CAR DEALERS' COURT DATE DELAYED: An arraignment for two of the people associated with Modesto used car dealership Rocky Auto Sales was postponed Friday until Oct. 30. Sarla Sharma, the dealership's owner, and Akash Sharma, a salesman, are defendants in a criminal complaint that alleges more than 70 counts of conspiracy to commit grand theft. Investigators from the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the Stanislaus County district attorney's office arrested the Sharmas last month. The dealership has been closed since then. According to the complaint, customers told investigators that Rocky Auto Sales employees repossessed cars unlawfully, kept poor paperwork and changed sales terms. Randy Thomas, an attorney for the Sharmas, said in Friday's court appearance that he hadn't been able to see discovery evidence in the case and needed more time. The judge granted his request. The Sharmas are free on bond. Thomas said earlier this month that his clients would plead not guilty. He did not return a call seeking further comment Friday. Two other defendants in the case, Vikram Sharma and Kulbhushan Kumar "Rocky" Sharma, are at large, according to the district attorney's office.
ORDINANCE GOVERNS ANIMAL BREEDERS: Police and animal services are cracking down on unlawful animal breeders. A new Turlock city ordinance limits breeders to one litter per year per animal, with a maximum of three breeding animals per household. The city-issued breeder certificate number must be displayed in any advertising of animals, whether selling them or giving them away for free. Dogs that are documented as trained and actively used by law enforcement or for search and rescue are exempted. Guide dogs, signal dogs and service dogs also are exempt. Licensed veterinarians can issue exemptions if the spay or neuter procedure is a health risk. Breeder certificates will not be issued to anyone who has been convicted of animal cruelty or neglect. If you breed animals or have any questions, call Turlock Animal Services 668-5550, ext. 6301.
WAR VETERANS' PLAQUE STOLEN: Stanislaus County sheriff's officials are looking for the thief who stole a brass war memorial plaque from the Riverbank Community Center. The 1-foot-by-2-foot plaque dedicated to veterans was on a front exterior wall at the community center at 3600 Santa Fe Ave., said deputy Royjindar Singh. Officials discovered the plaque was missing Friday morning. The thief used tools to remove the plaque, which was "ripped out of the wall," Singh said. A similar theft was reported earlier this month at Salida Middle School when a 70-pound, 30-inch-by-24-inch brass plaque in front of the campus was stolen. Each plaque could bring about $100 at a recycling plant, Singh said. Investigators were visiting recycling businesses Friday in search of the stolen plaques. Riverbank is offering a $500 reward for the return of its plaque. The Sheriff's Department asks anyone with information to call Riverbank police at 869-7162 or CrimeStoppers at 521-4636. Callers to CrimeStoppers can leave an anonymous tip and be eligible for a cash reward.
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