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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | EAST COUNTY / THOUSAND OAKS

Community Can Count on Annual Bailout

April 03, 1998|JOEL P. ENGARDIO

Thousand Oaks Mayor Mike Markey was released on $1,100 bail Thursday after turning himself in to authorities at The Oaks mall, facing charges of, well, just being an all-around nice guy.

Markey was one of 20 people who sat behind bars in the mall's center court, thumbing through phone books and soliciting donations on cell phones to make bail for the Conejo Valley Days grand marshal fund-raiser.

"These are my bondsmen," Markey told the judge, pointing to his three young sons standing by in baseball uniforms waiting for dad to take them to an afternoon game he was also coaching.

Diana Malmquist, wearing a white magistrate's wig and a "Here come da judge" pin, charged the mayor with putting graffiti on the Stagecoach Inn Museum.

"What people won't do for a few laughs, I tell you," the judge deadpanned while hitting her gavel. "We all act a little crazy during Conejo Valley Days."

Wearing prison stripes, Markey had his mug shot taken and stood behind the bars waiting for his bail money to show up.

"Can we go to the pet store while you're in jail?" asked Markey's son Matt.

Nope, he was told.

Markey was raising money for the Animal Crackers, five junior high school girls running for grand marshal. Their charity is the Agoura Animal Shelter.

The other grand marshal candidate, "Ropin' Reverend" Larry Wagner, had plenty of supporters too. He was raising funds for his Ascension Lutheran Church youth ministry.

The first person jailed by Wagner was Gerald Halweg of Thousand Oaks. He wasted no time working the phone.

"Hey. I need some money to get out of here," Halweg told his accountant. "Anything you can do? Fifty bucks? I should be able to get $250 out of my attorney."

Mary Elva Anderson, publicity director of Conejo Valley Days, said the "Jail and Bail" event raised about $10,000 last year.

All grand marshal candidates were present, cheering on their inmates.

"We're all having a really good time," Wagner said. "And the beauty of this whole process is that no matter who wins, a lot of money is raised for charity in the Conejo Valley."

The five Animal Crackers, clad in Army fatigues, were talking about the seventh- and eighth-grade dance they are hosting Saturday at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center.

"We told all our friends and they're going to go," said 12-year-old Asia Sepe, no longer embarrassed about being teased by schoolmates for the group's name, "Animal Crackers."

"Yeah," added seventh-grader Audrey Ranieri. "But now everyone at school is calling us the Spice Girls, and that's definitely not cool."

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