With Deputies Refusing To Testify Under Oath In Snitch Scandal, It's Time For A Federal Probe

If public integrity section officials at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. needed an alarming fact to finally prompt a formal investigation of law enforcement corruption in Orange County, they have one today.

In recent hours, four veteran Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies--Seth Tunstall, Bill Grover, Bryan Larson and Ben Garcia--have refused to testify under oath in connection with a Santa Ana murder trial and defendant Eric Ortiz.

Their fear?

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Orange County Register Lawsuit: "You Dirty Mexicans . . . Are Lazy"

No! OC Weekly is not a subsidiary of the OC Register

This week, a fired veteran Orange County Register production employee sued the newspaper for allegedly tolerating numerous discriminatory practices by a manager who supposedly used violence and uttered workplace statements like, "You dirty Mexicans want a union because you are lazy."

Jerry Asencio, a Stanton resident, says he began as a Register pressman in 1981 and, according to his complaint--filed October 5 in Orange County Superior Court--"enjoyed his job for many years" before he "suffered repeated discrimination and harassment by a manager."

The lawsuit that names the Register's parent company--Freedom Communications, Inc.--as a defendant, asserts that the manager "made repeated comments" about the plaintiff's race, age, color, ancestry and national origin.

Asencio claims those statements included:

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At What Cost? Pro Wresting Movie TONIGHT! Long Beach Indie Fest Through SUNDAY!

Smee Entertainment
Whaddya mean you already have plans tonight?
At What Cost?: An Anatomy of Professional Wresting, which is the latest documentary from Long Beach's Mark Chervinsky, makes its West Coast premiere in his town of residence tonight.

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Aliso Viejo Ranked Eighth Best City in California for Families. Stanton? Not So Much

Photo by flickr user JON_CF
Thumbs up to Aliso Viejo
Number 8 Aliso Viejo is the only Orange County city to crack the top 10 in rankings of the best places in California for families, although Rancho Santa Margarita does finish in 11th place.

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Jamal Hurley of Garden Grove Caught Up in $1.4 Million Fraud Against Wells Fargo: FBI

With apologies to FX
Another crime caper
A former Wells Fargo employee who resides in Garden Grove is among eight people the federal government accuses of being part of a fraud ring that included bank workers who stole customer account numbers to eventually drain money from those accounts.

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Activists and Family Members Keep the Memory of Alex Odeh Alive, 30 Years After His Unsolved Assassination

Statue of Alex Odeh in Santa Ana
Brian Feinzimer
If you were able to identify your and others' misfortunes
I would have brought out an extraordinary human being of you
--from a poem by Alex Odeh

On the morning of Oct. 11, 1985, Norma Odeh made breakfast for her husband, Alex, in their Orange home. The night before, KABC-TV Channel 7 had interviewed Odeh, West Coast regional director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and one of the U.S.'s most prominent Arab-American activists. The interviewer wanted his opinions about the Achille Lauro hijacking and the subsequent killing of 69-year-old wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer that had happened just a couple of days before.

A camera crew filmed Alex at the ADC offices in Santa Ana. He condemned the hijacking, as well as terrorism in general. But he also claimed the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) wasn't responsible for the attack and called Yasser Arafat "a man of peace" for helping to secure the release of hostages.

"After he came home, we watched it together," Norma recalls. "I hope to God nobody does anything to you," she told him then. Alex's sister also phoned him with her worries after seeing the news segment. He moaned to his wife about how KABC had simplified his nuanced statements into a soundbite about Arafat, then went to bed.

The interview was still on Norma's mind the next morning when Alex kissed her goodbye. A long day awaited him, including a speech at Congregation B'nai Tzadek, a Jewish synagogue in Fountain Valley.

Odeh arrived at the ADC's second-story offices in Santa Ana around 9 a.m. His assistant usually opened up in the morning, but she was running errands that day for an upcoming banquet. As Odeh turned the doorknob, a rigged 30-pound pipe bomb exploded, blowing off his legs. Shards from the shattered windows rained onto the street. Only the concrete floor saved the debris-strewn office from total obliteration. Paramedics hoisted Odeh's charred body onto a stretcher and rushed him to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana; doctors pronounced him dead roughly two hours after the attack. He was 41 years old.

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Inmate Still Insists Orange County Sheriff's Deputies Instigated Grisly Jailhouse Murder

Jim Rugg / OC Weekly
Deputy-instigated jailhouse feeding frenzy?
The last you heard about Jared Petrovich may have been three years ago, when the Orange County man and several co-defendants received terms of 15 years to life in prison for the gruesome 2006 mutilation murder of John Chamberlain inside the Theo Lacy Jail.

Petrovich landed at the California Correctional Institution at Techapi and reports through a prison-pen-pal website that he's matured. He labels himself a green-eyed, straight, Christian Capricorn. Recent photographs suggest he has added ink all over his body, and perhaps rare for the gloomy surroundings, his face displayed a seemingly genuine smile, an expression missing from his 9-year-old mug shots stemming from a methamphetamine arrest at a seedy Costa Mesa hotel.

"Don't let the tattoos fool you," the onetime El Modena High School student now advises would-be female pen pals. "I'm just a local surfer and skater from the beach in Orange County."

Of course, Petrovich is much more. He is forever tied to one of the county's most notorious crimes. With jail deputies nearby and supposedly clueless, hoards of inmates punched, kicked, burned and sodomized Chamberlain, a Rancho Santa Margarita man awaiting trial for alleged child pornography possession. The victim's battered corpse didn't look human, and news of the horrific murder reached all corners of the nation.

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Revenge of the Colony Collapse Disorder? Bees Attack Folks in Laguna Woods and Costa Mesa

NBC/Saturday Night Live
They can't help it if they're killer-you-know-whats.
Perhaps it's part of a final revenge for killing them off, but swarms of bees have attacked folks in Laguna Woods and Costa Mesa within the last week.

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Orange County Municipal Retirees Earn Way More Than Working Orange Countians: Data

Photo by flickr user David Masters
Come and get it!
Full-career retirees from Orange County municipalities received average annual retirements from the state pension system that were 54 percent greater than the average salary of still-working area residents in 2014, according to just-released data that finds the three largest payouts went to the former top administrators of the cities of Anaheim and Santa Ana and the Santa Margarita Water District.

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Developers and Conservationists Battle for the Future of Banning Ranch

California Coastal Commission Staff Report, Exhibit 13
At the southwest end of Newport Beach lies Banning Ranch, 401 acres of slowly draining oil land dotted with rusted-out and broken down machinery, enough for it to resemble a wasteland, although the property farther from public view is beautiful--a network of streams, small canyons, vernal pools and wetlands bordering the mouth of Santa Ana River.

Despite the oil development, the area remains home to a variety of species once plentiful in Southern California--rare birds and owls that build burrows in the grasslands, endangered shrimp who live in the area's pools--as well as ecological formations found nowhere else in Southern California (a combination of lowlands, highlands, mesas and arroyos). It should be a public park, and for more than a decade, there have been two opposing proposals to turn it into one. On Wednesday, they'll be argued against each other in front of the California Coastal Commission.

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