Larry Bammer named Police Officer of the Year – 2010

The Laguna Beach Police Department and the Laguna Beach Exchange Club hosted the Annual Police Awards Banquet at Tivoli Too! in late March. The banquet recognizes both sworn and civilian employees of LBPD for their service.

Narcotics detective Larry Bammer, who first joined the department when a student at Laguna Beach High School as a police explorer in 2003, was named the 2010 Police Officer of the Year.

Bammer and his partner, Detective Darin Germaine were both awarded the Medal of Merit. Police Chief Paul Workman acknowledged that as a team, the two “…made 107 narcotics arrests, seized over $135,000 in drug money…” They were instrumental in developing the case against the suspects in the 2009 murder of Damon Nicholson and were honored by the California Narcotics Officers Association as the “Street Level Team of the Year” for taking down an ecstacy ring and seizing 9,200 pills that had been earmarked for sales at a rave party.

Command Staff photo

Photos By LBPD Sgt John Falk

Parking services officer Mary Spease (foreground) was named Civilian Employee of the Year and received the Medal of Lifesaving for her July 4 rescue of two children at Aliso Beach. She is shown with the LBPD Command Staff – (left to right) Civilian Supervisor Jim Beres, Lt. Jason Kravetz, Chief Paul Workman, Lt. Darin Lenyi and Lt. Jeff Calvert. Community Services Officer Coleen Walloch is in the background.

Also receiving the Medal of Lifesaving was Sgt. John Falk who, along with Officer Schmidt, used the Automatic Electronic Defibrillator on a man who had fallen inside his home and had become unresponsive and suffered cardiac arrest. The quick actions by the two officers revived the man who survived the event.

Spring Sendele Photo

Motor Officer Spring Sendele (left above) received a Ribbon of Commendation for volunteering to work undercover for the OCDA’s office investigating a ten-year-old cold case homicide. She obtained additional evidence in the case resulting in the arrest and full confession from the killer.

FBI arrests “Ho Hum Bandit” suspected of twice robbing US Bank downtown last summer


DENVER –The FBI arrested Adam Lynch, 34, also known as the “Ho Hum Bandit”, late Monday in Denver. He has been indicted there for suspicion of robbing a Colorado bank on March 16. Lynch, of Marin County, is suspected of robbing the US Bank here on both June 23 and July 24 of last year, three banks in Newport Beach and several other banks in Orange, Riverside and San Diego Counties. Additionally, the FBI is investigating him in connection with other bank robberies in Washington and Wyoming.

He will remain in Denver where he was scheduled for a Federal Court appearance yesterday.

The FBI gave Lynch his moniker for the casual approach he demonstrated when approaching tellers with a note informing them of the robbery.


A video from the June 23, 2010 robbery courtesy of the LBPD:

Start setting aside unwanted prescription drugs for Drug Take-Back Day Saturday, April 30

LBPD will participate with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Second Nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 30.

The inaugural 2010 event took 121 tons of expired, unwanted or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications across the country.

Detective Larry Bammer is coordinating the LBPD effort. In a prepared statement, he wrote, “The ongoing effort symbolizes the Laguna Beach Police Department’s commitment to halting the disturbing rise in addiction caused by the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. In cooperation with federal authorities, LBPD will host a free, anonymous, no questions asked collection site at the Suzi Q Community Center underground parking lot on Saturday April 30 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., 380 Third St.

“All solid dosage pharmaceutical products and liquids in consumer containers will be accepted. Liquid products, such as cough syrup, should remain sealed in their original containers. Intra-venous solutions, injectibles and syringes cannot be accepted due to the potential hazards.”

Legion posts acknowledged Law and Order

Legion Photo

Todd Spitzer (left), LBPD Sgt. George Ramos and American Legion 29th District Commander Clay Baxter at last week’s Law and Order Program

The 25 American Legion Posts in Orange County held their annual Law and Order program on March 24 to honor OC Police and Firefighters.  Most OC Police and some Fire Departments were represented. Former California Assemblyman Todd Spitzer was the Master of Ceremonies for the large crowd that attended.

Laguna Legionnaire Dave Connell and Legion Auxiliary President Diane Connell hosted Laguna Beach Police Department honorees and their guests at this event.

The LBPD received several awards:

Officer Jason Farris won first place for Community Service in District 29 (Orange Country) and will compete in the Legion’s State competition.

Officers George Ramos, Rod MacDonald, and Paul Bixby received commendations for Valor.

COPs volunteers Ramona Lock and Vic Opincar received commendations of Merit for their many years of volunteer police activity.

The veterans are especially supportive of the police because they are a family of people dedicated to serving their country and have taken the same Constitutional lifetime oath to protect our country from all enemies foreign and domestic.

Dog abused or abusive dog? Two against one

A caller in the 400 block of Third St asked for police assistance Friday night telling dispatchers that he was caring for a dog that his neighbor had been abusing. The 6:52 p.m. caller explained that the dog had a cut on its head and he had seen the dog’s owner hitting and trying to strangle the dog.

Police arrived on scene and questioned the owner after checking the injured dog and speaking with the caller.

Sgt Louise Callus said, “He explained that he had owned the nine-month-old dog for about four months. The officer speaking with him observed that he had numerous puncture wounds on his arms from where the dog had bitten him. The owner said he was trying to crate the dog when it turned on him and attacked.”

Police concluded that it would be best to quarantine the dog at the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter, Callus said.

“Once the dog was taken to the shelter, the officer attempted to place the dog in a kennel when it turned on him and charged to attack. The officer had to use his pepper spray to control the dog and place it in the kennel for quarantine. Animal services were requested to follow up with the dog owner. That’s how it stands at this time.”

Police were unsure if the dog had been a rescue when obtained by the owner.

MSNBC reality TV comes to Orange County Jail

The OC Sheriff’s office forwarded a press release Thursday touting the MSNBC series, “Lockup Extended Stay”, which will feature four one-hour episodes centered on inmates of OCJ starting Saturday night at 10 o’clock.

Many of those inmates have been included in this paper’s OCDA feature in the past and readers may find it interesting to bring a personality to the allegations/facts that have been brought to our Police Beat pages.

The press release from MSNBC:

The Orange County Jail in Southern California is ranked among the ten largest jails in the United States. With an average population of about 7,000 male and female inmates, it’s considered one of the nation’s “mega jails.”

The critically-acclaimed MSNBC series, “Lockup Extended Stay” spent more than 50 days inside the OC Jail to produce six, one-hour episodes. The first two episodes were previewed in December 2010.

The remaining four will premiere over four consecutive Saturdays beginning March 19 at 10 p.m. Below are descriptions of the upcoming premieres.

March 19: “Murder and Miracles”

When “Lockup” producers met inmate Clarence Butterfield, a 55-year-old former construction contractor, he was nearing the start of his murder trial. His lighthearted joking stood in stark contrast to details of his alleged crime. He was accused of not only killing his 21-year-old daughter, but of torturing her, tying her up and letting her suffocate inside a large ice chest. Butterfield denies the murder. He claims he found his daughter dead in her bedroom. He does admit to concealing her corpse in the ice chest and keeping it for the next two years inside the motor home he drove and lived in. Butterfield claims to be a devout Christian and says he was hoping a miracle would bring her back to life. “Lockup” producers follow Butterfield in the weeks leading up to and through his murder trial and are with him moments after the jury renders its verdict.

We also meet 33-year-old Brian James just hours after he was arrested for a night of mayhem in which he led police officers on a high-speed chase and nearly ran over one officer. James was in an Intake holding cell for approximately 15 minutes when he discovered another arrestee was charged with sexual battery.Facing a possible life sentence under California’s three strikes law, James decided to take justice into his own hands and nearly strangled the inmate to death with the laces of his tennis shoes.

March 26: “Unholy Trinity”

This episode follows the jail experience of a husband and wife who have been arrested for rape and sodomy. Beau De’Arborne and Michelle Culberson both proclaim their innocence but have different stories about the events that led to their charges. Culberson, three months pregnant at the time of her arrest, gave birth while in custody. “Lockup” cameras are present when De’Arborne’s mother brings their baby son to visit them; first in the men’s unit, then in the women’s unit.

The episode also features Culberson’s cellmate, Stacie Ortega, who readily admits that a drinking problem led to her conviction for DUI with bodily injury. Having gotten intoxicated at brunch, she accidentally ran over her boyfriend and then fled the scene.

Finally, we are introduced to one of the OC Jail’s higher profile inmates, Brian Wozniak. A locally known playhouse actor, Wozniak is accused by prosecutors of murdering two people and draining their bank accounts to pay for his upcoming wedding and honeymoon. One of the victims was dismembered and his torso was found in a theater in which Wozniak once performed. Wozniak, who has pled not guilty and is still awaiting trial, discusses the charges, his career as an actor and demonstrates the various ways he copes with life in jail.

April 2: Highs and Lows

In October 2006, an Orange County Jail inmate named John Chamberlain was sadistically attacked and murdered by a large group of inmates in one of the low security housing units. The murder sent shockwaves through the jail and led to major reforms. Jared Petrovich and Stephen Carlstrom are two of nine inmates charged with Chamberlain’s murder, and five years later, are still being held awaiting trial. Both men have entered not guilty pleas. They detail the controversial events that led to the murder and the horrifying nature of the attack itself.

The episode also turns its focus on how drugs, either directly or indirectly, lead to the vast majority of arrests made in Orange County. We gain a personal view of the problem through the eyes of Tami Butcher, a local roller derby star better known as, “Hurt in a Skurt,” and Donald Stokes, an inmate who has been in and out of the system on various drug charges and is about to hit the streets yet again.

April 9: Cabin Fever

There is a protective custody wing at the Orange County Jail that houses openly

gay and transgender inmates in order to prevent them from being harassed by other inmates in general population. Known as Mod Q, this wing is full of high drama, as the inmates, most of them men in their 20’s deal with an abundance of willing sexual partners and the restrictions of incarceration.

In a stark contrast, two other male cell mates, Brandyn Scotto and Weston Krueger deal with the likelihood that they will be facing long prison sentences. Krueger in particular, a former mixed martial arts fighter, is awaiting sentencing for the murder of a liquor store clerk and could face life in prison. The two cellmates seem to get along, but jail officials launch an investigation when one of them turns up with two blackened eyes.

“Lockup Extended Stay,” is an MSNBC original production, and is produced with 44 Blue Productions. Elise Warner is the Executive Producer of “Lockup,” MSNBC. Rasha Drachkovitch is Executive Producer for 44 Blue. Jim Cirigliano is Co-Executive Producer for 44 Blue. Chris Rowe is Supervising Producer for 44 Blue. Michael Rubin is Vice President, Long Form Programming for MSNBC. Scott Hooker is Senior Executive Producer, Documentary Production and Development, MSNBC.

Gang bangers arrested in stolen car here

Four members of a Costa Mesa street gang were arrested in a stolen car on Cliff Drive late Wednesday night.

A Laguna officer was about to make a routine car stop on a Toyota Paseo when the police computer indicated that the license plate on the car had been reported stolen and the tags were for different model. The officer called for backup and once the Toyota was pulled over, the vehicle identification number revealed the Toyota had been reported stolen in Costa Mesa.

Officers notified the Costa Mesa PD and members of that agency’s gang squad headed to Laguna when the names of the occupants were given to them. All four occupants were active street gang members in that city.

As the cops searched the Toyota, they discovered a Ruger handgun. The serial number was checked and police learned that the .22 had been stolen three years ago.

One occupant of the car was under 18 and the Costa Mesa gang unit transported him to juvenile hall based on his past record.

The other three men, identified as Fernando Linares Isidoro, 23, and Brian Daniel Olivera, 20, both of Costa Mesa and Santa Ana resident Luis Gibran Astudillo, 22, were held without bail. They were charged with vehicle theft, possession of stolen property, probation violation, carrying a concealed firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition for that firearm and criminal street gang activity. All are well known to the Costa Mesa PD gang unit.

High speed rush hour chase through town – driver eludes cops in San Juan Capistrano

The driver of a white 1995 Chevy Suburban hit speeds over 100 mph driving southbound in the northbound lanes of the 73 toll road after being chased by police from Coast Hwy and Montage Resort Drive through rush hour traffic Wednesday evening. The driver and two passengers managed to get away when they all bailed out on a residential street in San Juan Capistrano.

Sgt. Louise Callus of the LB Police Department said Thursday that during the chase that lasted about 25 minutes, the registered owner of the Suburban called the OC Sheriff’s Dept reporting that it had been stolen. He lives in San Juan Capistrano.

Things started just before 5:30 when multiple cell callers reported that the Suburban was being driven erratically northbound on Coast Highway. A police officer tried to make a traffic stop but the suspect driver immediately tried to speed away.

The officer behind the Suburban advised other units that the Suburban was driving in the wrong lanes of Laguna Canyon Road (LCR) and had almost had a crash with another vehicle in the 700 block of LCR and drove on the median through Big Bend at 70 mph in heavy outbound rush hour traffic. At least one beer can was thrown for the SUV. Two other Laguna police units joined in the chase that continued toward the toll road where the Suburban drove southbound in the northbound lanes.

The incident was broadcast on the countywide “red” channel that is monitored by all of the OC police agencies as well as news sources including StuNewsLaguna.

By the time the chase reached Aliso Creek, the speed was called as 100 as the SUV moved over to the median in light traffic. It exited at Greenfield in Laguna Niguel, ran a red light, then got back on the toll road in the proper southbound lane.

CHP units joined the chase where the 73 merges with the I-5. Meanwhile, the SUV reached 110 mph and drove on the right shoulder to get onto I-5 southbound at 5:45.

At the Junipero Serra exit, the SUV ran into luck as another older model white Suburban was heading southbound. The suspect vehicle exited and one of the police units called it. The other units remained fixed on the SUV continuing south on the freeway. An OC Sheriff’s unit on surface streets in San Juan Capistrano reported seeing the fleeing Suburban.

By the time police cars involved in the chase were able to double back on Camino Capistrano, the driver and passengers had bailed out of the SUV and fled on foot, a few blocks away from where the Suburban’s owner resides.

Sheriff’s deputies established a perimeter by six o’clock with the assistance of a helicopter as reports came in from residents who had seen people running through their backyards.

Several witnesses gave descriptions of the suspects that had bailed out including a juvenile male who was apprehended nearby. Three other males are still being sought.

Sgt. Callus said the case will be actively investigated. “It is amazing that no one was injured by this,” she commented.

Laguna man, 46, arrested last Friday for knocking out a 74-yr-old man in road rage


A Laguna Beach man, John Onsby Bennett, 46, was arrested for felony battery causing serious bodily injury last Friday morning.

Police said Bennett got out of his vehicle and beat a 74-year-old man who apparently wasn’t walking fast enough across a driveway that Bennett wanted to turn into on Laguna Canyon Rd at about 11:50 Thursday night.

LBPD Sergeant Louise Callus said, “The suspect [Bennett] was driving eastbound on Laguna Canyon Road near Big Bend and the victim was walking in the same direction. Bennett wanted to turn right into a driveway for a parking lot, which the victim was walking across.

“According to the older man, he heard the driver yelling at him and then stop and get out. Bennett allegedly hit the victim knocking him down and unconscious for a brief spell. Bennett, the victim said, was standing over him when he cleared his head,” Callus said.

The victim continued walking home and his son brought him to the day labor site Friday morning and called police. After taking the report and having the victim examined, police charged Bennett with felony battery. He was booked at the city jail then managed to post bail and was released.

Bennett, police said, is 5-10 and the victim is 5-6.

If convicted, Bennett could be jailed in state prison for up to four years.

Cops seize six pounds of pot because of missing mud flaps and expired registration on pickup

Six pounds of marijuana inside two thick plastic bags inside a duffel bag still smells like six pounds of marijuana.

Laguna Beach resident Kelly Shane Shapley, 23, took a chance transporting the marijuana and nearly a quarter ounce of cocaine in the duffle bag Thursday evening but he didn’t check the registration on his friend’s pickup and is paying the price.

A police officer saw that the pickup was showing an expired registration and also didn’t have the required mud flaps and made a stop in the 200 block of Beverly St in North Laguna at 6:42 p.m. Police said the officer encountered the telltale odor of pot as soon as he left his patrol unit.

Shapley was arrested and charged with four felonies – cultivation of marijuana; possession of marijuana for sales, possession of cocaine for sales and transportation of controlled substance for sales. He was taken to county jail after booking.

Two other occupants of the pickup were released without charges.

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