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Police Files

Thanksgiving gift, dog saved from fiery car crash in the canyon is mending thanks to many 

A white Maltese poodle named Peanut was injured in the traffic accident outside of the Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL) on Friday, Nov 16, according to LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres. She belongs to the couple that was also injured during the crash and resulting fire.

 Peanut was in the parked car that was struck by a tow truck driver on Laguna Canyon Road adjacent to the ASL on early Friday morning, at 3:19 a.m. The parked car caught on fire due to the collision and was destroyed by the fire. Luckily, Peanut somehow escaped from the burning car. 

Later that morning around 10 a.m., a volunteer from the animal shelter that was dropping off food at Laguna Food Pantry next to the dog park saw Peanut crying in pain and running loose. The animal shelter volunteer caught Peanut and brought her to the animal shelter. 

“The animal shelter staff saw that Peanut was obviously injured so they immediately took her to the animal hospital for treatment. Peanut had been hit in the face during the traffic collision and had two hanging teeth and a hairline jaw fracture,” Beres said. “The veterinarian removed the two hanging teeth and X-rayed the jaw. Peanut was also treated with antibiotics and pain medications.” 

In true Laguna Beach spirit, Canyon Animal Hospital donated their services for the care of Peanut, according to Laguna Beach Animal Hospital’s Laura Dunaway.

The daughter of the injured couple has taken possession of Peanut and is caring for her while she recovers from her injuries. As of Tuesday, her father was still in the hospital recovering from his injuries, including a broken jaw, six missing teeth, a broken left index finger, and a back injury.

“He remains at the hospital,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “The female in the driver’s seat sustained a broken rib and miscellaneous cuts. She was released from the hospital.”

“We are looking into establishing some sort of way for the community to help these people who were affected by this accident and we hope to have details on that early next week,” Friendship Shelter Executive Director Dawn Price said.

Police Files

Fiery three-car crash in the Canyon: man struck while sleeping in car seriously injured

On Friday, Nov 16, at 3:19 a.m., LBPD Emergency Dispatchers received multiple calls of an injury traffic collision with multiple cars on fire at 20652 Laguna Canyon Road in front of the Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL). 

Several officers responded and found a tow truck and another vehicle at the outbound curb, fully engulfed in flames. The flames climbed to the top of the adjacent electrical pole. According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, the subjects in the roadway were dragged away from the flames and placed in police vehicles and driven to a safe location where they were treated by fire and transported to hospitals. 

“The couple that was in the parked vehicle sustained the following injuries: The male sitting in the passenger seat sustained a broken jaw, six missing teeth, a broken left index finger, and a back injury. He remains at the hospital,” said Sgt Cota. “The female in the driver’s seat sustained a broken rib and miscellaneous cuts. She was released from the hospital.”

Police Files fiery night

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Submitted photo

Friday’s fiery car collision in the Canyon is still under investigation

Once the fire was out, first responders discovered a third vehicle sandwiched between the tow truck and the vehicle. The tow truck driver stated he was outbound on LCR and as he approached the ASL an inbound vehicle veered across traffic lanes and was heading head-on toward him. The tow driver said that he veered to the right and struck the parked cars. 

“We are looking into establishing some sort of way for the community to help these people who were affected by this accident and we hope to have details on that early next week,” Friendship Shelter Executive Director Dawn Price said.

“The traffic collision investigation remains ongoing,” Sgt Cota said.

Alleged burrito thief arrested for felony robbery

On Friday, Nov 16, at 7:31 a.m., LBPD officers responded to Gelson’s Market, at 30900 S Coast Hwy, in reference to a theft of a burrito. Officers contacted the cook at Gelson’s who stated he observed a male subject enter the store and grab a burrito. 

“The male subject who was involved in a verbal altercation with another customer then threw the burrito at that customer and left. He re-entered the store seconds later and grabbed a second burrito,” Sgt Cota said. “This time the cook confronted the suspect near the exit and they were involved in a physical altercation, where the suspect shoved the cook in order to exit the store and flee.”

Initially, officers were unable to locate the suspect. However, later at 3:56 p.m., accordingly to Sgt Cota, an officer observed homeless subject Shane Sutton walking in the Gelson’s parking lot matching the physical description of the suspect from earlier. An investigation determined it was Sutton involved in the burrito crime caper, and he was placed under arrest.

Shane Michael Sutton, 32, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for felony robbery. Bail was set at $100,000.

Police Files

Seven teens caught in stolen Jeep taking joy ride through Laguna

On Tuesday, Nov 13, at 8:51 p.m., LBPD officers responded to a report of a Jeep Liberty that was stolen from Huntington Beach. Officers initially did not locate the Jeep, but found it 25 minutes later. 

“A high-risk traffic stop was conducted on North Coast Highway at Wave Street. Seven subjects were detained,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “The driver was identified as a 14-year-old from Huntington Beach. The six passengers were all juveniles from Huntington Beach as well.” 

The driver was booked for possession of a stolen vehicle and for being an unlicensed driver. He was released to his parents.

Alleged drug dealers caught with 130 pills of Xanax and 126 pills of Adderall

Police Files James RobinsonPolice Files Tyrus CrewOn Sunday, Nov 11, at 4:11 pm, an LBPD officer initiated a vehicle enforcement stop at Mountain Road and South Coast Highway. The driver, identified as Eastvale resident Tyrus Lemon Crew, 27, admitted to driving with a suspended license. According to Sgt Cota, the vehicle also had a strong odor of marijuana. The front passenger, Riverside resident James Earl Robinson III, 28, had two outstanding warrants for his arrest. 

“Inside the front passenger door pocket was a container with 130 pills of Xanax pills. In the center console was another container with 126 pills of Adderall pills,” Sgt Cota said. “Tyrus Crew was also in possession of $3,063 in cash and inside his backpack was $66 in dollar bills.” 

Both subjects were arrested for separate drug charges. The money was seized as asset forfeiture and the narcotics were booked along with their cellphone as evidence.

Bail was set at $30,000 for Crew and $20,000 for Robinson.

Ferrari speed racer busted accelerating over 100 mph

On Sunday, Nov 11, at 8:49 a.m., an LBPD officer initiated a traffic enforcement stop at El Morro and Coast Highway in reference to a speeding vehicle. 

“The red 2017 Ferrari 488 Spider with Montana license plates was driving in excess of 100 miles per hour,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “A misdemeanor citation was issued and the vehicle was towed and placed on a 30-day hold.”

A 52-year-old Newport Beach man was cited for reckless driving and exhibition of speed.

Growing initiative, LBPD is raising awareness about men’s cancer with “No Shave November”

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. 

This year, LBPD, with the endorsement of the Command Staff and City Manager, has decided to participate in the event and is allowing employees to forgo facial grooming standards for the month of November.

Police Files Movember one

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Courtesy of LBPD

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

“The goal of ‘No Shave November’ ( 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.

“We are dedicated to the 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. “Thank you to all who will participate during Laguna Beach’s ‘No Shave November.’”

Police Files Movember two

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Courtesy of LBPD

Things are getting a little bit hairy at LBPD as part of men’s cancer awareness

Police Files

Exonerated LBPD officer sues City of Fullerton and PD following parents’ death

On Thursday, Nov 8, LBPD officer Rock Wagner, Wendy Wagner, and James McBride filed a lawsuit against the City of Fullerton, Fullerton Police Department and three Fullerton PD officers alleging false arrest/false imprisonment, battery, negligence, civil rights violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and wrongful death damages after being exonerated of any wrongdoing in connection with elder abuse and fraud arrests involving Rock and Wendy’s parents.

“This was an arrest made apparently with no investigation whatsoever,” said attorney Gary Casselman of Casselman Law, who represents the plaintiffs. “Not long after the arrest, because of the actions by the police, the Wagner parents passed away. Rock and Wendy Wagner’s parents are dead now.”

There will be a press conference today, Tuesday, Nov 13, at 11 a.m., regarding the lawsuit filed. The press conference will be held at the Ayres Hotel Orange in Orange.

Officer Wagner was arrested by Fullerton PD near his Lake Forest home on November 28, 2017, on suspicion of elder abuse and fraud. His sister, Wendy Wagner, and her boyfriend, James McBride, also plaintiffs in the lawsuit, were also arrested. 

After the arrests, the Orange County District Attorney’s office declined to file charges in the case, finding a lack of evidence to support such charges, and finding that no crime had been committed. Officer Wagner, a 26-year law enforcement veteran, also was cleared by an internal Laguna Beach Police Department investigation.

“Both of these investigations have concluded and after thorough review of the evidence produced, it has been determined that allegations of misconduct could not be supported. It has also been determined by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office that evidence of a crime did not exist,” said LBPD Cpt Jason Kravetz. 

The lawsuit alleges that the Fullerton PD rushed to produce public statements and circulated Wagner’s arrest mugshot and that of his sister and boyfriend to the media, boasting of its “thorough investigation,” but made no attempt to announce the fact that the case was quickly thrown out when it became evident that no crime had been committed by them.

According to the lawsuit filed, Rock Wagner, Wendy Wagner, and James McBride are seeking compensatory damages and special damages, attorney’s fees, punitive damages, and “further relief as the court may deem proper and just.”

“They can’t get their parents back,” Casselman said. “One passed away within a few weeks of the incident, the other was a few months after.”

In response to a request for comment, Fullerton City Manager Ken Domer said, “The City of Fullerton and the Fullerton Police Department remain committed to a high standard of professionalism, which includes a thorough investigation of this claim. The City of Fullerton avoids commenting on matters involving litigation.”

Grand theft auto suspect fails to yield, nabbed 

in high-risk traffic stop

On Friday, Nov 9, at 12:41 p.m., LBPD was notified by an OC Sheriff’s Department helicopter of a stolen vehicle in Laguna Beach driving northbound on Coast Highway from Camel Point Drive. The white Ford 150 construction vehicle was recently stolen from Lake Forest.

“An officer located the vehicle at Thalia Street and South Coast Highway. Officers attempted to initiate a high-risk traffic stop at Boat Canyon and North Coast Highway but the vehicle failed to yield,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “At Crystal Heights and Coast Highway, the suspect finally yielded to pursuing units and surrendered to officers.”

OCSD’s “Duke” helicopter assisted in the pursuit. 

Francis T McNair, 53, of Mission Viejo was arrested for grand theft auto. According to Sgt Cota, McNair was positively identified as the suspect who had stolen the victim’s truck. McNair was later transported to Orange County Jail.

Bail was set at $20,000.

Police Files

Fatal car crash, man found Thursday morning near Nix Nature Center ejected from BMW

On Thursday, Nov 8, at approximately 6:30 a.m., CHP Orange County received a call from a concerned motorist reporting a solo black vehicle over the side on SR-133 northbound at Nix Nature Center.

“Upon arrival, CHP officers found the vehicle and the solo male occupant, who appeared to be ejected from the BMW as a result of the collision,” CHP OC Information Officer Rafael Reynoso said. The driver of the BMW was pronounced deceased at the scene by OCFA.

“For reasons still under investigation, the male driver lost control of the vehicle sometime last night [Wednesday], and veered off the road near the embankment,” Officer Reynoso said. “At this time, it is still unknown if drugs and/or alcohol were a factor in the collision.”

The deceased man’s name will be released by OCSD Coroner’s office pending notification to next of kin.

The man has been identified as a 46-year-old Wildomar resident. He was driving a black 2006 BMW 3 Series when the solo fatality occurred.

“The vehicle collided with a tree, then a rock ditch, which caused the vehicle to overturn several times,” Officer Reynoso said.

Asked if there were any tire marks that would indicate that the driver tried to break or swerve to avoid the accident, Officer Reynoso responded, “There were no signs of tire friction marks at the scene.” 

The time of the fatal collision is still under investigation as is the cause of the accident. It is still unknown how fast the driver was traveling. However, he was not wearing a seatbelt. 

Officer Reynoso said, “Yes, it absolutely could have changed the outcome had he been wearing a seatbelt.”

The most prevalent causes of single car fatalities include speed, DUI, drowsy and distracted drivers, and not wearing seat belts among other factors.

LBPD mourns loss of hero Sgt Ron Helus of Ventura County Sheriff’s Dept, killed in nightclub shooting

“With incredible sadness, the Laguna Beach Police Department mourns the loss of Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Ron Helus and the victims that were killed in this horrific act of violence. An incident like this can happen anywhere, so please always stay vigilant to your surroundings and please call us immediately if you feel something does not seem right or someone exhibits behavior that you feel warrants a law enforcement contact. Our police department is fully committed to this city and the safety of its citizens at all times,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. 

Police Files Helus

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Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD mourns the death of VCSD Sgt Ron Helus, a hero killed in the tragic mass shooting on Wednesday

Sgt Helus was a 29-year veteran of the department and a member of its SWAT team for several years. Sgt Helus was one of the first officers to answer the call of an active shooter, rushing inside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks late Wednesday.

According to authorities, Sgt Helus exchanged gunfire and was shot several times before another officer dragged him away from the line of fire. He later died at the hospital. He was one of 12 people who died in the tragic mass shooting.

Handguns found in three separate incidents this week

On Sunday, Nov 4, at 6:59 p.m., LBPD officers responded to Pavilions, at the 600 block of N Coast Hwy, regarding a loaded handgun found in the men’s restroom. The person who called in the gun locked the restroom door until LBPD arrived on scene. Per the reporting person, the subjects who reported it to store management were pacing and acting very suspicious.

“A records check showed the handgun belonged to a Carrying Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit holder who lived in Thousand Oaks. Dispatchers were able to contact the subject, who verified that he had been in Laguna Beach earlier in the day and had used the restroom at the Pavilions,” Sgt Cota said. “He drove back from Thousand Oaks and picked up his handgun at the PD after being positively identified as the owner and validation of his CCW license. The weapon was a Glock 26 (9mm).”

On Tuesday, Nov 6, at 1:56 p.m., an officer responded to the Surf and Sand Hotel, at the 1500 block of S Coast Hwy, for a loaded handgun found in a recently vacated room. The reporting person locked the gun in a safe until officers arrived on scene.

“The gun was a Beretta .25 ACP. When the gun was checked, it did not show a registered owner. The handgun was secured and brought back to the police department to be booked in for safekeeping,” Sgt Cota said. “Detectives will verify if the handgun was used in any prior crimes. An informational report was generated to document the incident.”

Also on Tuesday at 10:41 p.m., a reporting person from the Pacific Edge Hotel, at the 600 block of S Coast Hwy, called to report they had found a firearm in a recently vacated room. The guests had left the gun behind in the nightstand. It was being held in the safe until LBPD could arrive on scene.

“The firearm was registered, the owner was contacted and agreed to come back to Laguna Beach to pick it up,” Sgt Cota said. “However, due to DOJ requirements it had to be booked for safekeeping. The registered owner was directed to DOJ to retrieve his firearm.”

Two arrested for stolen vehicle in high-risk stop

On Monday, Nov 5, at 11:36 a.m., officers were alerted by LBPD dispatchers of a stolen vehicle in the city. An officer spotted the red 2008 Toyota Highlander on Laguna Canyon Road near the ASL and trailed it as it turned onto El Toro Road and then onto S/B SR-73 until other officers arrived to assist. OCSD units also responded to assist. 

Police Files Lisa StinesPolice Files Andrew Fluor“A high-risk vehicle stop was initiated just off the Greenfield off-ramp. Two individuals were detained and through the course of the investigation it was discovered the vehicle was stolen out of Newport Beach the day prior and the driver, Lisa Stines, knew it was stolen,” Sgt Cota said. “The male passenger, Andrew Fluor, also knew the vehicle was stolen and used his friends’ name and DOB to conceal his identity. Once his true identity was revealed, it was discovered he was a restrained person from Stines.” 

A search of the vehicle also revealed Fluor was in possession of burglary tools. Both suspects were taken into custody and brought to the station and booked. 

Andrew Chase Fluor, 35, of Newport Beach, was charged with impersonation of another individual, possession of stolen property, violation of a restraining order, and possession of burglary tools. Bail was set at $35,000.

Lisa Renee Stines, 31, of Laguna Beach, was charged with possession of stolen property. Bail was set at $20,000.

Local goat herding dog Shandu lost then found thanks to locals’ efforts

LBFD put out an alert Thursday morning reporting they needed the community’s help in finding the City’s goat herding dog, Shandu.

 “Shandu went missing this morning at 7 a.m. from the area of Morningside and Starlit in Bluebird Canyon. If located, please contact Ana Neira in the Fire Department at (949) 497-0305 or (949) 497-0701,” LBFD officials said. 

Police Files Goat herding dog found

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Courtesy of LPBD

Lost goat-herding dog, Shandu, rescued Thursday by concerned locals

Good news. According to Sgt Cota, “Shandu was found by a search party by residents who live in the 3000 block of Mountain View Drive. They said that social media helped them to recognize him.”

Police Files

Woman who claims ASL as address arrested for felony meth sales

On Wednesday, Oct 31, at 2:30 p.m., an occupied vehicle check was conducted to the back of the Mobil gas station at the 100 block of N Coast Hwy. 

Police Files Monique Castillo“The three occupants in the vehicle were detained for a narcotic investigation and the driver, Monique Castillo, was subsequently arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sales,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “Over 18 grams of methamphetamine was located along with a scale in the rear passenger compartment of the vehicle.”

According to, the street value of meth is $60 to $300 per gram ($1,080 to $5,400 for 18 grams).

Monique Marie Altierra Castillo, 41, Santa Ana, was booked and transported to OC Jail. “Castillo claims to be homeless and provided the ASL’s address for her residence,” Sgt Cota said.

Bail was set at $25,000.

More meth…and a stolen car

On Thursday, Nov 1, at 11:33 p.m., LBPD officers were alerted of a Honda Pilot stolen from Garden Grove earlier in the day. Officers located the vehicle within two minutes.

Police Files Cristian ChavezAccording to Sgt Cota, “The driver made two quick turns and quickly pulled to the curb to try to hide from the officers. Officers initiated a high-risk traffic stop at the 1300 block of Glenneyre Street.” 

Police Files Michelle MullinsTwo Santa Ana residents were detained and subsequently placed under arrest for vehicle theft, Cristian Carlos Chavez, 20, and Michelle Esther Mullins, 21.

“Chavez had a prior arrest for vehicle theft and Mullins had an outstanding warrant for theft. A narcotic pipe with a usable quantity of methamphetamine was also found in the car,” Sgt Cota said. “The investigation showed that the couple had used the victim’s credit card to make purchases at a gas station and at a Walmart in Santa Ana. Additional charges were added.”

The victim responded to pick up his car. He was very appreciative of the officers’ work.

No bail was set for Chavez. Bail was set at $20,000 for Mullins

Police Files

Neighbor allegedly pepper sprays neighbor, resulting in citizens’ arrests

On Tuesday, Oct 23, at 11:14 p.m., LBPD and LBFD personnel responded to the 500 block of Saint Ann’s Drive for a dispute between neighbors involving one allegedly using pepper spray on the other. Emergency personnel arrived and contacted both parties.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “They had conflicting accounts of what had happened but surrounded the fact that these neighbors were not fond of one another.”

The not so neighborly conduct included one neighbor allegedly spraying the other with pepper spray.

 “The recipient of the pepper spray was able to dodge the primary stream and was exposed to just a light mist,” Sgt Cota said. “He was examined and released by fire personnel. Each neighbor placed the other under private person’s arrest for assault and battery. Citations were issued and the subjects were sent home.”

Newport Beach man was reportedly walking on residents’ roofs after midnight

On Tuesday, Oct 30, at 1:15 a.m., LBPD officers responded to a residence in the 400 block of Broadway Street for the report of the sound of someone walking on the resident’s roof. Officers arrived and observed a male suspect in the backyard of the property. 

According Sgt Cota, “The suspect jumped over a fence and fled. A perimeter was established, and a search was conducted in the residential area as well as a nearby commercial building. The suspect was not located.” 

At 3:23 a.m., officers responded to a residence in the 300 block of Holly Street for the report of suspicious noises on the roof and back deck of the residence. Officers arrived and were informed by a neighbor that he saw a male subject in a nearby alley. 

“A perimeter was established, and officers began another search. Officers located the suspect in a residential backyard,” Sgt Cota said. “The suspect jumped over a fence and fled again. He was pursued by officers and was caught in a front yard down the street.”

According to Sgt Cota, he was the same suspect as the one from the earlier Broadway Street call. “Homeless subject Ryan Vincent, 26, told officers that he had arrived in Laguna Beach yesterday and claimed that he was just trying to find a place to sleep,” Cota added. 

Ryan Vincent, 26, of Newport Beach, was placed under arrest for prowling and resisting arrest. 

Bail was set at $500.

Police Files

Suspect with 9 warrants passes out in resident’s backyard after stealing from downtown

On Wednesday, Oct 24, at 5:23 pm, LBPD officers responded to a residence in the 1100 block of Gaviota Drive in reference to an unknown male subject passed out in the backyard of a private residence. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The reporting party observed the unknown male tamper with several parked vehicles before jumping the fence and passing out in his neighbor’s backyard.” 

The reporting person believed the suspect “may [have been] under the influence, appeared to be stumbling while he was trying to open the car doors. The suspect was described as skinny with blond hair wearing a white T-shirt and carrying a tan jacket over his arm and having a shopping type bag.”

Officers contacted the male and after first providing a false name, he was later identified as San Juan Capistrano resident Timothy Stephen Meek, 27. 

“Meek was in possession of several items that did not belong to him. The investigating officers located items that were taken from earlier thefts. The officers believed the property in Meek’s possession was related to those crimes. Those victims were contacted and positively identified their stolen property,” Sgt Cota said. “Meek was also in possession of clothing he admitted illegally taking from downtown clothing stores earlier in the day.”

According to Sgt Cota, Meek was arrested for false impersonation and petty theft. A record check revealed Meek had nine outstanding warrants. He was taken into custody and transported to OC Jail.

According to police logs, bail was set at $20,000.

Motley crew busted for burglary and fake bills, one had meth

On Friday, Oct 26, at 11:44 a.m., at the 900 block of S Coast Hwy, LBPD officers were dispatched to a report of two women who had passed fake $100 bills in a store. Officers arrived on scene and located the two suspects. The reporting person positively identified them as the two suspects who gave fake $100 bills. 

Both suspects were described as wearing small tank tops, one with abdomen tattoos. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Officers detained the females, identified as Rancho Cucamonga residents Makayla Cooper and Taylor Hubbard. During the investigation the females stated a male by the name of Kenny gave them the $100 bills, dropped them off and told them to go shopping.” 

A few minutes later the females told officers that Kenny’s car had just driven by the location. The vehicle, described as a grey Toyota Corolla, drove back around and officers were able to stop the vehicle and contact the driver, Rancho Cucamonga resident Kenneth Pecaro.

A lengthy investigation was conducted and all three were arrested for Burglary and Forgery/Counterfeiting, including Makayla Cooper, 23, Taylor Alissa Hubbard, 21, and Kenneth James Pecaro, 46.

“Cooper also had the charge of possession of methamphetamine and possession of narcotic paraphernalia,” Sgt Cota said. “Pecaro was on parole and after contacting his parole officer, he was placed on a no bail parole hold. All three were transported to LBPD for booking.”

Bail was set at $20,000 for Hubbard. No bail was set for Cooper or Pecaro.

Police Files

Arrested at gunpoint: Suspect allegedly hits officer in the face, knocks him to the ground

On Tuesday, Oct 23, at 3:11 p.m., an LBPD officer was walking to the Chamber of Commerce at 357 Glenneyre Street when “he came into contact with two homeless subjects, Eli Lopiccola and Matthew Benusa, who were drinking alcohol,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

Police Files Matthew Benusa”They were advised to stop drinking and an additional officer was requested,” Sgt Cota said. “Before the other officer arrived, the two subjects tried to walk away. The officer advised them to stop and reached out to stop Benusa from leaving. Benusa struck the officer in the face knocking him to the ground. Additional officers were requested, and both subjects were taken into custody at gunpoint.”

Matthew Paul Benusa, 32, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for resisting an executive officer, which is a felony, and Eli Richard Lopiccola, 46, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for public intoxication.

Bail was set at $500 for Lopiccola.

Bail was set at $20,000 for Benusa.

LBPD is helping man turn his life around after being arrested four times in five days

On Tuesday, Oct 23, at 6:54 p.m., LBPD officers responded to the 800 block of Glenneyre Street, on a report that local homeless man Michael Matekel was causing a disturbance at Circle K, where he was reportedly “aggressively panhandling.”

 According to Sgt Cota, “He was bothering customers, and refusing to leave the property when asked. Matekel was advised to leave but he chose to not comply, so he was arrested for trespassing. He was booked and later released.”

Since Friday, Oct 19, Michael Matekel, 30, of Laguna Beach, has been cited or arrested four times in five days for trespassing. Matekel was previously warned and was taken into custody and later released with a court date.

“He is working with Corporal Farris on getting his life together,” Sgt Cota said. “Farris will provide the resources needed.”

Bail was set at $500.

Littering sets off a sequence of events that lands a local male in jail

On Sunday, Oct 21, at noon, an LBPD officer tried to contact homeless subject Kyle Blaker for littering in the area of Calliope Street and South Coast Highway. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Blaker ignored the officer’s commands to stop and continued to walk away from him. The officer reached out to stop Blaker and he immediately tensed up and tried to pull away. At the same moment, a jailer was driving by and saw the interaction and stopped to assist.”

 Two more officers responded and assisted in getting Blaker detained in handcuffs. Kyle James Blaker, 33, of Laguna Beach was subsequently taken into custody for littering, providing a false name to officers, and violation of his parole terms.

No bail was set.

Police Files

Resident reports theft of No on P signs by man in Bentley

On Friday, Oct 19, at 10:31 a.m., LBPD officers responded in reference to a reported theft of political signs. 

“The reporting party observed the suspect taking the signs from in front of Ruby’s Diner and leaving in a black Bentley. The suspect was located in the 600 block of North Coast Highway in the black Bentley with several “No on P” signs in the rear passenger seat of his vehicle,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. 

The signs were returned and a police report was taken. No arrests were made although the reporting parties indicated they would be seeking further action.

Police Files Signs

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Submitted photo

LBPD responds to resident’s report of No on P signs allegedly stolen in South Laguna

“LBPD has sent the report to the District Attorney’s Office in Newport Beach. They will review the report and determine whether or not charges will be filed based on the circumstances of the incident,” said Sgt Cota.

Jennifer Zeiter, founder of STOP (Stop Taxing our Property) and organizer of the No on P campaign said, “I filed the form of complaint because I am the victim. STOP is the one who paid for the signs and I am with STOP.”

Zeiter, who received the police report on Monday, further stated, “Our concern is that we made multiple requests for a copy of the police report [over the weekend] and the identity of the [alleged] thief and we were denied it each and every time. We missed a critical window to investigate the suspect further.”

The suspect was described as a white male, 35 to 40 years old, wearing a light colored dress shirt and slacks. 

The Bentley is reportedly not registered in the suspect’s name.

In response to the incident, LBPD Chief Laura Farinella said, “On a daily basis the Police Department is responding to calls related to the theft of political signs. Officers are taking reports and investing these incidents. Additionally, due to frequent complaints the city receives regarding the placement of these signs, there is a daily effort from Code Enforcement to monitor public property and remove signs that are not placed on private property. 

“With that said, if signs have been removed by city staff, they will attempt to contact the campaign office to let them know where and when their signs can be picked up. All signs not recovered by the end of the election will be properly disposed of by Code Enforcement staff.”

Chief Farinella also pointed to the city’s current ordinances, MC 25.54.012 and MC 25.54.014, which state that election signs shall not be placed in the public right of way, however, may be placed on private property.

“I truly hope we can all conduct ourselves in a kind and professional manner during this campaign season,” Chief Farinella said.

Editor’s Note: Stu News Laguna has elected as a matter of policy not to run the suspect’s name until (if) charges are announced by the OCDA.

Rollover accident downs wires in the Canyon

On Monday, Oct 22, at 12:42 a.m., at the 1900 block of Laguna Canyon Road, LBPD and LBFD personnel responded to the 1900 block of Laguna Canyon Road for the report of a rollover traffic collision. 

According to Sgt Cota, “Emergency personnel arrived and found that a Toyota Prius had struck and severed a Frontier utility pole on the inbound side of Laguna Canyon Road.” 

The driver, a 45-year-old Laguna Beach resident, sustained a cut to her hand but declined transport to the hospital. Alcohol was not a factor in the collision. 

Police Files Rollover accident

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Courtesy of LBPD

Rollover accident on Laguna Canyon Road downs wires and makes a mess of traffic

“The severed utility pole was suspended by its overhanging wires, but some of the wires ended up hanging low over Laguna Canyon Road,” Sgt Cota said. “The height of the wires did not impede regular traffic, but tall vehicles such as big rigs would have to move to the outbound lane to traverse under the obstacle.”

 LBPD and LBFD were working with Frontier to get a new pole installed last night, according to Sgt Cota.

 LBPD sent out several Nixle alerts following the collision. The first alert was sent at 1:36 a.m., warning that traffic would be closed in both directions until further notice. At 5:11 a.m., a second alert read, “still closed in both directions until further notice, “due to an accident resulting in low hanging wires.” At 9:24 a.m., LBPD sent out a third alert, “expect heavy delays in both directions for the next four to six hours. Use alternate route if possible.” At 2:30 p.m., LBPD sent out a final alert reporting that the pole repair was complete and all lanes were opened.

Bicyclist busted with baggies of meth allegedly for sale

Police Files Robert CaltabianoOn Friday, Oct 19, at 12:55 a.m., an LBPD officer stopped a bicyclist in the 1700 block of Laguna Canyon Road with no front light and rear red reflectors. The bicyclist, homeless resident Robert Caltabiano, had an outstanding $5,000 warrant for his arrest.

“A search incident to arrest led to five individually packaged baggies of methamphetamine inside a small zipper bag,” Sgt Cota said. “The charges of possession of a controlled substance for sales and transportation of controlled substance for sales were added.”

Robert Lenn Caltabiano, 46, of Laguna Beach, was arrested and booked at the Laguna Beach Police Department. 

Bail was set at $25,000.

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