Hacienda Heights couple accused of animal cruelty, child endangerment, other charges

DIAMOND BAR — Officials filed charges Tuesday including possession of an assault weapon, animal cruelty, drug possession and child endangerment against a Hacienda Heights man and his wife, authorities said Thursday. an investigation into alleged extortion
Sheriff’s gang investigators first began looking into Sheng Hui “Sunny” Chen, 37, and his wife Yulan Hu, 31, due to allegations of gang intimidation, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Sheriff’s gang investigators received a tip in April that Chen was involved in exporting Chinese immigrants by representing himself as a high-ranking member of the “United Bamboo” gang, the statement said.
“Unfortunately, we were not able to locate any victims who would cooperate with us on the extortion,” Sgt. Steve Kim of the sheriff’s Asian Gang Task Force. “They’re too scared.”
The probe did, however, yield evidence of the other crimes, Kim said.
Residents of a home Chen was suspected of occupying for several months found an illegal AK-47 assault rifle in the home allegedly left behind by Chen, authorities said.
Deputies from the sheriff’s Asian Gang Team carried out a search warrant on Chen’s home on Del Prado Drive in Hacienda Heights and arrested the couple on June 22.
Methamphetamine was found in the home’s bathroom, in easy reach of Chen’s young children (ages 8 and 9), Kim said.
Deputies also found 15 large dogs being held in unacceptable conditions, he added.
“Some of the dogs were kept in the garage without proper ventilation during extremely hot weather,” Kim said. “They were kept in crates that were much too small for their size.”
The other 10 or so dogs of various breeds were kept in a backyard kennel, officials said.
“However, the kennel did not have a cover to shield the dogs from sunlight and it was too small to house all the dogs. Several of the dogs were obviously malnourished,” the sheriff’s statement said.
Chen also owns owns a pet shop — Teddy Bear Life House — in the 1400 block of Nogales Avenue in Rowland Heights, officials said.
Chen was charged Tuesday with possession of an assault weapon, felony impersonation for falsely identifying himself to officers, felony animal cruelty, felony possession of methamphetamine and two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, Kim said.
His wife Hu was charged with misdemeanor counts of possession of methamphetamine, animal cruelty and child endangerment.
Chen is due in Pomona Superior Court for arraignment July 14, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said. Hu’s initial court date was not available.
The children were taken into protective custody and released to relatives, officials said.
Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control officials seized the dogs and are conducting an investigation, which will include looking into his pet shop, Kim said.
No one at the pet store answered the telephone Thursday.
Additionally, authorities said, investigators believe Chen had plans to open an illegal nightclub in the Rowland Heights area.
“(He) was soliciting young Asian women to work in his illegal nightclub he was preparing to open somewhere in the Rowland Heights area,” Kim said.
Chen’s possible gang ties remained under investigation.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Chen and Hu were released from jail the day after their June 22 arrest after posting $50,000 and $30,000 bail, respectively.
Officials said both are Chinese nationals who came to the U.S. on tourist visas.
Though officials were unable to bring extortion-related charges against Chen, Kim said the investigation continues, and he encourages any potential extortion victims to report it to the sheriff’s department.
“If anybody wants to come forward and tell us they’ve been victimized by this man, we’d love to talk to them,” he said.

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