OC's Scariest People 2014! Scary People to Avoid in the Dark!
Illustration: D. W. Frydendall, Design: Dustin Ames
By Gustavo Arellano, Matt Coker, LP Hastings, Charles Lam, R. Scott Moxley, Gabriel San Román and Nick Schou
Ever heard of the children's books Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? Neither had we, but the tales so spooked Weekly art director Dustin Ames as a kid that he asked if we could illustrate some of this year's scariest people in the same sparse, spooky style immortalized by the series. Why not? Cheaper than therapy!
Anyhoo, behold this year's roster of OC's worst people. Note that many inanimate objects made the list this year, then ponder that anomaly. And don't forget to visit our Navel Gazing blog, on which we'll reveal the latest inductee into the Bob Dornan Scary OC Hall of Fame!
1. ANTI-VAXXERS A bunch of South County housewives feel they don't have to vaccinate their children because some mommy blog told them not to, so California saw its worst outbreak of measles in decades this past year. Unlike stolen purses or shoes, this isn't something they can blame on Mexicans, as they're one of the highest vaccinated groups in the county. So, conservatives? You're more likely to get a deadly infectious disease driving down Oso Parkway than you are hanging out with Liberians--try to blame THAT on Obama. Mitigating Factor: Anti-vaxxers tend to be cute, so . . .
D. W. Frydendall
2. "FUCK THE POLICE" HAT Who knew a simple snapback could shut down local government? But that's what happened at the Oct. 7 Santa Ana City Council meeting, when a man calling himself Bijan sat in the council chambers quietly wearing a hat with silver-and-black embroidery spelling out "Fuck the Police." That was enough for Mayor-for-Life Miguel Pulido to lose his shit, demanding Bijan remove it. When he didn't, the Don Papi responded by ordering everyone out of chambers, then canceling--not rescheduling--the meeting after a standoff with more than a dozen residents who refused to leave. His actions prompted the ACLU to send the council a letter reminding them about the First Amendment. All that over a hat! Mitigating Factor: The cap is available for purchase online and vegan-friendly--see, anarchists don't hate all piggies.
3. ALAN LONG When Murrieta made national news this summer for turning away busloads of undocumented Central American teens, Mayor (and Anaheim fire-battalion chief) Alan Long justified his City of Hate by saying he wouldn't "stand for our country's laws to be violated." Wonder if that's what Long thought as he plowed into the back of a vehicle earlier this month, injuring four Murrieta High cheerleaders. Police arrested Long at the scene for failing a field sobriety test; Long disputes he was driving borracho. The subsequent uproar forced Long to resign from his office, although his public remorse is just for show: He's running for re-election this November. Mitigating Factor: Proved that God not only loves karma, but he also loves embarrassing racist losers.
4. THE GUYS WHO CUT OFF ANOTHER GUY'S PENIS AND LEFT HIM IN THE DESERT Kyle Handley, Ryan Kevorkian and Hossein Nayeri managed to do the impossible: commit a crime more gruesome than anything dreamed up by Breaking Bad. They allegedly kidnapped a medical-marijuana-dispensary operator whom they believed had stashed a large quantity of cash in the desert. On the way to the apparently nonexistent stash, they pummeled and tortured their victim with a blowtorch. Finally, when that didn't elicit a location, they severed his penis and doused him with bleach to destroy DNA evidence. Man, not even Gus Fring would stoop to such lows . . . or maybe he did, and it'll come out in the upcoming Better Call Saul? Mitigating Factor: The bleach trick didn't work; all three men face life in prison for their crime.
5. JILLIANNE BJORKHOLM EASTER It has been said, mostly in the pre-bra-burning days, that behind every great man is a great woman. Remove "great" and fill in the blanks for Kent Wycliffe Easter and Jillianne Bjorkholm Easter. They are the Irvine lawyers who terrorized a school mom and her family for more than a year, culminating in an unsuccessful (and felonious) attempt to plant drugs on her and get her arrested. Why? Because Jill mistakenly thought the woman had called her son "slow" in the head. (She meant slow to join fellow classmates in lining up.) It would come out in their respective trials that Jill was cheating on Kent, frightened her husband and was the mastermind of the twisted revenge plot. Mitigating Factor: After pleading guilty and doing her time, Jill did nothing to support Kent's separate defense argument that blamed her for the whole thing. Wait . . . is mitigating the right word?
6. JUDGE DEREK JOHNSON In the view of Orange County Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson, it's fairly easy to decide if a female is telling the truth about being raped: Either the woman's vagina is "shredded" after forced intercourse, or it's not because she was a willing participant. "If somebody doesn't want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down," Johnson declared in remarks during the sentencing hearing in a 2008 Irvine case and first reported by the Weekly. "The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case." Four years later, a state judicial-conduct panel rebuked Johnson, an ex-sex-crimes prosecutor, because, as every judge should know, California law doesn't require rape victims to fight their attackers to prove commission of the crime. In June, with widespread support of the local legal community, Johnson won re-election. Mitigating Factor: No matter what rant he utters in the future, it can't be more offensive.
7. KWANG CHOL JOY Kwang Chol Joy kept terrorizing his roommate, Iraq War vet Maribel Ramos, who was about to graduate from Cal State Fullerton, so Ramos' boyfriend told Joy he had to leave. A day later, she disappeared; her body was later discovered on a Modjeska Canyon hillside. Questioned by cops, Joy played the role of the bereaved best friend, but it soon became apparent he'd been arguing with Ramos. Final straw: Joy was busted at a public library while researching how long it takes for a human body to decompose. Mitigating Factor: No complaints so far from Joy's new roomies behind bars.
8. DAN AND DIANE HARKEY Diane Harkey, who is being termed out as state assemblywoman and is seeking to continue her taxpayer-funded career on California's Board of Equalization (BOE), used to campaign as a financial whiz partly responsible for the success of her husband Dan's real-estate-investment company, Point Center Financial (PCF). But when PCF drained the retirements of several poor souls on its way to insolvency, Dana Point Republican Diane distanced herself from Dan and his bankrupt firm. And when a BOE opponent tried to make political hay out of the hypocrisy, supposed frivolous-lawsuit foe Diane--all together now--sued! Speaking of being litigation-happy, Dan has also sued retirees who haven't received a cent from their court-ordered settlement with PCF. Mitigating Factor: The Orange County Republican Party, the district attorney and fellow GOP officeholders endorsed Diane Harkey for the BOE, so she can't be all bad, right?
D. W. Frydendall
9. LAURA COX Who says only men commit domestic violence? Not the Huntington Beach resident who got so sick of her crazy neighbor that she finally used her cell phone to record Laura Cox screaming at her motorized-wheelchair-riding boyfriend in the alley, then pushing him to the cement and running over his wheelchair with her truck. (A separate video on YouTube shows Cox repeatedly punching, slapping and kicking her truck for no apparent reason.) The boyfriend was trying to keep Cox from driving because she was allegedly high on meth. He survived relatively unscathed and refused to file charges against her. Mitigating Factor: Based on the video footage, police still arrested her for driving under the influence because, you know, meth.
10. JEREMY BROADWATER When you call the firefighters, you expect them to be reasonably trained--knowing how to take vitals and stabilize a spine and such. But good luck if you live in Garden Grove, whose fire department employs Jeremy Broadwater. He joined the force last October despite having multiple misdemeanor convictions, blowing his interview and being so bad at his job that he was one of the main reasons Garden Grove's firefighter's union gave a unanimous no-confidence vote to their chief, who resigned shortly after. So how'd Broadwater score the job out of a field of 500 other, more-qualified candidates? Being the mayor's son probably didn't hurt. Mitigating Factor: The fire department pulled him off his engine this month, shoving him behind a desk. But the nightmare isn't over: He might be getting a raise.
11. JOSH HAMILTON When the Anaheim Angels signed the outfielder in 2013 to a five-year, $125 million contract, Josh Hamilton was supposed to be the last piece of the puzzle needed to take the Halos to the World Series. Instead, Hamilton went astrophysical on everyone by having his career spaghettify before us: a terrible 2013 led to a horrible 2014 (with career lows in homers and RBIs), followed by a no-good postseason that saw him bat a very bad .000, as the heavily favored Angels were swept in the first round. Angels fans booed him mercilessly all year, but they better learn to love him: Hamilton still has three years and $83 million left on his contract, along with a no-trade clause. Mitigating Factor: Every time he strikes out, Angels owner Arte Moreno looks that much more pendejo for signing him.
12. BETH KROM Orange County has been home to too many political clowns to count, but if we're just taking stock of active elected officials, nobody is more embarrassing than Beth Krom. As the loyal, robotic sidekick to Irvine political machine boss Larry Agran, she takes her master's talking points, puts an angry frown on her face and attacks anyone who dares speak the truth of how the two of them spent $200 million in Orange County Great Park construction funds without building the park. Two of the biggest Agran-inspired lies she spews: Critics of their waste of funds on lucrative, no-bid contracts for their pals must have opposed the park, and their 12-year reign over the city included--despite an alarming independent audit proving otherwise--no financial mismanagement. Mitigating Factor: When Krom--whose well-earned nickname is "Screech"--speaks, rodents flee the premises.
13. HOWARD GUNDY As DA Tony Rackauckas' emissary at evidentiary hearings on a prosecutorial-misconduct scandal this year that has wreaked havoc on OC law enforcement, prosecutor Howard Gundy repeatedly turned logic upside-down to discredit evidence of corruption. For example, Gundy stated it was okay for Fernando Perez, who would eventually become a Mexican Mafia boss, to carry a loaded gun in public because the convicted felon was secretly working as a snitch. He also told ex-federal prosecutor Terri Flynn-Peister, now a judge, that her compliance with discovery obligations to defense lawyers in gang cases didn't make sense. Perhaps worse, he tried to justify how cops placed Delhi gangster Henry Cabrera in the rival Highland Street gang--a move that falsely implicated the suspect in a crime. Gundy insisted the following evidence didn't contradict the cops' assertion: Cabrera had been caught driving a car loaded with Delhi; he lived with his brother, a longtime Delhi hoodlum; he'd been arrested previously for committing a Delhi crime; and cops possessed photographs of the man posing with Delhi members flashing gang signs. Mitigating Factor: According to Randy Newman, short people got little hands and little eyes, and they walk around tellin' great big lies.
14. ALFREDO MIGUEL AQUINO AND RICARDO CRUZ Documented cholos accused of driving into an Anaheim neighborhood to gun down a rival cholo, only to murder Ximena Meza, a 9-year-old playing outside with her sisters. Need anything else? Mitigating Factor: Even La Eme doesn't look kindly on child killers.
15. SADDLEBACK COLLEGE'S MRAP Terrorists and lone-wolf school shooters beware: Saddleback College is ready for you! Thanks to a federal program that allows local police departments to get military hand-me-downs, the Mission Viejo community college snagged itself a mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle better suited to fighting jihadis than sixth-year communication majors. It's the only campus police force in the nation with less than 10 full-time cops to have one, which is only used to wow dumb high school kids. No word yet if the MRAP is equipped to protect students from exploding textbook costs and tuition fees, though. Mitigating Factor: Just waiting for a Gaucho to take it for a joy ride on Alicia Parkway.
16. JAKE VALE This "comedian" made news earlier this year when footage appeared on YouTube of a Huntington Beach cop grabbing, pushing and cursing at a civilian. Typical H.B. cop behavior, right? Wrong. Turns out the cop was Jake Vale, as Surf City's finest were quick to point out on Facebook. Come on, Vale: not fair targeting this department, seeing as how they already have their hands full with actual members of the force acting like douchebags and killing girls armed with pen knives. Mitigating Factor: Thanks for giving the Weekly an opportunity to clear the Huntington Beach Police Department of wrongdoing for the first time!
17. HA DUC NGUYEN When Little Saigon's Ha Duc Nguyen returned to Orange County after working as an English teacher in Japan, she did what every rational person does: She launched a romantic relationship with a deranged inmate. To Nguyen, Stephenson Choi Kim was a sexy stud with a fantastic sense of humor. To the rest of the world, Choi was a vicious killer who murdered the innocent merely to impress fellow gangsters. From 2009 to 2011, Nguyen used her vagina to smuggle narcotics to Kim inside the OC Jail. In the visitors' area, they had sex as many as 30 times and shot iPhone videos of their relations. All the antics were somewhat funny until we learned of a wish Nguyen revealed to the killer during a phone-sex call recorded by sheriff's deputies and introduced as trial evidence: She told Kim she wanted him to defecate in her mouth. Mitigating Factor: Nguyen gets credit for making the OC Jail a pleasure palace.
D. W. Frydendall
18. LUCILLE KRING Like Jason at Camp Crystal Lake or Freddy on Elm Street, Anaheim City Councilwoman Lucille Kring's career consists of multiple sequels, each worse than the last. After serving single terms from 1998 to 2002 and 2006 until 2010, Kring returned to the dais in 2012 by convincing liberals and good-government conservatives alike that she'd fight the city's wholesale sacking led by former Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle. But once elected, Kring revealed her Pringle puppet strings, consistently voting for developer giveaways and mass-transit boondoggles and against anything with the whiff of democracy. She is currently running for mayor against incumbent (and fellow Republican) Tom Tait--the very person who endorsed her in 2012. Just as fellow councilwomen Gail Eastman and Kris Murray do, Kring has a flair for the stupid: After Anaheim police shot to death a cholo in March, she sent an email to a local listserv praising the death as a "good outcome" because "the shooting saved us a trial." She later apologized. Mitigating Factor: Kring has been reprimanded by OC GOP head Scott Baugh multiple times for going after Tait and possibly costing the GOP Anaheim's mayoral seat.
D. W. Frydendall
19. STEVE COBURN California Chrome captured the heart of America after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, two-thirds of horse racing's Triple Crown. But the Los Alamitos Race Course-trained thoroughbred placed fourth in the Belmont Stakes after suffering a minor injury during the race. Rather than accept his colt's loss with grace, co-owner Steve Coburn went on a rant on live national television, claiming the Stakes allowed "the coward's way out" for fresher horses to win because it didn't require them to have previously run in the Derby and Preakness--never mind that the past three Triple Crown winners raced under the same circumstances. After originally sticking by his comments, Coburn eventually apologized, living up to the first part of his company's name: Dumb Ass Partners. Mitigating Factor: At least Coburn's not part of Los Al's last famous horse-owner corporation--the Zetas drug cartel.
Jason "Mayhem" Miller
Courtesy of Orange County Sheriff's Department
20. THIS GUY! (See Matt Coker's "Jason 'Mayhem' Miller Pleads Not Guilty to Causing Mayhem in Standoff with Deputies" on our Navel Gazing blog.)
Brad A. Johnson
D. W. Frydendall
21. BRAD A. JOHNSON A national chefs' poll has rated the Orange County Register food critic as America's worst restaurant writer two years in a row, with added honors for being the country's dullest, the one with the worst prose style, and the scribbler with whom chefs would least like to share a meal. Brad A. Johnson treats OC as an afterthought, preferring instead to review hotels for the late, not-great Los Angeles Register or reviewing restaurants abroad--anywhere but here. He made an ass of himself at the OC Press Club awards when he showed up in a clown mask that made Pennywise from It look like Cary Grant. Johnson is so obsessed with French fries he even critiques them when reviewing Mexican restaurants--um, what? Mitigating Factor: Still better than the Reg's other food writer, the execrable Nancy Luna.
22. JANET NGUYEN Amazingly, this is Janet Nguyen's first time on this list, despite a career swarming with scary accomplishments. We're finally convinced she might be an actual vampire. Think about it: Her social sensibilities are centuries old. She somehow hypnotizes thousands of people to vote for her despite having no accomplishments or fan base. There's barely any garlic in her Stanton sandwich shop, and somehow, she's semi-successfully running for state Senate against Jose Solorio despite her mismanagement of CalOptima, Orange County's medical-care program for the poor and elderly. Supporters are currently under investigation for alleged money laundering to fund her Board of Supervisors campaigns. Has anyone ever seen her wear silver? Mitigating Factor: Nguyen's the only person capable of killing the werewolf that is Van Thai Tran.
23. RICARDO NIEVA It takes a scary guy to steal $2 million. It takes an even scarier guy to steal $2 million from a school, and to do so for 18 years while publicly speaking about how you love children and education. But Ricardo Nieva, former finance director of the private Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, did just that, writing checks to himself and cooking the books to try to make everything look fine. What'd he end up spending the money on? Vacations, Angels tickets, more vacations and paying his own bills. Mitigating Factor: He's going to federal prison.
24. CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY'S FIJI PARTY BUS In April, Chapman University's Phi Gamma Delta's fraternity held a party in Pomona that saw more than 200 partygoers left stranded after a previously scheduled charter-bus service refused to take them back home. Reason? According to an email by the FIJI president, the drivers complained about "excessive amounts of hazardous waste" left behind by drunk undergrads--the waste being "vomit, urine and fecal matter." Rather than blast their fellow pissers, those left behind trashed the bus service and the frat, which eventually paid for everyone's taxi service back home--then told its members not to talk to the Chapman Panther, crying persecution. Typical entitled millennials . . . Mitigating Factor: At least the Phi Gamma Delta men of Chapman weren't accused of racism, as were UC Irvine's chapter; they were accused of sexism, instead.
25. NORBERTINE MONKS Back in 2005, the Norbertines running St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa made national headlines after not allowing a gay couple to take their son to school together. This time around, the Praemies are finding enemies in Silverado Canyon, as they try to develop the historic Holtz Ranch and expand their St. Michael's Abbey. Acres of dirt and foliage on Holtz Ranch were ripped up to pave way for a compound complete with abprivate school, an athletic field, a gift shop, guest cottages, dormitories and other amenities. Silverado now faces clogged streets and less-than-pristine skies. Mitigating Factor: There are no known pedophile monks in their ranks for once.
26. TIMOTHY LAI Last year, Timothy Lai was living a fairly normal life tutoring students at some of Orange County's most academically rigorous schools, earning plaudits from students and parents alike. But according to the Newport Beach Police Department, Lai instructed some of his students to plug keyloggers--USB drives with a program that records keystrokes--into their teachers' computers. He'd then use the information to log into the school's network to steal exams and change grades, further embellishing his reputation. When Lai finally got caught, the cops arrived at his apartment to find notes and names, but no tutor--he had fled the country. This past month, he was finally arrested, more than half a year after 11 of his students were expelled. Mitigating Factor: He's a member of UC Irvine's coolest Greek association, Triangle Fraternity.
27. TAMRA BARNEY JUDGE Viewers, cast members and producers of The Real Housewives of Orange County agree on one thing: They despise Tamra Barney Judge. After joining the Housewives in season three, she has clashed with her supposed friend and since-departed cast member Alexis Bellino (whom Judge nicknamed "Jesus Jugs") beginning in season five, and she has lied to, manipulated, and talked behind and in front of the backs of everyone associated with the show. Season nine newcomer Lizzie Rovsek became the latest target, earning the nickname "Kentucky Fried Titties" from Judge. Rumors flew that Bravo would replace her with Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa, but Mrs. Mamba shot that notion down and the network confirmed you-know-who will be back for season 10. Mitigating Factor: The Real Housewives of Atlanta is better.
28. OMAR GONZALEZ This 42-year-old former football player from Orange High School joined the Army, served overseas and, somewhere along the way, lost a few marbles. On Sept. 23, Omar Gonzalez jumped a fence at the White House and made a mad dash for the front door. He was tackled in a hallway by Secret Service officers, who presumably had just woken up from a nap and found he was armed with a knife. In his car, which police discovered parked nearby, were two axes and 800 rounds of ammunition. Mitigating Factor: Gonzalez made history by forcing the resignation of the Secret Service's top official.
29. BRUCE BOUDREAU Future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne spent parts of 15 seasons playing for the Anaheim Ducks and helped win the franchise its sole Stanley Cup. But the organization might not be retiring his No. 8 on Jan. 11, 2015, were it not for Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. In his authorized biography, the Finnish Flash said, "If we had any other coach, I'd still play." Selanne blames Boudreau for not having used him enough, including in last season's second-round playoff elimination by the Kings. "It would have been wrong," Selanne says, "if we had won the Stanley Cup with a coach like that." Mitigating Factor: Boudreau is the fastest NHL coach to win 300 games.
30. SUSAN KANG SCHROEDER The chief of staff for Orange County DA Tony Rackauckas hasn't exactly enjoyed a reputation for tenderness. Expecting to face bitter enemy Todd Spitzer in a future election to replace a retiring Rackauckas, Susan Kang Schroeder in May abandoned what she does best: evil, behind-the-scenes maneuverings with resulting large body counts. She allowed the Orange County Register to publish a profile about her cosmetic preferences (high-end) and her daily "beauty regimen" in hopes of softening her image. Reported the Reg, "Schroeder loves to slather her skin in Jo Malone Orange Blossom body cream ($75 for 5.9 ounces)." Divorced several years ago, she explained that it takes her 90 minutes in the morning to "look really amazing." See? A person's inner beauty is so overrated. Mitigating Factor: Shortly after the profile, Schroeder dropped the lovey-dovey crap and resumed what comes naturally: wickedness.
31. FRANK MICKADEIT The former Orange County Register columnist ended his decade-long run in January, an event so momentous that Weekly reporters didn't realize it until two weeks after the fact. Reading Frank Mickadeit in his final years meant peering into a psychological profile of someone who desperately wanted to be accepted by the lords of Orange County and become one--and he has, landing a cushy gig with a law firm and spending his nights schmoozing with socialites at the latest high-society gathering. Plus, he likes to boast about his high-priced suits. Mitigating Factor: OC will never have to read the word Lompoc in print again.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.