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Police Files

City Council gadfly and son arrested in alleged plot after the son threatened councilmembers and city manager

Police said that on Wednesday, Jan 4, city hall employees led department detectives to a Craigslist posting titled, “Going to Laguna Beach city council with My Gillie suit.”

Robert Mason Ross, 75, and Michael James Ross, 33, were arrested that night. The elder Ross is a recognizable city council gadfly who has made veiled and open threats against the city over the past several years. He threw his hat into the political ring in 2012 as a candidate for the council and received over 750 votes. 

A press release from LBPD this week added, “The posting contained five different photos of a man with an automatic rifle hiding in the brush while wearing a Ghillie suit (camouflage clothing). The posting by the author stated, ‘I am warning the city council that I am going to show up with my gillie [sic] suit, to remove these tyrants from office, in 2017.’ The post also stated, ‘Call the police and the city, council and tell them I am coming to end this corruption, from the Laguna Beach City Council, once and for all. Hahahahahaha, you are going down now.’”

A search warrant was secured and served on their Treetop Lane residence that night.

LBPD joined the OC Sheriff’s SWAT team and made their first knock at about midnight without the door opening. The SWAT team used “flash bang grenades” according to the police log and there were lights on inside the house at 12:17 a.m. for about six minutes. Police continued to announce their presence to no avail before making a final call out to the occupants and entered at 1:17 detaining both men.

The press release continued: “Inside the home, investigators located six rifles, a semi-automatic handgun, and over 100 boxes of ammunition.

“At the conclusion of the search warrant, investigators arrested Michael James Ross for Criminal Threats and Threats to Public Officials. His father, Robert Mason Ross was arrested for being a Convicted Felon in Possession of Firearms. 

Bail was set on Jan 6 at $250,000. Michael Ross posted bail and was released earlier this week. The elder Ross was still in county jail as of Tuesday night.

Woman injured in traffic crash had a surprise bindle in her bra  

A woman was slightly injured in a rollover traffic crash on S. Coast Hwy Tuesday afternoon. Paramedics transported her to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for medical observation.

Two dogs inside the vehicle were also transported for observation by animal services officers.

At hospital, San Clemente resident Dellia Ledwidge, 53, was found to have a bindle of methamphetamine in her bra – and that led to her being charged with felony possession of a controlled substance for sales and felony transportation for sales.

Her bail was set at $25,000.

Reminder: DUI enforcement operations planned this weekend

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department’s DUI Enforcement Team will be deploying this weekend to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign. 

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy on Saturday, Jan 14, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

In California, this deadly crime led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes.

Police Files

Jaywalking led to arrest for a dagger and meth sales

Last Thursday night at 10:49, a patrol unit made contact with a man and a woman who crossed S. Coast Hwy near Cleo Street. They were not near a crosswalk and hence, jaywalking.

When it was learned that Richard Wayne Owens, 42, San Clemente, was on formal probation, a search was started. People on probation are subject to search and seizure at any time, any place.

Police said the officer searching Owens found a dagger in a sheath around his neck and over an ounce of methamphetamine, a digital scale and a hypodermic needle inside his backpack.

Owens went to jail without bail for probation violation, felony possession of dangerous and felony possession of dangerous drugs for sales.

His companion, Pamela Bowers, 45, no fixed address, was arrested on a Harbor Court warrant for being drunk in public.

Police Files

Tesla stolen on Glenneyre lot – keys were left inside the unlocked car

A man left his 2013 Tesla parked on the Glenneyre lot Monday night around 7:50. It was unlocked and the keys were inside, police said.

When the owner came back to the parking structure a little less than an hour later his Tesla was – gone.

The car’s owner used the Tesla app on his cell phone with the police nearby and immediately located the car at a Dana Point gas station.

OC Sheriff’s deputies were at the gas station in a jiffy and took one man into custody while another man was able to elude deputies on foot for a short while.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Laguna officers responded to Dana Point and questioned the two men. One, Jacob Lee Davis, 31, La Habra, was arrested for a no bail warrant with a charge of two prior offenses for stealing vehicles. 

Further charges may follow according to Sgt. Kleiser.

The other man was released.

The case is still under investigation.

Police Files

Two more drug dealers busted for routine traffic violations

Perhaps we’re condescending when we compare some persons who have been arrested to the old Jay Leno segment of “stupid criminals”. Stupid may not be the operative word – more to the point: how about a lack of common sense.

Two different drug dealers must have felt especially lucky while driving on Laguna streets this past week for they definitely showed a lack of common sense.

In the first instance, an officer noticed that a car’s brake lights weren’t working properly. As is usual the officer ran the plate and it came back with expired registration. The car nonetheless displayed a current registration sticker.

In another situation, an officer wondered why a car was parked in a red zone and partially blocking a traffic lane on S. Coast Hwy. On top of that, when the officer approached the car, he found the driver fast asleep at the wheel.

The first scenario happened last Thursday night shortly after nine o’clock in the 700 block of S. Coast Hwy. The officer spoke with the driver, Miguel Pacheco, 51 of Costa Mesa and searched him.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday, “The officer found a bag that contained several pills. The driver was unable to provide a valid prescription to the officer. A total of 201 pills of Methylone, 1 pill of Alprazolam, 1 pill of Valium, and 1 pill of Viagra were seized from the suspect.”

Pacheco was arrested for felony sales of a controlled substance, felony possession of a controlled substance for sales and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. 

The second incident occurred at 3:20 a.m. on Dec 31 in the 2300 block of S. Coast Hwy. Sgt. Kleiser explained that the officer was heading northbound on the highway when he saw a VW partially blocking a southbound traffic lane and parked in a red curb zone. Looking closer, it was apparent that the driver was sound asleep.

“The officer contacted the driver and during a search found a small plastic baggy in his pants pocket that contained methamphetamine. During a search of the car, the officer found three pills of Xanax, additional methamphetamine, a scale and a baggie of marijuana. The marijuana weighed 25.48 grams and a total of 36 grams of methamphetamine was found. 

“The driver, 28-year-old Phillip Jackson from Long Beach, was arrested for felony sales of a controlled substance, felony possession of a controlled substance for sales and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.”

Woman decided it’s better to kick a cop rather than sign a citation

The city of Laguna Beach prohibits smoking on the beach.

One morning last week, an officer stopped Rhonda Metoyer, 57, no fixed address, on Main Beach for smoking a cigarette.

The officer wrote a citation and Metoyer allegedly refused to sign it. It was explained to her that if she didn’t sign promising to appear in court, that she would have to be taken into custody and to jail.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser said, “When the officer stepped forward to hand her his pen, she grabbed the pen from him and kicked him on the shin. Another officer arrived and the woman was arrested for felony resisting a police officer.”

Of note here: Under California law, when someone is being issued a citation, they are technically under arrest/detention by the police officer. Signing the citation and thus promising to appear in court at a specific time and date becomes a “get-out-of-jail-free” card since the person cited is sent along their way without posting bail.

Police Files

Burglar enters occupied home on Rivera Drive in Irvine Cove

A woman called 9-1-1 at 7:50 Wednesday night reporting that she was hiding in the kitchen with her child and housekeeper. An unknown man had come into their home and she knew he had seen her.

According to the police log, she told the dispatcher that the front door had been locked and she was uncertain how the man had gotten inside the home. She described the man as appearing to be “zoned out.”

The dispatcher had the three people leave the house via the front door as officers responded to the area.

Police searched the home and it was clear. A helicopter did a flyover to check for anyone in the backyard or nearby.

The suspect wasn’t located.

Surveillance video showed the man, described as being white, about 5-10” with a thin build and short hair.

The victim checked the home and determined the burglar had taken about $1300 in unspecified property from the residence.

Angry 24-year-old drunk man fights four cops on Ocean Avenue

At 1:35 Sunday morning, a patrol officer was flagged down by security outside of Hennessey’s in the 200 block of Ocean Avenue. The officer saw that two men were aggressively challenging the security staff to a fight, Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday.

“The officer intervened and told the two to leave, which they did. As the officer was leaving the scene, he saw that one of the males continued to act aggressive. When he turned around and returned, the officer saw the same man standing in the middle of the street in front of another police vehicle.”

The man was later identified as Adam Shapiro, 24 from Rio Ranch, New Mexico.

Both officers made contact with Shapiro.

Kleiser explained, “Both officers approached the man and asked him to sit down and he refused. The officers attempted to place him under arrest and he began to pull away from the officers and struggled with them. Two other officers arrived and after a continuing struggle, they were able to place him in handcuffs.”

Two of the officers sustained minor injures, Kleiser said.

Shapiro was arrested for public intoxication and felony resisting a police officer.

Police Files

Citizen tells cops a drug deal might be taking place

An alert 9-1-1 caller reported in the wee hours Monday morning that what appeared to be a drug deal was happening then and there.

The call was made at 2:52 a.m. and the location was a parking lot in the 400 block of N. Coast Hwy. According to the police log, the caller said three vehicles had come together and one person handed something to another through the window.

The first patrol unit was on scene within two minutes and detained all three drivers and began questioning them.

LBPD booking photos

Officers conducted vehicle searches and found 21 Sublingual tablets, 28 Diazepam pills, two pills of Alprazolam, and heroin.

Mariah Michelle Burnett Gallette, 24, Ladera Ranch and John Jack Latko Jr., 33, Mission Viejo, were both arrested for possession of drugs.

Deven Thomas Clark, 24, Aliso Viejo, was also arrested for possession of drugs but he was also on formal probation and was ordered to be held without bail for violating the terms of his post release agreement. 

Laguna Beach man arrested for arson in connection with hillside brush fire off Laguna Canyon Rd Nov 18

LBPD detectives and LB Fire Department arson investigators arrested Laguna Beach resident Thomas Dylan Richeson, 27, on a charge of felony arson Wednesday for intentionally setting a brush fire on Nov 18. The fire was on a hillside above the dog park off Laguna Canyon Rd and burned about an acre.

Laguna Beach and Orange County Fire Authority firefighters and a helicopter put the fire out in about two hours.

Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Tim Kleiser said in a statement released Thursday, “During the incident, a witness provided investigators with information about a man seen running from the area shortly after the fire started. Investigators used nearby video footage to identify the male. 

“He was interviewed and subsequently arrested for the arson.”

This will not be a good weekend to drink and drive

DUI saturation patrols will be out just about everywhere in California this weekend as the holiday party season hits its peak.

Here, officers looking only for the telltale signs of alcohol or drug impaired drivers will be on the city streets from 9 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday.

Get your designated drivers in place before you drink and drive.

Police Files

Woman breaks bad in TI Park – threatens to kill cop

At about 9:20 Thursday morning, an officer made contact with Toni Nelson, 54, no fixed address out of Arizona in Treasure Island Park. 

She had been causing a disturbance and the officer was trying to calm the situation along with Montage Laguna Beach security. After a few minutes, the officer had the dispatcher contact city public services to have them send a pickup with “several trash bags to dispose of transient property…” according to the police log.

Within a few minutes of that being done, Nelson allegedly became uncontrollable and refused to follow the officer’s commands. She began throwing trash all around the area and refused to stop.

The officer used a contact taser that had no effect, the log stated.

She threatened to kill the officer and said she wanted the police to “blow her brains out…” She was controlled and seated after a few more minutes.

She was taken into custody at 9:55 and arrested on charges of making criminal threats of bodily harm, a felony, threatening an officer, resisting an officer and threatening a fight in a public place. 

Her bail was set at $50,000.

Woman, 28, charged with felony DUI after Glenneyre crash

Sarah Rebecca MacDonald, 28 of Laguna Niguel, crashed into a pole in the 500 block of Glenneyre after veering off the roadway at 4:18 Saturday afternoon.

She was able to get out but her injured passenger was trapped inside.

Laguna Beach firefighters were able to extricate the passenger, who was hospitalized after being stabilized by paramedics.

The extent of injuries was unknown as of press time.

MacDonald was arrested for felony DUI causing bodily injury and possession of dangerous drugs.

Bail was set at $100,000 after being booked here.

Police Files

Woman confronted a man getting into her car as she stood nearby – when she did, he swung a knife at her 

A woman called 9-1-1 from a driveway on Camel Point Drive at 3:53 Tuesday afternoon reporting that a man she didn’t know had swung a knife at her.

The caller said she had pulled into a friend’s driveway and had left her doors unlocked and the engine running while she talked with a friend about 25 feet away.

The woman told police that she had seen the man, later identified as Michael Cowan, 45, no fixed address, open a car door and begin to get inside.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Thursday, “The victim confronted the man and asked why he was going into the car. The man became upset and pulled out a folding knife from his waistband and swung it toward the victim. He had told the victim that he was a former Marine and military.”

The knife did not strike the woman. 

Officers did an area search located Cowan within five minutes at the Aliso Beach parking lot where he was arrested for felony assault with a deadly weapon. 

Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation on Tuesday 

The Laguna Beach Police Department will step up Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations on Dec 6, with focused enforcement on collision causing factors involving motorists and pedestrians. 

The department will be focusing on locations, since January 2012, where pedestrian involved accidents have occurred along with the violations that led to those crashes. Officers will be conducting directed enforcement at those locations looking for traffic offenses made by drivers and pedestrians alike that can lead to life-changing injuries. Special attention will be given to drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or any other dangerous violation. 

Additionally, enforcement action will be taken against pedestrians committing violations such as crossing the street illegally or failing to yield to drivers who have the right of way. Pedestrians should cross the street only at marked crosswalks or at corners.

In 2013, California witnessed 701 pedestrian deaths accounting for over 23 percent of all roadway fatalities, much higher than the national average of 15 percent. A national study reveals that pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently, and many often use cell phones, text and listen to music while walking or driving. Only 60 percent of pedestrians said they expected drivers to stop when they were in crosswalks, even though they have the right-of way. 

The Laguna Beach Police Department would like to remind both drivers and pedestrians to be alert and share the roadway. Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Police Files

Two men, woman, arrested for strong-armed robbery

Officers were called to the parking lot at Mission Hospital just after 6 o’clock last Tuesday night for a report of a robbery.

Sgt. Tim Heisler of the LBPD said the victim called 9-1-1 and told officers when they arrived on scene that he “…was walking in the parking lot and two males exited a Ford Mustang and called him a narc and snitch. The two males then struck the RP several times and took his wallet and fled in the Ford. The victim sustained swelling to his left eye and complained of pain to his head. He was taken to the hospital for his injuries.”

LBPD stopped the Mustang heading northbound on Coast Hwy near Wesley Drive. There were two male passengers and a female driver, police said.

Sgt. Kleiser said the four people knew each other and there had been contact between them a few days before the incident.

 Derek Schmalle, 21, and Timothy Solomon, 28, both from San Clemente, and Shanoa Mitchell, 27 of Capistrano Beach, were all arrested for felony robbery and felony conspiracy and held on $100,000 bail each.

Man with two dogs struck on S. Coast Hwy – one dog was killed

A man walking across S. Coast Hwy at Brooks Street with two dogs in a crosswalk was struck by a vehicle heading northbound. Police said the Laguna Beach man, 45, was crossing Coast Hwy toward the inland side when the collision occurred.

He was hospitalized with a broken leg, police said. One of the dogs died at the scene as a result of the collision and the other was injured.

Police said it did not appear that ether alcohol or drugs were a factor and the driver was not arrested on scene. 

The investigation has not been completed. 

Another eucalyptus cut – across from Montage Laguna Beach

Another eucalyptus tree was cut at the base apparently overnight Friday. It was in the parking lot almost directly across Coast Hwy from where the trees with the same cuts were discovered on Montage Laguna Beach property.

Montage told police that an arborist was uncertain about the ability of their trees to survive the cutting. An arborist will look at the tree in the parking lot in the 30800 block this week.

No further details were available.

Police Files

Five 40-yr-old eucalyptus trees cut at base of trunks in front of Montage Resort – arborist not sure if they will survive  

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Two of five 40-year-old eucalyptus trees cut in front of Montage Laguna Beach

Police said that Montage Laguna Beach staff estimates the value of replacing five tall eucalyptus trees cut at the base of their trunks overnight Sunday to be between $400,000 and $500,000.

The cuts were discovered and reported to the LBPD Monday morning. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser told us, “An arborist advised it would take approximately four to six weeks to determine if the trees would recover from the damage and estimated the trees were 40-45 years old. The case has been assigned to detectives.”

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