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    SAN BERNARDINO - The Inland Valley Development Agency's leaders don't know yet how much - if at all - their organization will be affected by the end of redevelopment in California, but they could lose roughly $20 million per year in certain property tax revenue if events do not go their way.

    That money could be devoted to improvements at San Bernardino International Airport and its surrounding infrastructure, and at this point, it's uncertain whether the IVDA will be able to continue to collect those dollars or if the money will go to state government.

    It's also unknown, thus far, what a loss of that money may mean for the development of San Bernardino International Airport facilities or improvements to nearby roads.

    "We assume that we can make payments for the airport, and Tippecanoe and etcetera," said interim IVDA director A.J. Wilson.

    Tuesday, the IVDA's new oversight board met to begin the process of unwinding its redevelopment power, in case that becomes necessary.

    The IVDA is preparing to go to court to seek a ruling that it is exempt from the state law that ended city and county redevelopment agencies this year, Wilson said.

    The IVDA is different from most redevelopment agencies, which were created, typically by a single local government, to stop urban blight.

    Instead, San Bernardino County, along with the cities of San Bernardino, Colton and Loma Linda, created the IVDA in 1990 to deal with the then-pending closure of Norton Air Force base.

    The IVDA has since provided financial support to San Bernardino International Airport and is also empowered to provide redevelopment incentives for surrounding land and improve nearby roads.

    The IVDA's self-preservation lawsuit will be ready for filing soon, Wilson said.

    Generally, redevelopment agencies' authority vanished as of Feb. 1.

    All redevelopment agencies must create payment schedules to unwind debt that won't be paid off until the passage of decades. Accordingly, the IVDA's oversight board on Tuesday approved a plan to pay $42.1 million worth of debt and other obligations by June 30.

    The IVDA has nearly $994.4 million in outstanding obligations.

    The repayment schedule will become moot if the courts uphold the IVDA's view that it is exempt from the law that ended redevelopment, Wilson said.

    If the IVDA loses its case, a successor agency is likely to take its place. That agency will not be able to collect roughly $20 million in annual property tax dollars that went to the IVDA in support of its redevelopment role.


    Reach Andrew via email, call him at 909-386-3872, or find him on Twitter @InlandBizz.

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    A task force of local government agencies has been formed to tackle a growing number of animal abuse cases in San Bernardino County.

    From dog abuse to cockfighting to horse neglect, the conversation of a couple dozen people at a meeting Thursday at The Humane Society of San Bernardino Valley in San Bernardino focused on changes to animal-cruelty laws and the prosecution of recent incidents of abuse.

    "People get outraged," Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus said about animal abuse. "People get very outraged because the animals can't defend themselves."

    What people don't often see is that animal abuse often extends into domestic abuse and can escalate into other violent behavior, say prosecutors. More than 85percent of women in shelters say animal abuse occurred in their home, Ploghaus said.

    District Attorney Michael A. Ramos, whose office is spearheading the San Bernardino County Illegal Animal Fighting and Abuse Task Force, has talked about how dog-fighting and cockfighting rings bring crime into communities.

    Guns, drugs, gangs and prostitution are often found at locations where animal fighting takes place, according to prosecutors. Children also sometimes attend the events, they say.

    "Our goal is to inform the public that this goes on. It's not in a Third World country. It's in their own backyard," said Claudia Swing, chief of the district attorney's Bureau of Administration.

    People who see animal abuse can pick up the phone and call authorities, Swing said. The Humane Society of the United States also accepts calls at 877-TIP-HSUS (847-4787).

    Among recent cases, Fontana police busted a cockfighting ring at a commercial trucking company on Sunday, seized more than 200 roosters and arrested three men. On Wednesday, a man was arrested in Rancho Cucamonga after he allegedly dragged a bleeding and unconscious Rottweiler behind a bicycle.

    Educating children about abuse also is a crucial component of the task force, according to prosecutors.

    Deputy District Attorney Cary Epstein, a veteran gang prosecutor, said he is considering adding an animal-abuse component to his Gang Resistance Intervention Partnership, or GRIP, program for schoolchildren.

    GRIP has a presence in the Rialto Unified and High Desert school districts. Chino school officials are interested in the program.

    "We're also looking into expanding into other areas," Epstein said.

    The task force recently formed its mission statement and meets monthly with representatives from city and county agencies, including code enforcement, animal control, probation, the District Attorney's Office, as well as the Humane Society.


    Reach Mike via email, call him at 909-386-3880, or find him on Twitter at @sbcourts.


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    RIALTO - With 22,000 square miles to patrol, it isn't surprising that the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department has a large aviation division.

    "There are times when we need to get to Needles, Barstow, Chino Hills or Morongo very quickly," Capt. Jeff Rose, who heads the sheriff's Emergency Operations Division, said here Thursday.

    "At a moment's notice, we can utilize our helicopters to get emergency personnel, SWAT team members, VIPs or dignitaries to any location in a timely manner," Rose said at a media briefing in the aviation unit's main operations hangar at the Rialto Municipal Airport.

    The sheriff's aviation unit has seven patrol helicopters and three, more powerful, medium-range helicopters for search-and-rescue and fire operations.

    The patrol helicopters are equipped with the latest in aviation technology, including FLIR (Foward Looking Infrared) systems, in-flight GPS mapping programs, a powerful spotlight, external hoist systems and high-definition video downlink capability.

    The department also has four-fixed wing aircraft for narcotic surveillance and personnel transport.

    The Cal Fire San Bernardino Unit and the Sheriff's Department have been partners in cooperative firefighting efforts since 1990.

    The department also showed its aerial hoist capabilities by lowering a paramedic from a hovering helicopter to a simulated "injured person" on the ground.

    The "injured person," a dummy for this demonstration, was then lifted into the still-hovering helicopter.

    The exercise simulates many real-life situations where the department has evacuated injured hikers from some of the county's mountainous areas, Rose said.

    Another hat Rose wears as chief of the department's Emergency Operations Division is to direct the department's 1,970 volunteers.

    Their hard work in a variety of positions saved the county nearly $13 million in personnel savings last year, he said.

    Because the Rialto airport will eventually become a mixed-use real estate development, the Sheriff's Department is planning to move its main hangar to San Bernardino International Airport.


    Reach Jim via email, call him at 909-386-3855, or find him on Twitter @JSteinbergsRoad.


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    SAN BERNARDINO - The four young men charged in last year's double homicide in Redlands may soon get a chance to hear some of the evidence against them.

    The defendants in the case - Anthony Legaspi, John David Salazar, Adrian Powers and Jose Ramon Lara - all stood before Judge Kenneth Barr on Friday in San Bernardino Superior Court as lawyers scheduled a preliminary hearing for May 31, according to court records.

    At the preliminary hearing, a judge will hear witness testimony and review evidence to determine if sufficient probable cause exists to hold over the defendants for trial on the charges.

    The defendants return to court May 29 to determine whether they are ready for the hearing two days later.

    Quinn McCaleb, 17, and Andrew Jackson, 16, were fatally shot at 7 p.m. Jan. 5, 2011, on the playground at the Cinnamon Creek Apartments on Oxford Drive, near Post Street, according to Redlands police.

    Two others were wounded, including Jordan James Howard, who was shot in the eye. A fifth person escaped unhurt.

    The four suspects were arrested by Redlands police on March 1. All four are documented gang members, police said.

    According to the criminal complaint filed in San Bernardino Superior Court, Legaspi is the suspected shooter.

    Legaspi and Powers, both 18, and Salazar, 22, are each charged with two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and gun and street-gang allegations. Lara, 28, is charged as an accessory to murder after the fact.

    Reach Mike via email, call him at 909-386-3880, or find him on Twitter at @sbcourts.


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    SAN BERNARDINO - A lawyer for former sheriff's deputy Nathan Gastineau is challenging the charges against his client and also seeking a new courthouse for Gastineau's case because of the publicity it has garnered.

    Lawyer Andrew Haynal announced Friday at a pretrial hearing for Gastineau in San Bernardino Superior Court that a motion to challenge the charges against his client was already on file with the court.

    But Haynal also is requesting a new location for Gastineau's case via a motion for change of venue "due to pretrial publicity," he said in court.

    Gastineau returns to court May 25 for a pretrial hearing. The court intends to address both motions at that time.

    Gastineau, 31, of Redlands, is suspected of having a sexual relationship with a teenaged girl in the department's Explorer program at its Highland station. As the advisor to the program, he and the girl became close friends and attended Explorer functions.

    At a preliminary hearing on Dec. 15, deputies testified about the girl's statement that she had sex with Gastineau about 20 times - six times before she was 16. Deputies said they also had videos of the girl and Gastineau allegedly having sex.

    Detective Tyson Niles said at the hearing that Gastineau admitted to him that he had sex with the girl once in his apartment.

    Haynal challenged the victim's statement to detectives at the preliminary hearing. He later said her story "stretches the bounds of credibility" and was "all over the board."

    A week after the hearing, prosecutors charged an additional two counts each of committing a lewd act upon a child and of having unlawful intercourse. Gastinuea now faces a total of 10 felony counts.

    Reach Mike via email, call him at 909-386-3880, or find him on Twitter at @sbcourts.


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    SAN BERNARDINO - The attorney for an Apple Valley businessman linked to a sweeping San Bernardino County corruption case filed a motion Friday in Superior Court seeking dismissal of the case.

    John Dino DeFazio, 52, is charged with six felony counts of perjury for allegedly lying to the county's civil Grand Jury in 2009 about his involvement with a political action committee prosecutors allege was used to conceal a $100,000 bribe to former county Assessor Bill Postmus.

    DeFazio was listed as chairman of the Inland Empire PAC established in February 2007. He told the Grand Jury in October 2009 that he controlled all activities associated with the PAC.

    Prosecutors, however, allege Postmus had DeFazio and former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman create the PAC and another, Conservatives for a Republican Majority, to conceal the alleged bribe from Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum.

    Two checks, each totaling $50,000 and listing Colonies Partners LP as the payee, were deposited into the two PAC accounts in 2007. Burum is a co-managing partner of Colonies Partners.

    Burum, a defendant in the corruption case, has denied any wrongdoing and maintains the contributions were an act of good faith - an attempt to rebuild bridges with county elected officials following a contentious legal battle over who was responsible for paying for flood control improvements at Colonies' 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland.

    Postmus testified before a criminal grand jury last April that he was unaware that Colonies wanted to contribute money to the PACs until January 2007 - more than a month after the settlement was finalized. He told an FBI agent and federal prosecutors in October the same thing during an interview.

    In November 2006, the county entered into a settlement agreement with Burum and Colonies Partners, agreeing to pay $102 million. Prosecutors allege the settlement was tainted by bribery.

    In his motion filed Friday, DeFazio's attorney, Richard Ewaniszyk, said DeFazio cannot be charged with the crimes because prosecutors are relying on uncorroborated witness information.

    DeFazio, however, has been able to corroborate his assertion that he controlled all activities associated with the Inland Empire PAC. The PAC's bylaws showed DeFazio as chairman and High Desert developers Mike Gallagher and Jeff Bentow as board members. Bentow and Gallagher, however, denied having any knowledge they were listed as members of the PAC, according to the motion.

    During DeFazio's preliminary hearing in February, Hesperia Mayor Russ Blewett testified that he was interviewed by DeFazio, Gallagher and Bentow on behalf of the I.E. PAC, and all three individuals contributed between $5,000 and $6,000 to his campaign, according to the motion.

    Randy Coleman, a civil engineer and member of the county Planning Commission and the Apple Valley Town Counsel Equestrian Committee, also testified during DeFazio's preliminary hearing that he and his father donated to the Inland Empire PAC, and that DeFazio, Gallagher and Bentow all held themselves out as being on the PAC, Ewaniszyk said in his motion.

    Ewaniszyk also said PAC treasurer Betty Presley testified that she wrote all of the checks from the PAC account, and would only write the checks if they were directed to DeFazio.

    Prosecutor John Goritz declined to comment, saying his position on the matter will be laid out in his answer to Ewaniszyk's motion, which he said he will file in a timely manner.

    Ewaniszyk and DeFazio declined to comment.

    A hearing on the motion is scheduled for May 4 before Judge J. David Mazurek.

    Reach Joe via email, call him at 909-386-3874, or find him on Twitter @SBCountyNow.


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    RANCHO CUCAMONGA - A 27-year-old man was arrested early Wednesday evening after he allegedly beat his dog to death and then barricaded himself inside his home before finally surrendering to San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies.

    Deputies responded to a call at 4 p.m. from a hysterical witness who reported seeing a man beating a Rottweiller in the park near Terra Vista Parkway and Langham Place, according to a sheriff's news release.

    The witness reported the suspect was dragging a dog on a leash as he rode a bicycle. Before he began dragging the unconscious animal, he kicked it in the abdomen. The man also poured soda on the animal.

    At one point, the man loaded the dog into a stroller before he went into the Terra Vista Apartments. Witnesses also reported the man had a young boy of about 9, with him.

    Deputies responded, and several witnesses pointed out where the suspect went. The suspect, later identified as Chris Munoz would not answer the door, deputies said.

    The stroller and the dog were visible through the sliding glass door of the apartment. The man refused to come out or give the dog medical attention. Deputies made several attempts to contact him via the phone and over a PA system.

    Munoz wife was called but she would not give deputies permission to enter the house because she was afraid her husband would get hurt, according to the news release. Munoz's wife told deputies that her husband takes more than one medication.

    Around 6:17 p.m. Munoz told deputies he would allow the boy to exit the apartment. He also told deputies he wanted animal control to help his dog.

    Munoz surrendered shortly thereafter, and his dog was immediately taken for care by animal control The dog died less than an hour later.

    Munoz was booked into West Valley Detention Center on suspicion of cruelty to animals.

    A conviction for felony animal cruelty carries a fine of up to $20,000 and/or a prison sentence of one year maximum in state prison, according the state Penal Code.

    Reach Jannise via email or call her at 909-483-9318.

    Get the latest crime and public safety news on Twitter @IECrime.


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    SAN BERNARDINO -- A woman who said she discovered her husband dead inside his television and radio repair shop on the day of their 29th wedding anniversary has been arrested in connection with his slaying, police said.

    Police arrested Laurie Jean Cone, 47, at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the office of criminal defense attorney Michael Scafiddi, in the 400 block of North Arrowhead Avenue, in San Bernardino, sheriff's booking records show.

    It was unclear Thursday if Scafiddi or any of the attorneys working in his office were representing Laurie Cone, who is facing charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. She was booked Wednesday at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, where she was being held without bail.

    Cone is suspected of conspiring to have her husband, 64-year-old John "Jack" Cone, killed for financial gain. Homicide investigators plan to have their case submitted to the District Attorney's Office for review this afternoon, San Bernardino Police Lt. Paul Williams said.

    Detectives continued their search Thursday for John Cone's white 2003 Ford F-150 quad cab pickup, which was stolen during the commission of the crime late Sunday or early Monday morning. Roughly 20 guns were also stolen, police said.

    Police said Jack Cone suffered trauma to his body consistent with a homicide.

    "The investigators are working diligently. It's a very complex case," Williams said, adding that detectives were following a trail of solid leads Thursday and aiming to close the case quickly.

    During an interview with The Sun Monday, Laurie Cone said she found her husband, whom she had been separated for roughly two months, dead in his television and radio repair shop, D/C Radio and Television, in the 2100 block of North Sierra Way. She said she went to the shop about 4:15 a.m. after spending the night with her daughter, 23-year-old Jackie Cone, gambling at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino. She said she discovered the electric gate had been forced open.

    D/C Radio and Television, fortified by a black wrought iron fence in the front, a roughly 10-foot-high chain link fence in the back and three satellite dishes sprouting from the front yard, also served as the home of Jack Cone and his daughter Jackie.

    On Thursday, Jackie poured through her father's personal belongings at D/C Radio and Television, which was up for sale at the time of the slaying. She said police asked her to check her father's computer for any documents or information that may be helpful in their investigation.

    She said her parents have been separated for the last two months because of her mother's gambling addiction.

    "Mom said she was never coming back here and that she got all her stuff. She took dad's things and sold them for gambling money," Jackie said. "My dad was fed up. He changed all the locks, and my mom got pissed."

    Jack Cone's cousin, Dorothy Dosey, said she went to his home/business Monday after being informed of his death. There, she met up with Laurie Cone, who said something that stuck in Dosey's mind, given the circumstances.

    "She said she's not going to quit gambling for anybody, that she was never going to stop," Dosey said Thursday. "I don't know why, but she did."

    Jackie Cone said her mom may have been stealing from her father following the couple's separation to support her gambling addiction. She said her father owned hundreds of guns, but believes she sold most of them.

    "I'm not sure if he sold them or what. He'd been selling things getting ready to close the business and I'm not sure if he sold the guns," Jackie Cone said. "So I'm kind of looking for serial numbers (on her father's computer) too."

    She said the story her mother told The Sun on Monday, at least the part about her mother and father's wedding anniversary, wasn't entirely true.

    "My mom said that she was looking forward to celebrating her anniversary with dad. That was a lie, all lies," Jackie Cone said. "My parents were married on April 1st, and Monday was the 2nd. I used to joke with him, my dad, about them being married on April Fool's Day."

    Now, Jackie Cone is faced with perhaps the biggest struggle of her life: moving on.

    "I don't know what I'm going to do now. I'm only 23, and I've basically lost both my parents," she said.

    Staff Writers Ryan Carter and Lori Consalvo contributed to this report.

    Reach Joe via email, call him at 909-386-3874, or find him on Twitter @SBCountyNow.


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    HESPERIA - A 46-year-old, Victorville man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion that he attempted to get an underage girl to appear on a porn site.

    San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies with the Hesperia station responded Tuesday to a suspicious circumstances call in the 11000 block of Hesperia Road, according to a sheriff's news release.

    A teacher at the Options for Youth Charter School told deputies that a man was in the school parking lot asking female students to appear on his porn site.

    The suspect told the students he could help them make money and he left with a female juvenile, according to the release.

    The responding deputy found out the name of a restaurant the suspect mentioned in Victorville. The suspect also mentioned going to a courthouse to help the female file emancipation paperwork, according to the release.

    Deputies found the suspect at the restaurant. The juvenile was also found unharmed and returned to her mother.

    Steven Wooley, was arrested and booked at Victor Valley Jail on suspicion of annoying or molesting a child under 18. He was then cited and released.

    Investigators have released Wooley's photo in an effort to find additional victims this man may have approached.

    Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Detective Mike New at the Hesperia Station at 760-947-1500 and callers may remain anonymous.


    Reach Jannise via email or call her at 909-483-9318.

    Get the latest crime and public safety news on Twitter @IECrime.


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    VICTORVILLE - Two men have been arrested on suspicion of rape that occurred in March. The men, both 22 years old of Victorville, were arrested following an investigation of the incident which occurred March 31, according to a San Bernardino County Sheriff's news release. The victim told detectives she was raped after the two men invited her over to a residence. The men allegedly took turns turns raping her throughout the night, according to the statement.

    The men also took digital videos and pictures of the incident. Detectives found and interviewed the men and located evidence on the suspect's cell phone.

    Detectives are still looking into the incident and no additional information has been released.

    Dwayne Stallion, 22 and Ronald Wheeler, 22 of Victorville were booked into West Valley Detention Center on suspicion of rape. In addition, Stallion has a warrant out for theft by access card/shoplifting.


    Reach Jannise via email or call her at 909-483-9318.

    Get the latest crime and public safety news on Twitter @IECrime.


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    The official U.S. unemployment rate during March was 8.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning.

    An unemployment rate of 8.2 percent means nearly 12.7 million Americans searched for a job last month but did not find one.

    The figure signifies little change from the previous month's rate of 8.3 percent. Employers added 120,000 nonfarm jobs to their payrolls in March.

    March's hiring took place at a slower place than the previous three months, when nonfarm employment increased by an average of 246,000 jobs per month.

    The government counted job gains in the manufacturing, food service and health care fields. Retail employers downsized in March.

    The official unemployment rate does not include people who work part-time jobs only because full-time jobs are unavailable, people who want to work but did not look for a job during the past month for personal reasons or discouraged workers who have given up hope of finding a job. Including those people in the calculation would result in an unemployment rate of 14.5 percent. In February, including those people would have resulted in a 14.9 percent jobless rate.

    Reach Andrew via email, call him at 909-386-3872, or find him on Twitter @InlandBizz.


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    A motorcyclist died in San Bernardino Friday after he lost control of his bike.

    San Bernardino police responded to the 600 block of Kendall Avenue at 7 p.m., said police Sgt. Mark Plonski.

    Upon arrival, witnesses told officers that the motorcyclist had been traveling south on Kendall when he lost control of his bike while negotiating a curve in the road. The rider was not speeding at the time.

    He was taken to a local trauma center where he later died. There was no further information available.


    Reach Jannise via email or call her at 909-483-9318.

    Get the latest crime and public safety news on Twitter @IECrime.


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    Thomas Kinkade, the "Painter of Light" and one of the most popular artists in America, died suddenly Friday at his Los Gatos home. He was 54.

    His family said in a statement that his death appeared to be from natural causes.

    "Thom provided a wonderful life for his family," his wife, Nanette, said in a statement. "We are shocked and saddened by his death."

    His paintings are hanging in an estimated one of every 20 homes in the United States. Fans cite the warm, familiar feeling of his mass-produced works of art, while it has become fashionable for art critics to dismiss his pieces as tacky. In any event, his prints of idyllic cottages and bucolic garden gates helped establish a brand -- famed for their painted highlights -- not commonly seen in the art world.

    "I'm a warrior for light," Kinkade told the Mercury News in 2002, alluding not just to his technical skill at creating light on canvas but to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. "With whatever talent and resources I have, I'm trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel."

    His Media Arts Group company surged to success, taking in $32 million per quarter from 4,500 dealers across the country 10 years ago, before it went private in the middle of the past decade. The cost of his paintings range from hundreds of dollars to more than $10,000.

    The Placerville native, who also leaves behind a brother and sister, was known to dress up like Santa Claus on Christmas, ride a Harley-Davidson and go on painting trips around the world. He would visit studio executives but also got to know all the homeless people in Los Gatos. He read classic books but also enjoyed shooting and blowing up things on his ranch.

    The father of four girls and a devoted Christian, his artistic philosophy was not to express himself through his paintings like many artists, but rather to give the masses what they wanted: warm, positive images, said Ken Raasch, a longtime friend who co-founded Kinkade's company with him.

    "I'd see a tree as being green, and he would see it as 47 different shades of green," Raasch said. "He just saw the world in a much more detailed way than anyone I've ever seen."

    In the 25 years since graduating from UC Berkeley, his official biography says he has printed 1,000 paintings of "cabin and nature scenes, beautiful gardens, classic cottages, sports, inspirational content, lighthouses and powerful seascapes, impressionists, and classic Americana."

    Kinkade became a speaker and author, with books that reached the New York Times Best Seller list. His top sellers include, "Masterworks of Light," and "The Artist's Guide to Sketching." He put Los Gatos High on canvas along with other community landmarks.

    He was involved in a charity foundation. As a philanthropist, he contributed and helped raise millions of dollars that went to nonprofit agencies such as the Salvation Army and museums.

    But in 2010, the company's Morgan Hill manufacturing arm, Pacific Metro, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Months later, Kinkade was reportedly arrested on suspicion of DUI. In 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported the FBI was investigating whether he fraudulently induced investors and then ruined them financially.

    His family was traveling to Australia on Friday and unavailable for further comment. Further details were expected in the coming days.

    Authorities would not have the official cause of death for at least a few days. Police referred comment to the coroner, who was unavailable late Friday. Friends and family on Friday began planning a private service and were weighing a public celebration for a later date.

    Despite Kinkade's death, his paintings will live on.

    "Art is forever," Kinkade told "60 Minutes" in 2007. "It goes front and center on your wall, where everyday the rest of your life you see that image. And it is shaping your children, it's shaping your life."

    Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705.