Look out, HAL.
In what is described as the first integrated computer system of its kind in the state, Ventura County officials say they are only weeks away from linking the operations of several criminal justice departments.
Over the last four years and at a cost of more than $10 million, the county has installed a network of computers for the Sheriff's Department, the courts, and the probation, district attorney and public defender's offices.
Testing has been going on for several months, and authorities say the courts, probation and the public defender's offices will be officially linked into the Integrated Justice Information System by the end of summer.
The system will speed up and streamline court cases and allow the agencies to efficiently share information.
For example, when a suspect is booked into a jail, a sheriff's deputy can input the case information, which will automatically be forwarded to all network users. In the past, the matter would be mired in paperwork that was hand carried.
The entire project is a few months behind schedule, mostly because of funding hurdles.
Prosecutors will be dialed in by January and the Sheriff's Department, which has the most expensive and complicated portion of the network, should be up and running by fall 2001.
"There's always been an interest to have everybody on the same page," said Lowry Gilbert, assistant director of the county's information systems department.
The seventh and final suspect in a 5-year-old insurance fraud case from Oxnard was arrested recently in Atlanta, authorities said.
Since August 1995, local authorities have been working to track down the seven who contended that a car backed into their rented van at the Oxnard outlet mall parking lot.
The suspects, one of whom had bought insurance to cover such a collision, stated in paperwork to State Farm Insurance Co. that their medical bills totaled more than $30,000--a big, fat lie, say prosecutors.
Rhonda Harris-Smith, Elisha Smith, Archie Harries, Anthony Howard, Debra Kirkpatrick and Rickey Abram were arrested last October at various locations in California.
Troy Billison, 35, had moved from California to Louisiana and then to Georgia. He was extradited to Ventura recently and remains jailed along with the others.
The seven are named in a 61-county felony complaint, charging them each with insurance fraud and perjury.
Sounds like they rented a real mess.
So much for earning a little pocket money.
A Moorpark man has been cited for allegedly stealing a roll of lottery tickets from the local liquor store where he shopped.
Police said contractor Roberto Solares, 31, popped into Moorpark Liquors on a Sunday evening and stuffed the small plastic ticket dispenser down the front of his pants while waiting for a clerk to ring up his six-pack.
When he got home, Solares allegedly scratched all 230 "Pocket Money Scratchers," which netted him about $100. The next day, he cashed the winning tickets at six different stores in Moorpark and Oxnard, police said.
Authorities said the theft was captured on videotape and Solares was identified by witnesses. Police found him at his house and cited him for petty theft, said Det. Mike Izquierdo of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies at the sheriff's Camarillo station recently honored Lorena Ceja, 25, as the city's "Citizen of the Month" for spotting an alleged flasher and assisting in the man's arrest.
Ceja was finishing her work shift at a Camarillo strip mall when she recognized Gustavo Rodriguez as the man who had allegedly exposed himself to her co-workers on an earlier occasion.
The woman flagged down a sheriff's deputy who was patrolling the area, explained the situation and pointed to a store Rodriguez had entered.
Rodriguez, 20, of Oxnard was arrested on suspicion of attempted indecent exposure, said Senior Deputy Jim Aguirre.
Holly J. Wolcott can be reached at 653-7581 or at firstname.lastname@example.org