I'm no Columbo, but an Orange County District Attorney's office statement I just received about Larry Thomas Dominguez being charged with illegally collecting more than $100,000 from his deceased father's Social Security benefits indicates to me the bones found in the homicide suspect's former backyard are believed to belong to his dear old departed dad. Sure enough, Santa Ana Police now confirm they think those were Wallace Benjamin Dominguez's remains unearthed by the new homeowners Sunday.
The bones are still being examined by the coroner, who is tasked with determining how the elder Benjamin, who was in his 80s, died. The stakes are high: a confirmed cause of death could lead to the younger Dominguez, 65, being charged with murder or, if it's found his father expired due to natural causes, merely fraudulent theft of benefits.
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This much prosecutors have put together: Wally Benjamin had lived with his son in the North Hesperian Street home at the time of the old man's death in May 2005. The son later sold the home but through this current month Larry Dominguez collected his father's Social Security benefits--to the tune of more than $1,100 a month or more than a hundred grand total, charges the DA's office.
The living Dominguez is being arraigned right now on one felony count of theft by embezzlement and sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000--charges that could send him to state prison for up to four years, not counting any other possible punishment related to the death.
Meanwhile, the DA has assigned one of its own investigators to join the Santa Ana Police detective on the case. Anyone who can help is asked to call police Detective Leo Rodriguez at 714.245.8390 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Ron Seman at 714.347.8814.