A 70-year-old Pacific Beach man who was arrested in University City in 2013 pleaded guilty July 31 to three counts of interstate travel in aid of a racketeering practice that involved sex with a
Michael Lustig entered a rare “conditional guilty plea,” in which his appeal of a judge’s ruling that allowed search of his cell phones remains active. If Lustig wins the appeal, he can withdraw his guilty pleas and face a trial without the cell phone evidence.
However, Lustig faces up to 15 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 3 by U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez. The sentencing will go forward even if the appeal isn’t resolved by then.
Lustig is the owner of Real Estate License Services in Ocean Beach, but he has been in the Metropolitan Correctional Center since Oct. 1, 2013 following a traffic stop on Governor Drive in La Jolla.
His first arrest took place at an Encinitas motel on June 8, 2012, and his cell phones were seized and then searched by sheriff’s deputies. The U.S. Attorney’s office said the evidence showed he was texting coded messages to two girls, aged 11 and 13, to arrange for paid sexual activities.
Court records say Lustig used the words “library” and “books” as code words for sex. One text read: “Hey, is the bookstore open? I’m in desperate need of books rite [sic] now.”
Benitez ruled that the text messages and other information found on Lustig’s cell phones could be admitted into evidence in a trial that would have begun on Aug. 5. His appeal to a higher court on the cell phone issue remains alive, but he will have to serve his sentence if his appeal is denied.
— Neal Putnam
MAN WHOSE BODY WASHED UP IN PB STILL UNIDENTIFIED
The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office has still not released the identity of a man whose body was discovered washed up on shore near Loring Street in Pacific Beach on July 31.
The man’s clothed body was found by a retired firefighter shortly before 5:30 a.m.
Coroner’s officials said the man appeared to have been between the ages of 55 and 75 years old.
Police were called to the scene and investigators continue to look into the cause of the man’s death.
PACIFIC BEACH PLANNING GROUP PREPS TO FILL VACANCY
The Pacific Beach Planning Group (PBPG) is currently seeking candidates to fill a newly vacated seat on its board.
The vacant seat represents census tract 78.00; however, it can be filled by persons residing in other census tracts.
For more information on the PBPG or to obtain a candidate packet, visit www.pbplanning.org or call Imelda McClendon at (469) 576-3870.
Applications are due by Aug. 26 in order for the board to appoint the successful candidate to the seat during the PBPG’s Wednesday, Aug. 27 meeting.
BLOOD BANK SLATED AT BIG O TIRES
The San Diego Blood Bank will host a blood drive on Thursday, Aug. 14 at the Big O Tires store, located at 1106 Garnet Ave.
The drive will run from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the store’s parking lot.
Anyone 17 and older, who weighs at least 114 pounds and is in good health, may qualify to donate blood. A good meal and plenty of fluids are recommended prior to donating. Picture identification is required.
To schedule an appointment, call (800) 469-7322, or visit www.sandiegobloodbank.org.
CABRILLO MONUMENT TO LAUNCH WALK/BIKE EVENT
Officials at Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma will host the inaugural Move to Improve Challenge on Saturday, Aug. 9 to encourage residents to walk or bike to the park and gain free admission.
The event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will coincide with the reopening of the park’s visitor center, which has undergoing a multi-month seismic retrofit.
Among the activities planned during the day:
• Ranger- and naturalist-guided hikes and walks;
• An exhibitor fair featuring local businesses to promote health and “getting you going”;
• Increase your stewardship by learning sustainable practices like composting and energy savings;
• Meet the park’s newest artist-in-residence;
• Food and snow cones will be available for purchase;
• Lighthouse Chores Obstacle Course — get your exercise and a true taste of what life was like at the lighthouse in the late 1800s. How fast can you carry water, wash laundry and whitewash a fence 1880s-style?
Cabrillo National Monument, located on Point Loma at the south end of Catalina Boulevard, is open daily from 9 a.m. until
5 p.m. For more information, call (619) 557-5450, or visit www.nps.gov/cabr/.
EX-JACK’S LA JOLLA WORKER GUILTY OF EMBEZZLEMENT
After 3½ days of deliberations, a jury convicted a Point Loma woman Aug. 4 of embezzling millions from the former owner of the now closed Jack’s La Jolla Restaurant, where she served as the firm’s bookkeeper.
Tara Virginia Moore, 42, had been free on $400,000 bond, but was remanded to jail immediately after the jury convicted her of six felony counts, including three counts of grand theft and fraudulent appropriation by a bookkeeper.
Moore did not testify in the seven-week trial before the eight-woman, four-man jury.
Moore’s attorney, Paul Pfingst, argued Moore should remain free on bond, but the judge ordered her jailed immediately. Pfingst, a former district attorney, argued Moore had loaned Jack’s La Jolla money and was paying herself back for the loans.
Sentencing is set for Sept. 2. Moore faces a sentence ranging from 10 to 20 years, said Deputy District Attorney William Mitchell. He said he was relieved by the verdict because he has been working on the case since Moore’s arrest in September 2011.
Mitchell praised the jury, saying the panel was “a very intelligent jury that was able to understand complex evidence and exhibits and come to the right decision.
“She will be ordered to pay restitution. But good luck on that,” said Mitchell, adding that Moore had declared bankruptcy but that that is not final, either.
Moore was also found guilty of theft from Dragica Markovich, Moore’s former mother-in-law, in 2005 in what Pfingst described as a loan. Markovich testified via a videotaped deposition made in 2012. The loss was listed as $1.3 million.
Moore was also convicted of theft from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs involving $65,000 in benefits she collected from a deceased former husband after she remarried.
— Neal Putnam