Mountain View Voice

News - May 20, 2011

Crime briefs

Road rage

A case of severe road rage was reported Monday, May 16, after a man allegedly ran another driver off Grant Road, then punched him in the face through the car window, and broke the victim's glasses, police said.

The man accused of the attack told the investigating officer a "conflicting" story.

Going by the alleged victim's statements, Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie said the incident began at about 10:40 a.m. on May 16, when the man tried to merge into the lane next to him as he drove southbound on Highway 85. The man, a 46-year-old Mountain View resident, did not see the car in the next lane and almost ran into it.

The driver of the car that was almost hit apparently became irate and followed the Mountain View resident as he exited the freeway and turned onto Grant Road heading west, Wylie said. According to the 46-year-old, the man following him ultimately forced him off the road into the driveway of St. Timothy's Church on Grant Road near Cuesta Drive.

The man following the victim then got out of his car and continued yelling, pointing and "challenging him to a fight," Wylie said.

Although he was scared, the man being followed started to roll his window down to try to apologize. The enraged driver punched him, pulled off his prescription glasses, smashed them on the ground, got back in his car and left.

Witnesses at the church wrote down the man's license plate number as he left the church and the victim called the police.

Police tracked down the 42-year-old road rage suspect later that day at his home in Palo Alto, but because of the nature of the crimes and the man's story which "completely contradicted" the victim's story, he was not arrested and his name was not released, Wylie said.

A warrant was requested for the Palo Alto man on charges of child endangerment, because there were children in both cars, battery for hitting the victim and vandalism for breaking the victim's glasses.

The 42-year-old enraged driver had his 13-year-old son in the car. The victim had two children in the car — a 9-year-old and a 3-year-old.

'Brazen' theft

A large flat-screen television was stolen from the Mountain View Sears on Friday by a "very brazen" suspect, police said.

The TV, a 50-inch Samsung, was taken off its display, loaded into a shopping cart and nonchalantly wheeled out the department store's doors by the bandit shortly before 9 p.m. on May 13, said Liz Wylie of the Mountain View Police Department.

After store employees noticed the TV missing they reviewed security tapes, which showed the man first approach the display at about 5:40 p.m. to unplug the device, Wylie said. He returned at about 8:40 p.m. and made off with the TV.

Police have no witnesses, she said.

Leap ends chase

A man running from police ended the pursuit when he hurt himself by jumping from the top of a multiple-story parking structure, law enforcement officials said.

Jaime Trinidad, a 19-year-old from Milpitas, began running when the car he was in was pulled over for speeding by a police officer at about 7:40 p.m. on May 13, according to Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie.

A police sergeant first attempted to pull over the Honda Accord carrying Trinidad near the juncture of Highway 237 and Dana Street. Wylie said the driver of the Accord did not pull over immediately. Instead, he exited Highway 237 onto Highway 85, turned off at El Camino Real heading east, turned right at The Americana, and stopped the car between the Lucky supermarket shopping center and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation building.

That's when Trinidad made a run for it, Wylie said. Multiple police officers quickly converged on the scene and found Trinidad on the top level of the medical center's parking garage. He jumped into a landscaped area about 30 feet below and tried to continue running but immediately fell down, Wylie said.

He was taken to the hospital for a possible fractured spine, Wylie said. He has since been released and was issued a citation for possession of burglary tools; Trinidad was allegedly carrying pieces of automotive spark plugs, which can be used to break car windows.

Trinidad was also on parole from the California Youth Authority, Wylie said.

The driver of the car was issued a citation for speeding. Marijuana was found in the car, but the person who claimed responsibility for the drug had a medical cannabis card.

Arson, fraud indictment

A Mountain View business owner has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and arson, according to a May 13 press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The indictment alleges that Lodhi, owner of the Postal Express at 801 W. El Camino Real, intentionally inflated the value of her business and then purposely set fire to her store to collect on the insurance policy in order to pay personal debts.

The four alarm fire in the early hours of May 17, 2006, completely destroyed several neighboring businesses: Super Fluffy Cleaners and Laundry, DBT Mini Market, a beauty salon, as well as the Postal Express. A Dollar Store in the strip mall had minor damage from the fire. No one was injured in the blaze.

Lodhi could face a maximum sentence of 20 years for each count of mail fraud and malicious use of fire, a maximum sentence of 10 years for use of fire in commission of a federal felony, and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of those counts.

Lodhi appeared in federal court in San Jose on May 12 for an initial hearing. She is currently out on a $100,000 bail bond. She is scheduled to appear in court again on June 16 at 9 a.m. before Judge Jeremy Fogel.

—Nick Veronin

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