Law & Order

MODESTAN SENTENCED IN NOBEL PRIZE CASE: A student from Modesto charged with stealing the first Nobel Prize medal received by a University of California at Berkeley professor from a display case pleaded no contest Tuesday as part of a plea deal in an Alameda County courtroom in Oakland. Ian Michael Sanchez, 22, a UC Berkeley biology student, had faced up to one year in prison if convicted of felony grand theft for taking the medal awarded to Professor Ernest Lawrence in 1939 for inventing the cyclotron, a particle accelerator that helped spawn the nuclear age. The medal was found in the attic of Sanchez's parents' Modesto home. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors reduced the charge against Sanchez to misdemeanor vandalism. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Sandra Bean sentenced Sanchez to three years' probation and ordered him to perform 150 hours of community service and to undergo counseling. Neither he nor his attorney commented on the plea as they left court. Sanchez worked at the Lawrence Hall of Science, a museum and research center where the medal was kept, when the prize was stolen from a locked display case in March. He showed it to his fraternity brothers, and an informant notified police. The medal no longer is on public display. Sanchez grew up in Modesto and graduated from Ceres High School, where he was on the tennis team. He wants to become a doctor, his sister, Maria Sanchez, 17, said during a previous interview.

ALTERCATION CLOSES SCHOOL: Officers broke up a possible gang fight that forced a 15-minute lockdown of Everett School on Wednesday afternoon when a passer-by reported two groups were about to face off at a nearby north Modesto park, police said. Most of the students had gone home when school let out at 2:45 p.m., but there were still some students on campus participating in after-school programs, said Sgt. Craig Gundlach, a Modesto police spokesman. Catherine Everett Park sits just behind the school at 1530 Mount Vernon Drive, just east of Carver Road. Gundlach said the witness reported seeing about 10 guys about 3:50 p.m. in the park in what appeared to be gang colors. "They looked like they were arguing and it was starting to get physical," Gundlach said. Officers arrived at the park shortly afterward and saw the suspects running away. Some fled into the school, but the officers caught up to eight of them, who were detained and questioned for about an hour. Those detained ranged in age from 16 to 20 years old. They later were released when nobody wanted to press charges and no injuries were reported, Gundlach said. The students in the school were kept safely inside their classrooms while police worked outside, Gundlach said.

BABY CRITICAL, DAD IN CUSTODY: A nearly 3-month-old boy was on life support Wednesday with symptoms of shaken baby syndrome, and his 25-year-old father remained in custody, suspected of committing child abuse that led to his son's injuries, police said. Michael David Zamarripa of Manteca was booked at the San Joaquin County Jail early Sunday morning on suspicion of felony child abuse and endangerment, along with felony child abuse and corporal injury that resulted in great bodily injury, said Rex Osborn, a Manteca police spokesman. Zamarripa was being held in lieu of $550,000 bail. His son was in an infant critical care unit at Children's Hospital Central California, in Madera County, where his mother was at his side, Osborn said. Police did not release the boy's name. The boy's mother is not a suspect. Osborn said Zamarripa could be charged with murder if the baby dies. The boy was checked into Doctors Hospital of Manteca on Friday with critical injuries and later airlifted to the Madera hospital. Osborn said Zamarripa has a criminal history that includes several burglary charges and domestic violence. He is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 15 in the Manteca branch of San Joaquin County Superior Court.