Defendant in gang beating death sentenced to 11 years in prison

A man charged with murder for his alleged connection to a 2006 beating death has been sentenced to 11 years in state prison after accepting a plea offer from prosecutors.

Sherwin Adrian Mora, 23, was arrested and charged with murder in 2007 for the killing of 22-year-old Armando Leon Hernandez.

According to the prosecutors, a 17-year-old girl befriended Hernandez on MySpace.com and lured him to her Rancho Cucamonga home, where Hernandez was beaten to death by Mora and Ivan Pierce, 23, both alleged gang members.

Hernandez and the two alleged murderers were gang rivals, prosecutors believe.

Hernandez suffered a crushed throat in the beating. His body was found on Sept. 23, 2006 by a security guard in Memorial Park in Upland.

Mora was sentenced to prison after agreeing to plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter on Feb. 20 in West Valley Superior Court.

Pierce has rejected an identical offer for 11 years in prison, said Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus.

At the conclusion of a trial in 2007, a jury deadlocked seven to five in favor of acquittal for Pierce. Prosecutors refiled charges against him.

Prosecutors intially charged the 17-year-old girl with murder, but later granted her immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony against Mora and Piere.

Staff Writer Rod Leveque contributed to this report.

Man takes plea bargain in case of 2007 Upland Colonies shooting death

One of two brothers charged with murder for a 2007 fatal shooting in the Upland Colonies community has accepted a plea offer from prosecutors that includes a 12-year prison sentence.

James Carroll, 27, and William Carroll, 29, were accused of shooting and killing Ryan Carson Beck, 33, on Nov. 21, 2007 after Beck came to the Carrolls’ home to allegedly confront him over a drug debt.

James Carroll pleaded guilty Feb. 20 in West Valley Superior Court to four felony counts: voluntary manslaughter, attempted murder, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

William Carroll entered into a plea bargain with prosecutors in July that carried a three-year prison sentence.

If James Carroll had been convicted on prosecutors’ filed charges — one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder — he could have faced a life sentence.

When Beck and three other men visited the Carrolls’ home in the 1700 block of North Isabella Avenue the day of the incident, the brothers were armed with guns, anticipating a confrontation.

Beck arrived with a large knife intending to attack or intimidate James Carroll, one of Carroll’s roommates testified at a preliminary hearing.

In the ensuing confrontation, William Carroll suffered a large gash to his cheek, Beck was shot and killed, and two of Beck’s associates were wounded by bullets from the Carroll brothers.

Of the two brothers, James Carroll was the primary aggressor, prosecutors said. William Carroll tried to quell the violence before shooting ensued, prosecutors said.

James Carroll is set to be sentenced on May 15.

Staff Writer Rod Leveque contributed to this report.

The original version of this story incorrectly stated that the shooting happened in 2006.


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Alleged accomplice in Chino Hills bank robbery takes plea deal

One of four men accused of robbing a bank in Chino Hills in 2007 will be sentenced to 13 years in state prison after accepting a plea offer from prosecutors.

Terry Lee McAdams, 22, the alleged getaway driver in the July 3, 2007 robbery of Citibank at 14808 Pipeline Ave., agreed to plead guilty to two counts of robbery last week in West Valley Superior Court.

McAdams and the other three men, all of Compton, stole $120,000 from the bank then led police on a high-speed chase that ended when their car crashed on the 57 Freeway in Brea.

McAdams could have faced more than 20 years in prison if convicted by a jury of the eight felony counts filed by prosecutors.

The other three alleged robbers — Tiawan Merriweather, Tylin Merriweather, and Sepheren Scorza — are set to stand trial next week, said Deputy District Attorney Tom Colclough.

The four men accepted plea bargains in October 2007, but later changed their minds about the deals and were allowed by a judge to withdraw their pleas. At that time, McAdams agreed to 13 years in prison.


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Reputed identity thief gets 10-year prison sentence

A reputed identity thief has been sentenced to 10 years in state prison after pleading guilty to purchasing items from local department stores with fraudulent bank cards.

Cristina Elizabeth Gonzalez, 30, of Fontana, pleaded guilty to four felony counts Friday in West Valley Superior Court after entering into a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Gonzalez was accused of obtaining bank cards using the stolen identities of two people, then using the cards to purchase about $1,000 in goods from Macy’s and Sears stores in Rancho Cucamonga and Corona.

Gonzalez and an alleged accomplice were arrested May 28 at a Macy’s store in Rancho Cucamonga as Gonzalez was in the process of purchasing merchandise using the fraudulent cards, according to police reports attached to her case file.

Gonzalez’s alleged accomplice, 43-year-old Arthur Lance Perez of Riverside, was sentenced to 16 months in state prison in September after pleading guilty to a felony count of receiving stolen property.

Alleged cat abuser faces new allegations

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With new allegations filed against him, a man charged with torturing and killing cats now potentially faces a longer prison sentence if convicted of animal cruelty.

Prosecutors last week amended the charges against Timothy Kooyman, adding allegations that Kooyman used scissors as a deadly weapon in the course of abusing cats in May in Rancho Cucamonga.

The four felony charges originally filed against Kooyman included a potential prison sentence of five years. With the new allegations, Kooyman, 25, faces up to seven years in prison.

Prosecutors accuse of Kooyman of luring stray cats, then breaking their legs and cutting off their tails with scissors.

Kooyman is also accused of dousing a cat in gasoline and setting it on fire, causing a small brushfire in a dry field in Rancho Cucumonga.

When Kooyman was arrested May 13, a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy found two abused, bloodied cats in Kooyman’s truck. The cats were later euthanized.

Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus said that when she originally filed the case, she was not aware that she could add deadly-weapons allegations in a case where an animal was the alleged victim.

Ploghaus said she added the allegations against Kooyman after finding a case that established a precedent allowing the allegations in cases involving animals.

Kooyman, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the original felony counts, is due in West Valley Superior Court on Thursday to be arraigned on the new allegations.

Upland student teacher jailed for soliciting student for sex

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A student teacher at an Upland middle school accused of soliciting a 14-year-old girl for sex was sentenced to 270 days in jail Wednesday after pleading no contest to attempted sexual battery.

Daniel Harold Sundstrom, 47, often stared at the girl in class, offered her a ride home, and befriended her on MySpace before telling her he wanted to have sex with her, according to a statement from the girl read aloud by a prosecutor in court Wednesday.

Sundstrom, of Upland, served as a teacher’s assistant in an 8th-grade math class at Pioneer Junior High School for the last quarter of the 2007-2008 school year.

After Sundstrom contacted the girl on MySpace.com — a popular social-networking Web site — she told her mother and the mother contacted Upland police.

Police, posing as the girl, exchanged messages with Sundstrom online and arranged a meeting between Sundstrom and the girl at Memorial Park in Upland.

Sundstrom was arrested on June 19, 2008 when he arrived at the park for the meeting.

Prosecutors charged Sundstrom with two felonies and a misdemeanor for his contact with the teen. He agreed to plead no contest to one felony last month as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s sentencing hearing in West Valley Superior Court, Sundstrom — who had been free on bail — was taken into custody to serve his jail term.

After his release from West Valley Detention Center, Sundstrom will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, said Deputy District Attorney Jason Anderson.


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In a statement read aloud by Anderson on Wednesday, the girl said Sundstrom stared at her in class and seemed to “pop up” around campus to say hello to her.

One time when the girl was at a restaurant, Sundstrom pulled up in a car and offered her a ride home. She declined the offer, she said in the statement.

Sundstrom “tricked” the girl into adding him as a friend on MySpace by posing as one of her friends from school, the girl said.

Once the two became MySpace friends, Sundstrom — a married father — wrote to the girl frequently and told her he wanted to have sex with her.

“He is a sick person,” the girl said in her statement. “He needs a lot of help.”

The girl said she still has nightmares about Sundstrom.

“Besides your immediate family and closest friends, you can’t trust anyone,” she said in her statement.

Ontario teen takes plea deal in sex assault case

A 16-year-old Ontario boy accused of forcing himself into an Ontario home and sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl he held at knifepoint accepted a plea bargain Tuesday as jury selection was set to continue in his trial.

Kyle Alexander Osborn will be sentenced to a prison term of 26 years, four months in
April after pleading no contest Tuesday to seven felony charges related to the March incident.

His attorney, John Major, said Osborn decided to plead guilty to avoid a potential life prison term if convicted by a jury at trial.

“I think the evidence was very strong for the prosecution,” Major said after the hearing.

Prospective jurors were waiting in the hallway outside the courtroom in West Valley Superior Court as Osborn decided to change his plea. The jurors were dismissed afterward.

The 10-year-old girl Osborn allegedly assaulted testified at a preliminary hearing that on March 10, 2008 Osborn entered her family’s home in the 1100 block of West Princeton Street.

He was holding a large knife and he demanded money, the girl said.

She testified that she told Osborn she had $7 in her bedroom. He led her there, forced her to undress and “just started touching me,” the girl testified.

The girl’s family members left the home and screamed for help, and Osborn stopped his attack and ran from the scene after he was confronted by a neighbor.

Osborn was later arrested by Ontario police at a nearby condominium complex. He confessed to police that he committed the assault, according to police testimony at the preliminary hearing.

Osborn will be eligible for parole in about 21 years, Major said.

Staff Writer Rod Leveque contributed to to this report


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Former strip club manager pleads guilty in underage sex solicitation case

The former manager of local strip clubs has pleaded guilty to felony charges of contacting a minor for a lewd act, possession of steroids for sale, and possession of child pornography.

But an attorney for Ward “Ryan” Welty — formerly associated with Tropical Lei in Upland and the Flesh Club in San Bernardino — maintains Welty is innocent of the charges despite his Friday guilty pleas in West Valley Superior Court.

“He’s not guilty of the charges in California,” said Roger Diamond, Welty’s attorney.

When asked why Welty pleaded guilty, Diamond responded: “That requires a legal analysis and strategic explanation that I’m not going to give to you.”

Reached by phone Tuesday and asked about his reasons for pleading guilty, Welty said, “None of your business. Good day.” He then disconnected the call.

Welty, a 36-year-old Rancho Cucamonga resident, was arrested in Colorado in June after traveling there to allegedly meet a woman who was interested in involving her 9-year-old daughter in sex.

The woman Welty communicated with online and through phone conversations was an undercover police detective from rural Caon City, Colo., located about 100 miles south of Denver.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies served search warrants on Welty’s Rancho Cucamonga apartment, Tropical Lei and other locations after learning of his arrest in Colorado.

In Welty’s apartment, deputies found more than $60,000 in steroids they allege he was selling.

They also found three child-pornography images when they searched three seized computers.

It appears Welty’s plea may be part of a legal strategy to avoid prosecution in Colorado, where he is charged with five felonies and potentially faces a life prison sentence.

Welty is due back in court March 6 in Caon City, where Diamond said he will move to dismiss the Colorado case “on the grounds that (Welty) has been convicted in California for the same crime that he is accused of committing in Colorado.”

The prosecutor in Welty’s Colorado case did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

Welty is scheduled to be sentenced for his recent convictions in San Bernardino County on March 20. He faces a prison term of up to five years and four months.

Welty’s father, Waldon Randall Welty, is the owner of Manta Management, the parent company of the Flesh Club, Tropical Lei, and the Hawaii Theatre in the City of Industry.

The Flesh Club was closed by court order in 2007 after more than a decade of battling attorneys for the city of San Bernardino, who claimed the club was a house of prostitution.

In news reports of the club’s battles with the city, Ryan Welty was identified alternately as the owner or the manager of the club.

On Tuesday, Diamond said Welty had no role in Manta Management and said prior descriptions of Welty’s role in the company were inaccurate.

Diamond declined to say what role if any Welty has had in the company.

Jury acquits Iraq veteran in manslaughter case

A jury has reached a not-guilty verdict in the manslaughter trial of an Iraq war veteran whose handgun discharged in his friend’s mouth following a night of drinking in 2006.

A West Valley Superior Court jury found Christopher Sullivan, 27, not guilty of one count of voluntary manslaughter Friday afternoon after about a day of deliberating, said Deputy District Attorney Tom Colclough.

Sullivan and a group of friends went out drinking on April 8, 2006 to celebrate Sullivan and another man’s return home from Iraq. Sullivan, a Marine, had returned home less than a week earlier.

The morning of April 9, Sullivan was dropped off at his home on Winston Court in Upland by his friend, Cesar Valdez, and Valdez’s girlfriend.

As Valdez and Sullivan said goodbye in front of Sullivan’s home, Sullivan’s pistol discharged in Valdez’s mouth. Valdez, a 24-year-Chino man and one of Sullivan’s closest friends, died shortly after suffering the wound.

Prosecutors argued that Sullivan pulled the trigger. They did not offer a motive for the shooting, or say whether they believed Sullivan intentionally pulled the trigger.

Sullivan’s defense attorney, David Goldstein, said Valdez yanked on Sullivan’s pistol and pulled it into his own mouth, accidentally causing the gun to discharge.

Colclough said that after the verdict was read Friday, Valdez’s family members present at the hearing were visibly upset.

“They were less than pleased, as to be expected,” Colclough said. “This has been a very hard case for both families involved.”

Goldstein did not immediately return a call seeking comment this morning. Sullivan, Valdez’s family members, and other people involved in Sullivan’s case could not be immediately reached for comment this morning.

Colclough said that with Friday’s acquittal, the county’s prosecution of Sullivan, a former Marine and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, comes to an end.

Colclough said he did not know whether the military will prosecute Sullivan, or whether Valdez’s family will pursue a civil case against Sullivan.

It also remained unclear this morning what effect Friday’s acquittal will have on Sullivan’s law enforcement career.

Sullivan graduated from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s academy before he was activated as a reserve Marine and deployed to Iraq.

He hadn’t served a single day as a deputy before Valdez was killed, and did not work for the sheriff’s department after the incident.

Ontario woman pleads guilty to luring 13-year-old boy for sex

An Ontario woman accused of luring a 13-year-old boy and pressuring him to perform oral sex on her has accepted a plea offer from prosecutors that includes a one-year jail sentence.

Margarita Oropeza, 30, agreed to plead no contest to a felony sexual battery charge Tuesday in West Valley Superior Court.

According to prosecutors, in October Oropeza invited over a 13-year-old autistic boy who lived next door in the 1300 block of South Sultana Avenue.

The woman convinced the boy to rub her feet, then invited him to return the next day.

When he returned, Oropeza convinced the boy to perform oral sex on her, according to prosecutors.

The boy told his mother about the incident the day it allegedly occurred, and Oropeza was arrested the following week.

Oropeza was initially charged with committing a lewd or lascivious act with a child under 14 years old, a charge that carries a potential prison sentence of three, six or eight years.

In addition to her jail sentence, Oropeza will be on probation for three years and be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life, according to the plea form in her court file.

Click here for past stories on Oropeza’s case.


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