VENTURA, CA - District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that following review by the conviction integrity unit, his office has agreed that Michael Ray Hanline be released from prison.

On November 10, 1978, J. T. McGarry, aka Mike Mathers, disappeared from his home in Ventura. Two days later, his body was found off Highway 33. Hanline was convicted by a jury of first degree murder with the special circumstance that the crime was committed in the course of a burglary. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Investigations conducted by the District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit and Bureau of Investigation, and by the California Innocence Project, have found new evidence that casts doubt upon the correctness of the jury’s verdict. At the initiative of the District Attorney’s Office, DNA analysis was conducted on evidence collected at the crime scene. In addition, the District Attorney’s Office concluded that certain reports would have been helpful to the defense and should have been disclosed to defense counsel at the time of trial.

On November 13, 2014, the District Attorney filed the attached response to a petition for writ of habeas corpus. In response, the Superior Court, County of Ventura, issued a writ of habeas corpus setting aside the conviction and sentence. The matter is now scheduled November 24, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 13, to set the case for retrial and establish bail.

As the United States Supreme Court recognized in Berger v. United States, the twofold aim of the prosecutor “is that guilt shall not escape nor innocence suffer.” To that end, the District Attorney established a conviction integrity process in 2012 to review claims of factual innocence. At the present time, the conviction integrity process has not concluded that Hanline is factually innocent. But flaws in the trial and the totality of the evidence cast sufficient doubt upon the conviction to warrant vacating the jury’s guilty verdict. The District Attorney will continue to evaluate the evidence to determine how to proceed.

 


 

VENTURA, CA - District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that for the fourth consecutive year, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office was awarded a grant for “The Vertical Prosecution of Drug and Alcohol DUI Offenders and Repeat Offenders.” This grant totaling $360,065 funds the Drug and Alcohol DUI (Driving Under the Influence) Vertical Prosecution Team, comprised of two full-time deputy district attorneys devoted solely to drug and alcohol DUI prevention and prosecution.

The Drug and Alcohol DUI Vertical Prosecution Team is designed to aggressively prosecute impaired drivers within Ventura County, while simultaneously raising public awareness of the fatal consequences caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs, both illegal and prescription. Driving under the influence laws prohibit driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more. In addition, whether or not the evidence establishes a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent, it is a crime to drive while impaired by alcohol, or a drug, or the combined influence of both, when the drivers’ mental or physical abilities are so impaired they can no longer drive with the caution of a sober person. Being legally entitled to use a drug such as a prescription is not a defense. In California, 23 percent of drivers in fatal crashes have tested positive for drug involvement. In 2012 there were 19 deaths and 519 serious injuries as a result of DUI crashes in Ventura County.

The team will review, file, prosecute, and litigate DUI cases from beginning to end. These cases range from misdemeanor DUI to felony DUI, vehicular homicide, and second-degree murder. The team targets repeat offenders and those in violation of probation, and works hand in hand with local law enforcement to apprehend defendants who have failed to appear in court. Prosecution team members will also work with the State’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Program to expand knowledge and resources in the office by obtaining and delivering specialized training, including training in the emerging problem of drug-impaired driving. Team members will share information with peers and law enforcement personnel throughout the county and across the state.

The District Attorney’s Office is committed to seeking restitution for the victims of DUI, including agencies that provide law enforcement and emergency personnel in response to traffic collisions. Funding for the program comes from a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 


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

On November 8, 2014, detectives assigned to the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau, assisted by Parole and Probation Officers, conducted compliance checks at the residences of registered sex offenders in the county areas of Oxnard, Camarillo, Ventura, Ojai, Fillmore, Thousand Oaks, and Newbury Park. The compliance checks were part of the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) grant.

Twenty Five of the thirty three registered sex offenders were in compliance with their registration requirement. Eight of the registrants were not contacted because they were not home or had moved. Sheriff’s detectives will follow-up to determine if the registrants are out-of-compliance.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting similar sweeps on an ongoing basis, to verify registered sex offenders are living at their reported residences and in compliance with any probation or parole terms.

Residents of Ventura County can visit the Megan’s Law website (www.meganslaw.ca.gov) to familiarize themselves with the sex registrants in their community.

Nature of Incident: Sex Registrant Compliance Sweep
Report Number: N/A
Location: Unincorporated Areas of Ventura County
Date & Time: November 8, 2014
Unit(s) Responsible: Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau
California Department of Corrections Parole
Ventura County Probation Department
Prepared by: Sergeant Ryan Clark
Media Release Date: November 12, 2014
Follow-Up Contact: Investigator Jim Botting / 805-384-4743
Jim.botting@ventura.org
Approved by: Captain Chris Dunn

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).

 

Click here for Attractions Spa website


 

LOS ANGELES – A Van Nuys man was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment for laundering over $860,000 in funds that were the proceeds of a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.

Karen Aharonian, 37, formerly of Glendale, received the sentence late this afternoon from United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson.

According to documents filed with the court, Aharonian pleaded guilty in July to count four of a seven-count indictment charging him with laundering the proceeds of a scheme to defraud the IRS through the submission of false and fraudulent tax returns. Specifically, Aharonian admitted to cashing 34 third-party checks on September 5, 2012 totaling $184,330. All these checks were funded by fraudulently obtained income tax refunds that were direct deposited into bank accounts.

The 34 third-party checks cashed by Aharonian were signed, but otherwise blank when brought to the check cashing business. The check cashing business was owned by an unidentified husband and wife team who have also been charged with money laundering. The amounts the checks would be made payable for were provided to the check casher by Aharonian, in the form of post-it notes.

Aharonian admitted to laundering funds in the amount of $860,695.76 between August 2010 and October 2012, a period of a little over two years. According to documents filed with the court, ‘the amount is particularly large in light of the fact that defendant was incarcerated for over a year of that time frame.’ In 2011, Aharonian was convicted of a conspiracy to commit racketeering and was sentenced to 15 months federal custody. He was incarcerated on that charge from October 2010 to November 2011.

The investigation and prosecution of Aharonian was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the United States Secret Service.

 

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Camarillo resident Chadi Almoghrabi (DOB 7/8/75) pled guilty to one felony count of perjury related to the attempted theft of winnings from the California State Lottery. This case was the result of a joint investigation by the District Attorney’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit and the California State Lottery Law Enforcement Division.

On June 8, 2014, investigators from the District Attorney’s Office and the California State Lottery Law Enforcement Division conducted sting operations at more than 20 lottery retailers throughout Ventura County. The investigators acted in an undercover capacity and were given pre-marked lottery scratcher tickets showing a winning value of $20,000. Investigators entered each location and turned the pre-marked tickets into the retailer. The retailer is required to provide instructions on how and where to file a claim with the California State Lottery.

During one of the undercover operations, Almoghrabi was working as a cashier at Cig Store #15 Camarillo Smoke Shop. Almoghrabi accepted one of the pre-marked $20,000 winning lottery scratcher tickets from an undercover investigator. Almoghrabi verified the ticket as a winner by accessing the California Lottery computer system but failed to disclose this information to the investigator. Instead, Almoghrabi gave the undercover officer $20 in cash and kept the ticket for himself. Approximately three weeks later, Almoghrabi entered a California State Lottery Office in Van Nuys and filed a claim for the same pre-marked winning ticket representing it as his own.

Almoghrabi is scheduled to be sentenced on December 3, 2014, in courtroom 12.

 
Santa Paula Police Department
Santa Paula Police Department

Suspect Description:
White male, shaved head, cross tattoo on cheek with multiple tattoos on head, wearing all black clothing with motorcycle style gloves.
Black male, dark complexion, short hair, unknown tattoos on neck, wearing black clothing with motorcycle style gloves.
Vehicle Description:
Black van, unknown make or model

On Monday, November 3rd the Santa Paula Police Department was made aware of a reported kidnap / sexual assault that occurred. It was reported a female juvenile victim was walking to school when she was approached by the above described suspects. The suspects then kidnapped the victim and drove away in a black van. Over the next several hours the victim was sexually assaulted several times before being released in the City of Santa Paula.

The SPPD would like to offer the following tips to keep your children safer: Stick with your friends, tell a friend where you are going, avoid secluded places, avoid poorly lit areas, always charge your cell phone and keep it on you, trust your gut feelings, if you feel you are in a dangerous situation, or that you are being pressured, you’re probably right, and you need to respond.

This flyer is for informational purposes only. If you have any information regarding this case please contact Detective Mike Hoppin at (805) 525-4474 x 287 or at mhoppin@spcity.org.

 

VENTURA, California - District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that a jury convicted Jose Guzman Ochoa (DOB 9/5/83), of Oxnard, of first-degree murder and found true the special circumstances that the murder was committed during the course of a burglary and attempted robbery. The jury also convicted Ochoa of two counts of forcible oral copulation, with further findings that Ochoa committed the offenses during the commission of a burglary, during the course of a kidnapping, and that he personally used a deadly or dangerous weapon. The jury convicted Ochoa of six additional felony counts, including robbery, attempted robbery, burglary, and false imprisonment by violence. As to all counts, the jury found true the special allegation that Ochoa personally used a firearm.

Sentencing for Ochoa is scheduled for December 4, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 44 of the Ventura Superior Court, County of Ventura. Ochoa faces a maximum sentence of life without parole with an additional sentence of 85 years to life in prison.

 

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Maximo Tamayo-Flores (DOB 4/15/51), of Oxnard, was found guilty by a jury of first-degree murder in the October 9, 2009, killing of Ramon Quintero along the coastal area north of Solimar Beach. The jury also found Tamayo-Flores was engaged in the commission of a robbery and personally discharged a firearm causing the death of Mr. Quintero.

In addition, Tamayo-Flores was found guilty of kidnapping and criminal threats of a second victim, while personally using a firearm. The jury also found Tamayo-Flores guilty of evading police officers and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Sentencing for Tamayo-Flores has been scheduled for December 4, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 26 of the Ventura Superior Court, County of Ventura.

 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued a consumer alert to Californians regarding a recent scam involving fake newspaper subscription mailings. Individuals throughout California have recently received deceptive mailings that claim to be bills, invoices or renewal notices for newspaper subscriptions. The mailings may appear to be legitimate renewal notices from a local newspaper, but they are most likely a scam and should be ignored and reported. Seniors should be especially wary, as they are frequently targeted by scams of this nature.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
The deceptive notices may contain the following information:
• The words “Notice of Renewal,” or “New Order”;
• A company name that has words such as “Publishers,” “Billing,” “Services,” “Payment,” or “Circulation” in its name;
• A official-looking “Control Number”;
• Statements encouraging consumers to lock in their “low rates”;
• Small print on the back of the invoices stating that they come from someone other than the publisher;
• A self-addressed, postage unpaid envelope bearing a Post Office box or other mailing address that is located in a different state than the publisher;
• The notices offer renewals and new subscriptions at highly inflated prices —in some cases nearly twice the actual renewal cost;
• Subscribers have reported receiving these deceptive notices outside their regular billing periods, and sometimes after they have already renewed their subscriptions.
WHAT TO DO:
• If you receive a suspicious subscription notice, do not pay it. Consider canceling the order if you believe you may have already paid a suspicious renewal notice.
• If you have a question about whether your subscription is expiring or needs to be renewed you should contact your newspaper publisher directly. Contact information is generally available in your newspaper, and on the newspaper’s official web site.
• Consumers who receive a deceptive renewal notice should file a complaint with their newspaper. They can also file a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at http://ehome.uspis.gov/fcsexternal/default.aspx and with the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.
• California consumers can also file a complaint with the California Attorney General’s Office at: https://oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-compan.... Be sure to attach a copy of the deceptive notice to your complaint.

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

There will be a Life Celebration Service and Eulogy for Deputy Eugene Kostiuchenko at:

Calvary Community Church
5495 Via Rocas
Westlake Village, CA 91362

Immediately following the Eulogy, there will be a Burial Ceremony at:

Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks
5600 Lindero Canyon Road
Westlake Village, CA 91362

Funeral services are open to the public.

Nature of Incident: Funeral Arrangements for Deputy Eugene Kostiuchenko
Location: Westlake Village, CA
Date & Time: Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 1:00 pm
Unit(s) Responsible: Sheriff’s Administration
Prepared by: Sergeant Denise Sliva
Media Release Date: October 30, 2014
Follow-Up Contact: Sergeant Denise Sliva
(805) 947-9258
Denise.sliva@ventura.org
Approved by: Captain Don Aguilar

 
Santa Paula Police Department
Santa Paula Police Department

Over the past two days officers from the Santa Paula Police Department have conducted PROS / Sexual Assault compliance checks. After the last two days a total of 12 residences were searched resulting in 6 arrests. The charges ranged from possession of child pornography to narcotics violations. Out of the six arrests, 4 of the subjects are documented gang members. The list of the subjects and their charges are listed below:

David Sellers, age 66, felony warrant for possession of obscene material
Nathaniel Chavez, age 38, possession of methamphetamine and possession of a methamphetamine pipe
Anthony Duenas, age 34, felony warrant for failure to appear, misdemeanor warrant for violation of probation, and possession of a methamphetamine pipe
Richard Duenas, age 34, under the influence of a controlled substance
Victor Sanchez, age 43, possession of heroin and possessionof a syringe
Lisa Mata, age 47, possession of a syringe

Nature of Incident: PROS / Sexual Assault Compliance Checks
Report Number(s): SG1401868
Location(s): City of Santa Paula
Dates & Times: October 28th and 29th, 2014
Unit Responsible: Investigations
Officer Preparing Press Release: Sgt. Cody Madison #1018
Press Release Date: October 29, 2014
Follow-Up Contact: Watch Commander
Approved by: Commander Ismael Cordero #1038

 

VENTURA, CA - District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Kevin Hogrefe (DOB 7/13/89), of Camarillo, has been charged with the murder of Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputy Eugene Kostiuchenko as a result of striking the deputy with his vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol during the early morning hours of October 28, 2014. Hogrefe is also charged with felony hit and run as a result of fleeing the scene following the collision. Hogrefe remains in custody with bail set at $150,000. Arraignment is scheduled for today, October 30, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. in courtroom 13 of the Ventura Superior Court, County of Ventura.

Based upon the gravity of the charges, the District Attorney will seek a bail increase to $500,000, the bail schedule amount for murder.

 

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that on October 16, 2014, Superior Court Judge Kent Kellegrew sentenced Laura Leesha Means (DOB 12/31/54) of Pismo Beach, California, to 15 years 8 months in prison. Means was previously convicted by jury of 17 felony counts, including grand theft, money laundering, and filing a false tax return with intent to evade paying taxes. Means then pled no contest to the 13 remaining felony counts and enhancements to which the jury could not reach verdicts, including the aggravated white collar crime enhancement.

Means, a retired deputy sheriff, obtained a real estate sales license and worked as an agent for Troop Real Estate in Camarillo. In 2006, Means purchased a six-acre vacant parcel of land in Camarillo. Means made numerous false statements on the loan application to acquire the property. She then began marketing multiple one-acre lots for sale even though the property was not legally subdivided until July 2008.

Means convinced two buyers to release their purchase funds from escrow early so she could use their money solely to make improvements at the property. In September 2007, after receiving $285,000 from one victim, Means immediately used the funds to pay personal expenditures such as her mortgage on her residence, a kitchen remodel, and her credit card bills. Means failed to report this money as income to the State Franchise Tax Board.

In September 2008, Means obtained an additional $285,000 in cash from a second victim for the purpose of developing the property. Means embezzled approximately one-half of this second victim’s proceeds and used the money to pay her personal bills. Means also failed to report this cash as income to the State Franchise Tax Board in 2008.

This case was the result of a joint investigation by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, the California Bureau of Real Estate and Franchise Tax Board.

In addition to the prison sentence, Means was ordered to pay restitution and fines in the following amounts: $912,479 in restitution to victims; $155,692 in restitution to the Franchise Tax Board; and a mandatory fine of $1,140,000. As result of her conviction, Means’ real estate license was ordered indefinitely suspended by the California Bureau of Real Estate

The District Attorney’s Office filed a petition for a temporary restraining order to preserve approximately $80,000 currently under Means’ control for purposes of securing victim restitution. Further proceedings concerning the disposition of these funds are scheduled for November 20, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 43 of the Ventura County Superior Court.

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

Today, at approximately 11:10 am, a Toyota sedan was driven through the front window of Wells Fargo Bank on North Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks. For unknown reasons, as the vehicle was being parked into a marked parking space, it continued forward out of the parking space, over a sidewalk and planter and through the bank’s window. The vehicle continued moving forward inside the bank and came to rest after striking a table and an unoccupied desk.

Neither the driver, nor anyone else was injured in the incident. A large floor to roof window was shattered. Furniture inside the bank and the vehicle’s windshield was also damaged.

The collision is under investigation by the Thousand Oaks Police Department’s Traffic Bureau. Anyone who may have witnessed the incident is asked to call (805) 494-8271.

Nature of Incident: Vehicle into a Business
Report Number: 14-23574
Location: Wells Fargo Bank, 1596 N. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks, CA
Date & Time: 10-15-14, 11:10 am
Unit Responsible: Thousand Oaks Police Department Traffic Bureau
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (P)arty, (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
Carmen Magpie Gomez Thousand Oaks 76
Prepared by: Sergeant Brad Clifton
Media Release Date: 10-15-14
Follow-Up Contact: Deputy Marco Hinahon (805) 494-8271
Approved by: Captain Jim Fryhoff

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

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue, the Sheriff’s Air Unit, and Ojai Station Patrol Deputies responded to a lost eighty-three year old hiker in the Ventura Riverbed Preserve in Meiner’s Oaks. The subject was located in good health and reunited with her family.

On October 14, 2014, at about 6:30 pm, Olga Avila of Meiners Oaks went to walk her dog on the Oso Trailhead in the Ventura Riverbed Preserve. At about 7:30 pm, Ms. Avila telephoned her daughter stating she was disorientated, that it was getting dark and she could not find her way home. The Ventura County Sheriff’s 911 dispatch center was contacted and initiated a patrol response. At about 7:45 pm deputies arrived on scene at the trailhead and began a search for Ms. Avila.

With family members on scene, deputies were able to establish telephone contact with Ms. Avila and ensure she was in good health. However, she could not be easily located even with the land marks and clues given by Ms. Avila over the phone. The search operation expanded to include members of the Upper Ojai Search & Rescue Team. These highly trained professional searchers began deploying to possible trails and locations where Ms. Avila was believed to be located.

At about 10:00 pm, the search effort for Ms. Avila expanded once again with the inclusion of the Sheriff’s Air Unit and a ranger from the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy. At about 10:30 pm, This coordinated effort led to the discovery of Ms. Avila’s dog who had strayed away from her side. Once her dog was located, Ms. Avila was then located by the Sheriff’s Air Unit a moderate distance away in the river bottom. Ms. Avila was found in good health and was assisted out of the river bottom by members of search & rescue, and the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy Ranger.

With the change of the seasons, the days are starting to shorten. If you decide to enjoy a late afternoon hike it is always a good practice to have a small flashlight on hand should you find yourself out past dark unexpectedly. Always let someone know where you are hiking, and what time you expect to return. Lastly, it is also a good practice to be prepared with some essentials like water, snacks, sunscreen, etc. An example of outdoor essentials for hiking can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scout_Outdoor_Essentials .

Nature of Incident: Missing hiker rescued by Sheriff’s Search & Rescue.
Report Number: 14-0023542
Location: Oso Trailhead, Ventura Riverbed Preserve, Meiners Oaks CA
Date & Time: 10/14/2014 @ 7:50 PM
Unit(s) Responsible: Ojai Patrol Station, Ventura County Sheriff Search & Rescue / Air Unit
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (P)arty, (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
Olga Avila, Meiner’s Oaks, 83
Prepared by: Sgt. Donoghue #2735
Media Release Date: 10/15/2014
Follow-Up Contact: Sgt. Rick Harwood, Ojai Patrol Station, (805) 646-1414
Approved by: Captain Dave Kenney #2612

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, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Silvano Duran (DOB 2/13/86), of Santa Paula, pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of failure to care for animals. He was then sentenced by Superior Court Judge Donald Coleman to 30 days in the work release program, and 36 months of probation. Duran was ordered to pay restitution, and not to own or possess any animals while on probation.
This case stems from an incident on March 11, 2014, when the Santa Paula Police Department responded to a call of several dogs fighting. When officers arrived, they observed 17 dogs covered in blood with extensive injuries. At least seven of the dogs were fighting each other. Officers immediately seized the 17 dogs and transferred them to the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center (SPARC). The dogs were medically treated and housed at SPARC. The dogs are currently awaiting adoption through SPARC.

 

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a $28.4 million settlement with Aaron’s, Inc., the second largest rent-to-own business in the nation, to resolve allegations that the company violated California consumer protection and privacy laws.

“Aaron’s concealed its illegal privacy and business practices from customers in a deceptive attempt to avoid California’s robust consumer protection laws and increase its profits,” Attorney General Harris said. “This settlement provides millions of dollars in restitution to consumers and requires Aaron’s to make significant changes to its business practices.”

The settlement requires Aaron’s to refund $25 million to California customers who signed lease agreements between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2014 and to pay $3.4 million in civil penalties and fees.
Approximately 100,000 California customers will be eligible for restitution.

The complaint alleges CONTINUED »

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

Headquarters Station patrol deputies detained a subject fleeing the scene where a nearby brush fire started in an unincorporated area east of the city of Ventura. After further investigation, the subject was arrested for arson and prowling.

At about 1:15 p.m. a brush fire was reported in the hills north in Harmon Canyon about one mile north of Foothill Rd. Deputies quickly arrived on scene and received information from a citizen in the area of a subject near the origin of the brush fire. Deputies observed a subject, later identified as Garrett Smith, running from the area of the fire. They detained Smith in the 7500 block of Foothill Rd. and pursued an investigation as a possible arson.

A Ventura County Fire Department Arson Investigator assisted deputies with the arson investigation. Smith was subsequently arrested for arson and prowling. He was booked into the Pre-Trial Detention Facility with bail set at $60,000.

The Ventura County Fire Department reported the brush fire burned less than 50 acres and about 150 firefighters fought the blaze. Other agencies responding to the fire included Ventura City Fire Department, CAL FIRE, Los Angeles County Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service, Ventura Police Department, and California Highway Patrol. Firefighters worked overnight and continue mop-up work as of late Tuesday morning.

Nature of Incident: Suspect Arrested for Arson Related to “Foothill” Brush Fire
Report Number: 14-22329
Location: 7500 block of Foothill Rd., Ventura
Date & Time: 9/29/14 1:50 p.m.
Unit(s) Responsible: Headquarters Station Patrol
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (P)arty (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
(S) Smith, Garrett Oxnard 24
Prepared by: Captain Don Aguilar
Media Release Date: September 30, 2014
Follow-Up Contact: Captain Don Aguilar (805) 797-7349
don.aguilar@ventura.org
Approved by: Captain Patti Salas

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, California — District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that on September 19, 2014, Cimitrio Ambriz Cervantes (DOB 05/05/68) of Mission Hills was sentenced to serve 365 days in jail for felony trafficking in food stamp benefits. Cervantes was arrested in a multi-agency crackdown on store owners who pay cash to recipients of government food assistance benefits. This case was the result of a joint investigation by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General, and the United States Secret Service.

CalFresh and the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provide nutrition assistance benefits to eligible, low-income individuals and families. It is illegal for a store owner to redeem these food assistance benefits for cash. Cervantes is the owner of Victor’s Market a.k.a. La Victoria Market in Fillmore. Between January 24, 2012, and May 8, 2014, Cervantes illegally received $75,557 in EBT benefits while working at his market.

Cervantes paid full restitution of $75,557 prior to his sentencing. He was placed on three years of felony probation and banned for life from participating in the SNAP and CalFresh programs. His brother, Fernando Ambriz Cervantes (DOB 6/26/66), was previously convicted of a misdemeanor for trafficking in food stamps while working at the same market.

 
July – August 2014 Edition
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

A message from Detective Ray Dominguez:
Farm Watch readers, a review of recent crime/incident reports reveal we are experiencing a number of burglaries at locations spread out across the unincorporated areas of the county including the Oxnard Plains, Somis, and Santa Paula/Fillmore. The burglars are targeting storage barns and conex storage containers. The crooks are stealing gardening equipment including chainsaws, leaf blowers, “weed-whackers,” and other power equipment. During the commission of the burglaries, the suspects are also stealing farm vehicles that are being used to transport the stolen equipment. The stolen vehicles are then used in subsequent burglaries and later dumped when a different vehicle is stolen at the secondary location.

I have found that victims reporting these burglaries are routinely leaving the vehicle keys in the ignition. This is a bad practice that simply makes it easier for the crooks to steal your vehicle!

Please don’t leave the keys to your trucks, tractors, UTV’s, ATV’s and other equipment in the ignition. Make sure that your vehicles are stored in a secure manner and the keys to the vehicles and equipment are stored apart. Bring vehicles into secure areas overnight and avoid leaving them in farm fields or other unsecure areas. Vehicles that are left in plain sight attract vandals and thieves looking to damage or steal your property. If vehicles or other equipment are being stored over an extended period of time, you may want to consider disconnecting power supplies, removing car batteries or installing kill-switches. If storing trailers or other portable equipment, you may consider removing the tires or placing a parking “wheel boot” type of theft deterrent device on it. There are plenty of vendors on the internet marketing these devices for various applications.

With regard to CONTINUED »