Los Angeles Times

Briefly In Public Safety

Drunk driving suspect hits pole, wall and car

A Laguna Hills woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI last Friday after hitting a utility pole, wall and a parked car.

Officers responded around 1 a.m. to a report of a non-injury traffic collision near Diamond Street and South Coast Highway. The reporting party turned out to be the suspect.

Katherine Benigno, 26, initially told officers that she had been looking down at her phone when she crashed into the car, a Cox Cable pole and the wall of a home, according to the dispatch log.

Sgt. Louise Callus said Benigno admitted to police that she had been drinking.

She was arrested on suspicion of DUI and driving on a suspended license.

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Man gets 61 years for sexual assaults

A one-time Ladera Ranch man who became an international fugitive and was finally captured in Austria was sentenced Friday to 61 years in prison for sexually assaulting three women in Orange and San Diego counties, including two he met at a Laguna Beach nightclub.

Ali Achekzai, 33, was convicted in December of raping two women in 2004 and attempting to sexually assault another woman in 2002, according to Orange County Deputy District Attorney Robert Mestman.

Achekzai was apprehended in Austria three years ago after using various aliases and fleeing the U.S. through Canada. He was arrested under the name Wali Ahmed Shoja.

The case against him for rape was later dismissed, but a DNA sample taken at the time connected him to the California attacks.

Achekzai fondled and attempted to sexually assault a 24-year-old woman while she was passed out in a limousine after meeting at a Laguna Beach nightclub on Oct. 26, 2002. The victim woke up while Achekzai was fondling her breasts.

Achekzai met another woman at the same Laguna Beach nightclub on Jan. 31, 2004. Later that night, Achekzai drove up alongside the 21-year-old woman and convinced her to pull into a Tustin parking lot, where he raped her in her vehicle, prosecutors said.

Achekzai raped another woman May 3, 2004, near Mt. Soledad in La Jolla.

—Joanna Clay and Los Angeles Times

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