La Jolla Crime and Public-Safety News: Threats made against La Jolla High School, suspect arrested; Halloween decorations reported stolen; Former Country Day teacher pleads not guilty to sex with minor


Threats made against La Jolla High School, suspect arrested

San Diego police on Oct. 26 arrested a person suspected of making threats toward La Jolla High School in a pair of notes that were found by students and made mention of two specific dates, including Halloween, school officials said. Details about the suspect or the content of the threats have not been disclosed.

Principal Charles Podhorsky sent an e-mail to parents Oct. 25 informing them of the threats, which mentioned Oct. 31 and Dec. 10 as the dates the campus would apparently be targeted.

“There were two notes found off campus in the La Jolla community that contained language indicating a potential threat to our school,” Podhorsky wrote Thursday. “Since the notes were found in the La Jolla community, the San Diego Police Department is handling the investigation with assistance from school police.”

Podhorsky added that as a precaution, additional officers would be at the campus on the dates mentioned in the notes.

On Friday evening, school officials sent an e-mail to parents with a statement attributed to Podhorsky.

“I am relieved to report that an individual has been arrested in connection with the two notes found in the La Jolla community containing language indicating a potential threat to our school on Oct. 31 and Dec. 10,” the statement read. “I want to thank the San Diego Police Department … and school police for their assistance. I want to thank our students who saw these notes and immediately notified school administrators and police.”

Principal Podhorsky also advised parents to “take this opportunity to talk to your students about the consequences of making comments — in person, in writing, or on social media — that could be perceived as a threat.”

School officials urged students and parents to “remain vigilant” and report any suspicious activity to the Students Speak Out/Crime Stoppers hotline at (619) 275-8240, or the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000.

Halloween decorations reported stolen

In the past few weeks, residents from across La Jolla were reporting on the neighborhood-based social media site that Halloween decorations were stolen from their properties. Examples of items taken include a tall Jack Skellington sculpture, a life-sized witch cutout and cutouts of cats. These were removed from the owners’ front yards and some residents resorted to offering rewards for their return.

Former La Jolla Country Day teacher pleads not guilty to sex with minor

A former La Jolla Country Day School teacher pleaded not guilty Oct. 23 to felony charges involving a sexual relationship with an underage student.

Jonathan Sammartino, out of jail on bond, taught at La Jolla Country Day School from 2012 to 2016 before moving to a school in the Bay Area.

Sammartino is charged with one count of having unlawful sex with a minor more than three years his junior, oral copulation and sexual penetration with a foreign object.

The girl was 17 at the time and he was 33, according to an arrest warrant filed by San Diego police.

Each felony count carries a three-year maximum sentence.

The complaint alleges he committed the first act between June and September in 2016 and the second two acts between April and September that year. The span covered time when the girl was a senior at La Jolla Country Day and after her graduation.

According to the arrest warrant, Sammartino met the girl on several occasions to engage in sexual activity at his home and in his car.

The girl told a friend about the encounters in 2016 and in July this year she filed a police report from Northern California, where she attends college, the warrant said.

She told police Sammartino did not use force or fear to persuade her to having sex with him.

Sammartino was arrested last month in San Jose. Judge Maureen Hallahan allowed Sammartino to remain out of jail until his preliminary hearing, set for Nov. 5 to determine whether there is enough evidence to hold him for trial.

Prescription drug deaths reaches new record, County says

The San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force released the 2018 report card, which indicated the number of San Diegans who died from unintentional drug-related deaths rose for the fourth year in a row.

The latest report shows 273 San Diegans died from prescription drugs last year, an 8 percent increase from 2016. The previous record was set in 2012, when 268 prescription drug deaths occurred.

In particular, it found that deaths related to the opioid drug fentanyl have spiked. Last year, 84 people died from fentanyl, 51 more fatalities than reported in 2016. This is the highest number of deaths from fentanyl ever recorded in San Diego County.

As little as two milligrams of fentanyl is a fatal dose for most people. Because of its potency, fentanyl overdoses may require additional Naloxone, a medication that reverses overdose from opioids.

“We have seen a steady increase in fatal overdose cases over the years where fentanyl has been added to opiates,” County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Glenn Wagner said.

Phone scam targets contact numbers

In a recent cyber security scam, reported by the AARP fraud-watch network, smartphone users receive a text from an unknown number with a message claiming a friend has written a compliment about them in a new app. The text message contains a link that prompts them to download the specific app on their phone. Online there may even be hundreds of glowing reviews for the app.

But beware! In the fine print, downloading the app automatically grants it access to your contacts and all of your saved numbers. The app then perpetuates its number trolling activity by sending all of your contacts the same invitation. While this scam itself poses minimal immediate danger, it allows fraudsters to access your phone to steal your contacts and build a list of phone numbers that the scammer can later sell on the black market for future scam targets.

If you receive a text message prompting you to download an app like this, it’s best to delete the message and avoid any potential issues.

Police Blotter

Oct. 18

Vehicle theft, 2800 block Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, 5:15 p.m.

Oct. 19

Vehicle break-in/theft, 7200 block Draper Ave., 5 a.m.

Theft, 10500 block North Torrey Pines Road, 8 a.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft, 8300 block Camino del Oro, 2 p.m.

Petty theft, 8500 block Villa La Jolla Drive, 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 20

Misdemeanor vandalism, 8600 block Villa La Jolla Drive, midnight

Vandalism ($400 or more), 5600 block La Jolla Blvd., 2:55 a.m.

Residential burglary, 700 block Forward St., 12:27 p.m.

Oct. 21

Battery with serious injury, 7800 block Herschel Ave., midnight

Petty theft, 1100 block Coast Blvd., 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 22

Vehicle theft, 5900 block Camino de la Costa, 9:55 a.m.

Vehicle theft, El paseo Grande at Kennel Way, 4:35 p.m.

Vandalism (less than $400), 7800 block Ivanhoe Ave., 5:50 p.m.

Oct. 23

Theft, 900 block Turquoise St., 10 a.m.

Oct. 24

Petty theft, 8800 block La Jolla Scenic Drive North, 1 a.m.

Grand theft, money/labor/property over $950, 700 block Genter St., 1:20 a.m.

Residential burglary, 900 block Wilbur Ave., 3 a.m.

Oct. 25

Vehicle break-in/theft, 200 block Bonair St., midnight

Vehicle theft, La Jolla Blvd. at Tourmaline St., 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 27

Tampering with an automobile, 2600 block Prestwick Court, 3 a.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft, 9800 block La Jolla Farms Road, 1:15 p.m.Oct. 28

Residential burglary, 1300 block Caminito Halago, 1 a.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft, 8100 block Paseo del Ocaso, 10 a.m.

Compiled by Ashley Mackin-Solomon