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Undercover operation used to keep beaches safe

Jody Rice, Tribune News Service

Complaints by some north Lake Tahoe shore beachgoers prompted authorities to go undercover to find perpetrators and keep the beaches safe.

On July 20, a woman who was sunbathing on a rock at Zephyr Cove Beach reported an unidentified man masturbated in front of her. There was a similar report earlier this year.

As a result of complaints, law enforcement from Carson City and Washoe County sheriff’s departments worked together during the weekend on north shore beaches including Chimney Beach, Paradise Cove, Boater’s Beach, Secret Harbor and Whale Beach. Similar undercover operations, have been conducted in past years, Casey said.

Friday and Saturday officials were undercover. On Sunday, the officers were in uniform and on mounted posse. About 170 hours were put in by the sheriff’s authorities during the weekend.

“Even if we had only one complaint we’d be concerned,” said Intelligence Officer T.M. Casey, with the Carson City Sheriff’s Department.

On July 27, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department arrested a California man, Joseph Alfred Lococo, 42, for investigation of indecent exposure at Paradise Cove.

On Friday, a Carson City man was arrested for investigation of indecent or obscene exposure. Edward Alfonso Zinda Jr., 24, allegedly masturbated in front of an undercover officer near the rocky area north of Boater’s Beach.

The sting operation netted two other citations; George Alexander Kosonocky, 37, of Placerville, Calif., was arrested in the same area for alleged possession of drug paraphernalia. A yellow smoking pipe was allegedly found in his fanny pack.

Also, a 19-year-old Gardnerville resident, Karl Eric Amdal, was cited for minor in possession of alcohol.

Casey said the weekend was a success because it allowed authorities to make their presence known and talk to people about their safety.

“Ninety-five percent of the people said they had no problem at all,” Casey said. “It was real positive.”

Beachgoers talked to by the Nevada Appeal Monday agreed.

North Swanson, the coordinator for Tahoe Area Naturists, said he is putting the composite picture drawn by the woman who reported a man masturbating in front of her July 20 in the newsletter. He said he hasn’t heard of any similar incidents.

During past summers, he remembers the usual problems of car break ins, thefts, littering and occasional vandalism, he said.

Swanson said the presence of the law is welcome because it probably cuts down on some of the gawkers who come to the clothing- optional beaches.

“I have no objection to their presence,” he said. “It is probably beneficial.”

Cory Meyer and Amy Sprague, both of Reno, said they come to Lake Tahoe about every other weekend. They’ve never had a problem.

“You see nude people but they’re not doing anything,” Sprague said.

Meagan Cavanaugh, of Auburn, Calif., said she loves to visit Lake Tahoe. On Monday, she was sitting on the rocks with Patrick O’Neill, of San Francisco, enjoying the lake’s view.

She said she “always” feels safe and has never had a problem at Lake Tahoe beaches.

Jenni Dewald, of Truckee, said it was her first time to North Shore beaches but has never heard there were any safety concerns. She was there with her two young children.

“It always seems as though there are enough people around,” she said.

Dick and Norma Dennes, of San Francisco, have been coming to the lake for 70 years. One year, there was young lady who had apparently been propositioned by someone. When a group of people ran down the trail to find the perpetrator, no one could be found and she had also disappeared, he said.

The biggest problem they’ve had is the broken glass and littering, he said.

“We haven’t been hassled,” he said.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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