Welk Resorts Will Pay Up To $ 5.5 Million To Settle Consumer Protection Lawsuit

Man Sentenced for Fatally Stabbing Teenager at Chula Vista House Party

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that a 19-year-old man who fatally stabbed a 17-year-old male at a house party has been sentenced to 12 years in state prison.

On August 10, 2023, James Mumper Jr. pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and admitted the allegation of personal use of a deadly weapon. Mumper additionally admitted three aggravating factors in the commission of this crime in connection with the stabbing that occurred   at the house party in Chula Vista. 

“We all grieve with the family for the loss of such a young life taken by senseless violence,” DA Stephan said. “We hope the family can find solace in the justice that was delivered through this prosecution.”

This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Alexis Lamprea and Garret Wong. 

Child Molester Who Fled to Asia Sentenced in Sex Abuse Case

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that a 73-year-old man who molested a 5-year-old victim at a church on the University of San Diego campus has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Chester Yang, who was extradited from Singapore with the help of Interpol and U.S. federal authorities, pleaded guilty in September to forcible lewd acts upon a child and admitted to his prior strike offense. He had previously been ordered to stand trial.

“Chester Yang has been held accountable for his crimes, despite fleeing almost 7,000 miles away,” DA Stephan said. “We will not stop pursuing justice, especially where it comes to those who sexually abuse children and this case demonstrated our commitment to reach out as far as Asia to stop them. Bringing justice took the unified efforts by an international and local team that assembled to bring this predator to justice including, the U.S. Marshals Service, Interpol, the San Diego Police Department’s Child Abuse Unit, and our own Deputy District Attorney Melissa Diaz and a team of District Attorney investigators.”

The day after Yang’s family was contacted by police, he fled to Taiwan, which would not extradite him back to San Diego. The U.S. Marshals service was instrumental in developing a relationship with Taiwanese authorities and ultimately getting them to alert the U.S. if Yang left Taiwan. In late May, Interpol alerted U.S. authorities that Yang flew to Singapore and Deputy U.S. Marshal Todd Loveless and the District Attorney’s Office quickly made arrangements to have Yang extradited to San Diego.

The District Attorney’s Office has a dedicated Extraditions Unit that brings fugitives from abroad or from other states to face criminal prosecution in San Diego and seeks justice for crime victims. International extradition is complex and varies from nation to nation with very specific legal requirements involving multiple agencies.

This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Melissa Diaz, the Chief of the DA’s Family Protection Division.

Meet Legal Support Assistant Alejandra Monarrez Vargas

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15, we are highlighting stories from DA employees and what inspired them to pursue a career in public service. Meet Legal Support Assistant Alejandra Monarrez Vargas, who has worked with us since 2017.

She was born and raised in San Diego. Before working at the DA’s Office, Alejandra was a food cart assistant at SeaWorld, and she promises that she made the best churros and popcorn in the park! She joined our office in 2017 as a Student Worker in the Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Division. After a year, she was hired full-time and spent four years in the Economic Crimes Division – she likes to say they raised her!

Currently, she is a Legal Support Assistant III for the Case Issuing Unit in the North County Branch, where one of her main duties is training new hires on their tasks. Case Issuing is a very detail-oriented unit (the North County Branch reviews 1,400 reports per month!), so close one-on-one training is essential, and she is always happy to answer questions. She is also responsible for ensuring that her team processes their cases before their tight deadlines every day.

During her free time, Alejandra enjoys going to the gym, attends music festivals/concerts with friends, and plays around with her two huskies Lobo and Luna.

What inspired you to choose a career in law enforcement/at the DA’s Office?

“My sister Gloria! She has been working for Juvenile Court since 2001. When I was in elementary school, she took me to the courthouse during ‘bring your family to work day.’ I got a tour of the courthouse, an explanation of how the criminal justice system works, and even got to take a picture on a judge’s bench with a robe and gavel! I became interested in exploring a legal career ever since.”

What is your favorite part of the job?

“Helping out my staff! My personal goal is to create a prospering work environment where employees are happy to come to the office. I genuinely enjoy figuring out new ways to make our office run smoother because in the end, it will benefit staff, DAs, and the public.”

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? Why is it important?

“Personally, Hispanic Heritage Month to me is about remembering the life values that come from my family. Growing up, we would take yearly vacations to a small town called Laguna Grande in Zacatecas, Mexico, where I learned how important community is. Everyone in town knew each other, had friendly manners, and was always willing to assist one another. I bring these values with me to the office in hopes of creating an inviting community just like Laguna Grande.”

DA Marks the Start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

An average of 13 people are killed every year by an intimate partner in San Diego County. Today, the District Attorney’s Office joined the San Diego Domestic Violence Council, county officials and other social service agencies to launch the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month at a ceremony in Balboa Park. The event is meant to empower survivors, award those who work with victims and remember those whose lives were taken in domestic violence incidents during the previous year. This year, the event theme was “Let Today Be the Day You Move Forward!”

In 2022, 10 people were killed by a current or former intimate partner and there were four additional homicide victims, such as a family member, new boyfriend, or bystander, who died during domestic violence related incidents. In addition, five offenders committed suicide. See a list of domestic violence homicide victims not to be forgotten, here.

“In San Diego County, we are fighting every day to save lives from the destructive cycles of domestic violence,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said. “I want to thank the San Diego Domestic Violence Council and Claudia Grasso for the partnership in protecting families from violence. Domestic violence not only harms the direct victim but also has a devastating ripple effect on children, families, and communities. This is why at the DA’s Office we work every day to prosecute the offenders and provide resources to victims so they can safely leave their abusers and move on with their lives. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is one more chance to empower women, children, and survivors to know that there are resources to help them get out of a dangerous relationship.”

Each year there are more than 17,000 domestic violence incidents reported to law enforcement across San Diego County. Last year, the figure was 17,472 and the District Attorney’s Office filed charges in 2,393 domestic violence cases.

During the Balboa Park event, which included a resource fair and a candlelight vigil ceremony honoring homicide victims, Ivette Kuyateh, who lost her mother to domestic violence when she was a child shared her personal story.

“Events like these give us a platform to expose the darkness in our society and say the words that victims often can’t,” Kuyateh said. “Yet every advocate knows our work continues past the month of October. It is year-round. As long as people still ask, ‘why doesn’t she leave?’ we have work to do to educate others on the complexities behind the answer to this question.”

Also at the event, Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez, who is a marriage and family therapist, was named the new President for the San Diego Domestic Violence Council. The domestic violence council is a collaboration of organizations and community members who seek to reduce and prevent domestic violence. Partner agencies include the District Attorney’s Office, San Diego County Health and Human Services, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, and other law enforcement and social services agencies.

Over the last year, the DA’s Office coordinated trainings for hundreds of professionals across the county on domestic violence, firearm safety, stalking, and how to be more inclusive when working with victims.

“We are so proud of how the San Diego Domestic Violence Council has brought county organizations together to help connect victims with resources and support service providers with tools to consistently restore hope to those who have lost it,” said Claudia Grasso, the outgoing President of the SDDVC and Executive Director of One Safe Place: The North County Family Justice Center. “I am grateful to District Attorney Summer Stephan, who for my entire four-year term as SDDVC President, was a constant source of encouragement and support.”

If you or someone you know is being abused by a current or former partner, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) for confidential support and assistance planning for safety. More information and resources can be found on the DA’s website here. See the calendar and flyers of additional domestic violence awareness events that will take place throughout the month of October, here.

Ringleader in Prolific Residential Burglary Series Sentenced to Prison

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that the ringleader in a multi-county residential burglary series involving nine defendants, who stole more than $1 million in cash and jewelry, was sentenced for his role in the elaborate crime.

George Boozer, 48, was sentenced to 56 years in state prison today after pleading guilty in June to 72 criminal counts, including residential burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime. Boozer led the group of eight other defendants to burglarize 43 homes over 18 months, effectively terrorizing communities in their self-titled “minivan crew” operation.

“These criminals not only stole cash and valuables from the victims, but they also stole their peace of mind, their safety and their security,” DA Stephan said. “I’m proud of the police investigation and of our prosecution team for their outstanding work in obtaining justice.”

Co-defendant Devon Taylor, 43, will be sentenced on October 10. He pleaded guilty in July to 82 criminal counts, including residential burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and delaying/resisting arrest. Taylor was an active participant, entering the victims’ homes, pepper spraying victim’s pet dogs and stealing property. Taylor and Boozer worked together to commit a longstanding series of serious crimes.

Co-defendant Lauren Patrick, 36, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of residential burglary and 18 counts of conspiracy to commit burglary on August 11, and will also be sentenced on October 10. She was an active crew member, who researched and cased affluent neighborhoods to target. Co-Defendant Reshaun Rollins, 20, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of residential burglary and 10 counts of conspiracy to commit burglary. He was an active participant and will be sentenced November 9. The remaining defendants are scheduled for preliminary hearing or trial in the coming months.

A task force was established to investigate this multi jurisdiction crew, who committed residential burglaries in other counties across the state of California. The crew utilized sophisticated measures to conceal their appearance and vehicles used to commit the offenses.

This case is being prosecuted by Deputy DAs Lucy Yturralde and Malak Behrouznami.

Meet DA Investigator Adolfo Lomeli

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15, we are highlighting stories from DA employees and what inspired them to pursue a career in public service. Meet District Attorney Investigator Adolfo Lomeli, who has been working at the DA’s Office since 2013.

Adolfo was born in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, and grew up in Merced California. His dream has always been to work in public safety, but before he set off to pursue that dream, he was an entrepreneur in the bakery business.  Yes, Adolfo went from baking donuts to eating donuts! In order to reach his dream, Adolfo had to learn the English language, become a U.S. citizen, and get a college degree.

While attending the police academy in the late 90s, Adolfo worked for the Merced County DA’s Office as Assistant Investigator in the Family Protection Division for one year. During that year, Adolfo also served as Reserve Deputy Sheriff for Merced County for one year.  Adolfo worked 17 years with the Atwater Police Department and served in various assignments, from patrol, FTO, narcotics, range master, interpreter, and the detective’s bureau.

Adolfo joined the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office in 2013.  He served in the Family Protection Division at the Hall of Justice for nine years.  Adolfo was recently transferred to the North County branch in Vista, to ease the growing demand for Spanish speaking investigators. Adolfo is happy to assist the fast-growing Spanish speaking community in the north county. Occasionally, Adolfo also assists at the recently opened One Safe Place: The North County Family Justice Center in San Marcos.

Adolfo is married, has two daughters, one son, and two grandchildren. Most of his time is dedicated to spending time with his family. Together, they enjoy camping, fishing, going to the beach, and taking road trips.  Over the weekends, you’ll find Adolfo watching his grandchildren play baseball, working in his back yard, helping his son fix his car, or looking for yard sales.

What inspired you to choose a career in law enforcement/at the DA’s Office?

“I chose a career in law enforcement because I wanted to help my community become a safer place to live. This profession has given me the opportunity to meet people from various backgrounds. I’m a people person, and I really enjoy hearing their stories. I honestly feel that working as a DA Investigator is the highpoint in any investigator’s career. Surrounded by skilled attorneys, paralegals, seasoned investigators, and caring victim advocates, creates the best setting to provide high quality services to our victims when they need it the most.”

What is your favorite part of the job?

“My favorite part of the job is when the offender gets a fair sentence, and the victim receives the necessary support to go on with his/her life. Amongst all the tragedy and loss, we inevitably see in our career, it’s very rewarding to see victims recover and regain confidence in themselves and in the justice system.”

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? Why is it important?

“Hispanic Heritage Month offers an opportunity for all of us to recognize the contributions and sacrifices people of Hispanic ancestry have made throughout history to bring progress and enrichment to this great nation. These contributions extend from sports, science, music, politics, and military. I think is very important to educate our children about the accomplishments of individuals like them. Hopefully one of these examples could serve as inspiration for them to pursue and achieve their own dream. ¡Si se puede!”

Swim Instructor Sentenced to Prison for Molesting Underage Students

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that swim instructor Nicholas Piazza, 20, was sentenced to eight years in prison in connection with committing lewd acts against three children while he taught them to swim.

In July 2021, Piazza lewdly touched his 8-year-old student during a swim lesson. During prosecution for that case, as a condition of his release, Piazza was ordered not to work with any minors. Despite the court order, Piazza continued to give private swim lessons and molested two more children including a 5-year-old in June 2022 and a 7-year-old in September 2022.

“This defendant violated the trust placed in him by the parents of the victims in the worst way possible and caused harm and trauma to his victims with his lascivious crimes,” DA Stephan said. “Today a measure of justice was handed down for the victims, their families and the community affected by this disturbing crime.”

Piazza pleaded guilty to one felony count of a lewd or lascivious act against a minor under the age of 14 and two misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting a child. The incidents happened between the Summer of 2021 and the fall of 2022.

As a result of the plea, Piazza will be required to register as a sex offender.

Deputy DA Isaac Jackson prosecuted this case.

Man Sentenced in East County Attempted Murder Case

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that Pablo E. Ramirez, who was found guilty by a jury of three counts of attempted murder, was sentenced to 116 years-to-life in prison for attempting to kill his girlfriend and her two juvenile daughters in September 2021.

Two years ago, 52-year-old Ramirez entered the bedroom of his stepdaughters and began shooting. He had already shot their mother, Natalie Ortiz, and left her for dead, bleeding in their bedroom. He then shot her 15-year-old daughter and next aimed for her 11-year-old. His actions left the teenager a quadriplegic. The horrific crime left a lasting impression on the East County community.

“Pablo Ramirez destroyed a family and stole the hopes and dreams of a young woman who was just beginning her life,” DA Stephan said. “Today’s sentence provides a measure of justice and will hold this callous defendant accountable for his malicious acts.”

During the terrifying incident, the 11-year-old girl was able to escape to a neighbor’s house to call 911. Ramirez shot the 15-year-old girl in the elbow while she was still in bed. Then, while she was attempting to flee the home through a back door, Ramirez shot her in the back, leaving her paralyzed.

The survival of the victims was due to the immediate response of law enforcement and the exceptional trauma care provided to the victims. Law enforcement responded to the home within four minutes of the first 911 call, rushed into the home and immediately provided life saving measures to the mother and her 15-year-old daughter. The trauma surgeon testified that Ortiz was minutes from death. Without the heroic and expedient response by deputies and trauma surgeons she would have died from multiple gunshot wounds.

On July 27 after one day deliberation, a jury convicted Ramirez of all counts and allegations, including attempted murder, attempted manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Deputy DA Alexandra Lorens prosecuted this case.

Meet the Assistant Chief of the DA’s Insurance Fraud and Workplace Justice Division

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15, we are highlighting stories from DA employees and what inspired them to pursue a career in public service. Meet the Assistant Chief of the DA’s Insurance Fraud and Workplace Justice Division Luis Mendez, who has been with the DA’s Office since 2008.

Luis was born and raised in El Centro, CA, which is a small agricultural town about 110 miles east of San Diego and about 10 miles north of the U.S./Mexico border. His mother was born and raised in Calexico, CA, which is right on the border with Mexico. His father was born and raised in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.

Shortly after graduating from law school, Luis was initially hired at the DA’s Office as a Temporary Expert Professional. He then worked at the San Diego City Attorney’s Office in the Criminal Division for two years before being hired as a Deputy District Attorney at the San Diego County DA’s Office. He is currently the Assistant Chief of the DA’s Insurance Fraud and Workplace Justice Division, where he is involved in the day-to-day operation of the division, which includes approving case issuing and rejects, settlement offers and oversees special projects. He also maintains a caseload of auto insurance fraud and workers’ compensation fraud prosecutions. He covers court appearances including readiness conferences, preliminary hearings, jury trials, grand jury proceedings, and sentencings, while also providing trainings on the topic of insurance fraud prosecution.

Luis has three children and spends most of his spare time with them. When he is away from the kids, he enjoys attending concerts and music festivals. He is also a member of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association.

What inspired you to choose a career in law enforcement/at the DA’s Office?

“Helping victims: Several cases early in my career allowed me the opportunity to interact with victims in Spanish. It felt satisfying to speak to the victims in their native language and assist them by obtaining a measure of justice on their behalf. Doing what is right: While in law school I interned at the San Diego Public Defender’s office and a small federal defense firm. When I began prosecuting it felt good to know that my allegiance was not a specific client, but to do what is right in a given case. Comradery: The closeness of the office feels like an extended family. I met my wife while working at the East County Branch in 2011, so I am not just speaking figuratively.”

What is your favorite part of the job?

“I really enjoy the community outreach aspect. I have volunteered with Project LEAD yearly since 2016. Through this program I mentor a fifth-grade classroom at Laura Rodriguez Elementary in the Logan neighborhood. These students are presented with lessons focused on topics related to the criminal justice system and responsible decision making. In 2021 I began coaching mock trial at Sweetwater High School in National City. My commitment to outreach is rooted in my desire to give back to the Hispanic community, to show the students that someone with a similar background was able to succeed in the legal profession, and to inspire them to achieve academic and career goals. At Laura Rodriguez Elementary there are often migrant students who speak Spanish exclusively. I especially enjoy connecting with these students and presenting the lessons in their native language.”

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? Why is it important?

“Personally, this month serves as a reminder that I represent a community in a field where its members are underrepresented. It is a time to reflect on the efforts made by many Hispanic families to give their children the opportunity to succeed in the United States, and I personally feel gratitude that I was given that opportunity. The Hispanic community consist of people of various national origins and race. This month is an opportunity to celebrate and recognize the many ways this community elevates American culture and our shared experience.”

Grand Jury Indicts 17 Hells Angels Defendants for Violent Attack

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that 17 defendants have been indicted by a grand jury for their roles in an attack on three men in Ocean Beach this past summer. On June 6, 2023, a group of outlaw Hells Angels motorcycle gang members and their supporters viciously attacked the young men on a public sidewalk.

[WATCH FULL NEWS CONFERENCE OF ANNOUNCEMENT, HERE]

The victims, all African American men ages 19, 20 and 21, were on Newport Avenue enjoying a night out. Virtually out of nowhere— possibly because one of the men spoke to a biker’s girlfriend— they were chased and attacked by several Hells Angels and Hells Angels supporters. They were repeatedly called a racial epithet and told they didn’t belong in the neighborhood.

One victim ran and escaped injury. Another victim was punched and kicked all over his body. The beating only stopped after he was sucker punched in the head and knocked unconscious. The third man was also beaten by multiple bikers and left helpless, curled up on the ground. Longtime Hells Angels leader, Troy Scholder, pulled out a knife, rolled the victim onto his side, and stabbed him in the chest, cracking the young man’s sternum. After trying to kill the victim, Mr. Scholder casually folded up his knife and walked away. The young man survived his injuries.

“In San Diego County, we cannot, and will not tolerate violence and racism of any nature, much less crimes like this hateful, vicious, and unprovoked attack,” said DA Stephan. “It is a testament to the cooperation and coordination of our law enforcement partners, working closely with our Gangs Division, that these defendants were identified and are being brought to face justice.”

The crime kicked off a large-scale investigation by the San Diego Police Department and the District Attorney’s Gang Unit. Deputy District Attorney Miriam Hemming and District Attorney Investigators Ross Umstot and Bryan Maddox worked relentlessly with SDPD to identify all the attackers and convene a grand jury. On September 13, after hearing six days of testimony, the grand jury returned indictments against 14 defendants for assault likely to cause great bodily injury— all with a gang allegation and 11 of them with a hate crime allegation. The grand jury added three additional defendants because the trio helped drive the stabber from the scene and back to the Hells Angels Clubhouse in El Cajon.

“These disgusting hate-driven attacks have no place in our community. There is no stronger way to condemn this violence than to hold the perpetrators accountable to the fullest force of the law,” said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit. “We committed every necessary resource to track down and arrest each person who was involved in these wanton acts of violence. I want to thank our detectives who solved this case, our partner law enforcement agencies for their help, and the District Attorney’s Office for their tireless work.”

All 17 defendants were arrested on September 21. Law enforcement seized 42 illegal firearms, as well as illegal drugs. Arraignments occurred today for the defendants. If convicted of all charges, the defendants face a range of possible sentences from three years to life in prison. A readiness hearing is set for November 3 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 1102 of the Superior Court downtown. Trial is currently set for November 14 in Department 102.

Several agencies worked together on the investigation and subsequent arrests, including the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, El Cajon Police Department, Escondido Police Department, Chula Vista Police Department, La Mesa Police Department, Oceanside Police Department, National City Police Department and the Narcotics Task Force. The DA’s Office also received assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Hells Angles are an international outlaw motorcycle gang with chapters across California and an active chapter in San Diego County. They gain strength in numbers by developing support or puppet clubs, including at least five in San Diego. The Hells Angels profit by trafficking in guns and drugs, as evidenced by search warrants executed last Thursday netting 35 firearms. In addition to running guns and drugs, the Hells Angels have been well-known to have a virulent streak of racism, demonstrated by their pervasive use of Nazi symbols and images.

In a separate case, the District Attorney’s Gangs Unit is also prosecuting a recent Hells Angels President for another unprovoked attack on a former Hells Angels associate at a crowded IHOP restaurant in Clairemont. That attack left the victim with broken bones in his face.

[WATCH FULL NEWS CONFERENCE OF ANNOUNCEMENT, HERE]