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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog


Friday, July 27, 2012

Anaheim, The Least Happy Place on Earth This Week

Official seal of Anaheim
Official seal of Anaheim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Anaheim has long been famous for being home to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth.  However, last week Anaheim became the epicenter of perhaps the most intense community unrest a southern Californian city has experience since the famous 1992 riots in Los Angeles. The LA riots, which began a little of 20 years ago, left 53 dead, thousands injured, and forever changed Los Angeles.

The unrest in Anaheim the last few weeks has garnered national attention and brought to light ethnic and socioeconomic tensions in a city famous for its tourist attractions. The unrest began following the fatal police shooting of two young Latino men last weekend. In the days following the shooting, demonstrations and turmoil swelled. The pinnacle of the conflict occurred on Tuesday night when 1000 protesters took to the streets. In the hours that followed, police from Anaheim, as well as local cities such as Orange, Brea, Huntington Beach, Fullerton, and Garden Grove, attempted to control the crowd by firing rubber bullets and pepper spray balls into the rowdy mob. The protestors reacted by lighting a dumpster on fire, smashing police cars, and breaking the windows of local businesses. By the time the night was over 24 people had been arrested, a unlawful assembly had been declared, thousands of dollars in damage had been incurred to over 20 buildings, and the riots in Anaheim made national news.

In an effort to squash the conflict, the United States Department of Justice announced that it would be investigating the alleged civil rights violations in regards to the shooting of two young Latino men.

While 53 percent of Anaheim's residents are Hispanic, this population is highly underrepresented in city council as well as in the police and fire departments. Many believe this disparity has caused much of the tension between law enforcement officials and local residents. Alejandro Moreno, a member of a Hispanic advocacy group in the region, told the Christian Science Monitor, "There are more police dedicated to making sure that those resort areas are crime free rather than the rest of the Latino communities in Orange County,” he says. “These people want to create ‘the happiest place on earth’ and have Latinos come and help and clean up, but they don’t want them living there because they say they don’t look good, and don’t take care of their homes.”

As noted, the tipping point in this situation was the police shooting of two Latino men. The first, Manuel Angel Diaz, 25 was shot while running from police. The second, Joel Acevedo, 21, a known gang member was shot during a police pursuit while reaching for something in his waistband which officers believed to be a gun. Media outlets, as well as the Diaz family attorney, have said that Diaz was shot in the back and again in the head after falling to his knees. Anaheim police Chief John Welter shot down this accusation in a recent press conference by saying, " I feel for the people in that neighborhood and the reason I do is because they're, I believe, being given rumors rather than facts, and they are being led to believe that the police would actually execute someone. If that's the case and if the investigation reveals that's the case, I'll be the first to ask the district attorney to prosecute the officer." The police Chief also expressed his hope to end the turmoil by increasing trust between the police and local residents of Anaheim.

If you face a criminal charge in Orange County, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in fighting your charges and/or reducing your sentence.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Three Separate Drug Arrests at Local OC Border Patrol Checkpoint

Directly across from perhaps the most serene stretch of beaches southern California has to offer law enforcement officers have apprehended three men, in three separate incidents over the last two weeks, attempting to get pounds of drugs through the San Clemente I-5 checkpoint.

The first arrest was that of a 19-year-old last Thursday. The teen was driving a 2001 Chevrolet Suburban through the I-5 checkpoint around 4 p.m. when law enforcement officers became suspicious of the driver's demeanor. Upon inspection Border Patrol officers discovered 237 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $355,740. The drugs were separated into 47 bundles and had been hidden behind the driver and front passenger seats as well as in the trunk of the car. The teen was taken into custody and the drugs were released to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. 

The second arrest was that of another 19-year-old attempting to smuggle 13 bundles of methamphetamine through the checkpoint at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Border Patrol agents quickly honed into the teen's nervous demeanor and ran drug-sniffing dogs around the perimeter of the car. Once the drugs had been discovered, the driver attempting to avoid arrest by running into traffic on the northbound I-5. The recovered methamphetamine weighed roughly 27 pounds and had an estimated street value of $553,400.

Lastly, border patrol agents arrested a 33-year-old male in a 2003 Land Rover upon discovering 23 bundles of heroin and 10 bundles of methamphetamine hidden in a makeshift compartment under the floorboard of the car. The heroin weighed 19.62 pounds and had an estimated street value of $235, 440. The methamphetamine weighed 12.79 pounds and had an estimated street value of $255,800.

If you face a criminal charge in Orange County, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in fighting your charges and/or reducing your sentence.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dozens of Motorcycle Gang Members Arrested

During early morning raids on Wednesday 42 members of the Outlaws, a motorcycle gang characterized by crime and violence, were arrested. The Outlaws, who range from top CEOs to career gang members, are facing a litany of charges including extortion, drug trafficking, money laundering, gambling and witness tampering.

The arrests came after a year long investigation that revealed, “all kinds of people from different walks of life are involved in criminal activity” according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Blackington, lead prosecutor on the case.

The raids, which were synchronized by 300 officers from federal, state and local agencies brought nearly every member of the Outlaws Indianapolis Chapter in custody along with local associates and members from the group’s chapters in Illinois and Ohio. Investigators reported that one suspect, Terrell Adams, a hospital employee who is being sought on drug charges is still at large. The raids also sanctioned about 35 guns, assault rifles, motorcycles and $14,000 in cash.

Blackington indicated that investigators were able to infiltrate the gang using wiretaps, drug buys and undercover agents. The year-long investigation revealed that the Outlaws used violence to collect debts, conducted insurance fraud schemes, ran illegal gambling venues that brought in thousands of dollars daily and trafficked drugs such as cocaine and prescription painkillers. If convicted the 42 defendants face up to decades in prison.

If you face a criminal charge in Orange County, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in fighting your charges and/or reducing your sentence.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Orange County Council Member Charged with Sexual Battery

According to the Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, City Council member Carlos Bustamante had a “type” that he preyed upon; “County employees who were subordinate to the defendant and women who were emotionally vulnerable."

Bustamante’s laundry list of charges include six felony counts of false imprisonment, three felony counts of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offense, one felony count of stalking, attempted sexual battery by restraint, grand theft by false pretense, one misdemeanor count of battery, assault, sexual battery, and attempted sexual battery. Adding to that is the potential for greater sentencing because, according to California state law, there is a sentencing enhancement allegation for committing the offenses as a result of sexual compulsion and for the purpose of sexual gratification.

Bustamante, who was arrested on June 29th on his was to a City Council meeting, was a former manager for the Orange County Public Works Department who is described as “well connected” and allegedly used that power to the dismay of female employees.

During a news conference yesterday, D.A. Tony Rackauckas read from victims' statements obtained during his investigation. He reported that the “encounters” occurred in stairwells, in cars in parking lots and other remote areas in and around Bustamante's office. "Once they arrived (at the office), he cornered them by closing the door behind them," Rackauckas said.

The investigation of Bustamante started after authorities received several anonymous letters detailing his alleged sexual misconduct last October. Bustamante resigned from his post shortly thereafter and publicly asserted “The allegations in the anonymous letters were unsubstantiated because they are not true. Therefore I have decided to resign my position with the county and pursue a career in the private sector."

Bustamante made a salary of $170,000 working for the county and was released overnight after posting bond. Arraignment in the case is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

If you face a criminal charge in Orange County, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in fighting your charges and/or reducing your sentence.
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