RSS

Monthly Archives: December 2011

Timmothy Pitzen Missing: Reported Sighting Of Boy Who Disappeared In May False

An Aurora, Ill. kindergartener who has been missing since May was reportedly spotted in the Chicago area this week, but the tip turned out to be false when police looked into it further.

Timmothy Pitzen, now 7, was last seen when his mother Amy Fry-Pitzen took him out of his classroom at Greenman Elementary School on May 11 in order to visit the Brookfield Zoo, Key Lime Cove and Wisconsin Dells before she killed herself in a Rockford motel room, CBS Chicago reports.

Since Timmothy’s disappearance, police have been forced to rely on tips in the hopes of finding the boy. The Chicago Tribune reports that the boy was last “spotted” at a North Aurora Denny’s restaurant, but when police tracked down the owner of the car the boy was seen riding in, he was not Timmothy. Another tip this month had falsely claimed that the boy was in Massachusetts.

In a suicide note Fry-Pitzen left in the motel room where she took her life, she wrote that the boy is “with people who love him and will care for him” and said that “you’ll never find him,” according to theTribune.

Of the dozens of possible sightings investigators into the disappearance have fielded, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that less than a handful of them have required much follow-up before being easily dismissed.

Anyone with information pertaining to the disappearance of Timmothy Pitzen is urged to contact Aurora police at (630) 256-5500. Authorities have offered a $5,000 reward in exchange for any information that helps police find the missing boy.

 

‘Beyond Scared Straight’: Inmate Lashonda Threatens Show’s Camera

Beyond Scared Straight 111230Prison is a tough place and it can breed tough people. Lashonda, who is for 10 years on a check fraud charge, is full of spit and vinegar. But at the same time, she seems passionate about reaching out to the troubled teens on “Beyond Scared Straight” (Thu., 10:30 p.m. EST on A&E).

If there was any question as to whether or not the inmates were putting on more of a performance with their speeches to the kids, Lashonda set the record straight. On the Dec. 29 episode, she was in the faces of those kids, letting them know that none of them are as bad as they think they are.

But, Lashonda had the same disdain and anger towards the camera crew filming.

She threatened them a few times for being too close to her face, and finally ,she snapped, forgetting the kids altogether. At that point, the guards escorted her — still yelling at the camera crew — out of the room while the kids looked on in confusion.

TV Replay scours the vast television landscape to find the most interesting, amusing, and, on a good day, amazing moments, and delivers them right to your browser.

 

6 foreign nationals indicted in Internet car sale scheme

Six foreign nationals, including one awaiting trial in Orange County on white collar crime and other charges, have been indicted in what federal officials say was a $4 million Internet scam using well-known websites like Craigslist and eBay Motors to advertise automobiles for sale.

Although money was collected from hundreds of victims across the United States and supposedly put into escrow accounts with PayPal and eBay Motors, the indictment alleges, not one vehicle was delivered.

A 24-count Los Angeles federal grand jury indictment alleges a scheme in which vehicles were offered for sale on legitimate websites, the US Attorney’s Office said Thursday in a news release.

Of the four men and two women indicted three are already in custody; arrest warrants have been issued for the outstanding defendants.

According to the indictment, countless Americans were defrauded and lost more than $4 million during the 3½ years the scheme operated, the release said. The members of the conspiracy allegedly offered vehicles – including automobiles, motorcycles, motor homes and boats – for sale on various websites.

After a purchase price was negotiated via telephone or by e-mail, the defendants allegedly sent fraudulent invoices which appeared to be from eBay, Edmunds.com, PayPal, and Google Checkout. When victims paid for the automobiles they attempted to buy, the money was siphoned from escrow accounts, with millions of dollars being sent to Europe, according to the news release.

The indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, nine counts of wire fraud, eight counts of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering.

If convicted, the defendants would each face sentences that could total hundreds of years in federal prison.

Those charged in the indictment include: Corneliu Stefan Weikum, 37, a Romanian national who resides in Berlin, and Yulia Mishina-Heffron, 23, a native of Yekaterinburg, Russia, both of whom are in federal custody in Nevada; Sergej Bugaev, 38, a Russian national and resident of Berlin, who is in Theo Lacy Facility in Orange awaiting trial.

Arrest warrants have been issued for: Alexander Brem, 34, a native of Kazakhstan who resides in Berlin and is listed as a co-defendant in court records with separate charges in the Orange County case with Bugaev; Marina Talashkova, 24, of Yekaterinburg, Russia; and Rihards Avotins, 21, a Latvian resident.

 

Man facing prison, again, after 13 DUIs

A Huntington Beach man convicted 13 times of driving under the influence was back behind bars this week after he skipped out on a court-ordered treatment program.

Huntington Beach police arrested Dennis Malavasi, 55, on warrants issued after he checked himself out of the treatment program and disappeared. He now faces years in prison for a DUI record that veteran Orange County prosecutors said was the worst they could remember.

Article Tab: Dennis Malavasi, son of former Rams coach Ray Malavasi, was arrested in 2010 for his 13th DUI.
Dennis Malavasi, son of former Rams coach Ray Malavasi, was arrested in 2010 for his 13th DUI.

“It is extremely fortunate that (Malavasi) has not killed or seriously injured someone as a result of his behavior,” the prosecutor in his latest DUI case wrote in a court memo.

Malavasi, the son of the late Los Angeles Rams coach Ray Malavasi, was the subject of an Orange County Register profile earlier this month. His record of drunken-driving reaches back to the 1970s.

He had gone almost ten years without a DUI conviction before police caught him nodding off last summer with a bottle of malt liquor behind the wheel of an idling pickup. That ten-year number is an important statistic under California law. After ten years, a prior DUI conviction stops counting toward the state’s mandatory-sentencing calculations.

Malavasi was months away from hitting that mark and having all of his prior convictions deemed too old to factor into any mandatory sentences. He would have gotten off with nothing more than a misdemeanor.

Instead, a judge gave him six years in state prison but agreed to put that sentence on hold if Malavasi would complete a one-year substance-abuse treatment program.

It was his second-second chance. Malavasi was already on probation for an earlier conviction for possessing methamphetamine, which carried a four-year prison sentence that had also been suspended.

Malavasi didn’t make it through more than a few months of the court-ordered treatment program before he checked himself out, records show. A judge issued a warrant for his arrest, which Huntington Beach police served on Tuesday afternoon.

Huntington Beach police Sgt. Kelly Rodriguez declined to release details about the arrest and would not say where Malavasi was when police took him into custody. An arrest log shows that police added a new criminal charge to Malavasi’s file when they arrested him, for providing false identification.

Malavasi’s public defender was out of the office and not available to comment.

Malavasi was being held without bail in the men’s central jail, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He was scheduled to be arraigned in early January on charges that he violated his probation.

The two cases for which he was on probation carry a combined prison term of 10 years, although he may have credit for time he already served. Those prison sentences “could all get stacked” together, said Robert Rangel, spokesman for the county probation department.

But judges have some leeway when it comes to sentencing, Rangel said, so it’s hard to know what kind of prison term Malavasi would face if he were found guilty of violating his probation. “It gets pretty complex,” Rangel said.

 

Child seats, impounds among new traffic laws

With a new year come new laws for the road, and the California Highway Patrol is trying to make sure drivers know about the new rules.
The new laws – passed by the Legislature this year – will affect child safety seats, unlicensed drivers, electric vehicles, and the penalties for driving under the influence.
Article Tab: The California Highway Patrol offers free child-safety seat instruction.

“Our hope is by educating the public of these new traffic safety laws in advance, more lives will be saved in the New Year, said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow in a written statement.

CHILD CAR SEATS

For drivers with young children, the requirements for children to ride in a car seat or booster seat have changed.

Beginning Sunday, children who are younger than 8 years old, or shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches, will be required to ride in the back seat with a car seat or booster seat.

If the child is older than 1 year old and weighs more than 20 pounds, the child can ride in the front seat if there is no rear seat, or all back seats are occupied by children under 8 years old.

“However, the law still maintains that a child may not ride in the front seat with an active passenger airbag if they are under one year of age, less than 20 pounds, or riding in a rear-facing child seat,” read a statement on the new laws from the CHP.

CAR IMPOUNDS, DUI CONVICTIONS

The new year will also mark a change to sobriety checkpoints, where officers will no longer be allowed to tow a car when the only offense is that the driver did not have a driver’s license.

“The new law requires that the officer make a reasonable attempt to identify the registered owner in order to release the vehicle,” the statement read.

Drivers who have been repeatedly convicted of driving under the influence might also face harsher penalties.

Courts may now revoke the license of a driver convicted of three DUIs for up to 10 years. After five years the driver could request a limited license, but it would require them to install an Ignition Interlock Device in the vehicle.

Other laws that go into effect Sunday morning:

• Anyone convicted of reckless driving can apply for a limited driver’s license before the end of their year-long suspension, but will required to use an Ignition Interlock Device in their car.

• Electric vehicles must be plugged in for refueling if they are using an EV-designated parking space. If not, they may be towed.

• Local governments can now regulate advertising signs on vehicles that are left parked on a public street, unless the sign is painted directly and permanently on the vehicle and does not extend beyond the vehicle’s length, width, or height.

 

Is Nicolas Cage a Vampire from the Civil War Era?

gty nicolas cage vampire nt 110919 wblog Is Nicolas Cage a Vampire from the Civil War Era?

Could Nicolas Cage be a vampire? A Civil War era photo that bears an eerie resemblance to Cage has sparked rumors that the actor is a real-life vampire.

Cage has starred in “Vampire’s Kiss” and played a demonic role in “Ghost Rider.” For most, his connection to the bloodsucking species ends there. Not so for Jack Mord, an antiques dealer who got the rumor mill cooking when he posted a photograph for sale on eBay of a man he says is from Bristol, Tenn., around 1870, and he says can be no one else but Cage.

Mord believes Cage is a vampire who reinvents himself every 75 years or so.

“Personally, I believe it’s him and that he is some sort of walking undead/vampire, et cetera, who quickens/reinvents himself once every 75 years or so,” he wrote in the post, which has since been removed. “150 years from now, he might be a politician, the leader of a cult, or a talk show host.”

Mord claims that the supposedly 47-year-old actor looks virtually unchanged since his first big hit “Moonstruck” all the way back in 1987 — more “proof.”

The seller is so confident that the person in the photo is Cage that he said: “Any serious potential buyer will be allowed to have a photo expert of their choice examine the original photograph before any money changes hands.” The photo was offered at a price of $1 million, but it has since been removed.

Unfortunately, there’s one small problem with this bold claim. Vampire experts have been buzzing since the news about Mr. Vampire Cage broke — because a vampire cannot be photographed!

Makes you think though. Have you ever seen Nicolas Cage during the day or admiring his reflection in the mirror?

 

Officers out in force in DUI crackdown

Even though drunken-driving-caused deaths have dropped to a record low, authorities are out in full force this holiday season and have so far made more than 500 DUI arrests.
Through roving patrols and numerous checkpoints, Orange County law enforcement agencies have arrested 530 people on suspicion of driving under the influence from Dec. 16-28, according to the anti-DUI campaign known as “Avoid.

Article Tab: State-by-state data for 2010 released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows a decline in drunken driving fatalities in 32 states. Compared with 2009, California and Florida saw the largest reductions — with each declining by more than 100 fatalities last year.    The multiagency crackdown involves the California Highway Patrol, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and police departments and lasts through Jan. 2.
During the 17-day holiday enforcement period last year, 743 people were arrested for driving under the influence, according to the “Avoid” database.
Numerous patrols and checkpoints are scheduled across the county this weekend in Laguna Niguel, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, La Habra, Westminster, Anaheim, Buena Park and Placentia.
This push against alcohol-impaired drivers is not unique to Orange County.
In mid-December, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a nationwide crackdown on drunk driving coinciding with the 2011 winter holiday season.
The education and enforcement effort is the latest push in the Department’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign involving thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country.
“…This holiday season, we’re stepping up our efforts to get drunk drivers off our roads and reminding Americans ‘drive sober, or get pulled over,’” LaHood said. “We’re making gains in our fight against drunk driving, but we cannot and will not let up.”
Death declining

State-by-state data for 2010 released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows a decline in drunken driving fatalities in 32 states. Compared with 2009, California and Florida saw the largest reductions — with each declining by more than 100 fatalities last year.
Yet, the data shows that last year, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, including 415 during the second half of December alone.
In California, the number of DUI deaths dropped to a record low of 791 last year, compared to 950 in 2009, said the California Office of Traffic Safety.
According to the Office of Traffic Safety, figures from the NHTSA show that statewide DUI deaths increased yearly from 1998 to 2005, but have decreased every year since 2005.
In Orange County, DUI deaths have consistently dropped between 2006 and 2010, NHTSA figures show. Last year, there were 36 reported DUI deaths in Orange County, compared to 44 in 2009.
“This marks a huge milestone in the fight against drunk driving,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director with the California Office of Traffic Safety.
Last year, the traffic safety office has allocated $16.8 million in federal funds to law enforcement agencies to conduct 2,553 DUI checkpoints, up from the $11.7 million provided for 1,740 checkpoints in 2009.
Free rides

To alleviate the dangers of drunken driving, agencies are offering free services for end-of-the year celebrations.
The Orange County Transportation Authority is providing free bus rides between 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and 2:30 a.m. Jan. 1.
“We encourage those out celebrating New Year’s Eve in Orange County to leave behind their cars and enjoy a free ride on the bus,” said OCTA Chair Patricia Bates, also the 5th District Supervisor. “Knowing that an OCTA bus is there to get residents home safely is something that can give everyone peace of mind this holiday season.”
Last year, there were 15,540 free New Year’s Eve boardings, OCTA officials said. Since the program began in 2002, more than 102,000 boardings have been counted.
The Automobile Club is offering its free Tipsy Tow service from 6 p.m. Dec. 30 to 6 a.m. Jan. 1, to help remove drinking drivers from the road. The service is available in the 13 Southern California counties served by the Auto Club.
To use the service, motorists can call 800-400-4AAA for a free tow home of up to seven miles. For rides farther than seven miles, drivers can expect to pay the rate charged by the tow-truck driver.
For more information on the OCTA New Year’s Eve service and to check bus routes and schedules, visit octa.net or call 714-636-7433.

 

LAKE ELSINORE: Army sergeant killed in Afghanistan attack

A decorated Army sergeant from Lake Elsinore was killed Tuesday when his unit was hit by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, a U.S. Department of Defense news release said.
Sgt. Noah M. Korte, 29, leaves behind his wife, Kristi, and two young children. He was assigned to the 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade based in Fort Hood, Texas.
Also killed in were Spc. Kurt W. Kern, 24, of McAllen, Texas, and Pfc. Justin M. Whitmire, 20, of Easley, S.C. The attack took place in Paktia.
Korte graduated from California Lutheran High School in Wildomar and was a member of the Surfrider Foundation. He married July 26, 2005, according to a posting on his Facebook page.
Korte enlisted in the Army in May 2003 as a military policeman. Korte deployed to Afghanistan his month. Korte also deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2007 to December 2008, from March 2005 to February 2006 and from January 2004 to April 2004.
His awards and decorations include four Army Commendation medals, two Good Conduct medals, the Army Achievement medal, National Defense Service medal, Iraq Campaign medals with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal and a Global War on Terrorism service medal.
Korte last posted a message on his Facebook page Dec. 19. He wrote: “Man, it is just getting colder and colder by the day here. People tell me it starts snowing by the end of the month. Last year they had up to 4 feet of snow.” His wife responded: “I miss you too!”
On Dec. 6, Korte posted: “To my beautiful wife and kids, daddy loves you very much, so be good and take care of mommy while I’m away.”

 

RIVERSIDE COUNTY: Action taken against medical marijuana dispensaries

Riverside County officials said Wednesday they have begun legal action to close about three dozen medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas.
Attorneys filed for an injunction and issued legislative subpoenas against two of the stores, the latest volley since the Board of Supervisors authorized crackdowns on Dec. 13.
The county asked a Riverside County Superior Court judge to declare Platinum Collective in Home Gardens, near Riverside, a public nuisance and issue an injunction to shut down operations at the shop in the 12000 block of Magnolia Avenue, east of McKinley Street. According to the Dec. 21 court filing, the dispensary creates traffic problems, and officials said it poses a safety issue for children who walk past the shop on their way to Villegas Middle School.
The county is asking for civil penalties of $1,000 for each day Platinum Collective has been open since March 7, when the business was notified it was operating illegally, and seeks reimbursement for the cost of abatement, investigation and enforcement.
A woman who answered the phone at the collective said no one was available to comment.
In other action, the county served legislative subpoenas on the operator of the Compassion and Wellness Center in Lakeland Village, near Lake Elsinore, and the owner of the property in the 15000 block of Grand Avenue near El Contento Drive.
Dispensary operator Ronald Wayne Williams was ordered to appear before the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 24, and property owner Thomas C. Deamer on Jan. 31, to explain why the dispensary remains open.
“That’s the logical next step before we start filing (civil) lawsuits,” said Ken King, a senior code enforcement officer. “There’s not a lot of things they can say. The ordinance is clear. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody in this field.”
Failure to comply will result in contempt of court proceedings, county officials said.
Deamer, 64, said he sold the building to Williams in 2007 and is receiving mortgage payments from him. Williams began leasing the property in 2003 for an auto sales business, which he lost in 2009. Deamer, a former air conditioning repairman, said he was unaware Williams was going to open a dispensary and fears the property could be seized.
“That’s mine and my wife’s retirement,” he said.
Williams did not return a telephone message Wednesday.
One dispensary already has closed and six more have indicated they intend to shut down, King said.
The county’s push focuses on storefront operations, which are illegal under a dispensary ban county that supervisors approved in 2006. In the years since, court rulings have upheld local authority to shutter dispensaries, including a city of Riverside case that has been appealed to the state Supreme Court, King said.
Dispensaries in cities are not covered by the county’s ban.

 

Pair arrested for allegedly stealing cross from Artesia cemetery

A man and a woman were jailed Thursday after they allegedly broke into a cemetery in Artesia and made off with a wooden cross.

Cross stolen from Artesia cemetaryJason Fluharty, 29, of Torrance and Jolynn Ramirez, 29, of Artesia were arrested Tuesday morning after employees at Artesia Cemetery reported finding evidence of an attempted break-in.

Deputies found the suspects, who had been caught on surveillance video, walking on Studebaker Road, near the cemetery.

After detaining them, a deputy allegedly found a wooden cross bearing a military insignia in Fluharty’s backpack. Sheriff’s officials said the cross had been stolen from a storage yard at the cemetery and that the suspects had also tried to burglarize the cemetery office.

The suspects were scheduled for arraignment Thursday morning.

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.