EL MONTE >> A Pomona Superior Court Judge sentenced an El Monte man to 50 years to life in prison Wednesday for sexually molesting his girlfriend’s young daughter in 2012, authorities said.
A jury convicted Miguel Angel Lomeli, 43, on April 4 of two counts of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child 10 years old or younger, two counts of oral copulation or sexual penetration with a foreign object with a child 10 years old or younger, one count of forcible lewd act on a child and one count of an attempted lewd or lascivious act with a child under 14 years old, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“The prosecutor said Lomeli dated the victim’s mother for a short time before moving into her home,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Evidence presented at trial revealed that Lomeli sexually assaulted the victim between June and November, 2012.”
El Monte police investigators arrested Lomeli Nov. 15, 2012, according to officials and Los Angeles County booking records. He remained in custody pending his trial, conviction and sentencing.
SIERRA MADRE >> A man was believed to have fatally shot himself at a Sierra Madre park filled with families on Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
Police received numerous calls just after 12:30 p.m. reporting gunfire at Bailey Canyon Park, 451 W. Carter Avenue, Sierra Madre Police Chief Larry Giannone said.
“Officers arrived on scene and found a male down on the ground,” the chief said.
A doctor who happened to be nearby heard screaming and rushed to help, Giannone said. The doctor was performing CPR when first responders arrived, however paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene.
The identity of the man had not been determined Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said. Police described him as appearing to be in his 50s.
A gun was recovered near the body, Giannone said.
The investigation was ongoing, he said, however initial indicators pointed toward suicide.
The shooting took place near picnic tables and a hiking trail as more than a dozen people, including young children, were recreating in the park, Giannone said.
In addition to the loss of life involved in the incident, “This was an unfortunate tragedy for our community,” Giannone said. “The park was filled with visitors and hikers, several who witnessed this tragic incident”.
Officials continued scouring the scene for clues and interviewing witnesses. Coroner’s investigators were also summoned to the scene. Police also examined a black Toyota RAV4 SUV in the parking lot that the unidentified man was believed to have arrived at the park in.
It was not clear Sunday afternoon whether the screams reported by the doctor came from the man who ultimately died, or others who witnessed the incident or its aftermath.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A planned sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint in Santa Fe Springs was cut short over the weekend due to safety concerns created by rainfall, authorities said.
The checkpoint, which began about 8 p.m. Friday night along Florence Avenue just west of Pioneer Boulevard, was originally scheduled to continue for about six hours, Whittier police officials said.
But officers dismantled the checkpoint after about two hours due to the rain and increased safety risk it brought with it, Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Police screened 665 motorists during the checkpoint and cited four for driving without a license, Ellis said. Three drivers were given field sobriety tests, however none were arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving.
The checkpoint was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
PASADENA >> Police officers questioning a man for riding a bicycle without a light late Friday ended up arresting the cyclist on suspicion of carrying a stolen handgun and a high-capacity magazine, officials said.
Christopher Ramirez, 22, of Pasadena was booked on suspicion of possession of a concealed firearm, possession of a high-capacity magazine and receiving stolen property following the 11:18 p.m. encounter at Lake Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
Officers patrolling the area spotted Ramirez riding a bicycle without a light and stopped to talk to him, the lieutenant said.
“He admitted having a 9mm handgun in his pocket, and a high-capacity magazine in his back pocket,” Clawson said.
Under state law, ammunition magazine obtained after Jan. 1, 2000, with a capacity over 10 rounds is illegal. The capacity of the magazine Ramirez was arrested with was not available.
Police additionally determined the Glock handgun had been reported stolen in Nevada, he added.
Ramirez was being held in lieu of $35,000 bail at the Pasadena Police Department’s jail pending arraignment.
WEST COVINA >> Police uprooted about 700 marijuana plants valued at $1.5 million Saturday after real estate agents visiting a home for sale in West Covina stumbled upon a large marijuana growing operation Saturday, officials said.
The illicit garden was found about 1:30 p.m., concealed within a home in the 2400 block of Felicia Street, just southwest of Amar Road and Nogales Street, West Covina Police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
“The home is apparently up for sale,” the lieutenant said. Real estate agents who stopped by the home notified police of the pot plants growing inside.
Police obtained a search warrant before removing the plants and equipment from the house.
The home, which Patton described as “an exceptionally large marijuana grow,” was outfitted with extensive lighting and irrigation equipment.
No arrests had been made Saturday afternoon, and police were still looking into who was responsible for the home Sunday.
It initially appeared the home was owned by an absentee landlord who was unaware of the marijuana growing operation, Patton said.
One neighbor, who asked not to be identified for fear of possible retaliation, said she didn’t recall seeing anyone at the home, but the interior lights were often on in the middle of the night.
“We don’t see anybody there going in and out, even cars,” the neighbor said.
“It’s scary,” she added. “We don’t know who our neighbors are.”
ARCADIA >> Three burglars broke into an Arcadia Nordstrom store early Saturday and headed for the jewelry case, but fled empty-handed, police said.
The 4:07 a.m. break-in at the store in the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall, 400 S. Baldwin Avenue, was the second similar crime reported at the retailer in recent months, Arcadia police Sgt. Vaughn Whalen said.
Three burglars forced their way into the same store just after 4 a.m. Dec. 31, escaping with as much as $230,000 worth of jewelry and purses, Lt. Mike Castro said at the time.
But the store no longer stores jewelry in display cases overnight, Whalen said. Surveillance footage of the burglary shows the intruders going over to the jewelry display cases, then fleeing after finding it empty.
They had pried open a door to get into the Nordstrom store, Whalen added. The burglars were initially described only as three people, two of them wearing black ski masks.
Investigators had yet to determined whether Saturday morning’s break-in was related to the previous Nordstrom burglary on New Year’s Eve.
“Our detectives will be looking into all aspects of it,” Whalen said.
In the December crime, three burglars entered the store through a window before helping themselves to between $100,000 and $200,000 worth of jewelry, as well as $20,000 to $30,000 worth of purses, Castro said. A detailed description of the three burglars was not available.
PASADENA >> Metro Gold Line trains resumed operation with limited service between the Lake and Sierra Madre Villa stations late Friday as officials made repairs to the railroad, which was damaged Thursday in a truck crash, authorities said.
One of two train tracks between the two Pasadena stations was reopened about 9 p.m. Friday, Metro officials said in a written statement. Service resumed, however at less than normal capacity.
“While trains will run every 10 minutes between Atlantic and Lake Station, trains serving Allen and Sierra Madre Villa will run every 20 minutes,” according to the Metro statement. “In other words, only some Gold Line trains will travel all the way to/from Sierra Madre Villa Station. The others will turn back to Downtown LA/East LA at Lake Station. This is necessary to reduce train bunching and keep the line running smoothly until complete repairs are made.”
Travelers were advised to allow extra time to reach their destinations, especially if using the Allen or Sierra Madre Villa stations, authorities said.
“Trains traveling between Lake and Sierra Madre Villa stations will be required to reduce their speed, as crews will still be working nearby on repairs to the opposite track,” according to the statement.
Commuters who generally use the park-and-ride at the Sierra Madre Villa station were urged to consider using the Del Mar or Fillmore stations as an alternate to avoid shuttle bus delays. Parking at Fillmore is limited, and parking at Del Mar costs $2 with proof of Metro fare.
PASADENA — Prosecutors charged a 25-year-old woman with involuntary manslaughter Thursday in connection with death of her 74-year-old husband, who died at a hospital more than two weeks after she struck him in the head during a domestic dispute at their Pasadena home early this month.
Gina Marie Sas was already in custody on suspicion of domestic violence in connection with the April 1 incident in the 200 block of South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said.
Her husband, identified by coroner’s officials as Chi Lung Chang, was taken to a hospital for treatment of a small cut to his head, but was walking and talking and did not appear seriously injured, the lieutenant said.
But once at the hospital, Chang’s condition deteriorated quickly, and he was placed on life support the same day, officials said. He was pronounced dead April 18.
After additional investigation, “We amended the complaint yesterday. We charged her with involuntary manslaughter,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said. “She pleaded not guilty.”
Chang had been struck with an object, however police declined to say what object he was struck with, citing the ongoing investigation.
An officials cause of death was yet to be determined by coroner’s investigators pending the results of tests, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said.
Sas was next scheduled to appear in Pasadena Superior Court May 6 for a preliminary hearing setting, according to Los Angeles County booking records and district attorney’s officials. She was being held in lieu of $125,000 bail at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood.
Under state law, Sas could face up to eight years in state prison if convicted as charged.
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge sentenced two San Gabriel Valley man to prison and fined their South El Monte-based import-export company $75,000 for illegally moving millions of dollars from the U.S. to Mexico as part of a “black market peso exchange,” officials said.
Chaur Hwan “Kenny” Lin, 67, of Temple City and Antonio Pareja, 54, of San Gabriel were each sentenced to a year in federal prison by Judge John A. Kronstadt, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. Lin was also ordered to pay a $6,000 fine, and their company, Peace & Rich Import, Inc. — a wholesale distribute of goods including silk flowers — was fined $75,000 and placed on probation for four years.
“Judge Kronstadt also ordered Peace & Rich and Lin to forfeit more than $2 million of funds related to the crime,” Mrozek said.
Lin is the president and co-owner of Peace & Rich, while Pareja serves as manager, authorities said.
They worked with Mexican businesses and “peso brokers” to help send millions of dollars south of the border while circumventing conventional financial institutions, officials said.
“An investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles determined that Lin and Pareja used Peace & Rich to receive large amounts of cash derived from illegal activity,” according to the DOJ statement. “The cash – as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars – was typically delivered by couriers working in conjunction with a peso broker in Mexico.”
The cash was often hidden in duffel bags when transferred.
Under a black market peso scheme, peso brokers worth with people such as drug traffickers who have dollars in the United States which they want to send to Mexico and convert to pesos, Mrozek explained.
“The peso broker finds business owners in Mexico who buy goods from vendors in the United States, such as Peace & Rich, and need dollars to pay for those goods,” according to the statement. “The peso broker arranges for the illegally obtained dollars in the United States to be delivered to the United States-based vendors, such as Peace & Rich, where they are used to pay for the goods purchased by the Mexico based customers. Once the goods are shipped to Mexico and sold by the Mexico based business owner for pesos, the pesos are turned over to the peso broker, who then pays the drug trafficker in Mexico.”
Additionally, prosecutors said Lin circumvented cash reporting requirements when depositing large amounts of money into banks.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — The Whittier Police Department is planning a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint late Friday in Santa Fe Springs, authorities said.
The checkpoint will take place from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within Santa Fe Springs, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“Over the course of the past three years in the cities of Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, DUI collisions have claimed 4 lives and resulted in 119 injury crashes harming 167 of our friends and neighbors,” Sgt. Rob Hanson said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.