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Police Files

Suspect arrested at Surf & Sand after allegedly punching friend out, jumping off balcony onto sand

On Monday, Sept 24 at 3:16 a.m., at Surf & Sand Hotel, a caller reported to LBPD that his friend had knocked him out and that he was bleeding from the face. 

According to log reports, the caller had tried to get his credit card out of the room, which angered his friend because he was entertaining female guests and didn’t want to be interrupted.

Police Files Jeremy Bell“When officers arrived to investigate, the suspect fled on foot by jumping off the balcony onto the sand,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. 

 “The suspect left stolen mail, credit cards, and other property inside his car and the hotel room,” Sgt Cota said. “Officers searched the hotel room and vehicle taking evidence from both locations.” 

A taxi driver who was at the hotel recognized the suspect and later saw the suspect at the Chevron at SR-1 Coast Hwy and Crown Valley, but responding officers were unable to locate the suspect at the time, Sgt Cota said. 

At about 7 a.m., LBPD officers and detectives began surveillance near the hotel and the suspect was taken into custody at about 8:50 a.m. in front of the Surf & Sand. 

Bakersfield resident Jeremy Scott Bell, 33, was arrested for felony burglary second degree, battery, and using stolen credit cards. 

“Bell was positively identified and was on probation. He was charged with several fraud related crimes and burglary,” Sgt Cota said.

No bail was set.

Man gets punched for telling someone they look like talk show host Montel Williams

Police File Buce Kelly SmithOn Tuesday, Sept 25 at 7:55 a.m., at the 200 block of Broadway Street, a man, who was also the alleged victim, came to the LBPD station to report an alleged assault that had just occurred.

According to the alleged victim, he was in Whole Foods when he saw someone he thought looked like the talk show host Montel Williams. He walked up to the man and told him what he thought. Obviously not flattered, the suspect allegedly punched him in the ear and fled.

According to Sgt Cota, “Bruce Kelly Smith, 32, was found a short time later by police and positively identified as the suspect. Smith was taken into custody for the assault and two outstanding warrants. Smith listed his city and state of residence as Denton, Texas.”

Bail was set at $15,500.

Suspect unknown, the tale of a missing palm tree remains a mystery

On Wednesday, Sept 19 at 11:24 a.m., an LBPD officer met with a Merritt Farms employee who manages several properties in Laguna Beach, including at the 600 block of South Coast Highway, a vacant lot where the scene of the missing palm tree occurred.

According to police reports, the employee said the disappearance of the tree happened sometime between 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. that day.

According to the witness, “An unknown subject removed a planted palm tree from the rear of the lot that was approximately 6-feet tall and 2.5-feet in diameter. The exact value of the mature rooted tree was unknown, but was estimated to be around $2,000.

 According to Sgt Cota, “There were no leads and or evidence at the time of this call. [The employee] stated, he would check neighboring businesses to see if there was any video footage of the incident. No leads have been found at this time.”

Join LBPD for National Coffee with a Cop Day Wednesday, Oct 3

LBPD invites Laguna locals to join together with neighbors and police officers for coffee and conversation on National Coffee with a Cop Day on Wednesday, Oct 3. LBPD will host a morning and evening event for National Coffee with a Cop Day. The first event will be held at Peet’s Coffee located at Gelson’s Market, at 30922 S Coast Hwy, between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. The second event will be held at Starbucks at 180 N Coast Hwy, from 6 to 8 p.m. 

“All community members welcome and invited to attend. The National Coffee with a Cop Day events represent a unique opportunity for community members to informally meet with LBPD to discuss community issues, respond to questions, build relationships and, of course, drink great coffee,” said LBPD Community Services officer Nikie Hernandez. “We hope to see everyone there.”


Incident Reports

Tuesday, Sept 25

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Bench Warrants

7:05 p.m. Brian James Szafran, 48, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant for disorderly conduct related to alcohol (bail was set at $1,500) and an unlisted warrant (bail was set at $1,500).

Laguna Canyon Drive | 20600 Block | Bench Warrant

7:44 a.m. Robert Charles Hitchcock, 64, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant. Bail was set at $10,000.

N Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Bench Warrant

3:26 a.m. Mira Shim, 49, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant for trespassing. Bail was set at $1,500.

Broadway Street | 300 Block | Bench Warrant

1:06 a.m. Kimberly Sue Taddeo, 52, Aliso Viejo, was arrested for a bench warrant. Bail was set at $15,500.

Monday, Sept 24

Forest Ave & S Coast Hwy | Bench Warrant

6:35 p.m. Mitchell Anthony Santos, 27, Santa Ana, was arrested for a bench warrant for having a firearm (bail was set at $15,000) and willful child endangerment (bail was set at $25,000).

Thalia Street & Avalon Street | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

12:54 p.m. A 30-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 1800 Block | Bench Warrant

8:15 p.m. Darius Raymond Nocon, 28, Leucadia, was arrested for a bench warrant. Bail was set at $25,000.

Ramona Ave | 400 Block | Bench Warrant

12:10 a.m. Brian Keith Michael O’Connor, 56, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant for driving without a license. Bail was set at $1,500.

Sunday, Sept 23

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Bench Warrant

7:58 p.m. Kristl Cee Budge, 49, Fullerton, was arrested for a bench warrant for assault and battery. Bail was set at $1,000.

Forest Ave | 200 Block | Dog Poop

3:17 p.m. A caller reported that a large dog defecated on the sidewalk and that “passerby are stepping in the poop and tracking it.” 

Forest Ave | 200 Block | DUI

1:37 a.m. A 21-year-old Laguna Niguel man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Bluebird Canyon Drive | 200 Block | DUI Drugs

1:36 a.m. A 36-year-old Corona man was arrested on suspicion of DUI drugs. Bail was set at $2,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 2200 Block | Driving with a Suspended License, DUI

12:55 a.m. A 34-year-old Tustin man was arrested for driving on a suspended license for a DUI. No bail was set. 

Beach Street & Ocean Ave | DUI 

12:36 a.m. A 28-year-old Los Angeles man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $500.


Incident Reports

Saturday, Sept 22

Laguna Ave | S Coast Hwy | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher, Possession of a Controlled Substance

11:59 p.m. A 56-year-old San Juan Capistrano man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500), and possession of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500).

Forest Ave | 300 Block | Possession of a Controlled Substance

7:51 a.m. Manuel Lozano Reyes, 46, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Forest Ave | 3rd Street | DUI

1:36 a.m. A 64-year-old Gilbert, AZ, man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Forest Ave | 500 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

12:48 a.m. A 26-year-old Fountain Valley man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

S Coast Hwy | 500 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

12:14 a.m. A 53-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Friday, Sept 21

Laguna Canyon Road | 700 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

11:11 p.m. A 32-year-old San Juan Capistrano man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Dumond Drive | 100 Block | Bench Warrant

8:15 p.m. Jay Christian Wallace, 25, Placentia, was arrested for a bench warrant for driving without a license. Bail was set at $2,500.

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

1:28 a.m. A 38-year-old Los Angeles man was arrested for disorderly conduct related alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

N Coast Hwy | Irvine Cove Drive | DUI with One Prior

12:53 a.m. John Paul Basilio, 32, Stockton, was arrested on suspicion of DUI, a second offense. Bail was set at $10,000.

Laguna Ave | S coast Hwy | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

1:08 a.m. A 62-year-old Laguna Niguel man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Thursday, Sept 20

Cleo Street | Glenneyre Street | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher

9:39 p.m. A 31-year-old Laguna Niguel man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Coast Hwy | Vista Del Sol | Driving with a Suspended License, Bench Warrant, Bringing Controlled Substance into Jail

12:14 a.m. Anthony Dominic Bolognese, 59, Irvine was arrested for driving with a suspended license (bail was set at $500), bringing narcotics into jail (bail was set at $25,000), and a bench warrant for suspicion of DUI driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% (no bail was set).

S Coast Hwy | Mountain Road | DUI with One Prior

12:44 a.m. Drew Marie Gallagher, 21, Mission Viejo, was arrested on suspicion of DUI with one prior. Bail was set at $10,000.

Highway | Reckless Driving

Vania Carette, 25, Lake Forest, was arrested for reckless driving. No bail was set.

Wednesday, Sept 19

Bay Drive | 0 Block | Bench Warrant

3:47 p.m. Kris Conrad Bosmans, 58, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant for driving on a revoked or suspended license. Bail was set at $1,500.


Police Files

Visitor to Laguna arrested in felony hit and run that left pedestrian seriously injured

On Saturday, Sept 22, at 9:32 a.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to an injury traffic collision involving a pedestrian and hit and run vehicle at Beach Street and Broadway Street. The person who reported the incident said they didn’t see the vehicle but heard it prior to seeing the victim down.

Police Files BurgerbWhen the officers arrived, a woman was located sitting on a planter near the traffic collision scene with serious injuries. “It appeared she had a broken left arm and a large laceration to her neck,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

The suspect’s vehicle was found traveling westbound on Broadway Street, described as a new silver Lexus SUV with a sunroof and roof rack. According to log reports, there was “blood on the vehicle.”

“The responding officers did a good job working with local businesses and using the city cameras to identify the suspect and his vehicle,” Sgt Cota said.

“The suspect was identified as William Edward Burger, 60, of Redlands. Burger was arrested for felony hit and run at the Laguna Shores Hotel,” Sgt Cota said. “He listed that he is the CFO at Navco in Anaheim. It should be noted he was arrested the night before for DUI.”

According to LBPD police records, Burger was arrested on suspicion of DUI at 12:11 a.m. at Forest Ave and Beach Street.

Bail was set at $50,000 for the felony hit and run and $2,500 for the suspicion of DUI.

Poor pup plucked from parked Prius at Pavilions

On Saturday, Sept 22, at 4:57 p.m., an LBPD officer was dispatched to the Pavilions parking lot, at the 600 block of N Coast Hwy, in reference to grand theft of a dog from a vehicle. An LB Animal Services Officer arrived prior to the PD officer and contacted the victim. The victim parked her Prius near the back of the lot. 

According to the victim, she left her window lowered a few inches, doors locked, and her small young dog, Joey, inside, while she went into Pavilions for approximately 10 minutes. 

“When she returned, the dog was gone and the doors were unlocked,” Sgt Cota said. “Unfortunately, the windows were lowered enough for an arm to reach in and unlock the door. The ASO contacted Pavilions management and learned there are no cameras in the parking lot.” 

Joey is described as an 11-month-old blue merle toy Australian Shepherd. He is microchipped. The pup’s parent said she paid $1,500 for Joey, but he’s priceless.

Police Files Pup

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of Kevfrazier.com

Not an actual picture of Joey, but a picture of a blue merle toy Australian Shepherd to be on the lookout for

According to dog experts, the toy is the smallest version of the Australian Shepherd, standing between 10 to 14-inches tall at the shoulder when full-grown and weighing between 12 and 17 pounds. Although he’s small, the toy version has all the herding instincts of his larger relatives.

There are no additional leads or suspects at this time. Keep a watch out for Joey and please call LBPD at (949) 497-0701 with any information or leads.


Incident Reports

Tuesday, Sept 18

Laguna Canyon Road | 600 Block | Bench Warrant

11:28 p.m. Tri Boomer Sov, 27, San Diego, was arrested on a bench warrant for trespassing. Bail was set at $1,000.

Hillcrest Drive | 700 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

9:11 p.m. Brittany Ann Honingford, 27, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and being in possession of controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

N Coast Hwy & Boat Canyon Drive | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance

10:07 a.m. Gina Michelle Sanfellipo, 43, Valley Center, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy & Ruby Street | DUI

12:43 a.m. A 27-year-old Costa Mesa woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S Coast Hwy | 500 Block | Found Property – Possible Drugs

9:11 a.m. A man reported finding a baggie with a good amount of white powder in it. He found the baggie in the parking lot near the storage and garbage bins.

Monday, Sept 17

N Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

11:20 p.m. A 25-year-old Los Angeles man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy | 200 Block | Parole Violation

11:02 p.m. Victor Kuzma Stepanenko, 49, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a parole violation. No bail was set.

Locust Street & Monterey Drive | Bench Warrants

6:28 p.m. Joseph Charles Group, 52, Santa Ana, was arrested for a parole violation. LBPD Officers responded to Locust Street and Monterey Drive to conduct an area search for a male subject causing a disturbance. According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The male was reportedly yelling at a friend about owing him money. Officers arrived on scene and contacted Santa Ana resident Joseph Group. A records check was conducted on Group. The male had an outstanding no bail parole violation warrant.” He was arrested and transported to OCJ. No bail was set.

N Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Petty Theft

4:41 p.m. Nicholas Dylan Lilley, 26, Los Angeles, was arrested for petty theft for allegedly stealing two bottles of vodka. Bail was set at $500. 

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

2:49 p.m. A 59-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Ocean Ave | 200 Block | Suspicious Person

1:14 p.m. An Asian male in a black karate type suit wearing sunglasses was reportedly seen with a long sword in a case that he was holding. According to police reports, the reporting person said, “He is standing near the exit off of Ocean Ave and looks out of place.” The caller reported that the sword was “approximately 7 inches long.” LBPD checked out the situation and the male in the “black karate type suit” with the sword was a sushi chef at a local restaurant.

Sunday, Sept 16

N Coast Hwy | 1300 Block | Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

11:38 p.m. Alannah Renea Fields, 22, Orange, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 2600 Block | Animal Call

3:44 p.m. A man was entering the Dog Park with his pet dog and was bitten by a visiting pit bull from San Clemente. The report was faxed to Coastal Animal Services. 

Dorn Court | 3000 Block | Domestic Violence – Spousal Abuse and Elder Abuse

At 7:16 p.m. Damon Harold Roberts, 59, Laguna Beach, was arrested for domestic violence. Bail was set at $10,000.

Myrtle Street | 100 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher, Suspended License, Suspended License

7:32 p.m. A 27-year-old Murrieta man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500), and driving on a suspended license (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 900 Block | DUI

1 a.m. A 31-year-old Tustin man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S Coast Hwy & Brooks Street| Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

12:35 a.m. A 32-year-old San Diego man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.


Police Files

Residents call police on man hitting cars

Police Files LeisbOn Tuesday, Sept 18, at 7:35 a.m., an LBPD officer was flagged down in the area of Cliff Drive and Aster Street by several citizens reporting that a man, later identified as James Eugene Leis, was running up and down the street hitting cars. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “He was located a short time later walking down the middle of the highway. When the officer tried to speak to him he picked up a large rock and failed to comply with the officer’s orders. Three other officers responded. Leis, being greatly outnumbered, decided to comply.”

Leis, 28, of Laguna Beach, was detained and his probation officer was contacted who placed a “flash hold” warrant on him. He was arrested and transported to Orange County Jail.

According to Stu News Laguna records, Since May 1, 2018, Leis has been arrested six times by LBPD.

No bail was set.

Main Beach assault report leads to pills arrest

On Monday, Sept 17, at 4:04 p.m., at the 100 block of S Coast Hwy, LBPD officers responded to the Main Beach area in reference to an assault report. Officers contacted Shane Hardin, who was one of the involved parties, and upon a consensual search located two white capsule shaped pills in his right front pocket.

“Hardin stated the pills were Hydrocodone and he had obtained them through a friend without a prescription. Additionally, Hardin knew he was supposed to have a prescription in order to possess and consume them,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Cota said. “Based on Hardin being in possession of the Hydrocodone without a prescription, LBPD issued Hardin a misdemeanor citation for Possession of a Controlled Substance.” 

Hardin signed the citation in LBPD’s presence and was released at the scene on his written promise to appear. Officers met with the other party, who alleged Hardin threw water at him. He indicated he was not desirous of prosecution and only wanted Hardin advised not to further disturb him.

Shane Christopher Hardin, 43, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance.

LBPD gives a warm welcome to three new employees

Police Files James

Courtesy of LBPD

Jailer Devon James

LBPD gives their three newest employees a warm welcome – Jailer Devon James, Officer James Denevan, and Officer Kylan Peterson – and would like the community to welcome them too, as a part of America’s finest in blue.

James previously worked for the Los Angeles County Probation Department.

He grew up in Long Beach, and attended Millikan High School, where he played basketball. 

An avid sports fan, James enjoys watching basketball, baseball, and football, actually he enjoys all sports.

Police Files Peterson

Courtesy of LBPD

Officer Kylan Peterson

Officer Kylan Peterson is also a new asset to LBPD. Peterson is from Downey, and graduated from St John Bosco High School in Bellflower. He attended Long Beach City College and Cal State Dominguez and received his B.S. degree in Business.

Peterson loves all sports, including Fantasy Football and dirt biking. He is married to Meagan Kylan and has a 1.5-year-old baby boy named Carter.

Police Files Denevan

Photo courtesy of LBPD

Officer James Denevan

Officer James Denevan is also a welcome addition. Denevan grew up in Cypress where he graduated from Cypress High School. He then attended Cal State Long Beach and received his B.A. in Criminal Justice.

In his spare time, Denevan likes to ride dirt bikes. Denevan is happy to be in Laguna Beach. 


Police Files

Scuba diver found face down in the water at Crescent Bay Beach, unresponsive during rescue efforts

On Friday, Sept 14, at 8:04 a.m., LB Lifeguards received a 911 call about a single scuba diver face down in the water at Crescent Bay Beach. The patrol unit was on scene in three minutes at 8:07 a.m., according to LB Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond. 

“A single scuba diver was pulled out by a good Samaritan, an adult male with scuba equipment. Lifeguards performed CPR on scene at Crescent Bay Beach, but he was unresponsive,” Capt Bond said.

The adult male was then taken to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo by paramedics. His condition is unknown. 

The surf has been rough and there have been a number of drowning events in the last couple of weeks. Capt Bond said the surf conditions have been pretty significant with 3 to 5 feet swells and yellow flag conditions.

Important safety tips for people who want to go out into the ocean: learn to swim; swim by an open lifeguard tower; swim with a buddy; always check with  the tower lifeguard to get up-to-date conditions; learn about rip current safety; and always go into the water feet first, Capt Bond said.

For this past weekend, on Saturday, Sept 15 and Sunday, Sept 16, there were 274 rescues, 42 medical aids, 4,454 public contacts, and 2,425 prevents. 

This summer, from June 23 to Labor Day, Marine Safety had 5,265 rescues, made 323,861 public contacts, and prevented 166,558 beachgoers.

Local man nabbed for meth in his buttocks, according to LBPD

On Saturday, Sept 15, at 7:09 p.m., an LBPD officer conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle driven near Calliope Street and S Coast Hwy. The officer advised the vehicle continued travelling southbound and requested an additional unit respond.

Police Files Ronald Herndon“The officer saw Herndon reaching around inside the vehicle. The vehicle yielded in front of the Surf and Sand,” said LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock. “Herndon repeatedly reached towards his shorts’ pockets and was taken out of the vehicle and detained in handcuffs. A probation search of his person and vehicle was conducted. Herndon was arrested for possession of controlled paraphernalia.”

Prior to entering jail, Herndon reportedly advised he had methamphetamine hidden between his buttocks. Further investigation revealed he was selling methamphetamine, according to Villwock.

Ronald Gene Herndon, 53, of Laguna Beach, was also charged with felony transport of a controlled substance and felony possession of a controlled substance for sale. Orange County Probation was contacted and he was placed on a probation hold.

Man having heart attack at Shaw’s Cove Beach saved by LBPD officers’ quick aid

On Sunday, Sept 16, at 2:49 p.m., “LBPD officer Tommy McGuire was dispatched along with LBFD to a medical aid for a heart attack on the stairs at Shaw’s Cove,” said LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock. “Beach Patrol Officer Tanner Flagstad was also in the area and responded as well. Both officer McGuire and BPO Flagstad arrived on scene first and began CPR along with using an AED, which provided two shocks before fire arrived on scene and provided life-saving treatment.”

Police Files Tommy McGuire

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD Officer Tommy McGuire (pictured here) and LBPD Beach Patrol Officer Tanner Flagstad saved the life of a man having a heart attack at Shaw’s Cove

According to Villwock, LBFD supplied Advanced Life Support and transported the 75-year old man to a local area hospital. When he arrived at the hospital, he was breathing on his own and talking to first responders. 

“LBFD Fire Captain/Paramedic Robert Abijay attributed the life-saving actions to what officer McGuire and BPO Flagstad did with early CPR and AED usage,” said Villwock.

LBPD later learned that the 75-year-old man they saved at Shaw’s Cove was celebrating his granddaughter’s engagement with family at the beach at the time of his heart attack and rescue. Hopefully, thanks to LBPD heroics, he will soon be able to continue the celebration.

Teens rescued from rough surf at Sleepy Hollow with help from a good Samaritan surfer and LB lifeguards 

On Friday, Sept 14, at 3:59 p.m., at the 600 block of Sleepy Hollow Lane, Laguna Beach Emergency Services, including Marine Safety, received a 911 call reporting three subjects in the water at Sleepy Hollow Beach.

 The reporting party said they were approximately 100 feet offshore at Sleepy Hollow Beach. 

According to LB Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond, “Our tower lifeguard from Main Beach responded, as well as two of our patrol units. At 4:01 p.m., the tower lifeguard made contact with the group. Since there was more than one person we had our patrol units back him up. We were able to rescue the three people out of the water by 4:03 p.m.”

Capt Bond said two of the three patients were transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach. One was not a medical aid, but the other two were transported. 

“The patient information is not known at this time,” Capt Bond said.

Police Files Scott

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Scott Brashier

Teens from Santa Ana needed rescued at Sleepy Hollow Beach

Eye witness Brynne Van Putten, who is a local, described the scene as she was walking her dog down the steps at Laguna Surf at the time of the incident.

“The surf was pretty rough that day, and there was a kid about 30 yards out in the water, and he was yelling. I looked out and there was a pod of seven bottle-nosed dolphins near him. I thought he was yelling because of the dolphins, that he was excited about them,” Van Putten said. “And his friends were running back and forth on the beach and all these guys, his friends were about 16 or 17-years-old. I kind of realized that he wasn’t yelljng about the dolphins, he was drowning.”

At the beach, she saw a group of about 10 girls, approximately 16-years-old, and a few people scattered around the beach. She noticed that there were only two surfers in the water. 

 “His friend was running up and down the beach yelling does anybody know how to swim?” Van Putten said. “One of his friends started to swim out in the water and he got in trouble. He tried to go back in, but he couldn’t reach him. I started to look around to see if there was a boogie board or a surfboard because the waves were so big, there was obviously a riptide, and there was just so much pull that I didn’t feel comfortable to go in to swim to him.”

Police Files Van Putten

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Brynne Van Putten

Santa Ana teens needed help in rough surf on Friday, good Samaritan surfer helps save the day

She said she was trying to call the lifeguards, but that they were all at Main Beach. 

“Then this other kid grabbed somebody’s boogieboard, it was obvious they were friends and tried to go in. He wasn’t able to do anything. He fell flat on his face,” Van Putten said. “Then it was obvious that somebody had gotten to the lifeguards because you could all their sirens going and the police sirens.”

But in the meantime, this kid was starting to go down, she said.

“And this young surfer, Michael, he just went running on in and he went out there, out to the guy. The kid went under twice,” Van Putten said. “Then Michael got to him and supported him on his board.” 

At this point the lifeguards came running down, Van Putten said. As another friend staggered out of the surf, his friends went out to the white water and grabbed him. He just collapsed on the beach.

“Then all the firefighters, paramedics, beach patrol, and police department got down there and the two lifeguards went running out into the water,” Van Putten said. “They went out to where Michael was and then all three of them got the kid in and started working on both of the kids.”

One of the kids started getting sick and they were put on stretchers and taken to the hospital. She said the kids were all from Santa Ana and told her that the boy that almost drowned got swept all the way down from Main Beach.

“If Michael hadn’t gotten to that kid when he did, he definitely would have drowned or he definitely would have been under,” Van Putten said.

The good Samaritan, surfer Michael Cipolletti, from Laguna Niguel, was the true hero, Van Putten added.

Man steals Mike’s Hard Lemonade from Ralphs

On Wednesday, Sept at 2:29 p.m., LBPD officers responded to Ralphs at the 700 block of S Coast Hwy in reference to a petty theft of alcohol. 

“LBPD officers contacted Brian Ensley who was still in possession of a Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Four Loco which he had stolen from Ralphs,” said Jordan Villwock,

LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator. “Ralphs was desirous of prosecution and positively identified by an infield show-up.” 

According to reports, Ensley took off from Ralphs on his skateboard with the loot d’liquor stashed in his black backpack. According to police records, an officer said, “I located a strawberry Mike’s Lemonade with the subject and the can is still kinda cold.” The other chilled swill located on his person was a Hurricane Malt.

Brian Scott Ensley, 40, of Laguna Beach, was placed under arrest for petty theft and felony violation of probation.

No bail was set.


Police Files

Laguna Emergency Services Teams on scene in two minutes to help drowning victim at Woods Cove

On Tuesday, Sept 11, Marine Safety Dispatch received a 911 call at 10:33 a.m. for a possible swimmer in distress at the north end of Woods Cove.

“Laguna Beach Lifeguards, LBPD, and LBFD responded and were on scene within two minutes and witnessed a male approximately 40 yards off shore floating face down in the water,” said Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond. He was in between rocks.

Lifeguards made contact with the victim, who was unconscious and unresponsive, and performed CPR to him along with LBFD. He was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. Further information about the man is unavailable.

“No one knows exactly what happened and an update hasn’t been provided,” Capt Bond said. “But it’s a reminder to always swim in front of an open lifeguard stand, swim with a buddy, and to swim within your ability.”

The quick response could be a difference maker in the victim’s outcome. Hopefully he is on the mend.

 “We had a unit on patrol of the area and they were able to get on scene within two minutes,” Capt Bond said.

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said the victim was still alive but in grave condition on Tuesday afternoon.

According to call records, a witness who was in her vacation rental at the time of the accident could hear and see the victim yelling out for help. She said he was approximately 20 yards out. A second person also called 911 from Diamond Street and Ocean Way to help.

There was 2-4 foot surf with yellow flag conditions that day according to Capt Bond.

Detox technician seemingly needs to detox

On Sunday, at 1:52 p.m., an officer conducted a traffic enforcement stop and contacted the driver and Tustin resident, Diana Ruth Viguri, 46.

Viguri stated that she is a detox technician at a residential drug treatment on Park Avenue and consented to a search of her vehicle. During the search, methamphetamine was located inside her purse and she was taken into custody. 

Once in custody, according to Sgt Cota, she told the Jailer she was concealing a baggie of methamphetamine in her private areas. Viguri was immediately transported to the hospital for a medical clearance and the removal of the methamphetamine. 

While on the way in the vehicle, she reportedly slipped off a handcuff from her wrist and retrieved the baggie and swallowed it.

Bail was set at $1,000.

Repeat offenders...offend repeatedly

On Sunday, Sept 9, at 3:22 p.m. at the 700 block of S Coast Hwy, a suspect took an unknown item from a store. The suspect allegedly hid the item under a jacket that he was carrying. Staff was unable to detain him but LBPD was. Reese Mitchel Westenberger, 53, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for petty theft and trespassing.

Bail was set at $1,000.

Since May 1, in a little over a four-month period, Westenberger has been arrested 6 times by LBPD according to Stu News Laguna records. He has also been arrested 2 times by Newport Beach Police Department in that same time.

On Monday, Sept 10, at 2:38 a.m., Eric Lawrence McGuffick, 53, of San Clemente, was arrested on a bench warrant at Ocean Ave & S Coast Hwy.

Bail was set at $2,500.

According to Stu News Laguna records, Since May 1, McGuffick has been arrested 5 times by LBPD.


Police Files

Arson arrest made following altercation and fire at The Inn at Laguna Beach

On Friday, Sept 7, at 6:41 a.m., LBPD officers responded to The Inn at Laguna in reference to a physical fight. 

Police Files Sterling“Officers located the suspect Jermaine Sterling at the Mobil Gas station who matched the description. Five minutes after the altercation, LBPD and fire responded to The Inn at Laguna for a dumpster fire,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “North Coast Highway between Broadway Street and Aster Street needed to be closed down shortly for emergency equipment to contain the fire.”

Smoke was reported to be pouring from the garage out of the dumpster.

A Nixle alert was issued warning about traffic delays. Both directions of Coast Highway were closed between Broadway Street and Aster Street.

“At 2 p.m., officers obtained video surveillance of the altercation and fire. The footage clearly shows Sterling set the fire and flee the area,” Sgt Cota said. “Sterling was arrested and interviewed regarding the arson. He was ultimately charged with Arson.”

Jermaine Austin Sterling, 33, Laguna Beach, was arrested for arson.

Bail was set at $250,000.

Bike rage incident reported near Emerald Bay

On Saturday, Sept 8, at 10:16 a.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to Emerald Bay and North Coast Highway in reference to an assault amongst bicyclists. 

The reporting party was a cyclist who was riding in a group of approximately 10 other cyclists. They were part of a local bicyclist group.

“The group of cyclists were travelling in the number one northbound traffic lane of North Coast Highway,” Sgt Cota said. “As the group rode towards the intersection of Viejo Street, the suspect began a dispute in reference to the way he was riding.”

 The dispute continued as the group continued riding northbound.

 “A short time later, the suspect approached the RP’s left side and called him a [expletive]. The suspect then grabbed the RP’s left shoulder, shook him, and then pushed him off towards the side of the road,” Sgt Cota said. 

The attacked cyclist nearly collided with the curb but was able to maintain control of the bike and was able to prevent himself from coming off his bicycle. 

“The RP is desirous of prosecution and is willing to assist in the prosecution of the suspect,” Sgt Cota said. “This case will be forwarded to detectives.”

Python missing for over two months, perusing the streets of Laguna, reunited with owner 

On Friday, Sept 7, around 11 p.m. at Coast View Drive, Nicolas Radisay and his wife Jenny were driving home from visiting friends when they came across a snake slithering across the street.

Nicolas gave the full story to Stu News in detail.

“My wife and I were driving home. My wife saw the snake and said, ‘Oh my God, is that a snake?’” Nicolas answered, “It sure is.” 

“She exclaimed, ‘Don’t you dare get out of this car,’” Nicolas said, “It was too late.”

 In his words…

“My first thought was it was a displaced rattlesnake which someone might run over. I’ll call animal control, so they can properly relocate it.

When I noticed it was a python I placed my shoe in front of her to see if she was aggressive. She balled up slowly and let me touch her with my hand, which affirmed that she was shy, but domesticated. So I picked her up.

Police Files Python

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Jenny Radisay 

Rescued pet python lucky to be crossing the street at the right time, found by good Samaritan

“When I was younger, I had roommates who had snakes, I had friends who were collectors, and I am an Eagle Scout. Scouting was the primary source of how to identify indigenous poisonous snakes and non-poisonous snakes. More importantly, I learned to keep calm and how to handle or guide snakes at pole’s length while respecting snakes’ importance in our ecosystem. 

When I picked up the snake my wife wouldn’t let me back in the car. She kept the window cracked while driving next to me. She teased me and we laughed a lot, but she still wouldn’t let me in the house. 

She parked the car, ran into the house and sent the kids up to check the snake out. The kids were amazed and couldn’t believe a snake such as this would be cruising the street. Of course, they were quick to take photos and thought the snake was so cool!

Of realizing that it was a tropical snake, I prepared a home for it with rags inside a cooler. It had oxygen and would have been warm enough inside our garage. Snakes don’t need to eat often, and she clearly had been eating something. 

The kids posted pics on Snapchat and within minutes they made contact with the owner. A young boy who also lives on our street, near where the python was found, was happily reunited with his pet. His sister had accidentally left the cage open two months earlier. So you could imagine the boy’s surprise at the discovery of his long lost friend. He said she grew about six inches while she was away. 

My wife is the happiest of all that the snake found her way home; me too since my new home was likely going to be in the garage with the snake my wife so teases.”

Coyotes stalk canines in North Laguna backyard

On Wednesday, Sept 5, at 8:04 a.m. at Irvine Cove Drive and N Coast Highway, LBPD received a call about a coyote attacking a local canine. The incident was later confirmed.

The next day, at 9:15 a.m., another coyote incident was reported in the same area, this time at Irvine Cove Court.

The resident who called to report the incident said, “Every night three coyotes come and poke their noses through the fence. As a result, the dogs end up barking all night.”

The caller wanted an Animal Services officer to come and assess the situation to come meet them at the backyard fence. 

“Coyotes will sit outside approximately an hour or longer,” the resident explained.


Police Files

Woman allegedly smashes beer bottle against man’s head, causing great bodily injury

On Monday, Sept 3, at 1:56 a.m., at the 600 block of S Coast Highway, LBPD officers responded to the Pacific Edge Hotel for a possible domestic violence incident in progress. Officers arrived and contacted a couple in their hotel room. 

According to police logs, the front desk called the room twice and sent security but no one responded.

Police Files Margaret PriestAccording to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Officers noticed blood on the door frame. The male subject was bleeding from a laceration to the side of his head.”

The female subject claimed that she was in the hotel room when the male returned to the room with the head laceration.

“Unfortunately for her, officers found a broken beer bottle with strands of the male subject’s hair attached, blood and broken beer bottle fragments in the bed, and blood transfer on the female subject’s arm; all indicating that the female subject had smashed a beer bottle against the side of the male subject’s head,” Sgt Cota said.

La Canada resident Margaret Priest, 22, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence. The male subject was transported to Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach, and an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) was issued, according to Sgt Cota.

Bail was set at $50,000 and $25,000 for Priest’s two felony charges.

Magic mushrooms lead to jail trip for Laguna man

Police Files John FraserOn Monday, Sept 3, at 2:36 p.m., an LBPD officer conducted a traffic stop and contacted Laguna Beach resident, John Fraser. 

According to Sgt Cota, “The officer consensually searched the vehicle and located 290 grams of Psilocybin mushrooms and a scale.”

John Christian Fraser, 27, Laguna Beach, was taken into custody for possession of a controlled substance and transportation of a controlled substance for sales. 

Bail was set at $25,000 for both of Fraser’s felony charges.

“The bail amount was dictated by the large amount of drugs,” Sgt Cota said.

Laguna resident scammed out of over $8K on IRS phone fraud

On Friday, Aug 31, at approximately 8:31 p.m., an LBPD officer was dispatched to a local residence in reference to a fraud report. The victim stated she paid $8,140 to the IRS via telephone and later discovered it was a scam.

 The victim received a voicemail message earlier that day with the caller stating that they were the IRS, they needed to speak to her immediately, and to call them back. They left a telephone number for her to call back. She did and spoke to an unknown man with an accent, supposedly with the IRS. 

According to Sgt Cota, “She was told that an investigation into her taxes from 2012-2017 revealed that she immediately owed $8,140 to avoid an arrest warrant.”

The victim was transferred to various people and given steps to conduct a money transfer as well as stay on the phone throughout the process. 

“Unfortunately, she fell victim to this IRS scam and sent money to these unknown people via a name, banking institution, and routing number,” Sgt Cota said. “She also provided these unknown people her driver’s license number.” 

Once she learned she was being scammed, she attempted to contact her bank but learned they would not stop the transaction. It is unknown why at this time. LBPD detectives will be forwarding this case to the FBI. 

“I am really saddened to hear about this latest Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scam against one of our citizens. As a reminder, the IRS will not initiate contact with you by telephone, email, text, or social media. Furthermore, they will not call you and demand immediate payment,” Sgt Cota said.

“The FBI is fully aware of these type of scams going on across the country. If ever in doubt, ask for a call back telephone number and then call the Laguna Beach Police Department for assistance,” Sgt Cota said. “We have no problem calling any telephone number for you to verify the nature of the business and the validity of the caller.”

Uber driver arrested on vehicle theft warrant while on duty in Laguna Beach

Police Files Gregory ChattertonOn Monday, Sept 3, at 5:20 p.m., LBPD officers responded to a possible DUI driver northbound Coast Highway from Aliso Beach. Officers located the Ford Taurus and made a traffic stop on Broadway Street near the bus depot.

According to Sgt Cota, “The driver was identified as Garden Grove resident, Gregory Chatterton. Chatterton was an on-duty Uber driver. He was found not to be DUI.” 

Gregory William Chatterton, 41, of Garden Grove, was arrested for an outstanding Orange County felony warrant for vehicle theft.

Bail was set at $20,000.

Fraud suspect arrested for nearly $600,000 in stolen checks and electronic transfers

In November of 2016, a Laguna Beach resident reported to the LBPD that he had been the victim of check fraud. Detectives began an investigation, which revealed that the victim’s maintenance repair man, Jose Angel Martinez Casillas, was the suspect. 

Police Files Jose Angel Martinez Casillas“After a lengthy investigation, which included interviewing several involved parties and authoring 12 search warrants to several businesses and banks, detectives determined that Casillas had cashed/deposited 56 stolen checks over a 6-month period totaling $431,580.00 and was also responsible for 41 fraudulent electronic transactions totaling $154,016.74 for a total loss of $585,596.74,” Sgt Jim Cota said.

A felony arrest warrant which included 98 felony counts for forgery, grand theft, and burglary was issued for Casillas, and Laguna Beach detectives took Casillas safely into custody.

“The assigned detectives in this case did an outstanding job. They collaborated with the OCDA’s office and conducted a thorough and lengthy investigation that yielded numerous charges. It was a great feeling for the detectives to locate Mr. Casillas this morning and put an end to his criminal activity,” said Sgt Cota.

For more information, contact Sgt Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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