Briefly In Public Safety

Man accused of keeping erroneously deposited tax refund

Police arrested a Laguna Beach man for allegedly failing to return a $110,000 tax return accidently deposited into his account.

Stephen Reginald McDow, 34, was arrested Tuesday with one felony count of theft of lost property with an enhancement for taking more than $65,000, according to an Orange County District Attorney's press release.

The victim, called Michelle D. in the release, filed her 2009 taxes with her accountant and requested that the return be deposited into her account, which she expected to be $110,000.

After not receiving the return by December 2010, the victim asked her attorney to double check and realized the money had been deposited in an account she closed in 2004. The account number had been reassigned to McDow.

According to the release, Michelle D. gave McDow instructions on how to deposit the money back into her account. McDow is accused of failing to deposit the victim's funds and e-mailing the victim's attorney on March 6 to say he had spent the majority of the money on a student loan, foreclosure debt and a car loan.

He faces a maximum sentence of four years in a state prison, if convicted.


Man jailed after single-vehicle crash

A 19-year-old Aliso Viejo man was arrested and four juveniles questioned after Laguna Beach Police and Fire departments responded to a single-vehicle traffic crash on Monday.

Witnesses reported that four to five juveniles and a young adult, with visible injuries, fled the vehicle after the crash at El Toro and Laguna Canyon roads at 2:45 p.m. Police found them less than a mile from the scene.

Jared Raymond Del Real was found to be the driver of the vehicle, which resulted in injuries to two passengers. He was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run with injury and taken to Orange County Jail.

Two male juveniles, 15 and 17, from Mission Viejo, and two 15-year-old females from Aliso Viejo were detained and released to parents after the investigation.

The two girls had facial lacerations and were taken to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo.

At first, police suspected that the red two-door sedan was stolen, but it turned out that Del Real attempted to report the vehicle stolen after he ran from the accident.

Nearby Anneliese School was locked down for 30 minutes as police searched for the suspects.


Candle blamed for apartment fire

A burning candle left unattended in a Catalina Street apartment bathroom started a fire that caused $10,000 in damages June 10, according to the Laguna Beach Fire Department.

No injuries were reported.

Firefighters responded to an 8:33 p.m. call in the 2100 block of Catalina Street, where a lower unit in the 20-unit building was in flames.

A smoke alarm alerted a neighbor, who called 911, Division Chief Dan Stefano said, according to a news release.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire. They evacuated the building.

The American Red Cross of Orange County provided assistance to the occupant of the damaged unit, Stefano said.

Four engines responded, including one Orange County Fire Authority truck.

"A working smoke alarm and an early activation of the 911 system definitely saved this structure from more substantial damage and significantly reduced the risk of casualties to the other tenants," Stefano stated.


Police arrested a Virginia man Friday in a reported sexual assault, according to Laguna Beach police.

A woman told police that she was sexually assaulted after meeting a man, who said he was from out of town, at a local restaurant earlier in the week.

They went to a hotel after dinner and he assaulted her against her will, Laguna police Lt. Jason Kravetz said.

After the incident, the victim visited a clinic and spoke to a counselor. Police say they got knowledge of the assault shortly after.

An investigation led Laguna Beach police to Berkan Muzaffer Kansu, 23, of Dulles, Va. He is being held on $100,000 bail.

—Joanna Clay and Cindy Frazier

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