By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Top Stories:
LOCAL MAN INDICTED IN EAST BAKERSFIELD RAPES: A documented gang member with a lengthy criminal record has been indicted by a grand jury in connection with a series of rapes in east Bakersfield this past year that terrified residents and led to the formation of a joint investigative task force between the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff's Office. Billy Ray Johnson Jr., 33, was arraigned Tuesday morning on 21 felony charges, including five rapes. The assaults occurred July 1, July 18, Aug. 1 and Aug. 19 in the east Bakersfield area. Johnson was being held on $5 million bail. Read the full story here.
KMC DOCS MAKE UP FOUR OF THE HIGHEST PAID COUNTY EMPLOYEES IN CALIFORNIA: Three Kern Medical Center doctors were the three highest-paid county employees in the entire state of California in 2012, far outstripping counterparts in public hospitals in Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties. Kern Medical Center orthopedic surgeon Arturo Gomez topped the list, making about $1.04 million last year. He was followed by Dr. Andrea Snow, at $828,287, and Chief of Surgery Dr. Maureen Martin at $753,465. Read the full story here.
OFFICIALS CRY DROUGHT; STATE SAYS IT'S TOO SOON: Officials from four San Joaquin Valley water agencies joined state and federal lawmakers Tuesday in applying pressure to the president and governor to declare a drought emergency and relax endangered species standards as a dry winter looms. With the National Weather Service predicting a "one-in-three chance" Bakersfield will experience a winter with below-normal rainfall -- its third in a row. Jim Beck, general manager of the Kern County Water Agency, said there was a need for a flexibility in the Delta standards. Read the full story here.
WHAT'S TRENDING ON BAKERSFIELD.COM
In case you missed it, here are the stories that are trending across bakersfield.com.
BAKERSFIELD WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO PREPARING FRAUDULENT TAX RETURNS: A 57-year-old Bakersfield woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to making and presenting a false claim against the U.S. Judi Ann Papagni prepared tax returns with inflated income that allowed the taxpayer to receive payments of the Earned Income Credit to which they were not entitled. Over a four-year period, Papagni admitted she prepared fraudulent refunds totaling approximately $82,564. Papagni is scheduled to be sentenced March 10. Read the full story here.
LEGAL CLAIM FILED IN POLICE SHOOTING OF INFORMANT: The family of a man who was working as an informant for law enforcement when he was shot and killed by Bakersfield police outside the Four Points Sheraton Hotel has filed a claim for damages against the city. The claim, a required prelude to a lawsuit, was filed Friday on behalf of the parents and five children of 34-year-old Jorge Ramirez, who died Sept. 16 following the shootout on California Avenue. Ramirez was unarmed. He was apparently caught in a gunfight between several Bakersfield police officers and the fugitive he was ostensibly trying to help them apprehend. Read the full story here.
CORONER'S OFFICE: INFANT'S DEATH A HOMICIDE: An infant found unresponsive and later pronounced dead early Monday died as a result of multiple blunt force injuries and his death is a homicide, a coroner's office news release said Tuesday. Kai'Dan Timothy Webb died at 6:46 a.m. at Kern Medical Center. A 17-year-old girl who'd been caring for the 1-year-old at the time he suffered his injuries has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Deputies said the teen is an acquaintance of the boy's mother. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
HEALTHCARE.GOV: Kurt DelBene, former president of the Microsoft Office Division, will replace Jeff Zients as the administration's point person on HealthCare.gov. The Department of Health and Human Services made that announcement Tuesday. White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama discussed the new appointment during his meeting with a group of high-tech executives. DelBene will work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
THE HEALTH REPORT
FRACKING: Water samples collected at Colorado sites where hydraulic fracturing was used to extract natural gas show the presence of chemicals that have been linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer. Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of chemical-laced water and sand deep underground to crack shale formations and unlock oil and gas. The process is exempt from some regulations that are part of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Independent scientists who reviewed the study countered that the researchers were cautious with their conclusions. The study does not state that fracking spills contaminated surface and groundwater. Rather, it shows a correlation between the Colorado spill sites and greater activity of certain chemicals in the water.
THE SPORTS REPORT
BC'S CAMPBELL SIGNS WITH BAYLOR: Baylor has one of the best teams in the country this season and has gotten a big lift from a former California junior college inside linebacker. Bakersfield College standout Grant Campbell hopes to continue that trend next season. Campbell, a two-year standout at BC, said he will sign a letter-of-intent with Baylor today. He chose Baylor over Cal-Berkeley. Read the full story here.
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