58-Year-Old Man Convicted of Road Rage in Placentia

SANTA ANA (CNS) – A 58-year-old man was convicted Thursday of a road rage collision in Placentia that left a motorcyclist hospitalized in critical condition and a pedestrian with a broken leg.

Michael Eugene Begin was convicted of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of failing to stop at a hit-and-run accident with injury, all felonies. Jurors also found true sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury on the victims.

Begin is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9.

The collision occurred just after 6 p.m. Nov. 19, 2018, at Orangethorpe Avenue and Hundley Way.

The victim, Richard Lee, and a friend were riding home from work when Begin, who was driving a Chevrolet Silverado pickup, veered into Lee’s lane and came within inches of hitting him, according to a trial brief from prosecutors.

When they all were stopped at the same red light, Lee confronted Begin, prosecutors said. Lee noticed Begin was using his phone so Lee reached in, grabbed the cellphone and slapped it on top of the defendant’s truck before riding away, prosecutors said.

A witness who called 911 following the crash said he saw the defendant cut across traffic and chase after the motorcyclists until he clipped Lee, who lost control and was knocked off while the motorcycle kept going and slammed into Francisco Chacon, who broke a leg, prosecutors said.

Lee sustained a fractured scapula and vertebrae as well as lacerations to the lung and spine and multiple broken ribs, prosecutors said. Lee’s friend chased after Begin’s pickup truck and got its license plate number.

Police tracked down Begin the next day, prosecutors said. Begin told police Lee took his phone and assaulted him.

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