Claremont High School football standout pleads no contest in statutory rape case

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POMONA — A Claremont High School football standout pleaded no contest today to criminal charges alleging he had sex with two underage girls.

Tyler Singleton, 18, entered the pleas in Pomona Superior Court as part of plea bargain that carries a jail sentence of six months to a year.

Commissioner Wade D. Olson told Singleton he will determine the length of the jail term after he hears statements from people involved in the case at Singleton’s May 5 sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors charged Singleton, of Pomona, with a felony and a misdemeanor March 10 for allegedly having sex in January with a two underage girls, one 14 and one 15.

One of the girls who came forward in the case told police Singleton forced her to have sex in a bathroom at Cahuilla Park in Claremont.

Singleton admitted in interviews with police that he had sex with the girl, but he said the sex was consensual, said Claremont police Lt. Shelly Vander Veen.

Prosecutors did not charge Singleton with forceful rape — just statutory rape, which a spokeswoman for the Los County District Attorney’s Office called “the appropriate charges” based on the evidence prosecutors received.

Singleton, a senior, has been the high school’s starting running back since his sophomore year, and was the team’s leading rusher each of those three seasons. He was named to the All-Baseline League the past two seasons.

Besides serving a jail sentence, Singleton will be on probation for five years as a result of his conviction.

He will be prohibited from contacting the girls who accused him of rape, and he will face mandatory testing for HIV and AIDS, Olson and a prosecutor said.

If Singleton violates the terms of his probation or fails to arrive on time for sentencing, his plea bargain could be voided, potentially exposing him to a prison term of up to three and a half years.

“Do not be late,” Olson told Singleton. “Do not get in trouble. … If you mess up, don’t get back here, all bets are off.”

Singleton declined to comment after the hearing.

Before Singleton pleaded no contest, he and five supporters formed a circle, held hands and prayed in the hallway outside the courtroom.

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Man gets 32 years to life in Sycamore Inn attack

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Photo from the Sycamore Inn Web site.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A former assistant manager at the Sycamore Inn steakhouse was sentenced to 32 years to life in prison today for stabbing his former boss in the neck in an alleged robbery attempt.

A jury deliberated for only about two hours last month before finding Travis Lee Mascarenas guilty of attempted murder and three other felonies for the Aug. 7, 2007 incident.

In a statement prior to sentencing, Mascarenas apologized and said he regretted his actions. He said the incident has “degraded” him and his family.

“I know that I have lost my place in this world,” Mascarenas said.

Mascarenas, who turned 41 today, will be first be eligible for parole when he is 68 or 69 years old, said Deputy District Attorney Kyung Kim.

Prosecutors accused Mascarenas of sneaking into the landmark Rancho Cucamonga restaurant though a back door as the business was closing for the night, with plans to break into the business’ safe.

But the alleged robbery was interrupted by manager Louis Alvarez, who supervised Mascarenas when he worked at the restaurant.

Once he realized he had been recognized by Alvarez, Mascarenas stabbed him in the neck, nearly killing him, prosecutors said.

During his trial, Mascarenas’ attorney told jurors that Mascarenas was drunk during the incident, and was too intoxicated to form an intent to kill Alvarez.

In a statement in court today, Alvarez said he still suffers nerve damage sustained in the attack, and suffers psychologically as well.

“(Mascarenas) is a danger to anyone who gets in his way,” Alvarez said. “We are lucky he hasn’t killed yet.”

Alvarez said after the hearing that he was happy with Mascarenas’ sentence. He called the defendant’s statement in court, in which he apologized to Alvarez, “manipulative.”

“I think he had a long time to think about what he had to say,” Alvarez said. “I think parts of it were sincere, parts of it were not.”

Prior to sentencing, Judge Michael A. Sachs denied a motion from Mascarenas asking the judge not to factor a prior strike conviction into his sentence.

Mascarenas was convicted of armed robbery in New Mexico when he was 19.

“You are going to be punished, and you are going to be punished severely. … We can’t as members of civilized society do what you did,” Sachs said.

The judge said he received at least 28 letters in support of Mascarenas from his family members and other people, including New Mexico state Rep. Luciano Varela and several police officers from the state.

“One of the things I note from these letters is that your family is very well respected in New Mexico,” Sachs said.

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Man pleads no contest in Fontana High School hammer attack

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Photo: Jose Angel Quintero is led into Fontana Superior Court on Dec. 21, 2007.

FONTANA — A man accused of hitting a Fontana High School classmate in the head with a hammer three years ago pleaded no contest this week to attempted murder.

Jose Angel Quintero, 19, was accused of sneaking into the school’s woodshop class on Dec. 11, 2007 and hitting a classmate with a hammer in the back of the head.

Quintero and the victim, both then 17, had reportedly been arguing over a girl before the incident.

Quintero entered the plea Thursday in Fontana Superior Court as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.

The deal carries a prison sentence of seven years to life, but it must be approved by a judge before Quintero’s agreed-upon sentence is imposed. Sentencing is scheduled for April 26.

The morning of the attack, Quintero asked the woodshop teacher what the penalties were for murder, authorities said.

After the victim was hit with the hammer, he fell and hit his head on a table, and his skull was injured in two places, authorities said.

Quintero walked home from school after the incident, but one of his parents brought him back and he confessed to the hammer attack, authorities said.

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Boy, 17, denies murder charges in Pomona shooting

POMONA — A 17-year-old boy pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he shot and killed a man in December to benefit a street gang.

Ramiro Hernandez is charged with murder in connection with the death of Edgar Silva, 21, who was shot and killed Dec. 19 at Garey Avenue and Philadelphia Street in Pomona.

Police found Silva, of Pomona, slumped over in his car Dec. 19 at about 9:30 p.m. after receiving reports that shots were fired in the area. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hernandez was arrested five days after the shooting, said Shiara Davila-Morales, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Besides murder, prosecutors have charged Hernandez with a felony for allegedly carrying a loaded firearm on Dec. 22.

Hernandez pleaded not guilty to criminal charges Thursday in Pomona Superior Court, Davila-Morales said.

Hernandez is next scheduled to appear in court April 27 for a preliminary hearing, where prosecutors present evidence for a case to proceed to trial.

He remained jailed Thursday in lieu of $2 million bail.

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Chino man gets 3 years for child molestation

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CHINO — A man convicted of child molestation was taken into custody this week after being sentenced to three years in prison.

Jeffrey Allan Bitetti, 40, pleaded guilty in December to a felony for committing lewd or lascivious acts with a child, as well as a felony narcotics charge.

The Chino resident remained free on bail following his arrest in December 2006, but was taken into custody Tuesday following sentencing in Chino Superior Court.

Three children accused Bitetti of molestation: his niece, as well as two of his former girlfriends’ children.

One of the girls told police she was four when Bitetti molested her in the 1990s.

The other victims told police they were seven at the time of the alleged abuse, which most recently occurred in late 2006, according to investigative reports.

Bitetti was originally charged with five counts of child molestation, but four of the counts were dismissed Tuesday as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.

In an interview with police, Bitetti denied intentionally fondling the boy who accused him of molestation.

He said he may have inadvertently touched the boy’s genitals while repositioning the boy as he slept. Bitetti estimated it may have happened as many as six times, according to investigative reports.

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