Men accused of smuggling cocaine-laced ropes into LAX

From City News Service:
LOS ANGELES — Two Arkansas men were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after U.S. Customs agents found about 20 pounds of ropes and cords allegedly saturated in cocaine in their luggage, officials said Wednesday.
Jonathan Cottrell, 21, and Leanthony Henderson, 20, had arrived from Panama City, Panama, on March 15, bringing seven ropes and about 40 canvas backpacks with attached cords. The ropes and backpacks appeared to be commercially packed, according to Lee Harty of U.S Customs and Border Protection.
The men said they had bought the items at a swap meet, and one said he was bringing the ropes to tie up his fishing boat. The canvas backpacks with attached cords belonged to the other passenger, said Harty.
CBP officers noticed the backpack cords were stiff and had irregular tension and also emitted a chemical odor. Initial testing indicated the ropes and cords had been saturated with cocaine, Harty said.
“This is another prime example of our astute CBP officers continuous discovery of clever concealment methods,” said Carlos Martel, acting director of the CBP’s Los Angeles office.
Cottrell and Henderson both pleaded not guilty in Superior Court to a felony charge of transportation for sale of a controlled substance, prosecutors said, and bail was set at $300,000 for each defendant.
A preliminary hearing is expected to be set March 25 at the Airport Courthouse.
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Cops to wait tables in La Habra for the Special Olympics

LA HABRA — Police officers will serve as waiters and waitresses Saturday at Red Robin to raise money for the Special Olympics.
La Habra police will pick up serving trays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and again from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m., at the restaurant, 1631 W. Imperial Highway, La Habra police officials said in a written statement.
The event, a 21-year-old law enforcement tradition known as Tip-A-Cop, raises money for year-round training and competitions for disabled athletes.
Tip-A-Cop donations are tax deductible, officials added.
For more information on Tip-A-Cop or the Special Olympics, call Rebecca Berlingeri Walke at 714-563-8374, or e-mail rwalke@sosc.org.
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6 deputies to be fired after fight at Christmas party in Montebello

MONTEBELLO — Six Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are facing termination proceedings in connection with a brawl among deputies at a Christmas party at the Quiet Cannon banquet hall, officials said Wednesday.
The six deputies are also under investigation for possible criminal charges, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. Their names were not released due to laws protecting peace officer privacy.
Seven deputies were initially suspended in connection with the Dec. 10 fight at the Quiet Cannon, 901 Via San Clemente, however evidence did not support the firing of the seventh deputy, officials said.
“It was a thorough and massive undertaking that was done expeditiously,” Whitmore said of the investigation.
About 180 witnesses were interviewed as part of an internal investigation, he added.
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said the case was turned over to the District Attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division in February. Prosecutors had not yet decided whether to file criminal charges.
The firing of the six deputies is, “the largest mass discharge case that we’ve seen in 10 years,” said head attorney Michael Gennaco of the County of Los Angeles Office of Independent Review — a civilian oversight group designed to monitor the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Officials said the melee involved six deputies assigned to the jail’s third floor attacking two deputies assigned to the first floor of the same facility.
Deputies assigned to the first floor accused their third-floor counterparts of being slow in their duties, Gennaco said, and the argument erupted into a brawl.
A female deputy who tried to break up the fight was punched, he added.
Gennaco said the OIR supported the sheriff’s department’s decision to fire the six deputies.
He said his office also recommends rotating deputies’ posts inside jails more frequently.
“We also support this idea of rotating people so that deputies understand that they’re affiliation should not be to a particular floor, group, or deputy,” Gennaco said. Rotating assignments will also create better trained, more versatile deputies.
A photograph surfaced following the brawl, purported to have been taken at the party, shows six young men posing while displaying the number three — possibly alluding to the third floor, also known as the 3,000 floor — with their pinky, ring and middle fingers. The image is reminiscent of gang members flashing gang signs.
“The photo is another evidence of self-identification,” Gennaco said.
“I don’t know whether these six were the six that were involved in the assault,” he added, “(But) there’s likely some overlap.”
“There’s no evidence indicating they’re tied to any street gangs,” Gennaco said. Nonetheless, the photo, “doesn’t show deputies in the best light.”
Taking a departure from normal procedure, authorities said, sheriff’s officials did not wait for a criminal investigation to be completed before launching an internal investigation.
Officials began moving to fire the six deputies late last week, officials said.
“This could take a significant amount of time,” Whitmore said. Due to a lengthy appeals process, the deputies may not be officially terminated for several months.
In the meantime, officials said, they are suspended without pay.
About 100 people were at the party, which was held for deputies assigned to Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles, authorities said.
The days after the brawl, two deputies reported to Montebello police that they had been victims of an assault at the party, according to sheriff’s officials. They had suffered minor to moderate injuries but were not hospitalized.
Investigators said no weapons of any kind were used in the fight.
- Staff Writer Thomas Himes contributed to this report.
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“Clark Rockefeller” to be charged in San Marino murder mystery

This from City News Service, via the Los Angeles County DA’s Office:

LOS ANGELES – A man who allegedly posed as a member of the Rockefeller
family was charged today with the 1985 murder of a San Marino man whose
body was discovered nearly a decade later.
Prosecutors are seeking the extradition Christian K. Gerhartsreiter, a 50-year-old
German national, who is serving a prison sentence in Massachusetts for kidnapping.
Press Release: Jane Robinson:  “A con man who crisscrossed the country under assumed identities including posing as a Rockefeller was charged today with the 1985 murder of a San Marino man whose body was discovered a decade later.
Christian K. Gerhartstreiter, 50, a German national better known as Clark Rockefeller was charged with the Feb 1985 murder of JHohn Sohus. Deputy DA Habib A. Balian with major crimes filed a felony complaint in Alhambra Superior Court seeking the defendant’s arrest and extradition from Massachusetts. 
John Sohus, 27, was last seen in early 1985 shortly after his disappearance a man calling himself Christopher also vanished, Investigators later identified Christopher Chichester as Gerhartsreiter.
 In May 1994 a body was discovered buried behind the Sohus home on Lorain Road. The remains were later identified as John Sohus. An investigation determined he was killed by Blunt Force Trauma to the head. The case was filed Tuesday in Alhambra Superior Court. Detectives are seeking $10 million bail. 

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Japan tsunami photos

These photos from the Associated Press document some of what’s happening in Sendai, Fukushima and elsewhere in the earthquake and tsunami ravaged region of Northwest Japan:

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1. Japan Self-Defense Forces personnel search for victims around a ship swept out by Friday’s tsunami in Higashimatsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami hit Japan’s east coast. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
50797-APTOPIX Japan Earthqu_Gira (1)-thumb-300x203-50796.jpg

2. A survivor of the tsunami that swept through his village of Saito, in northeastern Japan, retells the story to a rescue team that arrived to search the area Monday, March 14, 2011. Rescue workers used chain saws and hand picks Monday to dig out bodies in Japan’s devastated coastal towns, as Asia’s richest nation faced a mounting humanitarian, nuclear and economic crisis in the aftermath of a massive earthquake and tsunami that likely killed thousands. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

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UPDATE: Man suspected of stabbing wife to death near Whittier

WHITTIER – A man stabbed his wife to death before wounding himself Saturday in their home in an unincorporated county area near Whittier, authorities said.
Maria Guzman, 45, died at the scene of the stabbing, Detective Q. Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Her 47-year-old husband, who is suspected in the killing, was not identified Sunday, as Rodriguez said officials were still working to confirm his true name.
The slaying was reported about 3:40 p.m. at a home in the 10700 block of Carmenita Road, near Florence Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Thomas said in a written statement.
“The homicide was a result of a domestic dispute between the victim and her husband,” according to Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. “After stabbing his wife, the suspect then intentionally stabbed himself before deputies arrived at the scene.”
The woman died at the scene, and the suspect was hospitalized in stable condition, officials said. He underwent surgery Sunday.
Detectives were able to interview the suspect Sunday, however Rodriguez declined to comment on what was said.
The weapon used in the stabbing, a kitchen knife, was found at the scene, the detective added.
The suspect had not been arrested Sunday, Rodriguez said, however he was expected to be taken into custody and charged with murder as soon as his medical condition allows.
Other than a domestic violence incident, a motive in the killing was not clear, he said. Besides the husband and wife, no one else was at the home when the stabbing occurred.
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Three Pasadena men suspected in beating, robbery

PASADENA — Police jailed three Pasadena men late Saturday on suspicion of beating and robbing another man near a Gold Line station, officials said.
Terry Schaefer, 20, Dustin Fulfer, 18, and Royal Mitchell, 21, all of Pasadena, were booked on suspicion of strong-arm robbery, according to Pasadena police and sheriff’s booking records.
A 26-year-old Los Angeles man was walking about 11 p.m. at Foothill Boulevard and Halstead Street, on his way to the nearby Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line Station, when he was approached by the suspects, Pasadena police Lt. Chris Russ said.
The suspects asked the man for money before proceeding to beat him with their fists and rob him of an undisclosed amount of cash, the lieutenant said.
The alleged victim suffered swelling but was not seriously hurt, police said.
Responding officers found Schaefer, Fulfer and Mitchell a short time later in the parking lot of the Gold Line station and arrested them, Russ said.
According to booking records, they were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail each pending their initial court appearances.
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Elderly Santa Anita Park employee hurt protecting girl from charging horse

From City News Service:

ARCADIA — A 90-year-old paddock guard at a Southern California thoroughbred track put himself between a young girl and a horse that broke loose before a race, injuring himself and leaving the girl unharmed.
Officials from Santa Anita said in statement that a 3-year-old gelding named See and Sage broke free from his handler in the track’s walking ring and ran toward an opening guarded by John Shear.
The horse ran into Shear, who dropped his rope and threw himself in front of the girl, who is about three. The statement says Shear was conscious and responsive when take to the hospital. His exact injuries were unclear.
Former jockey Shear has been a fixture for decades at Santa Anita’s walking ring, where horses are paraded in front of the public before races.

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