August 20, 2013

Orange County Teacher Accused of Lewd Acts to Start Trial

A San Clemente teacher accused of sexually assaulting an 8th grade student is scheduled to begin trial on this week. Richard John Rack, 51 of San Clemente was a teacher at Shorecliffs Middle School in San Clemente since 2002. Between April and November 2011, Rack is accused of committing lewd conduct toward two female teenage students. Both victims identified as Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 reported to the principal that Rack had hugged them and made lewd comments. Between February 2009 and October 2010, Rack is accused of sexually assaulting another teenage student, Jane Doe #3 by lewd touching and oral copulation.

As a result of the investigation, Rack was charged with six felony counts of lewd act on a child, one felony count of oral copulation and one felony count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor under 14 years of age. If convicted, Rack faces up to 12 years in prison.

August 3, 2013

Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Charged with Assault

Orange County Sheriff's Deputy, Juan Tavera, 30, is being charged with one misdemeanor count of assault after allegedly spraying a pizza with pepper spray. On September 23, 2012, Tavera was on patrol and stopped a 19 year old teenager for a traffic violation. The teen had a pizza in the back of his vehicle and authorities allege Tavera sprayed the pizza with pepper spray, unbeknownst to the driver.

After the traffic stop, the teen returned home and shared the pizza with four friends. All five of the friends became sick after eating the pizza. The teen notified the OCSD of his suspicions and an investigation ensued.

Tavera is set to be arraigned in Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach on Monday. Currently, Tavera is on PAID administrative leave. If convicted, Tavera faces up to one year in county jail and the likely loss of his job.

August 2, 2013

Church Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement of Church Bank Accounts

A man was arraigned on charges he embezzled over $100,000 from several church bank accounts while serving as the treasurer. Fiatala Manu, 46, of Lake Elsinore was charged with four felony counts of money laundering, seven felony counts of falsifying records and a single count of embezzlement by fiduciary and grand theft. If convicted, Manu faces up to 11 years in state prison.

Manu served as the interim treasurer of First Samoan Christian Congregational Church in Santa Ana between October 2011 and August 2012. During that time it is alleged he made unauthorized cash withdrawals, made checks out to himself and transferred money directly from the church accounts to his accounts. In addition, Manu is accused of attending church meetings and reporting false financial documents to cover up the thefts.

It was not until July 2012 when the assistant treasurer was assigned to monitor the accounts did the church learn there were unauthorized withdrawals. The church administrators then called the Santa Ana Police Department who conducted the investigation.

July 31, 2013

Fullerton FIrefighter Arrested During Hunting Beach US Open Riot

A Fullerton firefighter was arrested for participating in the Huntington Beach riots after the US Open surf event. Michael Lytle, 30, of Anaheim was arrested for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Both charges are misdemeanors and could cause Lytle to lose his job. The Fullerton Fire Department has placed him on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the investigation.

July 30, 2013

Court Refuses to Throw Out Indictment in Cruise Ship Murder Case

Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett denied the defense's motion to dismiss the indictment against Lonnie Kocontes, 55 and continued his arraignment to September 30, 2013 for the defense attorneys to file any motions. Kocontes, an attorney licensed in California is accused of killing his ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, 52, of Mission Viejo, during a cruise in the Mediterranean.
Kocontes and Kanesaki still travelled together even though they were divorced. Authorities allege, Kocontes strangled his ex and threw her overboard during the May 2006 cruise somewhere off the coast of Paola, Italy for financial gain. According to Kocontes, he said his wife got up in the middle of the night to get some tea and he never saw her again.
It was not until 2008 that authorities looked at Kocontes when he started transferring $1 million around several bank accounts he held with his current wife. Kocontes was the beneficiary of several of Kanesak's bank accounts and home, which was later sold.

July 29, 2013

Men Sentenced for RE Loan Modification Scam

Several Orange County men were sentenced today for defrauding hundreds of people out of $130,000 by collecting upfront fees for loan modifications. Jacob Cunningham, 26, Dominic Nolan, 32 and John Silva, 28 from Irvine and Justin Koelle, 23, of Costa Mesa and Andrew Phalen, 26, of Mission Viejo all pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to collect illegal upfront fees and/or conspiracy to commit theft by false pretenses.

The men were ordered to pay restitution and some will spend up to 1 year in jail.

June 23, 2013

Male Nurse Convicted Of Sexual Assault on Patients

A male nurse who was working at Western Medical Center in Anaheim was convicted of sexually assaulting two male patients who were medically incapacitated and a third patient under the guise of a medical examination. Richard Nolan, 48 of Buena Park was found guilty at trial of forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by fraud and sexual battery on an institutionalized victim. Nolan's maximum exposure in state prison is 34 years to life in state prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender pursuant to penal code section 290.

June 23, 2013

Father Faces Murder Trial Defending Daughter

Cesar Marta, 41 of Nebraska is set to start trial in a murder case in Orange County, defending his daughter after the victim was physically violent with her. Marta, is charged with 1 count of murder and with his prior strike, faces up to 55 years to life in prison.

On May 26, 2010 Marta approached three men in Santa Ana asking if one of the men was Cesar "Danny" Gutierrez Hernandez, 27. Hernandez identified himself and then Marta started punching him until he fell to the ground. When he was on the ground, Marta's unknown accomplice allegedly kept the other two men away by brandishing a knife. When Hernandez was on the ground, the accomplice allegedly stabbed Hernandez with a knife, killing him. Marta and the accomplice fled Santa Ana, immediately after the assault and murder.

March 27, 2013

Huntington Beach Man Convicted of Murdering His Dad

Jeremy Dwayne Martin, 37 of Huntington Beach was convicted by a jury after a two-week trial for the murder of his father. Frederick Martin, 62 attempted to take a gun away from his son who was acting mentally unstable. The argument escalated to where the elder Martin called the police. When the police arrived they questioned witnesses but Jeremy was not at the scene.

Soon after the Huntington Beach police officers left, Jeremy returned and fired one shot into his father's face. During the trial, Jeremy's defense attorney tried to argue self-defense but the jury didn't buy it. Jeremy faces 50 years to life at his sentencing.

March 26, 2013

Ontario Airport Developer Arrested

San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos announced the filing of criminal charges against Scot Spencer, former airport developer and Felice G. Luciano, an investor. According to Ramos, Spencer and Luciano allegedly took advantage of efforts to turn around the struggling airport to the tune of more than $1 million.

The massive investigation started in 2009 with multiple law enforcement agencies. Spencer, 48 was arrested in Florida on $1 million bond while Luciano is still being sought. If convicted, the pair face up to five years in prison.

March 25, 2013

Man Shot By Santa Ana Police During Pursuit Dies

Jason Hallstrom, 41 died from injuries sustained after being shot by a Santa Ana police officer. Hallstrom was a passenger in a car that was reported stolen and being pursued by SWAT officers. The driver of the vehicle, Travis Mock, 29, led police on a pursuit that ended when the vehicle crashed at the intersection of Grand Avenue and 15th Street in Santa Ana. After the crash, both men attempted to flee the scene and according to an OC Register article where shot by officers when they fled.

Initially, reports were that both men were expected to survive, however, sadly Mr. Hallstrom did not. This is the third officer involved shooting in Santa Ana alone this year. As per protocol, the Orange County DIstrict Attorney will investigate the shooting.

February 20, 2013

Officials Name Young Woman Killed in Ladera Ranch

Orange County Sheriff Investigators have released the name of the woman killed in Ladera Ranch. Courtney Aoki, 20, of Buena Park was the first victim of Ali Syed. According to law enforcement officials, Syed's parents have no idea who this woman is nor any connection to their son.

Ali Syed allegedly killed Aoki for an unknown reason and then fled his family's Ladera Rancho home traveling to Tustin where his car tire became flat. Syed then carjacked Melvin Lee Edwards, 69, who was on his way to work. After taking Edwards' BMW, Syed traveled southbound on the 55 freeway, stopping at a construction site and shooting construction worker Jeremy Lewis, 26, who was sitting in his truck.

When law enforcement tracked Syed down on the the freeway, Syed exited in the city of Orange where he got out of his vehicle and shot himself. Orange County Sheriff investigators are still trying to find out what was the motive behind the killing of Aoki and subsequent crime spree.