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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Judge rules against local businessman in Ponzi-like case

After a year of back-and-forth, a judge concluded this week that Los Altos resident Mark Feathers and his company, Small Business Capital Corp., violated federal securities and exchange laws.

U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila accepted Securities and Exchange Commission evidence that because of fraud and mismanagement, SB Capital’s 400 investors have lost approximately 25 percent of the $42 million they invested.

In an order filed Friday, Davila granted the SEC’s request for a summary judgment and denied Feathers’ competing request for the same. He ordered the “disgorgement of ill-gotten gains” and set a hearing date Oct. 22 to consider “what remedies are to be granted and in what amounts.”

A court renders a summary judgment when a judge finds no genuine dispute as to any material fact – in other words, when evidence appears so conclusive as to not require a full trial. Representing himself and his company, Feathers had to show what Davila called a “genuine issue for trial.” In his order, Davila laid out why Feathers’ submissions to the court did not meet that standard and discussed to what extent the court had to cut Feathers some slack – to “liberally construe” his submissions – because he represented himself without a lawyer. Evidence submitted to the court must include affidavits or “other evidentiary material,” and Davila described Feathers’ submissions as falling short of that standard.

“I have been outnumbered by a large margin in the manpower necessary to present facts, never mind putting them into the right legal framework,” Feathers told the Town Crier in an email.

He wrote to investors that he would appeal the judgment.

Investors, many of them Los Altos residents, bought into two mortgage investment funds Feathers managed from an office on San Antonio Road. The SEC contended that Feathers transferred money from the funds to pay expenses and make cash distributions to investors that masqueraded as “returns on investment,” maintaining an illusion of profitability.

SEC attorney John Bulgozdy described the process of using investor money to pay returns as “Ponzi-like.” Feathers maintained that because he disclosed the loans and transfers to investors, his actions were aboveboard and not in fact evidence of fraud and misrepresentation.

Feathers submitted hundreds of documents including SB Capital paperwork and emails to the court, but Davila wrote that Feathers didn’t indicate with sufficient specificity what he believed they proved – “It is not the task of the court to comb through the record in search of genuine issue of triable fact.”

In his order, Davila referenced testimony from an auditor and a consultant suggesting that Feathers loaned himself money from the funds, then documented it in a way that made the business appear to still be generating profit.

Davila had to weigh whether a “reasonable investor” might have made a different decision with his or her money if he or she had known about the loans and money transfers at SB Capital. He concluded, based in part on declarations two investors made to the SEC, that investors might have withdrawn their investments if they had known what the company was doing.

Davila declared that Feathers’ accounting demonstrated an intent to deceive or, at a minimum, “extreme recklessness in his management of the (f)unds.”

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