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Crime

Owner pleads not guilty to Placerville mine charges

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) -- The co-owner of a gold mine in the Sierra foothills has pleaded not guilty to operating the mine illegally and causing environmental damage.

El Dorado County prosecutors said Joseph Hardesty entered the plea during his arraignment Tuesday.

Hardesty, who is 55, is charged with grading the Gold Rush-era mine near Placerville, which is about 45 miles east of Sacramento. He also is charged with operating heavy equipment without permits, causing air pollution and allowing hazardous fluids to reach a nearby creek.

His attorney, William Brewer, did not immediately return a telephone message.

The mine's co-owner, Rick Churches, 44, faces similar charges in a 24-count complaint. He did not show up for Tuesday's arraignment.

Deputy District Attorney Mike Pizzuti said the judge told prosecutors to prepare an arrest warrant for Churches.

Arrest made in 1980 Lake Tahoe murder case

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA - Andrew Sanford, 50, of Carmichael, was arrested on March 28 in connection with the 1980 murder of Richard Swanson.

Swanson was killed nearly 32 years ago at a Shell Gas Station on the corner of Lake Tahoe Blvd. and Emerald Bay Road on August 14.

Lt. David Stevenson of the South Lake Tahoe Police Dept. said a team comprised of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, El Dorado County District Attorney's Office, FBI, California Department of Justice, and the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office all contributed to the eventual capture of Swanson's suspected killer.

Tahoe police make April fool out of suspected bank robber

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA - Police in South Lake Tahoe used an online shopping service to catch a suspected crook on Sunday.

Sgt. Shannon Laney of the South Lake Tahoe Police Dept. said Joshua Schauert was identified as the likely suspect in a robbery at the Wells Fargo inside Raley's grocery store in the Heavenly Village Shopping Center on March 29.

On April 1, officers discovered Schauert had listed a laptop for sale on Craigslist and undercover officers set up an appointment to purchase the computer at a Valero gas station in South Lake Tahoe, said Laney.

When Schauert arrived to complete the transaction, he was arrested without incident.

Officers are looking into whether the laptop for sale was stolen, Laney said.

Schauert was arrested without incident. Officers are looking into the possibility of the laptop being stolen.

Authorities bust 3-state pot trafficking ring

SACRAMENTO, CA - A three-state drug trafficking bust lead to the arrest of 14 people and the seizure of 1,300 pounds of marijuana.

Dylan Hudson, 26, of Placerville was charged with conspiracy to grow and distribute marijuana and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute on Thursday by a federal grand jury, said Lauren Horwood, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of California.

On March 8, a tip lead police to a private shipping company in West Sacramento, where authorities seized 80 pounds of high grade marijuana, then allowed the empty crate continue on to Chicago, California Attorney General's Office said.

INTERESTING READING: Affidavit for search warrant for suspected Placerville pot storage facility

Zombie-Like Drivers Beware!

Zombie-Like Drivers Beware!

"Zombie-like" drivers will be of special interest to law enforcement agencies as we move into April, which launches the second annual National Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign.The campaign, "It's Not Worth It!" was launched today with people garbed as zombies.

For more details on this campaign, CLICK HERE to read a California Highway Patrol and California Office of Traffic Safety press release.

PHOTOS: Zombie-like drivers press conference

$50,000 of stolen property recovered

Pollock Pines, CA - El Dorado Sheriff's Department Detectives have found stolen property belonging to four burglary victims.

As part of an ongoing investigation, Sheriff's Special Enforcement Detail served search warrants on two locations - one a residence and the other a storage unit, both on Pony Express Trail in Pollock Pines.

There they discovered the stolen properties from burglaries that occurred in the Placerville, Pollock Pines, and Pleasant Valley areas.

They also found approximately five pounds of dried and prepared marijuana as well as other items that are commonly used in methamphetamine production.

According to the El Dorado County Sheriff Department press release, two arrests were made in conjunction with these findings - Teresa Lee, 42, and Seth Fuentes, 39.

The value of the recovered property is estimated over $50,000.

Deputies seeking El Dorado Hills bank robber

EL DORADO HILLS, CA - The El Dorado County Sheriff's office is investigating a robbery that occurred at the J.P. Morgan Chase Bank on Tower Center Drive in El Dorado Hills on Thursday.

Lt. Tim Becker of the El Dorado County Sheriff's Dept. said a man entered the bank around 1:00 p.m. and handed a note to the teller demanding money and indicating he had a weapon.

The robber then fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, Becker said.

According to Becker, nobody at the bank saw a weapon.

Deputies responded to the robbery and searched the area, but were unable to locate the man. Crime Scene Investigators and FBI agents also initiated an investigation into the robbery.

The robber was described as a white man in his late 20s to early 30s. He was said to be between 5'6" and 5'7" tall and was wearing a black beanie with white stripes, a white long-sleeve thermal shirt, black undershirt, light denim jeans and a teal fanny pack.