Crime Beat

DUNCAN HUNTER SENTENCED TO 11 MONTHS IN PRISON, PLUS ALCOHOL REHAB AND THREE YEARS OF SUPERVISED PROBATION

By Miriam Raftery

File photo at an earlier hearing, courtesy of Ken Stone, Times of San Diego

March 17, 2020 (San Diego) – Disgraced former Congressman Duncan D. Hunter was sentenced today in federal court after pleading guilty in December to a felony count of conspiracy to spend campaign funds for personal use. 

Hunter will have until May 29 to report to federal prison, where he will serve an 11-month term. Known for heavy partying in Washington D.C., Hunter must also undergo and alcohol and drug treatment program. In addition, after his release he will be on three years of supervised probation.

 The location where Hunter will serve his sentence has not yet been announced. Judge Thomas Whelan left open the possibility of a later start to Hunter’s imprisonment if warranted by the COVID-19 emergency.


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STABBING IN UNINCORPORATED EL CAJON

East County News Service
 
March 16, 2020 (El Cajon) – A suspect in a full-face motorcycle helmet reportedly followed a man into an apartment complex at 325 E. Bradley Ave. in unincorporated El Cajon on Sunday morning, then stabbed the victim in the chest. The suspect fled in a gold sedan, traveling east on Bradley.
 
Deputies from the Lakeside Sheriff’s substation responded to a radio call reporting the assault with a deadly weapon at 11:30 a.m.  

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DEA-LED OPERATION NETS MORE THAN 600 ARRESTS TARGETING DRUG CÁRTEL; 130 ARRESTED IN SAN DIEGO AND IMPERIAL COUNTIES

East County News Service
 
Photos via DEA: seized drugs and guns in the San Diego region
 
March 11, 2020 (San Diego) --  The U.S. Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration today announced results of Project Python, a DEA-led interagency operation targeting the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG).  The six-month investigation has resulted in over 600 cartel associates arrested nationwide and 350 indictments, as well as major seizures of drugs, guns and cash.
 
San Diego and Imperial County DEA investigations related to Project Python have resulted in the arrest of over 130 cartel associates and seizure of approximately 3,282 pounds of methamphetamine, 59 kilograms of heroin, 198 kilograms of cocaine, 44 kilograms of fentanyl, 2 kilograms of opium, over 27,000 fentanyl pills and 18 firearms. This included drugs found under children’s car seats, in tiers and under hoods, as well as a variety of guns.

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DEPUTIES HONORED BY ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE FOR POWAY SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING RESPONSE

Photo Credit: Sheriff Bill Gore's office, Lt. Ricardo Lopez
(L-R) Deputy Damek Herrera, Deputy James Santos, Sheriff Bill Gore, Deputy Jess Allensworth, Assistant Sheriff Kelly Martinez, Deputy Janet Hoxie and Deputy Joaquin Santalo
 
By Lt. Ricardo Lopez
 
March 10, 2020 (Los Angeles) -- Today, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and other agencies were honored for their response to the Chabad of Poway shooting by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) during an awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
 
"The Helene and Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate" is given by ADL to recognize law enforcement for its work in fighting hate and bigotry. It is considered one of the most prestigious awards given to the law enforcement community.
 

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SAN DIEGO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY WARNS BUSINESSES, CONSUMERS OF PRICE GOUGING LAW IN WAKE OF CORONAVIRUS

 

Spiking Prices During a State of an Emergency is a Crime

East County News Service

Photo: Cc by ND via Bing

March 10, 2020 (San Diego) – After California and San Diego County each declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 virus, The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has issued a warning to businesses and scammers not to take advantage of consumers by price gouging.

During a declared state of emergency, it is illegal for a business to increase its prices for essential goods or services by more than 10 percent, unless they can show their own costs have been increased. "The statute would theoretically apply to online retailers as well as brick and mortar—as well as individuals who might be selling on an app like Offer Up,"  says Steve Walker, communications specialist at the District Attorney's office.

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California on March 4 and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors extended its countywide state of emergency for an additional 30 days on February 19.

“We want county residents to know that we stand ready to protect their consumer rights under the law,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said. “We will strictly enforce violations related to price gouging.”


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RAMONA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO EMBEZZLING MONEY FROM ZOO

By Miriam Raftery

March 5, 2020 (Ramona) – A Ramona man who worked as a biologist at the San Diego Zoo has pleaded guilty to stealing over $236,000 from the zoo, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Diego.

Investigators found John Anderson, 49, made fake vendor invoices from 2008-2016 for third parties that then made payments to Anderson.  He was charged with theft or conversion concerning programs receiving federal funds. 


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APPEALS COURT BLOCKS RELEASE OF “BOLDER THAN MOST” RAPIST

By Miriam Raftery
 
February 27, 2020 (San Diego)—The appellate court on Monday voted to block release of Alvin Quarles, dubbed the “Bolder than most” rapist, into Jacumba Hot Springs.
 
The appellate court overturned a decision made by Superior Court  Judge David Gill to grant a conditional release to Quarles, who drew criticism for holding closed-door hearings that shut out victims and the public. 
 
A bill supported by District Attorney Summer Stephans, called the Sexually Violent Predator Act, has been introduced in the State Senate to require that hearings on release of sexual predators be held in open court, unless a judge can provide a compelling reason for secrecy.
 

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ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA ANNOUNCES MISSING PERSONS DNA BREAKTHROUGH

California Department of Justice is the first accredited state crime lab in North America to fully sequence mitochondrial DNA 
 
February 26, 2020 (Richmond, CA) --  California Attorney General Xavier Becerra yesterday announced a DNA technology advancement that will enable the California Department of Justice to increase its ability to successfully identify unknown persons. The Department is the first accredited state crime lab in North America to begin fully sequencing mitochondrial DNA, which makes it easier to test degraded evidence samples that have been subjected to harsh environmental conditions. This advancement is particularly important for being able to process DNA involving unknown human remains and help families find closure regarding loved ones who have gone missing.
 

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DA SPONSORS BILL TO KEEP SEX OFFENDER COURT HEARINGS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

East County News Service
 
February 26, 2020 (San Diego)-- San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is sponsoring SB 1023, legislation authored by Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) to require that proceedings for the civil commitment of a sexually violent predator and later hearings on a predator’s potential release be in open court and on the record, unless compelling and extraordinary circumstances justify closing the courtroom to the public. 
 
This bill would require a notice to all parties of any proposed closure at least 10 calendar days before a closed court hearing. 
 
“This important legislation supports the principles of democracy and transparency in our justice system by making sure court hearings for sexually-violent predators are open to the public,” DA Stephan said. “As District Attorney, I hear the pain from victims who’ve been terrorized by a sexual predator but are left in the dark and not able to learn pertinent information guaranteed to them by our open courts system.”

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DISTRICT ATTORNEY SEEKS TO DISMISS OR REDUCE PENALTIES FOR THOUSANDS OF MARIJUANA CONVICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: cc via Bing
 
February 26, 2020 (San Diego)—San Diego’s District Attorney has filed a motion asking a judge to dismiss 1,000 misdemeanor marijuana (cannabis) convictions and reduce 25,000 felony marijuana convictions to misdemeanors.  The office indicates it has reviewed convictions as far back as 1968.
 
The motions are pending, awaiting a judicial decision.
 
Proposition 64, which California voters approved in 2016, legalized recreational use of marijuana and gave prosecutors the ability to seek sentencing reductions for felony convictions of growing, transportation, or possessing cannabis for sale. It also allowed dismissal of misdemeanor convictions on cannabis charges. To date, the San Diego D.A. has reduced or dismissed over 1,600 marijuana convictions.
 

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ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING OF BABY AT PARKWAY PLAZA

By Miriam Raftery

February 24, 2020 (El Cajon) – A suspect is in custody after an attempted kidnapping of a one-year-old girl yesterday afternoon outside of the Parkway Plaza regional shopping mall in El Cajon.

According to witnesses, the man tried to grab the baby from her mother at 3:18 p.m.. Witnesses gave officers a description of the man, who had fled the scene.

El Cajon Police officers located a man closely matching the description nearby. Witnesses identified the detained man as the suspect.


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CHULA VISTA POLICE PROBE SLAYING OF GOOD SAMARITAN HELIX STUDENT, SEEK VIDEO

By Ken Stone
 
Photo: GoFundMe
 
Reprinted from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association
 
February 20, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Helix Charter High School student who tried to help a friend under attack nearly three weeks ago died Sunday of stab wounds, and police are looking for witnesses and potential assailants.

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WITNESSES SOUGHT TO SHOOTINGS ON I-8 AND HIGHWAY 125 IN LA MESA

East County News Service
 
February 17, 2020 (La Mesa) – California Highway Patrol seeks witnesses to two separate shootings of a motorist Saturday night. The victim was driving on I-8 east near Waring Rd. around 9:30 p.m. when the driver of an unknown vehicle behind began firing a gun.  The victim turned onto State Route 125 north and the suspect followed, firing multiple rounds and striking the victim in the arm, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Salvador Castro.
 
The suspect fled and not been found. No vehicle description has been provided. The victim drove to his home in Grantville, where someone called for help. 

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EL CAJON POLICE SHOOT UNARMED MAN IN STOLEN VEHICLE WHO REPORTEDLY TOLD OFFICERS “KILL ME, PLEASE”

 

Update February 14, 2020:  ECPC has identified the suspect who was shot as Keith Crenshaw, 21, of Arizona. The name of the officer has sitll not been  released.

By Miriam Raftery

February 12, 2020 (El Cajon) – A suspected car thief is hospitalized after being shot twice in the torso by an El Cajon Police officer this morning shortly before 9 a.m.  

According to Lt. Randy Soulard, an out-of-state law enforcement agency informed El Cajon Police Dept. that a stolen tan Kia Amanti sedan from their jurisdiction was in El Cajon.  The reported agency directed officers, who located the stolen vehicle parked in the 500 block of South Johnson.

The officers found a man asleep in the driver’s seat.  “As they planned their approach to arrest the suspect and prevent his escape, he woke up. The officers identified themselves as police officers and immediately began giving repeated commands for the suspect to show them his hands. The suspect refused to show his hands and repeatedly reached under his clothing and into his waistband,” says Lt. Soulard.

He reports that the suspect continued to ignore the officer’s commands and stated something similar to “Shoot me before I do it!” while reaching into his waistband.


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STUDENT HARASSED WHILE WALKING TO GROSSMONT HIGH SCHOOL

 

East County News Service

Image: Creative Commons via Bing

February 6, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa Police Department is investigating an incident of verbal harassment that occurred this morning at approximately 7:10 a.m. yesterday. The victim, a 16-year-old Grossmont High School student, was verbally harassed by an adult male suspect while she walked from the Amaya Trolley Station towards the school.

The student arrived safely at the school and immediately reported the incident to school staff. A crime report regarding the incident has been taken and the investigation is continuing.

The suspect is described as a black male adult, approximately 35-40 years old, medium to heavy build, with a full goatee, wearing a gray beanie style hat, black shirt, and black pants. The suspect was on foot and no vehicle was observed.


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DEA RELEASES 2019 NATIONAL DRUG THREAT ASSESSMENT: METH AND “DEADLY” FENTANYL MOST SERIOUS LOCAL PROBLEMS

Annual report outlines strategic review of threats posed by drugs and drug traffickers

Source: Drug Enforcement Agency

February 3, 2020 (San Diego) -- Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon has announced publication of the 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment, which outlines threats posed to the United States by domestic and international drug trafficking and by abuse of illicit drugs.

“This year’s report illustrates a shifting drug landscape in the United States,” said Acting Administrator Dhillon. “We’re pleased that in 2018, drug overdose deaths declined over four percent overall, with even greater decreases – over 13 percent – in overdoses from controlled prescription opioids. Many challenges remain, however, including the spread of fentanyl and methamphetamine across the country. DEA and its partners will continue to work diligently to combat the drug trafficking organizations that bring these deadly substances into our country and endanger the American people.”

“Unlike other cities, San Diego faces unique challenges by being on the U.S.-Mexico border,” said San Diego Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery. “In 2018, the DEA San Diego seized record amounts of methamphetamine and deadly fentanyl. While our battle with the Mexican drug cartels persists, our agents are more committed than ever to stemming the flow of these deadly drugs entering our community and effecting the lives of our friends and families.”


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21 ARRESTED IN DRUG BUST AT LINDO LAKES

East County News Service

File photo: Lindo Lake Park, by Miriam Raftery

January 30, 2020 (Lakeside) -- This morning deputies from the Lakeside Sheriff's Substation concluded a 10-month investigation into the sale of narcotics at Lindo Lake Park, Lakeside. Search and arrest warrants were served at multiple locations in Lakeside and El Cajon regarding the sales of methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl.

Twenty-one suspects were taken into custody facing charges in State and Federal Court ranging from narcotics offences to outstanding warrants. During the operation methamphetamine and weapons were located and confiscated.


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STATE ISSUES WARNING ON DANGEROUS VAPING PRODUCTS SEIZED FROM UNLICENSED CANNABIS SHOPS

Officials Urge Californians to Avoid Unlicensed Cannabis Retailers, as More Than 10,000 Illegal Vape Pens Seized

Source: Calif. Bureau of Cannabis Control

Image: Creative Commons

January 29, 2020 (Sacramento)-- A random sampling of the cannabis products seized from unlicensed retailers during a major enforcement operation in Los Angeles last month were found to contain undisclosed additives, some of them potentially dangerous, and significantly lower amounts of THC than claimed on the label.  Vaping pens containing ingredients linked to sudden respiratory illnesses and deaths were among those seized. 


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CARZIS CHARGED AND RELEASED: ARRAIGNMENT SET FOR FEB. 24

By Miriam Raftery

File photo: Peter Carzis addressing La Mesa City Council i 2016

January 23, 2020 (La Mesa) – The District Attorney’s office has charged Peer Carzis, 76, owner of  Peter’s Mens Apparel in La Mesa, with one count of felony vandalism and three counts of misdemeanor battery stemming from an altercation with members of the media on January 20th.  Videos posted at multiple media sights showed Carzis punching and pushing several photographers, also destroying a $7,000 camera.

An additional misdemeanor charge of committing a lewd act in public on January 18 was also issued against Carzis.A video that went viral on social media appeared to show Carzis reaching under a woman's shirt to fondle her breasts while she was straddling his lap on a sidewalk in front of his store in the La Mesa downtown village.


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MEN’S CLOTHING STORE OWNER PETER CARZIS ARRESTED AFTER ATTACKS ON NEWS PHOTOGRAPHERS AND LEWD ACT CAUGHT ON VIDEO IN LA MESA

Update January 21:  Peter Carzis was arrested this morning in San DIego for felony vandalism and misdemeanor battery on multiple reporters, Lt. Greg Runge has informed ECM,.  He is accused of destroying a camera valued at $7,000. In addition, La Mesa Police will  also be sending two reports for lewd acts in public and misdemeanor battery from a spitting incident on Saturday to the District Attorney “recommending prosecution on all charges."

Lt. Runge also confirmed that Carzis, 76, “is undergoing a medical evaluation at a local hospital prior to being cleared for booking.”  The LMPD lieutenant concluded, “I hope this will bring closure for all concerned.”

By Miriam Raftery

Photos, left, via Fox News Twitter feed and 10 News, an ECM news partner

January 20, 2020 (La Mesa) – Peter Carzis, owner of Peter’s Men’s Apparel in downtown La Mesa, is wanted for questioning by police tonight for  misdemeanor battery and felony property destruction after violently  attacking at least three news photographers today. He is also wanted by police for complaints filed over a lewd act in public caught on video Saturday and posted on Twitter, as well as for an additional battery complaint after he allegedly spit on a passerby over the weekend.

“Mr. Carzis was no longer on scene when officer went to talk to him and his whereabouts are currently unknown, so he has not been arrested. We are currently attempting to locate him so we can continue the investigation,” Lt. Greg Runge with La Mesa Police Department said in an e-mail to ECM this evening “The Investigations Division has the reports and Detectives are conducting follow up on both cases. If anyone as information regarding these cases, they are encouraged to contact us at (619)667-1400.”


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SEXUAL PREDATOR CAUGHT BY BORDER PATROL IN POTRERO

Source: U.S. Border Patrol
 
January 18, 2020 (Potrero) -- U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested five people Wednesday morning who were involved in a human smuggling event which included a man with a prior felony conviction.
 
Around 6:20 a.m., a man driving a black Nissan Sentra approached a temporary immigration checkpoint in Potrero and failed to stop at the designated inspection point. Agents stopped the vehicle several yards past the checkpoint and inspected the vehicle.

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​$10,000 REWARD OFFERED FOR INFO ON ELIJAH “BEAR” DIAZ, EL CAJON MAN MISSING SINCE 2015

By Miriam Raftery
 
January 16, 2020 (El Cajon) – Authorities yesterday announced a $10,000 reward for information to help find Elijah “Bear” Diaz, a member of the Barona Band of Mission Indians who vanished under suspicious circumstances in August 2015. 
 
He was 20 years old at the time and ill from diabetes.  “He was about to get his foot amputated. He couldn’t walk. He was in a wheelchair a few days before,” his mother, Lelanie Joe Thompson told ECM in a interview last year, adding that her son weighed only 110 pounds and could not have left on his own. She said Diaz had only two weeks of insulin left when he disappeared.

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SDPD SEEKS OWNER OF ELECTRIC BIKE RECOVERED FROM SUSPECTED THIEF

 
Officers also ask help to find the buyer of a second electric bike stolen from a man with Parkinson’s disease
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo, left:  Electric bicycle recovered by San Diego Police. The owner has not yet been identified.
 
January 15, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego Police seek help to resolve two cases involving stolen electric bicycles.  Police are looking for the owner of an electric bike (photo, left) recovered from a suspect who admitted to stealing another electric bike from a man with Parkinson’s disease in Rancho Peñasquitos and selling it at the Qualcomm swap meet on January 7th. 
 
Sergeant Matthew Botkin says he hopes media coverage will help to identify the unknown victim of the bike recovered by police and also “appeal to good nature of the person who unknowingly bought the other electric bike in hopes they will do the right thing and return it.”

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PAIR WANTED FOR ROBBING CITI BANK IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery
 
January 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seeks public help to locate two men responsible for robbing the Citi Bank at 402 Fletcher Parkway in El Cajon on December 27th at 1:20 p.m.
 
According to special agent Davene Butler, one of the men approached a teller and made a verbal demand for money.  He was described as white, in his late 40s to 50s, approximately 5'9” tall, slender build, with dark (possibly dyed) hair and a dark handlebar mustache. This robber was wearing reading glasses, a camouflaged colored baseball cap, a long sleeve blue shirt with a short sleeve red shirt over top, and boots. 
 
The second robber stayed in the lobby of the bank.  Witnesses described the second man as a Caucasian male, in his late 30s, approximately 5'10"tall, with a slender build and was wearing a navy blue baseball cap with a San Diego Chargers logo, a dark colored zip-up jacket, jeans, and sunglasses.

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U.S. BANK ROBBED IN FLETCHER HILLS

By Miriam Raftery

January 13, 2019 (El Cajon) – The U.S. Bank located at 2755 Navajo Road in El Cajon’s Fletcher Hills neighborhood was robbed today at 3:13 p.m. The suspect is described as a white man in his 30s with numerous acne scars on his face, unshaven with a full mustache.  He is approximately 6 ft. 1 inch tall and weighs about 180 pounds. He was wearing a gray long-sleeved shirt, baggy blue jeans and a dark gray hat with mesh on the back.

According to El Cajon Police Lieutenant J. Larson, the suspect walked up to a teller and stated, “This is a robbery, give me all your large bills.”  No weapon was seen.

The teller provided money to the suspect, who fled on foot. He was last seen running south on Fletcher Parkway near the intersection at Navajo Road and Fletcher Parkway.

“The FBI responded to the scene and will be working with the El Cajon Police Department during this investigation,” says Lt. Larson.


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DEPUTIES SHOOT REPORTEDLY SUICIDAL SUSPECT IN LEMON GROVE

By Miriam Raftery

January 6, 2019 (Lemon Grove)—A man reported by a family member to be threatening suicide at a home in Lemon Grove was shot by multiple Sheriff’s deputies on January 6th.  The shootings occurred after the man removed a revolver from inside his jacket, according to Lt. Michael Blevins, who indicated that the man did not fire the weapon.

Shane Felix, 34, was treated at the scene by deputies for gunshot injuries until paramedics arrived. He was transported to a hospital and underwent successful surgery; he is expected to survive, according to Blevins.

CBS 8 reports that Felix had a prior conviction for arson and is expected to be arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and for being a felon in possession of a firearm, once he is medically cleared.


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CHP SEEKS MAN ACCUSED OF CAUSING WRECK THAT KILLED WOMAN, INJURED TWO OFFICERS

By Miriam Raftery

January 8, 2020 (San Diego) – The California Highway Patrol warns that a suspect accused of killing a woman in an accident near Temecula, then fleeing the scene and later escaping from law enforcement may be in the San Diego area. Antone Wayne Bayard, 23, of Anza is also accused of injuring two CHP officers during his escape.

On Twitter, the CHP posted, “Bayard is believed to be in the Temecula/San Diego area with plans to flee to Mexico.”


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LA MESA POLICE SEEK WITNESSES TO CRASH NEAR GROSSMONT CENTER: INJURED PEDESTRIAN UNIDENTIFIED; DRIVER ARRESTED

By Miriam Raftery

January 7, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police seek witnesses to a serious injury accident that occurred at 6:16 p.m. at the intersection of Grossmont Center Drive and Center Drive.  Police also seek the identity of the victim, a white male pedestrian in his 50s who was struck while crossing the street by a 2004 Nissan SUV.

The victim suffered a compound fracture to his lower right leg and a fractured left hip, according to Lt. Brian Stoney. “Unfortunately he did not have any identification on him and we have not been able to positively identify him at this time,” he said.


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100 MPH CHASE ENDS IN CRASH, ARREST IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service
 
January 6, 2020 (Spring Valley) – A driver pulled over for an equipment violation in Chula Vista at 3:45 a.m. fled from officers, resulting in a pursuit at speeds of approximately 100 miles per hour on State Route 125 
 
The drive exited at Jamacha Road in Spring Valley, where he lost control of the vehicle, which rolled over and struck a power pole, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
 
The driver, 42, suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital for evaluation.  He was arrested for felony evasion and for two outstanding felony warrants.

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LAWSUITS NAME DECEASED EAST COUNTY PRIESTS AS ALLEGED CHILD ABUSERS

By Miriam Raftery
 
January 6, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Multiple lawsuits filed against the Catholic Diocese of San Diego and many local parishes allege past childhood sexual abuse by several local priests, including at least three who served in East County.
 
The litigation was filed on behalf of alleged victims previously unable to sue due to the statue of limitations, but a new law, AB 218, allows victims of child sexual abuse to file a suit up to age 40; the previous limit was age 26. Victims have three years from January 1st of this year to take legal action.
 
The alleged abuse occurred in the 1960s and 1970s.  All of the accused priests have since died.  According to Irwin Zalkin, attorney for the plaintiffs, the diocese routinely moved priests accused of abuse, often to desert communities where “they thought that the people there – mostly Hispanic – would not speak up.”  

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