A Costa Mesa drug and alcohol recovery center that had a counselor charged with DUI murder in October is dealing with more negative press this month: the city claims one of its group homes in a residential neighborhood had 11 more beds than legally allowed after some shady moves to avoid detection.
An Orange County Superior Court judge issued the warrant on Nov. 10 after Costa Mesa city officials provided evidence that the operators of the Serenity Shores Recovery Center sober-living home in the 600 block of Senate Street had moved in additional beds just hours after a city inspection on Oct. 29, according to a city statement. Serenity Shores' offices are on Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa.
A subsequent, unannounced inspection of the Senate Street address on Nov. 20 found 18 beds when only seven are legally allowed for group homes in residential neighborhoods, according to Costa Mesa officials, who claim seven of the beds were discovered in one of the home's six bedrooms. The city says it is now "exploring all criminal and civil options regarding the violation."
"We won't tolerate these kind of bad neighbors in Costa Mesa," says Costa Mesa CEO Tom Hatch in the statement. "This illegal operation damages the quality of life in our neighborhoods and casts a bad light on conscientious operators of group homes in our community."
Serenity Shores' two-story group home on Senate Street has produced complaints from neighbors about loud arguments, profanity, trash, excessive traffic and cigarette smoke, advertised Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and loitering for the past eight months, according to the city.
Property owner Saroj Gupta of Orange was slapped with a city violation notice on April 24 after Costa Mesa firefighters on a medical call to the address were told 16 people lived in the house. The notice stipulated that occupancy be reduced to a maximum of seven (six clients and a house manager), as required by law.
The property owner was served with a failure to comply citation on Sept. 30 and notice of a scheduled inspection for Oct. 29. Code enforcement officials found six beds in the home that day, but less than three hours after the inspection, the city received photos of two trucks moving additional beds into the house, according to the city statement.
Weekly readers identified Neil Storm Stephany as an intake counselor at Serenity Shores Recovery Center, which he "likes" on his Facebook page. According to Orange County sheriff's jailers, the 23-year-old recently described himself to them as a "Narcotics Anonymous counselor."
Shaun Eagleson, 30, was riding his bike west on East Coast Highway near Los Trancos around 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19, when he was struck by a vehicle that was also going westbound, according to Newport Beach Police. He was pronounced dead about 9:45 p.m. that day at a local hospital. Stephany was arrested at Newport Center Drive and East Coast Highway shortly after the collision.
Stephany pleaded not guilty Nov. 14 in Central Jail in Santa Ana to second-degree murder, hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. He was ordered held on $1 million bail.
The Huntington Beach resident also faces alleged probation violations stemming from previous cases. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 6, 2013, to assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, both felonies, and was immediately sentenced to 180 days in jail and placed on three years of formal probation. He was also ordered to participate in a drug or alcohol program. On Feb. 3 of this year, he was ordered to spend another 90 days in jail in the case.
He also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence on Oct. 4, 2011, and was sentenced to a two-day jail term and placed on three years of informal probation. On Feb. 3 of this year, he was ordered to do another eight days in jail for that case. Stephany copped to possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell on Oct. 14, 2010, and was immediately sentenced to a year in jail and placed on three years of formal probation. On May 19, 2011, he was sentenced to another 90 days in jail in that case.
Married and a Fountain Valley resident, Eagleson was the co-owner of Apex Audio studio in Huntington Beach and a former member of the Riverside band The Enemy Within. The Weekly is happy to report that The Shaun Eagleson Memorial Campaign through GoFundMe.com exceeded its $24,000 goal.