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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Big 6:
CARL COLE AND SON PLEAD TO FRAUD: Father and son enter pleas in a Bakersfield real estate fraud case. Carl Cole, 66, and his 37-year old son Caleb both pleaded guilty Thursday as expected for their part in an alleged $30 million mortgage fraud ring in Bakersfield. Carl Cole pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud while Caleb Cole pleaded guilty to mail fraud. That came on the heels of co-defendant 51-year-old Sneha Ramesh Mohammadi of Bakersfield pleading guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud. Another alleged participant, Jayson Costa, is scheduled to appear at a change of plea hearing next Tuesday. He has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud as well. Read the full story here.
BOMB THREAT AT WALMART: A bomb scare clears out a Bakersfield big-box. Police say it happened at about 2 p.m. Thursday when somebody called the Walmart on Panama Lane and said a bomb had been left at a particular location inside the store. Employees and customers were evacuated, but as of 3:30 p.m., police did not find any suspected bombs. The investigation continues. Read the full story here.
MAN SENTENCED TO 135 YEARS: A Bakersfield man has been sentenced to 135 years to life behind bars. Eric Castilleja was sentenced Thursday morning after being found guilty last month of five felony counts, including attempted murder and armed robbery. Bakersfield Police say Castilleja and Luis Gonzalez robbed five people at gunpoint last September, and shot one of their victims in the hand. Both men were later arrested at an apartment on McNew Court. Gonzales was found guilty of attempted murder and shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, and participating in a street gang. He was acquitted of two counts of robbery.
INVESTIGATION ON FATAL CAR CRASH: Investigation continues into a southwest Bakersfield crash that killed a local girl. A BPD spokesman said the driver of a Mercedes that crashed while speeding westbound on Harris Road early Wednesday morning has been identified as 23-year-old Cesar Duarte of Bakersfield. The car went out of control at about 80 miles per hour, rolled and broke apart after smashing into a concrete-block wall just west of Old River Road. Duarte suffered minor injuries. His passenger, 17-year-old Iman Amin died at the scene. Read the full story here.
DRUGS FOUND IN CARS: Three Fresno area men are indicted after two are caught with meth in Kern County. On Thursday, a federal Grand Jury returned four counts against 28-year-old Manuel Maciel and 21-year-old Orlando Delfin-Lara, both of Fresno, and 34-year-old Juan Prado-Sandoval of Clovis. Authorities say more than 48 pounds of methamphetamine were found hidden in a compartment in Maciel's vehicle after he was stopped in Kern County. Officers also found about six pounds of meth in Prado-Sandoval's car. Agents later raided a suspected meth-lab in Fresno operated by Delfin-Lara. All three now face ten years to life in prison and a $10 million fine. Read the full story here.
CONSTRUCTION TRAFFIC: Northeast Bakersfield drivers are in for some delays Friday. Crews working on the interchange between Highway 178 and Morning Drive are putting up temporary traffic signals while the roadway is widened. This requires stringing power lines across 178 at Canteria Drive starting at 6 a.m. The work will continue until 4 p.m. with flaggers directing drivers through the construction zone. There could be delays of up to 10 minutes.
WHAT'S TRENDING ON BAKERSFIELD.COM
In case you missed it, here are the stories that are trending across bakersfield.com.
RAIL BOARD APPROVES BULLET TRAIN ROUTE FROM FRESNO TO BAKERSFIELD: Recently unveiled route changes for high-speed rail between Fresno and Bakersfield won approval Thursday by the project's governing board. The unanimous vote, which the board's chairman emphasized is not final, was supported by Shafter and Wasco farmers but opposed by Bakersfield representatives unhappy with the proposed alignment through downtown. The 520-mile route linking the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles area is expected to cost $68.5 billion and use trains traveling as fast as 220 mph. Read the full story here.
CARL COLE, SON CALEB, PLEAD GUILTY TO FRAUD: Carl Cole and his son Caleb Cole pleaded guilty as expected in federal court Thursday for their part in an alleged $30 million mortgage fraud ring in Bakersfield. Carl Cole, 66, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud while 37-year-old Caleb Cole pleaded guilty to mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorneys' Office. Carl Cole faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Carl and Caleb Cole are scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 18. Read the full story here.
DRIVER IN FATAL CRASH IDENTIFIED: The driver of a Mercedes that crashed in southwest Bakersfield early Wednesday, killing a passenger, has been identified as 23-year-old Cesar Duarte. Police said Thursday that Duarte suffered minor injuries in the crash and was taken to a hospital for treatment. 17-year-old Iman Badia Amin died when Duarte's Mercedes Benz rolled over on Harris Road about 150 yards west of Old River Road after striking a wall and a light pole. Police said Duarte was driving the car at more than 80 miles an hour. Read the full story here.
BOMB THREAT CAUSES WALMART EVACUATION: A bomb threat caused the evacuation of the Walmart near Panama Lane, but police determined there were no explosive devices inside the store. Bakersfield police Sgt. Joe Grubbs said someone called the store at 2:07 p.m. and told an employee that a bomb had been left at a particular location in the store. Officers responded and it was determined within two hours that there was not a bomb inside. Read the full story here.
UFW ADMITS WOMEN WERE NOT 'HELD HOSTAGE,' 'LOCKED INSIDE': The United Farm Workers of America on Thursday walked back many of the inflammatory and downright inaccurate statements it made about how an immigration reform rally at Congressman Kevin McCarthy's Bakersfield office went down late Wednesday. The union sent out a news release Wednesday in part talking about "Bakersfield police intimidating and locking in more than a dozen of the activists inside McCarthy's office." When that description was challenged by The Californian Thursday -- because it so differed from what a newspaper photographer witnessed first-hand -- UFW Communications Director Maria Machuca changed the union's story. "Police were there, standing in front of the door, but the doors weren't really locked," Machuca said. "The police were polite and there was no confrontation between the police or the group." Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
TWITTER: Twitter has finally taken flight as a publicly traded company. The microblogging site's trading debut was a pretty spectacular one, with a first-day trading pop of about 73 percent. The original price range of 17-20 dollars was increased to 23-25, and then finally priced at 26 dollars. It still wasn't high enough, as the stock topped 50 in day trading, settling just under 45 for the day. Twitter raised $1.82 billion Thursday.
CATALOGS: Holidays bring out the traditionalist in all of us, and old-fashioned page views -- the glossy paper kind -- will be big for retailers this season. In spite of Web stores, shopping tools, and apps, paper catalogs are still surprisingly effective at selling stuff. More than half of online shoppers said they browse catalogs and almost one-third of people making an Internet purchase have a catalog on hand when they click "Buy," according to a new survey by Kurt Salmon, a global retail consultancy. A whopping 86 percent of the survey's respondents bought an item after first seeing it in a catalog. Last year, about 12 billion catalogs went out in the U.S.--roughly 100 per household.
THE HEALTH REPORT
AUTISM: Children with autism spectrum disorders usually aren't diagnosed until they are at least 2 years old, but a new study finds that signs of the condition are apparent as early as two months after birth. Researchers focused on babies' ability to make eye contact with caregivers, since lack of eye contact is one of the hallmarks of autism. Among typical children, interest in the eyes increased steadily with age. But for children with autism, interest in the eyes waned starting between 2 and 6 months of age. By the time they reached their second birthdays, levels of eye fixation among children with autism were only half as high as levels seen in typically developing children, according to a report published this week by the journal Nature.
BACON SCENT: Seattle-based J&D's Foods created such porktastic products as bacon-flavored lip balm and bacon-scented shaving cream, and are taking another scented-step deeper into the personal grooming category with the launch of Power Bacon deodorant. The bacon-scented stick is touted with the slogan: "For When You Sweat Like a Pig" and promises 24 hour bacon-scented protection.
THE SPORTS REPORT
CONDORS HOPE CHIODO CAN PLUG HOLE AT GOALIE: In simple statistical terms, it's easy to see why the Condors have yet to win a game this season. They lead the ECHL in goals allowed and are next-to-last in goals scored. Which pretty much explains why the Condors are 0-6-1 as they head to San Francisco to face the Bulls tonight. "It certainly doesn't feel good from my perspective," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "With all the changes that were made in the organization in general all summer you anticipate a good start. It just hasn't happened." But the Condors have hope in the goaltending of 10th-year pro Andy Chiodo. Chiodo, 30, played in eight NHL games early in his career, has over 90 games at the American Hockey League level, and has spent six of the past seven seasons playing in Europe. Read the full story here.
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