Drive thru menu board swiped at Jack-In-The-Box

Someone apparently can’t get enough of the fare offered at Laguna’s only fast food stop – Jack-In-The-Box.

Police said the manager at the restaurant located at Brooks Street and S. Coast Hwy reported that the outside menu board had been stolen sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning or late Saturday night.

There were no obvious clues, however, if you visit someone who has a menu board with a Jumbo Jack pictured and you’re not at the home of Rodney Allen Rippy, call the cops.

Five parolees at large nabbed here in sweep

Laguna Beach Police assisted the Department of Corrections/State Police in a sweep of known parole violators in Laguna Beach this past Wednesday.

Five local men were arrested – three in their homes and two at other locations. One man, Sean Koch, 32, was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender as a condition of his parole as well as parole violation.

The others arrested were: Matthew Rogers, 53, George F. Tholen, 63, Gregg A. Sandoval, 39 and Ismael Lopez Rodriguez, 46.

All five were booked at the city jail and then handed over to the State Police and held without bail pending their parole hearings, which could include revocation, police said.

SUV left path of destruction Saturday

Roll Over Photo

Staff photo by Jay Rubin

The 2002 Chevy Tahoe above resulted in only minor injuries to its driver late Saturday afternoon after it crashed and rolled over near 8th Ave and Coast Hwy in South Laguna. Police said the SUV hit and jumped the curb striking a SDG&E electric vault box at 4:51. The box was launched airborne into a wall, a Cox Cable box, bus bench and a sign. All were seriously damaged from the flying vault box. The SUV rolled over and caused damage to two nearby homes. According to police, the driver, who had not been drinking, indicated that a mechanical failure caused the crash. One southbound lane of Coast Hwy was closed while CalTrans and the utility companies cleared the debris and restored power to the area.

Imagine coming home and finding a stranger inside your home – it happened on Myrtle Street

A man returned to his home in the 300 block of Myrtle Street in North Laguna Sunday afternoon and found an unknown man reclined on a couch in his living room. When the intruder refused to leave, the resident went outside and called the cops.

Officers responded to the 11 minutes after four o’clock 9-1-1 call and made entry to the home with guns drawn. They found the man sleeping on the couch.

When William Bear St. Clair, 31, of Fountain Valley was rousted, he identified himself as the RP and handed officers the homeowner’s passport. That didn’t work and St. Clair was hooked up in handcuffs on a felony charge of residential burglary and misdemeanor providing police with a false ID.

LBPD Sergeant Louise Callus said St. Clair had helped himself to some of the residents’ food and had also opened some pieces of mail. Police did not say if the suspect offered any sort of explanation for his temporary inhabitance.

Local woman, 18, arrested for lynching after her mother was taken into custody at 3 a.m. Sunday

In nearly 15 years of reading the police log at the Laguna Beach police station, this writer came across a felony criminal charge of lynching for the first time this past Sunday afternoon.

Laguna Beach resident Karly Marie Mac, 18, was arrested for a violation of CA penal code section 405 a The taking by means of [force or violence] of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer is a lynching. The charge is a felony and if convicted, she could be sent to state prison for four years.

At 3:02 Sunday morning, police were called by security at the Inn at Laguna in the 200 block of N. Coast Hwy about a group of people “yelling and shoving” and creating a disturbance.

Responding officers encountered four individuals across the street outside of the closed Starbucks in the 100 block.

According to police, a man identified as Steve Eachern, 31, of Orange, immediately charged the officers as they approached the four people. As officers grappled with him, his mother, identified as Lara Lee Mac, 55, Laguna Beach, intervened yelling at police to let him go. It was later learned that Eachern was her son.

Officers took both Eachern and Lara Mac into custody on charges of resisting/delaying/obstructing a police officer.

Police said that Karly Mac then grabbed her mother in an attempt to wrest her free while getting physical with an officer.

Mother, son and daughter went to jail while the fourth unidentified person who remained on the sidelines went home.

As a footnote: now we’ll all have a different thought when we see the townsfolk in a movie march to the jail to “lynch” a prisoner…

Police used Boys & Girls Club play area to halt a disturbed man yesterday morning

Police received a call late Monday morning from a person who was concerned about the welfare of a man in the Thurston Trailer Park who was thought to have threatened to take his own life.

The address where police went backs up to a rear gate on the property of the Boys & Girls Club. According to information provided by a Club employee, officers came in and had the Club go into a lockdown mode so that police could approach the man via the back gate located on the concrete playground area outside.

When they took the man into custody before having him held for a 72-hour mental observation, there was a commotion that attracted the attention of nearby residents who called StuNewsLaguna.

No one was injured and police were able to subdue the man without the use of a taser or other major physical restraint.

Laguna man, 40, dies while driving on Glenneyre

Two police officers in a patrol car on Forest Ave who were about to turn onto Glenneyre heard the sound of a minor traffic crash Saturday afternoon at about 3:15. They quickly located the accident on Glenneyre at Forest involving a Volvo that had rear-ended another car.

Sgt. Louise Callus said Monday, “Two medical doctors witnessed the [crash] and were administering CPR to the driver of the Volvo. The man was in full cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived. A defib shock briefly restarted his heart but he went back into full arrest.”

The man, identified by the OC Coroner’s office as Christian Thomas Medina, 40, Laguna Beach, was taken to Mission Hospital here and pronounced dead about an hour after the traffic incident.

Sgt. Callus said police believe that Medina suffered a heart problem while driving on Glenneyre, which caused the accident.

Traffic was shut down at Forest and Glenneyre creating a major traffic jam in the downtown area for more than an hour.

Newly arrived homeless man sets Main Beach boardwalk on fire Wed morning


Police said a homeless man who had recently come to town from the central California mountain town of Tehachapi tried to stay warm by lighting a fire under the boardwalk at Main Beach early Wednesday morning.

Sgt. Louise Callus said an employee of the Mobil Station reported a strong odor of smoke wafting from across Coast Hwy at Broadway but saw no fire.

“Officers arrived a little after 4 a.m. and located a fire under the boardwalk near the basketball courts,” Callus said. “They woke up a man sleeping there, moved him to safety, and tried to put the fire out with extinguishers from their patrol cars.”

The effort by the cops was unsuccessful and the fire department was summoned to put out the stubborn blaze in the planks of the boardwalk.

“There was significant damage,” police said.

Mario Victor Ghisalverti, 44, no fixed address, was charged with causing a fire of property, a misdemeanor.

“When he was questioned, Mr. Ghisalverti admitted to setting the fire. He said he had been cold and lit newspapers and other loose items to get warm,” said Callus. He apparently became comfy enough to doze off and the fire he’d set spread to the planks.

Police said he was aware of the alternative sleeping location but explained to them that he had been too late to get in there.

Sgt. Callus added, “When he was being handcuffed, he told the officers, ‘…at least I will have a place to sleep tonight where it’s warm.’”

Narcs seized $50,000 in Ecstasy pills last week

As part of an ongoing investigation, Laguna undercover narcotics investigators arrested two Fullerton men and seized 5,000 Ectasy pills last Wednesday night.

The street value of the drugs, commonly used at rave parties, is estimated to be $50,000.

The narcs had arranged to buy ecstacy and met their seller on a Cal DState Fullerton parking lot.

The two men taken into custody, both 21 were Dennis Haw Gue Oh, Anaheim and Gee Won Kim from La Palma.

Both face charges of possession of a controlled substance for sales.


Crime in the OC is no different than what
we see on television

I’ll admit it – I can’t get enough of the Law and Order shows, Cold Case and the CSI programs. Every night, you can watch hours of such programs on cable and it usually doesn’t matter to me if I’ve seen an episode a year or two before. That said I am able to also say with certainty that many others in Laguna, male and female, young and old, have told me they’re hooked as well.

Long before cable TV, the “whodunit” was always a top selling genre of books, magazines
and movies.

Most readers know that I have been covering the cops, fire and courts relating to Laguna Beach far longer than anyone else doing so in town. Before that, the law was second only to baseball as my passionate hobby.

OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ Public Affairs Counsel provides press releases filled with the details about important cases that have been or are being prosecuted by his office. I have always read them but only when they have a direct bearing on Laguna Beach have I written anything.

What always stood out is how the OC has crimes of all types that mirror the whole country – and cable TV. And, many of the crimes are closer to home than I believe most Lagunans realize.

Press releases from the DA’s officer will be printed here without much editing and without comment – just for readers’ knowledge awareness and entertainment with the caveat that the DA’s office isn’t interested in presenting the side of the accused.

Stu Saffer

This week from the OC DA’s office…

DNA led to brother and sister charged with robbery & murder

Oct 25 – A brother and a sister have been charged with the robbery and murder of a Santa Ana man by gaining entry into his home by pretending to be fruit salesmen.

Siblings Alejandro Romero, 31, and Gladys Romero, 33, both of Santa Ana, are each charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of robbery, kidnapping, and burglary with an additional sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. They are being held without bail.

On June 5, 2000, Gladys Romero is accused of posing as a door-to-door fruit saleswoman and gaining entry into Juan Gomez’s home by asking for a glass of water. Once inside, Gladys Romero is accused of opening the door to allow her brother, Alejandro Romero, to enter the victim’s home. Both defendants are accused of being armed with firearms.

The defendants are accused of tying up Gomez and his family in the living room of the home. Gomez struggled and was able to break free from his ties. Alejandro Romero is accused of struggling with Gomez and shooting the victim. Gladys Romero is accused of then shooting Gomez when he was on his knees. The defendants are accused of stealing a purse and fleeing the scene. Gladys Romero is accused of leaving her own purse at the scene.

Gomez died at the scene. His family freed themselves and called the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), who investigated this case. SAPD Crime Scene Investigators collected DNA evidence at the scene.

The case remained unsolved and without a suspect for 10 years. On Sept. 30, 2010, DNA taken from Gladys Romero on a misdemeanor conviction was linked to DNA that was taken from her purse left at the murder crime scene. The DNA evidence along with witness statements connected the defendants to the case.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.

CFO and accountant charged with stealing over $1.5 million by processing over 800 fraudulent checks to themselves

Oct 21 – A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and accountant have been charged with stealing over $1.5 million from their employer by processing over 800 unauthorized checks to themselves.

Maria Lorena Vega Yarrish, 40, Buena Park, is charged with 40 felony counts of computer access and fraud. Co-defendant Eric Wayne Helgemo, 50, Vista, is charged with 38 felony counts of computer access and fraud. Both defendants face sentencing enhancements and allegations for property damage over $1.3 million, causing loss over $100,000, and aggravated white collar crime over $100,000. If convicted, Yarrish faces a maximum sentence of 37 years in state prison and Helgemo faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in state prison.

The defendants are being held on $1.5 million bail and are required to prove that bail money is from a legal and legitimate source.

In August 2000, Yarrish is accused of being hired as a human resources representative for Pacific Polymers, Inc., a chemical sealant company. In January 2002, Helgemo is accused of being hired by the same company as the Vice President and CFO. Helgemo directly supervised Yarrish. She is accused of having the responsibility of processing employee timesheets using a computer payroll and paycheck system. Helgemo, who prepared financial reports for the company owner, is accused of having the responsibility of reviewing the weekly payroll and paycheck reports upon completion by Yarrish.

Between 2003 and 2008, Yarrish and Helgemo are accused of stealing over $1.5 million from Pacific Polymers by processing between one and 11 fraudulent paychecks per pay period for the two defendants. Helgemo is accused of taking 593 fraudulent payments amounting to over $1.1 million. Yarrish is accused of taking 229 fraudulent payments amounting to over $340,000. The fraud went undetected for several years, as Helgemo was entrusted to monitor Yarrish’s work.

In June 2008, Pacific Polymers was sold to Illinois Tool Works, Inc. (ITW) and the defendants’ jobs were subsequently eliminated. The theft was discovered after the purchase by ITW during an audit of Pacific Polymer’s finances. The case was investigated by the Garden Grove Police Department.

Deputy DA Marc Labreche of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.


Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

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