Swimmer, 22, drowns off Three Arch beach

The lifeless body of Taylor Patrick Blanco, 22, was found floating in the ocean off Three Arch Bay beach at 7 a.m. Thursday morning by lifeguards that had been searching for him since late Wednesday afternoon.

Police said that at 5:40 p.m. dispatchers received a “…frantic 9-1-1 call from a security guard reporting a swimmer in distress off Three Arch Bay beach. The caller told them he had tried to rescue the swimmer, but the man had gone underwater and was no longer visible,” a press release stated.

U.S. Ocean Safety lifeguards and Laguna police and fire responded to the call. U.S. Ocean Safety asked for the assistance of Laguna Beach lifeguards including a dive team. The OC Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol sent a boat and a copter from the Newport Beach PD also assisted in the search that continued until dark Wednesday night.

The search had begun anew yesterday morning about one hour before the man’s body was found.

The press release said no foul play is suspected and that Blanco was in the water with a friend at the time of his disappearance.  “They had been doing a beach run/swimming exercise routine, which started at Salt Creek Beach…”


Fire Department has been busy since Friday

Laguna’s firefighters were busy and visible to many people in town since last Friday evening.

Susan and Greg Goggin were walking on the trail below Moulton Meadows Park in Arch Beach Heights when they saw white smoke rising from the canyon floor below. They went to a nearby rise and saw flames.

“We called 9-1-1,” Susan explained. “The man we spoke to kept asking if we were in the county of city…”

Her explanation matched what LBFD Deputy Chief Jeff LaTendresse said. “We had a 9-1-1 call and so did the county. Both departments dispatched a full assignment.”

When dialing 9-1-1 from a cell phone, a GPS system displays the exact latitude and longitude on the dispatcher’s screen. Since the Goggins weren’t in Moulton Meadows Park their call was automatically routed to the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA). At about the same time, a caller from within Moulton Meadows Park was routed to the Laguna Beach emergency dispatchers and hence, the two assignments.

The OCFA assigned three four-wheel drive off road wildland engines and Squad 11 to go along with Laguna’s Engine 302, also a wildland rig. Chief LaTendresse and a battalion chief from OCFA jointly commanded the incident that also included two OCFA water-dropping copters.

The fire was not accessible except by hand crews and the copters were required to knock the flames down. Laguna Engine 3 set up a water point along the fire road between Top of the World and Arch Beach Heights to supply water to the copters, which would land long enough for a fill up then fly off to attack the flames.

The fire was controlled by the copters after about a quarter of an acre had burned. Hand crews from the four wildland engines and the squad then went down the canyon sides to make sure there were no hot spots. Squad 11 stayed on the scene for a fire watch all night and the OCFA hand crew took over on Monday morning as a final safety watch.

Fire Photo 1

This was the first view by Greg and Susan Goggin after they called 9-1-1. It was taken on Greg’s phone.

Fire Photo 2

Phyllis Fang sent along this great shot of a copter just after it had made a water drop down in Aliso Canyon.

Fire Photo 3

She also took this photo looking toward Moulton Meadows Park in the far background. The two copters head for the water point to fill up. Laguna Engine 3 is at the right and the wildland engines are in the background at a point relative to and above the canyon wall with the fire below.

Fire Photo 4

This super shot and the next were taken by Cody LaTendresse who was with his Dad in the background area in the previous photo. OCFA Copter 1 is at the water point about to take off again as Copter 2 hovers above after making a drop before dropping down for a fill up.

Fire Photo 5

This shot was taken later and shows Copter 2 flying off for a drop as Copter 1 begins its decent for a fill up. The homes are on Sommet du Monde, which is at the Top of the World end of the fire road.

A long smoldering sawdust fire was discovered in time

Fire Photo 6

Fire Photo 7

Photos by Jennifer Daniels

Four Laguna engines and Truck 22 from the OCFA responded to a report of smoke coming from a cabinet shop in the rear of 2225 Laguna Canyon Rd at about 2:15 Monday afternoon. Chief LaTendresse said the cabinet shop had been unoccupied since Friday afternoon. A power saw caused a fire in a large accumulation of sawdust that smoldered all weekend according to LaTendresse. “People nearby smelled and saw the smoke.” Not long afterward, it’s likely there could have been a combustion that might have spread into attached buildings and studios, he indicated. The photo below shows Laguna Engine 1 in the rear of the property with hose lines charged as firefighters knocked down the fire.


Crime in the OC is no different than what
we see on television

I’ll admit it – I can’t get enough of the Law and Order shows, Cold Case and the CSI programs. Every night, you can watch hours of such programs on cable and it usually doesn’t matter to me if I’ve seen an episode a year or two before. That said I am able to also say with certainty that many others in Laguna, male and female, young and old, have told me they’re hooked as well.

Long before cable TV, the “whodunit” was always a top selling genre of books, magazines
and movies.

Most readers know that I have been covering the cops, fire and courts relating to Laguna Beach far longer than anyone else doing so in town. Before that, the law was second only to baseball as my passionate hobby.

OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ Public Affairs Counsel provides press releases filled with the details about important cases that have been or are being prosecuted by his office. I have always read them but only when they have a direct bearing on Laguna Beach have I written anything.

What always stood out is how the OC has crimes of all types that mirror the whole country – and cable TV. And, many of the crimes are closer to home than I believe most Lagunans realize.

Press releases from the DA’s officer will be printed here without much editing and without comment – just for readers’ knowledge awareness and entertainment with the caveat that the DA’s office isn’t interested in presenting the side of the accused.

Stu Saffer

This week from the OC DA’s office…


Santa Ana man to be arraigned for murdering a man with 25-pound concrete piece in homeless encampment

July 21 – A Santa Ana man was arraigned on murder charges for killing a man by beating him with a 25-pound concrete piece after knocking him to the ground.

Jorge Alejandro Lopez, 33, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for personal use of a deadly weapon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison.

On July 17, 2010, Lopez is accused of walking up to a transient encampment with a friend and punching Marco Rojo Nieto in the face knocking him to the ground. The defendant is accused of kicking Nieto while he was lying defenseless on the ground before picking up a 25-pound piece of discarded concrete and striking the victim twice, once in the chest and once in the face. The defendant is accused of fleeing the scene in a friend’s car.

Witnesses called 9-1-1 and the Santa Ana Police Department responded. The victim died at the scene due to blunt force trauma. Nieto was married and had a teenage daughter.

Deputy DA Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Man to be arraigned for killing bicyclist in early-morning crash while making illegal left turn

July 22 – A man was arraigned on an amended complaint for killing a bicyclist by making an illegal left turn, causing the victim to lose control and crash.

Jose Luis Huerta Mundo, 38, Garden Grove, is charged with one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and one misdemeanor count of driving a motor vehicle without a valid license. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

At approximately 7:30 a.m. on July 15, 2010, Mundo, a self-employed gardener, is accused of driving his landscaping truck to a job in Newport Beach near the intersection of Spyglass Hill Road and Harbor Ridge Drive. At the intersection, he is accused of making an illegal left turn against two “no left turn” road signs, including a sign with a red circular “no” symbol containing a left arrow pictogram. Mundo is accused of cutting off a bicycle group including rider Michael Nine, 43, causing the victim to brake rapidly, lose control, and crash head-first into the left rear portion of the defendant’s truck.

Nine was transported to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach where he died approximately an hour later due to blunt force trauma. The victim was married and had two young children.

The law describing the distinction between misdemeanor and felony manslaughter: Misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter may be charged where there is “ordinary negligence” or the failure to use reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to one self or another. A person is negligent if he or she does or fails to do something that a reasonable careful person would not do in the same situation.

Felony vehicular manslaughter may be charged where there is “gross negligence” which involves more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. Gross Negligence would require a person to act in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury and a reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk. The person’s action must be so different from how an ordinary careful person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of the act.

Deputy District Attorney Vanessa Woods is prosecuting this case.

Anaheim couple arraigned for snatching mother’s purse from 7-year-old son outside post office

July 26 – An Anaheim couple appeared in court for arraignment today for stealing a mother’s purse from a 7-year-old boy outside a US Post Office in Stanton.

Jose Guillermo Bermudez, 28, and Christina Amber Bailey, 19, both of Anaheim, are each charged with one felony count of second degree robbery on John Doe and one felony count of second degree robbery on Leticia M. If convicted, Bermudez and Bailey face a maximum sentence of six years in state prison. The defendants are being held on $100,000 bail.

At 11:20 a.m., on July 17, 2010, 27-year-old mother Leticia M. parked her Nissan sedan in front of a post office located at 10440 Beach Blvd. in Stanton. She left her purse with her 7-year-old son, John Doe, while she went inside. Before the mother returned to her vehicle, Bermudez is accused of ripping the purse out of John Doe’s grasp and throwing it to Bailey, who was in a vehicle waiting nearby. Bermudez is then accused of getting into the vehicle with Bailey and driving away. He is accused of speeding away and almost running over Leticia while she struggled and pleaded with Bermudez to return her purse.

The mother used a witness’ cell phone to call the police. The Orange County Sheriff Department responded, and a composite sketch was made and released to the media.

Tips led to the identification and issuance of a warrant for the defendants. Anaheim Police Department arrested the defendants on July 22, 2010.

Deputy DA Katherine David is prosecuting this case.


Saturday morning

Ho Hum – back again to rob the U.S. Bank

For the second time in 31 days, the U.S. Bank branch on Glenneyre at Forest Ave here was robbed and police believe the same culprit did the crime.

LBPD Lt. Jason Kravetz said the man has been dubbed the “Ho Hum Bandit” by the FBI and is the primary suspect in nine bank robberies in San Diego and Orange Counties. His moniker came about because he seems to have a very laid-back demeanor inside the banks.

At 9:22 last Saturday morning a 9-1-1 call was received from U.S. Bank employees who were reporting a bank robbery, which had just occurred. Officers arrived within two minutes and quickly secured the perimeter. According to police, bank employees said a male suspect approached an available teller with a note in hand that indicated he was robbing the bank.

Lt. Kravetz said in a prepared statement, “The teller complied with his demands and gave him an undisclosed amount of cash.  He fled the bank on foot and was last seen southbound in the alley behind the bank.”

The man was described as a white male in his 30s about 5’9” and between 160-170 pounds. He was wearing blue jeans, a light colored shirt and a dark colored flat-golf hat. When the same bank was robbed on June 23, a similar approach and note were used and the man also wore a flat-golf hat.

No weapon was seen or used during the robbery and no employees or customers were injured in either robbery.

Kravetz added, “It is believed the suspect is the same person who was responsible for robbing the same U.S. Bank on June 23, 2010. It is also believed the suspect is responsible for robbing a Citibank in Newport Beach on June 11, 2010 and July 23, 2010.”

Earlier this month, LB police released video of the actual June 23 robbery of U.S. Bank. Saturday’s robbery suspect is believed to be the same man

Modern Day Goldilocks story on Lower Cliff Dr?

A man living on Lower Cliff Drive in north Laguna came home Monday morning after spending the night away realized (as was the case with the three bears) that someone had been sleeping in his bed, just like Goldilocks. Some of his alcohol had also been consumed.

Whoever it was had also vomited in his bed…it wasn’t Goldilocks. Police said the man encountered a woman in his home that took off on foot when he called police. An area search was at first unsuccessful.

Later, police confronted Helen Ann Price, 55, no fixed address, on Main Beach where she was drinking alcohol from a cup, which the resident had said was missing. She also had one of the man’s credit cards in her possession.

Price was arrested for possession of known stolen property, aggravated trespassing and illegal lodging. She was booked locally and then taken to Orange County Jail.

Police Sergeant Louise Callus said the moral of this story was:

“Lock Your Doors!”


Laguna Niguel teen nabbed for burglaries in Three Arch Bay – another boy got away

 

A man was awakened in the wee hours Wednesday morning when he heard sounds coming from his garage on N. Stonington inside the gated community of Three Arch Bay. Police said the resident went into his garage where he confronted two teenaged boys stealing things from cars parked inside. The homeowner was able to get between one of the boys and the side door and tried to grab the second suspect.

According to police, the boy nearest to the door attacked the man with a bottle and managed to escape. Police said there were no serious injuries. The homeowner detained the other suspect, a 15-year-old boy from Laguna Niguel, until police and Three Arch Bay security officers arrived at the residence to assist him.

It appeared to police that the pair had entered the garage after finding an unlocked side door. They began removing items before entering the house itself where they found car keys. Both locked cars were entered and ransacked.

The investigation is on going but police did say that the pair may have entered other homes. The police log referenced a report from thirty minutes earlier where a witness said it was suspicious seeing two boys pushing a Vespa scooter down the street. There was also a report taken later Wednesday at the home next door. No details were immediately available.

The 15-year-old who was caught was charged with robbery, three felony counts of burglary, and a count of assault with a deadly weapon. He was interviewed and booked at the local jail then transported to the OC Juvenile detention center.

The other teenaged suspect faces the same charges.

This woman managed to get a cop’s attention

A police officer stopped a blue GMC Yukon SUV at S. Coast Hwy and Thalia Street at 11:35 last Thursday night and eventually arrested Anthony Romeo, 18, of Rowland Heights for drunk driving.

As is normal protocol, field sobriety tests were performed prior to Romeo being hooked up with handcuffs at midnight. The officers locked the Yukon and left it parked at the location of the stop. A female passenger elected to fend for herself after police offered to call a taxi.

As the arresting officer got close to the police station with Romeo in the rear seat, he realized that the Yukon was behind him being driven by the female.

She followed the officer to the station where she began honking her horn and continued doing it as she drove past city hall along Forest Avenue to Broadway where she turned left. That drew the attention of another police officer that made a car stop near Broadway and Beach Street at 12:13 a.m.

You guessed it – she was also arrested. Elizabeth Monique Luna, 18, also of Rowland Heights, was charged with DUI.


Crime in the OC is no different than what
we see on television

I’ll admit it – I can’t get enough of the Law and Order shows, Cold Case and the CSI programs. Every night, you can watch hours of such programs on cable and it usually doesn’t matter to me if I’ve seen an episode a year or two before. That said I am able to also say with certainty that many others in Laguna, male and female, young and old, have told me they’re hooked as well.

Long before cable TV, the “whodunit” was always a top selling genre of books, magazines
and movies.

Most readers know that I have been covering the cops, fire and courts relating to Laguna Beach far longer than anyone else doing so in town. Before that, the law was second only to baseball as my passionate hobby.

OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ Public Affairs Counsel provides press releases filled with the details about important cases that have been or are being prosecuted by his office. I have always read them but only when they have a direct bearing on Laguna Beach have I written anything.

What always stood out is how the OC has crimes of all types that mirror the whole country – and cable TV. And, many of the crimes are closer to home than I believe most Lagunans realize.

Press releases from the DA’s officer will be printed here without much editing and without comment – just for readers’ knowledge awareness and entertainment with the caveat that the DA’s office isn’t interested in presenting the side of the accused.

Stu Saffer

This week from the OC DA’s office…


Parolee arrested for kicking and slapping puppy after swinging it by the neck using leash as a lasso

July 13 – A parolee was taken into custody for abusing an 8-pound puppy by using a leash as a lasso to swing it by the neck during an argument with his girlfriend in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Verne Joseph Strong, 56, Newport Beach, was charged today with one felony count of animal abuse by a caretaker and a sentencing enhancement for a prior prison conviction for second degree commercial burglary, for which he is on parole. He faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison if convicted.

Strong’s girlfriend, Angel Marie Holmes, 37, Newport Beach, is charged with one felony count of accessory after the fact and faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison. Her arraignment date is to be determined.

At approximately 6:45 p.m. on July 11, 2010, Strong is accused of getting into a verbal argument with his girlfriend, Holmes, in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Westminster. During the argument, he is accused of opening the trunk of his Chevrolet sedan and pulling out an 8-month-old Chihuahua-dachshund mix puppy, which had been locked inside.

Strong is accused of swinging the 8-pound dog by the neck several feet off the ground using the leash in a lasso motion before throwing him to the ground. He is accused of then kicking the dog with force that caused the puppy to slide across the asphalt under the car.

Strong is accused of retrieving the dog and getting into the car with Holmes. Witnesses in the parking lot called 911. Westminster Police Officers arrived to find Strong and Holmes still parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot, sleeping in their car.

As an officer approached the car window to make contact with the defendant, the puppy began to bark from inside the car. Strong is accused of slapping the dog in the head with a full swing of his arm, knocking the dog over and rendering him temporarily stunned and motionless as the officer watched from the other side of the window. Strong is accused of slapping the dog a second time before getting out of the car to speak with the officer.

Strong was arrested at the scene. When interviewed at the scene by officers, Holmes is accused of helping Strong avoid prosecution by denying that Strong had swung or kicked the puppy and lying about the crime.

The puppy, Meanie, was taken to the humane society in Westminster for evaluation and treatment. Deputy District Attorney Katherine David is prosecuting this case.

Stanton man arraigned on charges of possessing child pornography and annoying a 12-yr-old girl at public library

July 15 – A man was arraigned today on charges that he possessed child pornography and annoyed a 12-year-old girl at a public library.

Alejandro Lorenzo Contreras, 24, Stanton, is charged with one felony count of possession of child pornography and one misdemeanor count of child annoyance. He faces a maximum sentence of three years and six months in state prison and one year in Orange County Jail if convicted. He is being held on $20,000 bail.

At approximately 4 p.m. on July 13, 2010, Contreras is accused of going to the Stanton Public Library located near Katella Avenue and Beach Boulevard. The defendant is accused of following three young girls inside the building and making the girls feel uncomfortable. He is accused of following the girls out of the library and asking for a picture of 12-year-old Jane Doe to be sent to him via cell phone.

Jane Doe notified police. When he was detained by the police Contreras is accused of possessing pornography depicting an image of an unknown child on his cell phone.

Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising Investigator Randy Litwin of the Sexual Assault Unit at (714) 347-8794.

Deputy District Attorney Nikki Buracchio of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.

 

Cops release bank robbery video – ask for public’s help in identifying suspect

 

Laguna Beach police released a video of the actual June 23 robbery of U.S. Bank downtown. The suspect entered the bank at about 12:40 p.m. and, as the video shows, presented a note to a teller and left with a bundle of cash.

He was last seen heading out Second Street toward Mermaid.

Police said they are asking the public to help in identifying the suspect. If you have information, call 497-0701 anytime.


Temper tantrum comes without cigarettes and leads to jail for two 19-yr-olds from San Marino

 

Three guys were denied the purchase of cigarettes when they could not provide ID for a clerk at the Circle K on Glenneyre early Tuesday morning.

According to police and a surveillance video, two of the three went into a rage with the clerk’s decision. Once outside, they both grabbed bricks and heaved them at the store’s front window.

The first brick, police said, bounced off the plate glass causing a scratch. The next brick went through the glass shattering the big window.

Two of the three ran off but responding officers soon found them and placed them under arrest for felony vandalism since the cost of the window is over $1000.

Both are 19 and from San Marino. They were identified as Joseph Myles McMahon and Simon Si Yen Zhang. They were booked and taken to county jail.

 

Shaena Stabler and Stu Saffer are the co-owners. Shaena is the Publisher and Stu is the Editor-in-Chief.

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