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Judge: County DA OK in ID theft case

Local prosecutors do not have to recuse themselves from an identity theft case involving Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini, a judge said Monday. Defense attorney Mark Geragos of Los Angeles argued that the California attorney general's office should take over the case because DeMartini is one of five supervisors who craft the county budget, setting spending limits for the district attorney's office in the process. Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff said the fiscal relationship between the Board of Supervisors and the district attorney's office does not amount to a conflict of interest. So a preliminary hearing that began in October but ground to a halt after it resumed late last month was reset for March 18, according to Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley. The hearing is needed so the judge can determine whether Serena Essapour of Turlock should be held for trial. Essapour, 22, above, is accused of false impersonation, misuse of personal identifying information and grand theft, all from May 16 to June 16, 2006. DeMartini said he gave Essapour $6,500 and co-signed her car loan because he felt sorry for her. A year later, Essapour is alleged to have used DeMartini's Social Security number to obtain credit cards that were used to ring up $10,000 in unauthorized charges.

-- Susan Herendeen

Filing period opens for June election

A steady stream of potential candi- dates took out papers to run for office Monday at the Stanislaus County registrar of voters office. Monday was the first day to take out papers to run for offices in the June 3 primary. The offices up for election include congressional representatives, judges, state Assembly representatives and three Stanislaus County supervisor seats. The supervisor seats are District 1, held by Jim DeMartini; District 2, from which Tom Mayfield is retiring; and District 5, held by Bill O'Brien. Candidates have until March 7 to file the nominating papers, though the deadline is extended to March 12 if no incumbent files for an office. -- Tim Moran

Yesteryears

75 YEARS AGO: Oakdale's fire siren was raised 15 feet and the tone was altered slightly. Fire Chief O.Z. Bailey told the City Council this would help wake the volunteer firemen at night.

50 YEARS AGO: Turlock High School trustees approved a proposal by Principal John Pitman to lengthen the 1958-59 school year from

175 to 180 days. Pitman made the proposal "to give the taxpayers something more for their money."

-- Karen Aiello

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