Man alleging molestation by a priest says Diocese of Orange officials tried to intimidate him

IRVINE — A man who has alleged in a lawsuit against the Diocese of Orange that he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest when he was 6 years old in 1994 said Monday that Diocese officials have attempted to “intimidate” him.

Last week, a judge cleared the way for the public identification of the priest, Father Edward Poettgen, who was most recently assigned to St. Boniface Catholic Church in Anaheim. The man suing him held a news conference Monday from the offices of his attorneys to say the Diocese has treated him “like an enemy of the church.”

The man, whose name was not released, said he reported the priest in January of 2019 so he could find some sort of healing.

“Instead of treating me with compassion Bishop (Kevin) Vann has treated me as an enemy of the church,” he said. “They served subpoenas on my mother, my girlfriend and my employers, hoping to intimidate me but I will not be intimidated. I find strength in knowing that my actions will protect other children.”

The man told reporters, “I’m not a scared little boy anymore.”

Poettgen has been placed on administrative leave, Diocese spokeswoman Tracey Kincaid said. She added the Diocese would not comment further on the pending litigation.

Attorney Vince Finaldi, who represents the plaintiff, said he deposed Poettgen last month, when the priest said he was still in active ministry at the church.

The plaintiff claims Poettgen molested him while he was enrolled as a student and in the parish of St. Polycarp Catholic Church in Stanton in 1994 and 1996.

“They’ve known about this for over a year and haven’t informed parishioners,” Finaldi said last week. “It’s crazy.”

Finaldi said Poettgen served on a board of consultants that decided to settle all its lawsuits in 2007 alleging clergy sex abuse.

“They say he doesn’t have any other allegations against him, but we’ve heard that before and proven it wrong,” Finaldi said. “We’ll have to see what the discovery turns up.”

A trial date has not yet been set.

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Pedestrian hit and killed by vehicle in Stanton

A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle and died near an intersection in Stanton on Monday night.

Lt. Fred Thompson with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said the crash happened at around 9:40 p.m. near the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Cerritos Avenue.

Thompson said the driver did not leave the area after the crash, and the intersection was closed while investigators worked the scene of the crash.

Information on the identity of the person who died was not immediately available.

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Are your 2020 resolutions kaput? Go short-term instead

If you do not feel as committed this week to the New Year’s resolutions you made Jan. 1, you’re not alone. Of the 130 million people who made New Year’s resolutions, 92% will give up by the second week of February.

There are several good reasons you may have difficulty keeping your resolutions. You might feel overwhelmed or discouraged by seemingly unattainable goals. Maybe your intentions were not clear when you started, or you’re not ready to change.

Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington, authors of “The 12 Week Year,” propose that people don’t follow through with resolutions because a year is too long a time for planning. “It creates an illusion that there is lots of time, which often results in procrastination, discouragement and failure,” they wrote. “Committing to something for 12 weeks is easier and much less overwhelming than an annual commitment.”

To use their planning system, you spend time writing down visions of how you see your life-long term and set goals for what they call a 12-week year. Every 12 weeks is not just a quarter of a year. It’s the start of a fresh new one.

Next, break down each of your 12-week goals into an action plan of daily and weekly steps that need to be completed. The authors recommend spending 15 or 20 minutes each week to review progress and plan for the upcoming week.

Results are scored weekly based on completion steps, not on progress towards your goal. For example, if your goal is to lose 12 pounds in 12 weeks, your weekly success is not based on weight loss that week but on how many days you followed your meal plan and how often you worked out.

The reason for measuring completion of action steps and not progress is that if you do not lose weight one week, you will not become discouraged and quit. Instead, you focus on the success of completing the actions you had control over, and not on results, which can vary.

The book includes a useful in-depth analysis of why this system is superior to traditional planning and the psychology behind many of the techniques. It also goes into great detail about how to draft compelling visions and goals.

The 12-week year can be successfully applied to financial goals. Assume your vision is to retire in 15 years, and one of your goals is to pay off your credit card debt. You probably can’t pay it all off in 12 weeks, so you decide $1,800 is a reasonable amount. Now, break down the 12-week goal into actions for each week.

Here are examples of tasks that could be included in your weekly action plans to pay down your debts:

  • Spend two hours reading about methods to pay down debt quicker and to increase your credit score.
  • List card balances, minimum payments and percentage rates, and create a strategy to pay off the higher rate cards or cards with the smallest balance first.
  •  Review your credit report and correct inaccuracies.
  •  Make an additional card payment of $150 per week.
  •  Consider where the funds are coming from to make the extra payments. List expenses you intend on reducing.
  •  Only purchase necessities for the next 12 weeks.
  •  Store all credit cards in a drawer and only use your debit card.
  •  Get help if you feel overwhelmed by debt (https://www.debtorsanonymous.org/) or if you think you or your spouse may have a gambling addiction (http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/).
  • Review credit card bills for recurring monthly subscriptions that can be eliminated.
  •  Call credit card companies and request a lower interest rate. Apply for a consolidation loan at a lower interest rate.

Remember to review your action plan and progress weekly. Google “12-week year free templates” for free vision and goal-setting worksheets, and weekly and daily action plans.

The first action step for any 12-week financial goal should be to prepare a budget. All financial plans start with knowing where you are now, how much money is coming in, and how much you’re spending. The Federal Trade Commission has free worksheets and a video on how to create a budget https://www.consumer.gov/articles/1002-making-budget.

Set realistic and attainable goals. One example would be to build emergency savings. Another goal would be to maximize contributions to your 401k.

Unlike goals, your financial visions can be as big as your imagination and should inspire you to take action. Think about where you want to live or travel. Include in your vision how you want to help others and projects or hobbies you would like to explore.

Perhaps the best feature of the 12 week year is you can start your year at any time. How about Feb. 1?

Michelle C. Herting, CPA, AEP specializes in Trusts and Estates. Her offices are in Riverside, Santa Monica, and Newport Beach. She is also president of the Estate Planning Council of Riverside County.

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New year, new mindset: Do you know your net worth?

A new year is here, and, depending on how you look at it, a new decade. New year, new decade, so it’s appropriate time to review your finances and plan for your future.

Many people make some type of New Year’s resolution in January, such as losing weight, exercising or eating healthy food. This year, instead of making a short-lived resolution, take some time to plan and prepare for your financial future.

Do you know your net worth?

Whether your net worth is high or low, you should know what it is. Without understanding where you are financially, how do you plan for your future? Calculating your net worth sounds complicated, but it’s not for most people. Make a list of your assets (what you own) and your liabilities (what you owe). Then, subtract the liabilities from the assets to determine your net worth.

If you have never calculated this, use this year’s statement of net worth as a benchmark going forward. Every January, compare your the net worth balance to prior years. Is the number growing or decreasing? Understand why it has changed. Are you saving more? Has your debt increased? Or it just a question of stock market fluctuations?

The overall goal should be to increase your net worth annually until you retire. During retirement, especially if you don’t have a pension, your net worth may decrease as you spend your assets to sustain your standard of living.

Create a budget

Do you know where you are spending your money? Most people know what they’re spending on mortgages and car payments, but really do not pay attention to how much they spend on dining out, grocery shopping, or trips to big-box stores. Budgeting will help you understand how you’re spending your money. Track all expenses for a minimum of 30 days or, better yet, for the entire year. List your monthly expenses first, then add up the additional spending. You’ll be surprised at how fast the quick trips to Target, Costco, or Denny’s add up. After you’ve done this for a month, think about the following:

  • Where can I reduce my spending?
  • Am I using credit cards monthly because I am short on cash?
  • How can I eliminate my outstanding credit card debt?
  • Am I maximizing my annual contribution and employer match in my retirement plan?
  • How much will I need to have saved to maintain my standard of living in retirement?
  • Am I saving enough to meet my goals?

Plan for big-ticket Items

Are you planning on traveling to Europe, replacing your roof, or paying for college tuition soon? Do you know how much this will cost, and have you thought about how you’re going to pay for it if the money isn’t readily available in a savings account? Pencil out your timeline, break the expense down to a monthly cost and plug it into your budget. To avoid accumulating unwanted debt, what spending changes can you make to save for this goal?

Prepare for the unexpected

Life can change unexpectedly and quickly. Are you prepared for a job loss, illness, disability, natural disaster, or lawsuit? Insurance and savings can protect you against unforeseen events. Do you have an emergency fund with at least six months of expenses in a savings or money market account? Are you adequately insured to meet your risk? Do you have a disaster plan in place and supplies readily available if a natural disaster occurs?

If you’re tech-savvy, consider storing important documents on a portable hard drive. It’s also a good idea to have copies of birth certificates, passports, wills, trust documents, home improvement records and insurance policies in a small, secure evacuation box (the fireproof, waterproof kind you can lock is best) that you can grab in a hurry.

Protect your estate

Without proper beneficiary designations, a trust, a will, and other basic documents, the fates of your assets or minor children may be decided by attorneys and tax agencies. Probate fees, taxes, and attorneys’ fees can erode your estate and delay the distribution of the assets when your heirs may need them the most. If your estate planning documents are not in place, schedule a meeting with an estate planning attorney this year to complete this task.

Make this year your most productive yet financially by growing your net worth. Take this journey, understanding that the decisions you make today regarding your finances will impact your life. Boldly plan for your financial future — then enjoy the feeling of personal empowerment that comes from being in control of your finances.

Teri Parker CFP® is a vice president for CAPTRUST Financial Advisors. She has practiced in the field of financial planning and investment management since 2000.  Reach her via email at Teri.parker@captrustadvisors.com.

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California’s minimum wage just went up and will continue to rise

California’s minimum wage is gradually going to become the highest in the nation and could affect nearly 5 million workers.

A 2018 study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center defines low-wage workers as those earning less than two-thirds of the median full-time wage in California.

About 32% of California’s workers, some 4.9 million, earned less than $14.35 an hour in 2017.

The chart below shows California’s minimum wage increases since 1964 and projections for the next several years.

Wages by state

California has one of the highest minimum wage rates ($12) in the nation.

Seattle has the highest minimum wage rate at $16 for large employers and $15 for small employers.

New York City’s minimum wage is $15 for all employers.

Worker profile

Figures may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.

 

Low wages, by industry

Those with the highest share of workers earning low wages, 2016

Agriculture, forestry and fishing: 71%

Restaurants and other food services: 66%

Grocery stores: 54%

Community, family and child care services: 51%

Administrative and business services: 49%

Where the low-wage workers are

 

 

Source: UC Berkeley Labor Center, California Department of Industrial Relations, U.S. Department of Labor

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Former Santa Ana elementary after-school instructor pleads guilty to molesting 4 girls

A 25-year-old after-school instructor pleaded guilty Tuesday, Dec. 10, to molesting four girls in Santa Ana.

Eddy Bustamante Infante of Santa Ana pleaded guilty to four counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14, according to court records. A fifth count of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14 and a count of oral copulation or sexual penetration of a child 10 years or younger were dismissed, according to court records.

Infante is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 7 in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

He had worked as an after-school teacher at Greenville Elementary School beginning in 2015. All of his victims were students under his care.

Infante was initially arrested Oct. 5, 2018, on suspicion of sexually assaulting three girls, Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. He was released after posting $1 million bail, but taken back into custody just five days later after a fourth victim came forward and spoke with investigators. She told authorities Infante sexually assaulted her when she was 6 years old.

He also admitted to sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl between August 2016 and June 2017 and a 9-year-old girl between August 2015 and June 2017, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Staff writer Eric Licas contributed to this report.

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Man in Orange charged with assaulting police officer with Crock-Pot lid

SANTA ANA — A 35-year-old man was charged Tuesday with attacking a police officer in Orange.

Khleoum Tong was charged with assault with a weapon on a police officer and resisting arrest, both felonies. He was also charged with a misdemeanor count of assault on a peace officer and a misdemeanor count of being under the influence of methamphetamine.

Tong also faces sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury on at least one of the officers, according to court records.

Police responded just after 2 p.m. Saturday to a “panic button” alarm from a car, and when the officers arrived the suspect was “acting irate,” said Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange Police Department.

Tong appeared to be under the influence of drugs, and at some point he “grabbed a lid from a Crock-Pot and threw it at an officer and struck him on the chin,” McMullin said.

The officer needed three stitches and was able to return to duty this week, McMullin said.

Police had to use a Taser to take the suspect into custody, McMullin said.

Six officers were involved in the attempt to arrest Tong, according to court records.

Tong pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana on Tuesday and was ordered to return to court for a pretrial hearing Dec. 11, according to court records.

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Man pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Garden Grove stabbing case dating to 1985

SANTA ANA — A 64-year-old man pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter in a drug-related killing of a young man in the mid-1980s in Garden Grove.

Under the plea agreement, Jesus Menchaca is expected to be sentenced to 11 years in prison on Jan. 6, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons.

Eight witnesses have died over the years, making it more difficult to prosecute the case, Simmons said.

The 20-year-old victim, Scott Raymond Hall, was stabbed to death on Dec. 19, 1985, in the 12600 block of Sunswept Avenue during a drug deal gone bad, according to Garden Grove police.

Menchaca was initially charged with killing Hall in 1992, but the case was dropped for lack of evidence. The investigation was revived in 2015 and new technology helped prosecutors build a case that year based on DNA evidence.

Sentencing was put off until January so Hall’s family members can make victim impact statements.

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Landlords looking to sell: Consider a charitable gift that pays you annually

The joys of being a landlord never seem to end, especially during the holidays. Thanksgiving leftovers and football might be interrupted with a phone call from a tenant with a backed-up kitchen sink.

Looking ahead to January, you wonder if the rent collected will be enough for the property taxes, or will the tenants spend the rent money on Christmas presents?

The benefits of investing in real estate

When you invested in rental property, you did it for good reasons. But now might be the right time to sell. Prices are up. Rental property has not been a tax-advantaged investment for some time. It’s becoming more challenging to manage the property yourself. Responsible and affordable property managers are hard to find.

One of the downsides to selling is federal capital gains taxes and state income taxes. The top rates are 23.8% on the federal side (20% capital gains plus 3.8% Medicare surtax), and 13.3% California state income taxes for a total of up to 37.1% on the taxable gain.

Also, if you sell now, you would have to list the property, find a buyer, and pay fix-up costs, commissions, and escrow fees.

An alternative to selling

Instead of selling the property, consider a charitable planned gift, to allow you to dispose of the rental, avoid selling costs, defer capital gains and state tax, and provide a significant tax deduction.

In exchange for the property, you could receive income for life, probably more than your current net rent cash flows, without the hassle of managing the property. Now that’s a gift worth considering.

“With a little planning, you can make a meaningful impact in the community while meeting your own retirement and legacy goals,”  says Tony Truong, the director of gift planning at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton. “You can turn your assets into income streams for yourself and your loved ones.”

Charitable gift annuity

The simplest arrangement that pays income for life is the Charitable Gift Annuity. Many large nonprofits, including universities, offer this charitable planned gift.

Here’s how it works: You make a gift to a charity using cash, stocks or property. In return, you receive a monthly or quarterly payout at a rate based on your age. The benefit is security. CGA rates are fixed, immune to market fluctuations. At the end of your life, the charity receives the remainder of the gift.

For example, based on the donation of property worth $800,000, a 60-year-old could receive a rate of 4.7% (paying $37,600 annually) in immediate income, while an 85-year-old will see a rate of 8.3% (paying $66,400 annually). The charity invests the funds and guarantees your life income with their assets.

The donor receives a charitable tax deduction, which can be carried forward for up to five years. A 60-year-old would receive a tax deduction of about $180,000. The deduction for the 85-year-old would be around $367,000. Typically, a significant portion of your income is tax-free. Also, capital gains are reduced and spread over a number of years, providing additional tax savings.

There is a new recommended rate table that takes effect in 2020, so your benefits may vary slightly depending on when you set up your CGA.

Charitable remainder trust

If you’re looking for a little more control and flexibility, consider a Charitable Remainder Trust.

This is more complex than a charitable gift annuity, allowing you to set more terms, such as where to invest the funds and how much income will be paid.

Here are the basics: You contribute stocks or property to a CRT, and when the trust sells the property, it’s exempt from capital gains tax. As a result, the asset’s full value can be invested to benefit you and eventually the charities you name.

Additions to a CRT are allowed, and the trust can be paid to beneficiaries of multiple generations. “You can leave an inheritance to your heirs through an income stream rather than a lump-sum distribution,” says Truong.

A CRT is not a do-it-yourself project. Consult with an experienced estate and gift attorney to set it up.

This year, instead of making several small donations that may no longer be deductible, consider leaving a legacy with a planned gift. The power of charitable gift planning is that you can relinquish assets you no longer want or need in exchange for income for life and a significant tax break. For more information, contact the gift planning office at your favorite charity.

Michelle C. Herting, CPA, AEP specializes in Trusts and Estates. She has offices in Riverside, Santa Monica and Newport Beach. She is also president of the Charitable Gift Planners of Inland Southern California.

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The spill of 4 million gallons of raw sewage prompts closure of South O.C. ocean and bay areas

NEWPORT BEACH — A spill of about four million gallons of raw sewage led the Orange County Health Care Agency to declare off-limits the ocean and bay areas from Pelican Point at Crystal Cove in Newport Beach to the Poche Beach interface in Dana Point and San Clemente on Wednesday.

The agency did not reveal when, where and how the spill occurred but Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick said the affected ocean and bay water areas will be closed to water-contact sports until follow-up water quality monitoring reveals they meet acceptable standards.

“I want to stress the importance of avoiding contact with ocean water in the affected areas due to the danger of exposure to untreated sewage, which can be harmful and result in very serious illness with potentially severe effects,” Quick said.

Any residents or visitors who smell the odor of sewage in the affected areas can file a complaint through the South Coast Air Quality Management District at 800-CUT-SMOG (800-288-7664).

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