|For Immediate Release
Case # 09HF0734 & 06HF2325
June 26, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
MAN SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON FOR EMBEZZLING OVER $530,000 AND POINTING LASER AT POLICE HELICOPTER PILOT
SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to two years in state prison for embezzling over $500,000 from a condominium association and pointing a laser several times at a police helicopter pilot. Peter Kontos, 36, Newport Beach, pleaded guilty to the court on Dec. 12, 2008, to one felony count of grand theft, 39 felony counts of forgery, and 64 felony counts of money laundering. The defendant admitted to sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and taking over $150,000 (Case # 06HF2325). He also pleaded guilty to four felony counts of discharging a laser at an occupied aircraft, one felony count of possession for sale of a controlled substance, and one felony count of possession of a deadly weapon (Case #06HF0734). Kontos was sentenced to two years in state prison and has paid $337,000 in restitution, including $202,000 to the condominium association and an additional $135,000, which was seized during a search of the defendant’s home.
In March 2003, Kontos was the President of the Villa Point Condominium Association in Newport Beach. During that time, the defendant stole $538,653 from the association by forging the signature of the treasurer on 39 association checks, which he wrote to various contractors under the pretense that they were doing work for the condominium complex. Those contractors who received checks cashed them and turned the majority of the money to Kontos in the form of cash, frequently delivering the money to Kontos’ parents’ home in Downey. During their sworn testimony in a civil trial against Kontos in this case, the contractors stated that they had done little or no work for the payment and cashed the checks in hopes of receiving future work at Villa Point Condominiums.
To hide the theft, Kontos recruited busy homeowners to sit on the Board of Directors with him, knowing they would not be able to attend meetings. In addition to the theft of association funds, Kontos caused thousands of dollars in damage to the association’s property by personally undertaking unauthorized property improvements, which later had to be fixed by the association.
On the night of March 20, 2006, Kontos pointed a high-powered green laser at a police helicopter en route to the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) with the intention of blinding the police officer pilots. The laser caused the pilots to experience headaches and itchy eyes for the remainder of their shift, but it did not impact the night vision goggles worn by the pilots.
On April 1, 2006, Kontos again pointed the high-powered green laser at a helicopter while the police pilots were circling over a densely populated area with hotels, single family homes, apartment complexes, condominium complexes and Fashion Island. The police officer pilots were assisting ground units in locating a burglary suspect in the area. The pilots stated that the laser was more powerful than any laser that had been pointed at them in the past. The NBPD officer pilots were able to pinpoint Kontos’ condominium as the source of the laser, and he was arrested that night. A subsequent search of Kontos’ home turned up the laser, cocaine, a ninja-style throwing star, and $135,320, which was seized and later used for restitution in the embezzlement case. Kontos was also fined $6,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration.