Woman, 82, arrested for domestic violence after allegedly using knife against spouse

Police went to a home on Chiquita Street in North Laguna after a 9-1-1 call reporting that a husband and wife were fighting inside their home.

The caller said the woman, who was 82, had tried to stab her 83-year-old husband with a kitchen knife. Once the knife had been taken away, the woman bit her husband causing injuries that had to be treated by paramedics.

Police said the couple (whose names will not be used) has no history of domestic violence but added that records will be checked closer.

The call came in at 7:59 Wednesday night and complete details were not immediately available on Thursday.

She was charged with felony domestic battery causing injury with bail set by statute at $50,000.

Sex offender charged for molesting a 5-yr-old boy in Orange lived here until recently

Investigators seek public’s help re: other possible victims

Needham PhotoAs reported here on Friday, a 27-year-old registered sex offender was accused of molesting a boy, 5, in Orange. We now learn that he committed the June 15 crime while still a registered sex offender with the Laguna Beach Police Department.

Sgt. Louise Callus of LBPD said Nicholas James Needham registered as a sex offender in Dec of 2004 until July of this year when he notified the PD that he was moving to the City of Orange.

Needham was arrested at his current Santa Ana residence and charged with molesting a five-year-old boy in a public restroom at the Block of Orange on June 15 and possessing thousands of images of graphic, amateur child pornography according to the OC District Attorney’s office.

Needham allegedly entered a restroom that day at 12:45 p.m. and stood at a urinal next to a five-year-old boy. Needham, according to the OCDA, reached over and touched the boy’s privates then left. The boy immediately told his mother who had been waiting outside of the restroom.

She called police who looked at security video, which led them to suspect Needham, who didn’t know the boy.

A search warrant resulted in his arrest and turned up videos and thousands of photos of graphic/explicit child pornography on his iPod mostly of young boys from infancy to early teens.

The DA said the videos and photos appear to have been produced with amateur equipment. As such, investigators are trying to identify the children and are asking and encouraging anyone with additional information or who believes they might also have been a victim to contact Orange Police detective Leslie Franco at (714) 744-7572 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8794.

Needham was released from jail after he posted $250,000 bail and was arraigned Friday at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Woman offers to have sex with cop in order to be let go from Thursday morning arrest

The female passenger in a car whose driver was going through field sobriety tests during an early morning traffic stop on Coast Hwy at Aliso Beach was arrested along with a male passenger for resisting/delaying/obstructing an officer…for a start last Thursday.

Police said Terri Ann Gibbs, 50, Dana Point and Newport Beach resident James Patrick McHenry, 43, “…started interfering by yelling things out the window and disrupting the process.  Officers kept asking them to stop, but they wouldn’t,” said LBPD Lt. Jason Kravetz. They were removed from the black BMW that had been stopped and arrested for resisting.

Meanwhile the driver, identified as Moline, Illinois resident Sarah Navarro, 49, was arrested for DUI and also charged with felony cocaine possession when a quantity was found during a search.

A subsequent search of Gibbs turned up a straw with cocaine inside adding a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance. According to LBPD Lt. Jason Kravetz, Gibbs “…asked the officer if she could have sex with him to make the incident go away.”

The officer decided she was serious and charged her with another felony, offering a bribe to a police officer.

Ed. Note: LBPD officers are required to carry a digital recorder when on duty, which can be used as evidence in court


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…


Man to be arraigned for murdering ex-girlfriend after arguing over money to care for their 8-year-old daughter

Oct 18 – A man was arraigned Monday afternoon for murdering his ex-girlfriend by beating her to death after she asked for money to take care of their 8-year-old daughter.

Arturo Tapia Salazar, 42, Garden Grove, is charged with one felony count of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted. The people requested $1 million bail.

On the afternoon of Oct. 15, 2010, 52-year-old Cristina Ramirez arrived at Salazar’s Garden Grove apartment. He is accused of engaging in an argument with his ex-girlfriend after she asked for money to care for their 8-year-old daughter. Salazar is accused of hitting and beating Ramirez repeatedly and strangling her to death.

The victim died at the scene due to strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head. Witnesses called 911. Garden Grove police arrested Salazar at the scene.

Senior Deputy DA Cameron Talley of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Husband charged with murdering estranged wife by shooting her in Santa Ana home

Oct 18 – A husband has been charged with shooting and murdering his estranged wife in her Santa Ana home.

Jose Antonio Garcia, 36, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison. Garcia is being held on $1 million bail and is expected to be arraigned in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

On the morning of Oct. 16, Garcia is accused of taking a firearm and going to the Santa Ana home of his estranged wife, 34-year-old Adriana Garcia. The defendant is accused of violating a restraining order, which the victim had obtained against him as a result of his past violence against her. Garcia is accused of murdering the victim by shooting her in the head and leaving her body in a bedroom.

After the murder, the defendant is accused of using his cell phone to call 911. Responding officers located Garcia sitting inside his car near the crime scene. The defendant is accused of being in possession of a firearm at the time of his arrest.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Long Beach Police officer to be arraigned for DUI

Oct 18 – A Long Beach police officer will be arraigned today on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and weaving in and out of traffic lanes.

Eddie Sanchez, 30, is charged with one misdemeanor count each of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more with a sentencing enhancement allegation for having a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or more. If convicted, Sanchez faces a maximum sentence of six months in jail. He is scheduled to be arraigned today, Oct. 19.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., on May 24, 2010, Sanchez is accused of consuming several alcoholic beverages at a bar in Long Beach. He is accused of leaving the bar to go to a friend’s house in Stanton. The defendant is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, stopping his 2003 Nissan Altima at green lights, and weaving in and out of traffic lanes. While waiting at a red light, Sanchez is accused of not moving when the light turned green. After several vehicles behind the defendant honked their horns, the driver behind Sanchez got out of his car, walked over to the driver’s side of the Nissan and turned off the engine.

A witness called 911 and Garden Grove police arrived at the scene. The defendant is accused of performing poorly on his Field Sobriety Test and exhibiting signs of intoxication including slurred speech and emitting an odor of alcohol from his breath. At the time of the arrest, Sanchez is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .16 percent, two times the legal limit.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Pevney is prosecuting this case.

Two charged in kidnapping of 2 and 4-yr-old brothers; a warrant has been issued for the children’s father & grandfather

*Law enforcement is seeking the public’s help in locating the two victims and their abductors

Oct 12 – Two defendants have been charged for their role in the kidnapping of 2 and 4-year-old brothers from outside of their Anaheim home. A warrant has been issued for the victims’ father and grandfather, and law enforcement is seeking the public’s help in locating the outstanding fugitives and the children.

Abraham Fernandez, 23, Houston, Louis Mendoza Fernandez, 52, Houston, and David Daniel Nicholas, 26, Monrovia, are each charged with two felony counts of kidnapping and two felony counts of child abduction. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of nine years and eight months in state prison. Abraham and Louis Fernandez have $500,000 warrants for their arrest. Nicholas is being held on $500,000 bail.

Co-defendant Linda Fernandez, 29, Monrovia, is charged with four felony counts of accessory after the fact and faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison if convicted. She is being held on $500,000 bail.

Abraham Fernandez has two sons with his former live-in girlfriend, from whom he is estranged. Approximately one year ago, Abraham Fernandez’s former girlfriend moved to Anaheim from Texas with the two boys, 4-year-old John Doe #1 and 2-year-old John Doe #2.

At approximately 7:45 p.m. on Oct. 7, 2010, the two victims were in an alley with their mother near their apartment. Abraham Fernandez and his father Louis Fernandez are accused of driving into the alley in a silver Dodge Caravan and quickly stopping the car. Louis Fernandez, who had been driving, is accused of getting out of the vehicle and grabbing John Doe #1, who was standing next to his mother. Louis Fernandez is accused of putting the victim in the back of the van using the sliding side door.

Abraham Fernandez is accused of then getting out of the van and taking John Doe #2 from his screaming mother’s arms. The defendants are accused of getting back into the vehicle and speeding in reverse out of the alley as they fled the scene. Witnesses called 911 and the Anaheim Police Department responded to the scene. An AMBER Alert was immediately issued for the silver van.

After the kidnapping, the defendants are accused of driving to Monrovia to hide at a relative’s home. Nicholas and his wife Linda Fernandez, Abraham Fernandez’s cousin, are accused of harboring the defendants at their Monrovia home knowing that the children had been illegally abducted and were being sought by police. Nicholas is also accused of assisting in the child abduction by renting the van for Abraham and Louis Fernandez to use in the kidnapping. Early on the morning of Oct. 8, 2010, Nicholas is accused of returning the rented van to Ontario International Airport. Anaheim police officers contacted Nicholas that day after receiving information that the defendants and victims may be at his Monrovia home. Officers learned that the van had been returned and was no longer being used by the defendants.

Nicholas was arrested at his home on Oct. 10, 2010, for his role in the kidnapping. Linda Fernandez was arrested at the home the next day for assisting the defendants after the abduction.

Deputy DA Jim Bacin of the Child Abduction Unit is prosecuting this case.

Man charged with assaulting OC sheriff’s deputy and trying to take her firearm during physical struggle

Oct 7 – A man has been charged with assaulting an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy by trying to take her firearm and physically struggling when she attempted to arrest him.

Thomas Andrew Spence, 26, Mission Viejo, is charged with one felony count each of assault with a firearm on a peace officer, removing a firearm from a peace officer, battery on a peace officer with injury, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a firearm. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 18 years in state prison.

At approximately 9:40 p.m. on Oct. 6, 2010, Spence is accused of lying outside between two bushes near Armstrong Garden Center in Laguna Niguel with his hands down his pants, which were undone. OC Sheriff’s Deputy Michelle Rodriguez observed the defendant and attempted to contact him. When Spence saw the deputy, he is accused of removing his hands from his pants and beginning to run away.

When Deputy Rodriguez caught Spence, the defendant is accused of becoming aggressive. As the deputy attempted to detain the defendant, Spence is accused of struggling with her and grabbing her flashlight. Deputy Rodriguez drew her firearm and ordered the defendant to put down the flashlight, fearing that he may use it as a weapon against her. As Spence put the flashlight down, he is accused of advancing toward the deputy and grabbing her firearm with both hands.

The defendant is accused of struggling with the deputy to take her firearm. Deputy Rodriguez fired the weapon twice before it jammed. Spence was not hit. Spence is accused of finally letting go of the firearm and attempting to flee the scene. Responding back-up deputies arrived and, with Deputy Rodriguez, arrested the defendant.

The deputy suffered scratches and abrasions to her temple, hands, elbow, knees, and hip. Deputy District Attorney Israel Claustro of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.

Police officer charged with forcibly sexually assaulting two women whom he had briefly dated

*Law enforcement is seeking the public’s help in identifying potential additional victims

Oct 5 – A police officer has been charged with forcibly sodomizing two women, both of whom he had met in a dating capacity.

Jesse Andrew Green, 33, Huntington Beach, is charged with two felony counts of forcible sodomy and faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in state prison if convicted. Green has been a police officer with the Garden Grove Police Department since 2006. He is currently on non-paid administrative leave. The defendant also worked for the Calexico Police Department from 2004 to 2006.

On April 26, 2006, Green is accused of going to the Santa Ana home of Jane Doe #2, a 41-year-old woman he had met online and had been dating in a short-term on-again, off-again relationship. The defendant is accused of forcibly sodomizing the victim against her will as she screamed and struggled to get away. During the sexual assault, Green is accused of making derogatory and intimidating statements to frighten the victim. He is accused of then leaving Jane Doe #2’s home.

On Nov. 6, 2009, Green is accused of going to his Huntington Beach apartment with 40-year-old Jane Doe #1, whom he met through a mutual friend, after having dinner on their first date. The defendant is accused of forcibly sodomizing the victim against her will as she screamed and struggled to get away. During the sexual assault, Green is accused of making derogatory and intimidating statements to frighten the victim. Jane Doe #1 was eventually able to break free and run out of the apartment.

Both victims were extremely reluctant to report the sexual assault to law enforcement, fearing that Green may use his position as a police officer to retaliate against them. The two victims do not know each other. The Santa Ana Police Department investigated the case involving Jane Doe #2 and the Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) investigated the case involving Jane Doe #1.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Green today, Oct. 5, 2010. He was called in to the Garden Grove police station and arrested by HBPD officers.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information or who believes they are a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising DA Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8794 or HBPD Michael Szyperski at (714) 536-5988.

Deputy DA Eric Scarborough of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.

Man charged with murdering mother’s houseguest by stabbing him in the chest

Oct 5 – A Santa Ana man has been charged with murdering his mother’s houseguest by stabbing him in the chest with a pocketknife.

Saul Jose Salazar, 27, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison.

This October, 33-year-old Antonio Verdugo-Cabrera was staying at the home of a family friend, Salazar’s mother, in Santa Ana. The defendant is accused of having been served with a restraining order barring him from going near his mother based on prior violence toward her. On two occasions in the three days prior to the murder, Salazar is accused of violating the restraining order by showing up at his mother’s house.

At approximately 11 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2010, Salazar is accused of becoming angry with Verdugo-Cabrera. He is accused of having an altercation with the victim in front of his mother’s home and murdering Verdugo-Cabrera by stabbing him one time in the chest with a pocketknife. Salazar is accused of then fleeing the scene.

The defendant’s mother called 911 and the Santa Ana Police Department responded to the scene. While officers were investigating the murder, Salazar is accused of returning to the scene to turn himself in. He is accused of being in possession of a bloody knife.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Last three major house fires in Laguna had one thing in common – no operational smoke alarms

October is Fire Prevention Month

“Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With”

The Laguna Beach Fire Department (LBFD), in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) effort to better educate communities throughout the U.S. about smoke alarm recommendations is promoting the theme “Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!” for October’s Fire Prevention Month.

The Fire Dept has known that many homes in Laguna Beach may not have any smoke alarms, not enough smoke alarms, alarms that are too old or alarms that are not working.

That was borne true in three home fires that all but destroyed three residences here in August and September. Fire Dept officials believe that operational smoke alarms in the three homes may have substantially reduced the damage.

LBFD encourages residents to understand that working smoke alarms are needed in every home, on every level (including the basement), outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. Furthermore, if a smoke alarm is 10 years or older, it needs to be replaced.

Smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. NFPA statistics show that working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire nearly in half. But they must be working properly to do so. The association’s data shows that many homes have smoke alarms that aren’t working or maintained properly, usually because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.

Roughly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

LBFD offers the following tips for making sure smoke alarms are maintained and working properly:

Test all smoke alarms at least once a month and make sure everyone home knows their sound.

If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.

Replace all smoke alarms that are 10 years or older.

Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.


Crime Survivors Inc. Survive & Thrive 5k Run/Walk

On Saturday, Crime Survivors, Inc. is hosting their annual Survive & Thrive Run/Walk Health and Safety Expo at the Orange County Regional Training Academy located at 15991 Armstrong Avenue, Tustin. Special guests include Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and Author and Former Prosecutor Robin Sax.

“Crime Survivors serves the community by keeping in the forefront the devastating impacts of crimes on individuals,” says Sheriff Hutchens. “We are honored to be a community partner with an organization whose sole purpose is to support crime survivors.”

The mission of Crime Survivors is to ensure that the public knows victims’ rights and needs and to provide resources, support, and information to empower crime victims to survive and thrive. The vision of Crime Survivors is for victims of crime to recover from their experience mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially, by receiving the respect, support, and protection from law enforcement, the judicial system, and the community.

This year’s Survive & Thrive Run/Walk is generously supported by Marsy’s Law for All, Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, and the Santa Ana College.

Registration begins at 7 a.m. Health and Safety Expo will run until noon.

For information contact Patricia Wenskunas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 872-7895

Bar fight early Saturday results in one man being charged with attempted manslaughter

 

One man was hospitalized with serious injuries and another was arrested after the two fought in the men’s room of Club Bounce in the 1400 block of Coast Hwy early Saturday.

The extent of the victim’s injuries weren’t known but they are not believed to be life threatening, albeit serious in nature.

An employee of the bar, formerly known as Main Street, called police while the fight was still in progress. Medics were requested midway through the 1:20 a.m. 9-1-1 call according to the police log.

When officers arrived, they were pointed into the direction where the alleged aggressor had gone when he walked out into the night. Officers searched and detained the described suspect without incident.

Police said their investigation led to an unusual charge – attempted manslaughter – a felony that could result in a prison term of 2-5 years if convicted. Police explained that the crime rose to that level after interviewing the suspect, a Lake Forest man Behzad Sami, 43, and witnesses including at least one who accompanied Sami to the club.

“Primarily, the suspect refused to stop beating the victim continuing to hit him when he was pinned down,” said Sgt. George Ramos, LBPD watch commander at the time.

Sami is not alleged to have used any weapon and the beating was with his closed fists, police said.

An employee of Bounce who asked not to be indentified said both men had been to the club before and apparently knew each other. He also said that Club Bounce hasn’t had such an altercation inside in the time that he could recall.


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…


Caucasian man charged with hate crime for verbally accosting African-American woman and assaulting her male friend

Oct 4 – A Caucasian man has been charged with committing a hate crime against an African-American woman and her Caucasian male friend by verbally and physically accosting the victims.

John Keihl DeLoach, 20, Huntington Beach, is charged with one felony count of hate crime battery causing injury and one felony count of hate crime assault causing injury. He has a prior strike conviction for residential burglary in 2009. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of seven years and four months in state prison. DeLoach is being held on $100,000 bail and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Oct. 7, 2010, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-15, West Justice Center, Westminster.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2010, DeLoach is accused of driving by a Huntington Beach convenience store playing loud, racist music with explicit anti-black lyrics. When the defendant saw victim Briana W., an African-American woman, inside the store through the window, he is accused of pulling his vehicle near the store and turning up the volume of his music.

At approximately 9:40 p.m. that night, Briana W. was walking to a friend’s apartment in Huntington Beach with a Caucasian male friend, Derrick S. The defendant, who happened to be in the same apartment complex visiting a friend, recognized the victim as the woman from the store earlier in the day and yelled after her. He is accused of yelling racial slurs and stating that interracial relationships were wrong.

DeLoach and an unknown male accomplice are accused of running up to Briana W. and continuing to yell at her. Briana W. asked, “What, dude?” and the defendant is accused of yelling at Derrick S. to control his “b****.” When Derrick S. stepped between Briana W. and the defendant, DeLoach is accused of punching Derrick S. in the face. Derrick S. fell to the ground and DeLoach is accused of kicking him twice in the back.

The defendant is accused of then fleeing the scene and Briana W. called 911. Derrick S. suffered a contusion on the side of his head as a result of the attack. The Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) investigated this case.

On Oct. 1, 2010, the defendant was charged by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and a warrant was issued for his arrest. That day, HBPD officers arrested the defendant at Overlook Park. When contacted by officers, DeLoach is accused of running and resisting arrest.

Deputy District Attorney Israel Claustro of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.

Son charged with stabbing-murder of mother in her home

Oct 4 – A son has been charged with murdering his mother by stabbing her to death in her Santa Ana home.

Marvin Horatio Cipullo, 25, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison. Cipullo is being held on $1 million bail.

On Sept. 30, 2010, Cipullo is accused of murdering his 57-year-old mother, Rebecca Garcia, by stabbing her with a kitchen knife. Cipullo is accused of having a volatile relationship with his mother, who had recently made the defendant move out of her home. After murdering the victim, Cipullo is accused of fleeing the scene.

At approximately 2:30 a.m., Cipullo’s brother discovered Garcia’s murdered body on the floor of the home and called 911. Police began searching for Cipullo, who was arrested while walking in Santa Ana on Oct. 2, 2010, after a citizen recognized him and called the police.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

Speeding DUI driver charged with severely injuring 2-yr-old and her mother by crashing into victims on the sidewalk

Oct 1 – A speeding drunken driver was arraigned today for severely injuring a 2-year-old girl and her mother by crashing into them as they were walking on the sidewalk.

Miguel Angel Sandoval, 43, Santa Ana, is currently charged with one felony count each of driving under the influence causing bodily injury and driving with a blood alcohol content of over .08 percent causing bodily injury with sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing great bodily injury, brain injury and paralysis, and great bodily injury to a child under five years old for Jane Doe #1.

The defendant has two prior commercial burglary convictions in 2003, which makes him ineligible for probation unless the court finds unusual circumstances that would serve the interest of justice. If convicted, Sandoval faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison. The People will be adding additional charges regarding the three additional victims, which will increase the maximum penalty. The defendant is being held on $100,000.

At approximately 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2010, Sandoval is accused of consuming alcoholic beverages and driving his Chevrolet Suburban westbound on McFadden Ave in Santa Ana. The defendant is accused of speeding, driving up onto the sidewalk, and striking a wall near Graham Ave, continuing to drive on the sidewalk and crashing into pedestrians Claudia G., 25, and her 2-year-old daughter Jane Doe #1, both of Santa Ana. He is accused of pinning the victims beneath the vehicle and dragging them across the street. He is accused of hitting three additional pedestrians, Gabriela F., 23, and her 2-year-old daughter, Jane Doe #2, and Selina S., 41, all of Santa Ana, who were walking east on McFadden. Witnesses called 911.

When contacted by Santa Ana Police officers at the scene, Sandoval is accused of displaying objective signs of intoxication including emitting a strong odor of alcohol, slurred speech, and blood shot and watery eyes. He is accused of being unable to complete the officer-conducted field sobriety tests. Approximately an hour after the crash, Sandoval is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .20 percent, two and a half times the legal limit.

The victims were transported to hospital to be treated for severe injuries sustained during the crash. Sandoval is accused of having knocked 2-year-old Jane Doe #1 unconscious and causing her to sustain a broken leg, fractures, and extensive burns. Claudia G. was treated for burns to her body and multiple fractures, including a broken leg. Jane Doe #2, also 2 years old, suffered traumatic injuries to her face and head. Selina S. was treated for multiple abrasions and an ankle injury and leg pain.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Alex is prosecuting this case.

Parolee gang member charged with stealing watch after breaking into home and hiding naked under child’s bed

Oct 1 – A gang member parolee has been charged with stealing a Rolex watch after breaking into a home and hiding naked under a bed belonging to a 10-year-old boy.

Edgar Antonio Lucha, 23, Westminster, is charged with one felony count of first-degree residential burglary with a sentencing enhancement allegation for a non-accomplice present during a residential burglary. He has a prior 2008 strike conviction for being in possession of a weapon for the benefit of a criminal street gang, for which he is on parole. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 18 years in state prison. Lucha is in custody on $500,000 bail.

At approximately 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 25, 2010, Lucha is accused of entering the backyard of a residence in Westminster and using a ladder from the shed to access a bedroom window on the second floor of the home. He is accused of breaking into the house; two houses away from a sober-living facility where the defendant had been staying. Sleeping inside the home was 34-year-old Aaron S., his 10-year-old son, a 17-year-old boy, and a 72-year-old woman.

Once inside the home, Lucha is accused of going downstairs and removing his shoes in the laundry room. He is accused of hiding a BB gun under clothing in a laundry basket and taking tape from a lint roller before returning upstairs. The defendant is accused of entering a bedroom belonging to the 10-year-old boy and using the tape to secure a light switch in the off-position. He is accused of then fully undressing and hiding naked under the bed. The 10-year-old boy was not in the bedroom at the time, as he had been restless that night and had gone into his father’s room to sleep.

After his son had fallen asleep, Aaron S. went into his son’s room to sleep. While lying on the bed, the victim felt the mattress moving below him. He stood up and attempted to turn on the light before discovering it had been taped down. He was able to turn on the light and discovered the defendant hiding naked under the bed.

Lucha is accused of quickly climbing out from under the bed and fleeing the scene. He is accused of stealing a Rolex watch while in the home and taking it with him when he fled.

Aaron S. called 911 and the Westminster Police Department began investigating this case. On Sept. 29, 2010, Lucha was arrested at a drug rehabilitation center in Compton, where he was staying under the name Hector.

Deputy District Attorney Joel Stone is prosecuting this case.

54-year-old man arrested and charged with engaging in sexual conduct with 14-year-old boy he met on craigslist.org

Law enforcement is seeking the public’s help in identifying potential additional victims

Sept 28 - A 54-year-old man has been arrested and charged for engaging in illegal sexual conduct with a 14-year-old boy he met on Craigslist.org.

Mark Aime Brosseau, Stanton, was charged today with one felony count each of lewd acts upon a child, contacting a child with the intent to commit lewd acts, and meeting a child with the intent to engage in lewd conduct. He faces a maximum sentence of five years and four months in state prison if convicted.

On the night of Sept 25, 2010, Brosseau is accused of parking his Ford pick-up truck in a parking structure at Bella Terra Mall and engaging in sexual conduct with 14-year-old John Doe in the vehicle. The defendant is accused of meeting the victim on Craigslist.org.

At 11:30 p.m., Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) officers observed and checked out the suspicious, parked truck. Officers discovered Brosseau and the victim in the vehicle. The defendant is accused of being partially undressed without his pants on. Brosseau was arrested at the scene.

A series of proactive arrests were made by HBPD in early 2010 involving an undercover detective posing as a minor child on Craigslist.org. This arrest indicates the importance of parents monitoring their children’s use of the Internet.

The investigation is ongoing. HBPD and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office are seeking the public’s help in locating anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim. Please contact HBPD Detective Kevin Johnson at (714) 960-8834 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at (714) 347-8794.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.

Woman to be arraigned for stabbing ex-boyfriend with ice pick after hiding in back seat of his car

Sept 23 – A woman will be arraigned on charges of stabbing her ex-boyfriend with an ice pick after hiding in the back seat of his car and attacking him from behind.

Elizabeth Cuevas Villanueva, 47, Yorba Linda, has been charged with one felony count each of attempted murder and domestic battery with corporal injury and faces sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury and the personal use of a deadly weapon. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison.

At approximately 9:40 p.m. on Aug. 30, 2010, Villanueva is accused of hiding with an ice pick in the back seat of her ex-boyfriend’s Mercedes-Benz in the parking lot of Messiah Lutheran Church in Yorba Linda. When the victim, John Doe, returned to his car and began to leave, Villanueva is accused of attacking him from behind inside the vehicle and stabbing him multiple times in the head and shoulders.

After unintentionally crashing into a tree while trying to put his car in park, John Doe was able to escape from the vehicle. Villanueva is accused of fleeing the scene on foot. Witnesses called 911, followed the defendant, and subdued her until Brea Police Department officers arrived. John Doe was transported to hospital to be treated for non-fatal stab wounds.

Deputy DA Sandra Nassar of the Family Protection Unit is prosecuting this case.


Laguna police involved in two high speed chases

Laguna patrol units were involved in a pair of high-speed pursuits through town last week – one on Tuesday night and the other early Friday morning.

At about eight minutes until one Friday morning, an officer parked near Coast Hwy and 10th Ave had a black Mercedes go through the location at over 70 mph. The cop caught up with the speeder and attempted to make a car stop southbound on PCH in Dana Point. The Mercedes turned into Monarch Plaza.

LBPD Sgt. Louise Callus said the driver of the Mercedes headed toward the shopping center’s exit onto Crown Valley Parkway where he took a left turn headed the wrong way back toward PCH and Crown Valley.

“When the vehicle reached Coast Hwy, it went northbound into our city,” added Callus. The driver immediately accelerated and quickly was doing over 100 mph through Coast Hwy and Montage Resort Drive.

The officer had broadcast the failure to yield and other LBPD units headed toward the pursuit. Callus said one placed spike strips at Oak St and another did the same at Moss St.

It isn’t known if the driver anticipated the spike strips but he took a right turn onto Solana Way and doubled back entering southbound Coast Hwy at Nyes Place. The Mercedes quickly reached speeds of 100 once more.

Callus explained, “We cancelled the pursuit when they approached Crown Valley Parkway and notified 18 [the code for the OC Sheriff’s Dept].”

The driver wasn’t caught and Callus said the car had been a rental from Hertz in Los Angeles.

At a few minutes before eleven Tuesday night, officers saw a car doing about 80 headed northbound on Coast Hwy near Aliso Beach.

“Officers tried to catch up, but the car was travelling at about 80 miles per hour and weaving in and out of traffic all the way to downtown,” Sgt. Callus explained.

She said the cops caught up to the car when the car stopped for a red light at Broadway and Coast Highway. The driver, a 21-year-old resident of Lake Forest, was angry that the staff at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach had refused to allow him to visit his mother, a patient, after hours.

Passengers in the car, Callus said, included the driver’s 18-year-old girlfriend and two other girls, ages 16 and 17.

The driver, Gregory Leon Hightower, II, 21, was arrested for reckless driving and felony child endangerment. He was booked and transported to county jail with bail established at $100,000.


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…


Junior high school teacher faces trial for exposing penis to two women in orthodontic office and school district event

Sept 21 – A junior high school music teacher faces trial today for exposing his penis to two women, an orthodontist’s receptionist during his son’s dental appointment and a fellow teacher at a school district event.

Mark Gerard Petrash, 42, Lake Forest, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of two years in jail. Opening statements are schedule Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, at 11:30 a.m. in Department H-12, Harbor Justice Center Newport Beach.

On Aug. 24, 2009, Petrash is accused of taking his son to an orthodontist appointment. His son went in to see the orthodontist and Petrash waited in the empty reception room. While alone in the waiting room, the defendant is accused of standing up, pulling up his shorts, and exposing his penis to orthodontic receptionist Jane Doe #1 by holding it out the leg of his shorts.

Jane Doe #1 reported the incident to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD). Following an investigation, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office charged Petrash with one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure. He was arrested by OCSD deputies on Oct. 1, 2009, at Serrano Intermediate School in Lake Forest. The defendant posted $10,000 bail, the standard bail for the charged crime, on Oct. 5, 2009, and appeared in court for his arraignment on Oct. 29, 2009.

After viewing the media coverage of the arrest of Petrash, Jane Doe #2, a teacher in the same school district as the defendant, came forward to police. On the night of May 8, 2009, Petrash is accused of attending a Saddleback Valley Unified School District event. He is accused of following Jane Doe #2 into a hotel restroom and entering her restroom stall. Petrash is accused of standing between the victim and the door and exposing and rubbing his penis. He is accused of putting his finger over his mouth, indicating that Jane Doe #2 should be quiet. The victim was able to escape from the restroom stall.

Deputy District Attorney Marc Caress is prosecuting this case.

Man sentenced to seven years in state prison for Discover credit card fraud scheme

Sept 17 – A man currently serving a state prison sentence for credit card fraud in Los Angeles County was convicted today of illegally accessing account information with the intent to defraud 50 Discover Card account holders.

Thomas Michio Taniguchi, 45, formerly of Northridge, pleaded guilty to 50 counts of fraudulent possession of access to card account information. He was sentenced to seven years and eight months in state prison and was ordered to pay $33,475 in restitution to Discover Card Financial Services.

Co-defendant Jerome Abaquin Gonzales, 33, Irvine, pleaded guilty Sept. 10, 2010, to one felony count of conspiracy to commit access card fraud and one felony count of trafficking and possessing access card materials. Gonzales was sentenced to three years of formal probation and one year in jail. The defendant’s sentence was based on his lack of a prior record, minimal role in the scheme, full payment of $33,475 in restitution at his sentencing, and an early acceptance of wrongdoing.

Between Dec 2007 and March 2008, approximately 4.2 million Discover Card accounts were compromised in a data breach involving credit cards used by grocery shoppers at Hannaford Bros. supermarkets in New England and Sweetbay supermarkets in Florida. At the time, the Hannaford data breach was and still remains one of the largest data breach to date in US history.

Between March 4, 2008, and April 2, 2008, Taniguchi obtained compromised stolen Discover Card account information from the Hannaford breach by purchasing cardholder data on the black market via the Internet. Taniguchi encoded the compromised data onto magnetic strips and placed it on the back of fake plastic cards branded with the Discover Card logo. Taniguchi fraudulently used the cards encoded with stolen account information to make purchases and obtain cash and gift cards at 33 locations throughout Orange County including Ralph’s, Albertsons, Stater Bros., CVS, Target, Vons, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart stores.

Gonzales then sold those gift cards to unsuspecting buyers.

On April 15, 2010, Taniguchi was sentenced in Los Angeles County to four years in state prison for similar crimes. Deputy District Attorney Chuck Lawhorn of the White Collar Crime Unit prosecuted this case.

 

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

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Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

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