Verbal Altercation Leads to Felony Assault in Carpinteria
by Jae Brattain | posted 03.05.2014
While driving southbound on Highway 101 on Tuesday, March 4th, Joseph “Joe” Antonucci was being followed closely behind by Ryan Luna. The incident started at approximately 1:00 pm near the Montecito area with the two men angrily exchanging verbal assaults for several miles. Antonucci, 56, was driving in the fast lane. Luna, 25, felt the older man was going too slow and pulled alongside to tell him as much. Both tempers were flared, which lead to an escalation in the situation.
Things got out of hand when Luna, who resides in Simi Valley, decided to toss a large container of soda at Antonucci’s truck. The cup sailed through the passenger side window and hit the driver’s face. It subsequently splashed all over the interior of the vehicle.
In retaliation, Antonucci veered his truck and hit the side of Luna’s vehicle, which was also a truck. This caused the soda assailant to swerve off the highway exiting at Carpinteria Avenue. Antonucci, who is from Santa Barbara, continued south.
CHP Coastal Division Chief Reggie Chappelle
An eyewitness to the event contacted 911 when seeing what had happened. There was also a CHP officer who happened to be in the area with an unmarked patrol vehicle. It was CHP Coastal Division Chief Reggie Chappelle.
Chappelle followed Antonucci’s truck after the incident and pulled him over near the Mussel Shoals area. Upon further investigation by the California Highway Patrol, both he and Luna were placed into custody.
The Orcutt Resident is a Social Sciences Teacher and Girl’s Basketball Coach
by Jae Brattain | posted 02.25.2014
Detectives from the Santa Maria Police Department investigated Brian Thomas Hook after there were accusation that he had multiple inappropriate relations with a student at Pioneer Valley High School. The first incident took place around January 14th. There was also a second occurrence, which happened around February 13th. The name of the alleged victim was not, and likely will not, be released because she is only 16-years old.
Brian Thomas Hook
Authorities from the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District contacted local law enforcement on February 19th. They had been alerted of the sexual encounters by Pioneer Valley High staff members. Brian Hook, who is 53-years old, was said to have committed several sexual assaults against one of the students over a 4-month period.
The next day, police obtained a search warrant and went to Hook’s home. They also investigated other locations related to the crime, but the specific areas were not identified. Once they served the warrant, Hook was taken into custody and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail.
At the time of his incarceration, he was being charged with oral copulation, unlawful intercourse, and penetration of a foreign object. Each of the charges have to do with a minor and all are felony level. His bail bond was set at $100,000.
Pioneer Valley girls basketball coach Brian Hook talks to his team during a timeout against St. Joseph on Jan. 15, 2014.
As a certificated teacher and coach, Hook was in a position of authority. Due to the fact that investigation is still in progress, not many details have come to light. District authorities have only indicated that they are working with law enforcement. Police are urging that anyone with information about this case contact their detective bureau. The detective in charge is Sgt. Paul Van Meel.
This is the weapon taken from Phillip Cummings after he pulled it on a dog (Santa Barbara Police Department photo)
Suspect had Loaded 9-mm Handgun
by Jae Brattain | posted 02.19.2014
Phillip Edmond Cummings
Phillip Edmond Cummings was out for a stroll with his canine companion in his neighborhood on Tuesday, February 19th. While on his outing, he came across another dog that was not on a leash or secured. Fearing that the dog was a threat, he proceeded to get a 9-mm handgun from his home.
The dog was in a driveway which is shared by several apartments. The canine actually belonged to a nearby neighbor. After getting his pistol, Cummings pointed the gun at the dog and ordered it to move towards a secure area. He yelled repeatedly at the animal, apparently thinking it could understand human commands. The dog eventually did move back and Cummings returned back to his residence.
The incident took place near the corner of De La Vina Street and West Figueroa. Other neighbors in a nearby apartment complex reported the incident to the Santa Barbara Police Department. They saw the 41-year old man brandishing the weapon and yelling at the canine.
When officers arrived at the scene, they went to Cummings home. After knocking on the door, the suspect answered with the gun still tucked in his waistline. The weapon was fully loaded and as a result, he was arrested. Cummings did not resist arrest and went with the officers without incident.
Report by Santa Barbara County Grand Jury Points out Several Issues
by Jae Brattain | posted 02.11.2014
In a report by the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury, members point out problems with the release system currently in place by the Sheriff’s Department. One of the main issues is when inmates are released during the night. Since the jail is far from public transportation options in terms of walking distance, it is difficult to find a ride. Deputies were not telling inmates how to find transportation either verbally or in writing.
Santa Barbara County Jail is located on a hill away from commercial businesses. At night, it could be especially problematic because Calle Real is not as well lit as many residential or business streets. With an average of 20 to 40 releases in a 24-hour period, many are released at night. The grand jury report indicates that there was approximately nine releases between the hours of 11:00 pm and 6:00 am.
The current policy mandates that if an individual is let go during late night hours, the person should be told of the option to stay on the premises until the morning. Either the individual can sit in the jail lobby area or on benches located outside. In both cases, the released inmate would not be charged with trespassing by Sheriff’s deputies. Nevertheless, there is no exact policy in place as to what is being told to a released inmate.
Inside the jail lobby are only two plastic seats
Another issue problematic to the situation is that the jail lobby is devoid of any real seating. Currently there are two plastic chairs attached to each other, which sits toward the left of the exit door from the detention area. There are restrooms in the lobby, as well as a drinking fountain. However, the area can best be described as spartan.
According to Custody Operations Chief Deputy Laz Salinas, the Sheriff’s Department is working on solutions to remedy the issues pointed out in the report by the grand jury. One possible answer is to have officials from Santa Barbara County Superior Court widen the time frame in which an inmate can be released. By doing so, it would help better fit public transportation schedules.
Late night releases are especially difficult for individuals that are either mentally ill or have drug and alcohol addiction. Suzanne Riordan, who is director of the organization Families ACT!, knows first hand of the problem. Her son had issues with drug addiction and said that her son was once released during the night with only his undershorts. He passed away of an overdose in 2005.
Santa Barbara Bail Bonds agents also know of the issues. The jail staff releases inmates during all hours of the night when posting a bond. Agents do not know if an individual has mental health problems or drug and alcohol addiction if they do not speak directly with the inmate. In many cases, they deal only with friends and family members who may not disclose these issues.
One suggestion that grand jury offered was to use a program model after Orange County. It is privately funded by The Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Essentially, a motor home is stationed by volunteers from 10:00 pm to 3:00 am. Released inmates are offered hot beverages, snacks, use of a cell phone, and transportation schedules.
According to Salinas, the jail staff are working to develop something similar in Santa Barbara. It would provide a temporary safe haven to help inmates transition back into society. No word was given about the time frame of when the program might start.
Detectives began an investigation gathering evidence of the crime. Over a three month period, they were able to conduct personal interviews, gather medical information about the victim through forensics analysis, and conducting surveillance to identify the perpetrators.
Ubaldo De La Cruz-Gonzalez
The victim indicated that she had went with a friend to the home of the assailants located near the corner of North Milpas Street and East Yanonali Street. They went to “party” and consume alcohol around 10:00 pm on the evening of October 23rd. After a short time, the friend left the victim alone with Ubaldo De La Cruz-Gonzales and Carlos Rojas-Villafana.
Approximately 40-minutes after the women arrived, the victim tried to leave the house. However, the two men blocked her path. They then began forcing her to have sex multiple times. It was not until the morning that they released the woman. She told them she had to report to work. The next day she went to the Rape Crisis Center.
Police contacted the two men at their place of work on the East Side of Santa Barbara. Shortly afterwards, they were taken into custody and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail.
The first man, De La Cruz-Gonzales, was booked for rape, oral copulation, and digital penetration. Each crime was committed through physical force. Rojas-Villafana is being accused of felony assault with intent to commit rape, sexual battery, and also digital penetration by force. The bail bond amount for both men has been set at $100,000 each.
Authorities Discover Huge Stash of Marijuana, Psilocybin Mushrooms and Cash
by Jae Brattain | posted 01.22.2014
Julius Perdomo was driving through Isla Vista playing music loudly from his vehicle on Friday, January 17th. Members of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol pulled him over and found a large quantity of marijuana inside the car. They also discovered evidence of potential narcotic sales. He was immediately arrested at the scene.
UCSB Police officers and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies assigned to the IVFP conducted further investigation of Perdomo. The 25-year old male had a girlfriend who stayed at his residence near the corner of Camino Del Sur and El Colegio Road. Suspecting that the girlfriend might also be involved in the sales of narcotics, authorities were able to get a search warrant.
Deputies also found $17,000 cash, as well as two safe-deposit keys on the premises. More search warrants were issued to inspect the safe-deposit boxes.
Authorities discovered an additional mountain of cash, in total about $93,000. On Tuesday, January 21st, the bank accounts of the couple were also examined. They found an extra $16,000 from that source. In total, there was $127,000 seized.
Both Perdomo and Pet are being charged with possession of marijuana and psilocybin mushroom for sales. They were taken to Santa Barbara County Jail. The bail bond amount for Perdomo was set at $30,000. Pet was released from custody on her own recognizance.
Suspect in Custody After Two Month Investigation by Detectives
by Jae Brattain | posted 01.20.2014
James Robert Begg
James Robert Begg was arrested by the Santa Barbara Police Department after detectives obtained a search warrant for suspected drug sales. He was under surveillance for a two month period beginning in November 2013. According to detectives from the Narcotics and Vice Division, he has been accused of selling heroin, one of the most addictive drugs on the street.
Detectives observed Begg at his home near the corner of Gillespie Street and West Pedergosa Street on Santa Barbara’s westside. During the two month period, they witnessed the suspect selling narcotics during their investigation. A search warrant was granted to detectives on January 10, 2014. On Wednesday, January 15th, the warrant was executed to arrest the subject and search his residence.
Begg was taken into custody after he rode away on a bicycle in the morning. Police officers stopped him a few blocks away and placed him into handcuffs. They then went back to his home and conducted a thorough search of the premises. Detectives discovered approximately $400 worth of heroin, nearly $500 in cash, as well as a variety of paraphernalia to use narcotics. The list included syringes to inject heroin, a weigh scale, and packaging normally associated with drug distribution.
The 50-year old suspect was taken to Santa Barbara County Jail. His bail bond has been set at $30,000 for felony narcotics sales, as well as felony possession for sales and misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession.
The UCSB Student Had Lewd Images Stored on Cell Phone
by Jae Brattain | posted 01.16.2014
Scott Lienhart has been arrested after Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies stumbled upon the suspect manufacturing concentrated cannabis in his backyard. The incident began when deputies were citing his roommate for being under 21 and having alcohol. The individual being cited ran away from the scene, but was later located at his residence that he shares with Lienhart. Neighbors in the area provided assistance to the deputies by pointing where the suspect lived.
They found the individual at a house near the corner of Sabado Tarde Road and Camino Pesdacero in Isla Vista, which is only two blocks away from the UCSB campus. His name has not been released. However, deputies also discovered illegal concentrated cannabis being produced in the backyard by 19-year old Lienhart. He is a student
The initial incident occurred January 8th, but was followed up with further investigation by the Isla Vista Foot Patrol and Detectives from the Criminal Investigations Division. A search warrant was obtained and then subsequently executed on January 14.
While searching the residence, investigators discovered pornographic images of children on Lienhart’s cell phone. He was arrested at the scene and taken to Santa Barbara County Jail. Initially, a bail bond set for the defendant, but he was later released on his own recognizance. The District Attorney’s Office has been forwarded all of the case information from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
At this time, Lienhart is being charged with possession of child pornography, manufacturing concentrated cannabis, and possession of a controlled substance. All are felony level charges, which could carry a possible California State Prison sentence. However, the charges may be reduced to misdemeanors once the case is determined by a Superior Court judge.
Suspect Sold Heroin from Los Angeles Area to Local Dealers
by Jae Brattain | posted 01.15.2014
Robert Keith Banks
On January 8, 2014, officer from the Santa Barbara Police Department placed Robert Keith Banks under arrest for narcotics sales. The suspect had 9.75 ounces of heroin in possession at the time. Officers also discovered a collapsible police baton, which is considered unlawful under Penal Code 16590 (m) in the State of California. He also had an outstanding arrest warrant of $20,000 for a probation violation.
Investigators believe that Banks is a major player in the illicit heroin trade around Santa Barbara. The suspect is based out of Inglewood, a city in southwestern Los Angeles County. He had been transporting large amounts of narcotics to local dealers in Santa Barbara. Detectives were able to establish contact and subsequently located him in the Carpinteria area. The arrest was made at the McDonald’s parking lot on Casitas Pass Road, near the 101 freeway.
McDonald’s, 1115 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria
Banks had been suspected of illegal narcotics sales and investigated by the police for the past three months. Detectives started the process in October 2013. The arrest was a cumulative effort that resulted in the 46-year old man being taken into custody. According to police, the approximate value of the heroin in his possession at the time of arrest was $9,300 on the streets.
After his detainment, police transported Banks to Santa Barbara County Jail. Besides the $20,000 warrant for violating his probation, he was also booked for the sale and transportation of narcotics, as well as unlawful weapon possession. The bail bond for the new charges was set at $30,000.
Police Officers stand over Ronald Beltran near Ortega Park after his arrest for arson and weapons charges (Urban Hikers photo)
Already Charged with Attempted Murder, but Released from Jail
by Jae Brattain | posted 01.13.14
Ronald Anthony Beltran
Santa Barbara Police arrested Ronald Anthony Beltran after he set a vehicle on fire near the corner of East Gutierrez and North Quarantina Street. Firefighters from the City Fire Department were called about 2:30 pm Sunday afternoon. Upon arrival, they saw a minivan ablaze and quickly extinguished the flames.
Shortly thereafter, family members of the 39-year old Beltran had contacted authorities to let them know his intentions of burning the minivan. He also verbally indicated that he wanted to commit “Suicide-by-Cop,” which is when a person wants to die, but do not want to kill themselves. In other words, a suicidal individual tries to provoke a lethal response from an armed officer or deputy through threatening behavior.
At approximately 2:40 pm, officers found Beltran near Ortega park and promptly chased after him. During the chase, Beltran stopped in his tracks and made verbal threats that he possessed a weapon. This gave the pursuers momentary pause, but they continued onward and eventually used a Taser gun to bring him down into submission. Officers placed Beltran into handcuffs and proceeded to search his body. During their frisk, police found a knife.