El Cajon

COUNCILMAN BEN KALASHO PLED GUILTY TO CRIMINAL WORKERS' COMP FRAUD IN 2015, REMAINS ON PROBATION

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo: Bessmon "Ben" Kalasho, August 2015

August 9, 2018 (El Cajon)--An exclusive investigation by East County Magazine has uncovered a criminal case in which El Cajon Councilman Bessmon “Ben” Kalasho pled guilty to two counts of workers’ compensation fraud in October 2015 (court case #MD094871).

Kalasho was on probation for his crimes, both misdemeanors, when he ran for and won his seat on the City Council in 2016. He remains on probation until October 1, 2018.

Kalasho has pulled papers to run for El Cajon City Council again in November.   

POLICE SEEK HELP TO IDENTIFY SECOND POSSIBLE SUSPECT IN FATAL EL CAJON STABBING

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 29, 2018 (El Cajon) – A man stabbed in front of a 7-11 store in the 700 block of Jamacha yesterday afternoon died after being transported to a local hospital, says Lt. Walt Miller with the El Cajon Police Department. 

Soon after the stabbing, reported at 2:05 p.m. Saturday, officers responded to a burglary at an apartment in the 1200 block of north Mollison.  They took a burglary suspect to a hospital  for medical issues unrelated to his arrest, according to Lt. Miller.

“Investigators are exploring the possibility that this suspect may be related to the stabbing based on a physical description provided by witnesses,” said Miller. That suspect’s identity has not been released. However a second suspect may still be at large.

CITIZENS HELP POLICE NAB SUSPECT AFTER STABBING OF 75-YEAR-OLD MAN IN EL CAJON

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 26, 2018 (El Cajon)—A 75-year-old man suffered multiple non-life threatening stab wounds tonight in an attack at Second Street and East Madison Avenue in El Cajon. Witnesses called police at 7:55 p.m. to report the victim was on the ground near the intersection.

The suspect fled west on Madison, says Lieutenant Jason Taub, adding, “Witnesses were able to keep the suspect under observation and advise the police department of his current location.”

LAW ENFORCEMENT CONDUCTS OUTREACH ON HATE CRIMES GEARED TOWARD EL CAJON’S MIDDLE EASTERN AND MUSLIM COMMUNITY

 

By Briana Ghaffery

July 18, 2018 (El Cajon)— Sheriff’s Captain Marco Garmo became the victim of a hate crime at a young age, along with his father, who was savagely beaten over a mistaken ethnic identity during a robbery at the Garmo family’s convenience store in El Cajon.

At a hate crimes forum in El Cajon on July 17th, sponsored by the San Diego Regional Hate Crimes Coalition and El Cajon Police Department, Captain Garmo told East County Magazine that he hopes to encourage the public to report hate crimes.

“The reason why we’re having this out here in the city of El Cajon is that it has the largest influx of refugees and immigrants from the Middle East, and we feel like they need to be educated as to hate crimes,” he said, adding that law enforcement believes hate crimes are under-reported by those who are victimized.

ESTELA DE LOS RIOS: AN ADVOCATE FOR HER COMMUNITY

 

Human rights leader is an organizer of hate crimes forum July 17 in El Cajon

By Mimi Pollack

July 14, 2018 (El Cajon) -- As the executive director of CSA-Center for Social Advocates, Estela de los Rios cares about the well-being of the community. She also has a strong sense of justice, which she developed at an early age. As a human rights activist, she strives to make the world a better place and doesn’t want others to feel the pain of discrimination, something she herself has faced in her life.

CSA is a place where people can come and voice their concerns. It is made up of six agencies that provide community services to East County, including fair housing, immigrant and refugee rights, civic engagement, hate crimes, and human trafficking. It is a place that in her words, “embraces newcomers and community.”

COMMUNITY MEMBERS URGE KALASHO TO RESIGN OVER SEXUAL HARASSMENT FINDINGS AND ALLEGED THREATS

 

 

A group of people in a roomDescription generated with very high confidence

 

 

 

By Briana Ghaffery

View video of Council meeting: https://elcajonca.swagit.com/play/07112018-1233

 

July 11, 2018 (El Cajon) – Eleven speakers called on Councilman Ben Kalasho to resign during public comments at Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, where the audience included protesters who held signs reading “hands off our daughters” and “sex predator Kalasho belongs in jail” complete with a photoshopped picture of Kalasho as an inmate.

Kalasho has also announced his intention to run for Mayor, challenging incumbent Bill Wells.

MEDITERRANEAN FEAST! JULY 15 WITH EAST COUNTY DINING CLUB AT EAT-A-PITA IN EL CAJON

 

UPDATE: WALK-INS ARE WELCOME! BUT PLEASE RSVP.

July 4, 2018 (El Cajon) -- You're invited to our next East County Dining Club event, which benefits our nonprofit East County Magazine and our East County Wildfire and Emergency Alerts.  

Please join us in a Mediterranean Feast on Sunday, July 15 at 1 p.m. at Eat a Pita! (1255 Avocado Road in the Vons shopping center at Chase and Avocado in  El Cajon).

$28 INCLUDES: Mediterranean feast!  Beef kebab, chicken kebab/souvlaki, falafel, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), rice, Greek salad, pita bread and hummus, tax, tip, beer or wine, soft drink & refill, & 1 opportunity drawing ticket. Prizes include restaurant gift certifictes, a night's stay at Triple H Ranch Bed and Breakfast in Lakeside, jewelry, cookbooks, novels, Kamp's Propane gift certificate, ladybug planter, Prete-a-Porter Salon haircut, Club Pilates class and more!

RSVP BY JULY 10 for earlybird prize drawing: editor@eastcountymagazine.org   or 619-698-7617.

PROTEST TUESDAY IN EL CAJON OVER CHILD IMMIGRANT DETENTION CENTER

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Child migrant detention facility in El Cajon

July 8, 2018 (El Cajon) – Activists are organizing a protest rally Tuesday, July 10th from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in front of El Cajon’s City Hall (200 Civic Center Way) to call for a public hearing on a federal internment facility holding immigrant boys, including some who were separated from their parents at the border and others who arrived as unaccompanied minors.

The activity is part of the national #familiesbelongtogether movement following disclosure that thousands of children have been separated from their undocumented immigrant parents at the border.  Following exposure in media, children as young as one year of age have been ordered by the government to represent themselves at immigration hearings and some parents deported without their children.

“Our mission will be to apply extreme and persistent pressure upon the El Cajon City Council to hold one or more Public Hearings providing full discloser as to population welfare, and operational practices, of El Cajon's Migrant Youth Internment Facility," organizers state on a Meetup page for the event.

JUDGE FINDS FACTS TRUE AND ADMISSIBLE IN CASE AGAINST KALASHOS: FAKED NUDE PHOTOS, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, DEFAMATION, AND OFFER TO TRADE SEX FOR PAGEANT CROWN

 

 

Judicial finding that Kalashos engaged in cyber-harassment, defamation and other intimidating actions comes within days of ECM reporter Paul Kruze filing a police complaint alleging that Councilman Kalasho threatened him with an attack dog and defamed him on social media.

Update: The judge's tentative ruling is now final and the link has been updated.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Ben and Jessica Kalasho at  a Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce event, before the U.S. Patent and Trademark office forced them to change the name of the organization due to trademark infringement.

July 6, 2018 (El Cajon) – Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor has issued a judgment granting a motion  filed by beauty pageant contestants and a taco shop owner against El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho and his wife, Jessica. The ruling allows documents and a supporting declaration  submitted by plaintiffs’ lawyers to be admitted as facts at trial and  most damning, orders evidence of the following admissions to be submitted  at trial as true facts--meaning the Kalashos cannot dispute the accuracy of these findings in court:

  • Kalasho, his wife their entities created fake nude photos of Miss Middle East pageant Queen Zhala Tawfiq and published them online “intending to cause and causing Ms. Tawfiq severe emotional distress.”
  • Kalasho propositioned pageant contestant Paris Kargar, offering sex in exchange to ensure she won the 2016 Miss Middle East pageant. He made statements indicating her declining this proposition cost her a fair shot at the title.
  • Kalasho whispered in Kargar’s ear, “You are so f*cking hot, I cannot take my eyes off you.” He also made comments about her breasts jiggling as she walked down the runway.
  • Kalasho conducted one-on-one recorded interviews with 2016 contestants including Tawfiq and Karger, but destroyed these videos after the lawsuit in which Kargar contends she was harassed during her interview.
  • Kalasho,his wife and his entities created multiple alias Facebook profiles used to make defamatory posts against Tres Taqueria, including fabricated poll results and false claims of food poisoning after the restaurant owner refused to post Kalasho campaign signs.

CREMATORIUM REJECTED BY EL CAJON PLANNING COMMISSION

 

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo:  Existing Mortuary at 374 North Magnolia Avenue in El Cajon

 July 1, 2018 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon Planning Commission again denied the Conditional Use Permit sought by El Cajon Mortuary and Cremation Service to build a crematorium at its existing site near El Cajon’s city center. The vote was 3-0 at the June 19th meeting, with commission members Mroz and Longoria absent.

EL CAJON’S 4TH OF JULY PICNIC AND FIREWORKS INCLUDES LIVE MUSIC, KIDS’ FUN AND MORE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 28, 2018 (El Cajon) – The city of El Cajon will present its annual Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration at Kennedy Park (1675 East Madison Ave.) starting at noon Wednesday and ending with a 9 p.m. fireworks show synchronized to music.  1675 East Madison Avenue. Bring  a picnic or buy food from vendors, plus enjoy live music by two bands, inflatables, crafts, games and a “kiddie train.

Schedule of events:

PEDESTRIAN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN EL CAJON

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Paul Kruze

June 23, 2018 (El Cajon) – A pedestrian was struck and seriously injured at Main and Ballantyne in El Cajon tonight by a black Ford Focus.  Witnesses told ECM that the injured man suffered a head injury and was transported to a local hospital.

He was described by bystanders as an elderly man believed to be homeless. 

CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS TOUR MIGRANT CHILDREN DETENTION FACIITY IN EL CAJON, DENOUNCE SEPARATION FROM PARENTS

 

 

Protest planned Saturday downtown

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

Photo: Congressman Juan Vargas, right, and Congresswoman Susan Davis, left, arrive at child detention facility in El Cajon.

June 18, 2018 (El Cajon, CA) – San Diego Congressional members Susan Davis and Juan Vargas joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic members of the Hispanic Caucus in touring three local facilities holding child immigrants, including a fenced facility in EL Cajon with 65 migrant boys, 10 percent of whom were forcibly separated from their parents by the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all undocumented parents.  In the past six weeks, the federal government has acknowledged taking away over 2,000 children from parents at the border, including infants and toddlers.

“The United States should have a zero tolerance policy for the immoral treatment of children,” said Rep. Davis (CA-53), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee whose district includes part of El Cajon. “We are a nation of values and we ask our men and women in uniform to defend those values every day. This policy is in no way consistent with those values.”

PLANS FOR PROPOSED DOWNTOWN EL CAJON CREMATION FACILITY GOING UP IN SMOKE

 

 

Update June 30, 2018: El Cajon Planning Commission again denied the Conditional Use Permit sought by El Cajon Mortuary and Cremation Service to build a crematorium at its existing site near El Cajon’s city center. The vote was 3-0 at the June 19 meeting, with commission members Mroz and Longoria absent. For details, click here.

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo, left, by Paul Kruze:  Mortuary, shown on right.

 June 16, 2018 (El Cajon) -- A downtown El Cajon mortuary owner’s plans to add a crematorium to his existing mortuary business was upended on Thursday when the City of El Cajon Planning Commission staff recommended that the Planning Commission deny his application for a second time.

PASSPORT THROUGH TIME FUN RIDE JUNE 23 ALONG HISTORIC HIGHWAYS IN EAST COUNTY

 

 

Click here to listen to our interview on Passport Through Time with Eric Lund, president of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, recorded in May and originally aired on KNSJ radio.

By Miriam Raftery

June 12, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce invites you to join in the Passport Through Time fun ride on Saturday, June 23 along Historic Highways 67, 78, 79 and 80 in San Diego’s East County.  Cars, motorcycles and other vehicles are welcome to participate.

The ride begins at 8:30 a.m. at Indian Motorcycle in El Cajon.  First stop is the Lakeside Rodeo grounds. Next, you’ll head north into the mountains through Ramona with a stop at the Oasis Camel Dairy, into Julian and a visit to the Julian Mining Company, down to Descanso and the Perkins Market, then on to Dana's Boutique, followed by the beautiful Summers Past Farms in Flinn Springs before ending up at Por Favor for lunch in El Cajon at noon.

Audio: 

Interview with Eric Lund on Passport Through Time 2018

VIDEO SHOWS THIEVES STEALING $200,000 IN JEWELRY: EL CAJON STORE OWNER UNINSURED FOR LOSS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Screenshot from surveillance video, courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News

March 16, 2018 (El Cajon) – The owner of Forever Fine Jewelry has suffered a devastating loss after thieves stole $200,000 worth of gold and silver jewelry. A group of nine people, including five men and women with babies, distracted the owner while a woman dressed in black, shown on surveillance  video, crawled on the floor to snatch jewelry from display cases and a safe in a back room, 10 News reports.

The owner, an Iraqi immigrant who came here a decade ago,borrowed money from family to start the business and had no insurance for the losses, NBC 7 reports.

COUNCILMAN KALASHO FACES NEW ACCUSATIONS OF FRAUD OVER ALLEGEDLY FALSE REAL ESTATE DOCUMENT FILINGS

 

By Paul Kruze

March 9, 2018 (El Cajon) -- As though the water couldn’t get any hotter for embattled El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho, he is now facing accusations that he is illegally shielding his personal assets, prior to an anticipated August trial on allegations that he sexually harassed two beauty pageant participants in 2016, among other claims.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Jimmie Davis Parker, asserts that Kalasho made false real estate filings in order to hide assets that could potentially be sought to satisfy a legal judgment, should Kalasho lose the case. (View documents.) 

Filing false real estate documents is a felony crime in California, though it is not yet determined whether the allegation is true.

LIVEN UP WINTER WITH THESE TEMPTING NEW CONCOCTIONS AT BLACK ANGUS

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

 

February 24, 2018 (El Cajon) – What better way to brighten up those mid-winter doldrums than with some cheery new cocktails, a sweet and spicy appetizer, Alaska King Crab combo dinner and decadent new dessert now available at Black Angus restaurants?