Man gets time served for assault of 69-year-old man in Irvine that was captured on video

SANTA ANA — A Tustin resident pleaded guilty Monday and was immediately sentenced to time already served in jail for assaulting a 69-year-old man in Irvine over a dispute about an unleashed dog.

Keven Alexander Quiroz, 23, admitted to assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, according to court records. Quiroz, who was in jail from the end of March until he posted $10,000 bail on May 20, was also placed on two years of formal probation.

As part of the plea deal, a felony charge of inflicting injury on an elder adult was dismissed.

In an attempt to generate leads, police released video of the attack, which occurred about 7 p.m. March 19 at Sierra Vista Middle School. The surveillance video and photos led to an anonymous tip, which resulted in the suspect’s arrest, according to Sgt. Karie Davies of the Irvine Police Department.

Quiroz was arrested at his apartment in Tustin, and police also seized a rifle from his vehicle, according to Davies, who said investigators suspect the attack stemmed from a dispute over Quiroz letting his dog off-leash.

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Families sue Coast Guard, charging wrongful death two years after Conception boat fire killed 34 people

Family members of most of the 34 people who died two years ago when a dive boat caught fire off Santa Cruz Island on Wednesday filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful death against the U.S. Coast Guard.

  • FILE – In this Sept. 2, 2019, file photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the dive boat Conception is engulfed in flames after a deadly fire broke out aboard the commercial scuba diving vessel off the Southern California Coast. Federal authorities are expected to vote Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 on what likely sparked a fire aboard a scuba dive boat last year that killed 34 people off the coast of Southern California. The pre-dawn blaze aboard the Conception is one of California’s deadliest maritime disasters, prompting both criminal and safety investigations into the Sept. 2, 2019 tragedy that claimed the lives of 33 passengers and one crew member on a Labor Day weekend expedition near an island off Santa Barbara. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP, File)

  • This July 12, 2020 file photo shows a standing memorial near the Santa Barbara harbor to the people who died aboard the Conception dive boat on Sept. 2, 2019. The crew aboard the scuba dive boat had not been trained on emergency procedures before the deadly fire broke out last year, killing 34 people in one of the state’s deadliest maritime disasters, according to federal documents released Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/John Antczak,File)

  • L to R, Jeffery Goodman, attorney, Robert Mongeluzzi, Attorney and Robert Glassman, attorney, at a press conference announcing the filing of a wrongful death and survival action claim on behalf of three passengers and one crew member killed in the Conception commercial dive boat fire off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA Monday, January 13, 2020. Pictured at right are victims Yulia Krashennaya, of Berkeley, CA and Kaustbh Nirmal and Dr. Sanjeeri Deopujari of Norwalk, Connecticut. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Robert Mongeluzzi, Attorney, left, and attorney Jeffery Goodman at a press conference announcing the filing of a wrongful death and survival action claim on behalf of three passengers and one crew member killed in the Conception commercial dive boat fire off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA Monday, January 13, 2020. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Jeffery Goodman, attorney, left, talks about the dive boat Conception fire as attorney Robert Glassman looks on Monday, January 13, 2020. Attorneys held a press conference announcing the filing of a wrongful death and survival action claim on behalf of three passengers and one crew member killed in the Conception commercial dive boat fire off the coast of Santa Barbara. Pictured are victims Yulia Normal of Berkeley and Kaustbh Nirmal and Dr. Sanjeeri Deopujari of Norwalk, Connecticut. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • This undated photo provided by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows the wreckage of the dive boat Conception on a dock in Southern California. Federal investigators say the lack of a required roving night watchman aboard a scuba dive boat delayed the detection of a fire that killed 34 people off the coast of Southern California. Investigators told the National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 that because some of the passengers’ bodies were recovered wearing shoes, they believe they were awake and trying to escape before being overcome with smoke. (NTSB via AP)

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The Coast Guard certified the boat, named Conception, to carry passengers after routine inspection in 2019 even though the “overburdened shipboard electrical system had been designed, developed, built, installed and refurbished without adequate fire protection,” alleged the lawsuit filed in federal court in Los Angeles..

The Coast Guard under federal law conducts annual inspections and certifications of boats like the Conception, including biannual hull and structural examinations.

In 2018, a year before the massive fire, Conception’s sister ship, Vision, also owned by Truth Aquatics, nearly had its own fire, according to the lawsuit. Smoke rose from two lithium batteries that were plugged into a power strip on board, but a passenger was able to safely smother the fire.

The lawsuit alleges the Coast Guard, through its inspections, should have known that Truth Aquatics “added undocumented and ill-designed electrical outlets throughout the vessel for the purpose of battery charging” and encouraged passengers to charge their electronics on board, including lithium batteries.

In the early hours of Sept. 2, 2019, crew members on board discovered a fire that killed all 33 passengers on board and one crew member. It was the worst maritime disaster in California since the 1800s.

Federal safety officials blamed the disaster on Truth Aquatics’ lack of oversight, including having a required roving patrol that officials said could have alerted those on board earlier when the fire started.

The boat’s owners have also been sued by family members who allege wrongful death.  The boat’s captain, Jerry Boylan, has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of manslaughter.

The Coast Guard has not yet responded to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages.

The Conception fire prompted the Coast Guard and Congress to reexamine small passenger vessel regulations and training exercises were implemented as part of a Coast Guard-wide overhaul aimed at reducing passenger vessel safety infractions that could result in deaths at sea, officials have said.

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Brea plastic surgeon charged with sexually assaulting 2 patients; attorney calls allegations false and outrageous

FULLERTON — A plastic surgeon with offices in Brea and Beverly Hills pleaded not guilty Tuesday to sexually assaulting two of his patients.

Frederic Corbin, 77, of Villa Park, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in the North Justice Center in Fullerton to one felony count each of sexual battery involving an unconscious person and sexual exploitation by a physician, and two misdemeanor counts each of sexual battery and battery, according to court records.

Corbin’s attorney, Courtney Pilchman, issued a statement saying her client “vehemently and categorically denies these outrageous and false allegations.”

“He has practiced for over 50 years, without any complaint by a female patient regarding inappropriate behavior,” the defense attorney said. “There are thousands of patients, colleagues and friends who support Dr. Corbin and know these allegations are untrue. This case is about two disgruntled patients who made allegations that we will prove are false.”

Corbin is accused of molesting one of his patients while he prepared her for a surgical procedure on Sept. 17 of last year, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. The doctor is accused of molesting another patient on May 14, during an examination when she came in to his Brea office for a post-surgery treatment.

“Patients entrust their very lives to the doctors who treat them,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “No one seeking medical treatment should have to worry about being sexually assaulted while under a doctor’s care. These women were in very vulnerable situations and their doctor capitalized on those vulnerabilities for his own sexual gratification.”

Corbin, who is free on $50,000 bail, was ordered to return to court Sept. 14 for a pretrial hearing.

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Anaheim man arrested twice in 14 months on child pornography counts

ANAHEIM — A 27-year-old Anaheim man awaiting trial on child pornography charges was arrested again Wednesday on similar charges.

Anaheim Police Department investigators received a tip that Erik Adbiel Robles was in possession of the pornography and served a search warrant at about 10 a.m. at his residence located near Euclid Avenue and Crescent Avenue, according to the department’s Sgt. Steve Pena.

Investigators discovered over 1,000 images and video of child pornography at Robles’ residence, including “some images of children as young as infants,” Pena said.

Robles was arrested at his residence following the search and booked into the Orange County Central Men’s Jail. Police said he is suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography. Investigators learned that, at the time of his arrest, Robles was out on bail and awaiting trial for a similar arrest in June 2020.

His bail was set at $20,000 and he is set to appear in court on Friday.

Police do not believe any of the children depicted in the images and video ever knew or had physical contact with Robles, and the department is not seeking any victims, Pena said.

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Lyft driver convicted of raping passenger in O.C.

SANTA ANA — A 45-year-old Lyft driver is scheduled to be sentenced in October for raping a woman he was driving home nearly two years ago, according to court records obtained Monday.

Jorge Tapiacastro was convicted Wednesday of rape by use of drugs, rape, sexual battery and false imprisonment, all felonies. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 1.

The victim was dropped off by her husband at a friend’s home in Costa Mesa on Aug. 31, 2019, where she drank four or five vodka sodas with a handful of friends, according to a trial brief from prosecutors.

About 9:30 p.m. that night she and two of her friends took an Uber ride to the Bungalow bar in Huntington Beach where she drank three to five more vodka sodas, prosecutors said.

About 12:30 a.m., Sept. 1, she used the Lyft app to call for a ride home, prosecutors said. She was picked up about 12:50 a.m. by the defendant, who pulled over about a half mile from her residence in Orange, got out and then got into the backseat with the victim, who said she had passed out, prosecutors said.

The defendant told the woman she was “beautiful” before he forced himself on her for a few minutes, prosecutors said. Then he got out and she also exited the vehicle before the defendant drove off, prosecutors said.

The woman called her friend and told her she was raped and didn’t know where she was, prosecutors said. Her friend told her to call her husband and she repeated the same to him, prosecutors said.

Her husband managed to find her around La Veta Avenue and Glassell Street and took her home before later taking her to a local hospital, prosecutors said.

The woman’s blood-alcohol level was .131 and DNA evidence linked Tapiacastro to the assault, prosecutors said.

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OCFA employee who shot and dumped his pit bull is sentenced to 250 hours of community service

NEWPORT BEACH — An Orange County Fire Authority employee who was charged with shooting his 4-year-old pit bull and dumping the canine’s carcass in a trash bin at his workplace in Irvine accepted a plea Wednesday that ordered him to perform 250 hours of community service.

Ryan John Monteleone of Menifee, 46, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of putting a carcass of a dead animal on the road. As part of the plea deal, a felony count of cruelty to animals was dismissed and he was placed on three years of informal probation and must complete the community service by April 1 of next year, according to court records.

Monteleone could have faced up to 3 1/2 years in custody if convicted at trial.

Monteleone worked as a heavy fire equipment operator for the fire authority for four years and was not a firefighter, Colleen Windsor, a spokeswoman for the OCFA, said when he was charged in November 2019.

He remained on duty at that time, but it was not clear if he is still on the job.

He was arrested by Irvine police on Oct. 17, 2019, according to Kimberly Edds of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

A Waste Management trash truck driver found the dog’s body inside the trash bin at a fire station on Fossil Road in Irvine on Aug. 9, 2019, Edds said. The dog had been shot in the head, she said.

Monteleone’s attorney, Rod Pacheco, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The defendant’s attorneys filed a motion in January of last year to dismiss charges based on an argument that he killed the dog at his ranch home, so the case should have been filed in Riverside County.

Monteleone’s wife told investigators that the family adopted the canine about a year before the dog was killed, but that the animal had attacked a donkey and an Amazon driver and killed a pet cat, according to the court filing.

The family previously had to put down another pet and the bill was “significant,” according to the motion. The family at the time was “suffering severe financial restraints,” so the couple decided to kill the dog, according to the motion.

The couple discussed “the challenge they faced, a dangerous pit bull that attacked pets, livestock and people, the presence of their young sons and their inability to afford a sizable veterinarian bill for putting the dangerous animal down,” the attorneys said in the court papers.

So Monteleone “took the pit bull into their barn and shot the dog one time,” according to the motion.

The following day he took the dog’s body to a dumpster near his workplace at an Irvine Fire Department Station and dumped it, the attorneys said.

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Skateboarder ordered to kneel at gunpoint by deputy settles lawsuit against Orange County

The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a $195,000 settlement Tuesday, July 13, in a lawsuit filed by a teenager who was involved in a conflict with a gun-wielding Orange County sheriff’s deputy in a San Clemente skate park two years ago.

Max Chance III, the son of a former Orange County sheriff’s sergeant, filed the lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court in March. Deputy Michael Thalken, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Orange County were named as defendants in the suit, which alleged negligence, assault and battery, civil rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The board voted 4-0 to approve the settlement. Supervisor Katrina Foley abstained from voting because her firm has accepted referral from the attorneys who handled the suit, County Counsel Leon Page said when announcing the settlement.

“The family is pleased that this chapter in their son’s life has come to an end and that some justice was served,” said Eric Traut, the attorney who represented the Chance family in the lawsuit.

Chance, then 16 and living with his family in San Juan Capistrano, went to a skate park in San Clemente the evening of Oct. 12, 2019, with a friend. He was enjoying a band playing at the park when Thalken, who was off-duty at the time, confronted the band about the noise, according to the lawsuit.

Thalken was at a nearby Little League baseball diamond and apparently wanted the band to stop performing, according to the lawsuit. The suit alleged he “appeared angry and possibly intoxicated.”

One of the group’s members “mimicked the drunk-like walk” of Thalken as he bellowed, “Where’s the tough guy,” the lawsuit alleged.

As Thalken confronted the teen mocking him, Chance told the youth to back up, according to the lawsuit.

Chance put up his skateboard “to defend against a potential assault” from Thalken, who had not told the group he was a deputy, according to the plaintiff.

Thalken tried to grab Chance’s wrist and said, ‘Get on your knees or I will shoot you in the (expletive) face,” the lawsuit alleged. “He still did not identify himself as law enforcement as he brandished and pointed his handgun at (Chance’s) face.”

The teen “complied, while others pleaded with Deputy Thalken to stop what he was doing,” according to the complaint.

Cellphone videos captured the conflict and were aired in news reports.

Thalken eventually “identified himself as law enforcement,” and said “You are coming with me to the parking lot,” according to the lawsuit. It alleged that the deputy returned the weapon to his jacket pocket and argued with other witnesses.

Thalken told responding deputies that the group of kids “were the aggressors and that (Chance) had swung his skateboard at him,” according to the lawsuit. “Of course, both claims were false and refuted by video evidence.”

Chance’s father, who had previously worked with Thalken as a rookie before the sergeant retired, called Thalken at the scene, and the defendant told him that “the kids were douche bags with a mob mentality,” the lawsuit alleged.

Thalken told Chance’s father that he pulled out his gun because Chance “went at me with a skateboard. They were all crowding around me,” the lawsuit alleges.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies presented a case for criminal charges to prosecutors, but the District Attorney’s Office declined to file a case, said Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

After an internal review, Thalken was disciplined, but state law prevents the release of any details of the discipline, Braun said.

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Court says California must more quickly move mentally incompetent defendants out of jails

SAN FRANCISCO — California can’t lock up people for months in jails after they have been found mentally incompetent to stand trial, a state appeals court said.

In a 3-0 ruling Tuesday, a panel of the First District Court of Appeal upheld a 2019 lower court order that gave the state a 28-day deadline for placing defendants in state mental hospitals or other treatment facilities after they were found incompetent to stand trial because of psychological or intellectual disabilities.

The appellate court also included people charged with certain felony sex offenses, rejecting an exception carved out in the earlier Alameda County ruling.

The previous ruling had set a phase-in period that ends next year.

State law says people facing criminal charges but who are judged incompetent to face trial can be ordered committed for treatment to help them become capable of understanding trial proceedings.

Two years before the 2019 time limit was enacted, defendants waited 86 days on average after a judge issued the transfer order to get into a hospital, according to the appellate court.

California has “systematically violated the due-process rights” of these defendants by keeping them for longer periods in jails where they may suffer further problems because of crowding, violence and a lack of treatment, Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline said in the ruling.

The decision involved a 2015 lawsuit filed against the state Department of State Hospitals and Department of Developmental Services on behalf of five relatives of defendants who were found incompetent to stand trial.

Due to lack of space, about 4,000 people each year who are declared incompetent to stand trial are placed on a waitlist for admission to facilities administered by those departments, and the list for admission to state hospitals alone soared to more than 1,600 people during the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase of 500% since 2013, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which took part in the lawsuit.

The ACLU has urged use of community treatment centers to help ease the hospital bed shortage.

“The court recognized that California cannot continue to warehouse people in jail for months at a time while it denies them both their right to a trial and the mental health treatment they need to become competent to have a trial,” Michael Risher, counsel for the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, said in a statement.

“This ruling is a step in the right direction, and our family is very grateful,” said Stephanie Stiavetti, a plaintiff who said her brother was abused in jail during weeks of delay before his transfer.

“The state needs to recognize that there are far too many mental health patients suffering in jails, lost in a system that is rife with abuse and ill-prepared to care for them,” she said in a statement. “Immediate legislation is needed to ensure that people with mental health disorders receive treatment promptly and outside of the jail system.”

The Department of State Hospitals told the San Francisco Chronicle that it was reviewing the ruling.

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Former O.C. chiropractor convicted of defrauding insurers of $2.2 million

SANTA ANA — A 56-year-old former Orange County chiropractor was found guilty Tuesday of defrauding health insurers out of about $2.2 million in a scheme that spanned more than three years.

Susan H. Poon of Dana Point submitted false reimbursement claims to the health insurance providers Anthem and Aetna from January 2015-April 2018 for false diagnoses and chiropractic services that were not performed, according to Ciaran McEvoy, a public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Poon also submitted fraudulent prescriptions containing fabricated medical diagnoses of dependents of Costco and United Parcel Service employees, McEvoy said.

Poon unlawfully took the personal identification information of the victims by attending health fairs at various UPS warehouses and Costco locations, and soliciting the information from employees.

Poon, whose office was located in Rancho Santa Margarita, had her chiropractic license revoked in July 2019, according to the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

Poon was found guilty of five counts of health care fraud, three counts of making false statements relating to health care matters and one count of aggravated identity theft, McEvoy said.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter scheduled a sentencing hearing for Aug. 30. Poon faces a maximum sentence of 67 years in federal prison, McEvoy said.

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U.S. Supreme Court to weigh secrecy, national security issues in suit over FBI surveillance of O.C. Muslims

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether a lawsuit can go forward in which a group of Muslim residents of California allege the FBI targeted them for surveillance because of their religion.

It’s the second case the court has accepted for the fall involving a government claim of “state secrets,” the idea that the government can block the release of information it claims would harm national security if disclosed.

As is usual, the court didn’t comment Monday beyond saying it will take the case, which is expected to be heard after the court takes its summer recess and begins hearing arguments again in October.

In the other state secrets case the justices have accepted they’ll decide whether a Palestinian man captured after the Sept. 11 attacks and detained at the prison on the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can get access to information the government classifies as state secrets.

The case the court accepted Monday involves three Muslim residents of Southern California who say that from 2006 to 2007 the FBI paid a confidential informant to covertly gather information about Muslims in Orange County, based solely on their religion.

A district court dismissed the case after the federal government invoked the state secrets privilege. The court agreed that continuing the case would “greatly risk disclosure of secret information.” But an appeals court reversed the decision.

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