This weekender you are updatered on: a father not buying the overdose death of his once-missing daughter; a Laguna Beach billionaire beating the Swiss bank that shielded some of his assets; a Santa Ana dad copping to beating his precious two-month-old baby daughter into critical condition at a hospital; and a thieving Santa Ana piano company controller hitting a sour note at sentencing.
Update: The finding that Erica Alonso, whose decomposed body was found April 27 in the Cleveland National Forest, died from a drug overdose does not sound right for her father, Isaac Alonso, Sr. "We were not expecting something like that," he told City News Service recently. "It's hard to believe because she didn't do heavy drugs. I knew she did it, but it was lightly, not addicted or anything like that." The drug overdose finding by the county coroner may help homicide investigators narrow their case, but it "raises more questions" for the family, Alonso said. "Somebody did this and we need to find out why would they try to get rid of the body. If they knew what was happening, they could call 9-1-1 and ask for help or something and they didn't do that." He is calling for legislation to criminalize failure to report a death in a timely manner, and he also wants county officials to put up video cameras along Ortega Highway so law enforcement can have another tool to detect and solve crimes in the remote areas along the thoroughfare. "It would be so much help for the investigators so they can do a better job. If they had cameras there, they could have seen who drove by at those hours."
Update: Orange County Superior Court Judge Kim Dunning recently ruled a case brought by UBS and Bradley Birkenfeld against Igor Olenicoff, the Laguna Beach billionaire's Olen Properties Corp. and his general counsel Julie Ault amounted to malicious prosecution. UBS and Birkenfield, Olenicoff's banker with the Swiss bank, sought $6 million and unspecified punitive damages for having defended Olenicoff/Olen Properties in a 2008 lawsuit. So much for that defense: the bank/banker's now claim Olenicoff/Olen committed numerous illegal acts and activities that should prevent them using the court to get back their alleged losses. Judge Dunning said UBS's admission of wrongdoing and $780 million fine as well as Birkenfeld's felony guilty plea and 40 month federal prison sentence were all considered in deciding for Olenicoff/Olen, who were represented by Christopher P. Wesierski and Christian C. Counts from the firm Wesierski & Zurek, LLP in Irvine.
Update: Andres Tafoya, 32, pleaded guilty this week to attempted murder for pummeling his infant daughter in the head, leaving her critically injured. Tafoya also copped to child abuse and endangerment and admitted sentence-enhancing violations for great bodily injury to the victim, but a felony count of torture with a sentencing enhancement for great bodily injury was dismissed. He had been watching his 2-month-old baby in Santa Ana while her mother was at work in November 2013 when he and that Sideshow Bob hairdo beat the girl in the head, sending her to a hospital in critical condition. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 30.
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Update: Russell Eugene Dunbar, who used to be controller of a Santa Ana piano company, was sentenced Friday to 18 years in state prison for embezzling more than $5.6 million from the business. The 58-year-old had been found guilty by a jury on Oct. 21, 2014, of 17 felony counts of forgery, 17 felony counts of falsifying records, and 16 felony counts of grand theft with sentencing enhancement allegations for committing an aggravated white collar crime over $500,000 and property damage over $2.5 million. Dunbar was a close friend of the owners of Fields Piano when he was hired to head up accounting for the company. That accounting, starting around 2003, included Dunbar opening a bank account using the fictitious business name of the Fields Piano Co., receiving large checks from the business owners and depositing them into his own personal account instead of the business bank account. He wound up stealing at least $5.6 million and up to $6.8 million from the company over a three-year period, according to prosecutors. He later left the company but claimed he was owed $300,000. A check of the books to see how that was possible revealed what Dunbar had been doing, and Santa Ana cops were called. Owners of Fields Piano delivered a victim impact statement at sentencing explaining they had given their close friend a job, only to have him violate their trust and try to extort more money from them when they discovered his theft.