Arrest made in robbery at La Jolla author’s home

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SAN DIEGO — A man accused of sneaking into the La Jolla home of prominent food writer Jeanne Jones three weeks ago, along with an accomplice, and stealing “a significant amount” of jewelry was arrested Wednesday in the Los Angeles area.

San Diego police detectives took 27-year-old Leon Powell into custody this morning while serving a search warrant at a residence in Inglewood, SDPD public-affairs Lt. Kevin Mayer said.

Shortly after midnight on Oct. 5, Powell allegedly entered Jones’ La Jolla Scenic Drive home by unknown means along with another man and looted it, fleeing when the 77-year-old author awoke and confronted them.

“It was a significant amount of jewelry that was stolen,” Mayer said.

Investigators identified Powell as one of the alleged thieves based on Jones’ description of the intruders. Police are still looking for the other man, according to Mayer.

Some of the filched valuables were found outside the victim’s house, where the crooks apparently dropped them in their haste to escape. The rest have not been recovered, the lieutenant said.

It was the second time in three years that burglars have targeted the upscale coastal home of Jones, author of more than 30 cookbooks and writer of the syndicated newspaper column “Cook It Light.”

On the evening of Nov. 5, 2010, three thieves wearing ski masks over their faces forced their way into the house, threatening Jones, her husband, a housekeeper and a nurse with pistols, according to police and prosecutors.

Jones, who was in bed following a medical procedure when the bandits burst in, was forced at gunpoint to open a safe.

The assailants collected cash, rings, Rolex watches and other jewelry — a haul valued at about $50,000 — and fled in a yellow SUV driven by a fourth accomplice.

A United Parcel Service driver who happened to be in the neighborhood saw the robbers rushing out of the victims’ home and made a 911 call. Police caught up with the vehicle a short time later and arrested the suspects during a traffic stop on State Route 52.

The following September, the four defendants in the case — Thomas Walter Clark, 42, Aaron Jacob Espinoza, 24, Hector Guerra, 31, and 24-year-old Miguel Ocegueda, all of San Bernardino — were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 45 years for their roles in the violent burglary.


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