Marijuana shop shut after sheriff serves warrant

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Marijuana shop shut after sheriff serves warrant

November 3rd, 2011, 2:14 pm · · posted by

Santa Ana Superior Care, a marijuana dispensary at 321 W. Seventeenth St., has been closed since sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant last month.

A sign on the door of Santa Ana Superior Care.

According to an affidavit by sheriff’s investigator Howard J. McCulloch, the dispensary on two occasions sold marijuana to an undercover officer who had a doctor’s recommendation, without telling the officer to perform any duties or to participate in cooperatively or collectively cultivating marijuana.

Distribution of marijuana to an individual who has a recommendation but no other relationship with the distributor amounts to an illegal sale of marijuana, which is not permitted under California law, McCulloch wrote.

Sheriff’s Capt. Adam Powell said deputies are continuing their investigation and will forward their findings to the District Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution.

Residents have complained about a  proliferation of  marijuana dispensaries along Seventeenth Street.

Such dispensaries are prohibited in Santa Ana by a city land-use ordinance. However, there are dozens of dispensaries operating in the city. Enforcement of the ordinance is handled by the city’s code enforcement staff. Persistent violators are referred for possible civil or criminal litigation.

“We’ve tried to be more efficient in our enforcement by first issuing administrative citations to the business owner and landlord, rather than hauling every dispensary into court, which would be costly and time consuming,” said Jay Trevino, executive director of the city’s Planning & Building Agency, which handles code enforcement. “Our approach often results in quicker compliance – one dispensary closed the same day.”


“Our experience is that landlords are often unaware of the real nature of the business who rented their building – and when they find out after getting an administrative citation from the city will frequently ask the tenants to leave,” Trevino said.

“Administrative citations begin with a firm warning, but quickly escalate into $100, then $200 and then $500 daily fines if the tenant and landlord do not comply,” Trevino said.

However, Trevino said, “Like many cities, we sometimes find dispensaries that, once we’ve closed them down, just open again in another location.”

The investigation into Santa Ana Superior Care began as “something that we came across” during work on similar investigations in Orange County, Powell said. “It happened to cross jurisdictions,” he said, because the shop is located in Santa Ana, which has its own police department.

Santa Ana police typically don’t investigate marijuana dispensaries because it is a zoning issue handled by code enforcement staff, said Santa Ana Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

According to McCulloch’s affidavit, one of the operators of Santa Ana Superior Care was Hank John Cousine, 51. Cousine is a former Los Angeles police officer, Powell said.

A Hank Cousine, a 15-year LAPD veteran, was fired for allegedly participating in a pyramid scheme in 1998, according to a 2004 article by the Los Angeles Times. In 1991, a Hank Cousine had been identified as one of the LAPD’s 44 “problem officers” by the Christopher Commission on the basis of citizen complaints, shootings, and other criteria, the Times said.

The other operator of Santa Ana Superior Care was Ryan Aparicio Mondragon, 29, according to McCulloch’s affidavit.

Attempts to reach Cousine and Mondragon for comment were unsuccessful.

In their Oct. 21 search of Santa Ana Superior Care, deputies seized marijuana, records, and $16,728 in currency, according to the warrant.

–Register intern Kjellrun Owens contributed to this report.

Man suspected of running over officer sought

Published: Nov. 3, 2011 Updated:  3:25 p.m.

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Man suspected of running over officer sought



GARDEN GROVE – Police are searching for a driver who ran over the legs of a motorcycle officer after he was stopped for not wearing his seat belt.The driver was identified by officials as Marcos Gonzalez, a 28-year-old described as being 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 220 pounds. The information was obtained from the ticket that was being prepared by the injured officer, police said.

Article Tab: gonzalez-marcos
Marcos Gonzalez.



Officers have been looking for Gonzalez since the incident occurred at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, when the motorcycle officer pulled over the green Infiniti with no plates near 13321 Brookhurst Ave.

Garden Grove police Lt. Jeff Nightengale said officers checked a residence in Orange County and one in the Inland Empire but did not find Gonzalez.

Authorities said they did not know what caused Gonzalez to flee. Investigators have searched his record and have not found any warrants or obvious reasons why he would have fled, Nightengale said, adding that the Infiniti he was driving was not believed to be stolen.

The 35-year-old officer, a 10-year veteran of the Garden Grove Police Department suffered moderate injuries and remained hospitalized as of 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nightengale said.

The incident began when the motorcycle officer pulled over Gonzalez and noticed he was not wearing a seat belt. The officer was writing a ticket when he observed Gonzalez acting strangely, Nightengale said.

“The guy starts acting nervous, so (the officer) asked him to step out of the car,” he said.

The driver’s behavior led the officer to believe something else might be wrong, and the officer patted down the driver after he got out of the car, Nightengale said.

While the car was stopped in the parking lot of a shopping center, the officer radioed for backup when the driver ran back toward the car’s open door and got into the vehicle.

“They start struggling at the door,” Nightengale said.

As the two men struggled at the driver’s side of the car, the driver was able to put the car in reverse, Nightengale said. With the door open, the car knocked down the officer as he tried to get the driver to stop.

“Then he put the car in drive and drives over the officer’s legs,” Nightengale said.

Anyone with information was asked to call police at 714-741-5704.

Contact the writer: 714-704-3709 or

Use of Drunk Driving Suspect’s DNA Not a Search


Monday, October 31, 2011


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Use of Drunk Driving Suspect’s DNA Not a Search, C.A. Says




Police who used a drunk driving suspect’s DNA sample to tie him to a string of burglaries did not violate his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled Friday.

Div. Four affirmed Troy Corsby Thomas’ conviction and 17-year sentence for residential burglary. Thomas pled no contest to a single burglary count under a plea agreement following the denial of his motion to suppress.

Prosecutors charged Thomas with six counts of residential burglary following a 2008 traffic stop. Evidence presented at the suppression hearing established that he consented to a breath test, and passed all sobriety tests and was released.

Mouthpiece Preserved

Police, however, preserved the mouthpiece of the testing device; testing of the mouthpiece linked Thomas—who had previously been placed under surveillance as a result of an anonymous tip and whose photograph was identified by a witness to a burglary—to two burglaries and led to his arrest.

Following the arrest, police obtained another DNA sample, which linked him to three more burglaries. They also obtained a warrant to search his home, finding additional evidence.

Based on the DNA evidence, and the photographic identification, Thomas was charged with six burglaries.

Appealing his conviction following the plea, he argued that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Antonio Barreto Jr. should have suppressed the DNA and all resulting evidence. He argued that police violated his reasonable expectation of privacy in the saliva he deposited on the mouthpiece of the PAS breath testing device.

No Expectation

But Presiding Justice Norman Epstein agreed with the trial judge that Thomas had no such expectation of privacy because he did not ask the police to give him the mouthpiece and did not ask what they intended to do with it. The sample was voluntarily given, the jurist said, and its subsequent testing was not a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

The presiding justice cited People v. Gallego (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 388, holding that a murder suspect lacked a reasonable expectation of privacy in a DNA sample obtained from a cigarette butt because the defendant had abandoned it by tossing it onto a sidewalk.

Thomas, Epstein said, similarly abandoned any reasonable expectation of privacy in his saliva “when he failed to wipe it off” the device. Instead, he left it on a device belonging to the police, and thereby made it accessible to them, rendering any privacy expectation unreasonable, the presiding justice wrote.

Epstein distinguished cases in other states holding that genetic testing of blood samples, given by drivers under implied consent laws similar to California’s, is not permitted. Those cases, the jurist explained, are based on the premise that testing exceeds the scope of the driver’s consent or the scope of the statute.

‘Mere Incident’

In Thomas’ case, however, the testing of his saliva was “a mere incident to the PAS test,” and was not dependent on express or implied consent, Epstein said. He added that this was not a case of “fraud and deceit,” as the defense contended, because Thomas took the test voluntarily, was lawfully stopped, and knew that he was dealing with the police and giving them a breath sample in connection with a possible criminal investigation.

Attorneys on appeal were Ralph H. Goldsen, by appointment, for the defendant and Deputy Attorneys General Susan Sullivan Pithey and Mary Sanchez for the prosecution.

The case is People v. Thomas, B228049.


Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company

Convicting an officer is a tough challenge, experts say

Jurors are usually sympathetic toward police officers and even when prosecutors get a conviction, the sentence may be reduced.

  • Police Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, left, and Fullerton Police officer Manuel Ramos appear in court in Santa Ana.

    Police Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, left, and Fullerton Police officer Manuel Ramos… (Paul Rodriguez / Associated Press)

By Jack Leonard, Times Staff Writer

Murder charges against on-duty police officers — such as the one announced by Orange County prosecutors in the Fullerton beating case — are rarely filed, and successful prosecutions in such cases are almost unheard of in California.

Legal experts said jurors who are naturally sympathetic toward law enforcement are not easily persuaded that an officer has committed the ultimate crime, even after seeing video of the death.