By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Every year, we pick the 31 scariest people in Orange County so you can laugh, cringe and be glad we didn't pick you this time around. But we hear you, gentle readers: You want more. More Instagrams, more tweets, more interacting with us. In that spirit, we've decided to offer cutout dolls of some of our scariest people, complete with accessories! Now you can pit Christopher Dorner against pervy Judge Scott Steiner, with Todd Spitzer saving the day by hijacking yet another press conference. Or you can just continue reading our latest collection of OC's lowest of the low. And don't forget to visit our Navel Gazing blog, on which we'll reveal the latest inductee to the Bob Dornan Scary OC Hall of Fame!
1. CHRISTOPHER DORNER
The poster boy for scary in 2013 was Christopher Jordan Dorner, the 33-year-old former La Palma resident who famously washed out as an LAPD officer (because he was flippin' nuts!). In early February, Dorner terrorized all of Southern California generally and anyone in a police uniform specifically. The former naval reserve officer's blood spree began with the lives of a bright, happy, young couple in Irvine—the female half being the daughter of the police captain who had represented Dorner in disciplinary proceedings. The discovery of those bodies was quickly followed by the disclosure of the madman's online manifesto against the LAPD (and, oddly, in favor of certain celebrities, including the stars of KFI's John and Ken Show). Amid an all-points manhunt that included false sightings, raids on empty dwellings, and cops using a Latina mother-and-daughter team delivering newspapers as target practice, a Riverside cop on routine patrol was shot to death and two other policemen were injured. Then, in the Big Bear area standoff that would end SoCal's nightmare, one deputy was slain in an exchange of gunfire and a second was hurt. With cabin walls in flames around him, Dorner presumably shot himself dead, but his folk-hero status survived. Mitigating factor: The only bright spot in all this? Howard Stern Wack Packer Captain Janks crank-calling KCBS-TV Channel 2 during the final showdown.
2. GREG PARHAM
Despite the fact that his bosses—Deputy U.S. Attorney General Andre Birotte, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama—had repeatedly insisted their policy wasn't to interfere with patients obtaining medical marijuana in states in which it was legal to do so, Greg Parham was a man on a mission. The assistant U.S. Attorney was in charge of the federal government's pot-eradication efforts in Southern California, and as he saw it, his job was to shut down every cannabis dispensary in his jurisdiction, policy and public statements be damned. Internal emails obtained by the Weekly reveal that Parham instructed his colleagues to threaten landlords with seizure of their properties without regard to whether their tenants were complying with state law. Worse, the emails showed that Parham and his pals relished the knowledge their actions were ruining lives and found such news cause for celebration. Mitigating factor: Thanks to our coverage, embarrassed higher-ups in the Obama administration forced Parham's office to drop several major cases against landlords in Orange County.
3. AARON KUSHNER
Have you ever watched someone being interviewed on television that clearly has no meaningful grasp of the topic? Regardless of the pending question, this interviewee expertly regurgitates marketing-department prepared lines with fake sincerity. That has been the m.o. of Aaron Kushner, the public face of a secretive business entity that purchased Freedom Communications Inc. and its flagship Orange County Register in 2012. It's one thing for a corporate flack for, say, a real-estate-development firm to utter nonsense to inquiring reporters. But it's another, more problematic thing when the empty suit is the leader of a media empire of more than 30 publications. It's even worse that Kushner, whose prior experience in journalism was buying an established greeting-card company, seems to think his carefully manufactured utterances equal facts. Adding free tickets to Angels games, cocktail party-like pictures and saccharine reports of churches, clubs and high-school sports doesn't push the paper into the "great" journalism category worthy of a complete paywall that even The New York Times or Washington Post don't dare. Perhaps what's most frightening is that so many otherwise-clear-headed reporters have cheapened their bylines by leaping on the Kushner bandwagon. Mitigating factor: A profile we wrote on him won us Best Business Story awards from both the OC and LA Press Clubs.
4. GABRIELLE NESTANDE
By day, Gabrielle Jane Nestande was a Texas legislative aide, former debutante and scion of a powerful Newport Beach political family headed by Bruce Nestande, a former OC assemblyman, county supervisor and campaign chairman to various high-profile GOP candidates who still advises OC's Republican Party. One night in 2011, petite Gabrielle downed five celebratory beers, a vodka drink and a 3-ounce shot, transforming into "Gabby Nasty," the nickname she earned in the Austin area for plowing her BMW into a nanny out for her last early-morning walk. Nestande, who'd previously worked on Governor Rick Perry's campaign, initially avoided the most serious fatal DUI hit-and-run charges, sparking a public outcry that had a state attorney taking the case over from local prosecutors. Gabby was convicted of criminally negligent homicide, sentenced to 180 days in jail and, just before her stretch ended in September, beaten up by a fellow inmate. None of this, by the way, was covered by the Register. Mitigating factor: Bruce got house arrest after a hit-and-run DUI crash into a parked car in Newport Beach. That was after a previous conviction for DUI hit-and-run in San Bernardino County. The appletini obviously does not fall far from the tree.