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Domenic David Lafazia

Twice, prosecutors said, Reshay Tiara Mott and Elliton Jaytwan Varnado clicked through the want ads on Craigslist and found a couple of easy robbery marks in men who were on the prowl for some sexual entertainment.

The third time, a man turned up dead, and Mott and Varnado now find themselves on trial for murder in Sacramento Superior Court.

Unlike the first two men who were lured into the purported robbery trap, Domenic David Lafazia, 49, fought back. He put his 262 pounds to work against the gunman who was paired up with the woman who drew him into a dark alley in Meadowview and actually got a hold of the robber’s weapon, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Soloman told the jury in his opening statement Monday.

Lafazia’s struggle ended when the gun went off and a bullet struck him in the chest. He died in the middle of the night at the bottom of a stairway in the back of the Stonegate Apartments on Mack Road.

Monday, September 22 2014
Somerset man crashes antique hot rod, dies

An area man is dead after crashing his 1932 Ford Model B hot rod Monday in the foothill community of Somerset.

The driver Allen Mosby, 69, of Somerset, was traveling westbound on Grizzly Flat Road. He stopped at the stop sign at Mount Aukum Road before accelerating rapidly as he turned left onto Mount Aukum, according to the CHP press release. Mosby lost control of the vehicle, traveled off the east edge of the roadway, striking a raised asphalt club, the release states.

The black Ford was launched off a steep dirt embankment, tumbled launching Mosby, who was not wearing a seat belt, authorities state. Mosby’s injuries were fatal. The CHP report did not include the time of the incident and that information was not immediately available.

Visit the Sacramento Crimemapper to see what's happening in your neighborhood
Tio Dinero Sessoms' question about a lawyer had been ruled to be vague.

For the second time in two years, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a federal judge must order the release of one of three men found guilty for the 1999 murder of a beloved Sacramento minister and gay rights activist, unless local prosecutors want to retry him, because he was denied his constitutional right to an attorney while under police questioning.

An enlarged panel of the appellate court ruled by a 6-5 margin that Tio Dinero Sessoms’ “unambiguous” request for an attorney was unlawfully ignored by Sacramento police detectives.

The same panel with the same split had ruled the same way in August 2012. Just as it did the first time around, the appellate court sent the case back to U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez with directions that he order the state to release Sessoms unless the district attorney in Sacramento wants to retry him.

Neither of those things happened because, at the state’s request, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case.

Manny Crisostomo/
Hubert Peter Rotteveel

A federal jury in Sacramento on Monday found Hubert Rotteveel, 52, of Dixon, guilty on one count of mail fraud stemming from Rotteveel’s role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to evidence presented at the trial by prosecutors Jean Hobler and Justin Lee, Rotteveel acted as a real estate salesperson for 13 properties in Dixon purchased by two buyers. The government’s evidence was designed to show that he inflated the values of the properties and worked with loan officers to provide false information to lenders about the finances of the buyers.

All 13 properties were used as rentals, with Rotteveel collecting the rents. He netted more than $300,000 in seven months. According to the government, the lenders were victims, losing more than $3 million when the properties went into foreclosure.

This was the third guilty verdict by a federal jury in Sacramento in a mortgage fraud case in the past four weeks. Anna Kuzmenko, 33, of Sacramento, was found guilty Aug. 29, and Alan Tikal, 46, of Brentwood in Contra Costa County, was found guilty Sept. 15.

Delina Lynn Williams

A woman with a history of domestic violence and drug abuse has been sentenced to 26 years to life in prison for the stabbing death of another woman in her Foothill Farms apartment three years ago.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Raoul M. Thorbourne imposed the term Friday on Delina Lynn Williams, 45, for the Oct. 24, 2011, murder of Jessica Brock, 27.

Prosecutors said Williams, whose criminal record shows six felony convictions going back to 1993, took the slain woman’s car and tried to use Brock’s credit car to buy gas.

Officials said Brock had been stabbed more than 50 times.

The woman who died Thursday after she was struck by a suspected drunken driver as she walked with a 2-year-old child on a sidewalk has been identified by the Sacramento County Coroner’s office.

The coroner’s website lists her as Laura Yandall, 44, of Sacramento.

At about 5:50 p.m., Fidel Tococh, 27, was driving a Toyota west on 47th Avenue near Kiessig Avenue when his vehicle drifted across the roadway and onto the north sidewalk, according to a California Highway Patrol news release. The child was not struck or injured, and was later released to his father.

Yandall died of her injuries at a hospital. Tococh drove off but was followed by another driver. Sacramento police officers stopped and detained him near Florin Road and Amherst Drive until CHP officers arrived.

A woman from Carmichael and a small child were killed in a crash Sunday in the El Dorado County community of Cool.

The California Highway Patrol reported that Leah Witaschek, 34, of Carmichael, was driving westbound at about 4:15 p.m. Sunday on State Route 193 near Cramer Road when for an unknown reason her car left the right side of the roadway. Witaschek then lost control and traveled into the eastbound traffic lane, colliding with an oncoming pickup truck.

The pickup struck the right side of the car, killing Witaschek and a six-year-old girl sitting in the right rear passenger seat of Witaschek’s car, according to a CHP press release.

The girl was not identified by the CHP. The driver of the pickup suffered minor-to-moderate injuries.

Now that three men have been sent to prison for a Ponzi scheme that cost investors more than $20 million, a half dozen of their victims are trying to get their money back in a civil suit filed against businesses the plaintiffs say aided the thieves.

The trial got underway Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court with plaintiff lawyers charging that officials in Stewart Title of Placer and the dissolved Rocklin-based Stone Canyon Mortgage Co. played knowing roles in a fraud that left this group of victims nearly destitute.

“None of these investments would have happened,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Jack V. Valinoti told the jury in his opening statement, without loan brokers and escrow officers working in concert with the convicted Christopher Jackson, 46, and Michael Bolden, 60, among others.

Defense attorneys countered that the six plaintiffs in the civil suit taking place in front of Judge Steven H. Rodda sauntered toward financial doom with “their eyes wide open.” The only thing the title company and mortgage brokerage figures did, the defense lawyers said, was exactly what the plaintiffs wanted them to do.

Two separate house fires in Sacramento County on Saturday evening caused damage but no injuries, according to the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

The first fire, in the 3200 block of Hurley Way, occurred in the rear of a single-story home and damaged half the property, said fire officials.

The second, in a two-story home in the 8100 block of Stevenson Avenue in the southern part of the county, was discovered when the home's residents returned home from work. Two adults and three dogs were displaced because of fire and smoke damage, fire officials said.

The causes of both fires are under investigation.

A man was killed early Saturday in Rancho Cordova when the truck he was driving crashed into a light pole, then a tree on Sunrise Boulevard north of Refinement Road, said Sacramento County Sheriff’s officials.

The wreck happened about 2 a.m., sheriff’s officials said. The truck burst into flames following the crash. Passing motorists tried to free the driver but were unable to pull him from the wreckage, sheriff’s officials said. The driver’s name was not released.

The crash remains under investigation.

A 19-year-old man killed late Friday in Citrus Heights was the victim of an apparent drive-by shooting, police said Saturday.

“We can definitely say it was targeted,” said Citrus Heights police Lt. Jason Russo. “It was not a random act.”

Investigators on Saturday continue to seek leads in the shooting, which happened about 11:22 p.m. in the 7800 block of Sayonara Drive, near Lialana Way, Citrus Heights police said. Officers had received numerous calls from residents who heard gunshots and a collision at Sayonara and Lialana, arriving to find a car struck by gunfire and an unconscious man behind the wheel.

Officers tried to revive the man ahead of paramedics’ arrival. The man was taken by Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District paramedics to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said. His name has not been released. No one else was hurt in the shooting.

A woman died late Thursday afternoon after she was struck by a suspected drunken driver as she walked with a 2-year-old child on a sidewalk in south Sacramento County.

At about 5:50 p.m., Tococh Fidel, 27, was driving a Toyota west on 47th Avenue near Kiessig Avenue when his vehicle drifted across the roadway and onto the north sidewalk, according to a California Highway Patrol news release. The child was not struck or injured, and was later released to his father.

The woman died of her injuries at a hospital. Her name has not been released pending notification of family.

After striking the pedestrian, Fidel lost control of his vehicle, which crossed into the eastbound lanes. It struck a electric utility pole and an eastbound vehicle. That crash led to another one as a vehicle traveling behind Fidel’s Toyota was unable to stop in time and rear-ended another vehicle.

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