IRWINDALE >> Police jailed a wanted felon Friday after he tried to using a stolen credit card and identification to buy items at an Irwindale hardware store, officials said.
Daniel Garcia, 33, of Los Angeles, is accused of identity theft, false impersonation of another person and possession of drug paraphernalia, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said. He’s additionally wanted by South Gate police due to an auto theft warrant and Manhattan Beach police in an identity theft case.
The arrest took place about 5:20 p.m. when the suspect tried to make purchases at Grainger Industrial Supply, 12780 Schabarum Ave., the sergeant said.
Store employees called police to report the fraud attempt, and Garcia ran from officers when they arrived at the store, Zendejas said. He was captured nearby, without a struggle.
Friday’s incident was the second time in recent days Garcia has gone shopping at the hardware store with stolen identification and credit cards, police said. He successfully bought goods at the store with fraudulent information in recent days, though the exact date was not available Saturday.
It is estimated that the suspect fraudulently purchased items totaling $3,000,” Zendejas added.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Garcia was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
Detectives suspect a former Catholic school music teacher and choir director of molesting a female student 12 years ago while working at a South El Monte Catholic school, officials said.
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau jailed Elohim D’Leon, 43, of El Monte Thursday afternoon on suspicion of 10 counts of committing lewd acts on a child younger than 14 years old, according to sheriff’s officials county booking records.
D’Leon, who more recently worked at Holy Angels school and parish in Arcadia from 2004 to 2013, is accused of committing the crimes in the 2003-04 school year while working as a music teacher at Epiphany Catholic School in South El Monte, Holy Angels school and sheriff’s officials said.
“The girl was a fifth grader. He was her music teacher,” Detective Michael Silva said.
“There was inappropriate touching that would occur after school,” Silva said. “These incidents would occur in a classroom.”
Silva said the victim, who is now an adult, first reported the crimes in early February, triggering an investigation.
D’Leon also served as the choir director for the Epiphany school and parish “and has had some involvement in other music activities in the Archdiocese over the years,” Holy Angels school Principal Ted Carroll and Holy Angels parish Pastor Michael Evans said in an email sent to parents
The suspect worked at Epiphany school and parish from 2001 to 2004.
In addition to D’Leon’s work at Epiphany and Holy Angels, he “provided music for some liturgies and regional events in the Archdiocese,” Archdiocese of Los Angeles spokeswoman Monica Valencia said.
It was not clear how or why is employment with the Archdiocese ended in 2013.
“Law enforcement has advised that he has no prior criminal record and that they are not aware at this time of any misconduct with any other minors, but their investigation is ongoing,” the statement said. “The Archdiocese and Holy Angels continue to cooperate with authorities in their investigation. We express our gratitude to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for making this case a priority.”
Holy Angels officials could not be reached for direct comment Saturday.
Holy Angels and sheriff’s officials ask anyone with information to contact Detective Silva at the Sheriff’s Special Victim’s Bureau at 877-710-5273. Archdiocese of Los Angeles Coordinator of Victims Assistance Ministry Suzanne Healy also is available at 213-637-7650.
“We also ask that you keep everyone impacted by this sad situation in your thoughts and prayers,” the emailed statement said.
D’Leon was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in Pomona Superior Court, records show.
ARCADIA >> Detectives seeking a missing 13-year-old Arcadia boy who disappeared after school Friday afternoon found him safe Saturday in Temple City, authorities said.
The grandmother of the boy dropped him off about 8 a.m. at Dana Middle School, 1401 S. First Avenue, Arcadia police Sgt. James Trabbie said.
“We have a record of him attending school,” the sergeant said. But he was not seen after.
“Just before midnight, the reporting party notified the Arcadia Police Department that his son had not returned home from school and has not been heard from,” Trabbie said. He did not have a cell phone or any money with him.
Detectives found the boy about 11:30 a.m. at the home of a friend in Temple City, Trabbie said. Police brought him back to the Arcadia Police Department to reunite him with his parents.
AZUSA >> An unidentified man died after he was struck by two cars while darting across traffic lanes of the 210 Freeway late Friday, authorities said.
Drivers began calling 9-1-1 at 11:50 p.m. to report a shirtless, barefoot young man was walking in and across westbound traffic lanes of the 210 Freeway, east of Citrus Avenue, according to California Highway Patrol logs. Witnesses reported the man was running back and forth between the right shoulder and the center divider, and running in lanes along with traffic.
“While CHP units from the Baldwin Park area office were responding, CHP dispatch was advised the pedestrian had been struck by numerous vehicles,” CHP Officer C. Guin said in a written statement. Paramedics pronounced the man dead at 12:11 a.m.
The man was struck five minutes after the initial 9-1-1 calls, after he had made his way west of Citrus Avenue, according to CHP logs.
The drivers of a 2007 Chevrolet and a 2014 Kia that struck the man remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, officials said. Investigators did not suspect intoxicated driving.
The man’s identity remained unknown Saturday, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said. He was listed as a “John Doe.”
Officials shut down all westbound traffic on the freeway for about 30 minutes before gradually reopening lanes, logs show.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Baldwin Park office of the CHP 626-338-1164.
EL MONTE >> An unknown gunman shot an El Monte man in the back Friday afternoon in a seemingly unprovoked attack along Maxson Road, authorities said.
Lt. Ben Lowry said El Monte police received a call about a shooting in the 3700 block of Maxson Road at 3:24 p.m.
Police found no victims at the scene, however a person showed up at a local emergency room with a gunshot wound a short time later, the lieutenant said. The wounded man had been taken to a hospital by private vehicle.
The man suffered a gunshot wound to his back and was being treated for injuries not considered to life-threatening, Lowry said.
The 21-year-old victim reported he was walking down the street when a Latino man of this build carrying a black handgun approached him from behind, police said.
Five or six shots were fired, but only one struck the man, Lowry said.
The motive in the shooting was not clear.
Officials briefly placed nearby Baker Elementary School and Jerry Voorhis Elementary School on lockdown following the gunfire, Lowry said.
WEST COVINA >> An armed robber took $400 and a purse from a business Thursday night.
West Covina Police Officer Eddie Flores said no one was injured during the 7:42 p.m. robbery in the 1400 block of West Garvey Avenue North.
A car pulled into the parking lot of the business which Flores described as a pain management center where acupuncture is available.
Flores said a man got out of the back seat, entered the place, pulled a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at an employee. A second employee was in the back, he added.
Flores said the employee ran to the rear and locked herself in a room with her co-worker.
The robber ransacked the counter area, took a purse, money and left.
He was described as Latino or white, 21 to 25, between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing between 140 and 170 pounds. There was no description available for the getaway driver. The car they used was described as 4-door black or dark gray sedan.
– By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales
GLENDORA >> A West Covina man who has worked as a nursing assistant at healthcare facilities throughout the San Gabriel Valley is accused of stealing more than $40,000 from at least two elderly patients in Glendora by fraudulently using their financial information, police said.
Police arrested 29-year-old Maui Berganio at his home Thursday, Glendora police Detective Zach Houser said in a written statement.
He allegedly stole debit card and account information from two elderly guests of Kindred Transitional Care in Glendora to purchase items for himself online, including furniture, Nike tennis shoes and car parts, Glendora police spokeswoman Tricia Ayers said.
“He’s worked at several different care facilities,” Ayers said. Detectives continued seeking any additional victims. “There could be possible additional charges filed,” she said.
In addition to Kindred Transitional Care, over the past 10 years, Berganio has also worked at Arbor Glen Care Center in Glendora, Doctors Hospital in West Covina, West Haven Healthcare Center in West Covina, Citrus Valley Health Partners – Queen of the Valley Camapus in West Covina and Sierra View Care Center in Baldwin Park, police said. And it’s possible he has worked at other Southern California facilities.
Berganio’s alleged identity theft first came to light Jan. 8 when a woman in her 80s staying at the care center noticed some suspicious behavior, officials said.
An elderly guest as Kindred Transitional Care in Glendora awoke to find certified nursing assistant Maui Berganio kneeling by her bedside,” Houser said. “It was later discovered that Berganio had obtained the elderly guest’s debit card information, which he used to attempt numerous fraudulent online transactions totaling over $8,000.”
Investigators ultimately arrested Berganio Thursday afternoon at his home in the 1300 block of East Fairgrove Avenue in West Covina, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
The suspect admitted also using the financial information of another woman in her 80s who was staying at Kindred Transitional Care over the past year, police said. The alleged victim died earlier this month.
In that case, Berganio is accused of running up more than $40,000 in online purchases, Ayers said.
Police booked Berganio on suspicion of elder abuse and identity theft, she added.
According county booking records, Berganio was being held in lieu of $50,000 bal. He is scheduled to appear Monday in West Covina Superior Court.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Houser at 626-914-8286.
PHOTOS of suspect Maui Berganio, 29, of West Covina, and photos of goods allegedly purchased with the stolen identities of elderly women, courtesy of the Glendora Police Department.
WEST COVINA >> A masked gunman robbed a West Covina acupuncture and massage business late Thursday, officials said.
The crime took place about 7:45 p.m. when the robber barged into the business in the 1400 block of West Garvey Avenue North, West Covina police Lt. Pat Cirrito said.
A man wearing dark clothing, a hooded sweatshirt and a mask brandished a dark-colored handgun as he helped himself to cash and fled, police said.
No injuries were reported, and no further details were available.
BALDWIN PARK >> A man died and a woman was hospitalized following a stabbing at a Baldwin Park townhouse Thursday afternoon , officials said.
The incident was first reported at 5:36 p.m. in the 4700 block of Maine Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Al Jackson said.
Paramedics pronounced a 23-year-old man dead at the scene, fire Capt. Matt Boyan said. A woman, described as 18 or 19 years old, was taken to a trauma center with stab wounds described as moderate.
No outstanding suspects were being sought in what Lt. Steve Jauch of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said initially appeared to be an incident of domestic violence between the man and woman.
“The male and female do have some type of dating relationship,” the lieutenant said.
The man lived at the home where the stabbing took place, while the woman was believed to live elsewhere in town, Jauch said.
The circumstances of the violence that unfolded at the townhouse remained unclear as the investigation was in its early stages, he said. There was no evidence to indicate anyone else was involved, but Jauch said it was too early to label either the dead man or the woman as a criminal suspect.
Police first responded to the scene after a neighbor discovered the wounded woman on the front porch of a neighboring home, Jauch said. Police found the man in the garage of his home a short time later.
Jauch declined to discuss any statement the woman may have made prior to being hospitalized. Detectives planned to interview her soon.
Both the man and woman suffered stab wounds to their upper torsos, Jauch said. But investigators had not recovered any weapons believed to be involved in the incident.
Neighbors and workers at a nearby business said they did not see or hear anything out of the ordinary before police swarmed into the neighborhood and began cordoning off a townhouse with yellow crime scene tape.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau responded to help Baldwin Park police with the investigation. Anyone with information can reach the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTO by Sarah Reingewirtz
ARCADIA >> Police cautioned the public Thursday about an ongoing rash of purse thefts from vehicles targeting women shopping at Asian markets in Arcadia.
The series of crimes began in mid-December, with the most recent theft reported Wednesday, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement.
Eight such crimes have been reported over the past two months outside the 99 Ranch Market, 1300 block of S. Golden West Ave., as well as the Arcadia Supermarket, 645 West Duarte Road, Castro said.
The thefts have primarily been occurring as women are loading items into their car, Castro said.
The thieves, who have been described with several varying descriptions, snatch the purses from the passenger compartment or trunk area of the unlocked vehicles before fleeing in getaway cars of their own, police said.
Police urged residents to be aware of the surroundings and offered several safety tips.
Always lock car doors, even when sitting inside, police said. Purses and other valuables should be kept out of view.
Police asked residents to report any suspicious activity immediately, and pay attention to license plate numbers and other details about the suspicious people or vehicles.