Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

Headquarters deputies responded to the above listed address for a report of a stabbing victim. Upon their arrival, deputies discovered a 31-year old female with several stab wounds/lacerations to her body. The female victim was transported to the Ventura County Medical Center where she underwent emergency surgery for her wounds. The suspect, Santos Mendoza Rivera, who was still on scene, was immediately detained, and upon further investigation was subsequently arrested for attempted murder. Rivera was booked into the Ventura County Main Jail on the attempted murder charges. Major Crimes investigators responded and took over the investigation.

Nature of Incident: 664/187 PC / Attempted Murder
Report Number: RB # 120009028
Location: 11300 Block of Violeta Street, Saticoy
Date & Time: 04/23/12 @ 2113
Unit Responsible: Headquarters Patrol / Major Crimes
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
(V) Female, Saticoy, 31
(S) Santos Mendoza Rivera, Saticoy, 30
Deputy Preparing Media Release: Sergeant Ruby #1852
Media Release Date: 04/24/12
Follow-Up Contact: Major Crimes Detective William Therrien (805) 384-4739
Approved by: Captain Bill Flannigan

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

 


 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
During the summer of 2010, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office learned of serious allegations of corruption involving elected and non-elected officials at the City of Oxnard.1 The allegations involved potential criminal violations of conflict of interest, misappropriation, and gift-reporting laws. In response, the District Attorney conducted a thorough investigation to determine the truth of the allegations and whether the law had been violated. The investigation focused specifically on the following allegations:

1 As used in this report, the term “officials” refers to elected City of Oxnard city council members and non-elected City of Oxnard employees in supervisory positions.

2 In June 2010, Ken Ortega resigned from city employment. For ease of reading, Ortega’s position will be referred to as Public Works Director throughout this report, as that was the position he held during the relevant times discussed in the report. The same convention will be applied to other officials who have changed position or employment since June 2010.

• Several city officials misappropriated taxpayer dollars to pay for excessive travel, meal expenses, and personal purchases.

• City Manager Ed Sotelo violated misappropriation and conflict of interest laws by taking an improper $10,000 personal loan of city funds and establishing an improper retirement benefit for himself and others.

• Public Works Director Ken Ortega2 misappropriated taxpayer dollars to fund a formal grand opening celebration of a city facility.

• City officials received gifts of vacations, meals, rounds of golf, and event tickets from companies doing significant business with the city, without publicly declaring the gifts as required by law.

• City officials violated conflict of interest laws by approving multi-million dollar city contracts from which they stood to profit.

To determine the truth of these allegations, district attorney investigators interviewed dozens of witnesses and executed more than 30 search warrants at more than 50 locations, gathering over 100,000 pages of documentary evidence. The investigation found evidence establishing the following:

• A clear pattern of fiscal waste by a small number of city officials. Oxnard’s lax policies and recordkeeping enabled officials to spend excessively while traveling on city business. These same deficient policies and recordkeeping leave insufficient evidence to prove criminal misappropriation under the law.

• City Manager Sotelo took an impermissible personal loan of city funds in 1998. Because the statute of limitations for this conduct has expired, the loan having occurred more than 13 years ago, the law does not permit prosecution.

• In 2003, City Manager Sotelo implemented a retirement benefit for himself and others that was improper because under state law only the city council has the legal authority to set employee salaries and benefits. Because the statute of limitations has expired and there is insufficient evidence to prove a criminal violation of misappropriation or conflict of interest laws, this conduct cannot be prosecuted.

• A formal grand opening celebration that cost an estimated $95,000 appears to have been funded with a combination of private contributions and diverted city funds. The available evidence does not reliably establish the extent of city funds expended on the celebration or who authorized the expenditures. City of Oxnard contracting practices did not accurately reflect the scope or cost of work to be performed under city contracts. Inaccurate contracting practices resulted in the improper diversion of city funds through an artificially inflated contract amendment. The diverted funds were used to finance a mural and a scale model featured at the grand opening celebration. Due to incomplete recordkeeping of both contracting practices and city expenditures, the evidence is insufficient to establish criminal misappropriation.

• Several city officials failed to CONTINUED »

 


 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On 3-13-2012, Sheriff’s deputies and investigators from the Sheriff’s Gang Unit responded to a shooting call in the 3700 block of Nyeland Avenue. While responding to the call, deputies learned the wounded gunshot victim had been taken to Saint John’s Hospital by a private party. Deputies located a crime scene near the location of the call and determined individual taken to Saint John’s was the victim of the shooting call.

Based on information provided by the victim and witnesses, investigators believe two male suspects entered the unlocked residence of the victim at about 2:40 p.m. One of suspects was armed with a 9mm handgun. The suspects demanded $10,000.00 from the victim. When only able to provide the suspects with $1,000.00, the suspects told the victim they were going to kill him. During the robbery, the victim’s teenage son came home and was held against his will by the suspects. When the suspects learned the victim’s other child was about to be released from elementary school, one of the suspects took the teenage son to the elementary school by car and picked up the second child.

Meanwhile, the second suspect told the victim he was going to be killed. The suspect lifted his gun and the victim tried to push the gun away. A struggle ensued between the two with the suspect firing the gun. The bullet struck the victim’s hand, partially removing one of the victim’s fingers. The suspect attempted to shoot the suspect a second time but the gun malfunctioned. Ultimately both suspects fled the scene taking cash and other items from the victim after releasing the two children at the residence. The victim was treated for his injuries and released. Investigators obtained detailed descriptions of both suspects including their distinctive tattoos.

On 3-16-2012, gang investigators learned that Hanford Police officers and the Ventura SWAT team had just arrested Jason Reyes at an apartment in the 1300 block of Saratoga Street in Ventura. Jason Reyes was wanted for two homicides in Northern California and had barricaded himself inside the apartment with his cousin, Donald Reyes. Sheriff Gang investigators were on scene when Jason was arrested and saw his tattoos matched those of the suspect in the Nyeland Avenue event. Gang investigators served a search warrant at the apartment where Jason and Donald Reyes were arrested and recovered property taken from the victim.

On 3-16-2012, investigators obtained enough information to arrest Donald Reyes for attempted murder and robbery. He was arrested and booked into the Ventura County Jail. Jason Reyes was arrested by Hanford Police Department on their murder warrant and transported to Kings County Jail. On 3-20-2012, the District Attorney’s Office filed multiple charges against Donald including attempted murder and robbery. He remains in custody on $1,000,000.00 bail.

On 4-12-2012, gang investigators obtained a $500,000.00 arrest warrant for Jason Reyes listing charges of attempted murder and robbery. Jason will be extradited to Ventura County once his murder charges are concluded in Northern California.

Nature of Incident: Arrest Warrant granted for Attempted Murder Suspect
Report Number: 12-5741
Location: 3700 Block of Nyeland Avenue, Unincorporated area of Oxnard
Date & Time: 4-12-2012
Unit Responsible: Sheriff’s Gang Unit
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
Jason Reyes, Oxnard, 35
Donald Reyes, Oxnard, 39
Deputy Preparing Media Release: Sgt. Bill Schierman
Media Release Date: 04-14-12
Follow – up Contact: Sgt. Bill Schiermann 805 64 3551
Approved by: Captain Patti Salas

 


 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

Over the last few months, several residential burglaries were reported in the Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park areas. Similar circumstances surrounded these crimes as thieves primarily focused on jewelry and electronics. The investigations led detectives to three potential suspects, Javier Hernandez, Eric Martinez and Mila Deguzman. On April 11, 2012, detectives from the Thousand Oaks Police Department’s Investigations Bureau and Special Enforcement Unit served search warrants at two local residences. The search warrants led to the recovery of stolen property.

Hernandez, Martinez and Deguzman were arrested and booked into the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility. The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office filed two counts of burglary against Martinez, who is still in custody on $310,000.00 bail. Hernandez and Deguzman have both been released from custody with pending court dates. They are both awaiting a decision from the District Attorney’s Office on potential charges being filed against them.

The Ventura County and Los Angeles County areas have seen a recent increase in residential burglaries. Suspects will sometimes knock on doors to see if anyone is home before breaking in. They will even pose as solicitors in an effort to appear to have legitimate business. The Thousand Oaks Police Department would like to encourage citizens to report suspicious activity. Your information may produce a lead that could potentially solve a crime.

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for these types of crimes. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

Nature of Incident: Burglary Investigation
Report Number: 12-4781, 12-4937
Location: 700 block of Wendy Drive, Newbury Park, CA
300 block of Charro Avenue, Newbury Park, CA

Date & Time: April 11, 2012 @ 0800
Unit Responsible: Thousand Oaks Police Department Investigations Bureau
Thousand Oaks Police Department Special Enforcement Unit

(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
(S) Javier Garcia Hernandez, Thousand Oaks, CA, 23
(S) Eric Edward Martinez, Thousand Oaks, CA, 23
(S) Mila Grace Marie Deguzman, Thousand Oaks, CA, 21
Deputy Preparing Media Release: Sergeant Jeff Miller
Media Release Date: April 17, 2012
Follow-Up Contact: Detective Pete Seery (805) 494-8221
Approved by: Captain Steve Wade

 

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Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

A 43-year-old Oxnard man tried to kill himself with a knife Tuesday morning while running in and out of traffic on PCH near the Point Mugu Naval Base.

A California Highway Patrol officer stopped on the shoulder of PCH to assist Paul Robinette, who appeared to be stranded with his vehicle. Robinette yelled at the officer and brandished a knife. Additional CHP officers and sheriff’s deputies arrived on scene to assist.

Robinette ran across the north and southbound lanes waving the knife and stabbing himself repeatedly. The sheriff’s deputies and highway patrol officers formed a plan and worked as a team to prevent Robinette from endangering other motorists on the busy highway. Deputies used a bean bag shotgun to try to subdue Robinette and keep him from causing himself further injury. Robinette was struck several times with bean bag rounds, but did not react to the impacts.

Robinette was eventually subdued when CHP officers used Tasers to stop him. Just before being tased, Robinette plunged the knife into his torso. A sheriff’s helicopter flew Robinette to Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks. Robinette underwent surgery, but is expected to survive.

No emergency responders or bystanders were injured during the incident. PCH was closed in both directions for more than an hour during the standoff.

Deputies found several suicide notes in Robinette’s vehicle.

Nature of Incident: Oxnard man attempts suicide during morning commute on PCH
Report Number: 12-8428
Location: Pacific Coast Highway at Las Posas Road
Date & Time: Apr. 17, 2012 @ 7:43 AM
Unit Responsible: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office / California Highway Patrol
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
(V) Paul Robinette Oxnard 43
Deputy Preparing Media Release: Sgt. Eric Buschow
Media Release Date: Apr. 17, 2012
Follow-Up Contact: Sgt. Eric Buschow (805)947-8129
Approved by: Capt. Don Aguilar

 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On 04/15/2012 at about 7:15 am, Moorpark Patrol Deputies received a call of a person hit by a vehicle in the area of North Rand Street and Duke Street. When deputies arrived, they discovered a 90-year-old female who had been walking in the residential neighborhood had sustained injuries upon being struck by a vehicle. The victim was transported to Los Robles Hospital for treatment where she succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead. The collision is still under investigation. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the collision and there have been no arrests made.

Nature of Incident: Fatal Traffic Collision
Report Number: 12-8280
Location: North Rand Street and Duke Street, City of Moorpark
Date & Time: 04/15/2012 @ 7:15 AM
Unit Responsible: Moorpark Traffic Bureau
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
(V) Choko Takegami Jauss Moorpark 90
Moorpark Traffic Bureau Deputy David Anaya
Media Release Date: 04/16/2012
Follow-Up Contact: Senior Deputy Stubblefield 805-532-2700 x 508
Approved by: Captain Ron Nelson

 

VENTURA, CA - District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that on April 11, 2012, Ventura County Superior Court Judge James Cloninger sentenced Filemon Suarez (DOB 7/4/85) to 47 years to life in prison following his conviction for two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 years and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14 years. The defendant’s conduct involved the repeated sexual molestation of a child over a period of four years.

 

VENTURA, CA - District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Ventura resident Hameed Abdul Hasan (DOB 3/08/72) was convicted by a jury on April 9, 2012, of one felony count of battery with serious bodily injury in violation of Penal Code section 243(d), and one felony count of false imprisonment by violence in violation of Penal Code section 236.

The charged incident took place on June 20, 2010, in Thousand Oaks. The victim in this case was a friend of Hasan’s. Hasan punched the victim one time in the face, fracturing her face in three different places. Hasan also kept the victim inside his home for several hours before she was able to reach safety.

Sentencing for this case will take place on May 16, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 47. Hasan faces a maximum sentence of four years state prison.

 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On the above date and time, a subject persuaded the victim to give him a ride. Once inside the victim’s vehicle, the subject told the victim he wanted the car. The victim refused and the subject produced a knife and stabbed the victim causing very minor injuries. The subject then pushed the victim out of the vehicle and got into the drivers’ seat. The subject drove a short distance before abandoning the vehicle and was last seen running north through the Carmen Plaza shopping center.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau @ 383-8791

Nature of Incident: Carjacking / 215 PC Report #12-7814
Report Number: 12121212
Location: 400 Block of Carmen Road, Camarillo, CA
Date & Time: 04/09/12 @ 1140 hours
Unit Responsible: Sheriff’s Major Crimes
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
Unknown Suspect [City] [Age]
Deputy Preparing Media Release: Sergeant Pete O’Sullivan
Media Release Date: 04/09/12
Follow-Up Contact: Sergeant Steve Rhods or Detective Brian Richmond 384 -4725

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

 
Air Fleet Safety Top Priority
Cal Fire
Cal Fire

Sacramento, CA – On March 16, 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bestowed CAL FIRE and DynCorp International with the Diamond Award of Excellence for Aviation Maintenance. The prestigious honor for aircraft maintenance results from a rigorous program requiring 100 percent of a company's maintenance technicians pass specialized, continuous training in aircraft systems, regulations and FAA rules over a 12-month period.

“Firefighting aircraft play a pivotal support role in helping our firefighters suppress California’s devastating wildfires,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE Director. “We are proud that our aviation management staff and DynCorp International mechanics maintain the largest wildland air fleet in the world with an award winning safety and maintenance program.”

CAL FIRE maintains 23 airtankers, 14 airtactical aircraft, 11 helicopters, and numerous other fixed-wing training and administrative aircraft. All the aircraft are maintained at the department’s maintenance base at McClellan Air Park in Sacramento County. Since the beginning of CAL FIRE’s air program in the 1970s, safety and superior maintenance has been a top priority. Along with CAL FIRE’s seasonal aviation experts, DynCorp International mechanics ensure that the state’s firefighting air fleet is kept in pristine condition.

“This award highlights the exceptional maintenance performed on all CAL FIRE aircraft by DynCorp International (DI) team members and reflects the strength of commitment by both DI and CAL FIRE working together in a public/private partnership,” said Jeffrey Cavarra, DynCorp International.

Over the next few months CAL FIRE will finish the winter maintenance and safety inspections on the firefighting aircraft and beginning staffing them at the department’s 13 airbases and nine helitack bases across the state.

For more information on CAL FIRE’s firefighting air program visit www.fire.ca.gov.

 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On March 24, 2012, at about 6:00 PM, deputies from the Lockwood Valley Sheriff’s Station responded to a call of automatic gunfire, described as possibly an AK-47, southwest of Curtis Trail, Lockwood Valley.

Responding deputies arrived on scene and also heard the rapid succession of 20 to 30 round bursts of gunfire. The Lockwood Valley deputies drove their 4X4 patrol vehicles on an unmaintained road, in the United States Forest – Mt. Pinos Ranger District, until the road become too narrow to drive any further and proceeded towards the gunfire on foot.

The deputies hiked a quarter to half a mile on foot before discovering three male subjects, four rifles, five handguns, several high capacity magazines (including a 100 round double drum magazine), and hundreds of rounds of unspent ammunition.

During the course of their investigation, deputies discovered three of those rifles were considered assault weapons under California State Law, one of them was believed to be a fully automatic AR-15, and one had a barrel less than nine inches in length. The investigation also revealed one of the handguns was reported stolen in 2004, out of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Van Nuys Division.

Ultimately, (S) Eddy Soto was found to have brought all the rifles, handguns, and ammunition to the location and was arrested for weapons related offenses. (S) Conrado Madrigal was arrested for a Los Angeles County misdemeanor warrant and a third party was released without any pending charges. Both Soto and Madrigal were booked at the Ventura County Main Jail, the weapons and ammunition were confiscated and booked as evidence.

Nature of Incident: Assault Weapons arrest
Report Number: 12-6587
Location: Southwest of Curtis Trail, Lockwood Valley
Date & Time: 03/24/12 at 6:00 PM
Unit Responsible: Lockwood Valley Sheriff’s Station
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
(S) Eddy Soto, Long Beach, 29
(S) Conrado Madrigal, Ontario, 28
Deputy Preparing Media Release: Sr. Deputy Scott Ramirez #3168
Media Release Date: 03/30/12
Follow-Up Contact: Sr. Deputy Scott Ramirez, (661) 245-3829
Approved by: Capt. O’Hanlon

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that Gervork Aroutiounyan, 48, was sentenced for an ATM identity theft scam that spanned seven counties.

Aroutiounyan and Gnel Snapyan, 35, were charged for "skimming" debit card information of Chase Bank customers and stealing $320,728. The Department of Justice eCrime Unit was able to charge the entirety of the scheme across seven counties, including the counties of Santa Clara, Marin, Fresno, San Bernardino, San Diego and Los Angeles.

Aroutiounyan was sentenced today in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court to three years and eight months in state prison, and ordered to pay restitution to Chase Bank of $320,728. The sentencing of Snapyan was delayed until June 15.

"These criminals stole not just money, but people's identity," said Attorney General Harris. "While modern technology provides many advantages, it is also increasingly being used by criminals, which is why I created the eCrime unit within the Department of Justice."

In September 2011, the Attorney General's office charged the defendants with 28 counts of felony fraud. On March 1, the defendants entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft, computer access fraud, identity theft, second degree burglary and forgery of access cards. Additionally, each plead guilty to three counts of second degree burglary.

Between July 2010 and February 2011, Aroutiounyan and his co-conspirator replaced the card readers at Chase Bank ATM vestibules. The readers they installed allowed them to retrieve the card information of customers using the ATM. Additionally, the crew installed micro cameras to capture the card holders' PIN entry. With both the card information and the PIN information, they created bogus ATM access cards. These cards were used to fraudulently withdraw $320,728. This type of crime is frequently referred to as a "skimmer operation."

Chase Bank has reimbursed customers for their losses. The case was investigated by the San Luis Obispo County Police Department.

The California Department of Justice eCrime unit was created last year to identify and prosecute identity theft crimes, cyber crimes and other crimes involving the use of technology.

 

VENTURA, CA - District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today the Ventura County District Attorney's Office is currently prosecuting James Homer Schoenhofen (DOB 7/19/43) for alleged crimes involving the sexual abuse of a child. A jury trial is set for May 2, 2012, and Mr. Schoenhofen has pled not guilty to all charges.

Mr. Schoenhofen is a 68-year-old former resident of Oxnard who may have been a foster parent beginning in the 1960s. The District Attorney's Office is requesting that anyone who has ever lived with Mr. Schoenhofen, has information concerning the identity of persons who may have lived with him in the past, or has information about crimes perpetrated against children by Mr. Schoenhofen to please contact the District Attorney's Office at (805) 477-1623.

 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On March 27, 2012, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors will proclaim March 25th through March 31st as Tsunami Awareness Week in Ventura County. Tsunami Awareness Week is a nationwide effort to encourage individuals to be prepared for tsunamis through education and awareness.

“Tsunamis are a potential risk to residents and visitors along the Ventura County coast,” said Dale Carnathan, Program Administrator for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services. “Since 1812, there have been at least nine recorded tsunamis that have caused local damage.”

The County of Ventura has done a tremendous amount of work in the last year in regards to tsunami preparedness including:

• A direct-mailing of a “How to Survive a Tsunami” brochure was distributed to 7,926 resident and business addresses within the local tsunami-hazard area.

• The Ready Ventura County program was launched to assist residents in preparing, responding and recovering from a local emergency or disaster in our community.

• The Ventura County Operational Area Tsunami Evacuation Plan was updated and was approved by the Ventura County Emergency Planning Council.

• The County of Ventura installed 80 tsunami-hazard signs in the un-incorporated areas of the county.

The County of Ventura will also be receiving their TsunamiReady certification from the National Weather Service at the Ventura County Emergency Planning Council meeting scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on April 11, 2012.

The TsunamiReady Program, developed by the National Weather Service, is designed to help coastal communities reduce the potential for disastrous tsunami-related consequences. Through this effort, emergency response agencies and residents are better prepared to save lives through better planning, education and awareness.

“Many residents and visitors live, work and play near the coast,” said Carnathan. “It is important for everyone to know if they are in a tsunami hazard zone.”

The one-year anniversary of the devastation in Japan is also a good reminder for local residents to “drop, cover, and hold on” during an earthquake and to know the warning signs of a potential tsunami.

“Strong ground shaking, a loud ocean roar, or the water receding unusually far exposing the sea floor are all nature’s warnings that a tsunami may be coming,” said Carnathan.

For more information of how to prepare, please visit the Ready Ventura County website at www.readyventuracounty.org. This website will display current information in the event an emergency, educate residents on the hazards in our area, and provide a resource on how to prepare, respond and recover from a disaster in our community.

Nature of Incident: Tsunami Awareness Week to be proclaimed in Ventura County
Date & Time: 3/27/12 @ 10:00 AM
Unit Responsible: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services
Staff Preparing Media Release: Cynthia Elliott, OES Program Administrator 805-654-3655
Media Release Date: March 26, 2012
Follow-Up Contact: Cynthia Elliott, OES Program Administrator 805-654-3655
Approved by: Laura D. Hernandez, OES Assistant Director 805-654-2552

 

VENTURA, CA - District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that the Ventura County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit has filed a felony complaint against Oxnard resident Gloria Becerra (DOB 8/24/65) and Los Angeles resident Hector Menendez (DOB 5/23/56) for grand theft and foreclosure consultant fraud. Becerra and Menendez are both charged with 4 counts of grand theft, 11 counts of foreclosure consultant fraud, and one count of attempted grand theft. The arrests followed a seven-month investigation by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

The charges arise out of a fraudulent home loan modification and foreclosure rescue program run primarily under the business names of “Sunset Beach Management,” “Financial Wellness for Homeowners L.A.” and “California Sky Premiers.” Becerra and Menendez collected thousands of dollars in upfront fees promising to reduce the victim’s mortgage loan amount, and to “save” her home from foreclosure. The victim received no actual services from the charged defendants and, in addition to losing thousands of dollars, also lost her home in foreclosure.

The court set bail at $100,000 for both Becerra and Menendez. An early disposition conference is scheduled for April 16, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. in courtroom 12. If convicted of all charges, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 12 years and 8 months. Individuals who believe they have been victimized by Becerra or Menendez, or others working with either defendant, are encouraged to contact the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit at (805) 662-1750 to file a complaint.

 
Incident Updates on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
Cal Fire
Cal Fire

Sacramento, CA - In an era of technology-driven communication, CAL FIRE is using the latest tools and social media sites to help keep the public informed during major emergencies. Californians looking for incident information can receive updates through sites like Facebook and Twitter, videos through YouTube, and even text messages sent right to their cell phones.

“When CAL FIRE is at the scene of a wildfire, keeping the public and media updated is a top priority for us,” said Janet Upton, CAL FIRE’s Deputy Director of Communications. “Using the latest technologies allows us to keep the public up to date on what’s happening and give us more ways to provide valuable information on how to prepare their homes and families well in advance of a fire.”

While the internet has led to an increase in available information, it’s important to ensure the sites distributing information are official. There are numerous social media accounts that use the CAL FIRE name or who present themselves as official sources, but they are often run by individuals not associated with CAL FIRE or a fire department. Below are CAL FIRE’s official social media accounts.

Twitter – Official Account - @CAL_FIRE
Department Information Officer Daniel Berlant - @CALFIRE_PIO
CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott - @CALFIRE_Chief
Riverside Unit / Riverside County Fire - @CALFIRERRU
San Diego Unit - @CALFIRESANDIEGO
Fresno-Kings Unit / Fresno County Fire – @FresnoCoFire
San Luis Obispo Unit / SLO County Fire – @CALFIRE_SLO
San Bernardino Unit - @CALFIREBDU
San Benito / Monterrey Unit - @CALFIREBEU

Facebook – Search for CAL FIRE

Youtube – www.YouTube.com/CALFIRETV

SMS Text Messages – To subscribe text: “follow @CAL_FIRE” to 40404. The alerts are free, but standard text messaging rates do apply.

While the number of users on social media sites has increased, the public can still receive information from the CAL FIRE website, www.fire.ca.gov. In February the department launched a mobile webpage version allowing easy access to incident information on smartphones.

 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

Investigators from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and Deputies from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office joined forces with more than 90 law enforcement agencies on Friday, March 16, 2012 in the largest Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation ever assembled in California.

The task force operation resulted in 393 arrests statewide. Three hundred individuals were cited for furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors, 93 were arrested for other crimes such as public drunkenness, DUI, parole violations and outstanding warrants. The operation was conducted statewide for the first time ever.

ABC Investigators and deputies conducted a program called a Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation which can lead to the arrest of adults who purchase alcohol for people less than 21 years of age. Under the program, a minor under the direct supervision of a peace officer will stand outside a liquor or convenience store and ask patrons to buy them alcohol. The minor indicates in some way he or she is underage and cannot purchase the alcohol.

If the adults agree to purchase alcohol for the minor, deputies then arrest and cite them for furnishing alcohol to the minor. Sixteen individuals were contacted by a minor decoy at various locations in Camarillo and two, Donna Hilts and Jordan Weal, agreed to purchase alcohol for the minor. Both were issued misdemeanor citations for furnishing alcohol to a minor. The penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor is a minimum $1,000 fine and 24 hours of community service.

The program is intended to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors. According to the American Medical Association, underage drinking can increase chances of risky sexual behavior and teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, compromise health, and result in unintentional injury and death.

Local operations were funded by the California Alcoholic Beverage Control through the department’s Grant Assistance Program (GAP). ABC is a Department of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

Nature of Incident: Sheriff’s Office Participates in California’s Largest Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation Ever
Report Number: 12-05884, 12-05988
Location: Camarillo
Date & Time: March 16, 2012
Unit Responsible: Camarillo Police Department
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
Hilts, Donna, Thousand Oaks, 53
Weal, Jordan, Camarillo, 22
Deputy Preparing Media Release: Capt. Bill Ayub
Media Release Date: March 17, 2012
Follow-Up Contact: Capt. Bill Ayub (805) 494-8260
Approved by:

 

VENTURA, CA - District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today the conviction of Joe Fidel Flores (DOB 04/23/1980), of Santa Paula, for the 2003 murder of Samuel Travis Reeves, age 15. The jury found Flores guilty of first-degree murder and also found true the special circumstance allegation and other special allegations regarding the use of a gun and that the murder was committed to further the activities of the “Bad Boyz” criminal street gang.

Samuel Reeves had no association with any type of gang. On October 11, 2003, he and two of his brothers attended a large party just outside the Santa Paula city limits. The defendant also went to the party, with a gun and several fellow gang members. A fight broke out and the defendant decided to jump in, still with his gun. During the fight, the defendant was punched hard enough to cause his nose to bleed, which happened in front of his gang. The defendant then pulled his gun and shot unarmed 15-year-old Sam Reeves at near-contact range, killing him.

Sentencing for Flores is scheduled May 18, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Division 25. Flores faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On March 11, 2012 at approximately 2100 hours, Sondra Reynolds called the Sheriff’s Office to report her husband missing. A deputy contacted Mrs. Reynolds and learned that her husband, (V) Neil Reynolds, had gone motorcycle riding with friends on Sunday. At approximately 1400 hours, Neil and his friends parted ways at the intersection of Lockwood Valley Road and Highway 33. Neil’s friends drove east on Lockwood Valley Road and Neil left by himself on Highway 33 southbound toward Ojai.

By evening, Neil had not returned home. Sondra called his friends to see if they had any idea what had happened. They told her he had been doing fine and was not in any distress. They were surprised he had not returned. Because Neil is an experienced motorcycle rider and is never late unless he calls her, Sondra became worried that he had crashed while riding alone. The deputy took the missing person report and a broadcast was made in an attempt to locate Neil.

In the early morning of 3-12-12, Sgt. Underlin was briefed by the patrol Watch Commander on the missing person. Sgt. Underlin called the Lockwood Valley Station and asked them to drive Highway 33 looking for any sign that Neil may have crashed and gone off the road. Sr. Dep. Scott Ramirez responded for the search. Patrol units from the Ojai station were also dispatched to search Highway 33 from Ojai to Lockwood Valley Road. In addition, Sgt. Underlin called in the crew of Air Squad 9 and they launched to the area to search as well.

At 0800 hours, Sr. Dep. Ramirez located Neil on the north side of Pine Mountain at mile marker 45.00. Neil had crashed shortly after leaving his friends at Lockwood Valley Road. He had crashed off the south side of the road and went down a steep embankment approximately 50 feet. Neil’s motorcycle came to rest on top of him and he was partially concealed by a bush. Neil was awake and alert and had been trapped under his motorcycle in freezing temperatures for approximately 17 hours. Air Squad 9 landed a few minutes later near the crash site.

The crew of Air Squad 9 and Sr. Dep. Ramirez worked together to free Neil from under his motorcycle and provide medical care. They used the winch on the front of Sr. Dep. Ramirez’s patrol truck to get the motorcycle off Neil. He had sustained moderate injuries and was flown to the Ventura County Medical Center where his care was transferred to the waiting hospital staff.

Nature of Incident: Missing Motorcycle Rider
Report Number: 12-5606
Location: North side of Pine Mountain on Highway 33, near mile marker 45.00
Date & Time: 3-12-12 / 0815 hours
Unit Responsible: Aviation / SAR Unit and the Lockwood Valley Station
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
(V) Reynolds, Neil Woodland Hills, Ca 67 years
Deputy Preparing Media Release: Sr. Dep. Shane Matthews
Media Release Date: 3-12-12
Follow-Up Contact: Sr. Dep. Shane Matthews
Approved by: Captain O’Hanlon

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On 3/12/12, around 0100 hours, Camarillo Patrol Deputies responded to shots heard at Good Night Inn. People reported that someone at the motel was firing random shots into the air. Deputies received information that one of the guests, Cesar Hernandez, was involved. Deputies located Hernandez and found he was in possession of a stolen gun. He was later arrested for Discharging a Firearm, with gross negligence, Possession of a stolen firearm, and Unlawful Transfer of a Firearm.

Hernandez was booked at the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility and a $50,000 bail was set.

Nature of Incident: Discharging a Firearm (with gross negligence), Possession of Stolen Property, and Unlawful Transfer of a Firearm
Report Number: 12-5611
Location: Good Night Inn, 1100 E. Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA
Date & Time: 3/12/12 at 0100 Hours
Unit Responsible: Camarillo Patrol /Investigations
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
(A) Cesar Hernandez Fresno 42
Deputy Preparing Media Release: Detective Julie Novak
Media Release Date: 3/12/12
Follow-Up Contact: Detective Julie Novak – 805-388-5115
Approved by: Captain O’Hanlon

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).