The Associated Press
Saturday September 01, 2001

Bankruptcies decline 

SAN JOSE — For the 12-month period that ended July 31, the number of bankruptcy filings in the Northern District of California declined 12.7 percent when compared to the same period the previous year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. 

But bankruptcy filings nationwide — by both businesses and individuals — were up 8.6 percent in the 12-month period that ended June 30. If bankruptcies continue to increase at this pace, the year ahead will surpass the record-breaking year of 1998, when 1,429,451 new cases were logged. 

Experts, who specialize in bankruptcy or commercial insolvency cases, believe the number of regional filings are down for a variety of reasons. Among them, Bay Area homeowners can sell their homes to pay off debt. Non-homeowners facing bankruptcy, may move elsewhere for a job, and if they do eventually declare bankruptcy, they may file in their new location. 

Many dot-coms and other tech companies that failed had few if any assets, thus had no reason to file for bankruptcy. 

The Northern California District includes courts in San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Rosa and has jurisdiction from the Oregon border to Monterey County. 

Dog attack suspect pleads not guilty 

OAKLAND — An alleged drug dealer arrested while out on bail for charges stemming from the dog attack of a Richmond boy in June, pleaded innocent Friday to federal drug trafficking charges. 

Benjamin Moore is in custody at the North County Jail in Oakland. His girlfriend, Jacinda Knight, and Albert Malborough also pleaded innocent before U.S. Magistrate Judge Wayne D. Brazil. 

Moore, Knight, and Malborough, were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute base cocaine and possession of the drug for distribution among other drug-related charges. 

The defendants were arrested Aug. 15. Moore also faces two misdemeanor offense charges in Contra Costa County Superior Court for allegedly concealing evidence in connection with the mauling of 11-year-old Shawn Jones, who was attacked by Moore’s three pit bulls. 

Malborough has been placed in a halfway house, and Knight is not in custody. 

* * * 

MARTINEZ — A Lafayette couple who say they paid too much for a $4.25 million property once owned by Oakland A’s owner Ken Hoffman have asked that their property taxes be reduced. 

Linda and Ken Mandel asked a county appeals board Thursday to reduce $1.1 million of the assessed value of their property. That would save them $11,000 a year in property taxes. 

The three-member Contra Costa County Assessment Appeals Board gave them a $250,000 reduction, exactly what they paid over the asking price when they bought the house in May 2000. 

Linda Mandel told the appeals board the couple realized soon after they moved in that they paid too much for their property, which includes a two-bedroom house, two guest houses, a pool and a tennis court. 

“Whether or not we paid the right price or not, it didn’t matter,” she said. “We thought the market was going to keep going up.” 

Mandel said they did not have the property appraised, on the suggestion of their real estate agent. 

* * * 

FAIRFIELD — Fairfield-Suisun School District students who spent the final two weeks of last school year dealing with confusion and substitute teachers face the possibility of another teacher walkout Tuesday, when school begins again. 

Teachers and Fairfield-Suisun School District leaders have not been able to resolve their differences over the summer. 

The school district is offering teachers a 10 percent pay raise for the last school year and a 5.4 percent raise this school year. Teachers want 10 percent for last year and 7.5 percent this year.