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Vargas served 90-day felony sentence for setting up beating three years ago

September 13, 2002|LANCE PUGMIRE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tanya Bryant wants no part of "Bad Blood." She has seen enough of it.

In the early-morning hours of July 25, 1999, the bedroom of Bryant's Summerland duplex was the scene of a violent attack that left her boyfriend, Doug Rossi, hospitalized with head injuries, body bruises and a shattered finger.

Fernando Vargas pleaded no contest last year for his role in organizing the beating, accepting a felony charge of conspiracy to commit assault. Vargas received a 90-day jail sentence that he served while wearing an electronic ankle monitor. He also was forced to provide 100 hours of community service, spend three years on probation and provide restitution to Rossi, a sum placed at $200,000 by one source.

As part of the settlement with Vargas, Rossi, 26, is barred from recounting the assault.

Bryant, 28, has no such restrictions.

"Every person we talked to, from the paramedics at the scene, to the policemen, to the doctors and the nurses, said Doug was lucky to be alive and lucky that he wasn't paralyzed after the severity of that beating," Bryant said. "The way he was beat, the type of weapons used and the amount of people involved indicate to me that, yeah, they wanted to kill him.

"There was blood all over my room, from the door to the back wall, to all over the carpet. Doug was red from head to toe. He had hunks of skin torn off his head because the guys were essentially teeing off with golf irons on his head. He had huge welts on his body from being hit with the club shafts."

Four of Vargas' acquaintances-- Carlos Lopez, Freddie Flores, Vincent Arenas and Vargas' cousin, Ernesto Vargas--pleaded no contest to assault charges and received 30-day jail sentences. Hilary Dozer, the Santa Barbara County deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, said the evidence of blood splattered on Fernando Vargas' shoes placed him no closer than four feet from the beating.

"It was an assault instigated by Fernando Vargas," Dozer said. "The other defendants wouldn't have been involved if not for Fernando Vargas calling them on his cell phone and encouraging them to drive from Oxnard to Summerland to rush the house with weapons. These guys were hanging out, doing nothing, until their man called. Then they did what they do. The only explanation we have for this assault happening is that Fernando Vargas happened to be a very upset man."

Bryant said she had never before seen the angry side of Vargas, nicknamed "Ferocious."

As a dancer with her roommate, Adria Reyes, at the Santa Barbara Spearmint Rhino, Bryant said Vargas was friendly during the one occasion he visited the adult club while she was working. She had been told of a confrontation between Vargas and a bodyguard at the club, Anthony Arria, in the parking lot.

Neither Arria nor Reyes was available for comment.

"Anthony liked Adria," Bryant said. "He had a habit of showing up at our house after work, and Adria had never burned the bridge with him. It was a strange relationship. I think Anthony and Fernando got into it that night in the parking lot because Anthony was jealous about seeing Fernando talk to Adria."

Rossi had also worked as a bouncer at the Spearmint Rhino, but Bryant said he had the night off when Arria and Vargas engaged in their parking lot exchange.

"The first time Fernando ever saw Doug's face in the light was in the courtroom," Bryant said.

On July 24, 1999, Bryant said she and Reyes attended Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzfest concert in Devore, arriving home about 2 a.m. Reyes had invited Vargas over. A friend dropped him off at the house.

Bryant said Vargas was enjoying himself.

"Before Doug came over that night, Fernando put on a pair of Adria's leopard-spotted boxers and came into my room to model them, acting goofy," Bryant said. "If what happened later had never happened, I would've said Fernando was a great guy."

At 4 a.m., Dozer said, Rossi had joined Bryant in her room and Vargas was with Reyes in hers. Arria, who would later report that he was paged by Reyes, arrived at the home, knocked on the front door, and was let in by Rossi. Dozer said Arria knocked on Reyes' bedroom door and Reyes told him to go away. He then walked into Reyes' bedroom.

Dozer said a half-clothed Vargas punched Arria upon his entry into the room, precipitating a fight. Arria outweighed Vargas by 80 pounds and was fully clothed.

Pat English, an attorney for Vargas' promoter, Main Events, who served as a consultant on the case, said Arria "attacked" Vargas in the room. English and Bryant expressed doubts about Arria's story of being paged by Reyes.

Rossi broke up a fight that lasted no more than five minutes, and Arria left. Rossi told Bryant he wanted to leave too, but she asked him to stay.

"Then," Dozer said, "the pages start going to Oxnard. We were able to build a phone tree out of it, with Vargas calling guys, and those guys calling guys."

English argued that Vargas tried to leave the home too.

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