GLENDORA >> A West Covina man who has worked as a nursing assistant at healthcare facilities throughout the San Gabriel Valley is accused of stealing more than $40,000 from at least two elderly patients in Glendora by fraudulently using their financial information, police said.
Police arrested 29-year-old Maui Berganio at his home Thursday, Glendora police Detective Zach Houser said in a written statement.
He allegedly stole debit card and account information from two elderly guests of Kindred Transitional Care in Glendora to purchase items for himself online, including furniture, Nike tennis shoes and car parts, Glendora police spokeswoman Tricia Ayers said.
“He’s worked at several different care facilities,” Ayers said. Detectives continued seeking any additional victims. “There could be possible additional charges filed,” she said.
In addition to Kindred Transitional Care, over the past 10 years, Berganio has also worked at Arbor Glen Care Center in Glendora, Doctors Hospital in West Covina, West Haven Healthcare Center in West Covina, Citrus Valley Health Partners – Queen of the Valley Camapus in West Covina and Sierra View Care Center in Baldwin Park, police said. And it’s possible he has worked at other Southern California facilities.
Berganio’s alleged identity theft first came to light Jan. 8 when a woman in her 80s staying at the care center noticed some suspicious behavior, officials said.
An elderly guest as Kindred Transitional Care in Glendora awoke to find certified nursing assistant Maui Berganio kneeling by her bedside,” Houser said. “It was later discovered that Berganio had obtained the elderly guest’s debit card information, which he used to attempt numerous fraudulent online transactions totaling over $8,000.”
Investigators ultimately arrested Berganio Thursday afternoon at his home in the 1300 block of East Fairgrove Avenue in West Covina, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
The suspect admitted also using the financial information of another woman in her 80s who was staying at Kindred Transitional Care over the past year, police said. The alleged victim died earlier this month.
In that case, Berganio is accused of running up more than $40,000 in online purchases, Ayers said.
Police booked Berganio on suspicion of elder abuse and identity theft, she added.
According county booking records, Berganio was being held in lieu of $50,000 bal. He is scheduled to appear Monday in West Covina Superior Court.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Houser at 626-914-8286.
PHOTOS of suspect Maui Berganio, 29, of West Covina, and photos of goods allegedly purchased with the stolen identities of elderly women, courtesy of the Glendora Police Department.
WEST COVINA >> A masked gunman robbed a West Covina acupuncture and massage business late Thursday, officials said.
The crime took place about 7:45 p.m. when the robber barged into the business in the 1400 block of West Garvey Avenue North, West Covina police Lt. Pat Cirrito said.
A man wearing dark clothing, a hooded sweatshirt and a mask brandished a dark-colored handgun as he helped himself to cash and fled, police said.
No injuries were reported, and no further details were available.
BALDWIN PARK >> A man died and a woman was hospitalized following a stabbing at a Baldwin Park townhouse Thursday afternoon , officials said.
The incident was first reported at 5:36 p.m. in the 4700 block of Maine Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Al Jackson said.
Paramedics pronounced a 23-year-old man dead at the scene, fire Capt. Matt Boyan said. A woman, described as 18 or 19 years old, was taken to a trauma center with stab wounds described as moderate.
No outstanding suspects were being sought in what Lt. Steve Jauch of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said initially appeared to be an incident of domestic violence between the man and woman.
“The male and female do have some type of dating relationship,” the lieutenant said.
The man lived at the home where the stabbing took place, while the woman was believed to live elsewhere in town, Jauch said.
The circumstances of the violence that unfolded at the townhouse remained unclear as the investigation was in its early stages, he said. There was no evidence to indicate anyone else was involved, but Jauch said it was too early to label either the dead man or the woman as a criminal suspect.
Police first responded to the scene after a neighbor discovered the wounded woman on the front porch of a neighboring home, Jauch said. Police found the man in the garage of his home a short time later.
Jauch declined to discuss any statement the woman may have made prior to being hospitalized. Detectives planned to interview her soon.
Both the man and woman suffered stab wounds to their upper torsos, Jauch said. But investigators had not recovered any weapons believed to be involved in the incident.
Neighbors and workers at a nearby business said they did not see or hear anything out of the ordinary before police swarmed into the neighborhood and began cordoning off a townhouse with yellow crime scene tape.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau responded to help Baldwin Park police with the investigation. Anyone with information can reach the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO by Sarah Reingewirtz
ARCADIA >> Police cautioned the public Thursday about an ongoing rash of purse thefts from vehicles targeting women shopping at Asian markets in Arcadia.
The series of crimes began in mid-December, with the most recent theft reported Wednesday, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement.
Eight such crimes have been reported over the past two months outside the 99 Ranch Market, 1300 block of S. Golden West Ave., as well as the Arcadia Supermarket, 645 West Duarte Road, Castro said.
The thefts have primarily been occurring as women are loading items into their car, Castro said.
The thieves, who have been described with several varying descriptions, snatch the purses from the passenger compartment or trunk area of the unlocked vehicles before fleeing in getaway cars of their own, police said.
Police urged residents to be aware of the surroundings and offered several safety tips.
Always lock car doors, even when sitting inside, police said. Purses and other valuables should be kept out of view.
Police asked residents to report any suspicious activity immediately, and pay attention to license plate numbers and other details about the suspicious people or vehicles.
WHITTIER >> Whittier police are planning a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint Friday night, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“Over the course of the past three years, DUI collisions have claimed three lives and resulted in 135 injury crashes harming 188 of our friends and neighbors,” according to Sgt. David Elizarraras.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
PASADENA >> Police have arrested two suspects after a group of five males chased two other men with baseball bat and stole one of the victim’s cell phones Wednesday night.
At about 9:40 p.m., two black males were approached by five male Latino suspects, one of whom carried a baseball bat, in the area of Orange Grove Boulevard and Garfield Avenue, said Pasadena police Lt. Terysa Rojas. The victims began to run away and were chased by the suspects to the area of Orange Grove and Los Robles Avenue, where they were assaulted by the suspects, Rojas said.
During the assault, one of the victim’s cell phones was stolen and both suffered bruising to their foreheads, Rojas said.
Both victims, a 25-year-old Pasadena man and a 27-year-old Pasadena man, were treated for minor injuries at a local hospital, Lt. John Luna said.
Soon after the alleged crime, a police helicopter spotted two of the suspects nearby, and officers detained them, Rojas said.
Police recovered the cell phone but were unable to locate the baseball bat and the three other suspects.
After being positively identified as two of the attackers, Arturo Chavolla, 18, of Apple Valley and Felipe Carranza, 25, of Pasadena were booked on suspicion of armed robbery, according to police and county booking records. The two are being held in lieu of a $50,000 bail pending their initial court appearances.
Rojas added that police believe the crime was believed to be gang related.
— By Stephanie Baer and Brian Day
INDUSTRY >> A knife-wielding robber fled with cash after robbing an Industry gas station late Wednesday in the second similar crime at the same business this month, officials said.
Wednesday’s crime took place just after 8:10 p.m. at a 76 gas station at Hacienda and Valley boulevards, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Raymond Enriquez said.
A man armed with a knife, described as possibly a box-cutter, entered the store and pushed an employee out of his way, the lieutenant said. A second employee was also present.
The robber helped himself to the money inside the cash register, ultimately taking about $300, Enriquez said. He fled the area on a bicycle he had parked behind the gas station.
No injuries were reported. Deputies described the robber as Latino, about 50 years old, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 160 pounds. He wore a green jacket, a blue plaid shirt and blue jeans. The robber also wore a trash bag on his head like a hat.
A similar crime took place at the same business on Feb. 16, and deputies suspect the same culprit is responsible, Enriquez said.
In that case, a man entered the store and helped himself to cash from the register, Enriquez said. The thief did not confront any employees during the first crime.
GLENDORA >> An apparently sick and distressed coyote is expected to be euthanized after it fatally attacked a pet cat in a Glendora neighborhood Wednesday, police said.
The coyote attacked the cat about 3:30 p.m. in the 400 block of W. Kirkwall Road, Glendora police officials said in a written statement. The cat died, and officials notified the owner.
A witness chased after the coyote as it ran into the garage of a home a few blocks away, police said.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials Inland Valley Humane Society officials responded to the scene found the coyote still inside the garage, officials said.
Fish and Wildlife officials hazed the animal out of the garage before Inland Valley Humane Society officials captured it down the street, according to Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Janice Mackey.
“Based on established policies, procedures and the facts of this particular incident, the animal was trapped and will be humanely euthanized as required by law,” the police statement said.
PASADENA >> Police are planning to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a checkpoint Friday night, officials said.
The checkpoint will take place from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location with Pasadena, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said in a written statement
“Over the course of the past three years, DUI collisions have claimed 6 lives and resulted in 84 injury crashes harming 125 of our friends and neighbors,” Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said.
Funding for the operation is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
MONTEREY PARK >> Coroner’s officials have released the name of a 33-year-old Maywood man who died in a fiery two-car crash last week.
Sergio Ramos Horta died at the scene of the crash, which occurred about 5:40 a.m. on Feb. 16 on the eastbound 60 Freeway, just west of Atlantic Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Kristy McCracken said.
His identification was delayed due to the burned condition of his body, coroner’s officials said.
Few details regarding the circumstances of the crash have been released.
California Highway Patrol officials responded to numerous 9-1-1 calls reporting a crash between a 2003 Infiniti and a 1982 Toyota, “with both vehicles fully engulfed in flames,” CHP officials said in a written statement.
The cause of the crash was under investigation by the CHP’s East Los Angeles office.