Latest Southern California news, sports, business and entertainment


Company tied to Rams owner buys L.A. land

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A company tied to St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased a prime piece of land in Los Angeles amid speculation the NFL franchise is considering a return to the city it left for the Midwest nearly two decades ago.

Team officials on Friday provided a written statement confirming the recent purchase of a 60-acre site near the Forum indoor arena in Inglewood, Calif. The statement from Kroenke's corporate side said no decision has been made and "we will look at all our options" with the land. The Los Angeles Times first reported the purchase.

The Rams can break their 30-year lease in St. Louis after the 2014 season under a deal that requires the dome remain among the top quarter of the 32 NFL stadiums.


Irwindale spicing up suit against hot sauce plant

IRWINDALE, Calif. (AP) — A Los Angeles suburb is spicing up its lawsuit against a hot sauce manufacturer it claims polluted the air with pungent smells.

Stephen Onstot, an attorney representing Irwindale, tells City News Service that the city will add a breach-of-contract claim to its existing nuisance suit against the Sriracha plant.

Onstot says the city will allege that owner Huy Fong Foods failed to comply with certain operating conditions, including not emitting foul odors.

Defense attorney John Tate told a judge Friday that he didn't object to the modification.

Irwindale sued the company in October after nearby residents alleged that plant odors were causing asthma and other health problems.

A judge has ordered the company to stop any operations that might be causing the odors.


Convicted state lawmaker introduces crime bill

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A state senator convicted of eight felonies this week has introduced — and just as quickly withdrawn — a bill that would have allowed those in similar circumstances to have their crimes reduced to misdemeanors.

Democratic Sen. Roderick Wright apologized in a statement distributed by his office Friday after he was rebuked by a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

"Wrong senator, wrong time," says Steinberg spokesman Rhys Williams.

Wright faces more than eight years behind bars after a Los Angeles County jury found him guilty Tuesday of voter fraud and perjury.

On Thursday, he introduced the bill, which would allow those convicted of non-violent felonies to ask a judge to reduce the offenses to misdemeanors if their sentence does not include state prison and they are rehabilitated.


OC judge won't block enforcement of fire ring ban

(Information in the following story is from: The Orange County Register,

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — An Orange County judge has refused to block enforcement of a rule banning the use of beach fire pits within 700 feet of Southern California homes.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued the regulation, which takes effect in March and could eliminate 60 pits at Newport Beach.

A pro-fire ring group sued and had asked a judge to block enforcement until the case is settled. The Orange County Register says the judge rejected that request on Friday.

It's the latest battle over the fire pits, which supporters call a beach tradition and critics call an air pollution hazard.

This week, the Newport Beach City Council passed an ordinance that allows only the burning of clean fuels. The city also wants to install rings that use natural gas.


Navy secretary to brief Congress on bribery probe

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A California congressman says he wants copies of contracts between the Navy and a defense contractor at the heart of a widening multimillion-dollar bribery scheme that has implicated six naval officers so far.

Darrell Issa's office said Friday that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is expected next week to brief the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which the Republican representative chairs.

Mabus says he is happy to discuss the matter, along with how the service is strengthening its oversight processes.

Federal prosecutors say two Navy ship commanders and a senior Naval Criminal Investigative Service's agent accepted pricey vacations and prostitute services in exchange for providing information to Leonard Glenn Francis, the chief operating officer of Glenn Defense Marine Asia Inc. who is awaiting trial on bribery charges.


Ex-detective accused in gang leaks enters plea

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A former Long Beach police detective accused of passing information about a murder investigation to a gang has pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice.

City News Service says 42-year-old Yvonne Robinson remains free on bail ahead of a Feb. 27 court appearance.

Also charged is Prentice Jones, the 24-year-old brother of Robinson's brother-in-law, who also pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say Robinson, a 13-year veteran who last worked as a juvenile division detective, leaked information to the Baby Insane Crips, who counted Jones among their members.

Detectives investigating the 2009 killing of a 19-year-old man learned that suspects in the gang were getting information that appeared to come directly from police, and launched the investigation that led to Robinson. She was put on administrative leave last year and fired in March.


SD police: Teen's death linked to cellphone use

(Information in the following story is from: U-T San Diego,

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego police say a 15-year-old girl was distracted by her cellphone when she was struck and killed by a semi-truck.

U-T San Diego reports Noemi Mendoza, a sophomore at Castle Park High School, walked into the path of the truck Wednesday evening in Otay Mesa.

Police say the girl's brother tried to pull his sister away from the truck, but she lost her balance and fell under the semi's rear wheels. She died at the scene.

Her brother also was hit by the truck but was not hurt.

Investigators say charges against the driver are unlikely.

Crisis counselors were at Castle Park High in Chula Vista to talk to mourning students.


LA Unified gets lower price for thousands of iPads

(Information in the following story is from: Los Angeles Times,

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Unified School District is getting a break on the price of thousands of iPads, as it continues the rollout of a $1 billion plan to provide the tablets to all students.

The Los Angeles Times reports that under a deal with Apple, the district would save $200 each on iPads that will be used on new state tests, although the computers won't include curriculum.

The revised price will be $504, which compares to $699 for the computers with curriculum. With taxes and other fees, the full cost of the more fully equipped devices rises to $768.

The districtwide rollout began at 47 schools in the fall.

There has been pressure to contain costs since reports surfaced that the district is paying more for devices than other school systems.


2 convicted in $154M medical insurance fraud

(Information in the following story is from: The Orange County Register,

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California doctor and an attorney face prison terms for participating in a $154 million medical fraud scheme in which hundreds of healthy patients underwent unnecessary surgeries to fraudulently bill insurance companies.

The Orange County Register reports 66-year-old Mario Rosenberg and 65-year-old Roy Chester Dickson became the last of 19 people connected to Unity Surgical Outpatient Center in Buena Park to be convicted in the elaborate scam.

Rosenberg, a doctor, pleaded no contest Thursday to felony insurance fraud. He faces 10 years in prison. Dickson, an attorney, pleaded guilty money laundering and grand theft. He faces 14 years.

Prosecutors say Rosenberg was one of three doctors accused of performing more than 1,000 unnecessary surgeries.


Kanye West won't be charged after attack claim

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kanye West will not face criminal charges over an incident in which he apparently punched a man in a Beverly Hills chiropractor's office.

Los Angeles County prosecutors declined to file charges against the rapper because he had reached a civil settlement with the man and there were no significant injuries documented after the altercation.

A document rejecting a battery case says the 18-year-old man had used a racial slur in an argument with West's fiancee Kim Kardashian on Jan. 13.

West was not arrested, and his attorney Blair Berk declined to comment on the prosecutor's decision.

The prosecutor's charge evaluation sheet says there were conflicting witness accounts about how many times West punched the man, but it noted that he wasn't seriously injured.


Bieber's friend charged with drug possession

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors have charged Justin Bieber's friend Lil Za with two counts of drug possession after detectives found him with ecstasy and oxycodone in the singer's mansion earlier this month.

The would-be rapper was arrested on Jan. 14 when sheriff's detectives searched Bieber's mansion looking for evidence in an egg-tossing incident that caused thousands of dollars in damage to his neighbor's home.

Lil Za, whose real name is Xavier Domonique Smith, was the only person arrested during the search. Bieber remains under investigation for felony vandalism.

Smith was also charged with damaging or destroying a jailhouse phone. All three charges are felonies.

Jail records do not list an attorney for the 20-year-old.

Authorities initially said they arrested Smith on suspicion of cocaine possession, but they amended the charges after testing the drugs.