Wanda Elliott-Ash and Renee Ash
Carpinteria, just six miles south of the Santa Barbara city limits, is frequently referred to by its local residents as “the last great beach town,” which it may well be.
The majority of homes are within walking distance of some of the most pristine beaches in the state, and the lifestyle is a throwback to the mid-Twentieth Century, with a large population of retirees, young families, and Labrador Retrievers.
Perhaps it was the laid-back lifestyle—where shorts and flip-flops are de rigeur—that misled Renee Ash, 24, and Christopher Hernandez, 37 into thinking that casually enjoying a smoke while walking down a downtown sidewalk was permissible.
In fact, smoking in public is a municipal code violation in the city, and it was the enforcement of that legislated prohibition that brought the trio into contact with local law enforcement.
According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, it was during that code enforcement process that the vehicle belonging to Hernandez and Ash, residents of Squaw Valley was investigated, leading deputies to the discovery of drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine, and “a cache of fraudulent California Identification cards, debit cards, and credit cards.” With that evidence in hand, deputies placed the pair under arrest.
Subsequent investigation led deputies to a nearby motel room where they contacted Ash’s mother, Madera resident Wanda Elliott-Ash, found to be in possession of “more stolen credit cards, checkbooks, and manufactured fraudulent credit cards.”
Elliott-Ash was also determined to be wanted on a Madera County felony narcotics-theft warrant.
All four suspects were transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where Ash and Hernandez were booked on charges of identity theft, conspiracy, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia, with their bail set at $50,000 each.
For her part, Elliott-Ash was similarly booked, with the additional charges of possession of stolen property, providing false identity, and the felony warrant.
Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Sheriff, Santa Barbara County Jail Booking