SoCal Rehab Attracts More Bad Press for Being 'Illegal Operation'

By Victoria Kim 12/04/14

Serenity Shores Recovery Center added insult to injury following the arrest of a counselor for DUI murder in October.

shaun eagleson dui victim.jpg
Photo via The Shaun Eagelson Memorial Fund

The Serenity Shores Recovery Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., is in more trouble after city officials revealed that one of its sober-living homes was in blatant violation of the required maximum occupancy.

Only seven beds are legally allowed for group homes in residential neighborhoods, but officials discovered 18 at the home on Senate Street—seven of the beds were discovered in one of the home’s six bedrooms.

The violation was first detected in April, when Costa Mesa firefighters on a medical call to the home were told 16 people lived in the house. The property owner, Saroj Gupta, received a city violation notice and was notified that the law requires occupancy be reduced to a maximum of seven: six clients and a house manager.

The home passed a scheduled inspection in October, but less than three hours later, “the city received photos of two trucks moving additional beds into the house,” the OC Weekly reported.

Complaints about the Senate Street group home include noise, profanity, cigarette smoke, trash, loitering, and advertised AA meetings, according to the city.

“We won’t tolerate these kind of bad neighbors in Costa Mesa,” said the CEO of Costa Mesa, Tom Hatch. “This illegal operation damages the quality of life in our neighborhoods and casts a bad light on conscientious operators of group homes in our community.” The city is now “exploring all criminal and civil options regarding the violation.”

This is more bad press for Serenity Shores, which drew media attention when an intake counselor was arrested in October after he was identified as the driver in a hit-and-run that killed Shaun Eagleson.

Neil Storm Stephany, 23, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury, and unlawful possession of a controlled substance in November.

This is far from Stephany’s first brush with the law. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence.

“Further investigation revealed that Mr. Stephany has a prior conviction for Driving Under the Influence,” according to a police statement. “In California, a previous DUI conviction, and the subsequent required alcohol education, is considered an adequate indicator to suggest ‘implied malice’ in subsequent DUI arrests involving the death of another party.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr