A Santa Clarita man accused of taking part in an illegal street race pleaded no contest in court this past week.
Johannes Michael Hansel, 19, of Canyon Country, was charged on Sept. 25 with one misdemeanor count each of engaging in motor vehicle exhibition of speed on a highway, reckless driving on a highway and being a spectator at an illegal motor vehicle speed contest or exhibition.
“He pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count each of engaging in a motor vehicle speed contest on a highway, reckless driving on a highway, being a spectator at an illegal motor vehicle contest or exhibition,” according to Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
“He was entered into a diversion program, ordered to complete 10 days of community service, (and the proceedings (were) suspended for 12 months,” he added.
Hansel’s arrest was part of a multi-agency effort between the California Highway Patrol, the Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office.
This past summer, in an effort to rid Santa Clarita Valley of illegal street racing, deputies and officers arrested at least 109 people at an illegal street racing event in the Valencia Commerce Center in Castaic.
A total of 102 arrests were made for participating or simply watching the illegal speed event, California Highway Patrol Captain Edward Krusey told The Signal in June.
Law enforcement officials spent several months investigating the arrests and paperwork needed to prosecute the alleged offenders, including six of the seven suspects singled out as having had an active part in organizing the event.
The arrests were the result of an effort called Illegal Street Racing Operation – and was carried out by local sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers as part of a countywide crackdown on illegal street racing, California Highway Patrol Captain Edward Krusey said at the time of the arrests.
“It isn’t just the reckless driving or racing that is illegal as the onlookers discovered,” he said, in an interview with The Signal at the time of the arrests. “A momentary loss of control which can happen all too easily can have devastating consequences for both the drivers and spectators.”
Local law enforcement, together with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, set out to shut down what has become known on the streets as a “Sideshow.”