Fillmore resident Shawn Philip Burson, 18 years old, is now serving in the United States Army at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Shawn enlisted in the United States Army on October 16, 2008 for a five year tour. He plans to make the Army a career he estimates to span 25-30 years.

Fort Gordon is located near Augusta, Georgia and is the home of the United States Army Signal Center of Excellence. The United States Army Signal Center of Excellence provides world class Soldiers and Leaders; trains, educates, and develops adaptive Leaders Information Technology professionals; and plans, synchronizes, experiments, and implements Future Network capabilities.

Shawn Philip Burson is the son of William and Sharyn Burson of Fillmore. His sister is Jessica Burson, 16 years of Fillmore. Both Shawn and Jessica were home schooled their entire elementary and high school years until they entered Ventura Community College. Shawn received his high school diploma when he graduated from Ventura Community College at age 17 with is Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies. Jessica will receive her high school diploma at age 16, in the Spring, when she will graduate from from Ventura Community College with an Associate of Arts Degree. Shawn's (maternal grandmother) was the late Eleanor H. Levine and his CONTINUED »

 
City of Fillmore
City of Fillmore

A Petition for Writ of Mandate, Injunction, and Declaratory Relief for violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act has been filed on behalf of the citizens of Fillmore by Petitioner Richard P. McKee, an individual.

The petition alleges an e-mail sent to Councilman Steve Conaway by Mayor Patti Walker, August 25 of 2009, “revealed a Brown Act violation by a majority of the City Council through a serial meeting arranged and facilitated by Interim City Manager Larry Pennell.”

At the regular council meeting, August 25, Mayor Walker announced that a closed session (not on the agenda) would be held concerning a Brown Act violation charged in an August 25, letter from Councilman Conaway to City Clerk, Clay Westling. The alleged violation concerned a serial meeting between three council members, which was arranged by Interim City Manager, Larry Pennell. Pennell sought, and obtained, concurrence of thought from a majority of the city council. In his letter Conaway stated that “As a council member, I expect that the City Manager will conduct business fairly, openly and with the highest ethics. Sadly, Mr. Pennell’s actions resulted in implicating three of my council members in this Brown Act violation.”

Conaway continued: “As a result of the serial meeting, the trust installed upon Fillmore officials will b e diminished. When this issue came to my attention I urged Mayor Walker to CONTINUED »

 
Interim City Manager Larry Pennell could not answer Councilman Conaway’s question about why the agreed procedure for finding a new auditing company for the city was not followed. Pennell brought-in a new firm without giving other firms a chance to bid the job. There will be no savings for the city with this new ad-hoc agreement. In fact, while $34,000 was budgeted for the audit, under the new auditing firm the cost to the city will be almost $41,000. $7,000 could have been saved by keeping the previous firm which had done a commendable job for many years.
Interim City Manager Larry Pennell could not answer Councilman Conaway’s question about why the agreed procedure for finding a new auditing company for the city was not followed. Pennell brought-in a new firm without giving other firms a chance to bid the job. There will be no savings for the city with this new ad-hoc agreement. In fact, while $34,000 was budgeted for the audit, under the new auditing firm the cost to the city will be almost $41,000. $7,000 could have been saved by keeping the previous firm which had done a commendable job for many years.
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City of Fillmore
City of Fillmore

Mayor Patti Walker, two city council members Jamey Brooks and Mayor Pro-tem Gayle Washburn with Fillmore City Attorney Theodore Schneider, reviewed the council’s action resulting in the Brown Act violation debate in a closed-door session Tuesday night, September 22, 2009.
Before Mayor Walker and council members retreated to an undisclosed location in City Hall, Schneider asked that Councilmember Steve Conaway recues himself. Conaway complied with the request. Councilmember Laurie Hernandez was absent.
Returning to regular session, Mayor Walker disclosed the findings of the council members.
“The unintentional alleged Brown Act violation was of no consequence,” stated Mayor Walker, “because it did not result in any action taken by this council.”
Schneider concurred with, “All allegations by Mr. McKee have been satisfied.”
Richard McKee, President of California’s Aware, a political watchdog group, had proposed that the City Council had violated the Brown Act in August when reviewing credentials of candidates for employment.
Audit Controversy
State audit reports for the city of Fillmore are due in October and December announced City Manager, Larry Pennell. Gathering information for the reports begins in July of every (fiscal) year. Due to the retirement of former Finance Director Barbara Smith, the city of Fillmore has been without a permanent finance director since June, commented Washburn. Leonore Young has been serving as Interim Finance Director.
Pennell advised that the auditing firm of Rogers, Anderson, Malody, & Scott from Riverside County be hired to begin the process as soon as possible. Since June 2009, only one Request for Proposal (RFP) bid was sent out; that was to Rogers, Anderson, Malody & Scott.
With a recommendation from Lea Phillips of the Ventura Regional Sanitation District, Pennell invited a company representative to address the council.
Terry Shea, a CPA for the firm stated that he’d design programs to do the audits for 2008-2009. When Washburn asked, “Is there any flexibility in your pricing?” CONTINUED »

 

Nine teachers from Piru Elementary School, working with their former principal Richard Durborow, mailed a charter school petition this week to Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) Superintendent Jeff Sweeney and Board Members beginning the process to obtain charter status for Piru Elementary School. Piru Charter School (PCS) plans to open their doors beginning in the 2010-2011 school year. The charter petition is a result of collaboration which began last spring during a District reorganization planning process, and which continued despite the efforts of the FUSD administration to halt it.

Charter schools are public schools that are responsive to students’ needs and are held accountable for improved student achievement. They are open to the public, are tuitionfree, participate in state tests, employ credentialed teachers to teach core subjects, and can offer innovative curriculum and teaching strategies designed to improve student learning. For more information on charter schools, visit the website of the California Charter Schools Association at - myschool.org.

Under current state law, and with the full support of Governor Schwarzenger and President Obama, public schools can be converted to charter status when the majority of the teaching staff file a charter petition addressing sixteen specific elements regarding school vision, CONTINUED »

 
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
California State Governor

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today proclaimed a state of emergency in Ventura County due to the Guiberson Fire that has burned over 6,000 acres, threatens hundreds of homes and other structures and has caused the mandatory evacuation of residents and opening of emergency shelters.

The text of the proclamation is below:

A PROCLAMATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY

WHEREAS on September 22, 2009, the “Guiberson Fire” started in Ventura County and continues to burn; and

WHEREAS the fire has already burned over 6,000 acres and is zero percent contained; and

WHEREAS the fire threatens hundreds of homes and other structures, causing the mandatory evacuation of residents and opening of emergency shelters; and

WHEREAS on September 22, 2009, I requested, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency granted, a Fire Management Assistance Grant for this fire; and

WHEREAS on September 22, 2009, Ventura County declared a local emergency and requested that I declare a state of emergency; and

WHEREAS the circumstances of this fire, by reason of its magnitude, are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single county, city and county, or city and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat; and

WHEREAS under the provisions of section 8558(b) of the California Government Code, I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist due to the fire in Ventura County.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the state Constitution and statutes, including the California Emergency Services Act, and in particular, section 8625 of the California Government Code, HEREBY PROCLAIM A STATE OF EMERGENCY to exist within Ventura County.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that all agencies of the state government utilize and employ state personnel, equipment and facilities for the performance of any and all activities consistent with the direction of my California Emergency Management Agency and the State Emergency Plan, and that the California Emergency Management Agency provide local government assistance under the authority of the California Disaster Assistance Act.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this proclamation be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given of this proclamation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 22nd day of September 2009.

______________________________________

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER

Governor of California

ATTEST:

_______________________________________

DEBRA BOWEN

Secretary of State

 
Friday, September 11 County fire department units were called to suppress a grass fire on east Guiberson Road. At least 11 units responded and the fire was extinguished that same day. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Friday, September 11 County fire department units were called to suppress a grass fire on east Guiberson Road. At least 11 units responded and the fire was extinguished that same day. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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Above community members and parents come together for banners to be hung on Central Avenue, Wednesday Sept. 9th.
Above community members and parents come together for banners to be hung on Central Avenue, Wednesday Sept. 9th.
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What a great tribute the “Military Banners Program” has become to the men and women of Fillmore currently serving in the military. The immensely popular Banners have now been placed on Central and Sespe Avenues and the available spaces have rapidly been filling with new Banners almost monthly. I, for one, almost daily go to town and rarely do I not take a trip by my son's Banner to acknowledge his service. I know of a few other parents and family that do the same with their loved ones Banner. I also make it a point to acknowledge the others as I travel past theirs and note that some of the young men and women have had Banners placed by their family, but have not had an article written about their service. Some of them I know and others I don't. I curiously wonder about what they do within their respective branches of the military, who their family are and maybe I wonder a little about this brave person who chose to serve all of us. If for some reason the family of those American Heroes and Fillmore/Piru son's and daughters felt it is to late to have an article put in the Fillmore Gazette, it isn't and I would be proud to gather the information and photograph and share their story with the rest of the community. My contact information runs weekly in the Fillmore Gazette.

On Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. five more banners were installed on Central Avenue as part of the “Military Banner Program” which now totals thirty-seven installed Banners. A small, but enthusiastic and proud group of family and friends watched as CONTINUED »

 
City of Fillmore
City of Fillmore

On August 31, 2009 Californians Aware, a non-profit political watchdog organization, sent a Demands for Cure or Correction to the City of Fillmore regarding a possible Brown Act violation. And according to Richard McKee, President of Californians Aware, with the presentation of the letter “…the clock will start ticking,” alluding to a possible “Brown Act lawsuit.”

The Demands stems from the August 25, 2009 Fillmore City Council meeting in which the council held an “emergency closed session” regarding an alleged violation of the Brown Act due to “spoke and hub” meetings, as reported in the Gazette’s August 27th edition.

The controversial session was held in response to a letter submitted by Councilman Steve Conaway to Fillmore City Clerk Clay Westling on August 25, 2009. The letter stated that he became aware, via email sent to him from Mayor Patti Walker, that a [different] Brown Act violation occurred involving three of his fellow CONTINUED »

 

Fillmore resident and 2007 Fillmore High School graduate, United States Marine Corps (USMC) Lance Corporal (L/CPL) Andrew Lochelt, 19 years old, has arrived in Okinawa, Japan at Camp Foster. Camp Foster will be his new duty station for next couple of years. L/CPL Andrew Lochelt grew up in Fillmore and attended San Cayetano and Sespe Elementary Schools, Fillmore Middle School, Fillmore High School (FHS) and Ventura College prior to entering the USMC in July 2008 for a four-year tour of duty.

L/CPL Andrew Lochelt was very active within the Fillmore Community while growing up; he played Fillmore “T” Ball, Fillmore Little League Baseball, Raiders' Youth Football and was on the Fillmore Swim Team. He also played the trumpet for the Fillmore Middle School and Fillmore High School Band. His skill with the CONTINUED »

 
Most of those attending Tuesday night’s school board meeting wore black in protest of the recent decision to reassign Evalene Townend to a newly created position. Townend is dealing with credible allegations of serious misconduct relating to communications with a teacher’s union official.
Most of those attending Tuesday night’s school board meeting wore black in protest of the recent decision to reassign Evalene Townend to a newly created position. Townend is dealing with credible allegations of serious misconduct relating to communications with a teacher’s union official.
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Almost all seats were filled at Tuesday nights’ meeting of the Fillmore Unified School District board, as a retired teacher addressed the controversy regarding the reassignment of Evalene Townsend.

Townsend was Assistant Superintendent of Human resources, and was recently reassigned to the position of Director of Student Support Services and Special Projects. In an email sent to the Fillmore Gazette, dated September 9, 2009, Superintendent Jeff Sweeney said Townsend had requested a reassignment due to personal reasons.

Mary Ford, who retired as a teacher in the district in 2003, read a list of questions to the board concerning the new position that was created in light of budget cuts. “I am concerned how this will affect the employees and the community,” said Ford.

She pointed out the large number of people in the audience who chose to wear black to show their solidarity in opposing the decision to appoint Townsend to the new position. “We are doing this to mourn the death of integrity,” Ford added. Some district employees, unhappy over how the Townsend issue was handled by the board, said they were fearful of speaking up in public over concern of reprisals.

For more information regarding this issue see:
Mary Ford's Letter to the Editor
School Controversy Continues

District Awards
Board President John Garnica presented awards to outstanding district employees.

San Caytano principal, Jan Marhorlin introduced two nominees for the team award. Because of their dedication to the school and student improvement Inger Overton and CONTINUED »

 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

08/27/09-09/01/09
SEARCH WARRANT
08/31/09
100 Block Surrey Way
SHOTS FIRED
09/01/09
2nd St. / Central Ave.
HIT & RUN NON-INJURY
08/29/09
600 Block Central Ave.
08/31/09
700 Block Ventura St.
THEFT IDENTITY
08/27/09
900 Block First St.
THEFT OTHER
08/27/09
200 Block Central Ave. CONTINUED »

 

To the Editor:
I was astonished to learn about the reassignment of Evalene Townend, the former Assistant Superintendent of Personnel for the Fillmore Unified School District. Mrs. Townend apparently will occupy a newly formed position. The District office is already overstaffed and budget problems have necessitated the cutting of teachers and staff. As a former employee of the District, and as a taxpaying member of this community, I am concerned about how this will affect the employees and students of Fillmore and Piru. Our community has many questions that need to be answered:

1. What are the allegations? The understanding within the community is that there is proof of serious misconduct.

2. What kind of investigation has been done? We understand that the District has done an investigation. How thorough was this inquiry? What were the results? Are other District personnel implicated? If serious misconduct is indicated, reassignment to a new position is a reward for bad behavior. What is the Board’s position on that?

3. Has law enforcement been involved or even notified since this is possible criminal activity?

4. How can a new position be justified? What is the salary? What funding sources will be used? CONTINUED »

 

09/10/09 Edition Front Page “Council Backs City Peace Day”. $22,000 was printed as $220,000. It should have read, “‘The initial investment for the newest technology system is $22,000.’ When member Gayle Washburn queried concern for new computer investment, ‘You can use the computers you have now.’ Minkx replied. City councilmember Jamey Brooks moved for a vote to purchase the Granicus System, with a second from Council Member Laurie Hernandez. All members voted in favor.”

 
U.S. Army Specialist Eleazar Lopez.
U.S. Army Specialist Eleazar Lopez.
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U.S. Army Specialist Eleazar Lopez.
U.S. Army Specialist Eleazar Lopez.
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Eleazar Lopez, 20 years old, is a 2007 Fillmore High School Graduate and Fillmore native. When I last wrote about Eleazar Lopez in June 2008 he said with enthusiasm, “I graduated with the greatest class ever!” Eleazar also attended Piru Elementary School and Fillmore Middle School. Eleazar was on the FHS Cross Country and Track and Field teams all 4 years at FHS. He also played the trumpet in the band from the 4th grade to his freshman year at FHS.

Eleazar soon after graduation from FHS enlisted in the United States Army on March 31, 2007 and completed his basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Eleazar also told me that he would like to become an Airborne Ranger and have an assignment in Hawaii, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, or Fort Stewart, Georgia. Well he did make it to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, has been promoted to Army Specialist, and is now with the 82nd Airborne. Since June of this year, the 82nd Airborne Division has officially assumed command of of Regional Command-East, from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during a ceremony at Bagram Airfield on June 3, 2009. As the result of his assignment with the 82nd Airborne Division, Specialist Eleazar Lopez is now stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division as a light wheeled vehicle mechanic, but hopes to go to Airborne Training when he returns from Afghanistan.

The 82nd Airborne Division's Mission is: Within 18 hours of notification, the 82nd Airborne Division strategically deploys, conducts forcible entry parachute assault and secures key objectives for follow-on military operations in support of U.S. national interests. Not an easy mission, but one with men and women serving in that Division the quality of Fillmore's own Eleazar Lopez, I am confident will be accomplished.
Kandahar Province is one of the largest CONTINUED »

 

The Ventura County Watershed Protection District has stated that a section of the Sespe Creek Levee is deficient, and approximately 1,500 Fillmore homeowners will be required to purchase flood insurance by January 2010.

A public hearing will be held October 22 at the Fillmore Veterans Memorial Building on the required insurance and its cost.

Originally, 3,000 homes were included in a preliminary flood-zone map released by FEMA in May 2008.

According to Fillmore Public Works Director Bert Rapp the lower half of the flood zone, from Old Telegraph Rd. to Hwy 126 will not be certified until the levee is retrofitted. Rapp said the 1,500 homeowners can save considerable money by buying flood insurance before FEMA finalizes its Fillmore flood map, by January 20, 2010.

VCWPD staff has explained that flood insurance would be available until the end of 2009 at a reduced rate of $350 per year. Fillmore residents within the designated floodplain might be required by mortgage-holders to pay $1700 per year if they wait to buy insurance and the levee is not certified. Even if the levee is certified, as expected, the price for flood insurance will rise to $850 per year after 2009.

See flood map attached below.

 
Mayor Patti Walker, right, presented Oralia Herrera, left, and Sarah Hansen with a proclamation for their service.
Mayor Patti Walker, right, presented Oralia Herrera, left, and Sarah Hansen with a proclamation for their service.
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Pictured above Matt Minkx discussed the Granicus System at council Tuesday night.
Pictured above Matt Minkx discussed the Granicus System at council Tuesday night.
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City council members, guests and a community audience heard Mayor Patti Walker declare September 21, 2009, as the International Day of Peace in the city of Fillmore.

At the opening of the regular board session, Tuesday, September 8, 2009, Mayor Walker read the proclamation, then presented it to Ms. Sarah Hansen And Ms. Orelia Herrera, Soroptomist Club President.

Ms. Herrera announced that the celebration is scheduled for September 20, with a rummage sale Saturday on the Sespe School lawn. Donations from the community for the event are still welcomed.

Technology
Matt Minkx, a representative of Granicus Systems explained that the company services cities with records management software including Simi, Moorpark, Oxnard, Ventura, and Santa Barbara. He used a media presentation for the city of Pismo Beach to highlight a few electronic storage capabilities, which provide video streaming services.

Minkx stated that streaming services provide video taped meeting information any where in the world. He went on to say that agenda jackets, staff reports, minutes, votes, or any public issue could be easily searched out by community members. ”We house and store all of your video CONTINUED »

 

In a two-line email to the Gazette, dated September 9, Fillmore Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Sweeney has stated: “Evalene Townend has requested a reassignment from personnel responsibilities due to personal reasons. After careful consideration, I have granted her request for reassignment to a Director of Student Support Services and Special Projects.”

In order to take this action, a new title and a new position had to be created. This, at a time when teaching staff is being cut.

The Gazette has been thrust into a very bizarre scenario regarding Ms. Townend, ongoing for several months. Credible allegations of serious misconduct have been made against her, regarding false and inflammatory phone communications concerning a teachers union official, which has sparked legal activity.

The Gazette has learned that many teachers and other District employees, who are aware of the allegations, are outraged that stronger action has not been taken in this case. More information will be forthcoming in the near future. In the meantime, both the Superintendent and the Fillmore School Board have shown a marked reluctance to take meaningful action in this case. Though the Gazette has been interviewed by Mr. Sweeney and a private investigation firm employed by the School District law firm regarding this case, and has interviewed several highly credible witnesses, apparently regulations make it difficult for either the Board or our Superintendent to comment publically. In the event more information is not forthcoming from the District or the Board, the Gazette will release what information it has obtained.

 

With all of the problems and apprehension we are experiencing during these recent and challenging times, a number of groups have evolved that want to stand up and have their voices heard. If we agree with their message we consider them mainstream; if we disagree we consider them to be dissenters. The founders of this great country faced the same ordeal back in the 1700’s. Our citizens were being subjected to many laws, taxes, regulations and hardships administered by a heavy handed and somewhat unbending monarchy located thousands of miles away.

The result was a significantly large number of people gathering together to make known their feelings. Not all sought the same outcome. Some wanted to remain loyal British subjects while others desired to be governed by their own people in their new land. While it was certain that the bearers of both the philosophies were sincere and dedicated to their personal desires and individual loyalties, they ultimately came together and created the greatest groundswell of dissent of modern times. The results were The Declaration of Independence and the establishment of our nation.

The first statement of the Declaration declares “…a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them…” The ability to dissent has been an absolute CONTINUED »

 
Sunday, at approximately 4:00 p.m., a three vehicle accident occurred at the intersection of Bardsdale and Sespe Avenue. A westbound car on Bardsdale Avenue traveling at a high rate of speed struck an older model Suburban.
Sunday, at approximately 4:00 p.m., a three vehicle accident occurred at the intersection of Bardsdale and Sespe Avenue. A westbound car on Bardsdale Avenue traveling at a high rate of speed struck an older model Suburban.
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Five persons were reported in the Suburban, including three children and two adults. The Suburban was thrown approximately 50 feet into a dump truck parked in front of a residence near the intersection. Injuries to the occupants of the Suburban were not available.
Five persons were reported in the Suburban, including three children and two adults. The Suburban was thrown approximately 50 feet into a dump truck parked in front of a residence near the intersection. Injuries to the occupants of the Suburban were not available.
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The adult male driver of the car was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for observation. The force of the impacts destroyed a heavy steel barrier and some signage. Extensive damage was done to all three vehicles.
The adult male driver of the car was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for observation. The force of the impacts destroyed a heavy steel barrier and some signage. Extensive damage was done to all three vehicles.
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Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Conrad Fimbres
Conrad Fimbres

Date and Location of Robbery:
August 30, 2009, ARCO Station 3907 E. Telegraph Road, Piru
Date and Location of Arrest: September 1, 2009, 10:53 A.M, Moorpark, California
Report: 09-20643

On August 30, 2009, shortly before midnight, a male adult brandished a handgun and robbed the ARCO gas station located at 3907 E. Telegraph Road, Piru

The suspect ordered an employee to remove money from the cash register and place it into a bag. The employee did as the suspect ordered and then the suspect fled the area on foot.

Deputies responded to the scene and soon developed a lead on the suspect. Detectives contacted local law enforcement agencies and learned that the suspect was possibly driving a stolen U- Haul truck.

On September 1, 2009, at about 10:53 am, Sheriff’s Patrol Sergeant Gregg Willson was patrolling the City of Moorpark, when he observed a U-Haul truck driven by a man matching the description given by the Piru deputies.

Sergeant Willson detained the driver and passenger as possible suspects in the robbery. The truck was confirmed stolen, and the passenger, Hollie Briant, 32 years, was arrested for outstanding felony warrants. The driver, Conrad Fimbres, 42 years, was arrested for the felony armed robbery and felony possession of the stolen vehicle.

Briant and Fimbres are both residents of Piru and were booked at the Ventura County Main Jail.

 
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