Halloween is a time for carving pumpkins, gagging on the nauseating fumes of harvest-themed potpourri pumping through the A/C system at your local grocery stores, watching scary-movie marathons with your terrified kiddies and, most important, getting blotto on foamy jugs of Oktoberfest ale.
It's also a time for pure, unfiltered loathing, which is where we, your friends at OC Weekly, come in. Behold our 2017 edition of OC's Scariest People, a collection of scoundrels, megalomaniacs, troglodytes and filibusterers that not even Charlie Brown could love. In the spirit of the Great Pumpkin, that great, orange-spray-tanned behemoth in the sky, we hope you enjoy our macabre collection of roguish villainy.
The public-safety superintendent for the Orange Coast District of California State Parks—a fancy way of saying he's the head lifeguard at Bolsa Chica State Beach—was in charge on March 25, when a #MAGAmarch there turned into a melee that saw OC Weekly photographers and reporters get assaulted. Instead of arresting the culprits, Pearsall's officers arrested five counterprotesters who saved Weeklings or used pepper spray in self-defense. The peace officers' cases were so shoddy against antifa that the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA), which wants to convict anything with a pulse, dropped charges against four of the five. And the fifth one didn't do the things Pearsall's crew alleged. Mitigating factor: He's condemned to usually arresting drunk bros and MILFs who had too many frosés at SeaLegs At the Beach.
In April 2017, it was revealed that former California Senator Barbara Boxer had started lobbying on behalf of Poseidon's proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant. Exactly how much money Poseidon's paying Boxer to support the project is unclear, but whatever the amount, it's obvious Boxer doesn't know enough about it to realize how this makes her look. The company's desalination plant in Carlsbad has already been slapped with 16 pollution violations since it opened roughly two years ago. And its H.B. project is a waste of money, with taxpayers footing the $1 billion bill to supply a handful of cities with overpriced water in north OC, which doesn't need it. Mitigating factor: Hopefully, the California Coastal Commission's slow-grind approach to the project will guarantee it never happens.
The Santa Ana reporter for the Orange County Register usually serves as a stenographer for the city's powers that be. She became infamous in the city when, during a rally that ended with kids bashing a Donald Trump piñata, Kwong tweeted that a boy "beheaded" it, as if describing an ISIS act. She went on to use such over-the-top terms as "violent" and "destruction" in her news story to describe the simple act of kids having fun, continuing the Reg's anti-piñata stance that started after the Times' Chandler family made one of R.C. Hoiles back in the day. Mitigating factor: She works for the Register.
Daly is lead moderator for the Huntington Beach Community Forum (HBCF), one of the largest city-specific Facebook groups in Orange County, one that fully reflects its city: full of beautiful sunsets and batshit-loco racists who hate anything liberal and non-white. Here's what Daly wrote in April, when OC Weekly exposed said batshit-loco racists: "If you see a stack of OC WEAKly, take them all and dump them in the nearest trash can where they belong"—never mind that taking more than one is against the law, not to mention free speech. But what can you expect of a guy who once whined on HBCF that a baile folklorico group in the city was anti-white because it mocked Spanish conquistadors? Mitigating factor: Daly is an Irish last name, and the Irish are the Mexicans of Europe, so Mikey is part wab.
Alejandro Hernandez Garcia, whose nickname is "Tiburon," or "shark" in Spanish, is accused of sexually assaulting two teens last year. A 16-year-old girl was pulled into a San Juan Capistrano residential neighborhood's garage, where she was raped. The other alleged victim was 19 and lost in Santa Ana, where a man offered to help her, then plied her with alcohol that may have been laced. Investigators claim Garcia raped her in the backseat of his car. When the first teen spotted the elasmobranch man in the same SJC neighborhood, she called the sheriff's department, and Garcia was arrested. Mitigating factor: If 41-year-old Tiburon is convicted of all the counts against him, he could be circling a state prison yard for 98 years to life.
NAKED CHURCH BROTHERS
On a recent summer night, two brothers—one naked, the other apparently getting there—allegedly broke into Irvine's Harvest church, which is the Orange County satellite for the Riverside mega-church of the same name founded by televangelist Greg Laurie of Harvest Crusade fame. A security guard spotted Paul Vincent Vielkind, 24, of Riverside, and Brandon Joseph Vielkind, 22, of Anaheim, on the north side of the church carrying what turned out to be a replica rifle, authorities said. A glass door to the church, which was unoccupied at the time, was smashed open, and from the inside, someone tossed out a smoke bomb before Irvine officers arrived to arrest the brothers, who were also packing ammo and had more guns at home. Their mother claimed they pulled the stunt to force a meeting with Laurie over an unnamed Harvest pastor inflicting emotional trauma by saying she's an alcoholic because she is Native American. Mom added that her sons might have been high on something other than the Lord. Mitigating factor: The church announced it's praying for the family, although that could be revoked if they are behind on tithing.
Hovering over the 241 toll road just south of Santiago Canyon is what appears to be a large boulder. Known as Bennett Rock, it is not actually a rock, but rather a manmade structure meant to resemble one that came tumbling down following heavy El Niño rains two decades ago. The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) commissioned the fake, which a contractor's crew built in 1998 with rebar, mesh and concrete. Drivers who have passed by it have had no idea it's as phony as a Trump news conference. Mitigating factor: The same contractor is on speed dial to create a fake Trestles beach, San Onofre State Park and/or chunk of the city of San Clemente once the TCA finally gets approval for its long-desired 241 extension.
It's already bad enough people have to go through security checkpoints just to get into Anaheim's Downtown Disney District. But now, the House of the Mouse raised parking fees that offer an Orwellian two hours "free" with a validated $20 purchase at its retail shops or up to four hours if folks take in a movie or dine at any of the plaza's overpriced restaurants. They also kicked the maximum daily rate up from $36 to $48. The changes came in August and even angered Disnerds who are usually aloof to such shakedowns but now regularly complain about parking nightmares on Twitter. Anaheim residents, whose taxes funded the massive Mickey & Friends theme park lot—for which the city charges Disney only $1 per year in rent—can't even have a Disney-adjacent experience for free unless they get dropped off like a batch of geeky teenagers. Sadly, Disney set the perfect mouse trap. The masses still arrive in droves because Disney! Mitigating factor: Downtown Disney is opening up Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, a virtual-reality attraction, in January, a perfect escape from the reality of unbridled greed.
The rise of the alt-right unleashed a band of MAGA misfits on OC, but none stranger than Benitez. The curious Colombian cue ball rose from obscurity only to be deposed by the movement's leading men in a matter of months. Benitez, whose real name is Juan Manuel Cadavid, set up Trumpbro social-media profiles in March, just days after telling OC leftists he planned to infiltrate the alt-right. He then showed up at Huntington Beach's MAGAmarch and the Battle of Berkeley. But something about the attention-seeking massage therapist began rubbing the alt-right the wrong way, especially after the Weekly exposed all his fake names. First, Gavin McInnes wanted him bounced from heading the OC Proud Boys. Then came Kyle Chapman (a.k.a. Based Stickman) publicly disavowing Benitez from the Patriot Movement after being voted out of the OC Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights. The shunning thankfully spared the world more of his wannabe audiobook intellectual ramblings on Facebook Live. Nowadays, he's just another pathetic Twitter troll. Mitigating factor: Benitez managed to unite the alt-right and left in utter contempt for his shenanigans while right-wing "fake news" decriers had no choice but to respect the Weekly's chops on the story.
ANGELA MARIA DIAZ
What better place than this issue to divulge we erroneously named Michelle Suzanne Hadley as a 2016 Orange County Scariest Person. She had been accused by OC's top cops of sending emails threatening her ex-lover's wife and unborn twins as well as posing as the mom-to-be in Craigslist exchanges aimed at having violent rape fantasies fulfilled, even if she resisted the attacks. However, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas convened a press conference earlier this year to announce that Hadley was not the criminal in this case, but rather her supposed target Angela Maria Diaz was. After snagging Hadley's ex-fiancé on the rebound, Diaz faked her pregnancy, the Craigslist ads and a whole bunch of Fatal Attraction-worthy police reports. Credit goes to Hadley's attorney Michael Guisti for pressing local law enforcement into taking a harder look at the evidence, which eventually led to Diaz pleading guilty on Oct. 17 to kidnapping, false imprisonment, and a total of 10 felony and 22 misdemeanor counts in exchange for five years in state prison. It turns out Hadley was not the only alleged victim of Diaz, as further probing revealed she had previously forged checks and doctor notes, faked cervical cancer, impersonated an attorney, and posed in emails as another ex-girlfriend of her now former husband. Mitigating factor: Guys, she's available!
One June evening, Campbell headed to Turnip Rose in Costa Mesa with his wife, Collene. The special occasion? The pair of octogenarians attended a re-election fundraiser for fellow fossil Rackauckas. About a dozen protesters greeted eventgoers filing in to support the DA, OC snitch scandal be damned. The Campbells were making their exit in their gray sedan at the same time two activists walked across the street. For whatever reason, Geezer Gary hit the gas, grazing one protester and plowing through the other. He sped off down the wrong side of the road before arriving home, where he reported the incident. ACLU staff attorney Brendan Hamme suffered a concussion in the T-Wreck. Gary let his wife do the talking in the splattering aftermath. Collene told the Register that the pair of protesters blocked the exit, with Hamme jumping onto the hood of their car. The state Attorney General's office is probing the case. Mitigating factor: Geezer Gary ensured T-Rack's re-election bid got off to a smashing start!
FLUTE SEMEN INSERTER
Many of us recall blowing into recorders during elementary school, but the closest thing to public music education in California took a blow of its own with the late-September revelation that state and federal agencies are investigating the apparent insertion of semen into some of the flute-like instruments. Made of PVC, the multicolored recorders were donated by Ojai-based nonprofit Flutes Across the World to schools throughout Southern California, including campuses in Fullerton, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Capistrano Valley and Newport-Mesa school districts. The Irvine-based Philharmonic Society of Orange County and Bowers' Kidseum in Santa Ana were involved in some of the music programs that utilized the organizations recorders. A musician with the nonprofit is a person of interest to investigators, who did not pipe up when it came to detailing how the disgusting discovery came about in the first place. Mitigating factor: We imagine the probe was launched after one unlucky pupil complained, "Mrs. Harmer, this recorder tastes salty."
A bald, plaid-shirt-wearing, sunglasses-sporting adult grabbed and dragged away a 13-year-old who had been walking home from school in Anaheim when the teen's friends started filming. The man turned out to be 34-year-old Los Angeles Police Department officer Kevin Ferguson. The way captive Christian Dorscht told it, Ferguson called his friend a "cunt" and told her to get off his lawn. The teen stood up for her and told the off-duty cop, "I'm going to sue you." The argument continued until a teen tackled Fergie over the bushes. Ferguson got up, reached into his waistband and pulled out a handgun, firing a single shot into the ground that sent the kids scattering. Anaheim PD being Anaheim PD, police arrested Dorscht for making a criminal threat while letting Ferguson go. The OCDA still hasn't decided on charges, but Dorscht has sued Ferguson in civil court. Mitigating factor: Protesters broke a window at Ferguson's home the next night, giving a new spin on "broken windows policing."
For all the vendidos in Orange County, only one politician is haunted by chants of "Latino Trump!" Santa Ana City Councilman Solorio, a Democrat, first got dinged with the distinction earlier this year when trying to salvage a jail contract long held by the city with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He rattled off all his reasons why Santa Ana needed to save it, only angering activists at council chambers with every wasted breath. "Vendido!" they yelled. "Sellout!" Suddenly, the chambers echoed with the aforementioned, catchy, four-syllable chant so powerful council had to recess for 15 minutes. Ever since getting his electoral pockets stuffed with cop union cash, Solorio has earned failing grades on food-truck regulations, affordable housing and immigration policies, with few exceptions. Worst of all, the onetime Mexican Ned Flanders shaved off his bushy mustache and is now bereft of all its whiskery wisdom. Mitigating factor: He's a vegetarian, which helps save the planet from the perils of climate change. Oh, wait, so is Scariest Hall of Famer Mayor Miguel Pulido. Never mind!
VINCENT JAMES FOXX
After Trump's victory, the Lake Forest resident started alt-right media collective the Red Elephants to advance conspiracy theories of a "white genocide" and "cultural Marxism" being major threats to this country, constantly echoing the views of white nationalists and giving the likes of Jason Kessler a platform. Foxx himself refused to denounce Hitler in an interview and once commented online, "No residue of cyanide was found on ANY of the walls of any of the ALLEGED gas chambers." After the Weekly exposed his Goebbels-like tactics, Foxx responded by lying to us about his real name and by threatening to sue. WHAT A CUCK!!! Mitigating factor: Red Elephants video footage has provided otherwise-nonexistent on-the-ground coverage of major political events.
CLUB AMÉRICA AND PUMAS UNAM FUTBOL FANS
On June 25, the two titans of Mexico's largest soccer rivalry—both teams are from the country's sprawling federal district—played a match at Santa Ana's Eddy West Field. The idea was to raise cash for a local soccer charity, but instead, at halftime, shit got real. Supposedly, some America fans ran over to the Pumas' side of the stadium and began attacking people. Then, what seemed like the entire audience descended onto the field and began what can only be described as pura desmadre—a shit-ton of shit-kicking. Apparently, nobody involved in security had an inkling these teams and their fans hate one another because the melee went on for several minutes. Mitigating factor: Even after being doused with pepper spray, both teams' fans kept fighting, unlike the U.S. men's national squad.
On his social-media platforms, Mission Viejo's triggered Strawn, "a proud western chauvinist" and Mountain Dew guzzling fringe nut who regularly insists he's "not a loser," celebrates the alleged return of national "masculinity" with Trump in the White House. What's funny about this self-described right-wing evangelist—supposedly guarding the "moral high ground" while regurgitating FOX News' false statistics and harebrained propaganda lines as if he thought of the lies first—isn't his anger at the world, which is frightening. It's his high-pitched voice, twitches, effeminate mannerisms, melodramatic facial expressions and Hannibal Lecter-like aura as he screams into a camera that people who oppose him are "vile," "retards," "idiots," "degenerate thugs," "dumbasses," "disgusting perverts," "illegal aliens," "cowards," "trolls," "lunatics," "losers," "lowlifes," "terrorist sympathizers," "complete frauds," "sexual slave masters," "leftist agitators," "lesbian hobbits," "blatant hypocrites," "scum," "brainwashed commies," "ignorants," "white leftists," "possessive perverts," "intellectually lazy cowards," "blacks," "left wing boomer teachers," "the wealthy elite," "senile idiots," "dumb ignorant assholes," "snowflake Jews," "poverty pimps," "corrupt swamp creatures" and "a bunch of fat, blue-and purple-haired circus freaks coupled with degenerate wankers." His video rants, which hilariously lambaste "hysteria," complain about "reverse political correctness," declare his "tolerance," astonishingly equate sex with "cocaine use," and accuse progressives of relying solely on ad hominem attacks to battle his "logic," originally convinced us we'd witnessed dark satire, like a lefty performing an over-the-top impersonation of a nelly, obnoxious loon who, though just 24, thinks he knows everything about everything. For example, Strawn, who was born on the anniversary of the Lincoln assassination and the Titanic iceberg crash, missed his true calling by several decades. Born earlier, he could have excelled as an obedient SS sergeant for Heinrich Himmler. He screams that Islam "is the religion of perverts" and cultural "diversity" is an American "weakness" that "could lead to the destruction of Western Civilization." Saying he feels victimized by people who label him peculiar, he also advocates a five-year mandatory membership in a Christian Church as a prerequisite for citizenship, wants any person "who violates the 10 Commandments" deported, seeks government annihilation of all religious mosques, and backs a permanent gun ownership ban for all Muslims and Democrats. Mitigating factor: The 2011 El Toro High School graduate, who wears eye-scratchingly ugly holiday sweaters, still pathetically lives with his parents, admits he's "a spoiled brat" and promises he's "working on" sounding more masculine, but would like you to know that girly voices, like his, are sometimes misleading, since he says he knows gay men with really deep, manly voices he desperately wants to mimic. We bet he does.
From T.J. Maxx sales clerk to some sort of fuzzy business consultant to 2016-'17 Orange County grand jury foreperson, Carmody destroyed that panel's credibility. She falsely claimed the jailhouse-informant scandal—which earned national alarm, rebukes from multiple Superior Court judges as well as the California Court of Appeal, and has so far upended 17 murder and attempted-murder cases—is a "myth." Her reasoning? If Sheriff Sandra Hutchens conducted secret, unconstitutional snitch operations to help Rackauckas win criminal cases, she would have possessed a formal department manual outlining how to perform the misdeeds. Because Hutchens didn't show her such a document, Carmody reasoned, there couldn't have been any cheating. Mitigating factor: The stink of Carmody's grand jury presence ended in July.
Formally notified he was the subject of a 2014 Orange County Sheriff's Department internal-affairs investigation into an alleged on-duty sexual assault of a young South County woman, veteran deputy Nicholas Caropino immediately demonstrated his lack of fear that his colleagues would hold him accountable. Just hours later, while still on duty in Dana Point, Caropino forcibly obtained oral copulation and sexual intercourse from a second woman, a 21-year-old who appeared in episodes of The Real Housewives of Orange County, according to a federal judge. The victim reported his statement to her: "Take that, bitch." Though he was fired after public revelations, local taxpayers must pay more than $2.5 million for his messes. Mitigating factor: Given what dirty cops get away with nowadays, another law-enforcement agency will hire Caropino as a sexual-assault investigator.
MARC MITCHEL AND ROB NEWTON
KBRITE, Costa Mesa's AM-radio answer for those who miss the Reverend Jerry Falwell and his lucrative Moral Majority direct-mail business, gives weekly airtime to Rob Newton and his The Marc & Rob Show partner, Marc Mitchel. This often-giggling, decidedly husky duo, who should have appeared as nonspeaking extras on Hee Haw, describe themselves as "a bunch of Christian conservative guys" or, alternatively, "two men single-handedly saving the world!" When they're not repeating each other's words as if re-enacting a scene in Dumb & Dumber, they crave hipness. They don't introduce their segments with Bing Crosby tunes, which would fit their espoused 1950s mentality, but rather the edgy 1974 rock song "Bad Company." During a recent broadcast, Newton and Mitchel—let's just call them Rob/Marc—nearly peed themselves with their own hilarity by derisively linking San Francisco with rainbows. They also want you to know that complaints of racism by black folks are sinister plots to steal the free-speech rights of patriotic Americans and to win more government handouts. "To my understanding, you go back into the mid-1800s, we freed the slaves [and] we gave the right to vote," Rob/Marc declared, satisfied their professed generosity resulted in utopia. "White-on-black racism is all but gone now." Mitigating factor: Both SlimFast and Nutrisystem need new spokesmen.
Hundreds of participants marched on June 24 in support of the county's LGBTQ community. One family posed for a photograph with their smiling young son, who identifies as a girl. The kid waved a rainbow flag, and his parents held signs saying, "My son wears dresses and makeup—get over it" and "I [heart] my gender-creative son." The photo went viral, which is when the famous actor and Trump supporter tweeted his response: "This is sweet. Wait until this poor kid grows up, realizes what you've done and stuffs both of you dismembered in the garage." Mitigating factor: Woods is an actor, thank God, and not our presi—oh, never mind.
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We're accustomed to encountering delusional politicians in Orange County, but the first-term Irvine City Councilwoman is a rare cat. Schott lost her credibility this year in hopes of protecting Frances Akhavi, a local political activist who moved to the Phoenix area and found herself under FBI arrest for money laundering, identity theft, income-tax evasion and wire fraud. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Akhavi spent years "fraudulently extracting" at least $1.24 million from unwitting acquaintances. Yet, Schott, who was often seen hobnobbing around Irvine with the con artist, described her pal—who forced an upcoming 2018 trial by reneging on her guilty plea deal—as "a national treasure." Mitigating factor: The world would be a better place if more politicians openly admitted their relationships with crooks.
"The people don't come to see me die. They come to see me defy death," the great Evel Knievel once said. The quote also adorns the YouTube page of Anthony Armer, better known as 8booth, who became famous this year by equipping himself with a GoPro and jumping off various hotel balconies and roofs into swimming pools and the ocean. His videos are gonzo perfection—no dialogue, just heavy breathing, a glance left and right, and gravity does the rest until splashdown. Until, that is, 8booth missed the pool one time and shattered both his feet on a patio. From his hospital bed, 8booth tried to raise cash for his medical expenses, earning him a never-ending stream of vitriol. Mitigating factor: Takes balls.