UPDATE, OCT. 19, 1:50 P.M.: It may have seemed like an open-and-shut case at the time: Santa Ana cops check a 62-year-old veteran's apartment and discover eight young people led by 19-year-old Andrew Perez have taken it over without the frightened tenant's consent. But looks can be deceiving as prosecutors have declined to file charges. The Orange County District Attorney's office says there is not enough evidence to prove home invasion and trespassing counts police sought against the strangers.
However, based on undisclosed evidence found in the apartment, Perez is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on various felony charges ranging from robbery to extortion.
One touching fallout from the current economic crisis is it's forcing younger people to move back in with their older relatives. As adults who have experienced the outside world, they can share pleasant memories of growing up and the responsibilities of maintaining a home.
Or, like a 53-year-old guy in Anaheim, you can set up a meth lab in your 87-year-old aunt's mobile home. Then there are those who take over the home of someone unrelated for partying, drugging and other assorted nastiness, which is what six men and two juvenile females are accused of doing to a 62-year-old veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and was afraid to leave his Santa Ana apartment.
Thomas George Hogue pleaded guilty Friday to one felony count each of manufacturing methamphetamine and elder and dependent adult abuse and was sentenced to a year in jail and four years of probation.
A woman called Anaheim Police in January after failing to reach her bedridden grandmother, who resides in a mobile home in the 5800 block of La Palma Avenue. Officers arrived to find the woman alone with a meth lab. Her nephew and caretaker, Hogue, was arrested when he returned to the home. Another relative is now looking after the woman.
Hogue was looking at up to eight years in prison if he fought the charges and lost his case, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
Santa Ana Police officers were conducting a welfare check around 5 a.m. Friday morning at an apartment complex in the 3300 block of West Camille Street when a neighbor told them about the week-long intrusion at the unnamed veteran's unit. He apparently did not previously know any members of the group who took over his apartment.
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Cops identified the ringleader as 19-year-old Andrew Perez. Also arrested were: Roberto Figueroa, 39; Edgar Perez, 25; Anthony De La Cruz, 18; Steven Quirino, 20; Curt Rodriguez, 17; and two female minors.
Charges against them include robbery, vandalism, trespassing and contributing to delinquency of a minor. Some suspects were also held on parole violations.