OC's Scariest People
Hello, guys and ghouls! This is your humble Crypto Mexican, with another spine-shivering edition of OC’s Scariest People! Just in time for my second-favorite holiday: Día de los Muertos. (My favorite? April GHOULS’ Day, of course! Eee-hee-heee!)
Read on, as OC Weekly’s staff spins the titillatingly terrifying tales of OC’s most garish gangsters, cutthroat cops, diabolical dog abusers—and Vanessa Bryant! And visit our Navel Gazing blog to read about our latest entrant into the Bob Dornan Hall of Shame: Birther Queen Orly Taitz! Say, Orly: Care to work on my teeth? AHAHAHAHAHAHA!
1. ROBERT RIZZO
Thomas Nast couldn’t have invented a grosser caricature of political corruption and avarice than Rizzo, the short, impossibly rotund former city manager of Bell whose fleecing of the working-class Los Angeles County city afforded him a near-$800,000 annual salary and a Huntington Beach palace. The public face of civic corruption is currently free on $2 million bail but still must face multiple felony charges. Worst of all? Pranksters covered his house in toilet paper in October.
MITIGATING FACTOR: The t.p. was very appropriate, given the shitty state of Bell’s finances.
2. ANDREW THOMAS GALLO
Part of the San Gabriel man’s punishment for two previous DUI convictions were classes in which he learned the dangers of drinking and driving—and how he could be tried for murder if someone died in another crash blamed on his being drunk. The lessons didn’t stick: Gallo got behind the wheel of a minivan and, in the wee hours of April 9, 2009, plowed into a car at the intersection of Orangethorpe Avenue and Lemon Street in Anaheim. Immediately killed were Anaheim Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, passenger Henry Pearson and driver Courtney Stewart; another passenger, Jon Wilhite, was critically injured but survived. Gallo was convicted in September of triple murder and has a December sentencing hearing, at which he faces 50 years to life in prison.
MITIGATING FACTOR: There are a lot of Angels fans in prison.
3. MICHAEL KEVIN LALLANA
The USC graduate, mortgage-company employee and Fullerton family man is accused of placing his man juice in the water bottle of a female co-worker . . . on at least two separate occasions! Prosecutors claim Lallana entered the office of a woman identified in court records as Jane Doe, whom he used to supervise, and—ahem—deposited his ejaculate into a water bottle that was on her desk. The woman later returned to her office, took a swig from the bottle and quickly tossed it in the garbage, feeling sick and irritated. That incident happened in January; after finding her bottle spiked again in April, Ms. Doe had its contents examined by a lab, which eventually linked Lallana’s DNA to the sploogey contents. The 31-year-old Lallana—married, with a daughter—has pleaded not guilty; if convicted, he is eligible for prison time and will have to register as a sex offender.
MITIGATING FACTOR: There is someone in this sad incident scarier than Lallana. The lawyer Doe has hired for the likely lawsuit that will follow the criminal case is Gloria Allred.
4. DANIEL WOZNIAK
Talk about Method acting: While starring as a lout in a local theater musical of the Fellini film Nine, prosecutors say Wozniak murdered Afghanistan War veteran Sam Herr, dismembered his body and scattered his remains around the Los Alamitos Joint Training Base and El Dorado Park in Long Beach; he then murdered Herr’s friend, Julie Kibuishi. And this was just days before his wedding. OC prosecutors will seek the death penalty against him next year.
MITIGATING FACTOR: If convicted, Wozniak could whip San Quentin’s acting troupe into shape.
5. IMPERIAL STARS
A few weeks ago, Christopher Wright, Paul Arabella and Keith Yackey got on a semi-truck, headed for U.S. Highway 101 and blocked three lanes of traffic to play the song “Traffic Jam 101.” Naturally, the California Highway Patrol arrested the Garden Grove trio—known as Imperial Stars—impounded the band’s truck and instruments, then threw them in jail. The band members only spent a night in the slammer before coming up with the $10,000 bail, so now they’re free to tell everyone from Inside Edition to TheOrange County Register to your favorite rag the stunt was done to “raise awareness about the 1.5 million homeless children in America.” Um, yeah. If you’re buying it, know the Imperial Stars have been offered a reality-TV show, money for a benefit concert and more!
MITIGATING FACTOR: The fact that people believe their bullshit—and not that they play terrible music—is the scariest part of this band’s existence.
6. VANESSA BRYANT
She’s arguably the most reviled player’s wife in sports for being the Yoko Ono to Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant’s John Lennon—and this was before Vanessa’s eventful 2010, which started with her fighting allegations by a former maid that she berated her incessantly and even made the Peruvian immigrant fish a receipt from dog doo-doo. The two sides reconciled in time for Mrs. Bryant to enter the nation’s immigration debate by wearing a T-shirt during the opening game of the NBA Western Conference Finals that declared, “Do I Look Illegal?” Most observers dismissed the move as a desperate attempt at attention by the part-Latina instead of a serious commentary, and the former view proved right: Vanessa has said nothing on immigration since.
MITIGATING FACTOR: She and Kobe frequent the iconic Mexican restaurant El Camino Real in Fullerton, which shows she has good taste in something.
7. BRADLEY WAGNER
The 62-year-old Anaheim cop serves as a cautionary tale against attempting something like Arizona’s immigration legislation. Wagner pleaded guilty last May to sexually battering a Latina grandmother in 2005. The Orange County district attorney’s office claimed Wagner pulled the undocumented woman over late one night as she left work and threatened her with deportation unless she sexually gratified him. He told her to follow him to a darkened industrial park and forced her to perform oral sex on him with such force she required dental work afterward. After the case received national attention, two other women came forward with similar stories of sexual intimidation. Though the disgraced Wagner confessed to multiple charges, he has since recanted his plea, claiming he was high on drugs during his admissions.
MITIGATING FACTOR: Still not as evil as Joe Arpaio.
8. MEG WHITMAN
When it came time to make overtures to Latino voters, what did California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman do? Attend a rally for striking workers? Pledge to support undocumented college students? Sit down with church leaders? ¡No manches! Instead, Whitman joined her fellow millionaire candidate, Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina, in Newport Beach and downed a tequila shot to the roar of the Hispanic 100, a GOP group for Latinos that’s about as down for la raza as Lou Dobbs. Meanwhile, Whitman’s downtown Santa Ana campaign office is busy only when protestors stand outside, asking her to leave the most Mexican big city in America.
MITIGATING FACTOR: At least she didn’t put on a sombrero.
9. SCOTT BORAS
Famous/infamous for repping Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Barry Zito, Manny Ramirez and many more top major leaguers, the Newport Beach multimillionaire agent certainly scares the beejesus out of baseball owners sitting on the other side of the negotiating table. Boras has been credited with being bad for baseball, worse than even wild-card teams, the designated hitter and steroids—a controversy that, coincidentally, many players in the Boras fold have gotten caught up in. But it’s one thing to screw over millionaires; it’s another to be a jerk. In August, details emerged of a disabled general building contractor—who lost his home and now works as an apartment manager—finding and returning Boras’ passport, cell phone and wallet containing $2,300. Good thing he expected nothing in return because that’s apparently what he got.
MITIGATING FACTOR: Anything that makes baseball owners cringe is a good thing, right?
10. VAUGHN ROBERT BIBY
Back in 1995, the 46-year-old Fullerton man pleaded guilty to nine counts of committing lewd and lascivious acts on minors in Orange and Los Angeles counties. You’d think Biby would straighten up, fly right and spend his days on Brazzers.com, but no! In March, during a routine probation search, investigators found hundreds of thousands of child-porn images in his home, how-to books for interested pedophiles, dozens of library cards, even Chuck E. Cheese’s tokens, which he allegedly used as lures. Biby is currently being held on $1 million bail and faces 25 years to life if convicted.
MITIGATING FACTOR: Prisoners don’t like kiddie diddlers.
11. JUDGE ROBERT FITZGERALD
The Orange County Superior Court justice has repeatedly made headlines during his tenure for all the wrong reasons, whether sentencing a convict with a poem, or sending an innocent man to prison before even allowing him a trial by jury, or having multiple decisions overturned by higher courts. The latter is what happened in June, when the California Court of Appeals blasted Fitzgerald for a deal he cut with an armed-robbery suspect over the objections of Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. The three-judge panel called Fitzgerald’s actions “unauthorized.”
MITIGATING FACTOR: Fitzgerald’s many bumblings would make a great episode for the new series Law & Order: Los Angeles.
12. ERGUN KIRLIKOVALI
This Coto de Caza resident made national headlines in 2008 when he and other Turkish businessmen held a fund-raiser in OC for the opponent of Pasadena-area Congressman Adam Schiff. The Democrat has long tried to pass a resolution asking the American government to acknowledge the mass slaughter of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in the early part of the 20th Century as a genocide—a historical reality accepted by mainstream historians and civilized countries but dismissed as anti-Turkish propaganda by Kirlikovali and his ilk. As a columnist for the Southern California website turkla.com, Kirlikovali frequently ridicules the Armenian genocide’s victims as treasonous, whiny ingrates and maintains it was Turks who were the victims of the Armenians, not the other way around. “Deception, fraud, lies . . . should give any fair-minded American a clue about the Armenian psyche,” Kirlikovali wrote recently, while also referring to a group of Armenians as “gold-chain wearing, hairy and smelly.”
MITIGATING FACTOR: The picture for Kirlikovali’s column shows him wearing an Anaheim Angels hat.
13. SCOTT MCMANUS
Previous highlights in McManus’ law-enforcement career include shooting an unarmed man who had driven to the Crystal Cathedral’s parking lot to give his mother some money, breaking a suspect’s jaw by slamming him on the sidewalk, and roughing up a domestic-violence victim who called 911 only to have McManus violently drag her out of her home in handcuffs before realizing his mistake. The Anaheim police officer resurfaced a few months ago, when a motorist sued him for his conduct during a drug-surveillance operation. McManus and other cop witnesses stated the plaintiff refused to stop when McManus used his own car as a roadblock, but the one non-uniformed witness to the collision (a nearby resident) claims McManus intentionally rammed the other car for no reason.
MITIGATING FACTOR: Cops do shit like that in the movies all the time.
14. KIMBERLY NIZATO
Nizato is a Bellflower resident, but she earned the wrath of Orange County—even the country—when her emaciated German shepherd came to the attention of German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County. The dog was so starved that doctors say he ate dirt to survive. Nizato, a former vet assistant in Irvine, is awaiting trial in Norwalk Superior Court facing felony animal-cruelty charges. Renamed Courage by his new handlers, the pooch now lives with a Huntington Beach woman and spends his days eating, barking, pooping and sleeping. Good boy!
MITIGATING FACTOR: At least Nizato isn’t from Bell—that city has enough bad citizens as it is.
15. HEIDI MONTAG
Ten plastic surgeries in one day for the reality-show casualty? Sad. And also scary.
MITIGATING FACTOR: She has decided to reduce her breasts from a G cup to a modest D.
16. MATTHEW CASTANEDA
The Anaheim resident is a World Power Wrestling grappler who performs as “Chippy Sanchez,” a reference to the 34-year-old’s chipped front teeth. Chippy also apparently wrestles demons, as authorities have charged him with meeting, abducting and raping a 12-year-old Santa Ana girl he met on MySpace. Anaheim police arrested Castaneda on suspicion of lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under the age of 14; already on parole at the time of his arrest for a 2007 prior conviction for felony domestic violence and violating a restraining order, Castaneda could get 11 years in state prison if convicted.
MITIGATING FACTOR: At least someone still uses MySpace.
17. KEVIN MICHAEL SIANEZ
The former Santa Ana and Stanton police officer is standing trial for defrauding clients as an unlicensed private investigator, as well as posting ads on Craigslist seeking women to have sex with his Labrador retriever. The fake dick is also accused of being in possession of a firearm, a no-no for convicted felons, which Sianez currently is because the courts found him guilty in 1998 of stalking. If convicted, he faces 38 years in state prison.
MITIGATING FACTOR: At least Sianez wasn’t trying to set women up with a pit bull.
18. SJC AMERICANS
It takes quite the organization to protest a 9/11 commemoration in which an octogenarian veteran of the Battle of Okinawa received an award, but that’s exactly what this group did, claiming the celebration was un-American because the group running it was a nonprofit fronting as storm troopers for the Reconquista (or so they say). It was the SJC Americans’ latest salvo in San Juan Capistrano against anything Mexican—previous targets have included nonprofits that run after-school programs for at-risk youth, the Mexican consulate (for operating a pop-up office) and parking in the city’s barrios. Meanwhile, as actual dirty politics have blossomed in the city over sweetheart deals for gabacho-run nonprofits, the SJC Americans have remained silent.
MITIGATING FACTOR: At the end of each day, the SJC Americans have to live in San Juan Capistrano.
19. BETH KROM
It was a close contest, but Beth Krom beats out Red County blogger Matt Cunningham as Orange County’s most robotic political figure. We’ve waited nearly a decade for the city councilwoman/congressional candidate to just once show independence from her master, Irvine political boss Larry Agran, and we’re still waiting. Does she really agree with Agran’s positions on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g? She has uttered some stupid lines on her own, too; a few months ago, she was still claiming Barack Obama’s 2008 electoral wave would carry her to victory in her campaign against incumbent Republican Congressman John Campbell.
MITIGATING FACTOR: In political circles, Krom’s breathlessly nasal oratory has earned her the nickname “Screech.”
20. JEANNE MANUNGA
Los Angeles always gets the credit for all the creepy criminals on the West Coast, but the truth is Orange County routinely produces better weirdness. Take the case of Manunga. Three times, the 25-year-old Santa Ana woman got police to arrest and jail another woman connected to her ex-boyfriend. The alleged crime? Sending hundreds of threatening text messages. Police eventually figured out Manunga had bought a pre-paid cell phone in the other lady’s name, sent herself the threats using that phone and, on 19 occasions, filed police reports against the innocent woman. As a result, she won a year-long trip to the county slammer and was order to pay the victim $50,000 in restitution.
MITIGATING FACTOR: Her tired thumbs will finally get a rest.
21. ROBERT BRUCHMANN
It’s generally accepted that South County gets the Spanish names on its cities and streets, while North County gets the actual people with Spanish names. But South County’s end of the bargain doesn’t sit well with Bruchmann, a Mission Viejo planning commissioner. After Lennar announced it was renaming a batch of streets in one of its new housing developments, Bruchmann wrote a letter to the Mission Viejo Dispatch blog saying he preferred English names over those en español “mainly because I can pronounce them.” After suggesting Lennar name a street after Ronald Reagan, he also stated, “We need to remember this is an American city in America populated by Americans. Isn’t it time we started being proud of our American heritage?”
MITIGATING FACTOR: If you get past his bigotry, Bruchmann’s critique of South County’s fantasy Spanish heritage is spot-on.
22. AMERICAN THIRD POSITION PARTY
For right-wingers who think the Tea Party is too multicultural, the American Third Position (ATP) party is for you! An alliance of neo-Nazi “intellectuals” (including Cal State Long Beach professor Kevin McDonald, whose books and essays claiming Jews want to undermine Western civilization have been cited by white supremacists for decades, and lawyer William Johnson, who became notorious in the 1980s for promoting the Pace Amendment, a proposed constitutional rewrite that would deport all non-whites from the United States) and outright criminals (such as its treasurer Sean Vaxmonsky, who has five misdemeanors to his name for everything from robbery to drunk driving), the Fountain Valley-based political party debuted earlier this year to much notoriety as an whites-only alternative to the Republicans and Democrats. Despite much self-hype, however, the party hasn’t rocked the political world: Its biggest brush with national fame came when ATP urged its members to donate funds toward helping defend Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, and the PAC sent it back. Total amount these brown-shirters collected? $100. Even an out-of-work Mexican in Santa Ana has more in his mattress than that.
MITIGATING FACTOR: Given current demographic trends, ATP members will probably have a half-Mexican grandchild.
23. SUZIE GRAF
Days after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, a local paper admiringly profiled this self-described San Clemente housewife’s valiant effort to collect storage containers full of medical supplies, blankets and other donated items to ship to the beleaguered Caribbean nation. More than a few people who read that story, however, remembered Graf as an inveterate con artist who’d over the years swindled everyone from close friends to employers and business customers of untold thousands of dollars, a bad habit involving credit-card fraud and other felonies that eventually landed her in Wyoming state prison.
MITIGATING FACTOR: After the Weekly exposed her shady past, Graf tearfully insisted this time—for the first time ever—she really was doing the right thing, and as far as we were able to tell, the containers actually did arrive in Haiti.
24. LUIS MIJANGOS
Marvel Comics superhero Professor X is a paraplegic mutant with an advanced mind capable of controlling the thoughts of others. He also happens to be idolized by accused Santa Ana sextortionist Luis Mijangos. A criminal complaint filed in federal court alleges the 31-year-old paraplegic used his advanced hacking skills to infect the computers of 44 girls and 186 women with malware that granted him access to their files. He rummaged through said files looking for compromising images and used what he found to blackmail the victims into sending him sexually explicit videos of themselves. The FBI also says Mijangos successfully accessed his victims’ web cams to spy on them without their knowledge during naked moments.
MITIGATING FACTOR: If Vivid Entertainment ever wants to do an X-Men parody, Mijangos can star as Professor Sex.
25. JOHN EASTMAN
Eastman is intelligent and well-read and not, at least outwardly, of Neanderthal origins, so it’s frightening how a man who has served as the dean of Chapman University School of Law this year encouraged a crowd of conservative California Republican activists to overthrow the government if it permits the “insufferable”: allowing gay citizens to marry. Was it an innocent misstatement under duress during his campaign to become the state’s next attorney general? Nope. Speaking slowly for emphasis, Eastman followed up by proudly telling the crowd, “I ain’t evolving.” He has also equated homosexuality with “barbarism.” Maybe we were wrong about his origins.
MITIGATING FACTOR: In the June primary, Steve Cooley—the Los Angeles County district attorney—beat Eastman by 275,000 votes for the Republican nomination for AG.
26. TITO ORTIZ
Few would want to meet the self-proclaimed “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” in a darkened alley, let alone in an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) octagon. But the former UFC light-heavyweight champ really displayed the scary in April, when he was jailed on suspicion of felony domestic violence for roughing up the mother of his twin sons, former porn star Jenna Jameson. She said he threw her into a bathtub, tearing two ligaments. He said former OxyContin addict Jameson had suffered a relapse. Both eventually recanted—and the Orange County DA declined to file charges for lack of evidence—after the couple claimed the whole incident was just a misunderstanding. Perhaps the couple was spooked by a most-frightening prospect: that they could lose $15 million under Ortiz’s UFC contract if he were prosecuted for domestic violence.
MITIGATING FACTOR: He won’t kick our ass for listing him—we hope. . . .
27. JIM HICKS
Back when he was a college student in the early 1970s, Jim Hicks used to hear horror stories about hippies from his dad, Cecil Hicks, who served as Orange County’s district attorney. Hicks the Elder supervised a grand-jury investigation that ended the reign of the Laguna Beach-based drug-smuggling cartel, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love—until its members, who served only brief stints behind bars, went straight back into the smuggling business. Some were never caught, including Brenice Smith, who fled to Nepal, where he lived for nearly 40 years before returning home to California in November 2009. That’s when Hicks the Younger—who followed in his father’s footsteps and became a prosecutor—prolonged his retirement for one last case: making sure Smith, now a penniless, 70-year old Buddhist, faced time for a four-decades-old hash-smuggling case.
MITIGATING FACTOR: After Smith spent two months at the Orange County Men’s Jail and pleaded guilty to one felony smuggling count, Hicks agreed to let him go with time served and no probation.
28. ALEXANDRIA CORONADO
Back in 2009, Coronado—then on the Orange County Board of Education—led her fellow trustees to unanimously vote against recognizing Harvey Milk Day in Orange County’s public schools, despite a state law that set aside May 22 for such institutions to teach kiddies about the gay-rights martyr. She said the day of remembrance “absolutely denigrates the entire civil-rights movement,” a movement she denigrated back in the late 1990s when she and her then-fellow trustees on the Anaheim Union High School District Board tried to sue Mexico for the cost of teaching the children of illegal immigrants. Coronado used her opposition to Harvey Milk Day as a re-election platform this summer, but the anti-gay bait didn’t work—she lost handily to a first-time political candidate.
MITIGATING FACTOR: Coronado’s love of heavy makeup and lipstick makes her a natural for bartending at the Tin Lizzie.
29. JAMES HIRSEN
Whether writing columns for newsmax.com; blogging on his The Left Coast Report; or punditing on Hannity, O’Reilly and Fox and Friends, the Newport Beach entertainment lawyer consistently delivers anti-Hollywood rants. Among Hirsen’s pet pets is Sarah Palin, whom Hirsen defended after Tina Fey impersonated her, Katie Couric interviewed her and other perceived elitist-left-wing-media types supposedly slighted her. Hirsen also pumps Alaska’s former governor for president (talk about scary!). Now, normally, we would not bat an iPhone at someone who confines his crazy to Fox News, but in June, he waded into local waters by addressing the Orange County Screenwriters Association, a nonprofit organization formed to help amateur and professional writers and filmmakers pool their talents to help one another.
MITIGATING FACTOR: He’s not as annoying as Hugh Hewitt.
30. JOSEPH SZELES
Until he became the subject of a Weekly exposé (see Nick Schou's “The Bad Detective,” March 11), the private investigator ran a one-man show for Orange County’s Alternate Defense Services. That meant that any county inmate crazy enough to act as his own lawyer had little choice but to hire Szeles as an investigator for his case. Unlike other court systems, which use a broad panel of investigators, Szeles had free rein in the county, handling new clients at the rate of roughly one per week and apparently doing little to show for all that cash besides allegedly boasting he could arrange plea deals thanks to his contacts in the DA’s office.
MITIGATING FACTOR: At least he’s no longer a cop; turns out Szeles became a private detective after being fired from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for beating up his stepdaughter and lying about it.
31. RACIST ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER READERS
If you happen to read our Navel Gazing column “Racist OC Register Reader Fustercluck of the Day,” you already know their names: Liberalssuck, Wickedwhite, Obamafuscation, 30yearsinOC, Trojan714 and so many more. These pseudonymous knuckleheads love nothing more than to scan the Register for headlines containing words such as “Mexico,” “immigration,” “Santa Ana” and “by Yvette Cabrera” so they can spew tiresome stereotypes about Latinos and whine incessantly about how Orange County has been taken over by “illegals” who “spew anchor babies” and stab one another—actually that latter activity is the one thing these racists speak about with grateful appreciation.
MITIGATING FACTOR: Ever since Fustercluck began highlighting their hateful drivel and the Register stepped up its censorship efforts, you can find even-more-racist comments on the Navel Gazing blog.
This article appeared in print as "Crypt From the Headlines: Welcome to the 2010 issue of Scariest People comics."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
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.