A Buena Park man believed to have faked his death while diving off of Treasure Island in Laguna Beach has been arrested in Las Vegas, Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Jason Kravetz said.
Police announced in December that they were searching for John Sung Park, 29, who was declared missing and presumed dead after diving with friends Sept. 11.
Nevada State Gaming Board police officers arrested Park at 7:30 a.m. March 30 at the MGM Grand Casino. The gaming police were investigating an allegation that a man was cheating at one of the gaming tables. After the arrest, Park allegedly gave officers a false name and at one point tried to escape, Kravetz said.
“We e-mailed them his driver’s license picture and they confirmed his identity,” Kravetz stated.
He was taken to Clark County Jail and booked on multiple charges.
“When he eventually comes back to California, we will be interviewing him and possibly looking at charging him with faking an emergency along with handing him a bill for the monies we expended while looking for him,” Kravetz said.
Police believe Park may have faked his death in an effort to avoid a court hearing in Orange County regarding an arrest in La Palma on charges of burglary, receiving stolen property, forgery and drug-related charges, police said.
Laguna Beach police did not suspect Park was alive until they were contacted by the LAPD in December about an outstanding warrant on the suspect in an alleged assault in Tarzana that took place Sept. 24, weeks after the diving incident in Laguna. Laguna police then announced they were looking for him.
The two companions who said they were with Park while diving told officers they became separated in the water and lost sight of Park. When they emerged from the ocean and did not see him, they went to their vehicle and changed clothes. An hour later, they called 911.
Immediately after the call was received by dispatchers, safety personnel began an extensive search for the diver. Laguna Beach Police, Fire and Marine Safety departments, plus the Harbor Patrol, Sheriff’s Department, Newport Beach police, Garden Grove police, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Ocean Safety responded to the scene, searching for hours for the missing man.
CINDY FRAZIER is city editor of the Coastline Pilot. She can be contacted at (949) 380-4321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.