Bank robbed in Pico Rivera

PICO RIVERA — A man fled with a little over $3,000 after robbing a bank branch Monday.
The robber entered the Chase bank, 9200 E. Slauson Ave., about 6 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Smith said.
“The suspect walked to the counter and gave the bank teller a note advising that he a gun and that he was demanding money,” Smith said.
No weapon was seen during the crime, he said.
The robber received $3,050 and was last seen fleeing from the bank on foot, Evans said.
Officials described him as a Latino man in his 20s, wearing a baseball cap, a gray long-sleeved shirt and black pants.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station.

Norwalk man wounded in gunfight with deputies

NORWALK — Deputies shot and wounded a man early Tuesday after he opened fire on them with a handgun, authorities said.
The shooting took place after three deputies responded to a 9-1-1 call reporting a man with a gun about 3:40 a.m. in a residential cul-de-sac in the 11700 block of Elmcroft Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Bill Evans said.
The deputies found the armed man when they arrived and ordered him to drop his gun, and he opened fire on them, the lieutenant said. None of the deputies were struck.
“The deputies returned fire and struck him several times,” Evans said.
The wounded suspect, initially described as a 39-year-old Norwalk man, was taken to a hospital where he underwent surgery early Tuesday, officials said. His condition was not available.
A handgun was found at the scene, Evans said.
As is standard procedure when a deputy-involved shooting takes place, sheriff’s homicide and internal affairs investigators are looking into the incident, as well as officials from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the County of Los Angeles Office of Independent Review.

Inmates use social media to harass victims, witnesses

From the Associated Press:

Lisa Gesik hesitates to log into her Facebook account nowadays because of unwanted “friend” requests, not from long-ago classmates but from the ex-husband now in prison for kidnapping her and her daughter.
Neither Gesik nor prison officials can prove her ex-husband is sending her the messages, which feature photos of him wearing his prison blues and dark sunglasses, arms crossed as he poses in front of a prison gate. It doesn’t matter if he’s sending them or someone else is — the Newport, Ore., woman is afraid and, as the days tick down to his January release, is considering going into hiding with her 12-year-old daughter.
“It’s just being victimized all over again,” she said.
Across the U.S. and beyond, inmates are using social networks and the growing numbers of smartphones smuggled into prisons and jails to harass their victims or accusers and intimidate witnesses.
California corrections officials who monitor social networking sites said they have found many instances in which inmates taunted victims or made unwanted sexual advances.
Like Gesik’s case, it’s often difficult for authorities to determine for sure who’s sending the threatening material and the few people caught rarely face serious consequences.
“The ability to have these kinds of contacts is increasing exponentially. In many ways, the law has not caught up with these changing technologies,” said Rob Bovett, an Oregon district attorney whose office prosecuted Gesik’s ex-husband, Michael Gladney.
Timothy Heaphy, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, said criminals’ use of social networks to reach witnesses has made his job harder.
“We deal every day with witnesses who are afraid of being identified,” he said. “If there are increased instances where folks who are incarcerated can reach outside the walls of the jail, that’s going to make it more difficult for us to get cooperation.”
In a rare victory, Heaphy’s office successfully prosecuted John Conner and Whitney Roberts after they set up a Facebook account that Conner used to intimidate witnesses preparing to testify against him on charges of burning two houses to punish a girlfriend and collect the insurance.
“How the hell can u b a gangsta when u snitchin and lien…,” said a post from the pair that publicly exposed one witness who cooperated with law enforcement, according to federal court records.
The issue has emerged as cellphones have proliferated behind bars.
In California, home to the nation’s largest inmate population, the corrections department confiscated 12,625 phones in just 10 months this year. Six years ago, they found just 261. The number of phones confiscated by the federal Bureau of Prisons has doubled since 2008, to 3,684 last year.
Noting the increase, California legislators approved a law bringing up to six months in jail for corrections employees or visitors who smuggle mobile devices into state prisons, while inmates caught with the phones can now lose up to 180 days of early-release credit. But no additional time is added to their sentence, minimizing the deterrence factor.
In the old days, those behind bars would have to enlist a relative or friend to harass or intimidate to get around no-contact orders. Social networks now cut out the middle man.
In Gesik’s case, Gladney used to harass her the old-fashioned way, sending letters and making phone calls through third parties. The Facebook harassment began in June.
Gesik, 44, got prison officials to contact Facebook to remove that account, only to receive another message appearing to be from him in September. This time, there was a different spelling of his last name.
“I figure, if he’s done all this from in prison, what’s he’s going to do when he gets out?” Gesik said.
A gap in state law meant that “no contact” orders like the one Gesik obtained against Gladney were deemed not to apply to anyone in custody, said Bovett, the prosecutor. “So they could do these very creative ways of reaching victims through third parties,” he said.
The attorney who represented Gladney in his criminal trial did not return a phone call seeking comment on behalf of his client.
Last June, Oregon legislators approved a law prohibiting inmates from contacting their domestic violence victims from behind bars.
In California, prison officials are working with Facebook to identify inmate accounts and take them down. But that generally happens only after the damage is done.
Karen Carrisosa, who lives in a Sacramento suburb, was aghast when officials found Facebook postings from Corcoran State Prison inmate Fredrick Garner. Garner is serving a 22-year, involuntary manslaughter sentence for killing her husband, 50-year-old Larry Carrisosa, outside a church 11 years ago.
“My kids, they go on Facebook, I go on Facebook, and what if they decide to look us up?” Carrisosa said.
She was alerted by a Sacramento television station that Garner was posting messages to his mother and others. Garner was punished with a 30-day reduction in his early release credits for possessing a forbidden cellphone and has since been transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison.
While the use of the Internet by Los Angeles County jail inmates to harass alleged victims or witnesses is an issue officials are concerned about, the problem is not nearly as significant as in the state prison system, sheriff’s Capt. Michael Parker said. Only fourteen cell phones have been seized from L.A. County inmates since 2009.
“Within the L.A. County jail system, we’ve not had a significant number of cellphones recovered,” Parker said.
County jail inmates are less likely to have cellphones than their counterparts in the state prison system for several reasons, he said. Jails have historically been largely transitional facilities, Parker explained, housing inmates awaiting trial or those who’ve been sentenced to a year or less behind bars.
Additionally, county jail inmates go through continual searches and screenings as they’re transported between facilities and to court hearings, unlike prison inmates serving lengthy sentences.
But California’s new prison realignment plan — which will allow convicts whose crimes are deemed “non-serious,” “non-violent” and “non-sexual,” to serve sentences of several years in county jails rather than prisons — may increase the motivation and opportunity for inmates to smuggle cellphones into jails in the future, Parker said.
And while having cellphones is against jail policy and can result in disciplinary action against inmates, Parker explained, there is no law or policy preventing inmates from having others who are not incarcerated from posting messages online on their behalf.
“These are definitely complicated issues that we as a Sheriff’s Department are interpreting as best we can, and using existing laws to address 2012 issues,” Parker said.
If an inmate is having someone else post online for them, officials can only take action if the speech itself takes the form of a a crime, such as a threat, the captain said.
Non-criminal speech enjoys First Amendment protection, Parker said.
“But if they’re making a threat against anyone, then like any other threat… we would potentially investigate that as a crime,” he added.
“We can only enforce laws that exist,” Parker said. “We are constantly adapting to what is the latest shenanigans the inmates are doing. To that end, we have to do it within the Constitution as well.”
- Staff Writer Brian Day contributed to this report

Officials seize 9 tons of pot at border crossing near San Diego

SAN DIEGO — Federal customs officials say they foiled an attempt to smuggle drugs into California from Mexico after discovering more than nine tons of marijuana inside a big-rig at a San Diego-area border crossing.
Federal homeland security spokeswoman Lauren Mack said Friday seven men were charged with drug smuggling after the seizure at the Otay Mesa crossing.
During an X-ray inspection of the truck, hundreds of pillow-sized bricks of marijuana estimated to be worth more than $13 million were found on the truck Tuesday.
The suspects — whose ages range from 19 to 47 — were arraigned in federal court Wednesday.
The bust was near the same crossing where a major underground drug-smuggling tunnel was discovered this month.

- From the Associated Press

Toddler drowns in Rowland Heights swimming pool

ROWLAND HEIGHTS – A 2-year-girl drowned in a pool Friday night, officials said.
It happened at 7:23 p.m. in the 2200 block of Deepgrove Avenue, investigators said. The girl’s name was not released Saturday.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rob Blunt said a family member found the child in the pool. The girl was taken to St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton where she was pronounced dead, he added.
Nothing criminal was initially suspected, and the death appeared to be an accident, officials said. Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau were assigned to investigate.
There were no further details available about the incident.

Construction crew ruptures gas line at East Valinda elementary school

EAST VALINDA — A construction crew ruptured a gas line at an Elementary School early Saturday, however no evacuations were needed, authorities said.
The crew was working at Northam Elementary School, in the 17800 block of Renault Street, about 7:45 a.m. when they damaged the gas line, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Victor Sotelo said.
No evacuations were necessary, and Southern California Gas Company officials were called to the scene to shut off the gas flow to the line, officials said. Repairs will continue Monday.

Armed robbery reported at gas station in Santa Fe Springs

SANTA FE SPRINGS — Two men used a handgun to rob both a gas station and a customer late Friday, police said.
The crime was reported about 9:55 p.m. at a Chevron gas station in the 11400 block of Telegraph Road, just east of the 605 Freeway, Whittier police Lt. Carlos Solorza said.
The suspects were described only as black men wearing hooded sweat shirts. One of them carried a pistol.
After snatching a customer’s wallet from the counter, the robbers went behind the counter with the clerk and demanded the register be opened, Solorza said.
The clerk complied, and the robbers helped themselves to the cash before fleeing, he said. No getaway car was seen.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Whittier Police Department, which patrols Santa Fe Springs.

Man stabbed at Pico Rivera equestrian center

PICO RIVERA – Deputies are looking for the man in a white hat who stabbed another man in the chest Thursday night and rode off on a horse.


Sheriff’s Lt. Brian Yanagi said the unidentified victim was currently listed in stable condition at Los Angles County USC Medical Center.

The stabbing was reported at 5:50 p.m. at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena, 11003 E. Rooks Road. Yanagi said people were there Thursday working their horses.

Acquaintances of the victim told deputies they didn’t see the stabbing.

They saw him talking to another man who later left on a horse, according to Yanagi. When they looked at their friend, they realized he’d been stabbed.

The suspect was described as a Latino, 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 170 pounds. He wore a white hat, white shirt and blue jeans.

- From Staff Writer Ruby Gonzales

Temple City woman charged with fake terrorist threat at LAX

In an effort to get back at her French
boyfriend, a Temple City woman is suspected of calling authorities at
LAX and suggesting the man and his companions – all of whom bear Arabic
surnames – posed a threat to passengers aboard a flight leaving LAX.

The woman, identified as Lizet Sariol, 45, was charged in a
criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. She is
suspected with “providing false and misleading information;
specifically, fabricating a terrorist threat to United Airlines,”
according to a press release issued Wednesday.

more

Victims, suspect in La Puente double-murder-suicide identified

LA PUENTE — Coroner’s officials Friday released the names of three people killed in what investigators have described as a double-murder and suicide earlier this week.
Rosa Chavez, 55, of La Puente and her boyfriend Luis Fraustro, 66, of La Puente were shot to death by 52-year-old Francisco Sanchez of La Puente, who was believed to be Chavez’s ex-boyfriend, about 10:25 a.m. Wednesday at a house in the 700 block of Sierra Vista Court, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
After fatally shooting Chavez and Fraustro with a rifle, Sanchez turned the gun on himself, authorities said.
Chavez cared for three young grandchildren, neighbors said.
No children were at the home when the shooting took place, sheriff’s officials said.
The investigation remains ongoing.