Monthly Archives: October 2012

Woman found dead in Huntington Beach home

Article Tab: Huntington Beach Police secure a murder scene at the Via Verde apartments on Huntington Village Lane in Huntington Beach on Monday. Police responded to a call of a possible attempted suicide Monday morning. When they arrived they found a deceased female and a male, Nelson Tuiolosega, 57, with self-inflicted wounds. Tuiolosega was transported to UCI Medical Center in critical condition where he was charged with murder.HUNTINGTON BEACH – A 57-year-old man from Huntington Beach was arrested on suspicion of murder Monday after a woman was found dead in his home on Huntington Village Lane, police said.

Nelson Tuiolosega, who police said had self-inflicted stab wounds, was arrested on suspicion of murder, Huntington Beach police Lt. Mitch O’Brien said.

Tuiolosega was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange in critical condition, where he remained under guard. He reportedly underwent surgery.

The death was reported about 9:45 a.m. when police received a call regarding a possible attempted suicide, according to a police statement. Authorities said the man suspected in connection with the death had contacted family members and threatened suicide.

When officers arrived about five minutes later, they found a wounded Tuiolosega, who had apparently stabbed himself, and the adult woman who was dead in the residence, police said.

Police believe Tuiolosega killed the woman but released few details about her death.

Tuiolosega reportedly underwent surgery and is expected to survive.

Citing the active investigation, police on Monday afternoon declined to identify the victim or outline her relationship to Tuiolosega. They also declined to disclose whether a weapon was found at the residence.

Investigators believe that Tuiolosega and the woman were the only people in the house when the killing took place, O’Brien said.

Tuiolosega made no mention of harming the woman, nor did he indicate that she was injured or dead when he was talking to his family members, O’Brien said.

Police indicated that they have not received previous reports of disturbances at the home.



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Police: Man shot in carjacking in Anaheim

ANAHEIM – A reported carjacking at an Anaheim shopping center on Monday night left one person seriously injured from a gunshot wound and two people in police custody, authorities said.

Officers shortly after 10 p.m. responded to reports of an assault at the Festival Shopping Center in the 8100 block of East Santa Ana Canyon Road.

A male caller told dispatchers that he had been shot during a robbery and that his car had been stolen, Sgt. Bob Dunn said.

Watch a video about the shooting and subsequent carjacking.

Officers located the injured male east of a Target store in the shopping center, Dunn said.

The man was taken to a hospital, where he is reportedly in critical condition.

A description of the vehicle taken in the carjacking, a GMC Yukon, was broadcast to surrounding police agencies.

A Fullerton officer spotted a vehicle matching the description on the westbound 91 near East Street, Dunn said.

With the assistance of Fullerton and Anaheim units, police attempted to pull the vehicle over near the Knott Avenue exit, Dunn said, but the driver refused to yield.

Police pursued the vehicle until the driver lost control and crashed into a concrete barrier on the side of the freeway near the Bellflower Boulevard exit. At that point, both occupants of the vehicle attempted to escape on foot, Dunn said.

Police said a male passenger was detained after jumping from a bridge. He was taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries sustained from the 100-foot drop, Dunn said.

The female driver of the vehicle fled down an embankment into a home’s yard off Bellflower, Dunn said, where she was apprehended by a police dog. The female was also taken to a hospital.

Authorities have not yet identified the male and female. Dunn said they are not searching for anyone else in connection to the shooting and carjacking.

As of 11:30 p.m., officers had not located the gun used in the shooting, but were still waiting for a forensic team to arrive before searching the Yukon.

Authorities have not determined what relationship, if any, the male victim had with the male and female suspects. However, police say they may have known each other.

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the incident to call the Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS.



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Irvine man gets 10 years in gold scheme

Article Tab: William Spalding booking photoSANTA ANA – An Irvine man with a history of fraud convictions pleaded guilty Monday to 13 felony counts of burglary, money laundering and grand theft for stealing more than $288,000 from a woman in a fake gold-investment scheme.

William Scott Spalding, 47, who also admitted penalty enhancements for excessive taking and aggravated white-collar crime, was ordered to repay the victim and pay a fine of $576,000, Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche said.

Labreche said Spalding claimed be a successful investor when he met the 51-year-old woman through an acquaintance and persuaded her with the promise of high returns to invest with him by purchasing gold, prosecutors said.

But Spalding never bought the gold as promised or gave the woman her money back, prosecutors said.

Spalding, who has three prison priors, instead placed the money in a personal bank account and spent it on items like a high-end Mercedes-Benz and payments on a house, Labreche said.

“He has a long history of financial crime,” Labreche said Monday. “People should be wary of him if he gets out of prison.”



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INLAND: $1 million stolen from Citibank ATMs at casinos

Five Inland casinos — Pechanga, San Manuel, Morongo, Agua Caliente and Spa Resort — were among 11 resorts where 14 people staged a high-tech scheme to steal more than $1 million from Citibank accounts via ATM kiosks, the FBI said.

The plot required multiple withdrawals — all launched within 60 seconds — exploiting a hidden electronic gap in Citibank’s transaction security, FBI Special Agent in Charge Daphne Hearn said.

“While advancements in technology have created a world of accessibility to users and a convenience for consumers, they have also left room for criminals to exploit even the smallest of loopholes,” Hearn said in a news release.

A Citibank official said the loophole has been shut. The casinos were bystanders in this case, the FBI said. They do not own or operate the ATMs.

Ara Keshishyan, 29, of Fillmore, recruited conspirators who opened multiple Citibank checking accounts, the FBI said. Keshishyan then supplied them with seed money to deposit into the new accounts.

Keshishyan and his conspirators would then travel to 11 casinos: the Morongo (Cabazon), Pechanga (Temecula), San Manuel (Highland), Agua Caliente (Rancho Mirage), Spa Resort (Palm Springs) and Chukchansi (near Fresno) casinos in California; the Tropicana, Wynn and Bicycle casinos in Las Vegas; Whiskey Pete’s in Primm; and Harrah’s in Laughlin.

When inside the casino, the conspirators used cash-advance kiosks to withdraw several times the amount of money deposited into the accounts by exploiting the Citibank security loophole they discovered. They withdrew less than $10,000 at a time to avoid federal reporting requirements for financial transactions.

The indictment alleges that after the cash was collected, Keshishyan would typically give conspirators their cut and keep the remainder, which was often used to gamble.

The casinos, unaware of the scheme, frequently gave the conspirators free rooms because of their extensive gambling activity, the FBI wrote.

Most of the defendants were arrested last week, the FBI said.

“Through our own security measures and the diligence of our people we identified the fraudulent account activity and immediately notified the authorities,” Citibank spokeswoman Catherine Pulley wrote in an email Monday, Oct. 29. “No customer accounts were affected by the fraudulent activity.”

All of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to illegally structure financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, punishable by up to five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. In addition, Keshishyan is charged with 14 counts of bank fraud, each of which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The defendants are due to be arraigned this week. They are residents of Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties.





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MORENO VALLEY: Obama effigy called ‘misunderstanding’

The Secret Service visited Eddie Million’s Moreno Valley home Tuesday night because of a Halloween party prop that, well, seemed like a good idea at the time, he says.

It was a really bad idea, he now concedes.

The decoration involved an Obama mask that Million says he bought at a clearance sale last Halloween.

And this year, he put the mask on a human-like figure, dangling it by a noose tied to a tree on his front lawn.

Yes, that’s also called an effigy. And it upset a lot of people, raised disturbing questions about Million’s views on race and the president, and drew newspaper and television reporters to his house.

“This is just a misunderstanding. This is getting all blown out of proportion. It’s down. It’s gone. We didn’t want to hurt the president,” Million told the reporters soon after two Secret Service agents finished questioning him late Tuesday, Oct. 23. “It was just for a party.”

What kind of Halloween parties — and decorations — does Million lean toward?

The almost annual events draw 30 to 50 guests, he says.

“We decorate big,” he says.

Demons in the trees. The backyard decorated like a graveyard. Black lights and strobe lights. Things that go bump in the night. He and his parties have never been controversial, he says. He’s mainstream, owns a flooring company, has a wife and two daughters, he says.

So why hang an Obama lookalike in the front yard?

“Something spooky,” is his answer. “A noose is scary. It’s Halloween. We have zombies in the back — figures, ghosts, zombies.”

Seemed like a good idea to him — until someone complained, a reporter wrote a blog about it and the police visited on Monday.

“I started thinking how bad it looked, and I took it down immediately,” Million emphasized. “If I had it to do all over again, I absolutely wouldn’t have done it. It was not meant to offend anybody. It was just supposed to be a decoration.”

The Secret Service agents declined to talk to reporters.

But Million said he told them what he told the police, reporters and everyone else who will listen.

“They said that (incident) could have been construed as a threat to the president,” Million said. “They said my name is going to be on file. They said they’re just going to make a note…”




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Man beat ex-girlfriend in a ‘rash impulse,’ he says

Article Tab: Mark Alan JarosikSANTA ANA – A Chicago man told an Orange County jury he punched his ex-girlfriend in the face, pushed her in the gutter and bashed her head into the curb in “a rash impulse,” but never intended to kill her, according to his testimony last week.

The woman survived the 2009 attack by Mark Alan Jarosik, 46, in her Ladera Ranch neighborhood, but was left with physical impairments including memory loss, prosecutors said. Jarosik was angry after being previously accused of raping the woman, he said.

The woman screamed out of fear when he ran over to her car and confronted her, holding up her hands to protect herself, Jarosik said.

The architect accused of rape and attempted murder testified over nearly two days last week – at times tearfully – and is expected to conclude his testimony Monday.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker told jurors that Jarosik was out on bail on charges of rape and attempted sodomy and in violation of a restraining order when he punched the woman, threw her on the ground and “brutally banged her head” over and over into the curb until he was subdued by neighbors.

Jarosik had intended to speak with the woman when he went to retrieve his belongings after he was bailed out from Orange County jail by his mother in 2009, but he “lost it,” according to his testimony.

Labeling himself narcissistic, the man explained to the Orange County panel in Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseño’s courtroom how his life unraveled after he and the woman had a relationship for about four years that began with an extramarital affair in Las Vegas.

Jarosik called himself a pig for starting the affair while both he and the woman were married with children. After separating from their spouses, Jarosik left his architect firm in Chicago to move to California, eventually moving in with his then-girlfriend.

He told jurors he was unable to move forward after he was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting her “because I failed at my marriage and I didn’t want (his girlfriend) and I to fail.”

The defendant acknowledged that while he struggled to find work after getting laid off from an Irvine firm in 2008, he was jealous that his then-girlfriend had no difficulty networking, was pretty, energetic and had a lot of potential.

He said he blamed every single problem in his life on her even before she accused him of rape.

And when she pressed rape charges, Walker asked, that was more than you could bear?

“Yes,” Jarosik responded.

If convicted on multiple charges, including soliciting an Orange County jail inmate to kill his ex-girlfriend, he faces a potential 29 years to life in state prison.

Jarosik told the inmate how he wanted the woman’s death to be “slow, painful and he wants it videotaped because he wants to watch it for Christmas,” Walker said.

Defense attorney Michael Molfetta posed a series of questions to his client asking him to help explain his actions to the jury, including how he went from not wanting to harm the woman to wanting her dead in a conversation with a jailhouse inmate recorded by police.

“I was scared … what am I gonna do? It just built up,” answered Jarosik. While in jail, he had time to think about how those who cared for him had told him he was making the wrong decision in leaving his wife and kids, he added.

“I felt I embarrassed everyone,” Jarosik said. “I felt I made all the wrong decisions.”

“She was my life. The kids were my life,” Jarosik added when Molfetta asked him how he reconciled wanting to win the woman back with what was heard in the recording. “I felt I couldn’t go back to my family and be a failure.”

He testified the couple’s relationship soured after he was laid off and the bills kept coming, all of which he said he was paying. The woman, he said, was “hounding” him for money, but during cross-examination he acknowledged he wasn’t paying for everything.

The couple had consensual sex and he never raped his ex-girlfriend, Jarosik said.

“(I’m) the guy who’d do anything to make her happy,” Jarosik responded when Molfetta asked whether the real Mark Jarosik was the one gave up everything for the woman or the one who bashed her head into the curb. “I feel awful. I feel disgust … I’d never ever want to hurt her, but I did. I can never take that back.”

“I am not that monster. I am not that guy (who attacked the woman). I am a family man,” he added. “I am not some crazed lunatic running around. I gotta get home to a career, to my children. I happened to fall. I didn’t expect it to be this way. I didn’t want to kill her.”

Jurors are expected to begin weighing Jarosik’s fate in the next couple of days.



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Charges reduced for family with 110 cats

Article Tab: Cats came into the Orange County Animal Care on Feb. 8 after being seized from a Santa Ana resident who had more than 100 cats. SANTA ANA – An Orange County judge Monday reduced to misdemeanors charges of felony child endangerment against five relatives who lived in a Santa Ana home with two children, ages 6 and 12, and at least 110 cats.

Superior Court Judge William Evans did find sufficient evidence for two of the five adults to stand trial on a felony count of animal cruelty.

Sharon Lynn Howe, 65; her husband, John, 68; her daughter, Kerri Lynn Howe Moreno, 44; Moreno’s husband, Jessy, 41; and Kerri Moreno’s daughter, Courtney Lynn Howe Perez, 23, all had pleaded not guilty to two felony counts each of endangering children by exposing them to severely unsanitary conditions in a urine- and feces-filled residence.

Sharon Howe and Perez, accused of using their Santa Ana home to house unwanted cats, were charged with an additional felony count of animal cruelty.

“The conditions in which the children had to live in that home endangered their health and safety,” argued Deputy District Attorney Aleta Bryant.

Attorneys for the defendants argued prosecutors overcharged the case at a preliminary hearing that concluded Monday.

Howe and Perez are set to be arraigned Dec. 6 on the felony and misdemeanor counts; if convicted, they face a sentence ranging from probation to five years in state prison, time that would be served in county jail under new state sentencing laws.

The Morenos and John Howe, who are to be arraigned Dec. 7, face probation to two years in jail if convicted of the reduced misdemeanor child endangerment counts.

Deputy Alternate Defender Lee Stonum, who represents Kerri Moreno, said he believes other factors led Evans to reduce the charges, including that no police, social worker or teacher ever saw the children dirty or injured, and the room in which they slept with their parents was a “cat-free zone.”

Testimony at the preliminary hearing included that of Sondra Berg, the supervisor for the animal-services unit at the Santa Ana Police Department.

When Berg, wearing a mask, entered the South Baker Street home in February 2011, she encountered dozens of cats, litter boxes overflowing with feces, feline urine and more fecal matter on the floor and walls of every part of the house, including the kitchen, and an odor so powerful that her eyes and nose began to water and her throat burned, she said.

Less than 10 minutes later, the non-sworn Santa Ana officer and her partner had to get out.

“It was hard to breathe throughout the house,” Berg testified.

Santa Ana police animal services officers captured 110 cats in the home, many of them feral; more than 20 of the cats had to be euthanized, prosecutors said.



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