A Year of Navel Gazing: The Virtual Orange County

Looking back at 2010 on our news blog, one Top 10 List at a time

7. Shandie Marie Lacsamana Rosete, 34, of Placentia, was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty in August to stealing more than $100,000 from developmentally disabled adults and one client’s blind, 93-year-old aunt. Rosete was their caretaker through the nonprofit Project Independence.

6. Robert Adrian Rizzo, 56, of Huntington Beach, has not been convicted (yet) but stands accused of misappropriating $5.5 million in public funds as tiny Bell’s city manager. Paid more than $1.5 million in 2010 salary and benefits by taxpayers, “Jabba the Corrupt” allegedly doled out loans totaling $1.6 million to more than 50 city officials, including himself.

5. George Steven Kooshian, the well-known, 59-year-old physician who operated clinics in Garden Grove, Laguna Beach and Long Beach, was sentenced in February to 15 months in the federal pen for injecting AIDS patients with saline and vitamins instead of the expensive drugs they were billed for. He was also ordered to pay $660,955 in restitution to 18 insurance companies for 21 patients who were sub-dosed so he could pay for a lavish lifestyle that included a five-bedroom, 17,500-square-foot, ocean-view, Newport Coast mansion and a fleet of sports and luxury cars. When the Weekly’s R. Scott Moxley first broke the story a decade ago, many in the local gay and AIDS-services communities refused to believe it.

Jesse Lenz
Jesse Lenz

4. Jared Tornow, 34, of San Clemente, was sentenced in January to nearly six years in federal prison for what U.S. District Judge David O. Carter called one of the most sophisticated and arrogant frauds he has ever seen. Through several companies, including Orange-based Lucrativo Real Estate Solutions, Tornow solicited home buyers and assisted them in obtaining mortgages, often by submitting fraudulent paperwork to lending banks. After Tornow and his partner received hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and commissions, most of the mortgages went into foreclosure, leaving countless lenders with bad paper.

3. John Anthony Miller, 52, of San Clemente, was sentenced in January to 13 years in the federal pen for stealing more than $21 million from investors who were guaranteed annual returns of as much as 18 percent per year from his Newport Beach-based JAM Jr. Enterprises and Forte Financial Partners, which were supposedly investing in foreign-currency trading, oil wells, real estate and other vehicles. Actually, the Ponzi scheme was lining Miller’s pockets. The judge labeled Miller “amongst the most egregious of any investment fraudster or Ponzi schemer this court will ever see.”

2. Michael Vincent Petronella (also known as Michael Constantine), 51, of Laguna Hills, got 10 years in state prison after a jury in February convicted the roofing contractor of pulling off one of the largest known Workers’ Compensation Insurance fraud cases in California’s history. He and his yet-to-be-tried wife, Devon Lynn Kile, owned five properties in California and Texas; multiple luxury vehicles (including a Bentley, two Ferraris and a Range Rover); and $2.1 million worth of jewelry, shoes, clothes and other personal items from Balenciaga, Bloomingdale’s, Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Gucci, Kitson, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Yves Saint Laurent and other high-end stores that ran their American Express cards over a two-year period. Investigators also turned up Kile’s application to join the cast of The Real Housewives of Orange County.

1. Jeffrey Gordon Butler, 51, of San Juan Capistrano, was sentenced in January to 90 years and eight months in state prison for stealing the savings of more than 125 unsuspecting elderly victims in a Ponzi scheme that fraudulently solicited more than $11 million in investments through the illegal sale of unqualified promissory notes or stocks and filing false tax returns on his ill-gotten profits. Butler is lucky; the judge could have sentenced him to 300 years. And his criminal ways were kept all in the family: his wife, Peggy Warmath Butler, 49, was also convicted on four felony counts and sentenced to a year in jail and seven months of probation. She only has to pine for her husband for another 89 years.

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10. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day: The man holding the deed to Nadya Suleman’s La Habra home threatens to foreclose due to non-payment, Octomom pleads in the gossip press for help on behalf of her 14 children, and an eleventh-hour miracle (payment from a magazine-photo shoot, foreign-media interview, animal-rights-group stunt) drops out of the sky to save her . . . until it’s all played out again. In October, it was revealed it is not her or her dad or her attorney making payments on the Madonna Lane home; it’s her “corporation.”

9. Just about every time Suleman begged for help, Vivid Entertainment pornpresario Steven Hirsch offered to bail her out. First, it was $1 million if she would have sex in an adult film. She declined. Next, it was $500,000 if she simply appeared clothed in a porn. Octomom said no. Next came a $1,000-per-day job offer as a production assistant. Nope. The most recent offer from former Orange County resident Hirsch would have Suleman co-host a Vivid party at January’s AVN Awards in Las Vegas. Hirsch is still waiting for an answer.

8. Octomom also turned down a fetish site’s 20 grand offer to wash her hair for half an hour and be tickled for an additional 30 minutes on camera.

7. In May, Suleman took $5,000 and a month’s supply of veggie dogs and veggie burgers in exchange for hanging a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals poster outside her home. “Don’t let your dog or cat become an ‘octomom.’ Always spay or neuter” was emblazoned on the sign next to the PETA logo.

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