Category Archives: Ventura County

Andrew Luster testifies in bid to reduce sentence

Andrew Luster is led out of the U.S. Customs building at LAX in 2003. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Serving a 124-year sentence on rape and drug charges, Andrew Luster testified Wednesday that he was misled by tragically bad legal advice. 

Luster, the great-grandson of cosmetics giant Max Factor, said attorney Richard G. Sherman repeatedly urged him to flee to Mexico during his trial.  The legal system in Ventura County, where he was being tried in 2002 and 2003, was stacked against him, Sherman allegedly said, and in prison, the wealthy, handsome Luster would likely be murdered.

Sherman and investigator Bill Pavlik called Luster "dead man walking," he said as a judge heard his and his attorneys' plea to set aside his conviction or reduce his extraordinarily long sentence.

"I was traumatized," he said. "I was completely scared out of my wits."

Luster fled to Mexico in 2003 while out on bail. He was convicted in absentia, was apprehended in Mexico and ended up at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif.

Luster was convicted on 86 counts involving three women he had given GHB, a powerful anesthetic known as a date-rape drug. At his trial, jurors saw the videotapes he made of himself committing sexual acts on the unconscious women at his beachfront Mussel Shoals home up the coast from Ventura.

Now 49, Luster was granted this week's hearing by a state appellate court decision last April. The court ordered Ventura County Superior Court to consider Luster's claims of incompetence by his legal team.

Luster's attorneys claim their client was not properly advised how serious his sentence could be. They also say that Sherman cashed in on his client's plight by planting the idea of flight and then charging him a hefty fee to orchestrate it. 

Before his preliminary hearing, Luster received an offer of a possible plea bargain from prosecutors. Friends, family members and one of his attorneys at the time, James Blatt, urged him to seriously consider it, he said on the witness stand Wednesday.

Luster would have served a prison term of eight to 12 years. In retrospect, he said, it was a deal he shouldn't have refused.

ALSO:

Bobby Brown gets 55 days in jail on DUI, other charges

Slain Santa Cruz officer moved to city to study and stayed

Porn actor felt ‘persecuted’ by fuss over Pasadena college speech

-- Steve Chawkins 

Photo: Andrew Luster is led out of the U.S. Customs building at LAX in 2003. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Forecast for Oscar Sunday: Warm, sunny, windy

Southern California residents can expect sunny skies, warm temperatures and a high-wind advisory in place until late Sunday afternoon, according to forecasters.

The high-wind warning will be in effect from 10 p.m. Saturday until about 4 p.m. Sunday for mountain areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Northeast winds of 25 to 40 mph are expected with Santa Ana gusts of up to about 60 mph, said David Sweet, a weather service meteorologist in Oxnard.

The strong winds could blow down power lines, small trees and weakened branches.

During this same period, a wind advisory for northeast winds of 15 to 30 mph with gusts to between 35 and 50 mph will be in effect for the valleys and coastal areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, Sweet said.

The strongest Santa Anas will be found in the higher elevations of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, as well as in the Santa Monica Mountains, according to AccuWeather.com.

Similarly, on-shore winds will blow dust around along the Orange County coast and in mountains and foothills. Temperatures there will hover around 70 degrees, with the Inland Empire experiencing the mid-60s, said James Thomas, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

Across San Diego County and portions of the Inland Empire, strong northeast winds are expected to persist until Monday morning, with gusts exceeding 55 mph affecting travel on Interstate 15 and California 91. Interstate 10 will also be affected through the San Gorgonio Pass.

Anthony Sagliani, an AccuWeather.com meteorologist, said the Santa Anas should subside by Tuesday morning across most areas. Temperatures are expected to warm significantly throughout the week, with some spots reaching highs near the 80-degree mark by Friday.

ALSO:

Santa Ana hoping for big returns in first-ever gun buyback

Whittier police hunt for girl believed to have escaped kidnapper

Marine corporal accused of murder in Army Reserve officer's death

-- Martha Groves

Legal team misled convicted rapist Andrew Luster, witnesses say

Andrew Luster is escorted from Los Angeles International Airport by federal agents in 2003 after he was apprehended in Mexico. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times.

A great-grandson of cosmetics magnate Max Factor says he was misled by members of his legal team and is seeking a reduction in his 124-year rape sentence, as well as a new trial.

Andrew Luster says the attorneys urged him to flee the country rather than face rape charges, according to witnesses in a court hearing Wednesday.

The hearing, which is being held at the Ventura County Courthouse before retired Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathryne Ann Stoltz, is expected to last into next week. Luster left the country in 2003 while out on bail on charges related to videotaped sexual encounters he had with unconscious women. He was convicted in absentia.

Months later, bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman apprehended him at a taco stand in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Chapman went on to star in a TV reality show, while Luster went to Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif.

A state appeals court last spring agreed that Luster's unusually long sentence should be reconsidered in light of claims that he had been poorly represented "in a textbook case of grasping lawyers seeking fame and fortune."

In a blue jail jumpsuit and orange T-shirt, the 49-year-old former surfer smiled at his old friend Darryl Genis, one of several witnesses who appeared Wednesday. A Santa Barbara attorney who specializes in drunk-driving cases, Genis recounted how the two met while surfing at Hollister Ranch.

Offering Luster apologies for his candor, Genis testified that his old surfing buddy was "childlike" and failed to comprehend that he could be sentenced to more than 100 years after he was convicted. Luster had been "able to live a life on vacation," Genis said, never rooting himself in such concerns as earning a living. Luster's financial advisor, Albert Gersh, had particularly harsh words for Richard G. Sherman, a Luster attorney who he said advised his client to head for the border.

Sherman, who died in 2011, and one of his investigators "encouraged him to leave the country … they said he'd be murdered in prison," Gersh said. The financial advisor said he told Luster that fleeing was "the stupidest idea I'd ever heard."

In court, Deputy Dist. Atty. Michelle Contois expressed skepticism that Luster bolted only because Sherman and his investigator frightened him with repeated tales of death behind bars.

"Luster could have terminated their services if he didn't like the advice he was getting," she said.

ALSO:

Funeral set today for deputy killed in Dorner shootout

Two killed as SUV crashes into tree, catches fire in Valley

Hotel guests horrified after tourist's body is found in water tank

-- Steve Chawkins in Ventura

Photo: Andrew Luster is escorted from Los Angeles International Airport by federal agents in 2003 after he was apprehended in Mexico. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times.

Subfreezing temperatures, strong winds expected in L.A. area

Sub-freezing temperatures were expected across Southern California
Strong winds and subfreezing temperatures are expected in inland and mountain areas across Southern California on Thursday in the wake of a winter storm that dumped snow and rain on the region.

Temperatures are expected to range from the upper 20s to low 30s from interior valleys in San Luis Obispo County to the Antelope, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys in Los Angeles County, according to the National Weather Service.

The frigid temperatures are a result of a cold, dry air mass. The agency said crops, sensitive vegetation and animals need to be protected. Frost advisories were issued for inland valley areas from the Central Coast to the San Gabriel Valley.

Powerful northwest winds were blowing Wednesday night and gusts were expected to hit 50 mph to 60 mph in mountains in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, forecasters said.

On Wednesday morning, ice and snow blanketed mountain areas, forcing the California Highway Patrol to temporarily close Interstate 5 in the Grapevine area.

ALSO:

Father allegedly brandished BB gun at high school

Indian tribe donating to families of 2 slain during Dorner manhunt

Canadian tourist found dead in hotel water tank: Accident victim?

-- Robert J. Lopez
twitter.com/LAJourno

Photo: Sheley Roberts shovels snow in a parking lot Wednesday at Lake of the Woods in Kern County. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Storm expected to bring cold rain, snow; road closures planned

A cold, blustery storm originating from the Gulf of Alaska is expected to move down the California coast Tuesday, creating traffic headaches in some places, authorities warned. 

Possible thunderstorms were expected to affect most of the Southland, bringing between one-tenth to half an inch of rain in most areas.

Snow could fall as low as 1,500 feet, and there was high potential for icy roadways, including Interstate 5 from the Grapevine to the Santa Clarita Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

Highway 14 through Soledad Canyon and Antelope Valley, Highway 33 in the Ventura mountains and Highway 138 through the Antelope Valley might also be difficult to pass, according to the National Weather Service.

For roads entering the Angeles National Forest, the L.A. County Public Works Department said it would begin closures at 3 a.m. Tuesday. The closures will affect the Angeles Forest Highway from Aliso Canyon Road to Angeles Crest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road from Angeles Forest Highway to Vogel Flats and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road from Angeles Forest Highway to Angeles Crest Highway

Once the roads are closed, county officials warn, local access will not be permitted. The closures are to remain in effect until the storm system has passed and the roads have been inspected.

More information and updates can be found on the county’s website.

ALSO:

Ex-mayor who gambled away $1 billion to pay restitution

Riverside officer wounded in Dorner manhunt is identified

Dorner probably died of self-inflicted gunshot, officials say

-- Garrett Therolf

Fillmore man who fatally shoots dog is shot dead by a deputy

Josue JimenezA Ventura County man who fatally shot a dog was shot and killed by a deputy, authorities said Thursday night.

Josue Jimenez, 33, allegedly had two handguns, one of which he fired after deputies arrived at the scene Wednesday afternoon in the 700 block of Blaine Avenue in Fillmore, according to authorities.

A deputy fired back, striking Ramirez with multiple rounds, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

"Deputies quickly realized the shot Jimenez fired was directed at a dog," the agency said in a statement.

Deputies performed first aid on the dog and Ramirez. The wounded animal was placed in a patrol car and rushed to a veterinary clinic in Fillmore, where it was pronounced dead, the agency said.

Jimenez was pronounced dead at a hospital. 

ALSO:

Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel spar over her audits findings

Petroglyphs stolen from sacred eastern Sierra site recovered

Latinos to make up plurality of Californians by 2014, report finds

— Robert J. Lopez

twitter.com/LAJourno

Photo: Josue Jimenez. Credit: Ventura County Sheriff's Department

San Diego breaks 103-year-old heat record

Kayakers at Dana Point Harbor enjoy summer-like weather
San Diego broke a daily heat record Tuesday that had stood for more than a century as temperatures in the 80s were recorded across Southern California.

Records were set elsewhere in the Southland, but the region was expected to begin cooling over the next several days as low pressure brings clouds and a possibility of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

The high of 80 degrees in San Diego broke a record of 76 degrees for the date that had stood since 1910, according to the National Weather Service. 

A record high for the day of 84 degrees was recorded in El Cajon. The previous record was 80 degrees, which was set in 1979.

In Los Angeles County, UCLA topped out at 82 degrees. That broke a record high for the date of 79 degrees that was set in 1976, the weather service said. 

Camarillo Airport in Ventura County reached 82 degrees, breaking by one degree a high for the date  recorded in 1968.

The summer-like weather has been the result of high pressure, which was expected to give way to a cold front moving in from the northwest, forecasters said. The cold front was expected to generate a slight chance of rain Wednesday evening and below-normal temperatures by the weekend.

ALSO:

Clergy abuse victims: 'We demand justice'

Woman pictured in Te'o hoax talks about perpetrator

From the jury pool: Former Bell officials 'raped constituents'

— Robert J. Lopez

twitter.com/LAJourno

Photo: Kayakers enjoy the warm weather Monday at Dana Point Harbor. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Oxnard teacher fired for porn shoot losing her paycheck

The Oxnard teacher who was fired for making porn movies will be taken off administrative leave next month, effectively cutting off her paychecks.

Stacie Halas was fired in April after students discovered her pornographic films.

On Wednesday, the Oxnard School District Board of Trustees moved to terminate her administrative pay Feb. 13.

It’s the last day she can appeal a dismissal order from the Commission on Professional Competence to the Ventura County Superior Court. The commission found 32-year-old Halas unfit to teach eighth-grade science at Haydock Intermediate School and ordered her dismissal in a 47-page report.

That’s “the last day for her to file an appeal in Superior Court which runs for 30 days from the ruling,” said Tom DeLapp, school district spokesman. “We have no indication whether she will pursue this option.”

On Wednesday, Halas’ attorney said he wasn’t sure if she was going to pursue an appeal.

“I’m very disappointed,” Schwab said Wednesday.

“We believe Ms. Halas was very honest and forthright, but extremely nervous and embarrassed by her past," he said. "She’s obviously very disappointed and hurt.”

ALSO:

Natalie Wood death probe found new evidence, sources say

Suspect in Hollywood nightclub slaying arrested in Las Vegas

Thief crawls through doggie door, steals 'I Love Lucy' collectibles

-- Adolfo Flores

Teacher who appeared in porn films waits for word on pay

The Ventura County middle school teacher who lost her job for previously appearing in pornographic movies is waiting for word on whether her pay will be revoked.

Stacie Halas, 32, was found earlier this month unfit to teach eighth-grade science at Haydock Intermediate School in Oxnard by the Commission on Professional Competence, which ordered her dismissal.

Although Halas filmed the pornographic scenes before she was employed at the middle school -- between 2005 and 2006 -– the ongoing availability of the videos will impede her ability to be an effective teacher, wrote Judge Julie Cabos-Owen.

The Oxnard School District Board of Trustees discussed Wednesday whether to revoke her pay. Halas should have disclosed her past when she applied to work at the district, said Tom DeLapp, a spokesman for the school district.

"She repeatedly and consciously had a pattern of lies and cover-ups when asked about it by her employers," DeLapp said. "She would say, 'I didn’t do it' or would create other lies to try and minimize the damage."

The board of trustees fired Halas in April after students discovered the pornographic films she had appeared in, a district spokesman said. School officials argued at the time that her past would continue to be an issue because students would be distracted by the adult films.

Halas appealed the decision to the Commission on Professional Competence, which ruled against her. Richard Schwab, Halas' attorney, disagreed with the commission’s findings.

"I'm very disappointed," he said. "We believe Ms. Halas was very honest and forthright but extremely nervous and embarrassed by her past. She's obviously very disappointed and hurt."

Halas has not decided whether to appeal the commission's order. She is on administrative leave.

ALSO:

UCI professor faces new charge in alleged plot to kill students

Federal case against anti-gang activist dismissed; 'errors' cited

Man charged with murder after wife's body found in SUV at casino

-- Adolfo Flores

Teacher fired for porn work could see pay revoked

The Oxnard School District Board of Trustees is expected to make a decision Wednesday on whether to revoke a middle school teacher’s pay after discovering that she had previously appeared in pornographic films.

Earlier this month, Stacie Halas, 32, was found unfit to teach eighth-grade science at Haydock Intermediate School by the Commission on Professional Competence, which ordered her dismissal.

Although Halas filmed the pornographic scenes before she was employed at the middle school -- between 2005 and 2006 -– the ongoing availability of the videos will impede her ability to be an effective teacher, wrote Judge Julie Cabos-Owen.

The board of trustees fired Halas in April after students discovered the pornographic films she had appeared in, a district spokesman said.

School officials argued at the time that her past would continue to be an issue because students would be distracted by the adult films.

Halas should have disclosed her past when she applied to work at the district, said Tom DeLapp, a spokesman for the school district.

"She repeatedly and consciously had a pattern of lies and cover-ups when asked about it by her employers," DeLapp said. "She would say 'I didn’t do it' or would create other lies to try and minimize the damage."

Halas appealed the decision to the Commission on Professional Competence, which ruled against her.

Richard Schwab, Halas' attorney, disagreed with the commission’s findings.

"I'm very disappointed," he said. "We believe Ms. Halas was very honest and forthright but extremely nervous and embarrassed by her past. She's obviously very disappointed and hurt."

Halas has not decided whether to appeal the commission's order. She is on administrative leave, pending the decision by the school district Wednesday.

ALSO:

Shots fired at LAPD officer in Harbor Gateway

Armed man barricades himself inside East L.A. home

16-year-old boy stabbed to death by attackers in Hemet

-- Adolfo Flores

Teacher fired for porn work not allowed to return to classroom

Oxnard

An Oxnard middle school teacher’s bid to return to the classroom after she was fired for appearing in pornographic films has been struck down by the state Office of Administrative Hearings.

The Commission on Professional Competence found Stacie Halas, 32, unfit to teach eighth-grade science at Haydock Intermediate School and ordered her dismissal. 

In a 47-page report dated Jan. 3, the commission said Halas’ work in the adult film industry hindered her ability to be a role model. The report also repeatedly took issue with her failure to be honest during the investigation.

Although Halas filmed the scenes between 2005 and 2006, before she was employed at the middle school, the ongoing availability of the videos will continue to hamper her ability to be an effective teacher, Judge Julie Cabos-Owen wrote.

Although Halas “failed to establish that she can be trusted as a role model for children or an example of redemption,” the report said, “the circumstances of this case most certainly demonstrate that one’s decisions and conduct, particularly continual deceit, must bring with them certain consequences.”

The Oxnard School District Board of Trustees fired Halas in April after students discovered the pornographic films she appeared in, a district spokesman said. Officials argued at the time that her past would continue to be a problem because students would be more focused on her adult films and not the teaching material.

Halas appealed the decision to the Commission on Professional Competence, which ruled against her after days of hearings in October.

“We were very pleased with the decision,” said Tom DeLapp, a spokesman for the Oxnard School District. “It vindicated and validated the arguments we’ve been making.”

Halas should have disclosed her past when she applied to work at the district, DeLapp said.

“She repeatedly and consciously had a pattern of lies and cover-ups when asked about it by her employers,” DeLapp said. “She would say ‘I didn’t do it’ or would create other lies to try and minimize the damage.”

Richard Schwab, Halas’ attorney, disagreed with the commission’s findings, in particular that his client was dishonest.

“I’m very disappointed,” Schwab said. “We believe Ms. Halas was very honest and forthright, but extremely nervous and embarrassed by her past. She’s obviously very disappointed and hurt.”

Halas presented an opportunity to teach others about redemption and overcoming obstacles, he said. At  the time she participated in the adult films, Halas faced financial strains and helped support her family, then went on to be a teacher.

“A lesson can still be learned, but it would be a lesson that if you make a mistake you’re not going to be able to dig yourself out of a hole,” Schwab said.

Halas has not made a decision on whether to appeal the commission’s order, Schwab said, but if she did it would go before the Ventura County Superior Court.

Halas is on administrative leave, but the Oxnard School District Board of Trustees is expected to make a decision on whether to revoke her pay Wednesday, said district Supt. Jeff Chancer.

“She continuously lied to us about just about everything,” Chancer said. “I think educators, police, firefighters and clergy should be held to a higher standard.”

RELATED:

Oxnard teacher accused of being porn star put on leave

Teacher porn video allegations generate little parent outrage

Oxnard teacher who allegedly appeared in porn movie is fired

-- Adolfo Flores

Photo: Richard B. Haydock Intermediate School. Credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5

Crops fare well despite cold, windy weather

Windy weather forecast
The weekend chill is giving way to cold, gusty winds followed by a slight warming trend in the days ahead, forecaster say -- good news for citrus farmers working to save crops.

A high wind watch is in effect for the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and mountain area through Sunday night, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Winds of 20 to 40 mph, gusting to 60 mph, are expected with overnight lows in the lower 40s.

Long Beach, Pasadena and Woodland Hills will stay on the chillier side with overnight lows in the lower 30s, Seto said.

The mass of Arctic air over the region is moving out and will be replaced by a high-pressure ridge that will push daytime temps to the mid-60s by Wednesday, he said.

Ventura County citrus farmers made it through another cold night, apparently with little damage to citrus crops. Ojai grower Jim Churchill said he kept wind machines going all night to protect his orchards of Pixie tangerines and avocados.

At one point, the thermometer dropped to 27 degrees, Churchill said. But it didn't stay there long.

"Two mornings ago, it got to 25 degrees and that's dangerous,'' he said. He'll check his crops for damage later this week, but thinks he fared OK.

Other citrus growers exchanged tales of their own long nights at the Ojai farmers market Sunday, he said. They are welcoming the forecasted wind.

"When there's winds, it's not as cold,'' he said. "The real damage comes when it’s still.”

Camarillo dropped to 33 degrees overnight, matching a record low set in 1962, Seto said.

ALSO:

Winter freeze keeps citrus growers up at night

L.A. mayoral candidates explain their approaches on housing

Legislator vows action on reckless prescribing of addictive pills

-- Catherine Saillant

Photo: Steers stand and graze Friday in a snow-covered field near the Tejon Pass town of Lebec. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

 

 

Freeze could bring record lows across Southland tonight

Icicles hang from lemons.

People should bundle up across Southern California: Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing in some parts of the region, with Saturday night predicted to be the chilliest.

Temperatures could drop to 32 degrees from the ocean to downtown Los Angeles. Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley could see the mid-20s.

“We’re not used to this around here,” said Bill Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. “This is outside our comfort zone as wimpy Southern Californians.”

Crops and other sensitive vegetation could be killed by the cold. The area hasn’t seen such low temperatures since 2007, said Bonnie Bartling, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service.

In Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, temperatures could drop to the mid-20s. Single digits are expected in the mountains and in the Antelope Valley, according to the weather service.

Orange and San Diego counties could see lows from 27 to 35 degrees, and parts of the Inland Empire could drop to as low as 21 degrees.

Wind advisories also are in effect, with gusts as fast as 60 mph expected in some areas.

Patzert said the low temperatures have been brought on by a high-pressure system pulling air straight from the Arctic.

“This is definitely a polar outbreak,” he said, adding that records could be broken in some places.

He instructed people to bring pets inside and to cover plants and pipes.

“Tonight’s the night to bundle up with your honey,” he said.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: Icicles hang from a lemon tree at a citrus farm in Moorpark. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Ferrari driver dead, passenger hurt in fiery Ventura County crash

Approximate location of accident shown in red.
A Ferrari driver was killed and his passenger injured when he lost control of the speeding car on a curve in Ventura County, plunging the red sports car into an irrigation ditch, where it burst into flames, the CHP said Friday.

The 52-year-old Morro Bay driver died Thursday night at the crash scene on Los Posas Road north of Pacific Coast Highway while his 23-year-old passenger was taken to a hospital and treated for burns from the flames that engulfed the 2004 Ferrari 360, said California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Reid.

The driver's identity had not yet been released. Reid said an investigation was underway into what caused the fatal crash.

Investigators said the Ferrari was traveling north at a high speed on the mostly straight road when the driver took the right hand curve in the unincorporated area near Camarillo and Point Mugu and lost control, Reid said.

Authorities were notified at 9:53 p.m. Thursday that the vehicle had ignited in flames following the impact.

"The vehicle goes out of control, hits the irrigation ditch, flipped over a few times and caught fire," Reid said.

ALSO:

Third person charged in slaying of Compton youth pastor

Woman high on cough syrup repeatedly stabs dog, police say

Scott Sterling's cause of death determination deferred, coroner says

-- Richard Winton

Map: Approximate location of accident shown in red. Credit: Google Maps

Camarillo students steal codes, break into lockers, police say

It is not such a very Merry Christmas for three Camarillo High School students arrested last week on suspicion of burglary and conspiracy after they allegedly procured the master locker combination list and broke into dozens of lockers.

The students were arrested Dec. 19 in connection with 17 burglaries reported between September 2012 and November 2012, Ventura County sheriff's officials said.

Students reported that their gym lockers were broken into and their cellular telephones and other expensive electronic equipment had been stolen.

An investigation by Camarillo detectives and Camarillo High’s school resource officer found that a master list of the lock combinations had been comprised.

Sheriff's detectives say one of the juveniles was able to obtain the list and coordinated with the other two juveniles to break into the lockers while the victims were in gym class. Most of the stolen property has been recovered.

 The three juveniles were cited and released to their parents pending their court hearings.

ALSO:

Rain to clear by this evening, return Christmas night

Avalanche injures 2 skiers at Squaw Valley; snowboarders blamed

Moreno Valley Wal-Mart evacuated after man, apparently armed, enters

-- Richard Winton

Moorpark man accused of unlicensed dentistry

A Moorpark man who furnished his apartment with a dental chair, dental tools, anesthetics and false teeth has been arrested on suspicion of practicing dentistry without a license, authorities said Wednesday.

In addition to the felony charge, William Escobar, 40, also was arrested on misdemeanor charges of possessing needles and furnishing dangerous drugs.   

Escobar had "converted his bathroom into a dental office," according to a news release from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, which accused him of running "an elaborate illegal dental operation."

Escobar treated numerous people for dental problems and provided orthodontic care to teenagers, according to the release.

One of his patients complained to police in November after Escobar allegedly threatened him over nonpayment of a bill. Escobar had cleaned the man's teeth, injected him with an anesthetic and examined him for extraction of a tooth, officials said.

The patient could not afford to have the tooth pulled.  He "suffered swelling and pain at the injection site," the release said.

The investigation was conducted in conjunction with the California Dental Board.

ALSO:

'Swatting' at Charlie Sheen, Miley Cyrus homes investigated

'Twilight' actor arrested at LAX for alleged public drunkenness

Mushrooms sprouting through floors of rundown Sacramento apartment

-- Steve Chawkins

Tanning salon owner accused of molesting teenage boys

A 49-year-old businessman has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a number of teenage boys at a tanning salon he owns in Thousand Oaks, authorities said Friday.

Gary Alan Haw of Agoura Hills hired boys, ages 12 to 19, to work at his Tan LA salon and would let them use the facility after hours, according to a news release from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. While they were tanning he molested them, officials said.

Alleged assaults also occurred elsewhere, taking place over a 12-year period starting in August 2000.

"Investigators believe that Haw targeted families in turmoil and single-parent families with teenage boys," according to the sheriff's office.

After striking a 17-year-old bicyclist with his father's Porsche in 1987, Haw was convicted of hit-and-run driving and conspiracy to obstruct justice. He was given a two-year sentence.

Three months after he started serving time, Haw complained that he had been raped by other inmates and ignored by medical staff at the state prison in Chino. A judge rejected his request to be moved.

Because of his felony record, bail in the sexual assault case was set at $500,000. Arraignment is set for Dec. 17 in Ventura County Superior Court.

ALSO:

UC drops its new, much-reviled logo

1 arrested, 1 sought in July 4 killing of Unique Russell

Serial killer Rodney Alcala pleads guilty to New York murders

-- Steve Chawkins in Ventura

Sandbags offered for L.A. residents as wet weather hits the area

Wet weather is predicted for the several days in L.A. area
With a series of storms expected to bring wet weather for the next several days, officials are reminding Los Angeles residents that they can get free sandbags and sand at  a number of city facilities.

Sandbags will be available at all Los Angeles Fire Department stations. The city Bureau of Street Services will also provide sandbags and sand. For a list of firehouses and bureau facilities, see the agency's website.

The wet weather, which began Wednesday afternoon, is expected to last through Sunday as three fast-moving storms hit the region, according to the National Weather Service.

Most of the rain was expected to fall in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, where mountain areas could receive from 1 inch to 2 inches of rain, the Weather Service said.

In Los Angeles County, rainfall amounts will range 0.10 to 0.33 of an inch in coastal and inland areas and up to 0.75 of an inch on south-facing mountain slopes.

The storms are expected to cause high surf along west-facing beaches. By Thursday morning, beaches in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties could see waves from 6 to 12 feet with some sets topping out at 15 feet, according to forecasters.

As the first storm swept through the Los Angeles area Wednesday evening, wind gusts of 36 mph were reported in Palmdale and Lancaster. In Northern California, the wet weather and high winds slickened area roads and knocked down power lines in some areas, officials said.

ALSO:

Workers sue Melrose Avenue car wash over labor practices

'Innocence of Muslims' filmmaker sentenced to death in Egypt

Celebrity 'swatting' hoaxes cause concern for law enforcement

— Robert J. Lopez

twitter.com/LAJourno

Photo:  A couple are silhouetted against a cloudy sky as they walk at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach on Wednesday. Credit: Allen J. Schaben  / Los Angeles Times

Dense fog warnings issued for Southern California

A dense fog warning is in effect throughout Southern California through Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said Friday night.

Visibility is expected to be reduced to 50 feet or less in some areas, especially near the coast, officials said.

The dense fog is expected to affect Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, said Todd Hall, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.  

The fog could affect travel along coastal roads and freeways, authorities said.

ALSO:

Protesters arrested outside Wal-Mart in Paramount

Multiple gold-plated guns stolen from Mission Viejo home 

L.A. artist sees billboards as platforms for elevated gardens

-- Hailey Branson-Potts

twitter.com/haileybranson 

Human skull, jaw found in Oxnard trash may be old religious altar

Oxnard authorities are puzzling over what appears to be a human skull and jawbone that were discovered by a recycler searching a trash dumpster for bottles and cans.

The bones found in an alley Thursday on 4th Street appeared weathered and were with other items that investigators indicated might have been part of a religious altar, the Ventura County Star reported.

That led to speculation that the remains might be part of a Santa ­Muerte shrine, a Mexican "Day of the Dead" event that some celebrate each year around Halloween.

Luis ­McArthur, a senior officer and spokes­man for ­Oxnard ­police.

Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/nov/15/oxnard-police-investigate-report-of-possible-in/#ixzz2CP8C9rER
- vcstar.com

"We think this is something that someone might have kept in their home," Oxnard police spokesman Luis McArthur told the Ventura County Star.

While it's not illegal to possess human bones, having them raises questions "unless you're a doctor or something," McArthur told the newspaper.

The bones were taken to the county coroner's office for possible identification.

ALSO:

After botched robbery, a trail of evidence left behind

Glendale police search for missing La Crescenta woman

Light rain falls Friday, heavier showers set for Saturday

-- Bob Pool