Kelly Puente

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Customer at Santa Ana restaurant shoots through drive-through window, striking robbery suspect

An alleged robber was shot at a Santa Ana fast food restaurant early Saturday when a customer in the drive-though line saw the robbery in progress and fired shots through a window, police said.

Santa Ana Police Cmdr. Michael Claborn said the incident occurred just after midnight at the Cozy Corner Drive-In, 426 N. Harbor Blvd., when a man waiting for his food in the drive-through line saw a robbery in progress in the restaurant.

The man fired several shots at the robber, shattering the drive-through window, Claborn said.

“It was very dangerous, one of the employees could have been shot,” he said.

The alleged robber collapsed and was taken to a nearby hospital. He was hit multiple times but was expected to survive, Claborn said. The man was arrested on suspicion of robbery. His identity was not available Saturday.

The shooter sped off in his vehicle, Claborn said, adding that the man is now wanted on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. No suspect description was available.

The incident was captured on surveillance video, which was broadcast by stations including CBS Los Angeles.

Cozy Corner remained open for business Saturday.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/26/customer-at-santa-ana-restaurant-shoots-through-drive-through-window-striking-robbery-suspect/

Deputies recover stolen U-Haul with Long Beach family’s lifelong possessions

A nightmare scenario for one Long Beach family turned into a happy ending on Friday when two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies quickly recovered a stolen U-Haul containing the family’s lifelong possessions.

The family, who asked to remain anonymous, was in the process of moving to Northern California and the previous night had loaded a rented U-Haul truck with all of their valuables including their children’s baby blankets, baby toys and family photos.

They woke up in the morning on Friday ready to embark on their road trip and realized the truck had been stolen sometime overnight, authorities said. The family quickly alerted police.

Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputies recover stolen U-Haul with family's lifelong posessions.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies recovered a stolen U-Haul with a family’s lifelong possessions. Photo courtesy Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Later that morning, Deputies Jeffrey Rupert and Chad Micek from the Sheriff’s Department’s Carson Station were patrolling the city’s Lincoln Village tract when they observed the stolen U-Haul leaving the neighborhood.

The deputies pulled the truck over and the driver fled on foot before he was caught and taken into custody, authorities said.

“It wasn’t until the deputies returned the truck to the victim family that it was learned just how precious its cargo was,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

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The family got back most of the sentimental belongings, authorities said.

“My wife was having a nervous breakdown because of all the memories we were really close to losing,” the father said in a statement. “We were excited to hear the deputies found the vehicle. My wife actually screamed out of excitement. We appreciate what the deputies did, we really do appreciate it and have a lot of respect for them too.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/26/deputies-recover-stolen-u-haul-with-long-beach-familys-lifelong-possessions/

DA clears O.C. deputies in jail death of Danny Pham, says cellmate was responsible

No criminal charges will be filed against Orange County sheriff’s deputies who placed a non-violent car thief in the same jail cell with an admitted double-murderer, despite the belief by prosecutors that the admitted double murder later strangled the thief.

Danny Pham (Photo courtesy of Jawn Lam)
Danny Pham (Photo courtesy of Jawn Lam)

In a letter released Tuesday, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said local deputies who run the jail were not criminally culpable for the death of 27-year-old Danny Pham, who was found strangled July 3 in a cell he’d shared with Marvin Magallanes, an Anaheim man who was in custody after confessing to stabbing and killing two homeless men.

A wrongful death claim filed by Pham’s family alleges that during and after the incident, jailers didn’t conduct regular safety checks of the jail cell, and that they then falsified logs to conceal their failure to protect Pham and to properly classify Magallanes. Those issues were not addressed in the letter released Tuesday.

The letter does mark the first confirmation from the District Attorney’s Office that it believes Magallanes killed Pham, and the office said it will move forward with prosecuting him, although no criminal charges were filed Tuesday.

The office declined to release further details pending the ongoing investigation.

Pham, a Westminster man who had been homeless, was near the end of a six-month sentence last summer when he was placed in the cell with Magallanes, who has a history of recent violence and allegedly hated homeless people.

Attorney Michael Guisti, who is representing Pham’s family, said Tuesday that deputies were criminally negligent when they placed Pham with a larger, stronger, violent mentally ill inmate.

“What killed Danny Pham was putting him in the cell with Magallanes,” Guisti said Tuesday. “Magallanes actually committing the act was the end product of the sheriff’s criminal act.”

Guisti, who said the DA’s decision not to prosecute jailers will not slow his client’s wrongful death suit, believes deputies erred when they failed to place Magallanes in total separation even though they were aware of his mental illness and violent history.

A month before Pham’s death, Magallanes was accused of assaulting a jail deputy and also was “sexually aggressive” with a prior cell mate, he said.

The claim alleges that Magallanes strangled Pham at 7:20 a.m. in their shared cell, in an incident that was captured by security cameras.

A jail employee delivering food found Pham’s body at 11:10, nearly four hours after he’d been strangled, the claim says.

After the death, four deputies and a civilian jailer were placed on paid leave as part of the investigation.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun on Tuesday said one deputy returned to work after three weeks, while the four other employees remain on leave.

The case is now under administrative investigation, she said.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/22/da-clears-o-c-deputies-in-jail-death-of-danny-pham-says-cellmate-was-responsible/

Man with 2 prior drunken driving convictions charged in fatal DUI-related Irvine crash

A Santa Ana man with two prior drunken driving convictions was charged with second-degree murder on Friday for allegedly plowing into an Irvine family of four on a sidewalk while driving with a blood-alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit, authorities said.

Around 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jeongmi Choi, 44, was walking home with her husband and two teenage children on a sidewalk near Turtle Rock Drive when Kamal Akwette Attoh, 37, allegedly swerved off the road and hit them with his 2012 BMW sedan, authorities said.

Choi was killed, while her husband was treated for a ruptured spleen and other serious internal injuries. Her 18-year-old son suffered a broken nose and other injuries. Her 15-year-old daughter needed stitches, authorities said.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky said Attoh was charged with murder because he has two prior drunken driving convictions — one in 2001 in Orange County and another in 2002 in Ventura County.

He also is charged with three counts each of driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more. If convicted, he faces up to 22 years in prison.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/18/man-with-2-prior-drunk-driving-convictions-charged-in-fatal-dui-related-irvine-crash/

Ex-fugitive sentenced to life in prison for killing 16-year-old gang rival in Santa Ana

SANTA ANA – An ex-fugitive who spent years on the county’s most-wanted list after he gunned down a 16-year-old gang rival and fled to Mexico was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday.

Jesus Canales, 24, of Santa Ana spent five years on the lam before he was captured in July 2016 for the shooting death of Alberto Miller, who was sitting on his porch with friends in the 300 block of East Washington Avenue in Santa Ana on July 22, 2011.

A jury in March convicted Canales of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors said Canales, then 18, and gang associate Juan Galvan were riding their bikes in a rival gang’s territory when they approached Miller and his friends and challenged the group by asking them which gang they represented.

Canales – who goes by the gang moniker “Stitch” -– fired two shots when the group responded with a rival gang’s name.

Miller was struck in the heart and died in a nearby alley.

Canales spent years on local law enforcement’s most-wanted list until captured and extradited from the state of Michoacan in Mexico.

His co-defendant, Galvan, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in exchange for his testimony against Canales. He was sentenced to six years in jail.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/18/ex-fugitive-sentenced-to-life-in-prison-for-killing-16-year-old-gang-rival-in-santa-ana/

Long Beach man arrested in Aliso Viejo explosion investigation

Authorities have arrested a 59-year-old Long Beach man as part of their investigation into an explosion that killed a day spa owner and injured three others in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday.

A joint statement released Thursday by the FBI, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the ATF and the United States Attorney’s Office says authorities investigating the deadly explosion served a search warrant at a Long Beach residence and subsequently arrested Stephen Beal, 59, of Long Beach.

Beal was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of an explosive device, but he has not been charged in connection with the explosion.

Beal is expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana today.

Authorities did not release further details.

But records show that Beal and the woman who was killed were business associates, each listed as a chief executive officer. It is not spelled out if that pertained to Magyar Kozmetika, which the victim owned and where the explosion occurred, but one of the address listed was that of the day spa.

  • Ildiko Krajnyak, 48, was killed in an explosion at an Aliso Viejo office building where she owned a day spa. (Courtesy of Facebook)

    Ildiko Krajnyak, 48, was killed in an explosion at an Aliso Viejo office building where she owned a day spa. (Courtesy of Facebook)

  • Eva Boni, left, cousin of bombing victim Ildiko Krajnyak, cries as she listens to family friend Irene White, read a statement from Krajnyak’s family during a press conference in Trabuco Canyon, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Krajnyak was killed in an explosion on May 15. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Eva Boni, left, cousin of bombing victim Ildiko Krajnyak, cries as she listens to family friend Irene White, read a statement from Krajnyak’s family during a press conference in Trabuco Canyon, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Krajnyak was killed in an explosion on May 15. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Orange County Sheriff leave the Trabuco Canyon home of Ildiko Krajnyak the day after she was killed by a bomb blast in a medical plaza the day before in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Orange County Sheriff leave the Trabuco Canyon home of Ildiko Krajnyak the day after she was killed by a bomb blast in a medical plaza the day before in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Eva Boni, right, cousin of bombing victim Ildiko Krajnyak, is comforted by family friend Irene White, after White read a statement from Krajnyak’s family during a press conference in Trabuco Canyon, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Krajnyak was killed in an explosion on May 15. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Eva Boni, right, cousin of bombing victim Ildiko Krajnyak, is comforted by family friend Irene White, after White read a statement from Krajnyak’s family during a press conference in Trabuco Canyon, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Krajnyak was killed in an explosion on May 15. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Investigators examine an area near a bomb blast in a medical plaza in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. 
(Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Investigators examine an area near a bomb blast in a medical plaza in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • An FBI agent closes the trunk of a car after taking photos of the items inside as federal officers from multiple agencies including the Orange County Sheriff Department search a home in East Long Beach, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Law enforcement says it’s related to the Aliso Viejo explosion. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova/Press-Telegram)

    An FBI agent closes the trunk of a car after taking photos of the items inside as federal officers from multiple agencies including the Orange County Sheriff Department search a home in East Long Beach, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Law enforcement says it’s related to the Aliso Viejo explosion. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova/Press-Telegram)

  • An FBI agent, right, and other officers walk through the backyard as federal agents from multiple agencies including the Orange County Sheriff Department search a home in East Long Beach, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Law enforcement says itís related to the Aliso Viejo explosion. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova/Press-Telegram)

    An FBI agent, right, and other officers walk through the backyard as federal agents from multiple agencies including the Orange County Sheriff Department search a home in East Long Beach, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Law enforcement says itís related to the Aliso Viejo explosion. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova/Press-Telegram)

  • An FBI agent stands at the doorway as federal officers from multiple agencies including the Orange County Sheriff Department search a home in East Long Beach, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Law enforcement says it’s related to the Aliso Viejo explosion. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova/Press-Telegram)

    An FBI agent stands at the doorway as federal officers from multiple agencies including the Orange County Sheriff Department search a home in East Long Beach, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Law enforcement says it’s related to the Aliso Viejo explosion. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova/Press-Telegram)

  • Orange County Sheriff officers walk out of a home as federal officers from multiple agencies including the Orange County Sheriff Department search a home in East Long Beach, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Law enforcement says it’s related to the Aliso Viejo explosion. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova/Press-Telegram)

    Orange County Sheriff officers walk out of a home as federal officers from multiple agencies including the Orange County Sheriff Department search a home in East Long Beach, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Law enforcement says it’s related to the Aliso Viejo explosion. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova/Press-Telegram)

  • An agent talks on a phone while out front of a home as federal agents from multiple agencies including the Orange County Sheriff Department search the home in East Long Beach, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Law enforcement says it’s related to the Aliso Viejo explosion. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova/Press-Telegram)

    An agent talks on a phone while out front of a home as federal agents from multiple agencies including the Orange County Sheriff Department search the home in East Long Beach, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Law enforcement says it’s related to the Aliso Viejo explosion. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova/Press-Telegram)

  • Investigators examine an area near a bomb blast in a medical plaza in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. 
(Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Investigators examine an area near a bomb blast in a medical plaza in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Video screen grab of FBI investigators removing items from the Trabuco Canyon home of a woman who was killed by a bomb blast in a medical plaza the day before in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. 
(PHOTO COURTESY OF CBS/KCAL)

    Video screen grab of FBI investigators removing items from the Trabuco Canyon home of a woman who was killed by a bomb blast in a medical plaza the day before in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF CBS/KCAL)

  • Video screen grab of FBI investigators removing items from the Trabuco Canyon home of a woman who was killed by a bomb blast in a medical plaza the day before in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. 
(PHOTO COURTESY OF CBS/KCAL)

    Video screen grab of FBI investigators removing items from the Trabuco Canyon home of a woman who was killed by a bomb blast in a medical plaza the day before in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF CBS/KCAL)

  • Video screen grab of FBI investigators removing items from the Trabuco Canyon home of a woman who was killed by a bomb blast in a medical plaza the day before in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. 
(PHOTO COURTESY OF CBS/KCAL)

    Video screen grab of FBI investigators removing items from the Trabuco Canyon home of a woman who was killed by a bomb blast in a medical plaza the day before in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (PHOTO COURTESY OF CBS/KCAL)

  • The Orange County hazmat team, bomb squad, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May  15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County hazmat team, bomb squad, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange County hazmat team, bomb squad, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County hazmat team, bomb squad, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Stephanie Montessi is tearfully reunited with her daughter Madison, 1, who was evacuated from Academy on the Hill preschool after a nearby explosion. Children from the school were taken to Target a block away where they were claimed by their parents in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Stephanie Montessi is tearfully reunited with her daughter Madison, 1, who was evacuated from Academy on the Hill preschool after a nearby explosion. Children from the school were taken to Target a block away where they were claimed by their parents in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A deputy keeps watch as the Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    A deputy keeps watch as the Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A deputy stands watch as the Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    A deputy stands watch as the Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A deputy and his  bomb-sniffing dog check out the area near an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    A deputy and his bomb-sniffing dog check out the area near an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Eva Boni, left, cousin of bombing victim Ildiko Krajnyak, holds on to family friend Irene White, as White prepares to read a statement from Krajnyak’s family during a press conference in Trabuco Canyon, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Krajnyak was killed in an explosion on May 15. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Eva Boni, left, cousin of bombing victim Ildiko Krajnyak, holds on to family friend Irene White, as White prepares to read a statement from Krajnyak’s family during a press conference in Trabuco Canyon, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Krajnyak was killed in an explosion on May 15. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Eva Boni, right, cousin of bombing victim Ildiko Krajnyak, is comforted by family friend Irene White, after White read a statement from Krajnyak’s family during a press conference in Trabuco Canyon, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Krajnyak was killed in an explosion on May 15. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Eva Boni, right, cousin of bombing victim Ildiko Krajnyak, is comforted by family friend Irene White, after White read a statement from Krajnyak’s family during a press conference in Trabuco Canyon, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Krajnyak was killed in an explosion on May 15. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Orange County Sheriff leave the Trabuco Canyon home of Ildiko Krajnyak the day after she was killed by a bomb blast in a medical plaza the day before in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Orange County Sheriff leave the Trabuco Canyon home of Ildiko Krajnyak the day after she was killed by a bomb blast in a medical plaza the day before in Aliso Viejo, California, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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A blast that killed the day spa owner and injured the three others was “not an accident,” authorities said Wednesday as a probe into the apparent attack spread from south Orange County and into Long Beach as well.

Ildiko Krajnyak, 48, was in her day spa just after 1 p.m. on Tuesday when a powerful explosion blew out doors and windows.

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Authorities have said the explosion was “not an accident” and have served search warrants for at least three locations, including in Orange County and Long Beach.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/17/authorities-arrest-long-beach-man-as-part-of-investigation-into-deadly-aliso-viejo-explosion/

Two Tustin Police officers hurt in scuffle with domestic violence suspect

Two Tustin Police officers suffered minor injuries Wednesday in a scuffle with a man suspected of violating a domestic violence restraining order, authorities said.

The officers were called around 1:50 a.m. to the Key Inn and Suites in the 1600 block of El Camino Real in Tustin for reports of a couple arguing in a car, said Tustin Police spokesman Lt. Robert Wright.

Wright said the officers discovered that the man was violating a domestic violence restraining order.

As they tried to remove him from the car, the man resisted and the two officers were injured in the altercation before they were able to detain him, Wright said.

The officers were treated at a hospital for minor injures, he said. Wright did not have details on the nature of the injuries.

The suspect, Christopher Perleberg, 30, of Santa Ana was arrested on suspicion of violating a restraining order and resisting arrest, Wright said.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/16/two-tustin-police-officers-hurt-in-scuffle-with-domestic-violence-suspect/

Cause of Aliso Viejo explosion that killed 1 still undetermined

Orange County sheriff’s detectives – along with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – were continuing to investigate on Wednesday the cause of the powerful explosion in an Aliso Viejo office building that the day before that left a woman dead and three others injured.

  • Orange County  hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A deputy and his  bomb-sniffing dog check out the area near an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    A deputy and his bomb-sniffing dog check out the area near an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • A deputy stands watch as the Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    A deputy stands watch as the Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A deputy keeps watch as the Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    A deputy keeps watch as the Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Stephanie Montessi is tearfully reunited with her daughter Madison, 1, who was evacuated from Academy on the Hill preschool after a nearby explosion. Children from the school were taken to Target a block away where they were claimed by their parents in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Stephanie Montessi is tearfully reunited with her daughter Madison, 1, who was evacuated from Academy on the Hill preschool after a nearby explosion. Children from the school were taken to Target a block away where they were claimed by their parents in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange County hazmat team, bomb squad, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County hazmat team, bomb squad, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange County hazmat team, bomb squad, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May  15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Orange County hazmat team, bomb squad, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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While the Sheriff’s Department has not yet indicated whether it believes the blast was intentional, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which also is assisting in the investigation, referred to a suspicious package in a statement released Wednesday:

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the federal law enforcement branch of the U.S. Postal Service, has determined the package in question did not go through the Postal Service mail system. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners in this ongoing investigation.”

The blast, at around 1:09 p.m., blew out doors and windows in the ground floor of a building at 11 Mareblu, a street lined predominantly with businesses. Some witnesses said they initially thought it was an earthquake but soon realized it was some type of explosion as smoke filled the area.

A U.S. official briefed on the investigation, speaking on condition of not being identified by name, told The Associated Press the explosion is being investigated as intentional and investigators believe the blast may have come from a package.

Late Tuesday night the Sheriff’s Department put out a Tweet, though, that said:

“Despite media reports quoting unnamed sources, we have not confirmed that the explosion is intentional, nor have we conclusively identified the source of the explosion. Investigation is in (the) early stages, as information is confirmed we will share it.”

Sheriff’s officials were expected to hold a news conference at noon.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/16/cause-of-aliso-viejo-explosion-that-killed-1-still-undetermined/

1 dead, 3 injured in explosion at medical-office building in Aliso Viejo

At least one person was killed and three injured Tuesday afternoon in an explosion at a medical-office building in Aliso Viejo, authorities said.

The explosion was reported on the first floor at 11 Mareblu in Aliso Viejo at 1:09 p.m. in an area of office buildings.

Authorities have not determined what caused the explosion, but the incident has drawn a massive presence with more than 100 firefighters and deputies blanketing the scene.

  • Fire fighters and Sheriff deputies escort children from Academy on the Hill pre-k school in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 after a nearby explosion killed one person and injured two others. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Fire fighters and Sheriff deputies escort children from Academy on the Hill pre-k school in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 after a nearby explosion killed one person and injured two others. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Stephanie Montessi is tearfully reunited with her daughter Madison, 1, who was evacuated from Academy on the Hill preschool after a nearby explosion. Children from the school were taken to Target a block away where they were claimed by their parents in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Stephanie Montessi is tearfully reunited with her daughter Madison, 1, who was evacuated from Academy on the Hill preschool after a nearby explosion. Children from the school were taken to Target a block away where they were claimed by their parents in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Preschool and kindergarten children wait for their parents at a nearby Target after a nearby explosion forced their evacuated in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Preschool and kindergarten children wait for their parents at a nearby Target after a nearby explosion forced their evacuated in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Firefighters and Sheriff deputies escort children from Academy on the Hill pre-k school in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 after a nearby explosion killed one person and injured two others. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Firefighters and Sheriff deputies escort children from Academy on the Hill pre-k school in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 after a nearby explosion killed one person and injured two others. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Sheriff deputies escort children from a preschool to a nearby Target where their parents picked them up after an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Sheriff deputies escort children from a preschool to a nearby Target where their parents picked them up after an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Stephanie Montessi is tearfully reunited with her daughter Madison, 1, who was evacuated from Academy on the Hill preschool after a nearby explosion. Children from the school were taken to Target a block away where they were claimed by their parents in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Stephanie Montessi is tearfully reunited with her daughter Madison, 1, who was evacuated from Academy on the Hill preschool after a nearby explosion. Children from the school were taken to Target a block away where they were claimed by their parents in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Orange County  hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May  15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito said

Orange County  hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May  15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Orange County hazmat team and bomb squad investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.(Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“This is going to be a long process,” he said. “We’re going to take every precaution possible before we go in.”

Two people were transported to nearby trauma centers with unknown injuries while a third person was transported for smoke-inhalation injuries, he said.

While initial reports said a possible car crashed into the building causing the explosion, authorities have now ruled that out and believe the explosion came from inside the building, Bommarito said, adding that the doors and windows on the bottom floor were “blown out.”

Mary McWilliams of San Celemente said she arrived for a appointment to find smoke surrounding the area and car alarms going off.

McWilliams said she saw two women walking out of the building, suffering from burns and covered in ash and soot.

One woman, who had skin peeling on her arm from burns, said, “Take care of my mother,” McWilliams said. The other woman was bleeding from her head.

“I thought it was a little fire until I saw everyone’s faces and reactions,” she said.

A nearby building has all been evacuated and deputies were reportedly taking pictures of license plates as cars left the scene.

Drivers were being told to avoid the area because of multiple street closures.

Carrie Braun, an Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, said authorities are working to determine if the explosion was an accident or intentional.

Officials are inspecting other, nearby buildings but do not believe there are any further threats at this time. They will not say if the dead victim is a man or woman.

A daycare center across the street was evacuated as firefighters led small children out by hand. No children were injured.

Tony Dik, who came to pick up his six-year-old son Kingston, said he was in a panic when he saw the news.

“When your own flesh and blood is on that street it’s helpless,” he said. “And then you hear them say, ‘Daddy,’ and wave and smile and it’s a big moment.”

Kingston said he was playing outside when he heard a big crash and thought it was a garbage truck.

“Did you hear it, Dad?” he asked.

“No buddy,” Dik replied.

Authorities have set up a hotline for anyone with information: 714-628-7085.

Stephanie Montessi said she was relieved to see her baby daughter when they evacuated the children to a nearby Target store.”We’re relieved now that we’ve seen their faces,” she said. “Seeing with our own eyes is different than being told they’re OK.”

Photographer Mindy Schauer contributed to this report.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

At least one person has been killed in an explosion at a medical building in Aliso Viejo, authorities said. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
At least one person has been killed in an explosion at a medical building in Aliso Viejo, authorities said. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/15/1-dead-in-explosion-at-aliso-viejo-medical-building/

Appeals court upholds more than $700k in damages to Rancho Santiago Community College District worker fired while on medical leave

A state appeals court has upheld more than $700,000 in damages awarded to a former Rancho Santiago Community College District employee who said she was wrongfully fired after she went on medical leave during a one-year employment probationary period.

Marisa Hernandez was hired at the Santa Ana-based college district in 2013 as an administrative assistant. As part of the terms of her contract, she would have been considered a permanent employee after a one-year probationary period.

Eight months into her probation period, she went on medical leave, with the district’s permission, for three months to have surgery for an injured knuckle.

Hernandez was scheduled to return to work around the anniversary of her hiring date, but the district fired her while she was on medical leave because her “performance had not been reviewed,” according to court records.

Hernandez sued the district in Orange County Superior Court and won $723,746 in damages. The trial judge found that the district could have accommodated her by extending her probationary period.

Appellate justices, in a May 3 ruling, agreed.

“Yes, the district accommodated Hernandez by giving her time off for her surgery,” the ruling said, “but the accommodation can hardly be considered reasonable when it included the consequence that she would lose her job if she took the time off to undergo surgery.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/15/appeals-court-upholds-more-than-700k-in-damages-to-rancho-santiago-community-college-district-worker-fired-while-on-medical-leave/

Authorities arrest 85 people, seize drugs in major Orange County gang crackdown aimed at disrupting Mexican Mafia

  • Guns and money seized during the arrest of 85 individuals. The seizure included: 36 firearms, assault weapons; 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

    Guns and money seized during the arrest of 85 individuals. The seizure included: 36 firearms, assault weapons; 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

  • Money seized during the arrest of 85 individuals; including the seizure of 36 firearms, assault weapons; seizure of 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

    Money seized during the arrest of 85 individuals; including the seizure of 36 firearms, assault weapons; seizure of 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

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  • Guns seized during the arrest of 85 individuals. The seizure included: 36 firearms, assault weapons; 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

    Guns seized during the arrest of 85 individuals. The seizure included: 36 firearms, assault weapons; 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

  • Drugs seized during the arrest of 85 individuals. The seizure included: 36 firearms, assault weapons; 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

    Drugs seized during the arrest of 85 individuals. The seizure included: 36 firearms, assault weapons; 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

  • Drugs guns and money seized during the arrest of 85 individuals. The seizure included: 36 firearms, assault weapons; 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

    Drugs guns and money seized during the arrest of 85 individuals. The seizure included: 36 firearms, assault weapons; 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

  • Guns seized during the arrest of 85 individuals. Also seized were 36 firearms, assault weapons; 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

    Guns seized during the arrest of 85 individuals. Also seized were 36 firearms, assault weapons; 14 pounds of methamphetamine and 3 pounds of heroin; and the recovery of 2 stolen vehicles, as part of an investigation of Mafia members and associates operating in Orange County. (Photo Courtesy Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

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A major gang crackdown involving a variety of state and local agencies, and aimed at disrupting Mexican Mafia operations in Orange County, has yielded 85 arrests and taken “middle management” gang leaders off the streets, officials announced Wednesday.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a news conference in Santa Ana that the three-month investigation, dubbed “Operation Scarecrow,” was a joint effort that teamed up the state Department of Justice, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol.

The investigation focused on the Sureños street gang in Orange County and its criminal activities directed by the Mexican Mafia. In addition to the arrests, the operation netted 36 firearms, 14 pounds of methamphetamine and three pounds of heroin.

“We will continue to hold accountable those who terrorize our communities and jeopardize our public safety,” Becerra said. “All families in California deserve to know that their loved ones, especially their children, are safe.”

Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said the operation – one of the largest in county history – resulted in the arrests of many “middle management” gang members and prevented a number of violent crimes, including an attempted murder in Placentia.

So far, prosecutors have filed charges in 31 cases in Orange County and two in Los Angeles. The charges include weapons and drug violations, conspiracy, forgery, fraud and criminal street gang enhancements.

While the effort can disrupt Mexican Mafia operations, the arrests are a “drop in the bucket” compared to organization’s mass control over street gangs statewide, Barnes said.

“We share this information not to scare the public but to remind the residents of Orange County that this is a reality we face,” he said. “Criminal gang enterprises still continue to prey upon our community and we have to do everything we can to fight back.”

Barnes said the operation stemmed from an investigation into the shooting death of a man in San Juan Capistrano on Christmas Day in 2016. The case has not yet been solved, but the victim’s alleged gang ties led investigators into a network of criminal activity, he said.

Authorities said the investigation was dubbed “Operation Scarecrow” because of its connection to a Mexican Mafia shot-caller with the street moniker “Crow.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/02/authorities-arrest-85-people-seize-drugs-in-major-orange-county-gang-crackdown-aimed-at-disrupting-mexican-mafia/

Authorities arrest 85 people, seize drugs in major Orange County gang crackdown aimed at disrupting Mexican Mafia

A major gang crackdown involving a variety of state and local agencies, and aimed at disrupting Mexican Mafia operations in Orange County, has yielded 85 arrests and taken “middle management” gang leaders off the streets, officials announced Wednesday.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a news conference in Santa Ana that the three-month investigation, dubbed “Operation Scarecrow,” was a joint effort that teamed up the state Department of Justice, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol.

The investigation focused on the Sureños street gang in Orange County and its criminal activities directed by the Mexican Mafia. In addition to the arrests, the operation netted 36 firearms, 14 pounds of methamphetamine and three pounds of heroin.

“We will continue to hold accountable those who terrorize our communities and jeopardize our public safety,” Becerra said. “All families in California deserve to know that their loved ones, especially their children, are safe.”

Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes said the operation – one of the largest in county history – resulted in the arrests of many “middle management” gang members and prevented a number of violent crimes, including an attempted murder in Placentia.

So far, prosecutors have filed charges in 31 cases in Orange County and two in Los Angeles. The charges include weapons and drug violations, conspiracy, forgery, fraud and criminal street gang enhancements.

While the effort can disrupt Mexican Mafia operations, the arrests are a “drop in the bucket” compared to organization’s mass control over street gangs statewide, Barnes said.

“We share this information not to scare the public but to remind the residents of Orange County that this is a reality we face,” he said. “Criminal gang enterprises still continue to prey upon our community and we have to do everything we can to fight back.”

Barnes said the operation stemmed from an investigation into the shooting death of a man in San Juan Capistrano on Christmas Day in 2016. The case has not yet been solved, but the victim’s alleged gang ties led investigators into a network of criminal activity, he said.

Authorities said the investigation was dubbed “Operation Scarecrow” because of its connection to a Mexican Mafia shot-caller with the street moniker “Crow.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/02/authorities-arrest-85-people-seize-drugs-in-major-orange-county-gang-crackdown-aimed-at-disrupting-mexican-mafia/

Newport Beach husband charged with felony domestic violence for allegedly ‘waterboarding’ wife

A man is facing felony torture and domestic violence charges for allegedly beating and “waterboarding” his wife in their Newport Beach home, authorities said.

Authorities said Richard David Schlosser, 36, allegedly attacked his 65-year-old wife in their home in January and held her prisoner for hours.

Deputy District Attorney Mark Geller said Schlosser also waterboarded her as he held her captive, according to City News Service.

Court documents show the woman filed a restraining order request against Schlosser in January stating that he held her prisoner in their home for six hours while he cut her with scissors, beat her with a candelabra and shoved a towel down down her throat.

At the time of the incident, Schlosser was out on bail for an unrelated domestic violence charge in Riverside County, according to court records.

Schlosser has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in court in August for a pretrial hearing.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/02/newport-beach-husband-charged-with-felony-domestic-violence-for-allegedly-waterboarding-wife/

Huntington Beach search for man who robbed First Bank on Main Street

Huntington Beach police were asking for the public’s help Wednesday in identifying a man who robbed a bank on Main Street Monday.

The lone suspect walked into the First Bank at 501 Main Street at 11:30 a.m., brandished a semiautomatic handgun and demanded money. The tellers gave him an unknown amount of money and he fled westbound on Sixth street.

(Hunting Beach Police)
(Hunting Beach Police)

The man is described as Caucasian, 45 to 55 years old, standing 5’6” tall, with a medium build. He has gray hair and light colored blue or green eyes. He was wearing a blue “hoodie” style sweatshirt, dark colored knit cap, dark pants and a white dust mask over his mouth and nose.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Huntington Beach Police Department Hotline at 714-375-5066.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/02/huntington-beach-search-for-man-who-robbed-first-bank-on-main-street/

Woman arrested on suspicion of DUI in fatal Costa Mesa crash

A woman was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in a crash that killed another driver at a Costa Mesa intersection early Tuesday, authorities said.

Costa Mesa police Sgt. Dan Miles said the woman, identified as 24-year-old Kimberly Rene Martin, was driving a white Volkswagen SUV at about 12:20 a.m. when her vehicle collided with a red Honda Civic at the intersection of Mesa Drive and Santa Ana Avenue.

The driver of the Honda, a 23-year-old Tustin man, died at the scene, Miles said. His name was not released pending notification of relatives.

A third vehicle was involved in the collision but the driver was uninjured, police said.

Martin was transported to a nearby hospital to be treated for moderate injuries and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, police said.

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Authorities are investigating the cause of the collision.

Anyone with additional info is asked to contact Traffic Investigator Darren Wood at 714-754-5264.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/05/01/woman-arrested-on-suspicion-of-dui-in-fatal-costa-mesa-crash/

Man shot, wounded by Anaheim police dies 2 weeks later

Petrica Peter Muntean (Courtesy)
Petrica Peter Muntean (Courtesy)

A man who was shot and wounded by Anaheim police this month has died, authorities said Monday.

Petrica Peter Muntean, 24, of Anaheim died Friday, two weeks after he was shot by police in an incident at Harbor Boulevard and Broadway, said Anaheim police Sgt. Daron Wyatt

Officers had responded on April 12 to reports of a domestic violence incident between Muntean and his mother, but Muntean fled the scene, police said.

Muntean again tried to run when officers attempted to contact him the next morning, police said.

Officers used less than lethal round to try to detain him, but “he continued to the 100 block of Seneca Circle, where an officer-involved shooting occurred,” authorities said.

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Wyatt said a BB gun that resembled a firearm was recovered at the scene. The officers’ body cameras were activated at the time of the shooting, he added.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the case, as it does in all officer-involved shootings.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/30/man-shot-wounded-by-anaheim-police-dies-2-weeks-later/

LA County DA warns of virtual kidnapping scams

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is warning people to watch out for virtual kidnapping scams in which a fraudster calls claiming to have kidnapped a loved one.

When the victim, often a senior, answers the phone, the scammer proclaims to be a kidnapper while screams can be heard in the background. The victim will often blurt out a relative’s name fearing that is the person screaming. The caller then confirms the name.

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The phony kidnappers will instruct the victim to wire money to them and also may demand that the victim purchase a gift card and provide the card number. The scammer will hang up after getting the transfer or gift card number.

The scammer instructs the victim to stay on the phone so the victim is unable to call to verify the relatives whereabouts.

Tips from the District Attorney:

  • Hang up the phone.
  • Attempt to reach the alleged kidnap victim on his or her own phone.
  • Do not pay a ransom by any means, including a wire transfer, gift card or in person.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/27/la-county-da-warns-of-virtual-kidnapping-scams/

Lawsuit: 3 Orange County men say they were victims of ‘gay bashing’ at Newport Beach restaurant

Three Orange County men are suing Newport Beach’s Balboa Inn after they say they were called a gay slur and assaulted by staff in the hotel’s Italian restaurant this month.

In their lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court this week, Angel Bonilla, Colton Moyer and Clement Serafin say they were visiting Balboa Island on April 13 when they decided to stop by Siena Restaurant inside the Balboa Inn for dinner.

The trio was immediately met with hostility from a woman working behind the bar, who “demanded that (the men) show their respective identification cards because she wanted to create a ruse for refusing to serve them when her real motive was to not serve gay men,” according to the suit.

The men said they were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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After viewing Serafin’s identification card, the bartender proclaimed that it was fake and then handed it to a person sitting at the bar, apparently a patron, who examined it and “commented loudly that it was ‘definitely a fake,’” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Serafin’s identification card is not fake and that he is in his mid-30s.

“This was done with the specific intent to cause humiliation and mental suffering … because they are gay and because Bonilla is Hispanic,” the suit says.

When the men asked to speak with the manager, the bartender shouted for them to “get out” and called the men a gay expletive, according to the lawsuit.

Part of the incident was captured on two cellphone videos. (Warning: The videos below contain graphic language and content.)

In the first video, a woman can be seen saying, “get them out of here,” before a man lifts up Moyer while he’s sitting on a bar stool, pushes him across the restaurant and then tosses him out of the door.

In the second video, the man can be seen yelling at Bonilla to “get out” before he throws him onto the pavement and shouts, “You’ve been warned!”

Bonilla suffered injuries from the incident and his cellphone was broken in the fall, the lawsuit says.

Balboa Inn owner Michel Pourmussa, who is named in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment.

The men are alleging assault, “gay bashing,” civil rights violations and emotional distress. They are seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/25/lawsuit-3-orange-county-men-say-they-were-victims-of-gay-bashing-at-newport-beach-restaurant/

Irvine man charged with hate crimes for allegedly having “kill lists” of prominent Jewish community members

An Irvine man is facing felony hate crime charges for allegedly having “kill lists” with names of prominent Jewish community members, including some in the entertainment industry, and a list of steps for “killing my first Jew,” authorities said.

Nicholas Rose, 26, pleaded not guilty Thursday to three felony counts of attempted criminal threats and three misdemeanor counts of civil rights violation, with sentencing enhancements for hate crimes.

Orange County prosecutors said one of Rose’s family members called the Orange Police Department on Monday after Rose expressed the desired to kill people and made violent threats against the Jewish community.

Police arrested Rose after they searched his home Tuesday and found .22-caliber ammunition, anti-Semitic literature, “kill lists” with names of prominent Jewish community members and a list of steps entitled, “Killing my first Jew,” according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Officers also found papers referencing a synagogue and a Greek Orthodox Church, both in Irvine, and a Russian Orthodox Church in Lake Forest, authorities said.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeff Moore, who is prosecuting the case, said investigators are reviewing Rose’s computer and cell phone records to determine if he might be part of a hate group.

Moore did not know how many people were on the “kill lists” but said the lists included names of prominent Jewish community members, including some well-known names in the entertainment industry. He declined to give specific names but said police have alerted those who were on the lists.

Moore said investigators are reviewing Rose’s writings, some of which are rambling and confusing.

“From his writings it’s hard tell exactly what direction he’s going in or who he was angry with,” Moore said. “He was apparently displeased with some churches that he thought were sympathetic to the Jewish cause.”

Moore said it’s unclear at this time whether Rose intended to carry out his threats.

Rose is due in back in court on April 27. If convicted, he faces six years in prison.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/19/irvine-man-charged-with-hate-crimes-for-allegedly-having-kill-lists-of-prominent-jewish-community-members/

Jury verdict: Lawyer must pay $250,000 to investigator for courthouse fight

A local lawyer who sued Orange County over a courthouse brawl with a district attorney’s investigator must pay $250,000 in damages for his role in the fight, a jury found Tuesday.

Criminal defense lawyer James Crawford sued the county for $10 million after he says he was left bruised and bloodied in hallway fight with Dillon Alley, a former investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana on March 9, 2016.

Crawford said Alley threw the first punch after a heated exchange, while Alley, in a counter-lawsuit, alleged that Crawford was the aggressor. State prosecutors investigated the altercation but declined to file criminal charges.

After a week-long trial in federal court, a jury found that Crawford acted with malice in the fight and ordered him to pay $250,000 in punitive damages to Alley.

However, both men were found to have committed battery and were ordered to pay each other’s medical bills. Crawford will pay $11,000 to Alley for his medical bills, while Alley will pay $15,000 to Crawford.

After the verdict, Alley’s attorney, Norman Watkins, said jurors saw the evidence that Crawford was the one who assaulted the investigator.

“Finally, our side of the story is told,” he said.

Crawford’s lawyer, Jerry Steering, said he plans to appeal the decision.

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The incident started when Crawford was in court to counsel a witness who was considering immunity to testify in a Lake Forest stabbing case, lawyers said.

Alley was assigned to guard the witness and the two men engaged in a heated exchange, witnesses said.

Steering said animosity between defense lawyers and prosecutors was high at the time over the county’s jail informant scandal, which includes allegations that police and prosecutors misused jailhouse informants on targeted inmates.

As a fallout of the informant scandal, Crawford had recently won a new trial for a man twice convicted of killing a pregnant Fullerton woman, which contributed to the tense atmosphere, Steering said.

Leading up to the brawl, Crawford said Alley made a comment about defense lawyers being “sleazy,” while Alley said Crawford called him a number of expletives.

Alley then threw a binder clip that hit the back of Crawford’s head. Some witnesses said Alley threw the first punch and tackled Crawford, while others said Crawford with the instigator and threw the first hit.

Crawford fell into benches and said he was punched repeatedly. He suffered a sinus fracture and trauma to the head, face and eye before Alley was pulled away by other law enforcement.

Alley, who is now retired, said he punched Crawford to keep him from grabbing his gun. He suffered a dislocated thumb in the altercation.

A courthouse security video shows officers pulling Alley away from Crawford, but does not capture the entire incident.

In the trial, Alley’s lawyer alleged that Crawford was biased against prosecutors and recalled an incident in which a judge reprimanded Crawford for calling a female prosecutor an expletive.

Steering said he believes testimony on the past incident between Crawford and the female prosecutor created bias among the mostly female jury.

He said he’s considering filing a motion for a new trial.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/17/jury-verdict-lawyer-must-pay-250000-to-investigator-for-courthouse-fight/