A Pacific Beach man went on trial this week for the 2012 murder of Darrin Joseph, a Point Loma man whose body was found in the 4900 block of North Harbor Drive.
A jury was sworn in Oct. 25 and attorneys gave their opening statements
Oct. 28 in the trial of Shane Brian Grattan, 57, in San Diego Superior Court. Judge Amalia Meza, who heard Grattan’s preliminary hearing in 2012, is the trial judge.
Joseph, 45, was apparently beaten inside Grattan’s camper van and his body was dragged into the bushes where a passerby discovered it on Jan. 19, 2012. The victim’s blood was found throughout Grattan’s van, though someone had used a lot of water to clean it up.
A deputy medical examiner testified at the preliminary hearing that Joseph had suffered from some type of blunt-force trauma with injuries to the head, neck and chest. A weapon was not found.
A criminologist testified earlier that tests showed the presence of blood on the steering wheel, doors, windows and handles of the Dodge Tradesman camper that Grattan owned and apparently lived in. Grattan was arrested Feb. 8, 2012, in the 1600 block of Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach at a facility where the homeless often receive meals.
Grattan remains in custody on $1 million bail.
— Neal Putnam
Man, 70, held for soliciting teenage girls
A federal judge has ordered the owner of an Ocean Beach real-estate school to remain in federal prison without bail after he was charged with sex trafficking of two young teenage girls.
Michael F. Lustig, 70, was arrested during a traffic stop on Governor Drive in University City on Oct. 1, following a year-long investigation that started when he was arrested during a prostitution sting at a motel on June 8, 2012.
Authorities looked at Lustig’s cell phones and discovered he had been texting two young girls, aged 13 and 14. The two federal charges Lustig is facing involve sex trafficking of a minor that affects interstate commerce.
The girls apparently received money from Lustig for some type of sexual activity. The evidence against him includes his text messages to the girls. Lustig sent more than 60 texts to one girl in a two-month period in 2011, according to court documents.
The words bookstore and library were used as words to set up a date involving prostitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Lustig allegedly rented motel rooms, according to surveillance camera footage.
Lustig is being held without bail.
“There appears to be no conditions short of custody that will adequately protect the community,” said Dembin.
Lustig’s profile on Linkedin.com says he is the owner of Real Estate License Services that is located in Ocean Beach. The website for the school doesn’t mention his name.
His next appearance in U.S. District Court is set for Oct. 29 and he has pleaded not guilty. He remains in custody.
— Neal Putnam
Elderly bank robber gets 37-month sentence
The contrast was striking: the 79-year-old man who wore a suit, tie and a fedora-style hat when he robbed a Point Loma bank in May appeared
Oct. 28 in a prison uniform and in a wheelchair as he was sentenced to seven months in federal prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff denied probation for Dale Eugene Jenkins, who pleaded guilty in July to the robbery in which $80 was taken from the Comerica Bank at 3361 Rosecrans St.
“He did it on purpose to get caught so he could have a place to live,” said his attorney, Kris Kraus, who said Jenkins was a homeless veteran.
“I do not recommend you do this in the future,” said Huff to the grey-haired man. “I am not recommending this way in getting attention.”
The money was recovered. Jenkins was arrested several blocks away with a rolling suitcase, which Kraus said represented all his possessions at the time.
“I rob banks. It’s my hobby,” said Jenkins at the scene to a KGTV reporter in a video that went viral on the Internet before Jenkins was placed in a police patrol car. Jenkins will get credit for five months he has already spent in prison.
— Neal Putnam
Merchants warned of imposter SDG&E scam
Warnings are being issued by the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association (OBMA) and the Pacific Beach Business Improvement District (PBBID) to merchants who are being targeted by a telephone scam, in which imposters posing as representatives of San Diego Gas & Electric are attempting to extort money.
According to the business advocates, the scam involves an immediate threat by the scammers to have a merchant’s power disconnected by SDG&E within a very short period of time if “X” amount is not paid. Reports have been filed that dollar amounts range from several hundred to over $1,000. The scammer apparently has access to specific information about a merchant’s account and payment history.
According to the OBMA and PBBID, SDG&E will not call merchants to settle up on an outstanding invoice, but rather leave a written notice. Merchants are urged to call SDG&E first to confirm any information before making a payment.
This is a crime that should be reported to the police department’s Economic Crimes Division at (619) 446-1031.
For more information about the scam, visit the SDG&E website at www.sdge.-com/node/2755.
Merchants are also encouraged to call (619) 224-4906, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to report similar activity.
— Staff and contribution
Cabrillo reopens after gov’t shutdown ends
Cabrillo National Monument is once again open to the public. The park was closed Oct. 1 because of the
lapse in Congressional appropriations.
Monument officials expressed excitement to welcome visitors to Cabrillo National Monument.
Because of the shutdown, the park’s three-day Centennial Celebration during the weekend of Oct 12-14 was cancelled. Park staff will spend the coming days working to reschedule the events and will announce those dates, once determined.
The “Cabrillo Lights Up the Night” event has been rescheduled for March 15. For more information, visit www.cnmf.org. For additional park information, visit www.nps.gov/cabr.
OBTC elects new slate of officers for 2013-14
The Ocean Beach Town Council’s (OBTC) Board of Directors has elected a new president, vice president and other executive officers for the 2013-14 term.
Gretchen Kinney Newsom, who previously served as the board’s recording secretary, was elected president at the board’s private meeting Oct. 9. Newsom, who also serves as chairwoman of the annual Ocean Beach Holiday Parade, said she is looking forward to strengthening the OBTC’s role in community advocacy and promoting the betterment of Ocean Beach and the welfare of its residents.
“I am honored to serve Ocean Beach and the OB Town Council,” said Newsom. “This is a great community group with a strong and dedicated set of leaders working toward preserving and improving our community resources, advocating for a sustainable local economy, enhancing community discourse and civic engagement, increasing neighborhood safety and maintaining our unique Ocean Beach vibe.”
Stephen Grosch, general manager of the Ocean Beach Hotel, was elected vice president of the board. Grosch will also continue to serve as the board’s liaison to the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation and has been instrumental in ongoing efforts to revitalize the Ocean Beach Veterans Plaza.
Other executive committee members elected this month include Melinda Therkalsen, who returns to her 2012-13 role as OBTC treasurer. Marin Green was elected recording secretary and Jon Carr will serve as correspondence secretary.
The board also appointed chairs of several committees and leadership positions:
• Community Enhancement Committee chairman — Jim Musgrove
• Community Relations Committee — Anthony Palmiotto
• Membership Committee — Jody Thompson
• Public Relations Committee chairman: Dave Cieslak
• OBMA Liaison — Jenn Avoledo
• Ocean Beach Planning Board liaison: Giovanni Ingolia
The entire board was sworn in Oct. 16 at the Ocean Beach Town Council’s annual awards dinner at Shades Oceanfront Bistro. Board members will have their first public meeting of the new term on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Masonic Center, 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
Comedy Fundraiser Night slated for Nov. 1
A comedy fundraiser show to benefit the Point Loma Assembly is set to draw plenty of belly laughs during a performance on Friday, Nov. 1 at the Point Loma Assembly Hall, located at 3035 Talbot St.
This final Comedy Fundraiser Night for 2013 features national touring comedian Karen Rontowski and Anita Milner.
The Point Loma Assembly aims to restore and preserve the land and buildings at the site and hopes to become a meeting place of choice for local civic groups and community clubs.
The comedy show starts at 8 p.m., with the doors opening at 7 p.m. with a beer, wine and dessert cash bar.
Tickets for the Comedy Night are $20 each and are available at American West Bank at 1350 Rosecrans St., or by calling Patti Adams at (619) 887 9313, or visiting www.eventbrite.com/event/86381-69999.
Public’s help on background of ex-librarian
Matt Beatty, branch manager of the Ocean Beach Branch Library, is seeking information on Margaret Rankin, a librarian in Ocean Beach from 1922 to 1959. Beatty is planning a presentation on Rankin’s life during a meeting of the Ocean Beach Historical Society.
Anyone remembering Rankin can contact Beatty at (619) 531-1530, or email email@example.com.