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Modesto police: Man posing as law enforcement detective is a fraud

MODESTO, CA - Authorities are warning residents of a man in the Modesto area falsely identifying himself as a law enforcement detective when calling his victims asking for personal financial information.

Stanislaus County Sheriff's Deputy Luke Schwartz said sometime during the last week of December, the unidentified man called a county resident from a 1-800 phone number pretending to be a detective working for the "Collateral Division." He asked for information regarding money and property owed to an undisclosed financial firm. The resident wisely asked the man to verify who he said he was and determined he was a fraud. Schwartz warns that other victims, may not be so alert to question the caller's authenticity.

Schwartz assured residents the sheriff's department is not in the business of collecting debts on behalf of private businesses or companies without a proper civil process and will never call from a 1-800 number.

Modesto police arrest 4th man in elderly fraud scam

Modesto police arrest 4th man in elderly fraud scam

MODESTO - Police arrested a 4th man in connection to a local contractor scam targeing elderly homeowners and swindling thousands of dollars for unnecessary home repairs.

Modesto resident Eddie Henry Zarate, 42, was arrested on Jan. 4 as part of an ongoing investigation into the scam, said Modesto police Detective Steven Stanfield. Zarate was arrested for crimes against the elderly and booked in the Stanislaus County Jail.

Stanfield said three other men, identified as 58-year-old Davod Gruenenfelder, 22-year-old Luis Magana and 31-year-old Mathew Regaldo, were arrested on Dec. 4 after they were spotted "casing" a residential neighborhood for future victims.

The most recent scheme involved the suspects conducting home plumbing repairs. Stanfield said the men would tell the elderly customer that they needed the water pressure checked in their home.

Police: Christmas Day assault may have been botched robbery

MODESTO, CA -- Police say a Christmas Day assault in Modesto that left two men injured -- one critically -- may have been a botched robbery.

The Stanislaus County sheriff's department says 35-year-old Juan Carlos Felix, of Las Vegas, and 20-year-old Rojelio Escobar, of Salinas, met two women at a bar Saturday night who led them to a warehouse.

When they arrived, Felix and Escobar reportedly were jumped by two men wielding a knife and a baseball bat.


Modesto man identified in deadly assault

MODESTO - Stanislaus County Sheriff's detectives were investigating the suspicious death of a 61-year-old man found lying on the side of a road Monday evening.

The man, identified as Modesto resident Manual Romero Vibanco, was initially found suffering from serious injuries on the ground outside of Global Auto Body Parts in the 500 block of 9th Street around 5:30 p.m., according to sheriff's spokesman Deputy Luke Schwartz.

Someone called 911 from the business to report an assault with a deadly weapon, Schwartz said.

Responding paramedics rushed Vibanco to a local hospital where he died a short time later, said Schwartz. Based on evidence at the scene, investigators believe the assault was a homicide. No suspects have been identified or arrested.

Anyone with information about Vibanco or the incident should contact Stanislaus County Sheriff's Detective Frank Soria at (209) 525-7080. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636.

Thief steals Salvation Army kettle outside Raley's

Thief steals Salvation Army kettle outside Raley's

MODESTO - Salvation Army of Modesto officials said a bell-ringer standing outside of a local Raley's grocery store Saturday afternoon, was robbed by a man who is still on the loose.

The incident happened on Dec. 18 around 4:30 p.m. at the store on Tully Road at Standiford Avenue, said Laine Hendricks with the Salvation Army. A man approached the bell-ringer to ask for directions to a nearby restaurant. He then grabbed the red kettle full of donation money the bell-ringer was holding, then ran and jumped into a waiting car.

Hendricks said the Salvation Army employee ran after the thief, grabbed the vehicle's door handle and tried to stop the moving car but was forced to let go, hurting his knees, wrist and head in the process.

The kettle contained an undisclosed amount of money and Hendricks said the loss of income comes as a severe hit to the Modesto branch.

After school youth recreational leader arrested for sexual assault

MODESTO – Modesto Police investigators have arrested a 19-year-old, after-school youth recreational leader for unlawful sexual acts with a 12-year-old girl.   

On Wednesday morning, Modesto Police officers were called to James Marshall School, located at 515 Sutter Avenue, regarding a missing 12-year-old student.  School staff had learned the juvenile was picked up by a male in a car, near the rear of the school, and she never returned.

When officers arrived they were able to identify the male who picked up the juvenile as Vince Gutierrez, a 19-year-old Modesto resident.  Gutierrez is a part-time Recreational Leader for the City of Modesto and a Substitute Special Education Instructional Para-Professional for Modesto City Schools.  The investigation revealed Gutierrez had befriended the 12-year-old victim, while he was working in an after-school program at Marshall School. 

Patrol officers located Gutierrez and the 12-year-o