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
23. DIA DE LOS MUERTOS
Not the centuries-old Mexican religious holiday that is increasing in popularity en los Estados Unidos, but the proposed Pixar movie on the subject that led Disney to trademark the name in anticipation of hundreds of shoddy products. An online petition demanding the Mouse drop its efforts secured 20,000 signatures within a day and worked: a spokesrat quickly confirmed Disney was withdrawing its filings, claiming the tentative title of the forthcoming film had changed—and then the world howled in laughter. Mitigating factor: The fiasco inspired the brilliant "Muerto Mouse" illustration by legendary cartoonista Lalo Alcaraz that graces our cover, his best lampooning of Disney since "Migra Mouse."
24. KENT WYCLIFF EASTER AND JILL BJORKHOLM EASTER
A jury trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 28 for this Irvine couple accused of planting drugs in the car of a mom whose daughter attends the same school as the Easters' son, and then calling the cops on her. The mom had apparently worked volunteer yard duty and lightly disciplined the Easters' golden child, which led to an unsuccessful civil suit brought by the lawyer couple. The next move, according to prosecutors, was having Kent stick a bag containing Vicodin, Percocet, marijuana and a used pot pipe behind the driver's seat of the woman's unlocked vehicle—but in clear view of anyone (such as a cop) who peered inside one morning in February 2011. Kent and Jill allegedly called and texted each other just before and after a call was made to police about a drugged-up woman driving erratically before parking in an elementary school lot. But the "case" unraveled about as quickly as the Easters became Irvine's Bonnie and Clod. Mitigating factor: Potential readers now know about Holding House, Jill Easter's crime novel under the name Ava Bjork.
25. ANTHONY DUONG DONNER
Most Orange County police officers involved in underhanded deeds are smart enough to cover their tracks by crafting plausible-deniability ruses that routinely work on a gullible public. If the FBI is right, Donner—a Westminster police officer—didn't comprehend key sections of the well-worn Dirty Cop Handbook. The Golden West College graduate faces federal charges that in exchange for free housing from Kevin Khanh Tuan Do, a Fountain Valley businessman, he used his job (and uniform) to regularly act as the muscle in a Little Saigon extortion operation that demanded a whopping 60 percent annual interest. One victim, the owner of a Little Saigon coffee shop, claims cops—not just Donner—routinely visited her business to intimidate her when payments were due. Following August arrests, Do and Donner have pleaded not guilty. Mitigating factor: Ex-OC Sheriff Mike Carona needs a cellmate.
26. SCOTT STEINER
Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner is a conservative Republican with a beautiful wife and kids, but this year, he faced an allegation he'd committed sexual misconduct in connection with a former student at Chapman Law School, where he taught. Of course, it's not remarkable when a public figure strays into occasional infidelity. This particular allegation originated at the school, got transferred to the Orange County district attorney's office—Steiner's prior office as a prosecutor—and then landed at the California Attorney General's office, where officials declined to file criminal charges after a sheriff's department probe. What is noteworthy, however, is the volume of reports of different gorgeous, young women linked romantically to our Don Juan judge. Holy geez, dude. You need a male chastity belt? Mitigating factor: Move over, Bob Dole—Viagra has a new spokesman.
27. DINA NGUYEN
There's a lot of trash we can heap on the Garden Grove councilwoman, but the reason she makes our Scariest list this year is for her defense strategy as the attorney for the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, the homophobic organizers of last year's Tet Parade. Dina Nguyen, who represented the organization with former Garden Grove City Councilman Mark Rosen, defended the federation's decision to bar entry to LGBT organizations by showing pictures of men in thongs during a gay-pride parade completely unrelated to the Tet Parade. The move drew the ire of Orange County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Glass, who made a point to say he was offended the lawyers thought he would be offended. Unfortunately, he was unable to issue an injunction requiring the organizers to allow LGBT groups to participate; LGBT individuals marched with other organizations instead, sans thongs, much to Nguyen's displeasure. Mitigating factor: Her escapades drew former Nguoi Viet Daily News managing editor and current Bolsavik Publisher Hao-Nhien Vu out of the shadows, so there's that.
28. KELLEY CAHILL
There's no arguing the disgusting nature of Internet scam artists who swipe another person's name and photographs, then invent sob stories to entice money from good-hearted victims looking for love. To help educate the public about such thieves, ABC's 20/20 spent an hour in 2011 on the worthy topic. The show exposed several individuals who'd successfully conned people they'd never met out of large chunks of cash. Unfortunately, the show's producers also included a segment with then-host Chris Cuomo that featured the whining of Orange County's Kelley Cahill. In comparison to the real villains mentioned on the show, Cahill's outrage about David Williams, her ex-boyfriend, fell flat. Williams didn't steal anyone's identity or devise a con game to use Internet romance to swindle cash. In fact, the two met, they dated, she voluntarily gave him gifts, they moved in together, and then they experienced one of those non-criminal, ugly breakups that happen thousands of times a day across the nation. Like Glenn Close's spurned character in Fatal Attraction, Cahill went on a campaign to destroy her ex, and ABC gave her an undeserved national platform. Williams sued for defamation, claiming he broke up with Cahill after he caught her lying to go on a sex date with another man. Earlier this year, a veteran judge ruled Williams' case had legal merit, a move that caused ABC to settle before trial. Cahill wants to keep the drama going: She operates a dating-service business, iCheckmates, that profits from her alleged victimhood. Mitigating factor: Adding an "i" to your business name is so 2007.