Fugitive in 2002 murder case to be extradited


Pictured (L-R): Anthony Arteaga, original Arteaga wanted poster, Paul Casey.

A man who fled to Mexico after allegedly killing a Rancho Cucamonga man with a shotgun seven years ago is expected to be extradited to California in the coming weeks to face murder charges.

Anthony Arteaga, 23, is nearing the end of a jail term in Mexico, and is expected to arrive in California in early October to face charges for the slaying of 33-year-old Paul Casey, said Deputy District Attorney Reza Sadeghi.

Arteaga allegedly killed Casey with a shotgun blast to the chest on Sept. 7, 2002 in the course of a confrontation between Casey and a group of taggers that included Arteaga.

Following the incident, Arteaga fled the country. Federal authorities located Arteaga in 2007 in Mexican jail, where he was serving a four-year sentence for a gun possession charge under an assumed name.

“Our understanding is that (Arteaga’s release date) should be early October, so sometime in early October he should be released from Mexican custody and turned over to our custody,” Sadeghi said.

Casey’s family members are “very happy” that Arteaga will be returned to California to face charges, Sadeghi said.

“They’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” Sadeghi said.

The evening of Sept. 6, 2002, Casey, a friend and both men’s wives went to a Rancho Cucamonga bar to shoot pool and relax, Casey’s friend testified at a November 2002 preliminary hearing for one of Arteaga’s co-defendants.

When Casey and his friend walked home from the bar around midnight, they encountered a group of taggers who were standing near a bus stop at the intersection of Carnelian Avenue and Base Line Road.

The group of taggers, which included Arteaga, tried to block Casey’s path as the men passed, and a verbal exchange ensued, Casey’s friend testified.

One of Arteaga’s friends retreived a shotgun from his home nearby and fired at Casey and his friend from a distance, missing the men.

He then handed the gun off to Arteaga, who chased down Casey and shot him in the chest during a struggle, the friend testified.

Arteaga, who was 16 at the time of Casey’s killing, faces a life prison sentence if convicted of murder.

Three other members of the tagging group were convicted as part of Arteaga’s case, with two of the men receiving two-year prison sentences and another receiving an 11-year sentence.

Welty jailed after knife possession violates his probation


RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A former strip-club manager’s legal woes continued last month when he was jailed for violating his probation.

Ward Ryan Welty, 35, pleaded guilty in February to soliciting a minor for sex, possessing a controlled substance for sale, and possessing child pornography.

He was found in violation of his probation on Aug. 28 following a hearing at West Valley Superior Court. Authorities found a knife when they searched Welty’s home, said Deputy District Attorney Jason Anderson. His terms of probation prohibit him from possessing a knife.

Welty, who had been serving a 270-day jail sentence through house arrest, was ordered by Judge Arthur Harrison at the conclusion of the hearing to serve his sentence in jail as “straight time.”

Authorities in Colorado are attempting to extradite Welty on multiple sex charges there. An undercover police sting that resulted in Welty’s arrest originated in Colorado.

Welty’s father owns Manta Management, which operates Tropical Lei, the Flesh Club in San Bernardino and the Hawaii Theatre in the City of Industry.

Sunday school teacher jailed following sentencing for sex with minor


RANCHO CUCAMONGA — An Ontario Sunday school teacher was taken into custody this morning at West Valley Superior Court after he was sentenced to one year in jail for molesting an underage female student, a prosecutor said.

John Calvin Savage, 45, pleaded no contest in July to committing a lewd act on the 12-year-old girl. The plea bargain he reached with prosecutors spared him a potential three-year state prison term.

Savage, who was free on bail, will be serving his jail term as “straight time” rather than on weekends, said Deputy District Attorney Jason Anderson. Savage, a married father of six, will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life as a result of his conviction.

The girl told police that Savage touched her inappropriately in 2003, when she was a Sunday school student at Grace Baptist Church in Corona.

Savage was also suspected of molesting a 16-year-old Chinese girl who lived at his home as part of a foreign-exchange program. Prosecutors agreed to halt the investigation into the allegations as part of Savage’s plea bargain.

Five men plead not guilty in shooting of clergyman


Five defendants (L-R): Pomona residents Timothy Jacquemain, 18, Jacob Bushow, 19, and Andrew Swindle, 23, Chino resident Anthony Coleman, 21, Perris resident Willis Bagley, 38.

RIVERSIDE — Five men pleaded not guilty this morning to attempted murder and other charges for a string of robberies that included the shooting of a Home Gardens clergyman.

The defendants include Pomona residents Timothy Jacquemain, 18, Jacob Bushow, 19, and Andrew Swindle, 23, as well as Anthony Coleman, 21, of Chino, and Willis Bagley, 38, of Perris.

The men are accused of robbing five restaurants at gunpoint on Sept. 15, and also shooting and wounding Antonio Garduno, pastor of Our Lady of Tepeyac, during a robbery of the church.

All men remain jailed in lieu of at least $1 million bail, and are next due in Riverside Superior Court Oct. 9 for a felony settlement conference.

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Police locate Ontario man charged with trying to kill his wife


An Ontario man who fled his home after allegedly trying to kill his wife has been arrested.

A tip to the Santa Ana Police Department led authorities to a home in the city where Juan Marrufo Cisneros, 32, was staying with a friend, said Ontario police Detective Jeff Higbee. Cisneros was arrested there without incident on Sept. 4, Higbee said.

Cisneros has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and three other felonies for his alleged attack on his wife. He remains jailed in lieu of $400,000 bail.

Cisneros’ wife told police that she and her husband argued over her disciplining one of their children on Aug. 25. He allegedly attacked her, first pushing her, then punching her, choking her, slamming her head into the ground, and attempting to slice her with broken glass.

Cisneros’ wife told police after the attack that she believed her husband fled to Mexico.

Man pleads not guilty to sexual assault of Norco girl, 12


A Westminster man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he repeatedly sexually assaulted a 12-year-old Norco girl at gunpoint over a six-month period and forced the girl to sell marijuana.

Julio Cortes, 25, pleaded not guilty Sept. 17 in Riverside Superior Court to two felony counts: aggravated sexual assault of a child, and aggravated sexual assault of a minor with force.

Cortes, who remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail, is set to next appear in court Oct. 19 for a felony settlement conference, according to online court records.

According to a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department news release, deputies learned of the alleged abuse Sept. 11.

During police surveillance the following day, Cortes called the girl and told her he was on the way to her home. Deputies arrested him in the area of the home.

Retired schools chief denies police impersonation charge


The former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District pleaded not guilty today to charges that he unlawfully tried to pull over a woman in Pomona using a school police badge.

Ruben Zacarias, 80, did not appear at his arraignment hearing in Pomona Superior Court. His attorney appeared at the hearing and entered the not-guilty plea.

Zacarias, of Alhambra, is accused of displaying a badge and ID card issued by the Los Angeles School police while driving on the 57 Freeway on Aug. 27, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

He allegedly told a woman on the freeway to pull over because he was a “cop.” Zacarias was issued a misdemeanor citation by the California Highway Patrol.

Zacarias worked as superintendent at LAUSD for about two years in the 1990s. He has been retired since he left the district nearly 10 years ago, said Stephen Meister, Zacarias’ attorney.

Meister declined to discuss the facts of the case. Zacarias is next due in court Nov. 10 for a pre-trial hearing, Meister said.

Woman denies murder charge in stabbing case


A Pomona woman accused of stabbing and killing a woman she reportedly viewed as a romantic rival pleaded not guilty to murder charges today in Pomona Superior Court.

Nicole Ann Stewart, 34, is accused of stabbing and killing Robin Ridgeway, 49, at the Hamilton Villa mental-health facility at 948 S. Hamilton Blvd. in Pomona.

Both women lived at the facility at the time of the July 23 incident.

According to police, Stewart killed Ridgeway because she believed Ridgeway was having a relationship with Stewart’s boyfriend. Police say there was no such relationship.

Stewart is next due in court Oct. 26 for a preliminary hearing. She remained jailed today in lieu of $1 million bail.

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Five men to be arraigned in attempted murder of pastor


Five defendants (L-R): Pomona residents Timothy Jacquemain, 18, Jacob Bushow, 19, and Andrew Swindle, 23, Chino resident Anthony Coleman, 21, Perris resident Willis Bagley, 38.

Five local men are scheduled to be arraigned in Riverside Superior Court Wednesday morning for attempted murder and other charges filed following a spree of robberies that included the shooting of a pastor.

The men are accused of holding up five local restaurants on Sept. 15, and also attempting to rob a church in the Home Gardens area of Riverside County.

Antonio Garduno, the pastor at the church, Our Lady of Tepeyac, was shot in the course of the robbery.

Garduno, 51, is identified as a bishop in an offshoot of the Roman Catholic church. He is expected to survive his injuries.

The alleged robbers include Pomona residents Timothy Jacquemain, 18, Jacob Bushow, 19, and Andrew Swindle, 23. Also charged in the case are Anthony Coleman, 21, of Chino, and Willis Bagley, 38, of Perris.

In addition to the attempted murder charge — which potentially carries a life prison sentence — each man also faces multiple counts of robbery.

The group is accused of robbing Denny’s restaurants in Rowland Heights, Pomona, Norco and Corona, and an International House of Pancakes in Industry.

One of the suspects was arrested during the Norco robbery, and the other four were arrested following a high-speed chase.

Bagley remained jailed Tuesday in lieu of $1.5 million bail at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, according to court records. The others remained jailed there in lieu of $1 million.

Here’s a map detailing the sequence of the alleged robberies and the crash site:

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Murder trial begins for Montclair man’s 2008 shooting death


RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A night of drinking and socializing following last year’s Super Bowl turned deadly for 19-year-old Lotu Palei, who was shot three times and killed in a Montclair alley.

The man charged with his murder, Ruben Castellanoz, faced a jury today during the first day of testimony in his murder trial in West Valley Superior Court.

A prosecutor called Castellanoz, 23, “one of the worst kinds of dangers to society” in her opening statement, and Castellanoz’s former girlfriend took the witness stand and identified the Montclair man as the shooter in the Feb. 4, 2008 incident.

According to his attorney, Castellanoz feared Palei because of Palei’s apparent gang affiliation, and believed Palei had a gun the night of the killing. Palei was unarmed, according to police and prosecutors.

Castellanoz’s attorney, Andrew Haynal, said in an interview that Castellanoz will likely testify in his own defense.

Castellanoz has no criminal history, which keeps many defendants from testifying because prosecutors can reveal a defendant’s criminal background to jurors if the defendant testifies.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Izadi told jurors in her opening statement that Castellanoz was motivated to shoot Palei not for reasons of self-defense, but rather viewed the killing as “a way to earn some stripes and some credibility on the streets.”

Castellanoz, his girlfriend and three other people were hanging out in an alley and drinking alcohol near Castellanoz’s apartment after they finished watching the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2008, said Castellanoz’s girlfriend, Cecilia Campos, in her testimony today.

It was after midnight when Palei walked up to the group near the intersection of Ramona Avenue and Bandera Street, shouted the name of an Ontario street gang, and told the group they were making too much noise, Campos testified.

He also kept one of his hands in his pockets. Campos said she believed he may have been holding a gun in his pocket.

What was initially a tense encounter became more friendly after some members of the group recognized Palei and socialized with him for the next half-hour, Campos testified.

During Palei’s visit, he received a phone call on his cell phone and a truck soon pulled up, Campos said. Palei walked over to the truck and completed what appeared to be a drug transaction, Campos said.

Campos said she didn’t witness any tension between Palei and Castellanoz, but she was absent from the group for three or four minutes while she used the bathroom at her boyfriend’s apartment.

When she returned, Castellanoz excused himself from the group. He said he had to go to his apartment to use the bathroom.

Campos said her boyfriend’s statement struck her as unusual because the men in the group had been urinating in the alley rather than using a toilet.

Shortly after Castellanoz returned to the group, Campos said she heard a gunshot and turned and saw her boyfriend pointing a revolver at Palei. Castellanoz fired two more shots at Palei, Campos said.

In the days following the killing, Campos said she asked her boyfriend why he shot Castellanoz.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what got into me,” Castellanoz responded, according to Campos.

In his cross-examination of Campos, Haynal questioned Campos’s motivation for testifying against her former boyfriend, who she said she dated for nearly three years.

Campos was jailed and charged as an accessory to the killing for initially lying to police about the incident, she testified.

She reached a plea bargain with prosecutors last year that will spare her additional jail time in exchange for truthful testimony.

Police arrested Castellanoz about five months after Palei, of Montclair, was killed.

Castellanoz bragged about the killing during a conversation with a friend who was acting as a police informant and secretly recording the conversation in July last year, Izadi told jurors.

In the recording, portions of which Izadi played in the courtroom during her opening statement, Castellanoz uses profane language and street slang when describing Palei’s killing.

“I wasn’t bluffing, fool,” he said. “I don’t, I don’t play that … dog.”

He called himself a “psycho” who has two different personalities, and told his friend he “trips … especially when I have my pistol.”

At the end of the recording played in court today, the friend questioned how Castellanoz can sleep at night.

“I sleep good,” Castellanoz responded.

Testimony in Castellanoz’s trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning in West Valley Superior Court.

Haynal declined to give an opening statement today, but will have an opportunity to address the jury at the start of the defense’s case.

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