News

A former Santa Barbara County winemaker has been sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzlement, and tax fraud.

Santa Barbara County prosecutors say Christian Garvin stole money from his employer, Oreana Winery, over a seven year period. They say Garvin, who was also the winery’s manager, set up a separate account with a name similar to Oreana, and diverted some checks to it.

In addition to the prison sentence, Garvin was ordered to pay a million dollars in restitution and $1.7 million dollars in fines.

A blaze which gutted a South Coast laundromat is now being called suspicious in nature.

The early Monday morning blaze on the 1900 block of De La Vina Street caused an estimated half million dollars in damage, including $300,000 to the building and $200,000 to the contents.

Flames were shooting out of the windows of the laundromat when firefighters arrived, but they were able to keep it from spreading to neighboring businesses. No one was hurt.

A community leader in Ventura County detained on immigration charges is now free on bond.

Luis Lopez-Diaz was taken into custody August 29th after Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents found him while looking for someone else at an Oxnard apartment complex. ICE officials say when agents questioned Lopez-Diaz, they discovered he didn’t have legal status in the U.S., and that he had been deported from the U.S. five times in the past.

(ULA photo)

A postponed launch of a military satellite from the Central Coast has been rescheduled for Saturday night.

A South Coast community is now a sanctuary city for bees.

The City of Santa Barbara is the latest to step up to become part of an awareness campaign for the key pollinators called “Bee City, USA.”

All Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputies have been carrying a special nasal spray to help save the lives of drug overdose victims.

Recently, in response to a Goleta man who was experiencing an overdose, a Narcan nasal device was used.

A Santa Barbara County man died in an industrial accident on a vineyard.

It happened just before noon Thursday, on the 2300 block of Sweeney Road in the Lompoc area.

Adan Villa of Lompoc was in the cab of a pickup truck with a trailer while a forklift was being loaded onto the trailer. The truck and trailer began to slide.

When the 60 year old man tried to escape from the cab, he was pinned between the truck and trailer, and fatally injured.

Prosecutors say a Ventura County doctor is headed to jail for selling drugs to people who didn’t legitimately need them.

The prosecutors say Dr. William Matzer admitted selling opiates to some patients from his Simi Valley office in 2013 and 2014. They noted that one of his patients died from an overdose of multiple drugs. The 58 year old doctor was sentenced to 270 days in county jail, five years probation, and ordered to do 250 hours of community service.

Eight people have been arrested, and a ninth is being sought in connection with what Santa Barbara County prosecutors say was the theft of about $1.7 million dollars in public funds.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office says the charges are the result of a months long investigation into financially irregularities discovered with Santa Barbara County’s Public Works Department.

Prosecutors say one of the eight arrested, Lynn Hogan, works for the county as a senior level accountant for the Public Works Department.

Two people were hurt during a car chase on the South Coast.

Oxnard Police tried to stop a car near Saviers Road and Channel Islands Boulevard just before 11 last night for a traffic violation, but the driver fled. The car hit speeds of 50 miles an hour in a neighborhood before it hit a parked van at Oxnard Boulevard and Date Street.

A passenger in the fleeing car suffered minor injuries, as did a child in the van. The driver then fled the scene of the collision, but the car became disabled a few blocks away, and Leopoldo Gutierrez of Oxnard was arrested.

A longtime radio sportscaster on the South Coast has died.

Barry Turnbull was a familiar voice on the air in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties for decades. He was a part of the news team at KVEN Radio in Ventura, which was one of the region’s dominant news/talk radio stations for years.

Turnbull went on to work for some Los Angeles newsradio stations.

He died unexpectedly this week. Turnbull was 60 years old.

(DRO photo)

As rescuers continue to claw through mountains of rubble in, and around Mexico City looking for survivors of this week's big quake, a Santa Barbara County based group is gearing up for a different type of relief effort.

The latest economic forecast by a South Coast university indicates the state, and nation can expect continued slow growth.

California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Forecasting is suggesting that California will only see 2.3% growth during the next two years. That’s just slightly higher than the national forecast.

Firefighters are continuing their efforts to get containment of what’s now a 70 acre brush fire on the Central Coast.

The fire was discovered at around two p.m. Wednesday in the hills east of Nipomo. No structures have been reported damaged, but rugged terrain has made it tough for firefighters to get to parts of the fire.

Aircraft have been used to help ground crews battle the blazes. Firefighters are expected to be on the scene overnight into Thursday trying to contain the blaze.

A longtime Santa Barbara County firefighter has come out of retirement to head a Central Coast fire department.

Jerry Kuras is Lompoc’s new Fire Chief. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Kurt Latipow in May.

Kuras spent more than 30 years with the Santa Barbara County Fire department before retiring in 2011.

He started his new job this week.

It’s a parent’s nightmare.

A five year old boy is so excited to see his father that he runs into the family’s driveway as the father drives into it, striking the child. That’s what happened to Jacob Suarez of Oxnard on August 20th.  But, a newly available treatment at a revamped Ventura County hospital saved his spleen, and perhaps his life.

Photo by Emammal

The risk of tick-borne disease could increase in the future. South Coast researchers are finding that wildlife loss and climate change can cause the number of ticks to rise dramatically.

UC Santa Barbara biologists conducted a study in Kenya and found that the experiment plot where they excluded the largest animals also experienced the largest increase in the number of ticks. Hillary Young, an associate professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, says that was exacerbated in warmer and drier climates.

A Ventura County man will spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted of molesting young girls, including some he was trying to keep in his home as foster children.

Prosecutors say Thomas Bork had been molesting children since the 1970’s, and continued it as he moved around the state over the decades.

The Camarillo man was finally arrested in 2010. The 69 year old man was convicted of more than a half dozen molestation counts, and sentenced to 124 years behind bars.

A man convicted of killing a television executive after some key evidence in the case was found in a Ventura County storage locker has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.

John Creech was convicted of the 2012 slaying of Gavin Smith. The 20th Century Fox executive was last seen alive in Agoura Hills. In 2013, Smith’s car was found in a Simi Valley storage locker linked to Creech. But, it wasn’t until 2014 that Smith’s body was discovered by a hiker in the desert near Palmdale.

There may be new hope that a Central Coast national monument may be keeping its protected status.

President Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review that status of more than two dozen national monuments, with an eye towards relaxing some of their protections so they could be open to oil, or other natural resource development.

The review included the more than 240,000 acre Carrizo Plain National Monument, northeast of Santa Maria in San Luis Obispo, and Kern Counties. The reviews created massive opposition.

Fire crews raced to the Santa Barbara Riviera Monday afternoon, when brush caught fire near Cleveland Elementary School on Alameda Padre Serra.

The area burning was small but was close to portable buildings on the campus.

Authorities say a necropsy may explain what led to a black bear wandering down from the mountains to a South Coast beach, and refusing to leave.

The 320 pound bear turned up at Rincon Beach near Carpinteria April 19th, and people noted it was acting strangely like it was confused. California Fish and Wildlife wardens observed the bear, eventually tranquilizing and removing it.

After it was examined by a veterinarian and determined to be in poor health, it was euthanized. The necropsy shows the 15 year old bear was suffering from a massive brain tumor.

A hearing is set for Tuesday over the arrest of a man on immigration charges who was involved in a number of community projects in Ventura County.

Luis Lopez-Diaz is a business owner, and board member for the Oxnard-based Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project. The organization provides community services for thousands of Mixtecs who have moved to Ventura County.

A bill by a legislator from Ventura County intended to help academically struggling community college students is now on the governor’s desk, awaiting his action.

AB 705 would require the colleges to use a broader approach in deciding which incoming students need to take mandatory remedial courses.

A South Coast city may start including social responsibility in its investment decisions.

The City of Santa Barbara is looking at adding a clause to its current policy which would discourage investing in businesses involved in weapons, tobacco products, nuclear power, and fossil fuel. The City’s Finance Committee developed the proposal which goes to the full city council Tuesday.

(Photo from John Palminteri)

An inferno ripped through a laundromat in Santa Barbara, destroying it early Monday morning.

Firefighters were called at 2 a.m. Monday to a blaze on the 1900 block of De La Vina Street.  They discovered there was no one in the building, but flames were shooting from the building.

(U.S. Forest Service photo)

He’s a firefighter, like hundreds of firefighters from the Central and South Coasts.

But Brian Pontes doesn’t use a fire truck to get to blazes. The Santa Barbara County man is part of a rare breed of firefighters who literally drops in on brush, and forest fires in some of the most remote parts of Western America.

Photo by Jennifer Perry

Dozens of archaeological sites have recently been discovered on the Channel Islands by a group of South Coast researchers. 

Santa Barbara Island is only one-square mile. It’s the smallest of the Channel Islands and the most isolated. In the 1960s, 19 archaeological sites were discovered.

Jennifer Perry, a Cal State Channel Islands anthropologist and archaeologist, was part of a team that re-surveyed the island over the last few years to find more than 40 additional archaeological sites, tripling the number of known sites and changing the view of the island’s prehistory.

A longtime community leader on the South Coast has died.

Jeanne Graffy served as a Santa Barbara City Councilwoman, and a Santa Barbara County Supervisor. Graffy was also involved in a number of community groups and projects.

Graffy died of natural causes. She was 91 years old.

(Photo by Santa Maria Valley Humane Society)

More than a hundred homeless dogs and cats who were victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston are now living on the South and Central Coasts.

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