DA Tony Rackauckas Once Again Milks A Pedophile Case

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Courtesy: Jack Lindsay / City of Vancouver archives
Milking it
It's not often when Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas conducts a press conference. It's exceptionally rare when Rackauckas calls the media to his office to announce he's filing an appeal. But the DA has suffered huge public relations setbacks this year involving alarming prosecutorial team incompetence and cheating in death penalty cases.

So, this morning, Rackauckas issued his third "media advisory" in two weeks to draw attention away from the messes and to a no-lose PR stunt: Attacking Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly's decision to go relatively soft on 19-year-old Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto, a pedophile who sodomized a three-year-old female relative and received a 10-year prison sentence instead of a 25 years to life term sought by prosecutors.

Or, more accurately: Renewing his re-attacks on Kelly, who--by the way--is, like the DA, an ultra-conservative Republican.

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NBFF 2015 At a Glance: 'Know New Art'

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Provided by NBFF

The 16th annual Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF) starts Thursday, April 23 and ends Thursday, April 30. The theme is "Know New Art."

• The opening-night picture is The Water Diviner. In Russell Crowe's directorial debut, he plays an Australian farmer who travels to Istanbul to discover the fate of his son, who was reported missing in action during the devastating 1915 World War I battle of Gallipoli in Turkey. Lido Live, 3459 Via Lido, Newport Beach. Thurs., April 23, 7:30 p.m.

For more info, go to newportbeachfilmfest.com or facebook.com/newportbeachfilmfest.

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Newport Beach Film Festival Honors Orson Welles' Centennial

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Carl Van Vechten

1. Orson Welles was born on May 6, 1915.

2. As a filmmaker, his three greatest pictures, in order, are Touch of Evil (1958), Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).

3. Ah, yes, but Citizen Kane tops many lists as the greatest film of all time (with Welles filling the top slot on many directing lists). The fictional story of a megalomaniac newspaper magnate (loosely based on William Randolph Hearst) and innocence lost is indeed a masterpiece . . . albeit a dated one. Newspaper magnates? Not in this century, bub.

4. John Houseman wrote in his 1972 memoir Run-through that the deeper he, Welles and Herman Mankiewicz took the script into the heart of Kane, the more the identity of Welles was exposed. "Between young Kane and young Welles, there is more than a surface likeness; in the dramatized person of Charles Foster Kane, 'Champagne Charley' was finally able to realize extravagances that far exceeded anything achieved in life by Richard Welles and his precocious son," Houseman wrote.

5. Kane and Welles also shared a fury, according to Houseman, whose association with the filmmaker dated back to their Mercury Theatre days. "A vague aura of violence surrounded the Hearst legend; there was the persistent rumor of the fatal shooting, in a jealous rage, of a well-known Hollywood director on a yacht off the Malibu coast. We made no reference to that episode in our script. We did not need it. The wanton, wordless, destructive fury which Kane wreaks upon the inanimate objects in his wife's room when he realizes she has left him was taken directly from our recent scene in the upper room at Chasen's. During its filming, Orson reproduced with frightening fidelity the physical gestures and the blind agony of rage with which he had hurled those flaming Sternos against the wall. The cuts he received on his hands on both occasions were, I was told, almost identical."

For more info, go to newportbeachfilmfest.com or facebook.com/newportbeachfilmfest.

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Emerson Etem Is the Anaheim Ducks' Future in More Ways Than the Obvious

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Nick Price

By Daniel Kohn

Any member of the Anaheim Ducks could've been easily forgiven if they had skipped the optional noontime practice at Anaheim ICE a couple of Saturdays ago. The team had just returned that morning, landing at John Wayne Airport at 2:15 a.m., following a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild that ended a three-game losing streak. But, in a telling metaphor for the Ducks' season, which has had them leading the Pacific Division and in the running for the Presidents' Trophy as the top team in the NHL, most of the players showed up to the ice rink for practice without complaint--with joy, even, following the big win.

The players breezed through drills, brimming with confidence. They were crisp and spry, the atmosphere loose. Jokes flowed freely on the sidelines; on the ice, an unspoken urgency led everyone along, given their next game would be against potential playoff opponent Nashville Predators.

Near the end of the practice, the team went through 3-on-3 drills using only a fraction of the ice, designed to test reflexes and gumption. After a quick back-and-forth battle between the orange/black and white sides, the darker colors lead with seconds remaining. But Long Beach native Emerson Etem changed that. With a timely shot, right winger and former first-round draft pick for the Ducks tied up the mock game by weaving past a defender and firing a quick shot past goalie John Gibson.

"Emmer!" shouted his teammates, patting the 22-year-old on his helmet as he confidently skated past the goalie. Though the dark team ultimately won the scrimmage in overtime--with intersquad bragging rights for the day--everyone was in good spirits.

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B-Real of Cypress Hill Wants to Bring Dr. Greenthumb to Santa Ana

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Willie T/OC Weekly

"Hello, My Name is Dr. Greenthumb. Have you ever had the problem of running out of weed and just can't find some anywhere?"

--B-Real, Cypress Hill, 1998

At about 7 a.m. on March 20, a fire alarm went off inside a nondescript warehouse in the 1100 block of East 17th Street in Santa Ana, near the 5 freeway. It's unclear if someone pulled the alarm or if something else triggered the device, but there was apparently no fire inside the building.

When Orange County Fire Authority units rolled up to the location, sirens blaring, they saw no flames or smoke, just five men jumping into separate vehicles and racing away from the scene. By 10:45 a.m., police had obtained a warrant to search the building, which was locked--even the fire-escape doors had been secured with 3-inch chains. "Had there been an actual fire, nobody would have made it out," remarked police spokesman Corporal Anthony Bertagna. "Those chains were huge."

The mystery of the disappearing men was quickly explained by what police discovered inside the warehouse: more than 1,600 marijuana plants divided into various rooms for different stages of development. The sophisticated grow operation had its own intricate lighting and irrigation systems and was still under construction, although, for obvious reasons, nobody had applied for city permits to do the work. The total worth of the haul, according to a state marijuana-street-value formula cited by Bertagna, was $2.9 million.


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Randy Orbach of "Redemption Song" Cover Story Gets 4 Years for Stalking Ex-Girlfriend

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Photo by John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
Randy Orbach hold told the Weekly he put his criminal life behind him. Then he got arrested again.
Thomas "Randy" Orbach's "Redemption Song" hit a sour note when he was sentenced to four more years in state prison earlier this month.

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How Tony Rackauckas Took A Slam Dunk Death Penalty Case And Turned It Into His Worst Crisis

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Kevin McVeigh
DA Rackauckas: If I only had a brain . . . I'd unravel every riddle for any individ'le, in trouble or in pain

Orange County's worst mass shooting, the so-called 2011 Seal Beach hair-salon massacre, began as a traumatizing event for all, but it has devolved into one of the most polarizing legal struggles to hit our legal system. The question isn't about Scott Dekraai's guilt. Dekraai admitted to police that he was the killer within minutes of the shooting. Controversy swirls, however, around the tactics of prosecutors and sheriff's deputies trying to impose a death-penalty punishment rather than a 200-plus-year prison sentence without the possibility for parole. With one embarrassing revelation after another, the battle has grown painful, especially for the baffled families of the victims. To help understand why Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals, himself an accomplished former prosecutor, this month made a historic decision to recuse Tony Rackauckas and his district attorney's office (OCDA), we are providing a chronology of events:


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Zombie Poseidon Desalination Plant From Beyond the Grave!

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Illustration by Kevin McVeigh

Twelve years ago, the Weekly published an article titled "The Poseidon Misadventure," a list of 10 reasons why the Poseidon Resources-lead desalination project in Huntington Beach should be killed off.

It seemed so obvious then. Who would want to build an energy-intensive desalination plant that would create 50 million gallons of fresh water per day just years after a power shortage and a giant El Niño? And whoever bought the water would be on the hook, whether or not it was needed. Plus, the water the plant would produce was much more expensive than then-current prices, it would be horrible for the environment, and it'd be another industrial project right on one of Orange County's beaches. It just didn't make any sense. We put 10 bullets in the abomination and let it be.

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Eddie Bravo Became a Jiu Jitsu Legend with One Win. Can His Fighting Style Now Conquer MMA?

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Timothy Norris/OC Weekly
Bravo, left

A shirtless Eddie Bravo stood on one end of the jiu jitsu mat inside the Ginásio do Ibirapuera sports arena in São Paulo, Brazil, stared straight ahead, then walked toward his destiny.

It was May 17, 2003, the quarterfinal match in the 66-kilogram division of the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Submission Wrestling World Championship, one of the biggest challenges of its kind. Fans had gathered to cheer on masters of jiu jitsu, judo, wrestling and other grappling arts in a rare interdisciplinary tournament, a real-life Bloodsport. Bravo had turned 33 two days earlier, and this was his present: his first international professional tournament; his first matches on foreign soil; and a hostile crowd rooting for the guy across the mat from him, three-time defending champion Royler Gracie, scion of the family who essentially created Brazilian jiu jitsu. No member of the clan had ever lost to an American, certainly not in a competition broadcast on national television. Certainly not to an undersized Mexican kid from Santa Ana.

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Forty Years After the Fall of Saigon, Orange County's Annual Tet Festival Goes Plural

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Chad Weaver/OC Weekly

It's about noon on Jan. 25, and hundreds of volunteers from more than a dozen Southern California schools are on their way to a shabby-looking business park in a sparsely populated area of west Garden Grove. The Santa Anas are blowing, and as the students approach the parking lots, they see fellow volunteers awaiting them, their hands holding pamphlets and pieces of paper to shield their eyes from the sun, heat and dust.

The greeters point the volunteers toward the headquarters of the Southern California chapter of the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (UVSA), a building that also houses the offices of a company that sells e-cigarettes and an American Apparel-esque clothing factory, though it's Vietnamese making clothes instead of Mexicans. Everyone is there to help organize UVSA's upcoming Tet festival, scheduled to happen in less than a month.

Outside the building, several dozen young women congregate and socialize. They're almost dressed in uniform: dyed hair (some ombre, some with highlights), 3-inch heels, and either short shorts or knee-length dresses appropriate for the 85-degree weather. They're tying friendship bracelets around one another's wrists as they work together to make sure the Tet festival's pageant, a major part of the weekend's planned cultural programming, goes off without a hitch.

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