Bay Area Briefs

Wednesday October 23, 2002

Wrong ballots sent to voters 

MARTINEZ — Several hundred voters were sent the wrong sample ballots by the Contra Costa County Elections Department. 

The sample ballots omitted the Martinez City Council and mayoral races, and excluded candidate statements in those races, said Clerk-Recorder Steve Weir. 

Weir was alerted of the mistake late Thursday and corrected sample ballots with a letter explaining the error were sent Friday to all 770 registered voters. About 500 voters received the wrong sample ballot, Weir said. 

Most cities and school districts have switched to even-year elections, and this November has a particularly packed ballot. 

The Elections Department is responsible for mailing 500,000 sample ballots, 66,000 permanent absentee ballots and 10,000 mail-only ballots. There are 30 different inserts, totaling 224 combinations of sample ballots. 

The Elections Department has corrected two recent other mistakes. It failed to send Acalanes Union High School District voters the ballot arguments for Measure B. And it inadvertently sent some Moraga voters ballot information on Measure N, a fire district tax that they cannot vote on. 


Bail increased for Internet courtship suspect 

SANTA ROSA — Bail was increased to $750,000 in Sonoma County court Tuesday morning for a Monterey County man accused of committing lewd acts with a 15-year-old girl he met on the Internet over a 20-month period. 

Superior Court Judge James Bertoli increased the bail for Alfonso Enrique Ozaeta Jr. from $500,000 after the prosecutor said he was a flight risk and a threat to the alleged victim and the community. 

Santa Rosa police arrested Ozaeta, 28, of Seaside in a parked car at a Rincon Valley park in Santa Rosa last week. Police said Ozaeta and the girl were naked. 

The prosecution has filed 20 counts of committing lewd acts with a minor and one count of possession of child pornography on a computer seized at Ozaeta's apartment. 

Ozaeta's attorney John LemMon denied claims that his client is a flight risk or a threat. He said the girl told Ozaeta she was 19 when they communicated in a chat room on the Internet and again later when they met in person. 

The prosecution said there may be other victims. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 31. 


Man sentenced for shooting Sonoma State student 

SANTA ROSA — A San Francisco man was sentenced to three years in prison for shooting a Sonoma State University student after he was turned away from an off-campus party. 

Michael Cheng said Monday in court that he was sorry for the May 4 shooting and asked Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elaine Watters to place him on probation. 

However, Deputy District Attorney James Patrick Casey argued Cheng deserved a prison sentence because he showed up at the party “armed to the teeth” and attacked a complete stranger. 

E.L. Lucas, 21, was first hit with an electric stun gun and then shot in the leg. 

“He could have killed me,” Lucas told Judge Watters, adding that the attack was completely unprovoked. 

“I never touched him,” he said.