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Police Files

Golf cart driver gets third DUI after fender bender

Last Friday, December 15, a Fullerton resident rear-ended a silver Honda sedan at about 4 p.m. 

When the driver of the Honda approached her about the incident, she offered $20 for the damages, and then fled to a Blue Lagoon condo. The driver called the police after smelling alcohol on the suspect’s breath.

The suspect, Breanne Nicole Budzien, had two prior DUI charges and her license is on probationary status. 

 

Budzien, 25, of Fullerton, was arrested on DUI charges and later released from LBPD with a future court date.


Police Files

Package thief captured before Christmas

With the massive rise in online retailers, many people do all their Christmas shopping from the comfort of their couch. With the click of a few keys, a package can be delivered to your doorstep – unfortunately making many people an easy target for thieves.

One such thief, who stole packages from doorsteps all over Orange County, including Laguna Beach, was arrested by the Garden Grove PD on Tuesday, December 19.

Anthony Palusso

Photo Courtesy of LBPD

Anthony Brian Palusso was located and arrested thanks to the community and the use of home surveillance. He has prior arrests for thefts as well. 

For future package deliveries, LBPD provided the following advice:

-Require a signature for deliveries and bring packages inside immediately.

-Provide specific delivery instructions to keep packages out of view of the general public.

-Give an alternate delivery address, such as your work or somewhere were someone is present, to prevent packages from sitting on the porch for a long period of time.


Police Files

Logan Street gang members arrested during high risk traffic stop on Ramona Boulevard

At 8:39 p.m. on Wednesday, December 27, on the 600 Block of Ramona Boulevard, officers were alerted about a 1998 Lexus 400 that had been reported stolen heading inbound on Laguna Canyon Road. A high risk (felony) traffic stop was conducted. 

Six occupants were found to be inside the vehicle: two adult men, Allen Moreno (23) and Jonathan Duran (20), along with two juvenile boys and two juvenile girls.

All occupants of the vehicle were from Santa Ana, with the four men admitting to being members of the Logan Street Gang. Upon a record check, Moreno, the driver of the vehicle, was found to be on active parole. No bail was issued. 

Duran, who was found to be in possession of six grams of methamphetamine, was released after booking.

The juveniles ranged in age between 13 and 16, and were issued citations for possession of alcohol.

High risk traffic stops, according to policeone.com’s video, demand three fundamental steps: compensate for the risk, control the threats, and conduct a safe traffic stop. Having a plan and training to the plan are paramount when it comes to officers facing situations such as these.


Fire Files

Fire inside Central restaurant leads to evacuations, business closures

On Friday, Dec 29, at around 3 p.m., a structure fire was reported at Central restaurant at 361 Forest Avenue. Laguna Beach and Newport Beach Fire Departments quickly responded and the area was cordoned off, causing severe traffic congestion for hours. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Ellen Coleman-Germano

According to reports, Friday’s fire originated in the walls of Central’s kitchen

At this time, it is not clear as to the exact cause of the fire, but reports coming in to emergency dispatch mentioned that the flames were in the walls of Central’s kitchen. 

Neighboring businesses in the building, including The Vault and the Hudson Salon & Spa were evacuated, and, according to owner of the Hudson Salon, Katrina Martino, power was out for a few hours. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Firefighters were quickly on the scene

Martino says that the smoke smell took a while to dissipate but thankfully no one was injured, as prompt action by LBFD and NBFD ensured that the fire did not spread.

No closures of businesses due to the fire occurred the next day, except for Central, which will remain closed for a few weeks while repairs take place, according to sources.

Stu News will update this report as more information becomes available.


Police Files

Multiple guns stolen from home on Coronado Drive: fingerprints might provide DNA evidence

At 8:07 p.m. on Saturday, Dec 30, an officer took a burglary report from a resident at the 1200 block of Coronado Drive. Sometime between Dec 25 and 30, an unknown suspect pried open an exterior bedroom door and stole three firearms and an Xbox.

According to the logs, DNA was obtained on the scene.

“This case was just given to the Investigations Division and [is now] an active investigation,” said Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD.  “DNA can be someone’s handprint, saliva off a cup, even a fingerprint.”

We wonder how many burglars and would-be burglars realize how far the science of DNA has come in recent years. 

12 pairs of designer glasses snatched from tented house, also on Coronado Drive

Laguna residents, also in the 1200 block of Coronado Drive, left on vacation between Dec 21-23 and had their house tented for termites. When they returned, they noticed that a box of 12 designer prescription glasses had been taken from one of their vehicles inside the garage. The approximate loss is valued at $40,970.

“War on trees” continues

Two eucalyptus trees on a property located in the 31000 block of PCH were cut down sometime on the night of Wednesday, Dec 28.

“The property manager stated that when he returned to the property on Thursday Dec 29, two of the eucalyptus trees on the property had been cut down,” Sgt. Cota stated. “The trees were located on the hillside approximately 50 yards from the house. The estimated value of the trees is $400.”

Detectives are looking into whether a dispute over a view was at the heart of this incident. They will be looking into the matter to see if it is a criminal or civil matter.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A recent victim of the “war on trees,” this eucalyptus was poisoned and had to be cut down by the City

Don’t let possible buyers take your car for a test drive or this could happen to you

On Wednesday, Dec 27, on the 3200 block of Laguna Canyon Rd., two people took a 1999 Ford for sale on a “test drive” and did not return – they must have liked its performance. It was located out of town in Westminster shortly before 5 p.m.

“People selling their cars need to be cognizant who they are selling the car too and never let someone take the vehicle for a test drive alone,” advises Sgt. Cota. “If you choose to let someone take it, retain their driver’s license and take a photograph of them. A cash deposit would also be a great deterrent as well.” 


Police Files

DUI checks planned for Jan 12 and 18

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department’s DUI Enforcement Team will be deploying this weekend to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign. DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy Friday, Jan 12 and Thurs, Jan 18, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

In California, this deadly crime led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes.  

Studies of California drivers have shown that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol.

Hand over your keys if you’ve had too much to drink

Everyone should be mindful that if you’re taking medication – whether prescription or over-the-counter – drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment affects.  

Law Enforcement emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving, reminding everyone that all it takes is a little planning ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don’t drink and drive. The cost of a ride home is cheap! Drivers caught driving impaired can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to include jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, license suspensions and other expenses that can exceed $10,000 not to mention the embarrassment when friends and family find out.

Funding for this DUI operation is provided to the Laguna Beach Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Driving – Call 9-1-1. 

For further information, contact Lieutenant Tim Kleiser at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Active shooter exercise scheduled for Jan 10, tomorrow, at LCAD: Do not be alarmed by simulated gunfire, sirens

Laguna Beach Police Department has partnered with the Laguna College of Art & Design (LCAD) who will be hosting a full-scale active shooter exercise on Wed, Jan 10, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at their main campus, 2222 Laguna Canyon Road. All activities will occur on LCAD property. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LCAD campus will be the epicenter of an active shooter exercise on Jan 10

The purpose of this exercise is to test our interagency capabilities and the mission readiness of our first responders during an active shooter incident. In addition to Laguna Beach police officers and firefighters, the exercise will involve personnel from our surrounding law enforcement and fire department agencies including Irvine, UCI, Newport Beach, and Costa Mesa. 

During the exercise you may hear sirens and simulated gunfire coming from the area of Laguna College of Art & Design, 2222 Laguna Canyon Road. 

Laguna Canyon Road will remain open throughout the event and traffic control officers will be in place to mitigate any traffic congestion. 

The exercise will not be open to the public and only authorized personnel and the media will be allowed to attend. 

This exercise is partially funded through a federal grant received by the Anaheim/Santa Ana Urban Area Security Initiative. 

For further information, contact Public Information Officer Sgt. Jim Cota at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or 949-464-6671. 

Sandbags available to protect against flooding: tips to keep your property dry during winter storms

With winter storms forecast this week, the City is offering pre-filled sandbags at no cost to residents and business owners of Laguna Beach who may need them to protect their property. These sandbags are not for private contractors or commercial purposes. 

Pre-filled sandbags are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week as of today on a first-come-first-serve basis; (limit 10 per resident). Sandbags can be picked up at either of the two following locations: 

ACT V Parking Lot – 1900 Laguna Canyon Road or 

Aliso Beach Inland Parking Lot – 31118 Coast Highway.

Additionally, the City offers free, unfilled sandbags at the four fire stations.

The unfilled sandbags cannot be filled with sand from Laguna’s beaches or playgrounds. For locations where sand can be purchased go to www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/police/emergprep/sandbags.htm.

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Floods can cause serious damage

The City is also doing its part to protect the community by cleaning and inspecting the Laguna Canyon Channel, maintaining public terrace drains and manholes, and conducting outreach including workshops and mailers to property and business owners. 

The City encourages residents to protect their homes from flooding by remembering the following tips: Clear out rain gutters and pick up litter and loose objects on your property. Anything loose can be washed away; check your own yard drains to make sure they are not clogged; while not required, flood insurance is recommended for flood prone properties.

Visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/police/emergprep. for further information about Emergency Preparedness and for video footage from past Laguna Beach disasters.

For further information, contact Jordan Villwock, Emergency Operations Coordinator, at 949- 497-0389 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Police Files

Active shooter exercise proves frighteningly realistic – and effective – involving more than 100 first responders 

This was the scenario developed for the active shooter exercise which took place on Wednesday this week at LCAD: a (fictional) 40-year-old disgruntled male with a fixation on LCAD had been seen on campus a few days prior. He’d posted threats on social media. Now he was endangering the life and safety of students, staff and faculty at the college.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

First responders with guns drawn

How would the police and fire department defuse this active shooter threat? And what aspects of their response might need more practice or adjusting?

These were the reasons for setting up this exercise, expertly put together by Sgt Eric Lee and Jordan Villwock, Emergency Operations Coordinator, who worked hard to gain funding through a grant of 100K from the Urban Area Working Group.

Makeshift blood, gunfire from blank rounds, sirens and fallen victims (actors) made for a realistic and frightening scene, but first responders kept their cool during three tense morning exercises and three afternoon exercises. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

A bloodied victim is attended to during the exercise

 “This [comprehensive] operation was coordinated by the Police Chief over the course of a year,” said LBPD spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota. “It was motivated by the Columbine event.  Each team was evaluated by evaluators and debriefings were held immediately afterwards.”

Representatives of the Laguna Beach Unified School District as well as police agencies from Irvine, UCI, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, as well as 40 members of the LBPD were present.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

Policing could be said to be an art form also

City manager John Pietig, the mayor of Laguna Beach and the president of LCAD, Jonathan Burke, either observed or took part – Jonathan Burke playing the role of victim, at his request.

The successful exercise proved another feather in the cap for the LBPD under the leadership of Chief Laura Farinella, who gained tremendous praise in 2017 also for her handling of the America First protest march. She is understandably extremely proud of her officers.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy LBPD

The successful exercise was another feather in the cap for the LBPD

For further information, contact Public Information Officer Sgt. Jim Cota at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ';document.getElementById('cloakadf0c2fb8d81c7ce997d31a6860f9bfe').innerHTML += ''+addy_textadf0c2fb8d81c7ce997d31a6860f9bfe+'<\/a>'; or 949-464-6671. 

 

DUI checks planned for today, Jan 12 & Jan 18

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department’s DUI Enforcement Team will be deploying this weekend to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign. DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy Friday, Jan 12 & Thurs, Jan 18, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

In California, this deadly crime led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes.  

Studies of California drivers have shown that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol.

Hand over your keys if you’ve had too much to drink

Everyone should be mindful that if you’re taking medication – whether prescription or over-the-counter – drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment affects.  

Law Enforcement emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving, reminding everyone that all it takes is a little planning ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don’t drink and drive. The cost of a ride home is cheap! Drivers caught driving impaired can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to include jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, license suspensions and other expenses that can exceed $10,000 not to mention the embarrassment when friends and family find out.

Funding for this DUI operation is provided to the Laguna Beach Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Driving – Call 9-1-1. 

For further information, contact Lieutenant Tim Kleiser at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Police Files

Jaw-dropping scam on Glenneyre takes bite out of victim’s bank account

A heavy-set man in his thirties or early forties, wearing navy blue medical scrubs, recently conned a victim on the 1100 block of Glenneyre Street into buying vouchers for three teeth-whitening kits, including the promise of discounts for dental procedures.

“He paid $328.41 on his credit card,” said Sgt Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “When he called and made an appointment with a Laguna Niguel dentist’s office, that’s when he learned that the vouchers were fraudulent.”

Unfortunately, it looks like the victim is just going to have to grin and bear the loss, because the suspect has not been located.


Police Files

High times on Glenneyre end in dispensary bust

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, the saying goes, or in this case, a marijuana dispensary. Last week, a Laguna resident smelled something, well, highly suspicious while walking along the 900 block of Glenneyre. That person also saw a number of people leaving the building carrying white bags, furtively, one imagines.

Building on 900 block of Glenneyre

Turned out that the so-called “Divine Church of Gardens, Laguna Beach,” a tenant in the building, which also houses Sunset Drug, was indeed a place of worship – but the church part was bogus. The deity in question was not God, but weed in all its many manifestations.

“We arrested a man who claimed to be a volunteer for the church. He told officers that he had only been working there for three days, and that marijuana was used as a sacrament in the church’s rituals,” Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson, told Stu News.

After the officers located approximately 20 plus pounds of marijuana on the premises, along with codeine, and $3,000 in cash, the “volunteer” didn’t have a prayer. Lucas Seth Dichiara, age 31, of Irvine was arrested for possession and sales of marijuana and also for the illegal operation of a marijuana dispensary in Laguna Beach.

The landlord arrived on the scene and was flabbergasted. The Divine Church of Gardens was soon excommunicated from the property. (The name of the lessee of the property was not available at this time.)

Officers confiscated all of the contraband and booked it into evidence at the Laguna Beach Police Department.

“It appears there will be no church services this weekend at that location,” Sgt. Cota added.

 

Early morning reckless driver reported by 12 people

On the morning of Jan 15, Martin Luther King Day, a motorist driving a silver Jeep Liberty up Coast Highway was reported for reckless driving by twelve different callers, with reports ranging from driving on the wrong side of the road, not abiding by the speed limit, not stopping at red lights, and swerving their vehicle.

The first call, which came in at 8 a.m., reported that a woman was driving very fast, while the second reporting party described the driver running red lights. The third reporting party stated that the driver was driving the wrong way on the road in an attempt to pass other motorists near Wesley. 

A fifth reporting party pulled over to avoid the driver and called to say that the driver was in the southbound lane of the road. The sixth reporting party stated that the driver was northbound on Legion at a high rate of speed. After more calls about her heading northbound on Broadway, taking a turn to head southbound on Cliff, the driver was detained.

The woman was arrested for reckless driving.


Police Files

Accused dealer is caught with lots of drugs and baggies, and she’s only 19

On Saturday, Jan 20, Laguna Beach police officers made a vehicle stop at 2:24 p.m. in the 600 block of South Coast Highway. The officers contacted the driver, Alexis Lynn Fukaye, 19, of Fountain Valley, when they noticed a smell of marijuana coming from her car, a black Toyota Scion.

Upon searching the vehicle, over 13 ounces of packaged marijuana (374.87 grams), 201 Xanax bars, 16 Lorazepam pills, marijuana paraphernalia, and other individual prescription pills were confiscated. According to LBPD’s Sgt Jim Cota, Fukaye claimed that she worked for a marijuana dispensary, “but could not provide details about her employer”. About $715 was confiscated from the vehicle as well.

When asked to clarify California’s marijuana laws, Sgt Cota explained: “Possession of marijuana at your house and on your person is legal as long as its under the specified amount. Possession of marijuana for sales is not legal.” Cota further explained that in this case, the presence of “around 100 Ziploc baggies” in the car was one of the key factors in determining that Fukaya intended to sell the drugs.

Fukaye was arrested for possession of marijuana for sales, and for possession of a designated substance (Xanax) for sales. Her bail was set at $25,000.

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