|For Immediate Release
Case # 00WF2593
August 30, 2007
Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
HOCKEY COACH FACING
LIFE IN PRISON FOR MOLESTING
THREE YOUNG BOYS WHOM HE COACHED
*Defendant attempted to avoid prosecution by fleeing to Israel
SANTA ANA – A hockey coach who fled to Israel to avoid child molest charges will be sentenced tomorrow for sexually assaulting three young boys whom he coached. Michael Leon Zeve, 32, Irvine, pleaded guilty on August 20, 2007, to four counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 with a sentencing enhancement allegation for sexually assaulting multiple victims. He is facing a maximum sentence of 18 years to life in prison. Zeve is scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow, Friday, August 31, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The families of the victims will be offered the opportunity to make victim impact statements to the Court.
Between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 1998, Zeve molested two brothers, 11-year-old John Doe #1 and 13-year-old John Doe #2, whom he met when they were players at the Wayne Gretzky’s Roller Hockey Center in Irvine while he was employed as a coach. He took the victims to hotels and his home and sexually assaulted them by masturbating the victims, having them masturbate themselves, and engaging in mutual oral copulation. When Zeve was in the room with the two young brothers, he would make one boy take photos while he molested the other. Zeve also set up a video camera in the room to record himself sexually assaulting the victims.
Between September 1, 1998 and October 31, 2000, 11-year-old John Doe #3, who was also a student at the hockey center, was sexually assaulted by Zeve in the same way as the first two victims.
The victims came forward in 2000 and charges were filed November 30, 2000. On November 15, 2001, one day before a scheduled court hearing, Zeve fled the country in an effort to escape prosecution. He was eventually located living as a fugitive in Israel. In June of 2005, the Israeli government deemed that Zeve was living in their country illegally and deported him to the United States, specifically the state of New York. One month later, the defendant waived his extradition from New York and was brought back to Orange County to stand trial.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Kal Kaliban of the Sexual Assault Unit prosecuted this case.