clear sky


Laguna Beach

Police Files

Man starts fire in canyon, also admits to fire at bus depot

On Tuesday, Feb 4, at 11:36 p.m., LBPD officers and LBFD responded to a vegetation fire reportedly near the ASL, at the 20500 block of Laguna Canyon Road. Officers arrived on scene and extinguished the 5’ x 10’ brush fire with their fire extinguishers. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Upon arrival, officers contacted homeless subject Michael Garcia next to the flames. LBFD personnel was on scene and investigated the unlawful fire.” 

Sgt Cota said, “Garcia admitted to starting the first fire on the cement pad as a warming fire and the second smaller fire he lit to illuminate the creek to look for a female friend. Garcia also admitted to causing the fire at the bus depot a month prior.”

A fire investigator was notified and will conduct a follow-up investigation.

Garcia was on probation, so his probation officer was notified. 

“Garcia was arrested for fire-related charges and violation of his probation terms,” Sgt Cota said.

No bail was set.

Alleged stolen vehicle arrest also leads to meth

On Monday, Feb 3, at 6:44 p.m., LBPD officers were alerted to an alleged stolen vehicle traveling inbound on Laguna Canyon Road. Officers located the vehicle as it passed through the 600 block of Laguna Canyon Road.

Sgt Cota said, “A high-risk traffic stop was conducted in the 1500 block of South Coast Highway. A female driver and male passenger were detained from inside of the vehicle. Marijuana, methamphetamine, and paraphernalia were found inside of the vehicle.” 

“The driver, Christin Shanna Hill, 34, was arrested for [alleged] possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of narcotic paraphernalia,” Sgt Cota said.

Bail was set at $50,000.

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.

  -By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Illicit drug bust: Man arrested with meth, cocaine, and PCP

On Thursday, Jan 30, at 10:17 p.m., an LBPD officer made a traffic stop at South Coast Hwy and Vista Del Sol, and contacted the driver Jonathan Ditmer. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “A vehicle search was conducted which resulted in officers finding a large amount of drugs. The drugs included marijuana, MDMA, methamphetamine, psilocybin, PCP, edibles, concentrated cannabis, cocaine, and an unknown white powder.”

Sgt Cota said, “Ditmer had the drugs separated into multiple smaller bags. $6,620 in cash, a digital scale, cell phone, and a soda can with a false compartment concealing multiple baggies of drugs inside were also found.”

Police Files drugs Police Files Jonathan Ditmer Police Files marijuana

Photos courtesy of LBPD

Suspect Jonathan Ditmer with drugs found in his vehicle

Jonathan Robert Ditmer, 44, was placed in custody for alleged possession for sales of controlled substances, in addition to several other narcotic charges. 

“It should be noted that Ditmer was also arrested on Sept 22, 2019 by LBPD,” Sgt Cota said.

Bail was set at $100,000.

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.

Pedestrian hit by car found at fault, according to LBPD

On Saturday, Jan 25, at 8:57 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to a reported vehicle versus pedestrian traffic collision at the intersection of South Coast Hwy and Ocean Avenue.

According to Sgt Cota, “The driver was a male Beverly Hills resident. The pedestrian was identified as a homeless female. Independent witnesses stated that the driver was driving his BMW north on South Coast Hwy in the number one traffic lane driving at approximately 35 mph.”

Sgt Cota said, “The traffic signal was green as he entered into the intersection. At the same time, the [subject] crossed South Coast Hwy, walking west to east against the red ‘DON’T WALK’ signal.”

Sgt Cota said, “The driver’s side view mirror of the BMW collided with the pedestrian and one of the drivers’ side tires drove over the top of her right foot.”

She was allegedly intoxicated and determined to be at fault, according to Sgt Cota. She refused medical attention and the only visible injury she sustained was a laceration to her foot. A report was taken.

-By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Great white shark reported by diver at Boat Canyon, Marine Safety closes beaches in caution

On Tuesday, Jan 28, at 5 p.m., at the 600 block of Cliff Drive, LBPD received a report regarding a diver bumping into what he believed to be a great white shark. 

According to Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond, “At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, a diver snorkeling at Boat Canyon reported a sighting of a shark to Marine Safety personnel. And in turn, the Marine Safety Department took the following actions – we documented the incident utilizing the state shark policy incident report. In addition, we launched our Marine Safety drone, called Osprey One, to search the area from Crescent Bay to Main Beach.”

Capt Bond said although Marine Safety did see some pinnipeds and marine life, “we did not observe a shark.”

“Out of abundance of caution, we posted an advisory for one-half mile in each direction, where the location was reported of the initial sighting, which went from Crescent Bay Point to Bird Rock,” Capt Bond said.

The posting remained up for 12 hours. It was taken down the next morning after the Marine Safety drone was launched again and did a thorough search of the area.

“We didn’t see the shark and the posting was lifted,” Capt Bond said. “I’d like to reiterate that sightings are rare along our coastline. Typically, when they’re seen they’re passing through our waters.”

Doctor Christopher Lowe, Professor and Director of the CSULB Shark Lab Dept of Biological Sciences – HSCI 122, in Long Beach, is the expert in shark activity and information that Marine Safety refers to. Capt Bond reiterated how rare seeing sharks are near our coastline as substantiated by Dr Lowe’s expertise.

LPBD arrests man wanted on federal warrant for human smuggling

On Monday, Jan 27, at 12:42 p.m., at the 1700 block of Laguna Canyon Road, an LBPD officer conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The driver, Coby House, was contacted and found to have an outstanding no bail with full extradition federal warrant for smuggling people.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The warrant was confirmed through federal probation as being signed off by a federal judge and enforced by U.S. Marshals.” 

“Coby Christopher House, 21, was arrested for the warrant and later taken to OC Jail,” Sgt Cota said.

No bail was set.

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.

Burglary at Rimcrest Circle reported

On Monday, Jan 27, at 12:43 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to a report of an attempted burglary in the 3200 block of Rimcrest Circle. Officers arrived and contacted the reporting party who stated an unknown subject had entered the residence earlier. 

According to Sgt Cota, “The RP’s relative was inside of the residence and the suspect was scared away. There was a loss of approximately $6,000.”

According to police reports, the rear slider was smashed, and the incident was caught on camera. The suspect covered their face. Two cameras and three camera lenses were taken.

 A report was taken and submitted to the Investigations division.

  -By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Kitchen fire on Catalina Ave “damages entire house” 

On Friday, Jan 25, at 3:40 p.m., LBFD and LBPD personnel were dispatched to a report of smoke coming from a residence in the 31500 block of Catalina Avenue.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “LBFD extinguished the fire in the kitchen. The kitchen sustained minor fire damage, but the entire house was damaged by the smoke. The homeowners were not on scene initially but arrived soon after being called by neighbors. No injuries were reported.”

Man attempts to bring ecstasy pills into jail, reports LBPD

On Sunday, Jan 26, at 2:37 a.m., LBPD officers conducted an occupied vehicle check in the 200 block of Crescent Bay Drive. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Costa Mesa resident Michael Romero, 35, was placed in custody for false impersonation after providing a false ID belonging to his brother in attempt to avoid being arrested for an outstanding warrant.”

 Sgt Cota said, “During the booking process, Romero attempted to hide an unknown item inside of his mouth. The item was located and determined to be a plastic package containing several ecstasy pills. The charges of possession of a controlled substance and bringing contraband inside a jail facility were added to his charges.”

Bail was set at $20,000.

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.

  -By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Spate of graffiti incidents strike town, tagger vandalizes every single step at Thousand Steps 

On Monday, Jan 20, at 7:45 a.m., at the 800 block of Manzanita Drive, LBPD received a call about a home that was vandalized with graffiti on the garage, driveway, and mailbox. 

Later, on Wednesday, Jan 22, at 6:49 a.m., an LBPD officer was dispatched to Thousand Steps Beach for a vandalism report in reference to a tagging incident using black and blue paint. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The RP stated someone had spray painted graffiti on every single step going to and from the beach. Officers arrived on scene and confirmed there was graffiti on every step.”

There are 220 steps total at Thousand Steps.

Sgt Cota said, “OC Parks arrived on scene and stated the damage was estimated at $3,000. Pictures were taken as well as a report to document the incident.”

-By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Local arrested in alleged $3.2 million sober living fraud scheme

Laguna Beach resident Steven Lomonaco was recently charged, along with four other Southern California defendants, with multiple felonies for allegedly preying on vulnerable substance abuse patients to defraud an insurance company out of millions.

A joint effort by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) and the California Department of Insurance shut down the alleged $3.2 million healthcare fraud ring led by Lomonaco, 61, Mahyar “Christian” Mohases, 37, of Santa Ana, Robert Williams, 41, of Murrieta, Nicholas Reeves, 42, of Aliso Viejo, and James Frageau, 29, of Temecula. The defendants have been charged with multiple felony counts including insurance fraud and money laundering in connection with the scheme.

Police Files Steven Lomonaco

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of OCDA

Steven Lomonaco

Mohases, Frageau, Williams, and Reeves are accused of finding patients across the country who were seeking help for substance use recovery and flying them to California to enter treatment at Casa Bella International Inc., which was owned and operated by Lomonaco in Laguna Beach. Now permanently closed, the sober living facility was located at 31365 Monterey St.

 In order to obtain payment from the insurance company for these patients, Mohases, Frageau, Williams, and Reeves allegedly directed employees to fill out policies for the patients using false information.

They are accused of lying on the insurance applications, stating that patients lived in California, when in actuality the addresses were for employees or businesses related to the co-conspirators. Lomonaco allegedly paid the other co-conspirators upwards of $10,000 per patient who stayed enrolled in treatment for more than 30 days.

“Sober living homes are valuable resources designed to facilitate recovery and healing for patients battling potentially life-threating addiction issues,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. 

“Instead of helping these patients, these individuals [allegedly] preyed on extremely susceptible people and exploited their addictions for profit. Working closely with the California Department of Insurance, we are cracking down on these [alleged] criminals and their predatory operations in order to protect substance abuse patients from unknowingly being trafficked, as well as protect their loved ones, and insurance companies from these unscrupulous operators,” Spitzer said.

In order to pay the insurance premiums, the defendants are accused of developing a massive money laundering scheme in which they filtered money through nonprofit, StopB4UStart, by providing “donations” from Mohases, Frageau, Williams, and Reeves under their corporation, Nationwide Recovery. These “donations” would be cashed out, it is alleged, and the owner of StopB4UStart would receive cashier’s checks in specified amounts based on the information he received from one of the other co-conspirators. More than 800 checks in total were allegedly used to pay the insurance premiums on the fraudulent policies.

Police Files exterior

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of Google

Laguna Beach-based sober living facility is now closed

Lomonaco has been charged with two counts of committing medical insurance fraud, one count of fraudulent written claim to an insurance company, one count of medical insurance fraud, and one enhancement for aggravated white collar crime over $200,000. He faces a maximum sentence of 8 years 4 months if convicted on all charges.

Mohases, Williams, Reeves, and Frageau have each been charged with two counts of committing medical insurance fraud, one count of fraudulent written claim to an insurance company, two counts of money laundering in excess of $150,000, four counts of money laundering, and one enhancement for aggravated white collar crime over $200,000. They each face a maximum sentence of 14 years if convicted on all charges.

“The heartless nature of these [alleged] crimes [is] appalling,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “These suspects [allegedly] trafficked vulnerable substance abuse patients to California just to make a quick buck from the insurance company, with no regard for their lives, health or recovery. Thanks to the efforts of Department of Insurance investigators, and our close work with District Attorney Todd Spitzer’s office, there is one less fraud ring preying on unsuspecting patients.”

Mohases has pled not guilty and is out on $250,000 bail. He is scheduled for a pre-trial on February 5. Reeves has pled not guilty also. He is out on $100,000 bail and is scheduled for a pre-trial on January 22 and a preliminary hearing on February 13. Frageau is out on $250,000 bail and is scheduled for a continued arraignment on February 7. Williams turned himself into Huntington Beach Police Department on January 15. No arraignment date has been scheduled for him yet.

Futher details about whether Williams and Lomonaco are in custody were not available as of press time.

According to the Manta website, Casa Bella Recovery was established in 1990 and had 10-19 employees. 

According to a November 23, 2019 story in, parents of a 20-year-old former resident of Casa Bella who died two days into his stay filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Casa Bella and its staff. According to court documents obtained, a notice of judgment was entered in favor of Casa Bella and its staff on November 25, 2019.

The article states, “The wrongful death lawsuit filed by his parents lays the tragedy at the feet of the rehabs and their workers. It also apportions blame for the nurse who, they feel, rendered services that weren’t medically necessary, and with the oversight of a doctor who never saw him. At Casa Bella, Harrison was prescribed a lethal stew of drugs that depressed his breathing and killed him according to the suit.”

The website shows there are six sober living facilities in Laguna Beach and dozens in Orange County, especially along the coast. Together with LA County, the posh area has been dubbed “Rehab Riviera.” 

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 (Cont.)

Kidnapping and assault suspect sought

Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigators are seeking the public’s help in identifying a suspect who assaulted and kidnapped a 22-year-old female victim in Aliso Viejo yesterday, January 21, at approximately 6 p.m.

The woman told deputies that while she was skateboarding at Woodfield Park in Aliso Viejo, an unknown man attempted to talk to her and then unexpectedly attacked her. He grabbed the victim who fought and screamed during the incident. The suspect threw the victim on the ground, dragged her into the bushes, and then fled in an unknown direction.

Police Files Suspect

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Authorities seek public’s help in identifying kidnapping and assault suspect

The victim described the suspect as a light-skinned black or Hispanic man in his 40s with dark hair, 6’0”, medium build, wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and possibly shorts.

If you have any information or may be able to help identify the suspect, contact the Special Victims Detail at (714) 647-7419. Anonymous information may be provided through Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.

Liquor thieves steal bounty of booze from local grocery store

On Friday, Jan 17, at approximately 9 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to Pavilions, 600 N Coast Hwy, in reference to an alleged theft that had just occurred. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The reporting party advised that two subjects, both described as black males, had stolen a large amount of liquor and had fled the location in two different vehicles.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The reporting party was unable to give a direction of travel or description of the vehicles at the time of call. The total loss was estimated to be over $1,000. Newport Beach PD had two similar incidents within an hour after our theft.”

Police Files

TV star reportedly eats a deceased baby dolphin at Aliso Beach

Survivalist Gary Golding, a veteran of the Discovery Channel’s Emmy-nominated Naked and Afraid series, has ignited a firestorm after he reportedly found a deceased baby dolphin on the sand at Aliso Beach and decided to slice, dice, and eat it, reportedly capturing it on video and then posting it on social media for the world to see. 

TMZ obtained the video and broadcasted it here. 

In his opening remarks, the man appearing to be Golding assimilates his mindset with seagulls. “I have a dolphin in the background and the seagulls are scavenging it. And if I was in the wild, I can relate to those seagulls, I would be doing the same thing.”

And so he did, tearing out the dolphin calf’s heart with his bare hands and cutting specific pieces to eat.

According to Laguna Beach Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond, “On Sunday the 12th of January that video aired on TMZ and was posted online, and was brought to the attention of the Marine Safety Department. The video appears to show that an individual cut a dolphin calf open on a south Laguna beach. After that, he appears to process, cook, and eat the dolphin meat at the Aliso Beach parking lot.” 

Capt Bond said the actual date and time of when the actual video took place is still unknown.

“It appears it could be a possible publicity stunt because he posted it on social media for public viewing,” Capt Bond said. 

“The Marine Safety Police Department, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and NOAA Fisheries are investigating the incident. If it’s determined to be a violation of federal or state regulations, the authorities will take the appropriate action,” Capt Bond said.

He added, “A portion of the City of Laguna Beach is considered a protected area. It appears that a potential violation took place in the area that covers the Marine Mammal Protection Act.” 

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was enacted on October 21, 1972. The MMPA established a national policy to prevent marine mammal species and population stocks from declining beyond the point where they ceased to be significant functioning elements of the ecosystems of which they are a part. In Laguna Beach, the MMPA was enacted on January 1, 2012, according to Capt Bond. 

Justin Viezbicke, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal California Stranding Coordinator, West Coast Regional Office, said the case was turned over to the proper authorities.

“We turned over the information to the NOAA office of law enforcement. What they are doing, I do not know,” Viezbicke said.

Viezbicke advised that if someone finds a stranded marine mammal to call NOAA’s hotline. 

“They should call the stranded hotline at 1-866-767-6114. Anywhere in California, you can call this hotline number and they can connect you to your local network responder and they will come out there and take a look at it,” Viezbicke said.

According to the NOAA Fisheries website, all marine mammals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Some are also protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Three federal entities share responsibility for implementing the MMPA. NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the protection of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions.

“That’s what we want if people see these marine mammals on the beach. To contact us, because they are very valuable as far as information goes,” Viezbicke said. “They’re opportunities to kind of get a glimpse into what’s going on in the ocean. We feel it’s very important and we would really appreciate notification from the public.”

Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) Public Relations Coordinator Krysta Higuchi said the center is not involved in the incident. 

“Right now, unfortunately, there’s not much information to share at this point. PMMC is aware of the video, but we do not have much information about it, since the animal never came or was reported to PMMC,” Higuchi said. “The appropriate agencies, including Laguna Beach Marine Safety and Police Department, Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and OC Park Rangers, are actively investigating the case.

Higuchi said PMMC isn’t normally involved in the legal side of these situations.

“If determined to be a violation of federal, state, or local regulations, authorities will take the appropriate actions. We are not sure if that would be jail time, fines, etc.,” Higuchi said.

From a PMMC standpoint, Higuchi said, “Laguna Beach is a marine protected area and it is illegal to take a marine mammal from the water or the beach without a permit. Since PMMC was not made aware of the animal, we could not respond to do an exam or necropsy and therefore do not know its age, gender, cause of death, etc.” 

Unfortunately, the number of stranded dolphins on local beaches is on the rise.

2019 was a record year for PMMC dolphin responses.

“We responded to 17 dolphins, 16 common dolphins – all were adults or juveniles and two were calves, along with one bottlenose dolphin,” Higuchi said. 

Ten were stranded within 30 days from February and March and the other seven were stranded between April and September.

“We actually responded to our first dolphin of the year, 2020, [yesterday] Thursday, Jan 16, at Main Beach. It was a female adult Pacific white-sided dolphin. Sadly, by the time PMMC arrived, the dolphin had passed on its own,” Higuchi said.

A full necropsy will be performed to hopefully determine the cause of death in the coming days. Marine Safety reported the dolphin had seized shorty before PMMC’s arrival.

In 2018, PMMC responded to 12 dolphins, including one bottlenose and one striped adult dolphin, and 10 common dolphins. Six of the 10 rescued dolphins were newborns or calves. They were stranded between January and July with one patient in December.

In 2017, PMMC responded to four dolphins, one bottlenose newborn, and one adult and two newborn common dolphins, stranded between May and August.

The pattern is alarming.

“The survival rate is a sad statistic. None of the dolphins have survived,” Higuchi said. Historically we do not see the ‘mass strandings’ on the West Coast like you do on the East Coast. It’s normally just a single dolphin.”

She said when a dolphin strands people’s first instinct is to push it back out to the ocean. But here, that can cause much more harm than good. 

“When a dolphin strands on the West Coast it’s usually as a last resort because it is extremely sick or injured. Less than two percent of cetaceans or dolphins that strand survive,” Higuchi said. 

PMMC has increasingly seen more stranded dolphins over the years.

“Last year, February through April was a very trying time for PMMC. Not only did we see the majority of dolphins strand during that time, but also a majority of our seal and sea lion patients stranded during that time,” Higuchi said. “Let’s just hope [Thursday’s] response doesn’t foreshadow more to come.”

Golding, who goes by “Tarzan of Los Angeles,” seems to have second thoughts about his actions. On Wednesday, Jan 15, he posted on Twitter:

“Educational opportunity: I never knew you couldn’t pick up dead animals off the beach. DO NOT EVER DO IT. I would NEVER harm a Marine Mammal and I NEVER have. I would never touch or harm a Living Dolphin in or out of a protected area and I would never condone anyone harm any Marine Animal EVER. That is absolutely not acceptable behavior.”

Orange man busted for alleged gun and drug charges following “underground art party”

On Sunday, Jan 12, at 7:32 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the business complex in the 400 block of North Coast Hwy in reference to alleged suspicious activity.

The reporting party advised LBPD that several people frequent the location and that in order to enter, a private invitation from a phone must be shown to security.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Officers contacted people exiting and learned an underground art showing/marijuana sales party was being held. The male working in the capacity as security was observed leaving the location in a truck which had a marijuana bong and smoking pipe in plain view.” 

Sgt Cota said, “An enforcement stop was conducted in the area of North Coast Hwy and Ledroit Street. The male driver was identified as Braulio Figueroa. He was in possession of cocaine and two firearms, a Sig Sauer pistol and an assault rifle.”

According to Sgt Cota, “The Sig Sauer pistol was loaded with a high-capacity magazine. The assault rifle was disassembled, but had four high-capacity magazines within proximity, and the high capacity rifle magazines were loaded with armor-piercing bullets.” 

Braulio Jose Figueroa, 24, an Orange resident, was arrested for alleged possession of cocaine, possession of a concealed firearm, and possession of a controlled substance while armed.

Bail was set at $21,000.

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.

  -By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Burglary suspect arrested in Whittier following video ID

On Tuesday, Dec 31, at 10:31 a.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to a burglary report in the 900 block of South Coast Hwy. The reporting party stated a safe was stolen from inside of an office at the business. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Officers conducted an investigation and discovered the suspects entered through the front door at about 4:45 a.m., with a key from the lock box attached to a pole next to the business entrance. They then took the safe and exited through the back door onto the 100 block of Thalia Street.” 

Police Files Matt GauvinSurveillance footage captured the alleged suspects entering the front door with possible video footage of the vehicle. A report was taken and forwarded to the Investigations Division. 

Sgt Cota said, “On Thursday, Jan 9, at 8:21 a.m., detectives responded to the City of Whittier in order to execute an arrest warrant for a suspect who is wanted fo a commercial burglary in the City of Laguna Beach.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The suspect, Matt Gauvin, was scheduled to meet with his probation officer and when he arrived at the location, detectives took him into custody. Matt James Gauvin, 45, of Whittier, was transported back to LBPD for booking and later taken to OC Jail.”

Bail was set at $60,000.

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.

Home burglarized in “cinder block break-in” 

On Thursday, Jan 9, at 10:45 p.m., an LBPD officer was dispatched to a residence in the 400 block of Panorama Drive in reference to a burglary report.

According to Sgt Cota, “The reporting party advised that they left the residence at approximately 6 a.m. and when they arrived on home at approximately 10:35 p.m., they discovered a cinder block was thrown through the back glass door and the master bedroom appeared ransacked.” 

Sgt Cota said, “Several pieces of jewelry were stolen and an approximate loss was determined to be $5,000. The homeowners cleaned up the crime scene prior to contacting the police department.”

 A report was taken by LBPD.

  -By Suzie Harrison

Police Files

Sea lion found shot by unknown suspects is humanely euthanized after rescue efforts fail

Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) rescued a female California sea lion in distress from the Wedge in Newport Beach on the morning of Monday, Dec 16, after being reported by Newport Beach Animal Control. 

During her check-in, she was observed to have two distinct wounds, one of which was a draining abscess on her dorsal back causing her pain and discomfort and limiting her ability to move normally. While conducting radiographs to obtain further information on the extent of the animal’s injury, her chest indicated two gunshots, most likely from a pellet rifle. 

The one-and-a-half-year old sea lion, named Mandalorian by her rescuers, was carefully monitored throughout the next week, and despite treatment, her health continued to decline. At that point, a difficult decision was made, and the animal was humanely euthanized on December 22. 

Police Files Sea Lion

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of PMMC

Mandalorian, a California sea lion found shot by unknown suspects; unfortunately, she had to be euthanized due to the extent of her injuries

A necropsy revealed that one of the bullets impacted between the rib and adjacent vertebrae. This entry wound most likely became infected, leading to severe muscle necrosis around the impact site and an accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity. The second gunshot was lodged in the musculature between the ribs. 

The gunshot pellets have been recovered and will be sent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement (NOAA NMFS OLE) for further investigation. 

“Unfortunately, what we saw is taking place up and down the Pacific Coast. These are disgusting and intentional acts, many of which are pre-meditated. We know there are many out there that feel like they are competing with the sea lions for the same resources. However, there’s a pathway for us to cohabitate with these precious marine mammals and shooting them is not the way,” said Peter Chang, CEO at PMMC. 

The penalties for killing a sea lion can be up to a year in prison and or a fine of up to $25,000.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. For more information or to make a donation, call (949) 494-3050 or visit

Three women allege man aggressively approached them and solicited sex

On Tuesday, Jan 7, at 9:09 p.m., three separate female residents on Cypress Drive reported that, “an unknown male aggressively approached them and solicited sex,” according to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota

According to Sgt Cota, “Officers searched the area and contacted homeless subject Robert Oxier, 38. He was arrested for disorderly conduct: lewd conduct in public.” 

Bail was set at $1,000.

Man arrested for allegedly throwing objects/substances at a vehicle

On Monday, Jan 6, at 4:49 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to a patrol check for a male subject walking into the roadway and allegedly kicking parked vehicles. 

Officers located the subject as he continued walking northbound nearing the intersection of Cleo Street and South Coast Hwy. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Officers observed the subject throw objects at a few passing vehicles. The subject was ordered to stop and he complied. Additional officers arrived and detained him in handcuffs.” 

Sgt Cota said, “The subject was being uncooperative and would not provide his name to officers. He was eventually identified as Matthew Joseph Britton, 31, and arrested for violation of throwing objects/substances at a vehicle.”

Bail was $20,000.    

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.

Animal Services Officer saves seagull caught in fishing line

On Wednesday, Jan 8 at 2:25 p.m., an Animal Services Officer responded to Fisherman’s Cove beach in reference a bird trapped on the balcony of an apartment building. 

According to Sgt Cota, “A seagull was hanging by fishing line from the roof of an apartment in the 600 block of Cliff Drive. The ASO contacted the building manager and they located the apartment unit to access the seagull.”

Sgt Cota said, “The bird was entangled in fishing line. The bird was secured in a towel by the ASO and the fishing line was cut to free the bird.”

The ASO transported the seagull to the Wetlands Wildlife Center for treatment.

-By Suzie Harrison

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: for questions about advertising


Email: with news releases, letters, etc.


© 2021 Stu News Laguna - All Rights Reserved.