Potentially dangerous fire in Hollywood Hills contained

More than 90 Los Angeles firefighters on the ground and in the air prevented a dangerous fire from burning more than one structure and a half-acre of vegetation in the Hollywood Hills.

The fire erupted before dawn Friday, burning a vacant building perched on a hillside below other residences.

Helicopters made water drops and the nearest fire engine directed heavy streams into the flames as hand lines were pulled up the hill. Lack of wind helped the situation.

Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart says there were no injuries reported. The cause and dollar loss have yet to be determined.

Associated Press



California paid $25 million in 3 years for harassment cases

California has paid more than $25 million in the past three fiscal years to settle sexual harassment claims against the state and public universities, most of it paid by taxpayers.

That’s the finding of an investigation published Friday by the Sacramento Bee.

The newspaper identified 92 sexual harassment settlements involving 24 state agencies and 10 university campuses during the three years ending June 30, 2017.

The payouts ranged from $500 for a prison inmate to $10 million paid in 2016 by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to four wards at a state youth correctional facility. The young men said a male staff counselor coerced them into sex acts.

It’s unclear how the figure compares over time because the state does not officially track the costs sexual harassment cases.

Associated Press



2 former lawyers of rap mogul ‘Suge’ Knight arrested

Two Los Angeles attorneys who represented former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight were arrested on warrants alleging they were accessories after the fact to a felony, authorities said.

The attorneys, Matthew Fletcher and Thaddeus Culpepper, were arrested Thursday by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, sheriff’s department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told The Associated Press. The warrants allege they were accessories after the fact to a crime, she said, without providing any additional details.

Fletcher, 53, was arrested around 2 p.m. and was being booked at the county jail, officials said. Jail records showed he was being held on $1 million bail. No information was listed about Culpepper.

In a court filing in August, prosecutors accused Fletcher and Knight of witness tampering in the rap mogul’s pending murder case. Transcripts of recorded conversations suggested the two had discussed fabricating testimony and Knight had tried to pay off potential witnesses with his lawyer’s help, the filing said.

The alleged talks of bribery came in a series of recorded calls in 2015 between Knight, who was in jail and Fletcher, along with Knight’s fiancee and his business partner.

Fletcher is one of several lawyers who has represented Knight, the Death Row Records co-founder, since he was charged with murder and attempted murder after he ran over two men outside a Compton burger stand in January 2015, killing one of them. Knight has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial later this year.

The people on the calls discuss payments of as much as $25,000 to witnesses to say the victims or others at the burger stand were armed at the time, bolstering Knight’s argument that he was acting in self-defense.

In one call, Fletcher said he would “pay anything” to bikers who were at the scene.

“If we can get the two or three versions from the bikers on tape and we can get … we’re done,” he said. “It’s going home time. Right? That’s a fair … investment, you know, 20, 25 thousand dollars.”

After the court filing, Fletcher vehemently denied that he was suggesting bribing witnesses and said he was talking about bikers who may have had cellphone video that could be useful to the defense.

The filing also included accusations that Culpepper had contacted a sheriff’s department informant and had agreed to pay for his testimony that he was present at the time of the crime and witnessed events that would favorable for the defense’s case.

A text message sent to Fletcher’s cell phone Thursday night was not immediately returned and a woman who answered the phone at his law office declined comment and hung up without giving her name. A telephone message left for Culpepper was also not immediately returned.

By MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press



Man sought in killing of family of 3 in Los Angeles area

Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives are searching for a man they believe killed a family of three in their Palmdale-area home.

Fifty-four-year-old James “Todd” Brown is wanted for the Jan. 13 attack. He’s 6 feet tall, weighs 265 pounds and is considered “very dangerous.”

He may be driving a 2002 silver Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with a camper shell.

Investigators say Brown did odd jobs for the family and had lived in a trailer on their property for two years.

Authorities say he got into an argument that escalated until he beat, stabbed and suffocated 78-year-old Richard Gardner, 56-year-old Pepper Gardner and their 52-year-old son, Richard.

Deputies who were asked to check on the family’s welfare found the bodies. The family dogs also were beaten to death.

Associated Press



Police corral urban herd after midnight Los Angeles stroll

It was less an arrest than a roundup.

Police say a donkey led more than a dozen sheep and goats on a stroll through a suburban West Covina neighborhood east of Los Angeles.

Police were called around 12:30 a.m. Thursday by reports of a herd of animals walking the streets.

The animals were finally corralled with the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities say the animals escaped their owners’ property in neighboring Valinda through an unsecured gate.

The owner was contacted and took the herd back home.

No injuries were reported but police say it raised a few eyebrows among officers who thought they’d seen it all.

Associated Press


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