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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Police seek help finding girl, 11, missing in Huntington Beach

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Huntington Beach police Sunday night asked for public help to locate an 11-year-old girl who went missing from a fast food restaurant.

Jolayn Tuua was last seen Sunday evening at the Sonic Restaurant at 17811 Beach Blvd., police spokeswoman Jennifer Carey said. She was reported missing about 7 p.m.

Jolayn is Pacific Islander, 4 feet, 8 inches tall, 150 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair and blond highlights.

**MISSING PERSON**

We are asking for the public’s help locating an 11 yr old female last seen at Sonic Restaurant on Beach Blvd this evening.

Name: Jolayn Tuua
Height: 4’8”
Weight: 150 lbs

If you have info, please contact our HBPD non-emergency line at (714) 960-8825. pic.twitter.com/fBs8R4kXXn

— Huntington Beach PD (@HBPD_PIO) July 5, 2021

Anyone with information was asked to call police at 714-960-8825.

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Woman injured in Mission Viejo shooting, suspect arrested after climbing a nearby hill

A woman was hospitalized and a man was arrested after a short crime spree that included a shooting in Mission Viejo on Sunday night, authorities said.

The suspect was also believed to be involved in two other crimes, a domestic violence incident and reckless driving, Orange County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Todd Hylton said.

Deputies first received a call about a domestic violence incident in San Clemente about 7:30 p.m., with a tip that the suspect lived in a neighboring city, Hylton said. Further details about that call were not immediately available.

About 7:40 p.m., deputies received a call of a reckless driver in Mission Viejo, with the vehicle description matching the one given to deputies in San Clemente, Hylton said.

While searching for the vehicle, another call came in of a shooting behind a business near the area of Marguerite Parkway and La Paz Road, Hylton said, adding that the description again matched the suspect vehicle.

Deputies arrived and found a woman with a non-life threatening gunshot wound in the area of Marguerite and La Paz, he said.

They later found the suspect vehicle, but the suspect had fled on foot.

“He was taken into custody a short time later” not far from the suspect vehicle, Hylton said.

News video from OC HAWK appeared to show a man wearing a grey shirt and black shorts climbing up a hillside. At one point, the man takes his shirt off before he is taken into custody by deputies at the top of a hill.

Video also showed investigators searching an area near MasterCare Car Service in the 27200 block of La Paz Road.

It wasn’t immediately known if the weapon used in the shooting was found and further information about the suspect was not immediately available.

The relationship, if any, between the suspect and the woman who was shot was not immediately clear.

The identity of the suspect was not immediately released.

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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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Man arrested, suspected of molesting 3 teens in after-school program in Anaheim

SANTA ANA — A 26-year-old man was behind bars Monday on charges of molesting three teenage boys in an afterschool program at a charter school in Anaheim.

Justin Dean Evans is charged with four counts of lewd acts on a minor younger than 14 and one count each of committing a forcible lewd act on a child and an attempted lewd act on a child younger than 14, all felonies.

Evans worked in an after-school program for Goals, a charter school in Anaheim, when he met the boys and allegedly sexually assaulted them in 2018 and 2019, when they were about 13 years old, according to Anaheim police Sgt. Shane Carringer.

Evans, who is being held on $1 million bail, is scheduled to be arraigned June 30 in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana.

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19 arrested in raid of illegal gambling operation in Garden Grove neighborhood

GARDEN GROVE — Police said they made 19 arrests Wednesday evening at an illegal gambling operation in a Garden Grove neighborhood.

Police responded about 7 p.m. to the 10000 block of McMichael Drive, near Brookhurst Street and north of Chapman Avenue, and determined a residence “was in fact operating as an illegal gambling establishment,” according to Sgt. Troy Haller of the Garden Grove Police Department.

A search warrant was served at the home and 12 gambling machine consoles and a gun were found and seized, Haller said.

Officers arrested 19 people for illegal gambling violations and/or outstanding arrest warrants, Haller said.

 

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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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Man gets 5 years in prison for shooting at occupants of a vehicle on the 91 Freeway in Riverside

RIVERSIDE — A 32-year-old man with a previous felony conviction pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of shooting at occupants of a vehicle on the Riverside (91) Freeway and was immediately sentenced to five years in state prison.

Lorenzo Antonio Parra of Corona admitted one count each of shooting at an occupied vehicle, felony driving under the influence and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office dropped three related charges in exchange for Parra’s admissions under the plea agreement.

Superior Court Judge O.G. Magno accepted the plea during a status hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice, imposing the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense.

According to the California Highway Patrol, a man driving a Chevrolet Silverado going west on the Riverside Freeway, near Adams Street in Riverside, came under fire about 10:40 p.m. on May 22.

CHP Officer Juan Quintero said the victim, whose name was not disclosed, exited the freeway on McKinley Avenue in Corona and called 911, describing the vehicle from which the shots originated as a burgundy Honda Accord, occupied by two people.

“The victim related that he observed the muzzle flash and heard the gunshots but did not know where the bullets struck his vehicle and was not able to obtain a license plate” number, Quintero said.

Neither the driver or his passenger was injured.

Quintero said patrol units canvassed the freeway and surrounding streets, locating Parra’s sedan on the westbound Riverside Freeway at Maple Street in Corona nearly two hours later.

Because Parra’s car matched the description given by the victim, it was stopped as it exited the freeway onto Green River Road, according to Quintero.

After officers confirmed that Parra was driving on a suspended license, he was detained, along with his companion.

“A thorough search of the suspect vehicle resulted in locating a loaded Ruger 9mm handgun, loose ammunition and one used shell casing,” Quintero said.

Parra was taken into custody without a struggle, and his passenger was released after questioning.

Investigators determined the shooting was not connected to the rash of vandalism attacks targeting vehicles traveling the Riverside Freeway between Anaheim and Riverside from mid-April to late May, resulting in windows being blown out by projectiles, identified as BBs and pellets.

Another convicted felon, 34-year-old Jesse Leal Rodriguez of Anaheim, was arrested and charged in connection with at least one of the attacks, though authorities believe he’s responsible for more.

According to court records, Parra has prior convictions for driving under the influence, felony evading and driving on a suspended license.

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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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