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Laguna Beach


Marine Safety Files

911 call for female scuba diver at Shaw’s Cove

On Monday, Nov 11, at 8:07 a.m., at the 1000 block of Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach Lifeguards responded to a 911 call for a scuba diver rescue at Shaw’s Cove Beach.

According to Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond, “On scene lifeguards found a scuba diver who had been pulled out of the water by her peers. She was conscious and breathing. Lifeguards provided basic life support to the female patient and paramedics arrived on scene and provided advanced life support.”

Capt Bond said, “The patient decided not to go to the hospital against medical advice. However, she was conscious and breathing.” 

Capt Bond said he wasn’t sure how the accident occurred. But he reiterated safety precautions that anyone who enters the water should know. 

“The safety message is when you enter the water to always understand your limitations and be aware of the current ocean conditions. You can always check in with our Marine Safety dispatch and our surf and weather reporting to get the most updated conditions for the beach and ocean.”

At the time of the incident, the surf was 2-3 feet and there was a south/southwest swell.

Regarding ocean conditions, Capt Bond said they’re ever changing. 

“Again, we recommend people know their limitations, know what the conditions are. It’s ideal to dive when there is little to no surf. With any type of swell or other ocean activity, it is going to make it more difficult to dive when the surf is bigger,” Capt Bond said.

“In fact, when the surf is large, we close diving, but diving was not closed that day,” Capt Bond said.

Police Files

Suspicious male reportedly harasses women on trail

On Sunday, Nov 10, at 6:19 p.m., at the 30800 block of South Coast Hwy, LBPD received, “a suspicious persons call near the walking trails by the Montage for a person acting strangely who appeared to be under the influence,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

According to police records, “females were walking along the trail and a male was following them. The male was [allegedly] asking for drugs.”

He was described as a white male in his 40s, “possibly wearing a mask and [allegedly] chasing the women with a hatchet.” 

Sgt Cota said, “Officers checked the area including Aliso Beach and [the suspect] was not located. No other calls were received.”

Locals flag down LBPD to rid graffiti

On Monday, Nov 11, at 8:37 a.m., an LBPD officer was flagged down in reference to a report of a vandalism incident in the 500 block of Cliff Drive. 

According to Sgt Cota, “The graffiti ‘BORO3’ was to be removed immediately. It was approximately four feet in length.”

Marine Safety Files Tagging

Click on photo for a larger image

  Courtesy of Angela Carnago/Nextdoor 

Graffiti tagging on wall on Cliff Drive

Woman crashes into building, no injuries

On Tuesday, Nov 12, at 11:25 a.m., LBPD officers responded to a traffic collision at Berkshire Hathaway, at the 30812 block of South Coast Hwy. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Officers and LBFD arrived on scene and located an elderly female in the driver seat of a vehicle with front end damage, which was parked in front of the building. There was damage to one of the walls and windows. There were no injuries inside of the business and the elderly female driver was assessed by paramedics, but she declined transportation to the hospital.”

No collision report was taken based on lack of injuries and being on private property. Officers assisted with information exchange between all parties.


Police Files

Juveniles arrested with loaded gun in alleged robbery/carjacking, driver still on the loose

On Monday, Nov 11, at 12:09 a.m., LBPD officers were notified of an alleged carjacking of a vehicle, identified as a Nissan Sentra, in the area of North Coast Highway and Ledroit Street. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The robbery occurred approximately six hours prior in the city of Moreno Valley in Riverside County and the weapon used was a handgun.”

An officer located the Sentra driving east on Broadway Street. The vehicle was occupied by three males. 

Sgt Cota said, “Officers followed the vehicle out the Canyon while attempts were made to get mutual aid assistance from an air unit and a K-9. Both air units were grounded due to weather, fog, and OCSD had an available K-9 unit that began responding.” 

In the area of Laguna Canyon Road and Lake Forest Drive, an enforcement stop was initiated. 

Sgt Cota said, “The Sentra stopped and the driver fled on foot. The officers provided a description and direction of travel of the driver to responding units while they stayed with the vehicle, which was still occupied by two males. The males were ordered out of the vehicle and detained.” 

They were identified as two juvenile males, 16 and 17 years old. 

Sgt Cota said, “A search revealed one of them was in possession of a loaded handgun in his waistband. The driver was last seen running towards the gated residential community of Laguna Altura.”

Personnel from Irvine PD, Costa Mesa PD, OCSD, and CHP responded to assist with a perimeter search for the driver. The search was discontinued after approximately three hours. 

Sgt Cota said, “Riverside County Sheriff’s Department was contacted and they responded to assume custody of the minors, the recovered stolen vehicle, and the handgun.”

Suspect allegedly on drugs arrested after alleged threats to officers and their families

On Sunday, Nov 10, at 12:16 a.m., LBPD officers contacted a male subject near North Coast Highway and Emerald Bay. 

Sgt Cota said, “When they began conducting a drug influence investigation, the subject threatened to kill the officers and their families. The subject was identified as Fullerton resident John Wesley Alexander III, 30. He was arrested for threatening an executive officer.”

Bail was set at $25,000.

Former nanny now facing 690 years to life for molestation charges

A man who served as a male nanny for families across Southern California, including in Laguna Beach, was charged with additional felony child molestation charges last week for allegedly victimizing 17 young boys under his care. The boys ranged in age from two to 12 years old.

Matthew Antonio Zakrzewski, 30, of Costa Mesa, was arrested on May 17, 2019 by LBPD detectives at a local airport after deplaning an international flight. Zakrzewski was originally charged with three felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14, and one felony count of oral copulation of a child under the age of 10. He was also charged with one felony count of possession of child pornography.

Police Files Zakrzewski

Courtesy of LBPD

Matthew Zakrzewski faces 690 years to life plus eight years for molestation charges

Zakrzewski pleaded not guilty to the original charges in May. He is currently being held at the OC Jail on $1.25 million bail.

Zakrzewski now faces a total of 33 felony counts, including 27 felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14, one felony count of oral copulation of a child under the age of 10, and one felony count of possession of child pornography. He also faces one felony count of using a minor for sex acts, two felony counts of distributing pornography to a minor for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct, and one felony count of an attempted lewd or lascivious act with a minor under the age of 14.

Prosecutors allege the crimes were committed between January 1, 2014 and May 17, 2019. He faces 690 years to life plus eight years if convicted on all charges.

Investigators asked for the public’s help in locating any other potential victims. As the investigation progressed, additional victims were identified through video evidence and tips from the public, resulting in additional charges being filed against Zakrzewski.

In early May 2019, a Laguna Beach couple had reported to Laguna Beach Police that their babysitter, Zakrzewski, had touched their eight-year-old son inappropriately and was concerned for the safety of their son and potentially other children.

The couple had hired Zakrzewski to care for their eight-year-old child through one of his several babysitting websites. The LBPD’s Major Crimes and Intelligence Unit immediately opened an investigation, which led to the identification of a seven-year-old boy in the City of Los Angeles who reported abuse too, and ten more boys from across Southern California.

“These parents were led to believe that they could trust this man with the most precious thing in their entire world – their children,” said OC District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Instead, he preyed on these innocent boys and violated that trust in a vile and sadistic way.”

Anyone who has information related to this investigation or any other unreported incidents involving Zakrzewski is urged to call the Laguna Beach Investigations Division line at (949) 715-1300.

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

-By Suzie Harrison


Police Files

Man arrested at Main Beach for alleged criminal threats and resisting an executive officer

On Sunday, Nov 3, at 5:38 p.m., LBPD officers responded to Main Beach in reference to Pejman Zanjani allegedly causing a disturbance. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Zanjani was disturbing the peace of many visitors by calling them derogatory names. He then made serious threats to the officers.”

 Sgt Cota said, “Pejman Abdolali Zanjani, 41, was subsequently arrested for criminal threats and resisting an executive officer, both felonies.”

Bail was set at $25,000. 

Employee warns guests they were too drunk to drive; they drove off and were arrested for alleged DUI

On Monday, Nov 4, 7:45 p.m., LBPD officers responded to the area of the Surf and Sand Resort, at the 1500 block of South Coast Hwy, in reference to an alleged DUI investigation. 

According to police records, an employee reported “a couple of guests are demanding their vehicle be released to them at the valet. The guests were intoxicated and told not to drive.” 

According to police records, the guests said they would get an Uber but instead left in their vehicle described as a black Mercedes. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Security staff reported that intoxicated guests had retrieved their vehicle from the valet and were driving. Officers located the described vehicle and conducted an investigative stop. The driver was identified and subsequently arrested for DUI.” 

Bail was set at $2,500. 

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Animal Files

On Monday, Nov 4, at 5:10 p.m., LBPD received several calls in reference to an injured deer at the 28900 block of Top of the World Drive.

According to police records, the “deer was stuck in the fence between slats and had a bad cut.” 

A caller was “advised to keep everyone away from the deer because the deer struggled when people were near.”

Animal Services officer John Thompson arrived on scene to extricate the deer. Thompson tranquilized the deer to make it easier to remove it from the fence. He later did a drug reversal.

Unfortunately, according to LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres, “The deer did not survive.” 

-By Suzie Harrison


Police Files

LBPD locks up three alleged car thieves in two days

On Thursday, Oct 31, at 12:57 a.m., LBPD officers began looking for an alleged stolen Toyota Tacoma pickup that was reported to be in Laguna Beach.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The Toyota had been reported stolen the previous day in Westminster. Officers located the pickup and conducted a high-risk traffic stop on South Coast Highway at Cleo Street.”

Sgt Cota said, “Garden Grove resident Walter Rivera, 25, was taken into custody without incident for [alleged] vehicle theft.”

Rivera’s bail was set at $20,000.

Then on Friday, Nov 1, at 12:56 a.m., LBPD officers began looking for an alleged stolen silver Hyundai Sonata as a result of an automated license plate recognition hit. 

According to Sgt Cota, “The Hyundai had been reported stolen two weeks ago in Walnut. Officers located the Hyundai within one minute and executed a high-risk traffic stop on Sleepy Hollow Lane.” 

Sgt Cota said, “Baldwin Park resident Fernando Carlos Vargas, 43, and Pico Rivera resident Irene Jennifer Farias, 21, were taken into custody without incident for [alleged] vehicle theft.”

Bail was set at $20,000 apiece for Vargas and Farias.

Man arrested twice in two days for alleged battery and elder abuse following alleged attacks

On Friday, Nov 1, at 10:28 a.m., LBPD officers responded to the bus depot, at the 300 block of Broadway Street, for an alleged fight in progress. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Officers arrived and detained homeless subject Luis Yerba and interviewed several people in the area.”

Sgt Cota said, “There were two victims, one who had been punched and spit on but did not want prosecution, the other a 67-year-old female, who had been struck several times with a backpack. The female did want prosecution.”

Luis Enrique Yerba, 57, was taken into custody for alleged elder abuse. 

Bail was set at $500.

Then on Saturday, Nov 2, at 4:43 p.m., at the 300 block of Broadway Street, LBPD received a report regarding a “subject inside being aggressive toward employees.” According to police reports, force was allegedly needed to detain the suspect. The suspect “was tackled” and detained.

Luis Enrique Yerba, 57, was arrested for alleged battery.

Bail was $500.

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

-By Suzie Harrison


Police Files

Musician’s guitar is stolen between sets at the White House, suspect caught on video

On Monday, Oct 28, at 10:14 p.m., an LBPD officer responded to the White House, at the 300 block of South Coast Hwy, for a theft report. The officer contacted the victim, who stated that once he finished his set, he placed his Martin D15M guitar inside of a black Martin hard guitar case. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “At around 9:15 p.m., he placed it against a wall of the bar. At first, he believed a fellow musician took it but determined that did not occur. A suspect has been identified via video. This information has been passed on to the Investigations Division.” 

The loss of the equipment was approximately $1,600.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day yields 277.7 pounds of medications 

On Saturday, Oct 26, LBPD partnered with the DEA to host the DEA’s 18th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a crucial initiative that addresses a big public safety and health issue. 

According to Sgt Cota, “The LBPD prescription medication drop-off last weekend yielded 277.7 lbs. It was very much a success.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day provides an opportunity for citizens to prevent drug addiction and overdose.

In 2017, approximately six million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. 

The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked. Last fall, citizens turned in nearly 460 tons (more than 900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,800 sites operated by the DEA and almost 4,800 state and local law enforcement partners.

It’s important to dispose of unused medication the right way. The usual methods of disposing of unused medications, flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, both pose potential safety and health hazards.

According to Sgt Cota, “It’s not every day that we get the opportunity to combat such an epidemic together, but the city and the Police Department were enthused to be able to take part in this initiative.”

LBPD is raising awareness about men’s cancer with “No Shave November,” locals are invited to join in

As the Pink Patch Project comes to an end, LBPD would like to remind the public again about No Shave November. Today (Friday) is the first day of November and LBPD is going to participate in No Shave November for a second year. 

According to Sgt Cota, “The month of November is being called ‘Movember,’ an initiative to raise awareness about cancer, men’s health, and to raise money for charities related to researching and developing cures for all forms of cancer.” 

LBPD, with the endorsement of the Command Staff and City Manager, looks forward to participating in the event again and is allowing employees to forgo facial grooming standards for the month of November to show their support.

LBPD No Shave

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD is growing awareness of men’s cancer with “No Shave November”

“The goal of ‘No Shave November’ (www.no-shave.org) is to grow awareness by embracing men’s hair, which many cancer patients lose, by letting it grow freely,” Sgt Cota said. “The goal is to help educate others about cancer prevention, saving lives, and aiding those who are fighting the battle.

Sgt Cota reiterated LBPD’s dedication to fight against cancer.

“At the same time, we will all enjoy seeing who can grow some nice mustaches and beards for all to see,” Sgt Cota said. “The Laguna Beach Police Department did well last year and collected over $3,000 in donations. I am hoping that we will be able to surpass last year’s donations.”

  -By Suzie Harrison


Police Files

Alleged DUI rollover crash rocks the night

On Friday, Oct 25, at 11:31 p.m., LBPD and LBFD personnel responded to the area of Laguna Royale and South Coast Highway for the report of a rollover traffic collision. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Cota, “Emergency personnel arrived and found that a northbound Honda CRV had struck a parked Ford F550 truck. The Honda rolled onto its side as a result of the collision.” 

Police Files DUI rollover crash

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

Local woman arrested for alleged DUI after rollover traffic collision

According to police records, pedestrians assisted the 42-year-old female driver out of her vehicle.

Sgt Cota said, “The driver of the Honda, a Laguna Beach resident, only received minor cuts and declined medical attention. She was arrested for [an alleged] DUI.”

Bail was set at $2,500.

Two loaded syringes found in two days

According to police, on Sunday, Oct 27, at 12:19 p.m., an LBPD officer contacted two homeless subjects, Kenneth Koestler and a female, inside the Legion Laundromat at the 300 block of Legion Street. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Koestler was in possession of heroin and two loaded syringes. He was placed in custody for possession of a controlled substance, possession of narcotic paraphernalia, and violation of a court order.” 

Bail was $15,000.

The day before, on Saturday, Oct 26, at approximately 7:37 a.m., a found syringe was reported to LBPD.

According to Sgt Cota, “I was dispatched to a report of a found syringe located in the 800 block of Park Avenue. The syringe was loaded with a dark colored substance inside of it. The syringe was capped and the needle was not exposed.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The syringe was confiscated and booked for destruction at the Laguna Beach Police Department. This was not in front of the school.”

-By Suzie Harrison


Police Files

Update on brutal killing of cat witnessed by LBPD officers

On Saturday, Oct 19, at 1:14 a.m., LBPD officers responded to the 400 block of Hill Street in reference to a male suspect reportedly in the middle of the street screaming and yelling, gripping a cat in his hand. 

Despite LBPD’s efforts to save the cat and stop the suspect, including tasering him twice, according to police, the suspect, Joey L Gabaldon, 52, violently killed the cat in front of officers.

Following the incident, Gabaldon was transported to Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach for a medical clearance prior to being transported to OC Jail. His bail was set at $25,000.

As outreach to the community and in response to this horrific event that has locals up in arms, LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota wrote a letter addressing Laguna residents:

“Dear Laguna Beach residents,

The Laguna Beach Police Department Major Crimes Unit is currently conducting a thorough investigation into the unfortunate killing of a cat that occurred this past weekend. 

It has come to our attention that some residents may have been going to the cat owner’s residence to speak with her as well as calling the police department and requesting welfare checks on any pets at the residence. 

Based on our investigation, it has been determined that the female owner of the cat was not involved in the cat’s killing.

Laguna Beach detectives are working with Laguna Beach Animal Control officers and the deceased cat’s owner to ensure that any other pets at the residence are safe. 

The suspect in this incident is currently in custody at the Orange County Jail for multiple charges including felony animal cruelty and does not currently have access to any pets.

The Laguna Beach Police Department requests that everyone respect the privacy of the pet owner while she grieves the loss of her pet. Any further questions can be directed to the Investigations Division by calling (949) 497-0370 or (949) 497-0371.

Thank you,

Sergeant Jim Cota

Laguna Beach PD”

Meth found in stolen auto, driver nailed and jailed

On Monday, Oct 21, at 11:46 a.m., LBPD Officers were alerted to an alleged stolen vehicle traveling southbound on North Coast Highway. The vehicle was a blue 2018 Toyota Sienna reported stolen from Lake Elsinore. Officers located the vehicle at Legion Street and South Coast Highway. 

According to Sgt Cota, “The vehicle turned into the Chevron gas station and was contacted. Officers detained the driver, Lake Elsinore resident Matthew Williams. Inside the vehicle, officers located methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.” 

Sgt Cota said, “Matthew Allen Williams, 27, was arrested for felony auto theft, driving on a suspended driver’s license, and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.”

No bail was set.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is tomorrow, drop off unwanted prescriptions at LBPD

On Saturday, Oct 26, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Laguna Beach Police Department will be partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to host the DEA’s 18th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and health issue. In 2017, approximately six million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. 

The DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day provides an opportunity for citizens to prevent drug addiction and overdose.

The City and LBPD are excited to make a difference and partner with the community to help combat drug addiction and overdose. The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked. Last fall, citizens turned in nearly 460 tons (more than 900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,800 sites operated by the DEA and almost 4,800 state and local law enforcement partners.

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day drop spot will be located in front of LBPD. Several members of our Police Department will be there to greet community members and assist in the disposal of their prescription drugs. 

The Police Department will not be accepting hypodermic needles. As a reminder, the usual methods of disposing of unused medications, flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, both pose potential safety and health hazards.

According to Sgt Cota, “It’s not every day that we get the opportunity to combat such an epidemic together, but the City and the Police Department are enthused to be able to take part in this initiative.”

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

-By Suzie Harrison


Police Files

Local man arrested on suspicion of violently killing cat

On Saturday, Oct 19, at 1:14 a.m., LBPD officers responded to the 400 block of Hill Street in reference to a male subject reportedly in the middle of the street screaming and yelling. 

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “The first officer on scene observed a male subject screaming and yelling holding a cat in his right hand raised in the air. The officer gave the subject verbal commands, which he did not comply with. He immediately started walking, yelling unintelligible words.

“The officer continued to give verbal commands prior to deploying his Taser, which had no effect on the subject. The male continued to walk toward the officer,” Sgt Cota said. 

“A second officer arrived on scene and the male subject immediately started walking toward that officer with the cat in his hand. The male subject got to the hood of the second officers’ police vehicle and began hitting the cat on the hood of the vehicle.

“A second Taser deployment was administered, which had an effect on the subject as he fell to the ground. Additional officers arrived on scene and were able to take the subject into custody.”

The officers took the deceased cat away from the subject, Sgt Cota said.

“Officers were able to identify where the male subject lived and ultimately where he had been abusing the cat prior to the arrival of officers. We identified the male subject as Laguna Beach resident Joey Gabaldon.”

Gabaldon was transported to Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach for a medical clearance prior to being transported to OC Jail. 

Sgt Cota said, “Joey L Gabaldon, 52, was arrested for [alleged] animal cruelty, resisting an executive officer, and resisting arrest.”

Bail was set at $25,000.

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Suspicious couple in van reportedly harass students

On Wednesday, Oct 16, at 7:47 p.m., LBPD officers responded to the 600 block of Park Avenue after a caller reported that her teenage son and his friend were approached by two people in an old maroon Ford Econoline van. 

Sgt Cota said, “The occupants in the van were described as a male and female in their 40s. The female passenger [reportedly] asked the boys how old they were and what they were going to dress up as for Halloween.”

According to the boys, they tried ignoring her. 

Sgt Cota said, “The woman [reportedly] asked the boys why they were ignoring her as the driver continued following them down the street. Their odd behavior frightened the boys, who ended up running away from the van. The boys contacted their parents and told them what happened.”

Officers later found the van in the area. Information from the van was obtained for further investigation.

Former PIMCO CEO and local Douglas Hodge pleads guilty in college bribery scandal

On Monday, Oct 21, Douglas Hodge, 61, Laguna Beach resident and former PIMCO CEO, one of the world’s largest money management firms, pleaded guilty in Boston federal court to conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering in connection with the largest reported college bribery scandal in history.

Hodge, who was accused in March of paying $525,000 to have his son and daughter admitted as purported football and soccer recruits to USC and Georgetown, had previously maintained his innocence.

According to media reports, Hodge said in a statement that he took “full and complete responsibility” for his crimes and apologized to his family and “deserving college students who may have been adversely impacted by this process.”

“I acted out of love for my children,” Hodges said, “but I know that this explanation for my actions is not an excuse.”

Former Laguna Beach residents, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, 55, and his well-known actress wife Lori Loughlin, 54, of Los Angeles, were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. They still maintain their innocence.

More than 50 people were charged by the U.S. Department of Justice in the largest reported college admissions bribery scandal in U.S. history, dubbed “Varsity Blues” by the FBI.

-By Suzie Harrison


Police Files

Man convicted of hate crime for punching African American man at local grocery store

On Thursday, Oct 17, a jury found a San Clemente man guilty of a felony hate crime for sucker punching an African American man, who was working at Whole Foods Market in downtown Laguna.

The attack left the victim with a broken nose and severe damage to his two front teeth.

Fernando Ramirez, 23, of San Clemente, was convicted of one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury, one misdemeanor violation of civil rights by force, and a felony hate crime enhancement.

Police Files Fernando RamirezThe 26-year-old victim was working at the local Whole Foods, at the 200 block of Broadway Street, on June 15, at 9:56 a.m., when Ramirez ran up behind him and punched him in the face. The victim did not know his attacker.

After his arrest, Ramirez went on a rant filled with racial epithets that targeted African Americans, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

“Hate does not belong in Orange County,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “If you commit a crime motivated by hate, I can promise you the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

At the time of the crime, LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “Without instigation, the RP said the suspect ran towards the victim and punched him in the face. The suspect fled the scene and was located shortly after in the 500 block of South Coast Highway. The force of the punch fractured the victim’s nose. He was subsequently taken into custody for felony battery.” 

Ramirez has a prior felony state prison sentence for a 2014 gang related felony assault. He was sentenced to two years in state prison.

Ramirez is scheduled to be sentenced on December 13. He faces a maximum of eight years in state prison. Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos prosecuted this case.

Alleged Cleo Street roof prowler arrested

On Tuesday, Oct 15, at 2:18 a.m., LBPD officers responded to the 100 block of Cleo Street for the report of the sound of someone either on the property or on the roof.

According to Sgt Cota, “Officers arrived and found Carson resident Marlon Hardin on the roof of an adjacent residence. When officers illuminated Hardin to detain him, he tried to climb down and fell into an alley. Hardin immediately got up and ran from the officers.

“Hardin ran into an enclosed yard with nowhere to go. He surrendered and was taken into custody without incident,” Sgt Cota said. 

Marlon Edward Hardin, 31, was arrested for alleged prowling and resisting arrest.

Bail was set at $500.

Editor’s Note: An arrest contains allegations that a suspect has committed a crime. Every suspect is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

-By Suzie Harrison


Police Files

Wild car chase ends with vehicle located but suspect nowhere in sight, vehicle reached 110 mph

On Saturday, Oct 12, at 2:01 a.m., an LBPD officer initiated a traffic stop of a possible DUI driver, in the area of Mountain Street and South Coast Highway.

According to Sgt Cota, “The driver failed to yield and fled southbound on South Coast Highway at a high rate of speed into the city of Dana Point. OCSD joined the pursuit as the suspect continued southbound on Coast Highway. The pursuit was terminated when officers lost visual of the suspect near the I-5 freeway in Capistrano Beach.”

“An area search was conducted, but the suspect could not be located. His vehicle was later located unoccupied. LBPD took custody of the vehicle and towed it back to LBPD for CSI,” Sgt Cota said. 

According to Sgt Cota, the vehicle was a BMW and registered to the mother of the driver. Speeds allegedly exceeded 110 mph. 

“It is still under investigation but an arrest could still be made,” Sgt Cota said.

Tesla damaged by fallen tree

On Thursday, Oct 10, at 7:06 p.m., at the 200 block of Arroyo Chico, LBPD received a report in reference to a large tree falling on a car. The car was reported to be a Tesla.

According to police records, “there were no injuries but [there was] extensive damage to the vehicle and a nearby wall.”

Police files Tree falls on Tesla

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Caroline Wright

Tesla gets nailed by fallen tree

Dispatch records suggested the tree may have been owned by the City. However, Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis said, “This is not a city owned and maintained tree.”

Man gets scammed out of thousands thinking he was putting down deposit on a property

On Wednesday, Oct 9, at 6:41 p.m., LBPD received a report regarding a local man scammed out of money by a fake real estate agent.

“According to LBPD Spokesperson Sgt Jim Cota, “This was a front counter report at the police department. The RP reported that he put down a deposit of $5,800 down for a home in Aliso Viejo through an alleged real estate agent. The RP went to the location and found out after talking to the actual real estate agent that he was scammed.”

According to police records, the RP said the suspect was still waiting for him to send more money.

Sgt Cota said, “A report was taken and sent to Investigations. There have been no reports of similar activity that I have heard of.”

Fire at The Greeter’s Corner causes traffic 

woes but no injuries or significant damage

On Saturday, Oct 12, at 10:56 p.m., LBFD responded to The Greeter’s Corner restaurant, at the 300 block of S Coast Hwy, in reference to a fire. 

According to police records, the caller reported “seeing flames inside the restaurant and smoke coming from the roof.”

According to LBFD Captain Crissy Teichmann, “Crews on scene reported a kitchen fire that was extinguished by the internal suppression system.”

She said that she was not aware of any injuries. The fire did not extend outside the kitchen area or to any other buildings or businesses. 

 Capt Teichmann said, “Anytime there is a kitchen fire at a restaurant and an internal suppression system is activated the business must go through the appropriate authorizing authority and process to get the kitchen back functioning and in working order prior to opening again.”

LBPD sent out a Nixle traffic alert for southbound South Coast Highway at Laguna Avenue for an hour.

-By Suzie Harrison

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