People Behaving Badly — Summer Edition

A Grand Avenue, Escondido passer-by gone rogue managed the unthinkable when he casually tore down Old Glory to the outrage of those inside Pounders Sports Pub./KGTV screenshot of street surveillance camera

Summer and its joys of passage are among us. People are frolicking. Pools are swimming. Snoballs and softballs are popping.

Good stuff, but consider the fact that rust never sleeps. People are going to do what people are going to do. For your consideration then, the dark underbelly of the human condition. The Grapevine is, er, proud (?) to present the seasonal summer edition of People Behaving Badly.


Summer Lovin’ had me a blast, Escondido online prostitution sting

One of the more popular alleged crimes in terms of site page views traditionally has come courtesy of what some call the world’s oldest profession and its Johns.

We’re talking alleged prostitution and the Johns who enable it.

Escondido police annually conduct several prostitution stings, with the stinging generally done live and in person around the notorious downtown motel district.

However, in this, the age of the unholy Internet, Escondido police decided to take a little walk on the wild side, the wild side of online dating for professional profit.

Such was the case July 25, 2019, as the Escondido Police Department partnered with the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force and the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force in an operation targeting individuals seeking prostitution via the internet, according to Escondido police Lt. Chris Lick.

“As a result of this enforcement effort, five men made arrangements over the internet to trade money for sex acts,” Lick said in a written statement. “These men went to an agreed location where they were contacted and arrested by law enforcement officers for the violation of California Penal Code 647(b)(1) – soliciting or agreeing to participate in any act of prostitution.” 

Lick added: “One additional man attempted to recruit an online decoy to become a prostitute. This man went to an agreed location where he was contacted and arrested by law enforcement officers for the violation of California Penal Code 266i(a)(1) – Pandering procuring another person for the purposes of prostitution.”

Undercover officers posted messages on various social media sites asking to trade money for sex. The men showed up at an undisclosed location in Escondido where they were arrested.

“They in fact, do come from all walks off life, people who have been arrested, gang members, people who have never been arrested, ” Lick said.

The following men, police said, were rolled up and arrested in the July 25 operation:

— Todd Calesa, 37, of Escondido
— Salvador Vera-Romero, 63, of Valley Center
— Felipe Ronquillo, 39, of Vista
— Cibu Panicker, 38, of Fallbrook
— Alexis Olozagaste, 22, of Vista

Panicker is a family medicine doctor at the Vista Community Clinic in Oceanside. A spokeswoman at the clinic said an internal investigation was underway and there would be no further comment. According to the Medical Board of California, Panicker’s license is renewed and current. The board had no disciplinary history against him.

According to Escondido police: “These men went to an agreed location where they were contacted and arrested by law enforcement officers for the violation of California Penal Code 647(b)(1) – soliciting or agreeing to participate in any act of prostitution.”

Authorities also arrested 39-year-old San Diego resident, Yama Rostami, on suspicion of attempting to recruit an online decoy to become a prostitute.

Police said of Rostami’s arrest: “This man went to an agreed location where he was contacted and arrested by law enforcement officers for the violation of California Penal Code 266i(a)(1) – Pandering procuring another person for the purposes of prostitution.”

Man v. Flag, and Pounders partisans go bat sh** cray-cray

Was it a case of a drunk outside a bar going berserk over a piece of hallowed cloth? Was it a brave drinker of the booze exercising First Amendment Rights of free speech by discarding a hated symbol of oppresssion. Or maybe, simply a random act of callousness at the wrong place at the right time to be captured on streetscape surveillance camera.

Old Glory came down outside and hackles went up inside Pounders Sports Pub, a Grand Avenue, Escondido, institution of the imbiblical kind on July 25, 2019.

Whatever it was, street transient or outraged flag protestor, the owner of Pounders, enabled by a local television station, turned a 10-second affront into a local, and then national, media sensation.

To wit:

Lindsey Rochette, Pounders owner, said she likes the block that way, and a flag has flown outside her bar for nearly 30 years. She said her father served in the Navy, so the flag had a special meaning to her.

“My dad used to be the owner,” Rochette told KGTV, Channel 10 News, the San Diego ABC-TV affiliate. “He was military, very [big] believer in the United States. Always had a flag at our house, everywhere around us,” Rochette said.

On this fateful Thursday morning, security video showed a man walking by the bar and stopping at the flag. He was seen carrying something in both hands but freed up one to rip the flag down and leave it on the ground before walking away.

“Not only did he disrespect somebody else’s property,” Rochette said, “he ripped down a flag. It’s disgusting.”

An employee ran over and picked up the flag immediately after the incident.

“Everybody has been upset and embarrassed that somebody in our city would do something like that,” Rochette said.

So far, no one has been able to identify the man who ripped down the flag, but Rochette hopes he is eventually caught and punished in some way.

Who got the cocaine? We, the U.S. Coast Guard, got the cocaine

Sometimes, all that hard work hauling in high quality cocaine on high speed boat craft across rough ocean waters, just seems like it’s all done in vain.

A huge haul of cocaine seized from Pacific Ocean smugglers was brought to San Diego by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter last week.

More than 26,000 pounds (11,793 kilograms) of the drug was being offloaded Friday afternoon from the cutter Steadfast.

The Coast Guard says the estimated $350 million worth of cocaine was seized in a series of interdictions of vessels and recovery of floating cocaine bales from late June to mid-July off Mexico and Central and South America.

Officials released video showing the pursuit of a boat as its crew members heaved cargo overboard.

The Coast Guard this year seized more than 230,000 pounds (104,000 kilograms) of cocaine and detained more than 400 suspected smugglers in drug transit zones in the eastern Pacific Ocean this year.

Wouldn’t feel like summer without at least one high speed truck chase

The truck stopped here, Valley Center Road, July 17./Courtesy

A recent vehicle chase may appear to be exciting when monitored from the safety of a helicopter, but it was critical support for a life-endangering situation on the road. It all started with a report of a stolen flatbed F550 truck in the area of Pauma Valley.

At 7:25 AM on July 17, 2019, San Diego County Sheriff’s Valley Center Deputies received a call about the victim following the stolen vehicle. Deputies encountered the vehicle and the alleged truck thief in the parking lot of a 7-11 store in the 33700 block of Valley Center Road on the Rincon Indian Reservation.

During a felony hot stop attempt in the parking lot, the suspect, Matthew Padrnos (27) ignored their orders and fled in the truck. That led to a truck-chase through Rincon, Pauma Valley, Pala, Bonsall, and unincorporated Escondido.

Suspect Padrnos threw multiple tools at the pursuing deputies throughout the pursuit. The California Highway Patrol got ahead of the predicament by successfully deploying spike strips.

The disabled truck’s front tires lowered the speed of the pursuit to a minimum until the vehicle eventually stopped on the northbound 15 freeway just north of Gopher Canyon Road. Still not giving up, the suspect then ran on foot through the brush and into an empty field near Highway 395 and Nelson Way — with deputies and a K9 not far behind.

The running Padrnos was believed to be holding a handgun to his head during this foot pursuit.

The suspect would eventually find and enter another vehicle and barricade himself inside while refusing to comply with orders to come out and give up. That prompted deputies to break the vehicle’s windows for K9 deployment.

Padrnos exited the vehicle after the windows were broken and almost immediately surrendered to deputies. Although the suspect initially refused to identify himself, further investigation discovered his identity as Matthew Padrnos (12/04/81). He was booked into the Vista Detention Facility for vehicle theft, stolen property, evading, armed with a firearm in the commission of a felony and assault.

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