broadcast by the sheriff’s department along with a photo of Medrano as authorities stepped up their search for him on Friday. Medrano had been “positively identified by multiple witnesses and (was) seen fleeing the scene,” according to a sheriff’s department statement. Investigators had also been seeking the driver of the Infiniti as a “person of interest” in the case, according to the sheriff’s statement, but it’s unclear whether that individual has been identified and located. Medrano was booked at the Lancaster Station on suspicion of felony hit and run, according to Deciga. “We want to thank the public for their help in locating the suspect and convincing him to turn himself into authorities,” Deciga said. (©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.) Read More »

USC Begins Process Of Firing Former Med School Dean

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – USC has begun the process of terminating former medical school dean Carmen Puliafito and stripping him of his faculty tenure because of substance abuse-related activities , university officials announced. Puliafito is under immediate suspension from the university and is barred from its campuses and any association with USC, including attending or participating in university events, Michael W. Quick, the university’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs wrote in a memo to faculty members on Friday. “We certainly understand that substance abuse is a tragic and devastating disease,” Quick wrote. “But we are also bound to our responsibilities as a university to take the necessary actions concerning Dr. Puliafito’s status.” Quick wrote that USC was provided access Friday “to information of egregious behavior” by Puliafito “concerning substance abuse activities with people who aren’t affiliated with USC.” “This was the first time we saw such information first hand,” Quick wrote. “It is extremely troubling and we need to take serious action.” Earlier Friday, USC President C.L. Max Nikias announced that former federal prosecutor Debra Wong Yang has been hired to look into recent allegations by the Los Angeles Times that Puliafito abused hard drugs and associated with criminals and drug users. “It is critical we understand how and why this happened so we can do everything possible to improve our ability to prevent something like this from happening again,” Nikias wrote in a letter to USC staff announcing Yang’s hire. “As an academic institution, we are always challenging ourselves to be better. In this instance, we will look to improve ways in which we could have recognized the severity of the situation sooner.” Puliafito, 66, a renowned eye surgeon, led the Keck School of Medicine for almost a decade before resigning in 2016. He remained on the Keck faculty and continued to represent the university at public events as recently as Saturday, July 15. On Monday, the Times published an article reporting that during his tenure as dean, Puliafito kept company with a circle of criminals and addicts who said he used drugs with them. The paper also reported that Puliafito was with a prostitute when she overdosed on drugs at a Pasadena hotel room and had to be rushed to a hospital. The same day as the report, USC said Puliafito was no longer seeing patients and was on leave. Puliafito resigned his $1.1 million-a-year dean’s post in March 2016, saying he wanted to explore outside opportunities. Yang is a former U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, a former state judge and a former member of the Los Angeles Police Commission. She currently is a partner in the international law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Nikias said Yang will investigate the details of Puliafito’s conduct, the university’s response, as well as its existing policies and procedures and make findings and recommendations to the USC Board of Trustees Executive Committee. “As an academic institution, we are always challenging ourselves to be better. In this instance, we will look to improve ways in which we could have recognized the severity of the situation sooner,” Nikias wrote. (©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.) Read More »

Actor John Heard Of ‘Home Alone,’ ‘Sopranos’ Dies At 72

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Actor John Heard, best known for playing the father in the “Home Alone” movie series, has died. He was 72. His death was confirmed by the Santa Clara Medical Examiner’s office in California on Saturday. TMZ reported that Heard, who lived in Southern California, was found at a Palo Alto, California, hotel where he was recovering from back surgery. Heard played Peter McCallister, the father of Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin, in “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” He earned an Emmy nomination for a guest role as a corrupt police detective in “The Sopranos.” Heard also played Tom Hanks’ rival in the movie “Big.” He was briefly married to fellow actor Margot Kidder. (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Read More »

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