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Mendocino County Today: August 29, 2012

CAL FIRE said Tuesday afternoon that the Pass fire burning northeast of Covelo had destroyed four homes and seven outbuildings and had grown overnight by about 3,500 acres, bringing the total acreage consumed by the week-long blaze to 35,270 acres. The homes were lost in the Indian Dick area, about 10 miles from Covelo. 1,692 firefighters are on-scene, supplemented by 116 engines, 12 helicopters, two planes and 30 dozers.

CORRECTION. Libby Crawford of Ukiah, correctly identified as companion to Dr. Peter Keegan, also of Ukiah, was incorrectly identified here last week as a member of the Crawford Ranch family. Ms. Crawford is not related to those Crawfords.

HMMM. Let's see if we can puzzle this one out. Dr. Keegan is alone with his wife at the Keegan home in South Ukiah. Mrs. Keegan is found dead in her bathroom. The death certificate quickly concludes her death was accidental, the result of a bathroom fall. More than a year later the death certificate is changed to homicide as the cause of Mrs. Keegan's death.

ONE MORE TIME to see if we've got the facts straight: two persons in the house, one of whom is murdered, and the dead person is not Doctor Keegan. Is it safe to conclude the doctor murdered Mrs. Keegan?

THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT went wayyyyyyy out on a limb last week to describe the doctor as “a person of interest.”

MY THINKING EXACTLY! So, is the next step the arrest of Doctor Keegan? If not, why not?

MENDOCINO TRANSIT'S board of directors, all Ukiah people, I believe, meets Thursday, 1:30pm, in the Point Arena Library. Think they took the bus?

ARMED ROBBERY IN POINT ARENA. A Magalia (Butte County) man and his son-in-law were booked into the Mendocino County Jail late Thursday afternoon when they were apprehended after they'd robbed, at gunpoint, the Redwood Credit Union of Point Arena of $50,000 cash. Fred Orlando, 55, of Magalia and Raymon Ojeda, 39, of Pico Rivera, were being held on $100,000 bail, but at their arraignment Monday in Ukiah, Orlando's bail was set at $1.125 million, his son-in-law Ojeda's remained at a $100,000.


ORLANDO, it has developed, has robbed banks before, three times before, and he has a conviction for residential burglary. It was he who was carrying the gun and brandishing it during the robbery of the Redwood Credit Union branch in Point Arena. Orlando's son-in-law, Mr. Ojeda, seems to have been a reluctant participant.

CAPTAIN KURT SMALLCOMB of the Sheriff's Department said one of bandits told detectives they'd targeted the credit union because it was located in a small, lightly patrolled town.

THE STICK-UP occurred a little after 1pm on Thursday when the pair entered the office and ordered employees at gunpoint to empty their cash drawers, threatening the office's clerks and several customers that they'd be hurt if they interfered in any way.

WITNESSES, taking note of the Jeep getaway vehicle, jotted down its license plate number.


SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES and CHP officers were quickly on-scene, and just as quickly determined that the robbers were not anywhere on Highway One. An unnamed Sheriff's deputy and CHP officer Terry Solomon, racing up Fish Rock Road, which leads east to Highway 128 and the Anderson Valley at Yorkville, spotted the fleeing Jeep as it stopped and Ojeda climbed out on the road where Solomon took him into custody.

ORLANDO, the older man, continued hurtling eastbound toward Anderson Valley where Sheriff's Deputy Luis Espinoza and Soloman soon stopped him. Orlando at first refused to exit the vehicle, his hand on a loaded .38 “as if contemplating whether to open fire,” as Captain Smallcomb described Orlando's demeanor. Apparently concluding that it was better to surrender than shoot it out, Orlando gave up.

MAYBE it will be revealed when the robbers get into court, but we wondered if the bandidos had cased the credit union before they knocked it off. Did they know there would be that much cash on the premises? Experienced hold up artists plan ahead, especially their getaways. And one of them, Mr. Orlando, had robbed banks before. There are only three ways out of Point Arena — north or south on Highway One, or east on Fish Rock Road. The fact that the bandidos headed east on Fish Rock indicates some basic planning — outsiders don't know about Fish Rock — but the robber's vehicle gave them away. If they'd had a second car they might be back in Chico buying power mowers and lawn ornaments rather than looking at an automatic minimum of ten years in prison for armed robbery. Mr. Orlando, a four-felony veteran of the state pen might be in a walker by the time he sees freedom again.

GARY HUDSON served as undersheriff for Tony Craver and Sheriff Allman. He retired more than a year ago after being out on paid “stress leave” for almost two years. Hudson has now been granted a service-connected disability retirement by the Mendocino County Retirement Board. Which means that Hudson's already gold-plated retirement benefits, far beyond anything you or I can ever dream of, will now be tax free.

COPS AND FIREFIGHTERS stand alone in qualifying for 3% of their pay for each year of service up to a cap of 90% of their highest year’s salary. With accumulated vacation, sick leave and overtime added in, the highest year of pay often “spikes” so that retirement pay dwarfs the highest base salary ever actually received. Hudson, who almost certainly claimed stress as his disability, had lots of stress in his life, but it stemmed mainly from his bouts with alcoholism, domestic violence and depression. But cops soon learn which helping professionals will co-sign their story of job-related stress while discounting incidents of lifestyle related stress. And if the helping professional did not co-sign, word would soon get around and their phones would stop ringing.


  1. Jennifer Poole August 28, 2012

    I’m going to ignore that sad item by that obviously too often spurned (and who could imagine why) gentleman about “law students,” and post this Facebook album of awesome photos of the North Pass Fire by Matthew Henderson, a photographer out of Woodland, CA. You don’t have to have a Facebook account to see these amazing photos. Henderson sez somewhere in a comment he had more trouble than usual taking these fire photos, thanks to the uncooperative U.S. Forest Service, but gives kudos to CalFire and to our sheriff’s dept (and Sheriff Allman) for their cooperation.

  2. Jim Mastin August 28, 2012

    A point of clarification. The MTA board is comprised of members appointed by each incorporated city (all except Point Arena are councilmembers), a member of the board of supervisors and two public members appointed by the BOS. No one area of the county is over represented on the board.

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