Almanac

News - March 9, 2011

Crime news: Con man swaps closet for prison cell

Simon Gann, who pretended to be a millionaire math savant to romance a Menlo Park woman into a relationship and out of approximately $1,900 was sentenced to 16 months in state prison on March 4.

Posing as "Saleem Dutante," he told the victim his credentials included a degree from MIT, and the ability to count cards "like Rainman," according to court testimony.

Mr. Gann pleaded no contest to grand theft and witness tampering in January, which saved his 32-year-old victim from testifying about their relationship after he threatened to broadcast her sexual history.

Visit tinyurl.com/Gann2011 for more on the Almanac website.

Burglary at Menlo Park Presbyterian

A burglary and associated loss of about $12,900 has left the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church at 950 Santa Cruz Ave. without its electronic device that controlled the church lights, according to a March 5 police report.

Police investigators have no idea how many people might have been involved in the burglary, Menlo Park Police Department spokeswoman Nicole Acker told the Almanac. The police report shows no indication of fingerprints having been found at the scene, she said.

The church was undamaged. Like many churches, this one was unlocked and open to the public from time to time, Ms. Acker said.

Police believe the burglary occurred between 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, and 12:30 p.m. on Friday, March 4.

Three busted for drugs, guns

Three East Palo Alto men watched their fortunes take a turn for the worse on March 3, as police officers and FBI agents pounced.

A search of three locations in East Palo Alto turned up a "large quantity" of cocaine base, powdered cocaine, money, and four guns, including a MAC-11 machine pistol, according to Detective Sgt. Eric Cowans of the Menlo Park police department's narcotics enforcement task force.

Jeron Jones, 23, Ricardo Alvarez, 30, and of East Palo Alto, and Rodney Powell, 40, were arrested and booked into San Mateo County jail. According to Detective Cowans, all three suspects have prior records for drug-related crimes.

The FBI's involvement was standard procedure for task-force investigations, police said.

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