its aftermath, including what many called a modern miracle.
And as if that wasn't enough, the county went bankrupt.
Here are the Daily Pilot's picks for the top 10 stories of the decade.
1. EMBEZZLEMENTS. Financially, 1992 started off bad and ended even worse
in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.
In January, Bob Dixon was arrested in front of City Hall for stealing
$1.8 million from the city. Then in October, Stephen Wagner was arrested
for embezzling nearly $4 million from the Newport-Mesa Unified School
The twin embezzlements have had long-lasting effects. New leadership
was brought in at both City Hall and the school district in the wake of
the embezzlements, which led to major restructuring of those institutions
and, especially in the case of the Board of Education, major community
involvement in policy decisions.
The district is still recovering from Wagner's theft, as much in terms
of public trust as dollars and cents. When investigators searched
Wagner's Dover Shores home, they found paintings, mink-lined tuxedos,
jewels, china and a gold-plated piano.
In March 1994, Wagner was sentenced to five years in prison for what
was believe, at the time, to be the largest embezzlement from a public
agency in state history. He died while in jail from complications from
AIDS after spending about a year and a half in a medical ward. On news of
his death, many who worked with Wagner still could not bring themselves
to forgive him.
Dixon's former friends and colleagues, too, were stunned when he was
arrested. Many thought they had known him so well, and yet learned they
did not know him at all.
It turned out the 17-year employee had spent about 11 of those years forging more than 400 checks.
Like Wagner's, Dixon's home was filled with the fruits of his
ill-begotten money: a drawer full of silk ties, more than 1,000 compact
discs and some 20 umbrellas.
Dixon got four years for his crime and spent 18 months in prison
before being released to a halfway house. Strangely enough, Dixon left