Man caught in underage prostitution sting must serve jail time

Oscar Ortega

Oscar Ortega

A wildland firefighter who brought alcohol and cocaine on what he thought was a rendezvous with a 17-year-old girl will spend 45 days in jail as a condition of probation.

Lake Tahoe resident Oscar Ortega, 27, received an underlying sentence of 1-3 years and will be under supervision for the next two years.

Ortega was arrested July 7, 2021, after he texted someone he thought was a teenage prostitute through an escort web site.

It turns out the person on the other end was a law enforcement officer.

Ortega was one of several men caught up in an underage prostitution sting conducted by authorities last summer.

He was found not to be a high risk to reoffend.

“I acknowledge I made a huge error in judgment,” Ortega said. “There are no words to express the shame I feel.”

Prosecutor Erik Levin said Ortega could have been charged with possession of cocaine or solicitation to prostitution regardless of the subject’s age.

“He knowingly solicited a 17-year-old female and brought cocaine and alcohol he intended to use with this child,” Levin said.

Levin asked for 60 days jail time in addition to probation.

As a result of the conviction, Ortega will have to surrender the $300 he planned to pay the minor, pay a $2,000 fine, in addition to $1,676 for the psycho-sexual evaluation. He will also have to register as a sex offender. Ortega was taken into custody on Monday to begin his jail sentence.

• A Lake Tahoe man received the maximum prison sentence of up to four years on Monday after a judge reviewed evidence showing he had several people’s credit cards and personal financial information.

Vincent James Descano, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a credit card without the owner’s permission in December.

Attorney Chad Pace said the case stems from Descano’s drug problems.

“Drugs are at the root of the problem,” Pace said. 

Descano has been in custody since he was arrested on Oct. 2, 2021, something he said helped him get sober.

“My time here has been very good for me,” he said. “I’ve cleaned my mind out.”

Prosecutor Erik Levin provided two exhibits in support of his request for the maximum 19-48 months in prison.

Levin entered photographs that showed the large number of credit cards, Social Security numbers and other personal information, along with handwritten instructions on how to use the information to take money.

“This wasn’t someone shoplifting from Walmart,” Levin said. “This was both sophisticated and of great magnitude.”

District Judge Tom Gregory agreed.

“You had a lot of information belonging to other people,” he said.

Descano was given credit for 136 days time served in custody.

• A woman who admitted violating her probation was ordered Monday to serve a 12-36-month prison sentence for possession of methamphetamine.

Shelby Luanne Youngs, 35, was taken into custody on Feb. 3 after she was arrested in California which resulted in her being brought back to Douglas County on a warrant.

“Miss Youngs is an addict,” attorney Brian Filter said. “She was home, she didn’t run away, but she failed to comply.”

Youngs said she was arrested after blank checks were found in her vehicle and she was convicted of conspiracy.

She asked that her probation be continued so she could participate in a longer treatment program.

Prosecutor Patrick Ferguson pointed out she’d been convicted of two felonies when she received probation in the drug case in 2020.

“She absconded for five months and was arrested on new charges,” Ferguson said.

• A Lake Tahoe man will remain in custody pending an evidentiary hearing to determine if he violated his probation.

Ryan Joseph Gill, 40, has been in custody since Feb. 3 accused of a violation.

He will have an opportunity to refute the allegation at a March 14 hearing.

Gill admitted to a count of uttering a forged instrument by altering the payee’s name on a check and was sentenced in August 2020. He faces an underlying sentence of 1-3 years should it be determined he violated.

• A Gardnerville man hopes to qualify for a diversion program to avoid being convicted of felony driving under the influence.

Jeremy J. Ricker, 42, admitted Monday he had a .198 blood alcohol content when he taken into custody on Oct. 24, 2021, at Highway 395 and Riverview Drive.

According to court files, it was a third DUI, which carries a mandatory prison sentence and a fine of $2,000-$5,000. Most third DUI offenders seek diversion where after they participate in a program, they can withdraw the plea to the felony and are sentenced on a misdemeanor. Any subsequent DUI, though, is a felony punishable by 2-15 years in prison.

Ricker is scheduled to return to court on March 28 where a petition for diversion will be heard. If that’s denied he will be subject to sentencing.


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