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KSBR News Briefs on Friday, June 23, 2017

Man pleads guilty to aiding Santa Ana jail escape

A 51-year-old Costa Mesa man has pleaded guilty to helping three inmates escape from the jail in Santa Ana by leaving a backpack with a rope and knife outside the facility attached to a rope.

Loc Nguyen was sentenced to a year in county jail under an agreement with the court.

County prosecutor Cynthia Nichols said she argued that Nguyen should be sent to state prison since he twice left items by the jail to assist in the escape and served as the inmates' getaway driver once they made their brazen break from the jail in January 2016.

Defense attorney Edward Welbourn said Nguyen has never run into trouble with the law and got involved in a situation he shouldn't have. He said Nguyen went to specific locations outside the jail and a rope would drop down from the roof for him to attach bags containing items for the inmates.

He says Nguyen recognizes what he did was wrong. Adding that Nguyen has a real estate and construction business and previously employed one of the escapees.

Authorities say Nguyen left a backpack with a rope, knife and clothing by the jail attached to a rope about 10 days before inmates Hossein Nayeri, Bac Duong and Jonathan Tieu broke out in January 2016 by climbing behind walls to the roof and rappelling down using bed linens.


Republican Assemblyman to run for governor

Huntington Beach Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen has announced he's running for governor next year.

Allen said while the numbers aren’t in his favor, he's running because Democrats have controlled the state for too long, enacting burdensome tax increases and policies that are soft on crime. Allen is leading a ballot initiative to repeal the gas tax increase approved largely by Democratic lawmakers earlier this year.

Forty-five percent of state voters are registered as Democrats while 26 percent are registered Republicans. Democratic candidates Lt Gov. Gavin Newsom, Treasurer John Chiang and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have generated the most buzz in the governor's race so far. All have raised millions of dollars for their campaigns.

Venture capitalist John Cox, who’s a Republican and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin who’s a Democrat, are also running.

Allen has served three terms in the Assembly.


California AG bans state travel to Texas, 3 other states

Our state’s attorney general has blocked state-funded travel to Texas and three other states in response to what he considers anti-LGBT rights laws enacted this year.

Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra added Texas, Alabama, South Dakota and Kentucky to the list of places where state employee travel is restricted. Lawmakers passed legislation last year banning non-essential travel to states with laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee are already on the list.

Becerra says taxpayers' money won’t be used to let people travel to states who chose to discriminate.

It’s unclear what practical effect our state’s ravel ban will have. The state law contains exemptions for some trips, such as travel needed to enforce state law and to honor contracts made before this year. Travel to conferences or out-of-state trainings are examples of trips that could be blocked. Becerra's office couldn't provide information about how often state employees have visited the newly banned states.


Laguna Woods

The Laguna Woods City Council on Wednesday will select one applicant out of five to fill the vacant Council seat left by Bert Hack who resigned.

Mayor Shari Horne says each of the applicants will be able to give a three minute speech and the Council will ask questions.

She says this will be done in open session.

The city’s website indicates the applicants are Prakash Achrekar, Richard Johnston, Louise Lanning, William “Joe” Rainey and Sheryl Strich.

Horne says whomever is appointed will be sworn in to office and serve until the November 2018 election.

Wednesday’s special Council meeting begins at two in the afternoon. 


Aliso Viejo

The Aliso Viejo City Council has approved the conceptual site plan and building drawings that will lead to turning the Aliso Viejo Ranch into a new community amenity.

The nearly eight acre property consists of seven existing structures including a barn, bunkhouse, three sheds, a caretaker’s house and caretaker’s garage.

Mayor Dave Harrington says the Council approved the rehabilitation and repurposing of the historical portion of the existing barn, as well as the bunkhouse and having a new barn constructed.

He says also up to two acres will be designated for agricultural uses for educational workshops.

Harrington says construction on the site may occur in 12 months.

The Ranch is located across from Aliso Viejo Middle School.