Los Altos resident reaches plea for insider trading, tender offer fraud

A Los Altos resident accused of trading before a negative earnings announcement pleaded guilty to insider trading and tender-offer fraud last week.

Peter C. Chang, founder and former CEO of the Sunnyvale-based Alliance Fiber Optic Products Inc., was arrested and charged with insider trading in 2017. The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged that he traded posed as family members in order to trade his company’s stock based on nonpublic information he obtained on the job.

Hearing continued for MVHS teacher accused of sending inappropriate texts

A Mountain View High School teacher arrested last November for allegedly sending inappropriate text messages to a student will have to wait a bit longer for his day in court.


Evan Smith, a 15-year veteran math teacher at the school, pleaded not guilty earlier this year to one felony count of knowingly sending a minor harmful material.

LAH blaze consumes home, injures firefighter

La Rena Lane fire
Ray Clark/Special to the Town Crier
Still images from a drone show Santa Clara County firefighters dousing the flames of a house fire on La Rena Lane in Los Altos Hills Saturday afternoon.

Two Los Altos Hills residents escaped injury Saturday (Feb. 24) when their home caught fire, but the ensuing blaze destroyed the house and indirectly led to minor injuries for a firefighter who tumbled from the roof.

The Santa Clara County Fire Department firefighter fell approximately 10 feet and was transported to the hospital, but he resumed work later that day, according to County Fire Capt. Bill Murphy.

“It was high enough that he could have been hurt pretty significantly,” Murphy said.

The 2,000-square-foot home, located on the 25000 block of La Rena Lane, sustained well over $1 million in damage from smoke, flames and water, and is uninhabitable, Murphy said. The cause of the fire remained under investigation Monday.

The fire started in the home’s attic or along the roofline at approximately 1 p.m., according to fire department reports. Thirty-five firefighters battled the blaze and managed to extinguish it within 30 minutes, but the flames ate away at the roof, exposing the living areas to the elements. An adjacent garage containing classic cars was spared.

“The fortunate thing was that the homeowner was home and called right away,” Murphy said.

Murphy added that windy conditions and the home’s wood shake roof and old, dried-out attic trusses fed the flames and helped the fire spread quickly.

View additional images from the fire on the Town Crier's Facebook page, facebook.com/LosAltosTownCrier.

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Auto burglary spree ends with arrest of teens

A months-long investigation into an uptick in auto burglaries culminated last week in the arrest of two teenagers.

Lamar Nicholson
Lamar Nicholson

Mountain View Police Department officers on Feb. 12 arrested Alameda resident Lamar Nicholson, 19, and a 16-year-old San Francisco resident whose name is being withheld because he is underage. Officers charged Nicholson with 19 counts of auto burglary, possession of burglary tools, conspiracy to commit a crime and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His alleged accomplice is charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of burglary tools and providing a false name to police. The 16-year-old was cited and released to a family member, according to a department press release.

In a spree thought to have commenced during the summer, the suspects took laptops, cell phones and tablets from vehicles parked in several local towns, including Cupertino, one of their most recent targets, according to the release.

The police department encourages drivers to always lock their vehicle doors and windows and to take all valuable items with them when they park. Items that must remain behind should be thoroughly concealed before arrival so eagle-eyed thieves don’t observe the effort.

The San Jose Police Department, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety all contributed to the investigation, according to the release.

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Police seek to reunite burglary, theft victims with stolen goods

Victims of some Bay Area burglaries and mail thefts may soon recover their missing belongings following a recent Mountain View Police Department arrest and the recovery of a U-Haul chock full of suspected stolen goods.

Melissa Vincent
Melissa Vincent

Mountain View officers arrested San Jose resident Melissa Vincent, 25, last week and booked her into the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose on charges of burglary, identity theft, possession of burglary tools, possession of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia as well as for an outstanding felony warrant, according to a police department press release. She is being held without bail.

At approximately 11 p.m. Feb. 13, a police officer on patrol noticed Vincent seated in a U-Haul truck parked in the 1900 block of Silverwood Avenue, and he stopped to speak with her, according to the release. During the discussion, the officer learned Vincent possessed methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia. A subsequent search of the truck’s cab revealed bolt cutters and other burglary tools as well as a book containing several individuals’ names and related identifying information. The back of the truck contained more than a dozen bags of documents, including mail and tax forms, along with goods such as clothing and jewelry. The take included a ring in a Swarovski ring box.

“We do believe there was a second person with her that night, but that individual was not located when we (searched) the area for any other people,” police spokeswoman Katie Nelson wrote in an email sent Wednesday (Feb. 21).

Based on the number of items recovered from the U-Haul, detectives believe there could be dozens of victims in the case, according to the press release. To claim an item, contact Detective Frank Rivas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Be prepared to provide identifying information proving ownership.

View photos of the stolen items on the Mountain View Police Department website.

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Investigators narrow search for LAH burglars

Crime lab technicians are analyzing DNA and fingerprint evidence to identify suspects associated with a spate of burglaries committed in Los Altos Hills, according to Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office representatives.

Los Altos Hills burglaries
Courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office
A still image obtained from residential surveillance video shows one of the suspects in a series of recent Los Altos Hills burglaries.

Since Jan. 1, the town has experienced at least five residential burglaries – at homes on La Cresta Drive, Mulberry Lane, Ravensbury Avenue, St. Francis Road and Summit Wood Road – as well as an armed robbery on Wright Way that may have resulted from an interrupted burglary, according to Lt. Marc Lehmann.


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