Portion of Huntington Harbour closed after sewage spill

HUNTINGTON BEACH — A 250-gallon sewage spill in Huntington Beach forced Orange County Health Care Agency officials to close a portion of the harbor Tuesday night.

The closure, announced at 5 p.m., encompasses all water contact 100 yards north and 100 yards south of the Warner Public Dock until further notice. Water quality monitoring procedures are underway, and the closure will not be lifted until the water meets acceptable standards.

The sewage came from the accidental release of a boat’s holding tank, HCA officials said.

The HCA has closed the harbor water area 100 yards north and south of the Warner Public Dock in HB due to a sewage spill. The spill of approximately 250 gallons was caused by an accidental release from a boat’s holding tank at the Harbour. READ MORE https://t.co/G2849LzsJq pic.twitter.com/KoXComBppo

— OC Health Care Agency (@ochealth) October 20, 2021

For information regarding Orange County ocean, bay or harbor postings and closures, call 714-433-6400 or visit www.OCBeachinfo.com

To report a sewage spill, please call 714-433-6419.

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California man gets life sentence for fatal synagogue attack

By ELLIOT SPAGAT

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A 22-year-old white supremacist was denied a chance to address a courtroom before a judge sentenced him Thursday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for bursting into a Southern California synagogue on the last day of Passover in 2019 with a semiautomatic rifle, killing one worshipper and wounding three others.

An agreement with prosecutors that spared John T. Earnest the death penalty left little suspense about the outcome, but the hearing provided 13 victims and families a chance to address the killer and gave a sense of finality to a case illustrating how online hate speech can lead to extremist violence. Many gave heart-wrenching accounts of how their lives were upended and how determined they were to persevere despite such devastating loss.

Earnest’s attorney, John O’Connell, said his client wanted to make a statement but San Diego Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh refused, saying he did not want to create “a political forum” for white supremacist views. Earnest has not spoken publicly or disavowed earlier statements.

“I’m not going to let him use this as a platform to add to his celebrity,” the judge said, pointing to comments that Earnest made to police when he was arrested, hand gestures to the audience during a previous hearing and his probation report.

Earnest, who was tied to a device that prevented him from turning to the audience, showed no visible reaction during the two-hour hearing as speakers called him a lowlife coward, an evil animal and a monster.

A prosecutor asked Deddeh to reconsider his refusal to let Earnest speak after conferring with the defense attorney about the substance of his remarks, but the judge didn’t budge.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, who listened to victims from a front-row seat, told reporters that Earnest’s planned statement was “more spewing of hatred and propaganda” and that the judge made the right call. The prosecutor asked the judge to reconsider only to guard against any possibility that Earnest alleges he was treated improperly, she said.

Earnest’s court-appointed attorney declined to speak with reporters. His parents did not attend.

Minutes after the shooting, Earnest called a 911 dispatcher to say he shot up the synagogue to save white people. “I’m defending our nation against the Jewish people, who are trying to destroy all white people,” he said.

The San Diego man was inspired by mass shootings at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh and two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, shortly before he attacked Chabad of Poway, a synagogue near San Diego, on April 27, 2019. He frequented 8chan, a dark corner of the internet, for those disaffected by mainstream social media sites to post extremist, racist and violent views.

Earnest legally bought a semi-automatic rifle in San Diego a day before the attack, according to a federal affidavit. He entered the synagogue with 10 bullets loaded and 50 more on his vest but fled after struggling to reload. Worshippers chased him to his car.

Earnest killed 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was hit twice in the foyer, and wounded an 8-year-old girl, her uncle and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was leading a service on the major Jewish holiday.

Dr. Howard Kaye, Lori’s husband of 32 years, said he has continued his rheumatology practice to help people heal regardless of their backgrounds in keeping with his faith but that it was difficult for him and their daughter to carry on at times. Lori was active in charities and sacrificed a banking career to raise their daughter, he said.

“This is a superior person and a wonderful woman,” Howard Kaye said.

Hannah Kaye said her mother was victim of “an ancient hatred” of Jews. She recounted their last day together on a visit home from college in exquisite detail: their “deep and humorous conversation” in the car, a final hug as her mother dressed for services and how she held her mother’s head and said she loved her as she lay dying.

As she entered her seventh decade, Lori Gilbert-Kaye had lots of desires, Hannah said, including wanting to attend law school, ride a hot air balloon and own a restaurant that served her father’s barbecue.

“She wanted to live another day, she wanted to survive,” Hannah said of her mother’s last moments.

Almog Peretz, who was shot with his 8-year-old niece, was emotionally unprepared to attend the hearing but a Hebrew translator read his statement about how the episode killed “my body and soul.” He said his dreams are haunted and that others now define him as a “terrorist’s victim.”

“I have no motivation to see things to the end,” Peretz said, speaking of work and friendships.

Earnest’s parents issued a statement after the shooting expressing shock and sadness, calling their son’s actions a “terrifying mystery.” Their son was an accomplished student, athlete and musician who was studying to be a nurse at California State University, San Marcos.

“To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,” they said.

In a statement issued by their lawyer late Thursday, the family said “our hearts are heavy and our sadness profound.”

“Right now, we cannot add to the words we have previously expressed, except to say that the hate that motivated him will not win. Love must win,” the statement said.

His conviction for murder and attempted murder at the synagogue and arson for an earlier fire at a nearby mosque carry a life sentence without parole, plus 137 years in prison.

Earnest also faces sentencing in federal court on Dec. 28, having pleaded guilty after the Justice Department said it wouldn’t seek the death penalty. Defense attorneys and prosecutors are recommending a life sentence.

Stephan, the district attorney, said prosecution in state and federal court “makes me sleep better at night.”

The attack was “racism, antisemitism and every kind of hate all wrapped into one,” she said.

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Bill would change maritime liability rules after Conception boat fire off California coast

By STEFANIE DAZIO

LOS ANGELES — Federal lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that would change 19th century maritime liability rules in response to the 2019 boat fire off the coast of Southern California that killed 34 people.

The bill would update the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, under which boat owners can limit their liability to the value of the remains of the vessel. In the case of the Conception, the scuba diving boat where an inferno trapped 33 passengers and one crew member in the bunkroom below deck, the boat was a total loss.

The legislation would be retroactively applied to the families of Conception victims if it passes, officials said. The tragedy was one of the deadliest maritime disasters in recent U.S. history.

The bill, sponsored by California Democrats Rep. Salud Carbajal and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, would mean that owners of small passenger vessels could be held legally responsible for maritime accidents. The owners would be mandated to compensate victims and their families regardless of the value of the boat after the incident.

The 1851 law is a time-tested legal maneuver that has been successfully employed by owners of the Titanic and countless other crafts, some as small as Jet Skis. It has its origins in 18th century England and was meant to promote the shipping business.

Carbajal, who represents the area where the Conception disaster occurred, said the 2019 fire prompted lawmakers to see how they could help the victims’ families.

“While nothing makes up for the loss, at the very least they’d get just and fair compensation that’s owed to them,” he told The Associated Press. “The aftermath of this tragedy brought this to light.”

Feinstein, in a statement, said the law “doesn’t account for modern tourism such as commercial dive boats.”

The Passenger Vessel Association, a trade group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under the current act, the company Truth Aquatics and owners Glen and Dana Fritzler have to show they were not at fault in the Conception disaster. Even if the captain or crew are officially blamed, the Fritzlers and their insurance company could avoid paying a dime under the law.

The Fritzlers’ suit to limit their liability remains ongoing in federal court. Attorneys for the couple did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Jeffrey Goodman, an attorney for the families, told AP the “long overdue” legislation may not really affect the Conception case because the Fritzlers do not have many assets to compensate the families.

However, Goodman said the bill is important in a broader sense to hold boat owners and operators accountable.

“Removing the financial protections provided (to) them will promote maritime safety moving forward,” he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the disaster did not find the cause of the fire, but it blamed the vessel’s owners for a lack of oversight and said failing to post a night watch allowed flames to spread quickly.

The Conception’s captain, Jerry Boylan, pleaded not guilty in February to rare federal manslaughter charges. Prosecutors say Boylan failed to follow safety rules before the fire broke out Sept. 2, 2019, by failing to train his crew, conduct fire drills and have a roving night watchman on the boat when the fire ignited. His case is pending.

Boylan and four other crew members, who had all been sleeping above deck, escaped from the fiery boat after the captain made a panicked mayday call.

___

Associated Press writer Brian Melley contributed to this story.

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2 sentenced to community service for hate crime targeting veteran in O.C.

SANTA ANA — Two men pleaded guilty Tuesday and were immediately sentenced to more than 100 hours of community service for a hate crime in Rancho Santa Margarita against an Army veteran three years ago.

Nicholas Lloyd Reynolds, 23, and Coty Nebenzahl, 23, both pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violation of civil rights with violent injury, according to court records.

The two were at a McDonald’s restaurant at 30672 Santa Margarita Parkway on April 12, 2018, when they got into a verbal altercation with the victim, according to court records.

Reynolds hollered a racist epithet for Blacks even though the victim was of Middle Eastern heritage and also spit at him, according to court records.

At first when the two drove by, the victim, who was wearing an Army shirt and hat, thought the defendants were being friendly, but instead they yelled racial epithets and an expletive regarding the U.S. Army, according to court records. When the victim said he was not Black they told him to “go back” to an Arabic country, according to court records.

Reynolds was placed on one year of formal probation and sentenced to 150 hours of community service. Nebenzahl was sentenced to 140 hours of community service and 10 days of Caltrans work.

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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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Fullerton man arrested in deadly pedestrian bridge stabbing

A 29-year-old Fullerton man was arrested Sunday, Sept. 5, in connection with a deadly stabbing of another man on a pedestrian bridge crossing over Harbor Boulevard in Fullerton, police said.

Abigail Jorge Gonzalez-Castillo was arrested on suspicion of murder with special circumstances in the Aug. 30 fatal stabbing of a man in his late 20s, the Fullerton Police Department said. The special circumstance allegation accuses Gonzalez-Castillo of lying in wait, according to Sgt. Brandon Clyde, spokesman for the Police Department.

Gonzalez-Castillo was being held without bail, police said.

On Aug. 30, police received a call from a person who found a man who had been fatally stabbed in his abdomen at 4:40 a.m. The man was dead when officers arrived, police said.

Information on a potential motive for the stabbing has not been released.

No additional identifying information was immediately available for the victim.

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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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Homeless man faces murder charge after victim dies in Santa Ana

SANTA ANA — A 27-year-old homeless man charged with beating another homeless man with an aluminum pipe in Santa Ana last week faces an upgraded charge of murder now that the victim has died of his injuries, police said Tuesday.

Jonathan Ceclio Menjivar Lemus was charged Monday with attempted murder with sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury and the personal use of a deadly weapon in the beating of 27-year-old Jesus Morales Jimenez about 5 p.m. last Thursday at 828 N. Raitt St., said Santa Ana police Cpl. Sonia Rojo.

A witness told police she saw the suspect swinging the pipe up and down as if he were slamming it into the ground, but because her view was obstructed, she couldn’t see the victim, Rojo said. When she and a companion went to look at what the suspect was doing, they found the victim and called 911, Rojo said.

Police arrested Lemus several hours later, but he was allegedly too high at the time to question, Rojo said. The victim succumbed to his injuries Monday night, she said.

It was not clear what prompted the attack, Rojo said.

Lemus, who is being held without bail, made his initial court appearance on Monday in the jail courtroom, and his arraignment was rescheduled for Sept. 15. According to jail records, his occupation is listed as construction.

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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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Homeland Security says human smuggling incidents have increased on the Orange, LA County coasts

LOS ANGELES — Maritime human smuggling in Orange and Los Angeles Counties has increased significantly this summer, with a dozen separate incidents  occurring in July, the Department of Homeland Security reported Monday.

The 12 smuggling attempts — which occurred along the coastlines of Palos Verdes, Long Beach, San Pedro, Malibu, Newport Beach and Santa Catalina Island — resulted in 90 people entering the country illegally being apprehended last month, according to Jaime Ruiz of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Most of the apprehended were men “of diverse nationalities,” though they included some women and teenagers.

Although smuggling activity along the coastline is not new, it was usually seen near the country’s southwest border, according to Ruiz. Criminal organizations have expanded their area of operations further north due to increased enforcement operations at the border.

Smuggling efforts often use pleasure crafts and panga boats to transport migrants and narcotics into the area, and can charge $15,000 or more per person trafficked, Ruiz said.

“Smuggling along the California coastline is inherently dangerous and criminal organizations are not concerned with public safety,” Ruiz said. “They see migrants and narcotics as simply cargo.”

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