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Threats Admitted, Probation Ordered

Times Staff Writer

A Costa Mesa man who suffered brain injuries six years ago when a sport utility vehicle full of Newport Harbor High School students overturned has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for making threats against a friend’s mother.

Daniel Townsend, 23, had been charged with two felony counts, including threats to kill Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona. Prosecutors dropped the charges relating to the sheriff, however, and Townsend was sentenced to three years’ probation.

Superior Court Judge Geoffrey T. Glass on Monday also ordered Townsend not to contact Carona or Pam Schrader, the friend’s mother. He also must enter a counseling program in San Juan Capistrano.

Townsend was arrested in February when a tipster told police he had allegedly made threats to kill Schrader, although deputies were unable to find Townsend that night.

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The next evening, a tipster reported that Townsend had been making threats against Carona. When investigators arrived at Townsend’s home in Costa Mesa, they found a recent newspaper article taped to his bedroom door.

Scribbled under the sheriff’s photo was a threat: “I’ll serve it up to you, you little ... Mike Carona.” An arrow pointed to a bull’s-eye on Carona’s forehead, authorities alleged.

Townsend’s family has said he has struggled to rebuild his life since the 1997 accident and that the brain damage caused emotional problems.

Townsend was one of 10 youths who piled into the SUV after a night of partying in May 1997. The vehicle flipped and crashed on a sharp turn, killing student Donny Bridgman, leaving Amanda Arthur paralyzed and in a coma and Townsend with brain injuries. Arthur’s recovery drew national attention after she awoke 11 weeks later.

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