Laguna Niguel Rotary Clubs “2007 Top Cop” Deputy of the year is Miguel Sotelo. Miguel was chosen as Top Cop because of his strong work ethic, tenacity in finding and arresting criminals, and his ability to foster good relations with the community and businesses he serves. Miguel is well liked by his supervisors and peers and is a pleasure to work with. Miguel was given this award in only his second year of patrol which is a rare occurrence. Miguel is well deserved of this honor.
Deputy Mike Wagner
2006 Laguna Niguel Deputy of the Year
Deputy Mike Wagner is a nineteen year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department. Mike was born in Downey and raised in Norwalk. He was hired by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in 1988. After graduating from the academy he was assigned to the Theo Lacy Facility. Due to Mike’s organizational skills and writing ability he was assigned as the Community Work Program Deputy.
Mike transferred to North Operations in April of 1992, where he excelled as a patrol deputy for eight years. Mike received numerous commendations during his tenure in North Patrol. One of Mike’s awards included the North Operations Auto Theft Recovery Award. While Mike was assigned to North Operations, he became a Field Training Officer and was selected as a member of the Hostage Negotiation Team. He went on to become the Orange County Law Enforcement Explorer Advisor (OCLEEA) Vice-President and the Explorer Academy Director.
In May of 2003, Mike was transferred to South Patrol and assigned to Laguna Niguel Police Services. He has been described as an outstanding patrol deputy whose true passion in Law Enforcement is not only taking criminals off the street, but serving the residents of Orange County. Mike made many exceptional arrests last year. Here are a few examples:
In July, Mike was dispatched to a residential burglary report with a high dollar loss. The victims were on vacation and a neighbor had been watching their residence. Mike was tenacious in his investigation and found a witness who provided information on a suspicious vehicle and subjects seen in the area. This information proved invaluable to the investigators who followed up on the lead, arrested two subjects (from Santa Ana) and recovered approx. $45,000 in stolen property.
Later that month, Mike was dispatched to a routine call of a black Cadillac parked on a residential street with a male driver slumped over the steering wheel. When Mike arrived the Cadillac was gone. Mike began patrolling the area and found a black Cadillac parked in a residential driveway. A male subject had exited the vehicle and was walking up to his front door. The man did not seem inebriated or in need of medical attention. Mike continued patrolling, hoping the informant would make himself known. The informant did, and was able to confirm the black Cadillac in the driveway was the one he had reported. Mike returned, gave dispatch the license plate which came back to the same make and model of the Cadillac. Not satisfied, Mike asked for the last 4 numbers of the VIN. These numbers did not match and the vehicle had been reported stolen. The suspect was subsequently taken into custody and tied to an auto theft ring operating out of Los Angeles. The suspect was also a heroin addict and Mike was able to gain his cooperation in identifying his supplier.
On 8-12-06, at 0735 hours, Mike was dispatched to a prowler call where a male subject was seen running between two houses within a gated community. When Mike arrived on scene, he noticed a Toyota Camry with its’ windows down, parked inside the gated complex. Mike provided the dispatcher with the license plate number, which showed the vehicle clear (not reported stolen). Unknown to Mike at the time, the owner of the vehicle was in the process of reporting his vehicle stolen to a deputy in San Juan Capistrano. Inside the vehicle, Mike could see, a laptop computer, wallet, face plate to a car stereo, cell phone and other property. The key was still in the ignition. Mike suspected the prowler was connected to the vehicle. With the assistance of other units, the prowler was located hiding in the bed of a truck parked on a connector street. After the suspect was apprehended, Mike was informed by the dispatcher that the Toyota Camry had just been reported stolen by its’ owner. With an uncooperative suspect who was not about to admit to anything, Mike had to begin connecting the dots. Mike was familiar with the recent criminal activity in the area and had been trying to apprehend the person(s) responsible. Mike was able to tie the suspect to the stolen vehicle. Mike suspected the other property found inside the vehicle was from unreported crimes in the area. Mike had patrol units contact residents within a half mile to determine if they were missing property. Several of the local residents, who deputies had awakened, began reporting that property had been stolen from their homes during the night while they were asleep. Mike completed a thorough investigation, leaving no stone unturned, and submitted a comprehensive and detailed report. The suspect was bound over for trial.
On 10-12-06, Mike was dispatched to a suspicious vehicle at the YMCA, two male subjects were reported sleeping in their vehicle. Mike located the vehicle and subjects in the parking lot and began questioning them. Mike was able to develop enough probable cause for a vehicle search, eventually arresting both subjects for possessing drug paraphernalia and providing false names. Inside the vehicle were 500 compact disks. The suspects denied the CD's were stolen, saying they were purchased over the internet. Mike had recently taken a theft report where hundreds of compact disks had been stolen. Property inside the vehicle was similar to property reported stolen in Mike's earlier case. Although the suspects had an alibi. Mike called the victim to the scene. The victim positively identified 61 of the 500 compact disks as being her property. The victim's CD's were uniquely marked, making them easy to identify. The suspects told Mike that Sheriff's Investigators had arrested them last week for receiving stolen property and they had recently been released from jail.
On 12-20-06, deputies were dispatched to a bank robbery that had just occurred at the Wells Fargo located at Pacific Park and Alicia. The suspect had entered the bank, and handed the teller a note. The note said “hand over $5,000 in $100 bills and don’t try anything or you will be killed”. The robber left the bank. A witness obtained a vehicle description. The suspect vehicle was described as a beige Ford Focus, last seen northbound on Alicia towards Pacific Park. Mike was travelling northbound on La Paz and toward Pacific Park. As the call was being dispatched, Mike saw a beige Ford Focus pass in front of him, it traveled eastbound on Pacific Park crossing La Paz. Mike saw the driver was attempting to change his shirt as he crossed the intersection. Mike told the dispatcher he was following a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle. Mike continued to broadcast his location, direction of travel, and other pertinent information, allowing other patrol units to get in position for a felony car stop. After Mike had the back-up he needed, he initiated the car stop. The suspect was handcuffed and detained, until follow up investigation could confirm he was indeed the actual robbery suspect. In the vehicle deputies found a handgun, wig and money. The suspect is believed to have committed three other bank robberies in San Diego County.
For these reasons, and so many more…. Mike Wagner was selected as Laguna Niguel’s Deputy of the Year. Please join me in congratulating Mike.