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Local News November 12th, 2009

Operation Hero Recognizes Sgt. Danny Velez at Hidden Valley Kiwanis Club Special Event

Two war heroes were recognized recently at the Hidden Valley Kiwanis Club’s "Operation Hero” program.

The distinguished Wounded Warrior is Navy Corpman Daniel Velez, who has 12 years of continuous active duty with the United States Navy. He successfully completed courses such as the Army Special Operations Combat Medic Course; Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) School; Marine Combatant Dive School; Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman Course; Army Basic Airborne Course, and Army Military Freefall School.

During Daniel’s Special Operations career he has served with 1st Reconnaissance BN, 4th Force Reconnaissance, the Amphibious Reconnaissance School as an Instructor, and his last command 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, where he returned from Afghanistan in Nov 2008.

After completing over 50 combat missions, treating several wounded American and Afghan casualties and being in countless firefights with effective small arms fire, numerous RPG’s, Recoilless Rifles and enduring numerous blast injuries during his seven month tour in Afghanistan, Daniel returned to the United States in Nov 2008. He was immediately diagnosed with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and began an intensive outpatient treatment regimen. After seven months of outpatient treatment, Daniel required inpatient hospitalization due to the severity of his PTSD and TBI, which lasted a period of 6 weeks.

Daniel, his wife, Christy and two children - a 6 year-old boy, Ethan, and a 2 yr-old girl, Kaili, from San Clemente, CA. were all in attendance. In his honor, retired Major Charles “Lynn” Lowder, presented a check for $500 from the Hidden Valley Kiwanis Club. Major Lowder holds the Silver Star, this nation’s second highest military award.

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Former Marine Major Charles “Lynn” Lowder, a recipient of the Silver Star, presents a check for $500 from the Hidden Valley Kiwanis Club of Escondido to Operation Hero special guest, Danny Velez, left. Looking on at right is Operation Hero founder and chair, lyle e davis, who is editor and publisher of The Paper

Escondido Police Launch Program to Combat DUI Deaths and Injuries

The Escondido Police Department has been awarded a new traffic safety grant for a year-long anti-DUI program aimed at preventing deaths and injuries on our roadways. New enforcement measures to combat impaired driving are coming as a result of a recent $362,000 grant awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety to the City of Escondido. The Escondido Police Department is dedicated to keeping our streets safe through both enforcement and education.

Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher said, “Working in partnership with the California Office of Traffic Safety has been an excellent way for the Escondido Police Department to further its mission of making the roads in Escondido safer for the motoring public.”

The special DUI Enforcement and Awareness grant is to assist in efforts to reduce the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol and other drug related collisions. The grant activities will specifically target impaired driving offenders as well as educate the public on the dangers of impaired driving. This will be done through the use of DUI/driver’s license checkpoints, warrant searches and stakeouts for repeat DUI offenders, saturation patrols, and court stings targeting DUI offenders with suspended or revoked driver licenses who get behind the wheel after leaving court.

Drunk driving is one of America’s deadliest crimes. In 2008, over 11,700 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

“Last year in California 1,029 died in alcohol impaired crashes, a 9 percent reduction in deaths from 2007,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “This grant will help keep that trend going by getting drunk drivers off the roadways of Escondido, making it safer for everyone.”

Escondido Charitable Foundation Hands Out Over $61,000

The Escondido Charitable Foundation (ECF) awarded over $61,000 to four deserving organizations for their innovative use in the fields of math and science for the students. Bernardo Elementary School was given $16,560 for Science Essentials, permanent science equipment and instructional materials for hands-on, minds-on learning in science. The Escondido Union High School District was awarded $21,900 for purchase of new interactive technology to enhance student success and understanding of Algebra I concepts.

For converting the current math program to a technology-based curriculum, called Math Advancement Program (MAP), Grace Lutheran Church and School was awarded funding in the amount of $12,600.

An award of $10,000 was made to the Escondido Education Foundation (EEF) to be used for twenty $500 competitive grants to teachers at the Escondido Union School District. Teachers can apply to the EEF for these grants for an innovative classroom project that carries out California State Curriculum Standards focusing on math and science.

The Mission of the Escondido Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of life within our communities by promoting and increasing responsible and effective philanthropy. ECF is an affiliate of The San Diego Foundation, and is comprised of two funds, an endowment and a non-endowment. This organization has awarded approximately $200,000 to organizations over the last three years, and has contributions and commitments totaling over $660K looking forward five years.

Each year, a new grant focus is chosen and applications accepted, organizations interviewed, and projects voted on as to which agencies will receive grants. To learn more about the Foundation and becoming a member, check the website at www.escondidocharitablefoundation.org or call Trudy Armstrong at 858.674.6979, Ext. 6733.

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City Council to Hold Public Workshop in Mission Park

On Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 7 p.m. the Escondido City Council will hold a public workshop at Mission Middle School located at 939 E. Mission Avenue.

Every five years, the City of Escondido updates its Consolidated Plan, a federally required document outlining the city’s priorities for the next five years and use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. Community members are invited to attend and provide feedback to City Council and staff which will be collected and incorporated into the 2010-2015 Consolidated Plan.

As part of the workshop, staff will give a brief presentation on accomplishments in the Mission Park area over the last several years as related to the Mission Park Survey conducted in 2006. Translation assistance will be provided for Spanish speakers. For additional information about this public meeting, contact the Neighborhood Services Division at (760) 839-4517.

Spanish Speaking Investors Defrauded of $1.3 Million According to Police

Last Thursday, in a San Diego Superior Court, victims and prosecuters said Alan Espiritu, 35, and Cesar Moreno, 40, worked the North County Hispanic market and bilked at least 27 victims, mostly Spanish speaking, working class people, out of $1.3 million. More than two dozen victims identified the men. Espiritu, was described as a smooth talker who convinced friends old and new to invest in his fake real estate company, among other schemes, then pocketed the money. His co-defendant, Cesar Moreno, 40, who police say worked at two North County banks, allegedly found victims for Espiritu. Police say he identified small-business owners and other depositors and, in some cases, convinced them to open a line of credit and hand over the money to Espiritu.

Espiritu is facing 68 felony counts that include grand theft and corporations code violations, which could mean up to 36 years in prison. Espiritu is also on an Immigration and Customes Enforcement (ICE) hold as it appears he is an illegal immigrant. Moreno faces up to 15 years in prison for fewer counts of similar charges, according to the District Attorney’s office.

Both men pleaded not guilty Thursday. Judge David Szumowski set Espiritu's bail at $1.5 million, Moreno's at $1 million. They were both arrested Tuesday and are being held at the Vista jail. Carlsbad police Detective Patty Parra became aware of the alleged fraud in early 2008 and conducted an extensive investigation, according to a news release.

"What makes this case so awful is that Espiritu and Moreno preyed on a vulnerable group of hard-working people who lived frugal lives, saving every dollar they could," Parra said in a statement.

Seven people who said they were Espiritu's victims attended the court hearing.

Rosalina Santiago, 33, of San Marcos, said she gave Espiritu her life's savings, $10,000, last year. An insurance saleswoman she met through her boss at a hair salon told her the Carlsbad businessman could get her a 10 percent monthly return on her investment, she said.

Espiritu was smart and convincing, she said. After signing paperwork, she turned over her savings. When he was supposed to pay, he strung her along, Santiago said. Eventually, she tried to track him down at his Carlsbad office. There was no one there, she said.

Missett, the prosecutor, said Espiritu preyed on friends and found his victims through a wide network in the Spanish-speaking community. Espiritu allegedly represented himself as the head of Permex Corp., a bogus real estate development company that promised investors returns of up to 25 percent.

Neo Aguilar, a 33-year-old Oceanside insurance salesman, said he met Espiritu through a friend and believed he was a savvy investor. Aguilar said he convinced his nephew to invest about $40,000 with Espiritu, and added $10,000 of his own.

In the meantime, Espiritu said he could help Aguilar modify the loan on his Oceanside home, Aguilar said. He said Espiritu told him to stop making payments to the mortgage company; that Espiritu would handle the payments on the home, become part-owner and wrap the home's mortgage into some kind of investment, Aguilar said.

Espiritu eventually told him it hadn't worked; he'd lost the home. He also lost his own and his nephew's money, Aguilar said. Aguilar called the Carlsbad Police Department, launching its investigation.

Moreno, Espiritu's co-defendant, worked at a Carlsbad Washington Mutual and a Vista Wells Fargo and would persuade customers to take out lines of credit or use their own savings to invest in Espiritu's company, according to Parra's testimony in a March affidavit seeking a search warrant for Moreno's accounts. In the course of her investigation, Parra found a restaurant owner who Moreno convinced to open a $60,000 line of credit, according to documents.

Cristobal Vaca, a 40-year-old San Marcos restaurant owner, said Epiritu, a trusted friend of 13 years, ultimately took more than $200,000 from him through fake investments. Both Moreno and Espiritu are permanent residents from Mexico with longtime ties to North County, Missett said. She said both men appear to have spent their victims' money on a good life, and have nothing to show for it.

She broke the news to Vaca after the hearing. "Realistically, I don't think you should expect to get anything back," she told him.

DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint A Success

On November 6, 2009, the Escondido Police Department conducted a DUI Sobriety / Drivers License Checkpoint at 700 West Grand Avenue from 6:00 PM until 1:00 AM. The emphasis of this checkpoint was to detect intoxicated and unlicensed drivers as well as to provide a highly visible operation to deter driving under the influence.

The following activity resulted from this checkpoint:

• 2,586 vehicles entered the checkpoint eastbound on West Grand Avenue.
• 1,606 vehicles were screened in primary.
• 91 vehicles sent to secondary (drivers who could not produce a drivers license or who were suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs).
• 2 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• 1 arrest for possession of methamphetamine and parole violations.
• 1 misdemeanor citation for possession of marijuana.
• 11 field sobriety tests were administered.
• 34 vehicles were impounded at this checkpoint, 10 drivers did not have auto insurance, 6 drivers had a suspended drivers license and 34 drivers did not have a drivers license.
• 44 citations were issued at this checkpoint.

“Coast to Coast - Heart to Heart” New TV Program Presented

A locally produced tv program which honors US Veterans and the Military has been produced at Del Mar TV and will air in November and December

Ana Rebecca Smith and Jean Andersen, co-host the program with special performances by JD Crawford and Ana Rebecca Smith. JD Crawford co-wrote “The Wounded Warrior Song” with Steven Bradshaw. The program will air on Time Warner Cable, Channel 130 in North County, and Live Streaming on your Computer.

Go to: www.delmartv.com. Click on Streaming or "Watch it Now" at the days/times listed below:

Wednesdays: 4:30pm-5:30pm
Thursdays: 10:30am-11:30am
Saturdays: 7:00pm- 8:00pm

photoCPA Scott Peck Opens Own Office

Veteran Certified Public Accountant Scott Peck has opened his own firm, Scott Peck CPA & Associates, in downtown Escondido’s First Citizens Bank Building, 300 West Grand Avenue (Suite 200).

Mr. Peck, most recently partner in the Escondido-based CPA firm of Dunlap, Dunlap & Peck, has founded a firm with over 50 years of cumulative experience working with business and high net worth clients. In addition, his new firm includes a QuickBooks consulting specialist.

A San Diego County resident since 1971, predominantly in Escondido, Scott Peck is past president of the Escondido East Rotary Club and the current treasurer of Rotary District 5340. Scott Peck was also a founding board member and chief financial officer of First Night,. Escondido.

For more information on Scott Peck CPA & Associates, email Scott@scottpeckcpa.com or call 760-466-2000.

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner Announces Recovery of $27 million from Insurance Companies

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced Monday that the California Department of Insurance (CDI) has helped San Diego residents recover an additional $27 million from their insurance companies over the last two years. The Witch Creek wildfire that started on Oct. 21, 2007, was the third-largest fire in California history in terms of structures destroyed (1,650) and fourth-largest in acreage burned with 197,990.

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Send your news tips or press releases to: thepaper@cox.net. Questions? Call 760.747.7119. And thanks!

 

 

 

 

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