The son of a former “Real Housewives of OC” cast member pleaded guilty Friday to assault with a firearm and other counts in a plea deal that will spare him from serving any additional jail time for a shooting in Costa Mesa that left one person wounded.
Joshua Waring was immediately sentenced to seven years and four months behind bars — time he has already served — and he will be released from custody.
Waring pleaded guilty to single counts of assault with a firearm and leading police on a chase, and two counts of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, all felonies. He also admitted single misdemeanor counts of hit and run with property damage and battery.
Waring also resolved a separate case and pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine for sale and false personation, both felonies.
Waring was originally charged with three counts of attempted murder, along with a sentencing enhancement of attempted premeditated murder, for the June 20, 2016, shooting of Daniel Lopez, then 35, outside a home in Costa Mesa. Two other people escaped injury in the drive-by attack.
Waring could have faced 65 years to life in prison if convicted of all charges at trial.
“I want to applaud the District Attorney’s Office and Mr. (Todd) Spitzer for taking another close look at the case,” Waring’s attorney, Joel Garson, told reporters. “It was a fair disposition for all.”
Waring’s mother, Lauri Waring Peterson, told reporters her son’s first goal was to go shopping.
“He’s dying to get some clothes,” said Peterson, who appeared on 50 episodes of “Real Housewives of Orange County,” mostly between 2006 and 2008. Her last two appearances on the Bravo cable network show were in 2016.
“We’re ecstatic to have him out of this system,” Peterson said. “We’re celebrating that and taking baby steps. This is going to be a long process of healing for him.”
Peterson said she was “blindsided” by the plea deal and that until recently, “We were really preparing for trial.”
She believes her son had a strong defense at trial and only capitulated because “he couldn’t spend another night” in solitary confinement in Santa Ana’s jail, where he has been for the past few months.
“It broke his spirit,” she said.
Her son, who represented himself as his own attorney at times in jail, would like to pursue a career in law.
“Josh is very bright. He has a legal mind,” she said.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Fish noted how much Waring has matured over the past couple of years. The judge said the defendant’s change in personality likely corresponded with sobering up.
“I think you’ve matured a lot,” Fish told Waring. “A lot of that , if we’re being honest, is you’re not on methamphetamine.”
Fish added, “It is like there’s two Josh Warings.”
Waring teared up as Fish noted how supportive his family has been over the years.
“You’ve got a lot to live for and you’ve got a lot to offer,” Fish said. “The question is can you pull it all together… I’d hate to see you go down that path again of Josh Waring on drugs. I hope you succeed and take advantage of what you’ve got.”
Waring’s victim, Lopez, said in a statement, “Josh, I forgive you. I wish you the best. Let it be in God’s hands. Don’t worry. I’m not mad at you.”
His case has generated numerous headlines since he was charged, not just because of his mother’s notoriety, but because of allegations of corruption in the prosecution of his case. Waring is also a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit alleging multiple claims — including denial of access to religious services for inmates, negligence in the care of pregnant inmates and improper access of law enforcement to confidential phone calls from inmates to their attorneys.
In February 2018, Garson learned his client’s phone calls to him from jail were being recorded and accessed by police, which is prohibited.
In July 2018, the jail’s phone provider, Global Tel Link Corp., acknowledged that a software update in the system in January 2015 dropped dozens of attorneys from a do-not-record list of phone numbers. Hundreds of calls between inmates and attorneys were accessed by authorities.
Waring filed a motion to have his charges dismissed due to outrageous governmental misconduct, but Fish denied the motion, prompting an appeal, which was also denied.
Waring was attacked by another inmate Oct. 9, prompting him to allege that deputies were conspiring to get him hurt or were too negligent to protect him. Jose Jesus Guzman, 36, is charged with slashing Waring with a blade while the two were supposed to be in isolation.
Waring also raised issues about a deputy firing pepper balls on June 24, 2018, in his jail wing. When he attempted to call the deputy and the partner who was with him at the time to testify in a hearing on a motion for reduced bail last year, the deputies invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Orange County prosecutors previously reviewed the pepper-ball incident and declined to file charges, but they reopened the investigation when Waring raised the issue in his bail motion.
Ultimately, Waring agreed to drop the bail motion when Orange County sheriff’s officials agreed to house him in Santa Ana’s jail. But Waring raised issues while in custody in Santa Ana about a lack of time out of his cell, because he was being housed in isolation to protect him as a well-known inmate.
Waring also accused Santa Ana Jail guards of providing the wrong dosage of his medication to help wean him off his narcotics addiction and failing to take him to a dentist to be treated for an exposed nerve and to get five crowns.
A $4,000 dentist bill was holding up the trip to the dentist, Garson said. So Fish ordered the trip to the dentist.
When Santa Ana Jail officials tried to cancel their contract with the county and ship him back to Orange County Jail, Waring objected and the judge blocked the move.
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