Friday's Headlines & Surprises
- FBI targets one of OC's richest: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FBI served subpoenas at the Newport Coast home of Henry T. Nicholas III, ex-chairman of Irvine-based, electronics giant Broadcom Company. According to the paper, the investigation involves drugs and other potential crimes such as back-dating financial documents. It hasn't been a good year for the man worth more than $600 million. Kenji Kato, his bodyguard from 1999 to 2006, filed a civil suit in Los Angeles claiming that Nicholas forced him to use illegal narcotics, spiked clients' cocktails with powdered ecstasy pills and bought prostitutes for customers. If the story is accurate, we're sure Nicholas is denying any wrongdoing.
- Where is Jimmy Hoffa when you need him? It's Day 7 in the Orange County bus strike and the union has offered a financial concession that hasn't been reciprocated. Talks are scheduled to resume at 11 a.m. today. Meanwhile, Nativo Lopez has joined the action!
- Up, Up & Away: Roy Rivenburg and Tony Barboza at the Times say that Irvine taxpayers will lose at least $850,000 during the first year of a city-subsidized helium balloon ride over the future Great Park, where Lennar Corp. will build thousands of homes. That cost includes “a $300,000 tent--designed to resemble an airplane hangar--that costs $75,000 per year to clean; a four-person visitor-center crew hired under a $370,000 annual contract; and a series of orange dots painted along the park's entrance road at a cost of $14,000.” The duo also discovered that Irvine plans to build a road to the balloon hangar. But the deficit isn't a deficit in the Larry Agran regime. Park spokeswoman Marsha Burgess said she “wouldn't characterize [the $850,000 deficit] as a deficit.” Nope, it's a taxpayer-funded advertising score for Lennar home-sale plans.
- Reporter enters gay calendar contest, exits with “bright red cheeks”: Josh Aden was assigned to cover the recent calendar-model search as part of an effort to save the Laguna Beach Boom Boom Room as a gay bar and dance club. But then he thought, “How could I convey what the contestants were going through onstage without actually going through it myself?” He jumped onstage, tore his shirt off and heard the crowd roar!
- Beware the Arco gas station ATMs: Cops in Huntington Beach are searching for thieves who've stolen “more than $75,000 using a credit-debit card-skimming device at a Brookhurst Avenue Arco station,” reports Michael Alexander of the HB Independent. Apparently, these crooks installed a device over the real ATM-card swipe, and no one knew it was fake.
- Homeless with a view: Laguna Beach officials are devising a "carrot and stick" approach to deal with local homeless, says the Coastline Pilot. The paper reports that shelters filled beyond capacity during the most recent winter months and local politicians want cops to better handle aggressive panhandling and public intoxication.
- Best Story for Friday the 13th, so far: Fox News reports that a 19-year-old Minnesota woman, the mother of a 14-month-old baby, has been using Craigslist to recruit minors in high school for a prostitution ring run from a motel room. Police officers began their investigation in December and took seven months of, uh, probing to make sure they'd found a crime.
- White Supremacist Punishment? There's no jury duty today in the penalty phase of the Michael Lamb case. On Monday, prosecutor Ebrabim Baytieh will continue to argue that the 32-year-old Public Enemy Number One Death Squad killer deserves "the ultimate penalty." Lamb's publicly supplied lawyers say their client deserves sympathy because he suffered a tough childhood in Dana Point. In 2002, Lamb executed fellow gangster Scott Miller and later attempted to kill an undercover cop, the jury ruled last week.
- Time to laugh: Comedian Bill Bellamy, the new host of NBC's Last Comic Standing, performs tonight at 7, 9 and 11 at the Irvine Improv at the Spectrum, 71 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 854-5455.