A man accused of badly beating an elderly member of his Dana Point homeowners association board had been wrangling with the group for years, neighbors said Monday.
But residents and board members were still in shock at the allegation that Charles Mineo attacked 78-year-old Lucy Deabreu on Saturday afternoon. Authorities said Mineo entered Deabreu's condo through an unlocked door, punched her in the face, pounded her head against the floor and a bedpost several times, and tried to strangle her.
Mineo, a 47-year-old accountant who used his condo as a weekend getaway, was arrested a few hours after the attack at his principal residence in Riverside.
Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino said Deabreu was released from the hospital Monday. She suffered a concussion, abrasions to her head and face, and had lost teeth.
Vera Oblatt, who lives two doors from Mineo in the neatly groomed 15-unit complex on Amber Lantern, said she is having a difficult time believing her neighbor could commit such a crime. Oblatt visited Mineo in jail Sunday night and said that he asked her, "Do you still like me?"
"He's a good fellow," she said. "He really is. I don't know what happened."
But current and former association board members said they have a pretty clear picture of what led Mineo to the breaking point. They say Mineo had continually bickered with the loosely organized association since he moved in about three years ago.
He upset neighbors initially when he built a small addition without a city permit. And Mineo blamed the homeowners association when a landscaping project in the common area last year led, he thought, to recent flood damage to his residence.
Oblatt said Mineo had complained to her about the association, and that he didn't take the group seriously because its board met so infrequently for lack of business to discuss.
One board member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his dealings with Mineo were tense. The board member said Mineo began phone conversations calmly, but then became furious and abruptly hung up.
The board met last week to discuss Mineo's flooding complaint, deciding that it needed the plans for his room addition before it could determine the source of his drainage problem.
When Mineo was informed of the board's decision, neighbors and police believe he took out his frustration on the most convenient target -- a 5-foot, 78-year-old who was a member of the board.
Mineo is scheduled to be arraigned today in Laguna Niguel on felony charges of attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse, according to the district attorney's office. He is being held without bail at Orange County Jail.
Times staff writers David Reyes and Kimi Yoshino contributed to this report.