Alleged ID theft ring dismantled following routine traffic stop in Diamond Bar

DIAMOND BAR — Five people were charged with 19 felony counts of identity theft and counterfeiting Friday after a routine traffic stop in Diamond Bar earlier in the week led to their arrests, authorities said.
Brian Padilla, 40, of Pico Rivera, Danny Martinez, 33, of Whittier, Barbara Robles, 44, of Rosemead, Jennifer Kesloff, 24, of Whittier and Jacqueline Acosta, 26, whose city of residence was unknown, were arrested Wednesday after a deputy stopped a car for a traffic violation about 11:30 a.m. at Diamond Bar Boulevard and Sunset Crossing Road, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Chris Blasnek.
A deputy stopped a car being driven by Martinez and discovered he was on parole, officials said.
“Both he and his passenger (Padilla) were in possession of several counterfeit driver’s licenses, credit cards and social security numbers that didn’t belong to them,” Blasnek said. “Both were arrested at the scene.”
As deputies continued their investigation, a second car pulled up near the scene of the traffic stop, and deputies approached two women inside, officials said.
The women, later identified as Robles and Kesloff, “were also in possession of numerous counterfeit items,” Blasnek said.
Deputies continued to investigate, and found that all four suspects had been staying at a Diamond Bar motel, officials said.
A search of two rooms rented by the suspect yielded yet more evidence if identity theft and counterfeiting, the lieutenant said, including computers, a credit card reader and machine used to create credit cards. The final suspect, Acosta, was arrested at the motel.
All five suspects were booked on suspicion of identity theft, possession of counterfeit officials documents and possession of counterfeit card making materials.
“It was a little bit of persistence that paid off,” Blasnek said.
According to county booking records, Martinez, a parolee, was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance. Padilla was being held in lieu of $150,000 bail, Acosta was being held in lieu of $170,000 bail, and Robles and Kesloff were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail each.
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UPDATED: $55,000 worth of glasses stolen in Whittier LensCrafters break-in; similar crime reported in Anaheim

A burglar or burglars made off with about $55,000 worth of eyeglasses early Friday after breaking into a Whittier LensCrafters location — one of three burglarized in the area overnight, police said.
Police responded to a burglary alarm at the LensCrafters, 16152 Whittier Blvd., at 3:36 a.m. and discovered a front window of the business had been smashed, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“No suspects were located and there were an estimated 330 pairs of glasses missing, at a value of $55,000,” according to the statement.
A short time later, Whittier police received word that a LensCrafters stores in Anaheim had also been burglarized early Friday.
“We responded to a burglary alarm call at 3:03 in the morning at the LensCrafters, 2656 West La Palma Avenue,” Sgt. Bob Dunn said.
As in the Whittier case, officers arrived to find a front window had been smashed and a “numerous sunglasses had been taken,” the sergeant said.
About $24,000 worth of glasses were stolen from the Anaheim store, he added.
Detectives in both burglaries continued seeking clues and checking area surveillance camera, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police at 562-567-9200.
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UPDATED: Escaped inmate arrested near Azusa 28 years after disappearance

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An inmate who escaped from a work furlough program 28 years ago while serving time for a burglary conviction 28 years ago was re-captured Thursday near Azusa, where he had been living under an assumed identity, officials said.
Carlos Campo, 50, “who was convicted of second-degree burglary in Los Angeles County, escaped from a work-furlough re-entry program on Aug. 26, 1983,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials said in a written statement.
Since that time, he has avoided detection using the name Carlos Herrera — an identity he purchased in Los Angeles, authorities said.
He was taken into custody at his home in the 5700 block of Rockvale Avenue in an unincorporated county area near Azusa, Azusa police said.
“He had resided in the San Gabriel (Valley) since 1993,” CDCR spokeswoman Brian Daly said, though it was not clear what cities he had been staying in prior to Azusa.
The arrest came after agents looked into the matter and developed new leads after checking modern databases, performing surveillance and consulting with other law enforcement agencies, according to the CDCR.
Agents moved to arrest Campo once they confirmed his DMV fingerprints matched those of the escaped inmate they were seeking.
Officials discovered that Campo had been arrested in 1993 for assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 36 months of probation, “but that CDCR was not notified of the arrest,” the CDCR statement said. “At the time there was no system to compare fingerprints electronically, and the process was very time consuming.”
Campo was sentenced to 16 months incarceration after being convicted of a Los Angeles County burglary in April of 1983, Daly said. He had served about four months when he escaped.
Campo was taken to the California Institution for Men in Chino for processing, CDCR officials said. He was expected to be charged with escape.
The Special Services Unit is a division of specialized investigators within the CDCR’s Office of Correctional Safety.
“They deal with complex investigations, including escapees, but also they deal with organized crime, prison gangs, local gangs, even dignitary protection,” Daly said.
Over the past 35 years, 98.7 percent of all inmates who have escaped from California adult institutions, conservation camps or community-based programs have been re-captured, officials said.
As of Friday, 207 remained at large, Daly said.
PHOTO: Over the past 35 years, 98.7 percent of all inmates who have escaped from California adult institutions, conservation camps or community-based programs have been re-captured, officials said. (Courtesy of the CDCR)
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West Covina teen suspected of robbing another teen of cell phone

WEST COVINA — Police arrested a teenage boy Thursday after he robbed another teen of his cell phone on Vincent Avenue, authorities said.
A teenage boy was walking along Vincent Avenue near the 10 Freeway about 3:35 p.m. when he was approached by another teen who demanded his cell phone, West Covina police Lt. Tommy Garcia said.
“(The robber) told (the victim) he had a gun and would shoot him if he didn’t give it to him,” Garcia said.
The young victim handed over his cell phone, and the robber fled northbound on Vincent Avenue before cutting through Vincent Avenue Elementary School, police said.
Police spotted the young suspect as he emerged from the school and arrested him, Garcia said. He was booked on suspicion of robbery.
Because of the age of the suspect, his name was not released.
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Man and woman rob Norwalk cell phone store

NORWALK — Deputies are seeking a man and woman who carried out an armed robbery Thursday at a cell phone store, officials said.
The crime took place about 1:40 p.m. at Metro PCS, 11617 Rosecrans Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Josie Woolum said.
The robbers wore bandanas over their faces as they entered the store and demanded money, the lieutenant said. The male robber was armed with a handgun, while the female robber carried a bag.
After ordering a store employee to place money in the bag, the man and woman were last seen getting into a white pickup truck, possibly a Ford, Woolum said.
Both robbers appeared to be in their 30s, officials said.
The man was about 6 feet 2 inches tall, 200 pounds, wearing a gray hooded sweat shirt and blue jean shorts, Woolum said. The woman was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, 150 pounds and wore a gray hooded sweat shirt and gray sweat pants.
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Have you seen this burglar? Sketch of Alhambra residential break-in suspect released

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ALHAMBRA — Police Thursday released a sketch of a man who tried to break into an Alhambra home last month and may be linked to other crimes in the city.
The man broke a bedroom window and tried to force his way into a home in the 400 block of South Second Street about 1:10 p.m. April 13, but was scared off by a resident who was home at the time, according to Alhambra police Detective John Lee.
Police worked with the victim to develop a sketch of the failed burglar in hopes of identifying him, the detective said. The sketch was released to the public Thursday.
In addition to the break-in on Second Street, Lee said, investigators suspect the same man may be responsible for other crime in the area.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Lee at 626-570-5158.
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Monrovia cops, firefighters to complete in charity basketball game

MONROVIA — Monrovia police and firefighters will compete in a charity basketball game next month to raise money for the American Cancer Society, officials said.
The “Battle of the Badges” game will take place at 6:30 p.m. June 1 at the Monrovia High School basketball gym, 845 W. Colorado Blvd., organizers said in a written statement.
Admission is $5. Children 12 and under will be admitted free.
The event is being hosted by the Monrovia Police Officers Association and the Monrovia Firefighters Association.
For more information, contact Monrovia police Officer Garcia at 626-256-8000.
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Suicide suspected after body found at South El Monte elementary school

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SOUTH EL MONTE — Officials are investigating the discovery of an 18-year-old man’s body found hanging from a piece of playground equipment at an elementary school as an apparent suicide, authorities said.
School employees arrived at Miramonte Elementary School, 10620 E. Schmidt Road, prior to the school day before 8 a.m. and found the body hanging from a piece of equipment on a playground at the south end of the school, Detective Steve Blagg of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
While the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner will perform an autopsy to determine the young man died, Blagg said there were no initial signs of foul play.
The scene appeared consistent with a suicide, Blagg said.
The body was discovered before school started, and officials quickly erected tarps to conceal the area, preventing any students from seeing it.
By the early afternoon, coroner’s officials had removed the body and there were no remaining signs of the investigation.
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Walnut man sentenced for shooting brother

POMONA — A Walnut man received a 5-year prison sentence earlier this week after admitting shooting his older brother in the leg during an argument in February, officials said.
Sean Alexander Kent, 41, received his sentence from Pomona Superior Court Commissioner Wade Olson after pleading no contest to charges of assault with a firearm, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said. The plea and sentencing came during what was scheduled to be Kent’s preliminary hearing.
Additionally, Kent was sentenced to an additional 180 days in jail after being found guilty of violating his probation, however he was given credit for 192 days of time already served, according to district attorney’s officials and county booking records.
Kent got into an argument with his then-43-year-old Feb. 14 at a home in the 19800 block of Vista Hermosa Drive, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators said. He ultimately shot his older brother in the leg.
Kent fled the scene following the shooting, but was arrested two days later when he was spotted by a West Covina police officer driving in the 300 block of South Prosepero Drive in Covina, sheriff’s officials said.
Police subdued him with a bean bag projectile before taking him into custody.
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Officials identify man found dead in South Pasadena home

SOUTH PASADENA — Authorities Thursday released the name of a 51-year-old man found dead in his South Pasadena home earlier this week, though his cause of death remained under investigation.
Miguel E. Santamaria was found by a friend unresponsive and bloody just after noon Monday at his home in the 1600 block of Amberwood Drive, according to South Pasadena police and Los Angeles County coroner’s officials.
It was not immediately clear how Santamaria died, so sheriff’s homicide detectives and coroner’s officials were summoned to conduct an investigation, police said.
An autopsy had not been completed Thursday, coroner’s officials said.
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