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SC Johnson Billionaire Gets Misdemeanor For Sexual Assault Of Child

Billionaire heir, S. Curtis Johnson, has reinforced the troubling notion that wealth brings excessive privilege.  Johnson is one of the heirs to the SC Johnson fortune. Today, after receiving multiple confessions from Johnson for his actions, the judicial system gave the billionaire just a slap on the hand by reducing the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. Whether it was his wealth or the small size of the community the crimes happened in, the judge did however confirm that Johnson was well-known to him before the charges were brought. We thought the evidence against Johnson seemed to be enough to warrant a felony for molesting his step-daughter since she was 12 years-old.  But what really happened here?  Was this a case of excessive privilege through wealth? I am sure it didn't hurt. I would have assumed that since this was a case of a long-term assault on a minor, that the system wouldn’t except this behavior, even as a first offense. According to Wisconsin law, the charges of sexual contact with a minor are ALL felonies except for one… “Indecent Exposure”. But this case seemed to fit into their exact definition of “incest” which is a Class BC felony, and the crime of giving adult-themed movies or material is also a Class E felony. I thought the ruling would definitively be harsher once learning the judge has a serious problem with women who show any bit of cleavage whatsoever in court. (Something I have to agree with. I hate when the showing of boobs are used to help get someone out of a bad situation) The judge, Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz, has only served in the judge position for four years making him a fairly new judge. While most new judges are given traffic court as a start, Eugene was given the felony court, which brings back the question of his reasoning for the soft punishment. After a little investigation, it was found that Curt Johnson’s mother, Imogene,  donated $100 to the election fund for Gasiorkiewicz.  Though when later questioned about this, the judge said the amount was so small he felt there was no reason to disclose this prior to the case beginning. However, it really seems the leniency towards Johnson was apparent early in the case. Gasiorkiewicz changed Johnson’s bond, allowing him to travel to Arizona for treatment, around the country for business and to see his wife in North Carolina. He also said Johnson and his family were known to the court.

No one could find any first-time offenders who had gotten much leniency in Wisconsin as this judge had implied.  A man who had similar contact with a child and whom also exposed himself to other children received an 11 year sentence.  Wisconsin Rep. Bill Kramer was charged earlier this year with two felonies for sexual assault and faces a much steeper punishment for the two occasions he groped women while in DC.  And a first-time offender in Waterford, WI is looking at 60 years in prison if he is convicted.

However, the billionaire whose mother seemed to know the judge in his case was given a red carpet treatment from the beginning.  There were no restrictions for him to move around the country or spend substantial time in jail for his crimes.  The fine handed down really wasn’t even a light slap on his wrist. So, I think we can conclude that based on this case compared to every other similar case, enough money and influence will buy you out of just about anything.  The so-called 1% of America who enjoy nearly half of the wealth in this country are showing the 99% who is in charge.  Without his wealth or privilege, there are no precedents in which Curt Johnson wouldn’t have been given at least 5 years in prison as well as putting him onto a sex offender list.  But oh no, not billionaire Johnson, he walked away with 4 months in jail (has to serve at least 60 days) and a fined $6000. He is currently worth $3 billion. And he doesn't even need to register as a sex offender.  He has now moved to a $3.5 million house in North Carolina as he resigned his position as chairman of the commercial cleaning products company about a month before the criminal case against him was filed. Oh the privileges of the wealthy!  Update: Another girl has come forward and said she was assaulted by Johnson. No charges have been filed in the case....Yet.

Mansion of S Curtis Johnson Outside of Racine,Wisconsin

Brooke Astor Son Guilty of Stealing $60 Million From Her

Convicted in 2009 of defrauding his mother, the late Brooke Astor, out of more than $60 million, Anthony Marshall has been out on appeal and hiding out with wife Charlene — or, as Mrs. Astor called her, “that bitch” — in their Upper East Side apartment. It is a cage, but no longer a gilded one.

There are no more dinner parties, no charity balls, no hired help. Tony and Charlene Marshall are social pariahs, and Tony no longer speaks to his own twin sons, who testified that their father and stepmother were abusing Astor, forcing her to live in deplorable conditions and withholding medical treatment.

So now it’s just the two of them rambling around their second-floor apartment, days spent on the phone with doctors and lawyers, bills piling up and friends letting them down. Charlene no longer even has a house account at Butterfield Market, the Lexington Avenue grocery she frequented for years. One pal says she drives “a little Japanese car” — the days of chauffeured Town Cars long gone — and does most of the cooking.

Sometimes her friends from church will visit, or one of her three children from her first marriage, but Tony has very few friends, and often they are alone.

“This whole business has just devastated him,” says Sam Peabody, a close friend of Tony’s since boarding school. “They don’t go out much. They’ve been through the mill, as you can understand.”

Their newly quiet life, however, is about to be upended. On Sept. 24 and 25, Sotheby’s will auction off more than 900 pieces of art, jewelry and furniture from the estate of Brooke Astor — and all of that furniture had originally been willed to Tony by his mother. After his conviction, he reached a settlement with the state attorney general stipulating that the furniture be returned and leaving him with just $14 million — a fraction of what his mother had originally left him, and much of it likely spent on lawyers. (Charlene was left one necklace and two fur coats that were too small for her.)

Within the next couple months, Marshall’s appeal is expected to be heard in Manhattan Supreme Court. (Charlene was never charged, though the prosecution depicted her as a black hole of greed, dubbed “Miss Piggy” by Astor’s staff.) Tony is now 88 and in very poor health; Charlene is 67. Peabody says both are convinced Tony will never be sent to prison.

“If he does go to jail, it’s a death sentence,” Peabody says. “Nobody feels this will ever happen.”

Their lives, friends say, are hell anyway.

Not since Claus von Bulow went on trial in 1982 for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny, had New York City seen such pulpy dispatches from the vacuum-sealed world of high society.

Here was the grand dame of philanthropy, over 100 years old, her name and fingerprints all over New York — from the St. Regis Hotel, which she redecorated in the ’50s, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the New York Public Library to Prospect Park — reduced by her son and his wife to a life of solitude and squalor.

Her beloved dogs would relieve themselves all over her Park Avenue apartment, and no one was there to clean up the mess. She would nap on a sofa soaked with urine. She continued to dress for dinner, hat and handbag included, then dine off a tray in front of the television.

It was an unthinkable ending for a vibrant, engaged woman whose net worth was estimated at more than $103 million.

“Money is like manure,” Brooke was fond of saying. “It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around.”

She was not as generous when it came to her only child, Tony, the product of her first and very miserable marriage to New Jersey scion J. Dryden Kuser, an abusive alcoholic who broke her jaw when she was six months pregnant. The marriage lasted 11 years, and in 1932, she wed again.

Her second husband, financier Charles H. Marshall, was as wild about her as she was about him. Tony, however, he didn’t care for, so Brooke shipped her son off to boarding school when he was 11 years old. When Tony was 18, he took his stepfather’s last name, but even that gesture didn’t endear him to the old man. Tony was forever the outsider. When he was 17, he enlisted in the Marines; he fought at the Battle of Iwo Jima and was awarded a Purple Heart. He went on to serve as a US ambassador to Kenya and, later, as an intelligence officer in the CIA. His mother remained loudly unimpressed.

“I wish Tony had made something of himself,” Brooke would tell friends.

Charles Marshall, the love of her life, died unexpectedly in 1952, without leaving a will. He had been suffering financially, and 11 months later, Brooke, at 51, married her last husband, the multimillionaire Vincent Astor. When he died in 1959, he left Brooke $60 million.

In 1979, Brooke turned to Tony, who had worked in finance, to manage her money, which had shrunk by half. He made all that money back and more, and their relationship, while never warm, was fine — until Tony met Charlene one summer in Maine. According to Brooke, it was destined because Charlene would walk in front of their house every day, hoping Tony would notice her.

Charlene wound up leaving her husband, an Episcopal vicar, for Tony, and Tony left his second wife for Charlene. Brooke was mortified, convinced Charlene was an amoral gold-digger and social climber. Tony and Charlene were married in 1992. Brooke Astor found her son’s third wife repulsive on every level.

“She has no class and no neck,” Brooke had said. Her chauffeur, Marciano Amaral, testified that Brooke resented how openly Charlene coveted her jewels. “I don’t want that woman to wear my jewelry because she doesn’t have the neck to wear my jewelry,” she said. “Why did my son have to marry that woman? He can just sleep with her.”

By 1999, Brooke Astor was in serious decline, the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s evident. She became obsessed with the idea that she would wind up poor, asking her son over and over what she could afford — even though she had her Park Avenue apartment, an estate in Westchester, and a summer home in Maine.

Brooke Astors Westchester Summer Estate

Charlene was resolute that she and her husband had done nothing wrong — in fact, she considered them the real victims, a stance she holds to this day. “She gets angry,” Peabody says. “There are all these lawyers they have to talk to, all these things they try to avoid reading in the paper. She felt personally attacked by lies.”

After the long trial, there’s a good chance Charlene and Tony will be left with only a tiny fraction of the fortune.

The money from the Sotheby’s auction will, according to Brooke’s wishes, go to the Metropolitan Museum, the New York Public Library, the Animal Medical Center of New York, the Pierpont Morgan Library and city schools, among other institutions.

In November 2011, Brooke’s Park Avenue apartment sold for $21 million. It took so long, says Peabody, because one member of the board, afraid Tony and Charlene would profit, refused all potential buyers. (They saw none of that money.)

Upon sentencing Tony Marshall in December 2009, Justice Kirke Bartley said he could think of no finer punishment than to leave the Marshalls without any of Brooke Astor’s wealth, condemned to live out the rest of their days with only each other.

Sam Peabody admits this is, in fact, their life. “It’s constantly, constantly nibbling at them, one way or another,” he says. “And they’re never free of it. Never.”

Thank you to New York Post and Writer Maureen Callahan

Billionaire Keeps Dead Wifes Body Hidden Under Bags For 2 Months

A judge yesterday warned of the ‘utterly destructive’ effects of drug abuse on families after hearing how billionaire Hans Rausing hid his dead wife’s body for more than two months.

Judge Richard McGregor-Johnson said the Tetra Pak heir had enjoyed ‘every material advantage imaginable’ before throwing it all away on addiction to hard drugs and descending into a life of squalor.

After Rausing’s wife Eva died, he  kept her decomposing corpse under a pile of bin bags, bed sheets and  clothing several feet deep inside a locked annexe in the couple’s £70million Chelsea mansion, where they

He acted with ‘deceit and deliberation’ to prolong the concealment of the mother of his four children, using deodorant to try to disguise the stench and telling people that she was on a trip to America, Isleworth Crown Court was told.

But he escaped jail after the court heard that Rausing’s drug abuse meant he had been unable to confront the reality of his ‘beloved’ wife’s death.

The 49-year-old, whose family is the 12th richest in Britain and whose fortune comes from the £4.5billion Tetra Pak drinks carton empire, told psychiatrists after his arrest: ‘I know it is sad and selfish, but I just didn’t want her to leave.’

He cut a tragic figure as he stood in the dock to plead guilty to the common law offence of failing to prevent his 48-year-old wife’s lawful and decent burial.

Dressed in a navy blue blazer and red tie, he repeatedly blinked and twitched as Judge McGregor-Johnson gave him a ten-month suspended sentence on the condition that he agreed to a ‘very demanding’ drug rehabilitation programme.

The judge told Rausing: ‘If ever there was an illustration of the utterly destructive effects of drug misuse on individuals and their families, it is to be found in the facts of this case.

‘You and your wife had every material advantage imaginable, and for a time a happy family life. Your relapse into the misuse of drugs, together with that of your wife, destroyed all that.

‘It is graphically illustrated by the contrast between the rooms visitors saw, and the utter squalor of the rooms you really lived in.’

The court heard that Mrs Rausing was last seen alive on May 3 when she met her financial adviser and confided that she was ‘worried’ about her husband’s ‘chaotic lifestyle’.

Four days later her husband found her dead on the second floor ‘annexe’ of their central London mansion, which only the couple were allowed to enter.

Unable to cope with his loss, he hid her body for more than two months until July 9, when he was stopped by police after driving  erratically through morning rush hour traffic in Wandsworth, South London. Police who searched his car found a crack pipe, cannabis and white powder in the footwell of his Bristol Coupe and noticed his pupils were dilated and he was unsteady on his feet.

They also discovered some unopened letters to Mrs Rausing in the boot of the car. When asked about the letters, Rausing ‘welled up’ and claimed she had gone to California two weeks earlier.

Police became suspicious and went to search the home and were let in by staff.

James O’Connell, prosecuting, said: ‘They were hesitant to allow access to the second floor because part of the premises was an annexe which for some years access had not been allowed to anyone other than Mr Rausing and his wife.

‘They decided to force entry but when they were in a lift they noticed the stench of decomposition. They entered a room which had been sealed off with locks and gaffer-tape.’

The untidy room contained a pile of clothes and other linen on the floor concealing a body in ‘an advanced stage of decomposition’. Post-mortem tests indicated Mrs Rausing probably died on May 7.

After his arrest, Rausing was transferred to the private Capio Nightingale psychiatric hospital in Marylebone were he later told police in a statement: ‘I fully understand that my beloved wife of 19 years is dead and I am devastated, particularly for my children, by her death.

‘I do not have a coherent recollection of events leading up to and since Eva’s death save to say I have never wished upon her or done her any harm. I did not supply her with drugs.

‘I don’t know what caused her death, I did not feel able to fully confront the reality of her death.

‘With the benefit of hindsight I did not act rationally. I tried to carry on as if her death had not happened, and batted away any enquiries about her. I also took measures to reduce the smell.

‘I believe in the period since Eva’s death I have suffered some sort of breakdown.’ Tests after his arrest showed that Rausing had cocaine, morphine, diazepam, tamazepam and nitrazopam in his body.

Alex Cameron, QC, who is David Cameron’s brother, said in mitigation that Rausing had no recollection at all about the first ten to 12 hours after his wife’s death.

He said: ‘He didn’t move the body, he described her as appearing quite restful.

‘He felt quite unable to face up to the fact that Eva had died and almost like a small child couldn’t face up to telling anyone else and so took steps to delay the moment of facing up to reality. In his own words, he acted in a cowardly fashion.’

Cocaine, opiates and amphetamines were found in the body of Mrs Rausing, who had an ongoing heart problem and had been fitted with a pacemaker, the court heard.

The judge said he accepted that she died of heart failure coupled with the effects of drugs, telling Rausing: ‘There is no evidence to suggest the involvement of anyone else, including you, in her death.’

Rausing also admitted driving under the influence of drugs, for which he was given a two-month sentence suspended for two years.

His family made their billions through the Tetra Pak empire, which was founded in 1944.

The Rausings exited the Tetra Laval Group in 1995 and waived all interests in the company at the time.  Thank you to Tom Kelley Mail Online

Trinity Broadcasting Network Involved In Massive Financial Fraud

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Trinity Broadcasting Network, which bills itself as the world's largest Christian network, is embroiled in a legal battle involving allegations of massive financial fraud and lavish spending, including the purchase of a $100,000 motor home for family dogs.

Brittany Koper, a former high-ranking TBN official and the granddaughter of its co-founder, Paul Crouch Sr., was fired by the network in September after discovering "illegal financial schemes" amounting to tens of millions of dollars, according to a lawsuit filed last month in Orange County Superior Court.

"She blew the whistle and got terminated," said attorney Tymothy MacLeod, who filed the suit on behalf of Joseph McVeigh, the uncle of Koper's husband, Michael Koper, who was himself a high-ranking TBN officer.

"Brittany has done the right thing. It's admirable that someone on the inside of TBN has come forward and is revealing to the world exactly what is going on behind those closed doors," MacLeod said. "No good deed goes unpunished at TBN."

The legal battle offers a rare glimpse into the private affairs of TBN, which is headquartered in an opulent compound near South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.

In his suit, McVeigh alleges that TBN maliciously sued him last year in an attempt to retaliate against Brittany Koper.

McVeigh's lawsuit alleges that Brittany Koper was promoted to the position of TBN's finance director in July because the network directors needed someone "within the family" to keep its financial "skeletons" hidden.

The lawsuit alleges that Paul Crouch Sr. obtained a $50-million Global Express luxury jet for his personal use through a "sham loan," and that TBN funds paid for a $100,000 motor home for dogs owned by his wife, Janice Crouch, a network director.

The suit also alleges that TBN bought residences across the country for its directors under the pretext that they were "guest homes" or "church parsonages." The properties include mansions used by the Crouch family in Newport Beach; side-by-side mansions in Windermere, Fla.; and homes in Nashville; Miami; and Irving, Texas, according to the suit.

TBN directors received about $300,000 to $500,000 in meal expenses and the use of chauffeurs, and oversaw "fraudulent donation and kickback schemes involving third party 'ministries"' the network controlled, the suit claims. The directors also misused funds to cover up sexual scandals, the suit claims.

The suit alleges that Brittany Koper refused to lie for TBN in a lawsuit brought against the network by a former employee, Horst Brandt, who claimed he was fired over age discrimination.

MacLeod said Brittany Koper was fired by Matthew Crouch, son of Paul Crouch Sr., after she submitted a memo to his father detailing her concerns about financial improprieties.

Network lawyers, for their part, said in a lawsuit last year that the Kopers used forged documents to embezzle funds.  TBN owns 35 full-power television stations serving larger metropolitan areas, and, at its peak, 252 low power television stations in the United States, which are mixed among stations serving medium-sized cities and rural translator stations in order to maximize the network's reach as much as is permissible. See more About TBN

Thank you to The Portland Press Hearld For This Story

Ray Charles Foundation Sues Singer's Children

A charitable foundation started by Ray Charles has sued seven of his children, accusing them of violating an agreement not to make claims on the late singer’s estate.  More Here

Egyptian Billionaire Sentenced To Death For Murder of Pop Star Tamim

An Egyptian billionaire has been sentenced to death for the murder of his secret lover, Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim.

Hesham Talaat Moustafa was found guilty of paying security man Muhsen el Sukkari $2 million to stab Tamim to death at her house in Dubai last July. Sukkari was also sentenced to death.

The Cairo courtroom descended into chaos today as the sentences were read out, with female relatives collapsing and lawyers vowing to appeal. The defendants looked shocked at the verdict.

The sordid tale of sex, politics, money and showbusiness has gripped the Arab world. 

Sukkari attacked Tamim on July 28 last year at her luxury Dubai apartment after he tricked her into opening her door by posing as a representative of the building's owners.

He then stabbed the singer to death.

Tamim, who was 30 years old when she died, rose to fame after winning an Egyptian Pop Idol-type show in 1996.

She had had an affair with Moustafa - but ended their relationship and married an Iraqi kick-boxing champion, Riyad al-Azzawi, whom she had met in London. It was her second marriage.

Moustafa then ordered her murder, according to the indictment.

Egyptian media reports have said that Sukkari worked as a security officer at the Four Seasons Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, which the Talaat Moustafa Group built.

The indictment accused Moustafa, who was stripped of his parliamentary immunity before the trial, of participating in the crime through 'incitement, agreement and assistance'.

The evidence included tape recordings of telephone calls between Moustafa and Sukkari, security video footage from the Dubai apartment and DNA from the bloodied clothes that Sukkari was accused of leaving close to the scene of the crime.

Elderly Billionaire Manuel 'Matty' Moroun Jailed For Failing To Finish Bridge

The elderly billionaire owner of Detroit's Ambassador Bridge has been jailed today for failing to meet court-ordered deadlines on a multimillion dollar construction project.

Manuel 'Matty' Moroun, along with company president Dan Stamper, has been sent to jail until his company complies with a 2010 court order to get the work on the $230m Gateway project done.

It is not yet clear how long the men will stay behind bars, but the work could take up to a year.

Detroit International Bridge Co. was declared in contempt of court in November for failing to finish work on the state ordered project linking the U.S.-Canada span with two Detroit interstates.

The bridge, which handles 8,000 trucks a day and $100 billion in trade every year, accounts for the bulk of Mr Moroun's £1.5billion fortune.

'It is clear that the Detroit International Bridge Co. does not intend to comply with the court orders unless meaningful sanctions are imposed,' Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards said.

Lawyers for Mr Moroun and Mr Stamper asked Judge Edwards to suspend his decision so they could appeal, but the judge declined.

Ken Mogill, lawyer for Mr Stamper, said the judge was 'absolutely wrong' since it is the company, not the men, that was earlier found in contempt.

'Neither Mr Moroun nor Mr Stamper had received a notice that they individually could be facing consequences,' Mr Mogill said.

'It’s not enough that a company has been found in contempt. The law is so clear.'

Stunned Mr Moroun, who according to Forbes is the 259th richest American, and Mr Stamper were escorted out of the courtroom to be booked in by deputies.

The bridge company must also pay $7,500, the maximum under state law for civil contempt, and the state’s legal fees.

Their lawyers said they would immediately go to the Michigan Court of Appeals seeking to suspend the judge’s order and free them.                         

The state of Michigan sued the company after it failed to meet a 2008 deadline to finish its part of a $230-million project to improve traffic at the bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, Canada.

The privately-owned Ambassador Bridge is the busiest crossing between the United States and Canada, providing a continuous flow of auto parts and completed vehicles each way from Detroit to Windsor, Canada.

The project was intended to link the bridge with Interstate 75 and Interstate 96 in the United States directly, pulling the almost continuous flow of semitrailer trucks off surface streets.

Instead, the company has failed to correct variations from the plan and the other parts have not been completed.

Gregory Johnson, MDOT chief of operations, said it could take a year to get the work done.

'We take no joy or satisfaction in seeing these gentlemen incarcerated,'Mr Johnson said.

'Our only goal is to see this contract, this project, completed.'

The hearing began with lawyers for Mr Moroun insisting he is not the real owner.      

The privately-owned Ambassador Bridge, pictured,is the busiest crossing between the United States and Canada,

They say a Moroun trust has a minority stake in a holding company that owns the bridge. But state officials say Mr Moroun clearly is in charge, and the judge agreed.

'Mr Moroun has the power, the authority to make sure there is compliance.' with court orders, Judge Edwards said.

After a November hearing, state engineer Tony Kratofil said the bridge company has done only 'superficial' work to follow the judge’s previous orders.

Without the improvements, he said, trucks are stuck using neighbourhood roads.

Mr Kratofil said on Thursday there was still a lack of progress on the project.

Deaths At Billionaire's Mansion A Mystery

In an exclusive Californian suburb that has had only two murders in the past decade, the deaths of a billionaire's child and girlfriend at his mansion have caused a lot of talk and speculation.   

Rebecca Zahau's naked body was found on Wednesday hanging from a rope tied to the second-floor balcony of the historic building in Coronado, a wealthy seaside suburb of about 24,000 people on San Diego Bay.

Her hands were tied behind her and her feet were bound, police said.

Just two days before, last Monday, she was babysitting Max, the six-year-old son of her billionaire boyfriend Jonah Shacknai, when the child reportedly fell down a flight of stairs at the 27-room home.

This morning, the Shacknai family confirmed in a statement that Max died "despite heroic efforts on the part of paramedics and hospital staff", US television network ABC reported.

Zahau, 32, also known as Rebecca Nalepa from a  previous marriage reportedly dated Shacknai, 54, the chief executive of an Arizona-based US pharmaceutical company selling acne and facial wrinkle treatments, for two years.

The body of the ophthalmic technician was found by Shacknai's brother Adam, 47, who cut the rope from which she was hanging and called police, officials said.

US media said police investigators have remained tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding Zahau's death, despite searching the Shacknai mansion twice.

"The circumstances are bizarre; you could tell this was unusual, but [suicide] is a possibility," San Diego County Sheriff's Captain Tim Curran told the Associated Press last week.

An autopsy on Ms Zahau's body has been sealed as authorities waited for further tests to be conducted.

Zahau's sister, Mary Zahau-Loehner, told the ABC that they spoke last Tuesday and Ms Zahau was "normal, fine, just getting ready to go to bed".

Zahau's brother-in-law, Doug Loehner, added in a statement "Jonah is a stand-up guy. He was very devoted to Rebecca. She treated his kids as her own."

Shacknai's Phoenix-based company boss, Michael Trier, also f Zahau, said that she was committed to her career and had a "personality very much full of life".


Captain Curran said investigators had so far not found any links between Max's and Zahau's deaths.

On Monday, paramedics found the boy not breathing and without a pulse after falling down some stairs, Coronado police Chief Louis Scanlon said, calling it a tragic accident.

He was taken to Rady Children's Hospital and reportedly remained there in a coma until his family's statement this morning.

Coronado had one murder last year and a total of two in the past decade, media reports said.

The local police department does not have a homicide unit and had to ask the Sheriff's Department to help with the investigation.

"A case like this would be unusual anywhere," Coronado mayor Casey Tanaka told The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper.

"It's completely shocking," she told the paper. "I walk by [the mansion] every day. This is the town where you don't expect anything like this to happen."

The mansion was built in 1908. Its previous owner was John D. Spreckels, owner of the majestic Hotel del Coronado and the San Diego Union and San Diego Tribune newspapers, AP reported.

It was sold to Shacknai in 2007 for $US12.7 million, US television network CBS reported, citing property records.