Tag Archives: Santa Ana News

Orange County: Distracted Freeway Driver Convicted

Motorist killed as distracted driver crashes at 85 mph into car stopped in traffic

Photo Courtesy: OCDA Jorene Ypanto Nicolas

Photo Courtesy: OCDA
Jorene Ypanto Nicolas

Staff Reports

Santa Ana – On Thurs., Aug. 13, an inattentive driver was convicted of killing a motorist by crashing into the victim’s car at approximately 85 mph after failing to notice that traffic had come to a stop.

Jorene Ypanto Nicolas, 32, of San Diego, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. On Apr. 16, 2014, a previous jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict in this case finding 11 to one in favor of guilt, and the trial resulted in a mistrial.

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, on Apr. 27, 2011, at approximately 11 a.m., Nicolas was speeding while traveling northbound on Interstate 405 near Edwards Street in a Toyota Prius. She became distracted and inattentive while driving and failed to notice that the traffic ahead had come to a complete stop.

Nicolas was driving at approximately 85 mph and failed to brake or slow when she slammed into the back of a Hyundai sedan, which was just starting to move after being at a full stop in traffic, driven by Deanna Mauer, 23. Mauer’s sedan was pushed into the car in front of her and then traveled and struck the center divider before coming to a stop facing southbound in the northbound lanes.

After crashing into the victim’s car, Nicolas lost control of her own vehicle and also crashed into the center divider. Nicolas was transported to the hospital and treated for minor lacerations.

The victim, who had been wearing her seatbelt, was transported to University of California, Irvine Medical Center. She was pronounced dead that day as a result of brain death.

Nicolas faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison at her sentencing on Sept. 4, at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.




Arrest In 2008 OC Cold Case

Man arraigned for entering home and sexually assaulting sleeping child.

(Photo Courtesy:  Santa Ana Police Department) Cold Case Suspect, Dustin Lee Morgan

(Photo Courtesy: Santa Ana Police Department)
Cold Case Suspect, Dustin Lee Morgan

Staff Reports

Santa Ana – A man was arraigned at the Central Jail in Santa Ana on Mon., Apr. 13, for entering the home of a girl under 10 years old and sexually assaulting her while she was asleep in her bed.

Dustin Lee Morgan, 36, of Texarkana, Texas, is charged with one felony count of performing lewd acts upon a child under 14, one felony count of sexual penetration of a child under 10, and a sentencing enhancement allegation for performing lewd acts on a child under 14 during the commission of a burglary. If convicted, Morgan faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison.
At approximately 5 a.m. on Feb. 8, 2008, the Morgan is accused of breaking into the Santa Ana home of Jane Doe, who was under the age of 10 at that time. The defendant is accused of walking into Jane Doe’s bedroom while she was sleeping. The defendant is accused of pushing the victim’s face down after she woke up and covering her mouth to prevent her from making any noise while sexually assaulting her.

Morgan is accused of fleeing the residence through a sliding glass door from the victim’s bedroom to the balcony after the victim screamed. Jane Doe’s family members contacted the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) that night, and SAPD began investigating this case.
In Feb. 2015, SAPD’s Family Crimes Unit conducted an additional DNA analysis of evidence recovered from the 2008 crime scene, and linked Morgan to the crime. On Mar. 26, Morgan was arrested by the United States Marshall Service in Texarkana, Texas. He was extradited back to Orange County on Mar. 31.


Gang Homicide In Santa Ana

Staff Reports


Santa Ana – On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at midnight, patrol officers were dispatched to a call of shots fired in the area of Sullivan Street. Witnesses informed officers they had heard approximately 4 to 5 shots fired. While at the call, officers learned that a 17-year old male – later identified as Angel Arellano – arrived with multiple gunshot wounds at Coastal Community Hospital. Arellano was immediately transported to Western Medical Center in critical condition, where he died from his injuries. Officers located the crime scene in the 500 block of S. Sullivan Street.

Victim Arellano – a documented Townsend Street gang member – was one of the individuals the Orange County District Attorney’s Office was seeking to enjoin the current Townsend Street Injunction.

According to an article written on the VoiceofOC.org (Aug. 20), the Injunction is essentially a restraining order that would restrict the activities of a gang’s members in a .39-square mile safety zone bordered by McFadden Avenue, and Raitt, Sullivan and First streets. Those enjoined would be prohibited from associating with gang members in public spaces within the safety zone, with the exception of certain spaces such as schools or churches. The order also prohibits gang members from acting as lookouts, trespassing, fighting, blocking free passage, or intimidating anyone in public. This shooting occurred within the gang injunction safety zone.

It is reported that residents in Santa Ana are frustrated with what they call police mistreatment and abuse of authority in the Townsend Street neighborhood. In fact, victim Arellano was contesting the injunction. A pretrial hearing is currently set for Jan. 13, 2015 on the case.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call SAPD Homicide detectives at (714) 245-8390 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS. The Santa Ana Police Department is offering a monetary reward for information leading to the arrest of gang homicide or felony gang assault suspects.

Santa Ana: Halloween Hit And Run Kills 3 OC Girls



Photo Caption: The Perez twins and Andrea Gonzales (Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

Santa Ana – On Halloween evening, when most youngsters look forward to costumes, candy and fun, real terror struck when three 13-year old girls were killed crossing the street while trick-or-treating.

On Fri., Oct. 31, at about 6:45 p.m. in the 1400 block of E. Fairhaven Avenue, twins Lexi and Lexandra Perez, and their friend, Andrea Gonzales, were walking in a crosswalk when a Honda CRV struck and killed them, and fled the scene.

Captain Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department stated, “Witnesses say the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed. I didn’t see any skid marks, so it doesn’t appear they slowed down whatsoever. They left these three young women laying in the street, and left without calling, without stopping, without rendering aid. It’s hard to even fathom doing that.”

It is reported that a witness followed the Honda to a strip mall not far from the crime scene and watched a male driver and passengers once again flee the scene.

On Sun., Nov. 2 the Santa Ana Police Department issued a news release stating that multiple arrests had been made in connection to these hit and run deaths. Allegedly at fault, is Jaquinn Ramone Bell, 31, who was found at a Motel 6 in the City of Stanton. Bell – who reportedly has a criminal history dating back to 2009 – was charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving on a suspended license, and fleeing the scene of a crime. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 16, and faces a maximum sentence of 17 years if convicted.

It is reported that Bell had two children with him when he struck the girls in the crosswalk, and then abandoned his vehicle. Other members of Bell’s family were also arrested and then released on Nov. 2.

Orange County: Newport Beach Man Sentenced For $16 Million Fraud


Santa Ana – On Fri., Oct. 17, Dinesh Valjeebhai Shah, 65, of Newport Beach, was sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiring to commit real estate fraud, including 13 felony counts of forgery, five counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, identity theft, and grand theft.

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Shah and family members, recruited friends and family to become pretend, or “straw buyers,” by forging loan applications with false information in order to procure loans on a number of properties in Orange County, to the tune of more than $16 million.

Through the falsification of deeds and loan documents from 2006 to 2009, funding for 15 properties – all approved by Washington Mutual Bank – was obtained, with those straw buyers never planning on controlling the properties.

The Shah’s businesses, New Age Realty, First Property Escrow, City First Realty, and Associates Investments Group, located in Tustin, came under scrutiny following a complaint by a realtor. Three other family members involved in these crimes were previously convicted and sentenced.


Orange County: Former Fannie Mae Official Sentenced to Federal Prison


Santa Ana – A former sales associate with the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) was sentenced on Mon., Aug. 4 to 15 months in federal prison for taking kickbacks from a real estate broker who sold properties on behalf of the mortgage agency.

According to the Assistant United States Attorney, Stephen Goorvitch, Armando Granillo, 45, of Huntington Beach, who worked in the Fannie Mae’s Irvine office, was sentenced by United States District Judge, David O. Carter.  In addition to his 15 month sentence in federal prison, Granillo was ordered to spend 6 months in a residential reentry center.

Following a two-day trial in March, Granillo was found guilty of three counts of “honest services” wire fraud for soliciting kickbacks while working for Fannie Mae.

As a “real estate owned foreclosure specialist” for Fannie Mae, Granillo reviewed applications submitted by real estate brokers who wanted to list Fannie Mae foreclosure properties, and he had the authority to approve sale offers presented by the brokers. In late 2012, Granillo asked a real estate broker in Tucson to pay a percentage of the commissions the broker earned for selling Fannie Mae foreclosure properties. The broker brought the matter to the attention of federal law enforcement officials and assisting in the investigation.

During subsequent conversations between Granillo and the broker, Granillo demanded 20 percent of the real estate broker’s commissions in exchange for preferential treatment in the assignment and sales of Fannie Mae properties. In February 2012, Granillo traveled from Orange County to the Phoenix area, where he met with the broker. During the recorded meeting, Granillo stated that the kickback arrangement was a “natural part of business.” Granillo promised to increase the broker’s portfolio and ensure that he always had at least 100 listings, to give the broker the best properties, and to help the broker get offers approved by Fannie Mae. Granillo then arranged to receive the $11,200 payment from the broker.

Granillo was arrested in this case on Mar. 5, 2013 during an undercover operation after accepting an $11,200 payment from the real estate broker.

Granillo “violated Fannie Mae and the public’s trust by engaging in a form of public corruption,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing brief filed with the court. “This crime is akin to those involving governmental officials who solicit bribes in exchange for favorable treatment. The reputational damage is devastating and potentially permanent.”

Fannie Mae is currently under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The investigation into Granillo was conducted by the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Inspector General.




Orange County: Man Convicted in $3.3 Million Drug Scams


Santa Ana – An Irvine man was recently convicted of running a fraud scheme that generated approximately $3.3 million from victims investing in products that they believed would treat childhood obesity and Type II Diabetes.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office, Charles “Chuck” Davis, 57, was found guilty on Fri., June 20, of two counts of mail fraud, seven counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering. During the trial, Davis was shown to have operated an investment scam involving the Newport Beach firm, LifeRight Holdings, Inc. The company was to develop and use infomercials to market a product to battle childhood obesity. Davis promised his investors a 15 percent return in just 13 months, royalties on products sold, and the option to convert the investment into shares of LifeRight stock when the company began selling the products.

$2.4 million of the funds raised from about 40 victims in 2007 and 2008 were actually used to finance Davis’ personal expenses and legal fees from lawsuits brought against him.

Another scam involved DT2, a company that reportedly offered a product treating Type II Diabetes. Davis raised nearly $1 million from 2009 to 2011 from about 25 DT2 investors. Similar to the LifeRight scam, Davis diverted investor funds to other companies, and rather than spend the money on the business, he enjoyed high-end restaurants, spa treatments, cash withdrawals, the expense of several girlfriends, as well as civil/criminal defense attorneys.

Davis has been in custody since September 2011, and faces a statutory maximum sentence of 240 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on October 20.