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    Man gets 50 years in drug deal gone bad

    Last updated 4 years ago

    SANTA ANA – An Orange gang member was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in prison for a gang-motivated conspiracy and murder of a man during a botched drug rip off.

    An Orange County jury convicted Robert Louis Reil, 33, in March of conspiracy to commit a robbery, murder and street terrorism and the enhancement of use of a gun for his role in luring a drug dealer to his execution on a residential street in Orange.

    Reil was one of four gang members arrested in connection with the Jan. 3, 2010 slaying of Bernal Esquivel Felix, 49, who was shot once in the back as he drove his car slowly on Oak Street. The victim's car was still moving and came to a stop after hitting a parked car on the street, according to prosecutors.

    Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin argued at trial Felix was lured to the neighborhood by Amour Villamar, 32, Reil's girlfriend, with a ruse that she intended to buy drugs from him.

    But instead, Reil and co-defendants Joseph Baez, 27, and Christian Galindo, 26, are said to have waited in the darkness. Baez sneaked up on Felix and shot him once in the back, according to police. The would-be robbers fled from the scene without getting Felix' drug stash, prosecutors said.

    Galindo pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser charges and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Villamar's case is pending.

     

    By VIK JOLLY and LARRY WELBORN / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

    Police: 'Plaid' bandit leaves bank on skateboard with no money

    Last updated 4 years ago

    YORBA LINDA – Police seek a serial bank robber believed to have skateboarded from the scene of an unsuccessful holdup Friday morning.

    Officers shortly after 11:15 a.m. responded to reports of an attempted bank robbery at a Wells Fargo branch in the 20300 block of Yorba Linda Boulevard, Lt. Darrin Devereux said.

    A man handed an employee a demand note, Devereux said, and then fled when the teller ducked behind a counter. No money was stolen, and no injuries were reported.

    The would-be robber was last seen fleeing the bank on a skateboard, Devereux said. Authorities described him as a white man in his late 20s or early 30s with a medium build and a brown goatee who was wearing black, thick-framed glasses, a baseball cap and a black, hooded sweatshirt during the robbery.

    Authorities believe the man is the "Gone Plaid Bandit," who is responsible for seven previous bank robberies in Orange County, including holdups in Yorba Linda, Irvine, Anaheim Hills and Mission Viejo.

    The "Gone Plaid Bandit," who earned his nickname by wearing plaid during some of the robberies, used notes during the previous incidents, although he was seen armed with a knife during at least one Irvine robbery and once claimed to have been armed with a gun.

    Authorities are asking anyone with information about the attempted robbery to call Brea investigators at 714-990-7625.

    By SEAN EMERY / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

    Police: Grandmother took girl, then hit her own mother with car

    Last updated 4 years ago

    FOUNTAIN VALLEY – A woman suspected of abducting her 3-year-old granddaughter and driving into the child's great-grandmother turned herself in to police Friday, authorities said.

    Officers Thursday night responded to reports of a child abduction in the 17300 block of San Luis Street.

    Investigators believe that the great-grandmother of the girl, who had custody of the child, had taken her back to a home in the neighborhood when she was confronted by the child's grandmother, who police identified as 44-year-old Georgina Garcia.

    Garcia took the child out of the great-grandmother's arms, Fountain Valley police Sgt. Matt Sheppard said.

    As Garcia drove away, she struck the great-grandmother with her vehicle, Sheppard said. The great-grandmother was taken to a hospital with minor injuries and was later released.

    Police say Garcia took the girl to a relative's home in Redondo Beach.

    The family member notified police, Sheppard said, and officers picked up the child Thursday night, returning her to the great-grandmother.

    Garcia turned herself in Friday and was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, child abduction, assault with a deadly weapon and hit and run, Sheppard said.

     

    By SEAN EMERY / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

    Pursuit of suspected stolen car ends in arrest

    Last updated 4 years ago

    ANAHEIM – A man is in custody after leading Anaheim and Fullerton police officers on a brief chase involving a stolen car late Sunday night.

    At around 11:30 p.m., an Anaheim officer received a LoJack transmission in his patrol car that was traced to the area of East Romneya Drive and North Acacia Street, Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn said.

    Additional officers responded.

    After locating a Honda Odyssey near Orangethorpe Avenue and Harbor Boulevard, officers attempted to pull the van over but the male motorist took off, resulting in a 2 ½-mile pursuit that ended near West Bastanchury Road and Cambridge Avenue in Fullerton, Dunn said.

    At one point, speeds were estimated at 65 mph. There were no injuries or collisions.

    Joshua Douglas Foster, 41, of Anaheim was arrested without incident and booked into jail. He is being held on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle and was placed on a parole hold, Dunn said

     

    By GREG HARDESTY / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

    Fire captain testifies police did 'nothing' to help Kelly Thomas

    Last updated 4 years ago

    A fire department captain testified Monday in a hearing for two Fullerton police officers charged in the beating death of Kelly Thomas that when he first arrived on scene "nothing was being done" to help the mentally ill homeless man.

    Capt. Rob Stancyk of the Fullerton Fire Department testified that seven or eight Fullerton police officers were standing around a bus depot when paramedics arrived, about 15 feet from Thomas, who he said was lying on the ground.

    "Nothing was being done," Stancyk said.

    Stancyk testified that initially the officers on the scene were complaining about their injuries, but that then he turned and saw Thomas on the ground, barely breathing.

    The testimony comes in the first day of a hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to order Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli to stand trial for Kelly's death last July 5.

    The preliminary hearing got off to a dramatic start as prosecutors showed a bloody image of Thomas' face that elicited gasps from the audience. The image was taken at UC Irvine Medical Center several hours after his encounter with police.

    Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas' father, winced as the image was displayed on a monitor. Prosecutors also showed a Taser allegedly used by Cicinelli in the beating of Thomas. The weapon appeared to be bloodied.

    Dawn Scruggs, a nine-year forensic specialist for the Fullerton Police Department, confirmed that the Taser had been used on Thomas. Scruggs also told of a pool of blood where Thomas fell.

    Scruggs described the officers as having minor cuts but on cross examination acknowledged Officer Ramos told her he had been in the fight of his life.

    "He was tired, exhausted and in pain," Scruggs said.

    She said officers Cicinelli and Scott Wolfe told her Thomas "would not stop fighting."

    Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas called the officers' actions "gratuitous and unnecessary" and noted the investigation showed Thomas offered no response to the blows, indicating he was "down and seriously injured."

    Both Ramos and Cicinelli have pleaded not guilty and are free on bail while on leave from the Fullerton Police Department.

    — Richard Winton in Santa Ana

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