Irvine man arrested for felony extortion after he allegedly threatened rug dealer’s wife for $3,000

The wife of Saeid Maralan reported that she’d received a direct threat from the publisher of an Irvine-based Persian magazine. Police said Javad Mostafavi, 70, allegedly threatened to feature Maralan’s mug shots on the cover of the magazine, Payam-e-Ashena, a popular monthly bilingual magazine journaling the Persian community living in Southern California.

The OC District Attorney has charged Maralan, a registered sex offender who managed Sirous and Sons Rug Gallery on Ocean Ave; with sex offenses committed against 11 different women victims.

All but one offense took place inside the downtown store.

Charges relating to the latest three victims were filed Friday, Oct 21, after LBPD detectives Julia Bowman and Natalie Leal presented details to OC Deputy DA Jennifer Walker of the Sexual Assault Unit who is prosecuting the case. Victims nine, ten and eleven came forward after seeing media reports. Two of the three, ages 61 and 49, had alleged encounters with Maralan at the store and the third, a 47-year-old woman, was attacked in Irvine.

Lt. Jason Kravetz of the LPBD said Mostafavi made contact with Maralan’s wife “…on many recent occasions…” and “…threatened to put Maralan on the next cover of his magazine unless she gave him a cashier’s check for $3,000.  He even sent her an email with Maralan’s booking photo on the cover.”

Laguna detectives went to Irvine last Wednesday afternoon. Mostafavi came out of his home there after conferring with his attorney when an Irvine patrol unit arrived on scene, police said. He was taken into custody for felony extortion without incident, Kravetz said.

When reached at his office in Irvine Monday, Mostafavi declined to comment until he has an opportunity to confer with his attorney.

Payam-e-Ashena began publishing in 1989.

New charges against Maralan

The amended complaint from last Friday includes two new felony counts of sexual battery by restraint and one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure.

Previous charges are: two felony counts of sexual battery by restraint, two felony counts of forcible rape, two felony counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object by force, and one felony count each of attempted forcible rape, distributing pornography to a minor, attempted forcible oral copulation, and one misdemeanor count each of false imprisonment and indecent exposure with sentencing enhancement allegations for committing a sexual offense against more than one victim.

If convicted on all counts, Maralan, 53, faces 60 years in state prison.

Anyone with additional information or who believes they have been a victim is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Lou Gutierrez at (714) 347-8794 or LBPD Detective Julia Bowman at 497- 0377.


Military Honors for Orange County Sheriff’s Dept

OC Sheriff Sandra Hutchens will unveil the Department of Defense 2011 Freedom Award, which was presented to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department this year during a ceremony in Washington, DC. The Sheriff’s Department was one of 15 employers selected from among more than 4,000 nominees nationwide to be presented with the Freedom Award.

Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 the Sheriff’s Department has had 118 of its employees called to extended military leave, with many of them serving in combat.

The DOD Award will be unveiled at a special ceremony today, Tuesday Oct 18, from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. at the Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy in Tustin at 15991 Armstrong Blvd.

California military officials will also present the Sheriff’s Department with its Pro Patria Award. The Pro Patria Award is given to one employer in California each year.

Both awards are given to honor employers who provide exemplary support for employees serving on active duty with the National Guard and Reserves. California military officials will also present individual awards to more than 20 Sheriff’s Department employees who showed exemplary support for their colleagues who were called to active military duty.


Sex offender with Laguna connection convicted of molesting 5-year-old boy in public restroom

A registered sex offender was convicted today of molesting a 5-year-old boy in a public restroom. Nicholas James Needham, 28, pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony count each of lewd acts on a child under 14. He is expected to be sentenced to six years in prison at his sentencing March 5, 2012, at 9 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At approximately 12:45 p.m. on June 15, 2010, Needham, who was then a registered sex offender with the Laguna Beach Police Department, entered a men’s restroom at the Outlets at Orange (formerly known as the Block at Orange). A 5-year-old boy, John Doe, was using the urinal while his mother waited outside. Needham stood next to the victim, reached over, and touched the victim’s penis. The defendant then left the scene.

Needham and the victim did not know each other.

John Doe disclosed the sexual assault to his mother, who contacted the Orange Police Department (OPD). OPD investigated the case.

Sgt. Louise Callus of LBPD said Needham registered as a sex offender in Dec of 2004 until July 2010 when he notified the PD that he was moving to the City of Orange. When arrested in Oct 2010, he was living in Santa Ana.

In a search of Needham’s home after his arrest, police discovered thousands of images and three videos of graphic, amateur child pornography featuring young boys from infancy to early teens.

The OCDA filed charges against Needham for the molestation and possession of child pornography. The U.S. Attorney’s Office later assumed the child pornography case, as the defendant’s maximum exposure if convicted would be greater than if prosecuted at the state level. That case is currently being prosecuted in federal court.

Deputy DA Whitney Bokosky of the Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting this case.


Consensual sex with a minor is statutory rape

Laguna Beach PD detectives arrested a 23-year-old Costa Mesa man Friday afternoon in that city on a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old Laguna Beach girl, i.e., statutory rape.

Michael E. Sheridan, police said, had consensual sex with the girl until her mother learned of the relationship over the summer. She contacted police leading to the arrest of Sheridan.

The police log indicates that a search warrant was served at a Costa Mesa motel at 6:30 that evening in re: the arrest. No details of the search were available.


Note to the guys who pulled a window smash at tobacco store – time to consult a good lawyer

It was 3:43 last Thursday morning when two men smashed a display window at a tobacco store in the 1700 block of S. Coast Hwy. It was a typical “smash and grab” an in an instant, the two guys were running across the highway and onto Agate St with one carrying a box of something under his arm like a football.

“Several witnesses”, as police termed it, (employees from Mozambique and Best Western) either saw the actual crime take place or heard the loud crashing of plate glass in the wee hours and then saw the two men running. Witnesses called 9-1-1 in a flash with descriptions and direction.

Unfortunately, the duo seemingly had an escape plan and was nowhere to be found when officers arrived moments later and conducted an intensive area search.

Then the cops went about doing their cop thing. Each witness was interviewed in detail, a CSI unit arrived on scene and the responding cops compared notes. The owner of the business was called at home and also soon arrived. Fingerprints were lifted and DNA was carefully collected. Police also looked at a surveillance tape.

All that technical evidence and it was the “comparing notes” that cut corners as to the identity of the two suspects.

“The officers listened to the descriptions, compared notes, and surmised it was two men they had contact with earlier in the evening,” Lt. Jason Kravetz commented. One of the witnesses recognized them as “regulars” who surf at Brooks Street and hang out at a couple of locations not far from the crime scene, according to the police dispatch log.

Kravetz said the officers who had contacted the two possible suspects earlier had noted and verified their personal information from driver’s licenses.

“With that…[information]…the prints, DNA and surveillance tape, the detectives will put it all together and present it to the District Attorney to obtain warrants.”

No doubt…sooner rather than later.


Detectives still have lots more work after cracking a fake credit and gift card ring

Laguna Beach Police have made four arrests and issued felony warrants for two additional suspects after cracking a large fake credit card/gift card ring last week.

It all came to light in the wee hours Monday, Sept 19 behind the White House when police received a call about a man and a woman in the back seat of car. When police arrived, they found Diandre Lamont Lopez, 38, Tustin and 21-year-old Diana May Andara, 21, Mission Viejo, both naked in the rear seat drinking vodka. According to police, 43 fake credit cards were inside the car in plain sight.

Information from that contact led detectives to Costa Mesa where the alleged ringleader, Dwight C. Vaccaro, 46, was arrested on conspiracy charges. A fourth suspect, Charles Martin, 22, was arrested after a search warrant was served last Thursday morning. Fake gift cards were at both locations.

Booking photos courtesy LBPD

Martin was in possession of what police termed “a stack of receipts” from a single retailer with many store locations. He also had six gift cards that were purchased by Martin, police said, with a fraudulent debit card.

Martin allegedly used fake credit cards to purchase about $800 in gift cards from the one retailer then purchased clothes, which he later exchanged for cash in another store in Southern California. Martin would have been able to do that two or three times in any given day.

Inside Vaccaro’s residence, police also found 25 fraudulently made gift and credit cards that had not been used along with hardware and software used to make a credit card reader. He was also in possession of a $1200 Gucci watch with the receipt for the purchase with a fraudulent card.

LBPD Sgt. Bob Rahaeuser explained that Vaccaro, the alleged ringleader, would go on an unidentified chat room where he purchased “sheets and sheets” of credit cardholder names and account numbers.

“He had software that allowed him to then obtain the cardholder’s personal info and available credit on the account.

“He could then scan a gift card to transfer the cardholder’s name to the gift card, emboss their names and have a finished product that looked like a Visa check card. The purchases were made mainly over the Internet,” Rahaeuser said.

Vaccaro would sell the fake cards and, police said, always tell the people he sold them to to only show the front of the look-alike Visa check card because the back still had the standard gift card info.

That worked – when Lopez and Andara left the White House before going to the car, they paid for their drinks with a fake card.

“We have thousands of names and will have to one-by-one determine the ones that have been compromised. That will be hundreds and each one will require our detectives to obtain a search warrant of the card issuer to obtain the records of the cardholder. Then, the detective will need to ferret out the fraud in order to actually come up with a victim.

“The District Attorney will accept nothing less than every single cardholder being contacted after the search warrants are served and info gathered.”


Peeping Tom used bench to peer into 8’ high window

The case of a bench warmer…

Police received a call from a man who said he and his girlfriend had been interrupted from an “afternoon delight” in their apartment when he saw a neighbor looking into their window.

“He recognized the man as a neighbor,” police said. The caller yelled and chased the neighbor who went into his own apartment at about 1:24 p.m. Saturday at Laguna Lido in the 31700 block of Coast Hwy in South Laguna.

Police explained that the couple’s window is at least eight feet above a common walkway where the peeping tom was peering into the window.

“The caller described the suspect as being in his late 50s with gray hair and a mustache. He had pulled a nearby bench over to position himself high enough to see into the window,” police said.

Police added that they had knocked on the suspect’s door but he had not answered.

“We’ll try again.”


September is Disaster Preparedness Month – and a reminder to register all of your phones with AlertOC

The Laguna Beach Police Dept reminds us that emergencies can happen at any time. As has been written here many time, our topography with so many internal canyons is susceptible to a fast-moving slope-driven wildfire at any time and of course, we all know how suddenly an unexpected flood can affect our town and earthquakes are always on our minds.

All such emergency disasters can close one or all three of the entrances/exits so very critical to all of us.

September is National Disaster Preparedness month and the City of Laguna Beach urges residents to register their contact information with AlertOC, the regional mass notification system.

Register all sources of contact and no matter where you are, critical information will be able to reach you.

All Laguna Beach home phone numbers have been preregistered with the program.  Citizens wishing to add their cell phones, work phones, email addresses, and TDD/TTY devices to the system can do so by simply logging into www.AlertOC.com

On Oct 21, at 5 p.m., Laguna Beach will be participating in a regional emergency test in conjunction with the Great Shake Out; the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history.  The exercise is designed to replicate a large scale, multi-jurisdictional emergency requiring thousands of numbers to be called simultaneously across the entire Orange County region. This years’ AlertOC test is estimated to reach two million Orange County residents.  Register today to be sure you will be contacted.

For further information or assistance, contact AlertOC Coordinator Jordan Villwock at 497-0701, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Man charged with 1978 murder of Laguna architect Brent Tobey to be arraigned today

A DNA match led to murder charges being filed last February against a 52-year-old convicted murderer serving a 50-year sentence in Connecticut for the 1978 multiple stabbing death of Brent Stapleton Tobey inside his home on Carmelita St. Police said Tobey was stabbed 17 times.

He was extradited to OC Jail Monday and is scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Ana this morning.

Walter Lawrence Dalie, 52, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery and a sentencing enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

The following is from a February press release from LBPD:

During the early evening hours of Monday Nov 20, 1978, 55-year-old Laguna Beach resident Brent Stapleton Tobey was found murdered inside his home in the 1300 block of Carmelita Street. Tobey was stabbed 17 times in the head and upper body by an unknown assailant.  A roommate found him lying on the floor of his bedroom in a pool of blood.

Shortly after the crime, Detectives arrested a man who had been staying with Tobey.  He was released several hours later, after being ruled out as a possible suspect in the crime.  The case sat unresolved for several years due to a lack of investigative leads.

Mr. Tobey was a well-known figure in the community.  He was a prominent architect who had served on the boards of several city committees and community organizations.  The brutality of this crime shocked the surrounding neighborhoods of this quiet town.

Strange Coincidence:

The person that found Mr. Tobey was a roommate who lived in a separate apartment on the premises.  The two men had made plans earlier in the day to have a celebratory dinner.  When Tobey failed to show up, the roommate checked the house and found his body.

They were scheduled to celebrate the murder conviction of Laguna Beach resident James Scramlin.  Scramlin had been accused of murdering their friend Albert Willard in his Temple Hills home in 1977.  Both Tobey and his roommate were the ones who discovered Willard’s bludgeoned body.  The murder case was prosecuted by current District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

In a strange coincidence, Brent Tobey was murdered the same day that Albert Willard’s murderer was convicted by an Orange County jury.

Case is Solved:

As crime scene technology continues to advance, Detectives commonly review the older murder cases for any new evidence.  In 2002, Laguna Beach Detective Paul Litchenberg submitted several items from the Brent Tobey crime scene to the Orange County Crime Lab for DNA analysis.  Out of all the belongings sent to the lab, one piece had foreign DNA on it.  This sample was submitted to the database, but there were no immediate matches in the local, State or Nationwide DNA databases.  The case hit a dead end again.

In August of 2010, Detectives were notified of a potential DNA match.  The State of Connecticut had recently loaded a group of samples.  These samples were taken from currently incarcerated individuals.  One of these prisoners matched the DNA from the Laguna Beach homicide case.

For the next several months, Sergeant Bob Rahaeuser and Lieutenant Jason Kravetz put the case together and interviewed several people involved.  In November of 2010, they traveled to Osborn Prison in Connecticut and interviewed the suspect on two separate occasions.

The Suspect:

The suspect is Walter Dalie, a 52-year-old man who is incarcerated in Connecticut.  He is serving a 50-year sentence for the 1985 murder of his girlfriend (Mary Carrington) in Newington, Connecticut.

During the 1970’s and early 1980’s, Dalie was a parolee who resided in both Laguna Beach and Newport Beach.  He was raised in South Orange County and attended Dana Hills High School.

Dalie was 19 years old at the time of the crime and it is believed that he and the victim knew each other.

 

The police department said this was the third cold case murder in their files to be solved since 2005. There are four remaining unsolved murders according to Lt. Kravetz.

Jeffrey Wilson who was shot by gang members at Aliso Beach on 5/9/92; Julie Ravenna 4/26/92, who was found dead in a Jacuzzi at a private home in the 100 block of Thalia St.  Her cause of death was drowning with strangulation; Lillian DeVilla on 2/4/98: Her body was placed alongside Laguna Canyon Rd near the old horse stables next to Anneliese School.  She had been strangled to death; Juan Morales on 5/12/98 whose bludgeoned body was found in the brush in the 2300 block of Laguna Canyon Rd. He had been struck in the head with a rock.


Some homeless create their own alternative sleeping location in front of the dog park

At least once in each of the past several weeks, the public police log has contained incidents where about six or seven homeless men and women have been issued citations for sleeping/camping in the culvert along Laguna Canyon Rd in front of the city’s dog park.

This past Saturday morning at 2:29, Community Outreach Officer, Corporal Jason Farris, issued citations to 15 individuals, eight males and seven females, who had camped in the culvert. None were jailed.

Lt. Jason Kravetz said Monday, “These are homeless people who are either refusing to go to the ASL or being turned away once it reaches capacity.  They have been repeatedly warned not to set up camp in the drainage canals near the Dog Park for various reasons, mainly safety and fire dangers.

“Simply put, Corporal Farris is trying to keep everyone out of these hazardous areas.”

Over the years, there have been several late night and early morning high-speed vehicle crashes where cars and trucks have ended up sliding or being knocked into the culvert area in question.

The ASL’s physical facilities are funded by the city. The internal operations are under the control of Laguna Relief and Resource Center during the daylight and the Friendship Shelter along with volunteers feed and house those admitted at night under specified supervision.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillespie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

Email: Lynette@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc

949.715.1736