tv NBC Bay Area News We Investigate NBC August 27, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT
problem. plus, problems with the county child abuse program. calls aren't being answered by the right people. >> we're not meeting the needs of the community. >> and do you have any idea how many other restaurants may be taking advantage of this loophole? >> many restaurants do. >> we uncover how san francisco restaurants are wiping their dirty records clean but first. >> they tied her up with duct tape and shot her. this it just happened for no reason. >> our six month investigation reveals lost and stolen guns are taking innocent lives across the state. more often than you might imagine. hear senior investigative reporter steven stock. >> thank you for joining us. for the next 30 minutes, we investigate exposing stories uncovering issues and holding the powerful accountable. tonight, we begin on the streets where criminals consider stolen guns more valuable than gold.
in an unprecedented project, our investigative unit teamed up with nbc stations throughout california to find out exactly how many stolen guns contribute to other crimes. it is in the thousands. we worked more than six months and got records and data no one else has ever obtained. it all showed that lost and stolen guns kill and maim innocent people in the bay area and around california again and again. as soon as you drive onto the family sonoma county farm. her legacy surrounds you. >> she was my sister but my best friend. >> from the fruit trees to the rose bushes to the grounds she attended to. >> olga left her mark. her death in february 2015 carries her own horrible legacy. the 84-year-old olga denelli was
tied up by two fugitives and was shot to death where she sat. >> they tied her up with duct tape and shot her. >> using data by a team, we traced three of the guns later found on the suspects in olga's murder to guns stolen from a marin county home. they traded a stolen gun for a get away car. >> it just happened for no reason. our investigation found that the use of stolen weapons to commit other crimes happens again and again. using this unique database, we match the serial numbers of 4,300 stolen and lost guns dating back to 2010 with the serial numbers of guns connected to crimes from the same time period. crime data obtained furthermore than 70 california law enforcement agencies who responded to our public records request. >> whenever i see a stolen gun, i see a future robbery, i see a future homicide. i see a future assault.
>> we were able to match 2,600 different lost and stolen guns directly connected to crimes later. >> i think there is even more. >> gran barlow is in charge of the sacramento field office. >> very often we find people who own firearms are not aware of the serial numbers. we know that people sometimes have guns stolen or pilfered by the collection by family members and they're not aware it is missing. >> using this unique data, we were able to track 35 lost and stolen guns later used in homicides or attempted homicides statewide. those do not include the stolen guns used in four out of five high profile homicides in the bay area last year. including steve carter in marin county and canadian tourist audrey kerry in golden gate park, both killed with the same stolen gun or kate steinle killed in pier 14. both killed with stolen guns by federal law enforcement
officers. we also found lost or stolen guns were later recovered at 49 different robberies statewide and more than 40 other shootings. >> that is, that is a very large number. >> reporter: evan johnson grew up around guns and gang violence in sacramento. >> at an early age, you just get used to it. >> reporter: even as a youngster, johnson says he knew how to buy a gun off of the street. >> i'm sure most are stolen. >> reporter: our analysis showed many of the guns lost and stolen in the state come from the central valley. places like the sacramento area, around bakers field and the stockton area, all higher than areas around the bay area like alameda county, san francisco, and all of santa clara county. >> reporter: >> firearms are of high value to people in the criminal community. >> and our trace found several guns appeared to be used two, three times on different crimes. does that surprise you? >> not at all. not at all. no. firearms, especially, we see
gangs, when they acquire firearms will pass a gun around between gang members so that they use it as a community gun so that it is available for more than one person and it lessens the responsibility on one person if they are caught with it. >> kind of like the family is not the same anymore. >> larry and anne say their sister died in senseless violence that no amount of data will explain. but they say it doesn't surprise them that the people accused in olga's murder were caught up in trading and using stolen guns as well. >> you don't have to go using them. >> now, this project captures just one snap shot in time. we want to emphasize that many law enforcement agencies around the state refuse to cooperate with our project. in fact, the experts we talked with estimate the number of lost and stolen guns later used in other crimes is six to seven times higher than the data we obtained shows. coming up next.
got a tip for the bay area's biggest investigative unit? call 1-888-996-tips or e-mail the unit at theuni theunit @nbcbayarea.com. if you get hurt at work, you're promises the medical care you need to recover from the injuries but people across the state are falling through the cracks of what many call a broken workers compensation system. you're about to hear from a firefighter who responded to a building fire. his injury captured on camera. he says if he can't get treatment for an obvious on the job injury, who can? the investigative unit liz wagner has that story.
>> reports of black smoke coming from a building. >> reporter: february 18th, 1999. >> west julian. >> reporter: downtown san jose. firefighters battle a warehouse fire. >> engine 8, 10-4. >> then this happened. >> reporter: when the building collapsed it crashed on to captain marty mona in f. >> -- marty honan. >> i was face down. it crushed me. >> broken back, fractured pelvis. >> i'm back. >> after months of rehab, he returned to his firehouse. he retired in 2009 with life time medical benefits awarded by the city. he needed that when he woke up in pain in may of 2014. >> my legs weak, my feet were numb. i was going, whoa, what is this. >> to get to the bottom of it, his doctor requested tests. >> when that was put in, it was denied by athens. >> he is talking about athens
administrators. the city of san jose farmed out of of the workers compensation program to the concord based company to contain costs and improve service to workers. the treatment approved for years suddenly stopped. >> the business model is deny first and deny again. >> is that right? >> no. and delay and delay. they hope you go away. >> requests for mris, physical therapy. epidural, all denied. >> does that make sense to you? >> it doesn't make sense to anybody. >> it didn't make sense to other injured firefighters either. they contacted the city with problems of their own. >> in the cases that came to us, many of them, the treatment was denied. >> joe angelo was the city's director of human resources. he received 74 complaints from firefighters in the past two years. his team investigated each one. >> they found that there was an opportunity to revisit the decision. >> how many of them? >> 70 out of the 74.
>> the city agreed with 95% of the complaints reverse denials made by athens and improved treatment. >> there was evidence clearly that staesub staessubstantiated medical care. >> what did you say about the city step inning. >> that is not unusual for them to come in on the guidelines and further discussion to have. >> heather leads the workers compensation unit. the guidelines are in a process calledutilization review. that is how they make sure they're not paying for unnecessary treatment. hornbrook says her company is just following the state's playbook. >> so the utilization playbook is working. >> it is working. >> according to city data, in the past three years, athens denied a quarter of all treatment requests submitted for
the injured workers. >> a firefighter we spoke with says he believes it is your company's job to delay care and to deny care. is it? >> our job is to provide the appropriate benefits to injured workers. >> in some of the cases it is unbelievable that folks can not get treatment for their injuries. >> that is lou paulson, president of cpf. the organization represents first responders. many are falling through the cracks. >> there is no logical reason why they shouldn't be treated for the injuries they have and they have to wait for a review to do that. >> reporter: paulson asked local fire departments if injured firefighters are receivek the care they need. he got back piles of paperwork. >> what does it say to you that so many firefighters are complaining about the system? >> what this says to us is what we believe is that there was a problem with the system. >> many injured workers we talk
to feel they're fighting a perception they're billking the system and aren't really hurt. just take this video, a private investigator hired by the city captured him raking leaves last year. he believes it is an attempt by athens to discredit his injuries. >> this isn't a case of fraud. i mean, a building collapsed on me. it almost killed me. >> eight months after his doctor requested a series of tests, he notified athens that the city of san jose gave him the green light for his treatment. >> how did this start snr. >> he is pretty much pain free but not silent. >> i'm going to shed light on this. it is tragic what is going on. people are suffering out there. >> more than a million californians have opened workers comp cases. many are fighting for treatment. for more on this story, head to our website, nbcbayarea.com/investigations. coming up next, in santa clara county, social workers are speaking out to reveal concerns
we rarely hear from social workers on the front lines. charged with protecting the most vulnerable, our children. who veterans shared with us startling revolutions about working conditions inside of the agency. they say this is having an effect on the kids they serve and that is why they are now speaking out. they called us after seeing our reports last october and they say there is even more to expose about the child abuse hotline. here is senior investigative reporter vicki nguyen with that story. >> i feel very powerless. we are not meeting the needs of the community. people are having to go on anti-depressants, having to take stress leave. >> reporter: social workers have worked a combined 26 years with
the santa clara department of family and children services. they say never has it been so bad. >> it is toxic. >> reporter: where conditions inside the agency have made it more difficult to do the work out in the community. >> your call has been forwarded. >> reporter: our whole aim is being social workers it to help out children and families and it is made impossible for us. they called the investigative unit after seeing our first reports last october details the failure ua's of the agency to answer calls to the child abuse and neglect hotline. an audit shows worker only answer about 59% of the calls made to the answer. two years later it was 89%. >> these are 911 calls for children. county leaders gave the agency money to hire seven additional staffers for the hotline. >> i absolutely believe that the 100 % is achievable. >> the following month, the agency raised the answer rate to 92% or so it said.
>> technically we're not answering the calls. they're going to voicemail or a clerk is answer them. and so it looks like we have a higher percentage of answering calls when we don't. >> are the numberbeing manipula -- numbers being manipulated to make it look better in the eyes of the public. while the county doesn't require hotline calls to be answered by a social worker, jean and dawn think they should. they're trained to recognize when a child needs immediate help. >> it matters because that depends on whether we call the police and have them go check on that child, whether we send out a social worker within two hours or ten days. >> based on her experience, dawn doesn't think social workers are answering as many calls as managers are reporting. 20% of those are just calls that the name has been taken and passed on. >> no one from the department would sit down for an on camera interview. it is not just claims about inflated numbers. jean, dawn, and four other
social workers who asked to remain anonymous spoke for hours about the investigative unit about what they call mismanagement and harassment in the agency. >> we have social workers leaving because of the management. because there is bullying. >> they say it has led to high turnover and higher case loads. they share memos about retaliation and toxic and hostile workplace. >> this is about making sure every kid that needs help gets help. cindy chavez is raising concerns raised by the workers. >> they're saying their managers are going back to you, the board of supervisors and saying we're asking 98% of the calls. they don't think those numbers are real. >> we'll check on it. we went from being in the low 80s to now to 98, so i feel like we're making very important progress. >> they say the numbers are being manipulated because they include the calls answered by
clerical workers. >> i would have to look into it. >> the workers claims aboutia a hostile work environment prompted an investigation. they hope going public with their concerns will make a difference. >> we'll investigate all of their claims, every single one of them. i want it to be a great place for them to work. i want us to respond to every kid in need. >> we need to know they're taking it seriously. >> please record your message. >> supervisor chavez ordered the call center to use new technology to track call data. she says if the statistics show calls are not being handled by workers in a timely fashion, she will take further action. coming up. >> i don't know why anybody would want the wool pulled over their eyes. >> new details that lets san
foodies beware. we discovered a loophole that lets restaurant owners to wipe their dirty inspection records free. when bigad sheban brought those in may. they say the city prevents them from doing anything about it. we're founding out that is just not true. >> thank you for calling 7 hills. this is alex. >> reporter: alex opened the 7 hills restaurant in san francisco six years ago and while he is proud of his italian menu, he is even prouder of his restaurant's near perfect health inspection record. >> we have people's lives in their hands. >> you take it that serious. >> it is absolutely that serious. >> which is why he was upset to learn about a loophole we discovered that allows restaurant openers in san
francisco to wipe away their own inspection records and health code scores from the website. >> there is no reason why anybody should hide their health inspection score or want to wipe it clean unless there is something that they're trying to hide. >> popular websites like yelp take restaurant inspection scores from the database and post them for easy access. the city deletes the online record every time they pay $600 in fees to file a change of ownership. we discovered restaurants that apply for an ownership change are still allowed to have the same owners so long as they change the corporation name and even when new people do take over, the restaurant can still be owned by the same corporation. take this spot in the diamond heights neighborhood. the sign says all season restaurant but it is officially known as harbor villa with a
history of unsanitary conditions including cockroach infestation. they found dead cockroaches on top of what were supposed to be clean utensils and plates. those were wiped clean after they listed new owners working for the same corporation. >> do you have any idea how many other restaurants may be taking advantage of this loophole? >> many restaurants do. >> stephanie cushing had san francisco's department of environmental health which ov oversees investigations for 7,400 restaurants and caters in san francisco. we asked why the city allows certain restaurants to get a clean slate even in cases where the city knows the same owners are still running the plate. >> does that make sense to you? >> it is not for me to make sense of it. it is what the law requires us to do. >> what is essentially tying your hands? is it city codes? or state? >> it is both. >> we checked with california department of health and found
out there are absolutely no state laws or regulations forcing cities to remove a restaurant's old health records from the website. pat kennely is the food manager. >> the law doesn't specify with a prior owner of a business goes with a new company or doesn't go with a new company. the law is silent on the issue. >> ten years ago, san francisco made the decision to stop including restaurant's previous ownership records online. a spokesperson for the city's department of public health told us consumers only wanted to see the most current score and says posting that information online now would make it very difficult for people to navigate. >> do you buy that? >> saying that san francisco diners are not savvy enough to digest that information, i think is incorrect. >> in nearby santa clara county, changes in restaurant ownership are posted directly on the county's website. customers can even check the old
health records under previous records. >> it is so important for us to be clean. >> solomou wondering why san francisco isn't doing the same. >> to think that someone can come change the name and gthose squashed is scary. >> while san francisco continues delete the records from the website, customers can still file a public records request with the city to get the last five years worth of health records for any restaurant regardless of ownership changes. but that process can take days and is a lot more complicated than just logging onto the city's website. now, if you have a story for us, contact us, call our tip line at 888-996-tips or send us an e-mail to theuni theunit @nbcbayarea.com. that will do it for this show. we thank you for watching. join us right here on nbc bay area where we investigate.
procedures regret renee zellweger opens up about being criticized for her appearance which many say has been dramatically altered. and in doing so exposes society's double standard. >> i wasn't really a famous person, a really famous person until i played bridget jones. and that's -- that's kind of a change, isn't it? >> actually, bursting onto the scene with egyptair mcguire five years prior to bridget 47-year-old renee has certainly experienced the ups and downs of that fame. the downside most notably has been extreme criticism of her looks in recent years. posing confidently for the cover of the hollywood reporter she tells the magazine i've never seen the maturation of a woman as a negative thing. don't do a lot of social media. and by that i mean i don't do any. the worst thing about it is that speculation becomes a truth in a matter of minutes. >> renee lived that in 2014 when she made a rare red carpet public appearance causing a firestorm of headlines that