September 24, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

ABP:

Once Bitten, Twice Shy.

On Sunday, July 10, at 1:54 a.m. officers of the Santa Monica Police Department were called out to the 2400 block of the Santa Monica Beach in order to investigate a report of possible domestic violence. While the officers were heading towards the location they were informed by dispatch that the victim had claimed that his boyfriend had struck him in the chest and face about 30 minutes prior to his summoning of police assistance. The officers were then updated with the couple’s new location which was said to have been at the intersection of Main Street and Strand Street. When the officers arrived at that location they spoke with the couple and learned that this man and his boyfriend had been involved in an argument over their relationship and cohabitation arrangements when the suspect had suddenly picked the victim up by his arms and had thrown him down to the ground. The victim added that his boyfriend had then kicked and punched him in the head. The victim also said that the only way that he was able to get away was to bite his boyfriend’s finger as the boyfriend held him down on the ground. The officers arrested the boyfriend, aged 24 and from South Gate, and he was charged with domestic violence. Bail was set at $50,000.

Life Is Difficult.

On Tuesday, July 12, at 3:45 p.m. officers of the Santa Monica Police Department were on patrol in their police cruiser in the area of Second Street and Broadway when they were approached by security guards from the Santa Monica Place Mall. The security guards were anxious that the officers apprehend a man who at that time was seen to be walking briskly away from the guards. The officers exited their police cruiser and, in order to ascertain what had happened, detained the speedily walking suspect. While one officer detained the suspect the other spoke with the security guards and learned that this man was suspected of stealing an iPhone from the mall. The officers then began to ask the suspect about these allegations and this suspect compounded his already unenviable circumstances by deciding to yell profanities at the officers as well as at numerous random citizens who were walking past the scene. The officers decided at that point to restrain this man by placing him in handcuffs while they conducted a search of his person. The man however made life difficult for himself and the officers by attempting to fight the officers and make an escape. The officers soon subdued this man and discovered that he was indeed in possession of the stolen iPhone in addition to a knife. This 26-year-old Los Angeles resident was arrested and charged with possession of a deadly weapon, obstructing police officers, theft and a violation of parole. Bail was set at $10,000.

The Strong Arms Of The Law.

On Tuesday, July 12, at 5:50 a.m. officers of the Santa Monica Police Department were conducting a routine check underneath the south side of the Santa Monica Pier when they spotted a homeless man sleeping at the location in violation of a Santa Monica Municipal Code that prohibits such (non) activity. The officers were in the process of issuing this man with a citation and when the officers said that they had to check the name that the man had given to them he told the officers that he had decided to leave. The officers told this man that he could not leave until his information had been verified but the man suddenly grabbed his bag and made a run for it towards the north side of the pier. Other officers who had been conducting similar checks at the north side of the pier stood in the path of this man and he ran straight into their arms and was detained. The officers then learned that the name that the man had given to them was fictitious and that this man actually had a no-bail warrant for his arrest. The officers arrested this 30-year-old homeless man and he was charged with providing false information, a municipal code violation and a violation of parole. Bail was not granted.

Big Mac Wack.

On Wednesday, July 13, at 6:22 a.m. an officer of the Santa Monica Police Department, who was on patrol in the Lincoln Boulevard area, spotted two women and a man who appeared to be involved in some kind of altercation at the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Ocean Park Boulevard. This officer immediately called for backup and other officers soon arrived at the scene. The officers then separated the three individuals and ascertained that a battery had occurred moments earlier at the McDonald’s fast food emporium located in the 2800 block of Lincoln Boulevard. The officers questioned the three people and discovered that the suspect, one of the women, had followed the victim (the other female) into the bathroom of the restaurant and for no apparent reason had punched her in the face and the arm. The suspect had then ran out of the restaurant only to be followed by the victim’s boyfriend on his bicycle. After following the suspect for a short distance northbound on Lincoln Boulevard the boyfriend had been joined by the victim and it was a few moments later that the officer had noticed the three people arguing. The officers arrested the suspect, aged 41 and homeless, and she was charged with battery and a violation of probation. Bail was set at $20,000.

Editor’s Note: These reports are part of a regular police coverage series entitled “Alert Police Blotter” (APB), which injects some minor editorial into certain police activities in Santa Monica. Not all of The Mirror’s coverage of incidents involving police are portrayed in this manner. More serious crimes and police-related activities are regularly reported without editorial in the pages of the Santa Monica Mirror and its website, smmirror.com.

ARRESTED

Suspect Pablo Carlos Pineda

On July 19, at about 5:15 p.m., the Santa Monica Police Department located and arrested a suspect, identified as Pablo Carlos Pineda – a 32-year-old Hispanic male, in connection with a series of violent sexual assaults and attacks which took place on the Westside. Pineda was arrested in the MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles.

Following an extensive and collaborative multi-agency taskforce investigation involving the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD), the  Beverly Hills Police Department,  the  Los Angeles Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, forensic evidence and information was gathered leading to the identification of Pineda, according to SMPD.

Pineda has been linked to two sexual assaults occurring in Santa Monica on January 13, 2016 and February 5, 2016 in the 1200 block of the beach, a violent attack which occurred April 15, 2016 in Beverly Hills in the 9000 block of Wilshire Blvd, and a sexual assault which occurred July 2, 2016 in the 1300 block of Westgate Avenue in West Los Angeles.

Pineda was taken into custody and booked at the Santa Monica Jail for 261(a)(2) Penal Code (PC) – Forcible Rape; 220(a)(1) PC – Assault with Intent to Commit Rape; and 245(a)(4) PC – Assault by Means Producing Great Bodily Injury. Pineda remains in custody on $385,000 bail. Pineda has been booked on the Santa Monica incidents only with the West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills incidents pending review by the District Attorney’s Office.

The SMPD is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying any potential victims or witnesses to this investigation. Anyone with additional information is urged to contact any of the following law enforcement agencies:

Santa Monica Police Department: Detective E. Soto 310.458.8218, Beverly Hills Police Department: Detective R. Evans 310.285.2160, Los Angeles Police Department: Detective J. Vargas  213.486.6931

Legal View

By Zachary Cantor

Principal, Cantor Law

The next time you go out to eat, the most complicated part of your meal may be how to figure out the tip.

For the past several years restaurant owners and employees have tangled over low wages, medical coverage and whether to divvy up tips. To diners, that’s left a confusing puzzle of arithmetic at the bottom of the bill, which can include a 3 percent medical insurance surcharge, a tacked-on 20 percent service charge – and sometimes even a line after that seeking a tip.

It’s enough to make you start cooking at home again.

A ruling from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in March made tipping more complicated for everybody in the restaurant industry. There are hundreds of restaurants in Santa Monica; about 300 belong to the Chamber of Commerce. So it’s easy to see how the ruling affects many people and their families.

The question for the court seemed simple: could restaurant employees in the “chain of service,” such as servers and busboys, be required – or even allowed – to share their tips with back of the house staff such as chefs, line cooks and dishwashers. The Court’s decision: Tips belong to those in the chain of service. Thus, restaurants using a tip pool will need to ensure that none of their back-of-the-house staff – line cooks, dishwashers, expeditors, or any other staff that may not fall within definition of “customarily and regularly tipped employees” – partake in sharing the tip pool.

Called “tip-pooling,” the practice is, at its best, intended to share the benefits of good service with the team of people who directly contributed to a diner’s experience. At worst, it’s slyly used to ease the increasing costs of doing business – and to make up for the increasing minimum wage – for employees who may not be entitled to participate in the tip-pool.

The 9th Circuit’s decision is still open for revision or appeal. Just to be clear, some tip pooling is permissible, but not to the extent that some restaurateurs are pushing it. Some Los Angeles restaurant owners have tried to redistribute as much as 50 percent or more of waiters’ tips to other staff to reduce their own out-of-pocket costs. Aside from strict limits on who can participate in a tip-pool, what little law that exists on a reasonable amount to be distributed to back-staff at least makes clear that anything close to 50 percent is illegal.

California doesn’t let restaurants pay wait staff less than minimum wage. Some states do, and consider tip income as part of meeting the minimum wage requirement.

That’s why California law does not explicitly prohibit tip pooling, only requiring that an employee’s contribution to the tip pool must be reasonable, fair and equitable. The state’s labor code does not currently contain any statute that directly resolves the question of what counts as reasonable, fair or equitable. However, an opinion letter from the Labor Commissioner in 2005 set some parameters, stating that a “tipping pool policy was permissible where it provided that employees receiving the tips contribute 15 percent of the actual tips to the tip pool.”

A California Appeals Court justice in 2009 also provided guidance on what’s considered a reasonable and fair tip pool percentage, reasoning that a tip reflects the efforts of everyone who contributed to the dining experience; and, therefore, employers could force wait staff to contribute to a mandatory tip pool. The case, Etheridge v. Reins International, involved a restaurant employer who based tip pool requirements on the restaurant’s gross sales. The plaintiff in Etheridge was forced to pay half of his tips into the restaurant’s involuntary tip pool. The appeals court justice expressly opined that a 50 percent requirement “would appear to be an amount well in excess of any common industry practice for tip pool contributions.”

One way restaurateurs are trying to escape the tipping dilemma is by eliminating tipping and adding a 20 percent service fee to a diner’s bill. This is legitimate, and puts the employer in control of that money, which is taxable; and it can be passed along to all staff by whatever percentages the owner decides. But, it may not incentivize the best service or leave the customer feeling validated.

Moving forward, diners may take more interest in how much their server receives from the tip. More importantly, restaurant owners should review their tip policies — particularly if they have a tip-pool arrangement — and make sure they are complying with recent changes in the law. And restaurant employees should also be aware of their rights, and make sure that they are being treated fairly and legally for their hard work.

 

Zachary Cantor is principal attorney of Cantor Law of Santa Monica: [email protected] or 213.674.0325.

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