The Con Man, Wood Chipper And Plot To Assassinate A Federal Judge In California

Even before he allegedly plotted to kidnap, torture and murder U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford with a wood chipper machine, Orange County's John Arthur Walthall personified the type of twisted villain Hollywood scriptwriters crave for crime fictions.

Audacious beyond belief, Walthall is a gifted con artist, who in 2007-2008 tricked wealthy investors out of $5.5 million to supposedly extract gold from old, abandoned mines in Nevada, Imperial Valley and Brazil.

He instead diverted funds into more than 30 bank accounts to mask his financial crimes, which included using investor's money to send a son to the New York Film Academy, make child support to an ex-wife, secure a premium personal ad on eHarmony, buy gifts for a girlfriend, pay off credit card debts and loans for three Ford pickup trucks, and purchase a Fortius 420 Hyperbaric Chamber.

More »

Huntington and Newport Beaches Reopen After Scary Shark Encounter

Universal Pictures
You're going to need a bigger Boogie Board
The beaches of Huntington and Newport have just reopened after being closed to humans since a shark spooked a lifeguard Thursday afternoon.

More »

Does An Influential Newport Coast Conservative Publisher Have A Deep Secret?

Illustration by Jeff Drew
Perched on Southern California's most breathtaking hillside real estate overlooking Pacific Coast Highway, 9 Pelicans Drive in Newport Coast appears to be the epitome of idyllic, worry-free living. The $21 million, three-story, Palladian-style house on 25,000 square feet contains five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, 400 feet of unobstructed sea views to Catalina Island, a grand staircase, two bars, a wine cellar, eight marble fireplaces, 14-foot ceilings, a gourmet kitchen, a swimming pool, fountains, a terrace, an elevator, $4.8 million worth of art and a movie theater. To lessen the burdens of occupying such a residence, the owner, Thomas Lee Phillips, employed a British-born butler and 14 other house servants, one of whom chauffeured him in a Rolls-Royce to swank restaurants, political events or his $14 million, oceanfront "beach house" 11 minutes away in the most exclusive section of Corona del Mar.

But the luxurious, gated-community setting is hardly scandal-free. In fact, life inside the mansion has produced enough intrigue to fill several seasons of television's raciest soap opera. The themes are sex, money, power, jarring hypocrisy and seemingly endless backstabbing plots that snared the local district attorney's chief of staff, as well as two model-handsome males, one a CBS Big Brother contestant and the other a Los Angeles rhythm-and-blues singer who appeared on Soul Train.

More »

Garden Grove Police Union Boss Secretly Recorded Private Conversation With Mayor

Mayor Nguyen
You have to be in awe of California police union officials' brazen efforts to politically assassinate opponents.

Just ask Costa Mesa's Republican mayor pro tem Jim Righeimer, who in 2012 was falsely accused of driving drunk while he was sober, or Garden Grove's Bao Nguyen, one of the nation's first elected Vietnamese-American mayors and a rising star in the state's progressive scene.

On June 19, police sergeant Mike Viscomi--the president of the Garden Grove Police Association that supported Bruce Broadwater, Nguyen's opponent in the last election--surreptitiously recorded a conversation with the first-term mayor.

During the discussion, Nguyen called City Councilman Phat Bui "a fucking dick," a reference to efforts by Bui's supporters to label Nguyen a communist sympathizer for not vehemently protesting Riverside's sister-city relationship with Can Tho, Vietnam.

Nguyen doesn't, of course, back communists. He declared at the time, "We are eager to see the Vietnamese government make concerted strides toward democracy with its people, whom have been fighting for the same values we cherish as Americans." But he didn't think one city council should tell another what to do.

In Little Saigon politics, however, manhood sadly continues to be measured by how loudly a person screams in anger about Ho Chi Minh, dead nearly 46 years now. Though not the most articulate politician in the city, Bui has nonetheless mastered this particular dog whistle. He has proven his willingness to incite mostly older Vietnamese immigrants into frenzies, as if the war for South Vietnam is ongoing.

More »

Erica Melissa Alonso Died of Overdose, But How Did Her Body Wind Up Off Ortega Highway?

Categories: Breaking News
Erica Melissa Alonso, R.I.P.
All indications are Erica Melissa Alonso, whose body was found off Ortega Highway two months after she was last seen in Irvine following a night of Valentine's Day partying, died of an overdose and not homicide, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

More »

Waters Off Huntington Beach Closed to People After Shark Bumps Surfer

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Uh-oh ...
I am still not convinced this is not sly promotion of "Shark Week" programming, but a shark bumping a surfer this morning has prompted lifeguards to prohibit anyone from going into the waters off Huntington Beach for the rest of the day.

More »

DA's Chief of Staff Files Tardy Disclosure Reports With One Fascinating Tidbit

OC Weekly photo
DA Rackauckas and his chief of staff
The county's long nightmare is over. Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff at the Orange County district attorney's office, yesterday filed mandatory economic-disclosure reports for 2010 through 2014. The move came hours after County Counsel Nicholas S. Chrisos recommended the Board of Supervisors order the filings at a June 16 public hearing.

For anyone expecting shocking revelations, here it is: The one person Schroeder reported giving her gifts during the entire five-year period was Supervisor Todd Spitzer, and given that the two despise each other, the $300 in crystal baubles and flowers he gave in 2010 didn't ultimately buy him favors much less relief from his nemesis' potent wrath.

(Both Schroeder and Spitzer want to follow Rackauckas as DA after the now-72-year-old retires at some unknown date.)

As expected, Schroeder revealed what was already public: Michael J. Schroeder, her ex-husband and a former chairman of the California Republican Party, owns two chiropractic insurance-related entities valued at more than $1 million each and earned more than $100,000 annually.

More »

Muhanad Badawi Held Without Bond as Danger and Flight Risk; Lawyer Says He's Innocent

Categories: Breaking News

Anaheim pair was flying the ISIS flag?
UPDATE NO. 2, MAY 22, 4:28 P.M.: At a court hearing in federal court in Santa Ana this afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Block found that Muhanad Badawi posed a flight risk and danger to the community and ordered him held without bond pending trial. That's much to the chagrin of the 24-year-old Anaheim man's lawyer, who maintains Badawi did nothing wrong.

More »

Irvine Seeks Contempt Charge Against Ex-Mayor For Evading Great Park Questions

OC Weekly photo
Agran: He wants the right to remain silent about how he wasted Great Park project money
The City of Irvine has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to issue a contempt order against former mayor Larry Agran for refusing to answer questions under oath about financial benefits he may have received from Orange County Great Park contractors when he controlled the $1.6 billion project.

Anthony R. Taylor, the city's special counsel, filed the superior court case this week in hopes of forcing Agran, a 1992 Democratic Party presidential primary candidate, to field questions he adamantly refused to answer during a March deposition.

Failure to obey a court order could result in jail time.

Agran--a lawyer and longtime boss of a political machine that ran Irvine and its proposed Great Park project for 12 years until 2012--has had troubled explaining how he spent $250 million in taxpayer funds without building a single, major planned feature.

More »

Adam Gadahn, American Voice Of Al Qaeda, Killed In CIA Drone Attack

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for gadahn.jpg
According to statements by White House officials, Adam Gadahn, the American face of Al Qaeda, and the first U.S. citizen to be charged with treason since World War 2, was killed during a January 2015 CIA drone strike in Pakistan. Officials claim that Gadahn, who had a million-dollar price tag on his head, was not the target of the attack, but rather that he happened to be at a compound in Pakistan's tribal region known to be used by members of Al Qaeda.

Gadahn, who grew up on a Riverside goat farm but whose grandfather was a prominent Jewish doctor in Santa Ana, apparently joined Al Qaeda after moving to Pakistan before the 9/11 attacks. He first appeared as "Azzam the American" in the terrorist group's propaganda videos three years later, covering his face with a scarf and warning Americans that their "streets will run red with blood."

More »