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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Lead stories from "First Look with Scott Cox's" Big 6:
CARL COLE TO PLEAD GUILTY TO FRAUD : A former Bakersfield real estate broker pleads guilty to committing mail, wire and bank fraud. Carl Cole entered the plea on one count Monday in federal court. Prosecutors say he was part of a conspiracy that took place between January 2004 and September 2007. Authorities raided the offices of the high profile real estate company Crisp and Cole, along with a local home. Ten people are charged with 55 counts of defrauding lending institutions under false pretenses of more than $20 million and committing wire fraud. Tuesday, another of the defendants, Sneha Mohammadi, is expected to enter a guilty plea in Fresno. Read the full story here.
MAN CONVICTED OF SECOND-DEGREE MURDER: A local man is found guilty in the death of a toddler. On Monday, a Kern County jury convicted Dustin Wedel of second-degree murder and willful cruelty to a child. In January of 2011, three-year-old James Franshier of Taft was pronounced dead after he was found not breathing at a home in south Bakersfield. The coroner said the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The boy was in the care of Wedel and his biological father's ex-girlfriend. Read the full story here.
CAMPAIGN VIOLATIONS FOR DEAN FLOREZ : Former California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez faces record fines for campaign violations that include using some $26,500 in political funds for his personal benefit to buy furniture, concert tickets, fireworks, satellite radio, travel, expensive dinners and gas. The Shafter Democrat has agreed to pay $60,000 in fines, according to documents released Monday by the state Fair Political Practices Commission. He told The Bakersfield Californian that the mistakes were made because he didn't understand the rules. The ethics agency found that Florez made 168 personal purchases from campaign committees he set up for an abandoned 2010 run for lieutenant governor and a 2014 candidacy for state controller. The FPPC says the penalty is "the largest fine in California history" involving personal use of campaign funds. Read the full story here.
JOBS IN KERN COUNTY : Attention local job creators. Your help is needed at a series of upcoming forums. Danette Scarry is with America's Job Center of Kern County, formerly Career Services Center. They're also looking for training vendors and educators. Areas covered will include health care, public infrastructure, construction, manufacturing and energy. To find out more, call 325-HIRE or visit americasjobcenterofkern.com.
NEW CHP BOSS IN TOWN : There's a new boss at the Bakersfield office of the California Highway Patrol, and it's a local guy. Last Thursday, the CHP promoted Captain Terry Roberts to the position of Commander. Roberts was born in Bakersfield and attended local schools all the way through Bakersfield College. His CHP career began in 1988 in Central L.A., and he's spent the last 23 years in Kern County. Roberts was formerly Lieutenant Commander for the Buttonwillow office, and earlier this year he went to Washington D.C. to assist at the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center.
TRASH CLEAN-UP IN BAKERSFIELD : Local inmates go on a field trip to help de-clutter Bakersfield. It's the Kern County Sheriff's Community Work Crew. On Monday, deputies brought six prisoners to a series of alleyways between Columbus and Bernard Streets. They filled two bins with illegally dumped garbage and furniture. Meanwhile, another crew was helping CalTrans remove litter and loose tumbleweeds at 24th and Q. The whole effort is coordinated with Kern County Waste Management, the Roads Department, and Varner Brothers.
WHAT'S TRENDING ON BAKERSFIELD.COM
In case you missed it, here are the stories that are trending on across bakersfield.com.
CARL COLE TO PLEAD GUILTY TO FRAUD: Carl Cole -- one of two men at the center of Bakersfield's notorious Crisp & Cole mortgage fraud case -- has agreed to admit to one count of conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud, bringing to 10 the number of people with plea deals in the case. Cole's plea bargain, signed Friday and scheduled to go before a federal judge in Fresno Thursday, amounts to a prosecutorial coup that turns attention to his business partner, David Crisp, who has not taken a plea. A trial in the case is scheduled to start Jan. 28. In exchange for Cole's plea, prosecutors agreed to drop 55 other felony counts and recommend that he serve eight years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. The final sentence, however, will be up to a judge. Read the full story here.
DEAN FLOREZ FINED $60K FOR MISUSING CAMPAIGN FUNDS: Former California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez faces record fines for campaign violations that include using some $26,500 in political funds for his personal benefit to buy furniture, concert tickets, fireworks, satellite radio, travel, expensive dinners and gas. Florez, a Shafter Democrat, has agreed to pay $60,000 in fines, according to documents released Monday by the state Fair Political Practices Commission. He told The Californian that the mistakes were made because he didn't understand the rules. Read the full story here.
CHEW ON THIS: THE BIKE PATH BEAVER IS BACK: Nearly two years after we left him, having felled eight trees at Truxtun Lake, the fabled bike path beaver is back on the gnaw at the Park at Riverwalk, and making a winter home near the Bright House Networks Amphitheatre. His shortcomings and long front teeth are less funny to the city, which regularly battles beavers over their desire to chew. Recreation and Parks Director Dianne Hoover says the beaver, or beavers, have damaged three Oak trees during the past two weeks, and have felled 11 bay, crape myrtle and redbud trees, costing the city around $550. Read the full story here.
MAN FOUND GUILTY OF KILLING 3-YEAR-OLD BOY: Dustin Wedel wept Monday, when the first of three guilty verdicts was read, convicting him of second-degree murder in the 2011 death of 3-year-old James Lee Fanshier. The 27-year-old continued to cry throughout the rest of the proceedings, in which the jury also found him guilty of assault on a child resulting in death and willful cruelty to a child. He faces 25 years to life at his Dec. 5 sentencing. At the time of the boy's death on Jan. 23, 2011 he had suffered broken ribs, a broken arm, injuries to his pancreas, bowels and genitals, and bruising over much of his body. The coroner's office ruled the cause of death multiple blunt force injuries. Read the full story here.
INMATE WALKS AWAY FROM TAFT CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION'S SATELLITE FACILITY: An inmate walked away from the minimum-security Taft Correctional Institution's satellite camp Sunday night. Bulmaro Brito Morales, 38, had been sentenced in 2009 to more than 14 years in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture containing methamphetamine. He had been at the Taft satellite facility since June 29, 2012. The satellite camp houses about 550 federal inmates and does not have a security fence. Morales is described as Hispanic, 5 feet 5 inches tall and 170 pounds, with black hair, brown eyes and a 1-inch scar on his upper lip from a cleft palate. Read the full story here.
THE TECH REPORT
CBS NEWS: CBS has been developing a 24-hour news network that would be distributed online to tablets, video game consoles, smartphones and streaming TV devices. The project is still in its early stages, according to a report in Variety. If the network materializes, it could include a mix of archived programming from CBS News's other properties as well as some original programming. It's unclear from the reports whether the network would ask subscribers to pay for access, as Netflix does. Other options could include an ad-supported model like YouTube or a mix of ad and subscription revenue.
MICROSOFT: As part of an effort to become carbon neutral, Microsoft has entered a 20-year deal to buy power from a new wind farm in Texas, the first time the tech giant is directly purchasing electricity from a specific source. The deal announced Monday between Microsoft and RES Americas is being funded in part by money collected from a "carbon fee," an internal tax of sorts that the company has been charging its departments for every ton of carbon produced. Construction on RES Americas' $200 million, 55-turbine wind power project, called Keechi, will begin in December and is expected to be operational by June 2015. Microsoft is buying all 430,000 megawatt hours of energy it produces -- or enough to power up to 45,000 homes. That's about 5 to 10 percent of the company's total electricity consumption.
THE HEALTH REPORT
PUBERTY: Here's yet another reason to worry about the obesity epidemic among America's kids: Extra weight may be sending U.S. girls into puberty earlier than ever. Researchers have found that girls with higher body mass index may start developing breasts more than a year before their thinner friends -- perhaps as early as second grade. The change is spawning a whole new market of child-sized feminine products and deodorants aimed at 8- to 10-year-olds, according to the journal Pediatrics. Overall, girls are maturing about four months earlier than in a 1997 study that shocked parents with the news that their daughters who played with My Little Pony could be entering puberty.
POLIO: A senior Syrian official vowed Monday that authorities would vaccinate the country's children against polio after 10 cases emerged, saying the government would work with international organizations to ensure even rebel-held areas were reached. A week earlier, the U.N. health agency confirmed the first outbreak of the disease in the country in 14 years, raising a risk of it spreading throughout the region. The confirmed cases are among babies and toddlers who were "under-immunized," according to the World Health Organization.
THE SPORTS REPORT
BC'S HUSER QUALIFIES FOR SOCAL GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP: SOLVANG -- Bakersfield College's Kendall Huser placed second as an individual at the two-day Western State Conference women's golf championships Monday at the par-72 Alisal River Golf Course. Huser shot a 78 Monday after Sunday's 80 and moved from fourth place to second. That qualified Huser for the Southern California Championships that will be held Sunday and Monday at the same course. Santa Barbara City College won the team championship and also had the individual winner, Fanny Johonsson, who shot 149. BC had only three competitors so it did not field a complete team. If Huser can place in the top-12 next week, she will advance to the state championship tournament. Read the full story here.
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