EAST PASADENA >> Deputies arrested 10 men ranging in age from 28 to 78 on suspicion of soliciting prostitution late Thursday during an undercover sting near Pasadena, officials said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Human Exploitation and Trafficking Task Force conducted the sex buyer “John” sting in the unincorporated county area just East of Pasadena, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. Undercover female deputies posed as prostitutes throughout the night.
Deputies arrested 10 men for misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution, according to the sheriff’s statement. One of them was also booked for possession of methamphetamine and driving on a suspended license.
The suspects are residents of Azusa, Duarte, El Monte, Eagle Rock, La Verne, Pasadena, Huntington Park, Los Angeles and Rancho Cucamonga.
LOS ANGELES >> A federal grand jury Thursday indicted a Rowland Heights woman, a former Hacienda Heights couple and two other defendants who are accused of running a $30 million pyramid scheme targeting Chinese communities on both coasts, authorities said Friday.
Wen Chen “Wendy” Lee, 53, of Rowland Heights; Cheong Wha “Heywood” Chang, 47, of Taiwan and a former resident of Hacienda Heights; Chang’s wife Toni Chen, 46; Dalian “David” Guo, 53, of Hyde Park, New York; and Chih Hsuan “Kiki” Lin, 50, of Los Angeles and La Vegas are each charged with 13 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
The five operated a Hong Kong-based company known as CKB, WIN169 Biz Solutions Ltd., CKB168 Ltd. and Cyber Kid Best Education Limited, officials said.
The company purported to run a profitable business selling online educational courses for children, “but in reality was a pyramid scheme designed to generate new revenue by adding new investors,” Mrozek said.
Prosecutors allege the defendants collected about $30 million from investors, primarily in Chinese-American communities in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City between 2011 and 2014. They kept about $6.5 million of the money for themselves and transferred the rest to others involved in the scheme, according to the indictment.
“We believe that over 1,000 people invested in CKB, though it is unclear how many of those people invested directly through the defendants charged in this case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Goorvich said.
To lure investors into the scam, the defendants made numerous false promises and statements about CKB, which was not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, authorities said.
All five defendants are expected to appear in court to enter pleas next month, Mrozek said. They were arrested earlier this month following the filing of a sealed criminal complaint, Mrozek said.
Lin, who is also accused in the indictment of threatening victims in order to collect funds and dissuade them from talking to authorities, is being held without bond, while the others have been freed on bonds ranging from $250,000 to $500,000. If convicted as charged, each defendant faces up to 265 years in federal prison.
MONROVIA >> Detectives arrested a suspect Thursday in the slaying of a 31-year-old Monrovia woman found dead inside her car in June, officials said.
Investigators arrested Jose Roberto Turner, 47, about 8:30 a.m., on suspicion of the murder of Lajoya McCoy, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
McCoy was reported missing June 15, one day before officials found her body inside her car, which was parked in the 200 block of West Cypress Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said at the time.
“He is the ex-boyfriend of Lajoya McCoy,” Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
No further details were released regarding the investigation into the alleged slaying of the mother of two.
McCoy’s official cause of death has not been released due to a “security hold” placed on the case by sheriff’s investigators, coroner’s officials said. The security hold, which bars coroner’s officials from discussing their findings, remained in effect Thursday.
Turner was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
McCoy’s body appeared to have been left in her Toyota Camry for a period of time, though officials have declined to say exactly when McCoy is believed to have been killed. Detectives initially noted signs of a struggle at McCoy’s apartment, but declined to give further detail.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 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.
WEST VALINDA >> Prosecutors charged two West Valinda men with murder Thursday for the beating of their 44-year-old neighbor, a father of five, with a hammer and cement blocks earlier in the week, authorities said.
Doctors declared Luis Segura brain dead Wednesday afternoon from injuries suffered in the beating, which took place about 7 p.m. Monday in the 13400 block of Moccasin Street, said Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter.
Flavio Macias Jr. 28, and his brother Jonathan Macias, 23, were each charged with a count of murder in Pomona Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Lt. David Coleman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said the motive in the attack remained unclear.
“This is tragic,” he said. “(Segura) was a hard working guy. He had five kids.”
Segura and the Macias brothers had been neighbors for at least 15 years, Coleman said.
The lieutenant described Segura’s relationship with his neighbors as “cordial” and said detectives were aware of no previous incidents of violence.
Segura apparently went outside to speak with the brothers before the attack, though it was unclear what they discussed or what prompted Monday’s beating, Coleman said. “We don’t know exactly what happened.”
The victim’s wife called 911 after she went looking for him and discovered the two suspects trying to load the severely injured man into his own van, Coleman said.
Deputies arrested the brothers with the use of tear gas and a sheriff’s K-9 following an eight-hour standoff at their home, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Flavio Macias carried out the attack while Jonathan Macias acted as a lookout, prosecutors said.
“The felony complaint includes a special allegation that Flavio Macias Jr. used deadly and dangerous weapons, hammer and blocks, during the commission of the crime,” Ardalani said. He has previous convictions for domestic violence in 2005, carrying a dirk or dagger in 2006 and drug possession in 2012.
Segura was pronounced brain dead at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center Wednesday afternoon, according to Winter and hospital spokeswoman Rosa Saca.
Though clinically dead, Segura remained on life-support Thursday so that his organs may be harvested for transplant.
An arraignment hearing scheduled Thursday for the Macias brothers was postponed to Sept. 23 in Pomona Superior Court, Ardalani said.
MONTEBELLO >> Police arrested a transient Wednesday they believe kidnapped and carjacked a 19-year-old Azusa woman at knifepoint the day before.
Police, aided by a K-9, found and arrested Omar Alfaro Juarez, 23, about 7:40 a.m. in the 1300 block of South Montebello Boulevard, according to Montebello police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He’s accused of kidnapping, carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a series of crimes, unfolding about 2 a.m. Tuesday at Bluff Road and Whittier Boulevard, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
The woman had stopped her car in the area to rest and wait for a friend while driving home and fell asleep with car unlocked, police said.
“She was later awakened when she felt something on her neck and realized that a male was in her passenger seat holding a knife to her neck,” according to the statement.
Juarez allegedly forced the woman over to the passenger seat and drove her around for several hours, forcing her to remove $20 from an ATM at Beach Street and Greenwood Avenue, Montebello police Detective Alfred Martinez said, officials said.
The woman reported seeing a possible second suspect at the convenience store, though police were still seeking that man and trying to determine whether he was involved in the crime, Martinez said.
The woman was freed about six hours later when a parking enforcement officer called police to report what they thought to be domestic violence in the 1700 block of Bluff Road, Martinez said. Juarez fled when officers arrived and was not found.
Detectives later identified Juarez as the suspect and began surveillance in the area of Montebello Boulevard and Elm Street, where he was known to frequent. They spotted Juarez Wednesday afternoon.
“Juarez refused to surrender and was apprehended by K-9 Cody,” the police statement says. Vernon and Monterey Park police assisted in the arrest, along with a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter.
The woman suffered a superficial cut to her neck, but no serious injuries, Martinez said.
Juarez was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
PHOTO of suspect Omar Juarez courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.
SAN DIMAS >> Deputies arrested one man and sought another after the suspects fled from a stolen car in San Dimas Wednesday afternoon, officials said. Marcos Hernandez, 27, was booked for auto theft following the incident, which began about 7:30 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said. He was a passenger in a stolen 1995 Honda Accord deputies spotted in the 400 block of East Bonita Avenue, Edwards said. Hernandez and the driver abandoned the car and ran through a residential neighborhood when deputies approached, according to the lieutenant. Hernandez was quickly found and captured, however the driver of the stolen car remained at-large, she said. Officials described him as a Latino man with a letter “P” tattooed on his face. He was about 5 feet 7 inches tall and of average built, with a shaved head.
ARCADIA >> Police are seeking a man who groped two women near two different school campuses in Arcadia Tuesday, officials said.
The incidents took place about 8:55 a.m. in front of Richard Henry Dana Middle School, 1401 S. First Ave., and about 11 a.m. in the parking lot of Arcadia high School, 180 Campus Drive, Arcadia police Lt. Roy Nakamura said.
“Each victim reported a male suspect came up from behind as they were either approaching or walking away from their vehicles and placed them in a ‘bear hug’ without saying a word,” Nakamura said. “While being held, the victims felt several pelvic thrusts from behind before being released,” he said.
The victim in the first case was a woman in her 20s who had just dropped her child off at the school, he said. The victim of the second battery was a woman in her 50s who had gone to the high school to help with a school program, the lieutenant said.
Detectives believed the same suspect was responsible for both attacks. He was described as an Asian man between 16 and 20 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall, of ‘chubby’ build, with black hair and clean-shaven. He wore a black hooded sweat shirt and tan shorts during the crimes.
LOS ANGELES >> A Hacienda Heights man accused of laundering drug money through nightclubs he owns in Pico Rivera and Moreno Valley has agreed to plead guilty to a charge that could send him to prison for 25 years, according to authorities and court documents.
Edgar De Dios Fragoso, 38, has agreed to enter a guilty to a single federal charge of money laundering, according to a plea agreement filed Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles.
Under the plea arrangement, six additional counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy are to be dismissed, according to the document.
Fragoso pleaded not guilty to the eight-count federal indictment in March.
A hearing at which Fragoso will formally change his plea was yet to be scheduled, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
Fragoso is expected to receive a sentence of 25 years in federal prison, court records show.
He also agreed to forfeit his liquor license, Mrozek said.
“This brings some amount of closure to the case,” he said.
Prosecutors allege Fragoso laundered more than $35,000 in U.S. proceeds from methamphetamine sales on behalf of a drug dealer operating out of Mexico, and also collected $200,000 in payments from undercover federal agents posing as representatives of a drug-trafficking organization, according to the indictment.
Fragoso, who was arrested Feb. 23, is free on a $100,000 bond.
ROSEMEAD >> A man suffered major injuries Wednesday when a car he was repairing fell from a jack and crushed him, officials said.
The accident took place about 9:30 a.m. in front a of a home in the 3000 block of Jackson Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Ray Garcia said.
Firefighters arrived at the scene to find sheriff’s deputies had already re-lifted the two-door BMW to free the man, estimated to be about 30 years old, the captains said.
He had suffered cuts to his head and possible crush injuries to his chest, Garcia. Paramedics took the badly injured man to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment. An update on his condition was not available Wednesday afternoon.
Deputies from the sheriff’s Temple Station were investigation the incident.
SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of loved ones, including fellow Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scouts, will march Friday to honor the life of a 19-year-old Whittier man shot to death four years ago along with 24-year-old friend, as well as renew their call for justice in the unsolved double-slaying.
Lifelong Whittier resident Cesar Rodriguez, who dreamed of becoming a sheriff’s deputy, was gunned down Aug. 28, 2011, along with Larry Villegas of Whittier as the two left a friend’s home in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue in unincorporated South Whittier.
The killing remains unsolved.
Friends, family members and law enforcement officials will gather for a Mass at 5 p.m. Friday at St. Pious X Church, 10827 Pioneer Blvd. in Santa Fe Springs, before gathering at 7 p.m. at Laurel Avenue and Beaty Street in South Whittier, said Rodriguez’s brother, George Rodriguez.
Marchers will then walk past the shooting scene to Amelia Mayberry Park, 13201 Meyer Road in South Whittier.
Similar marches were held 2014, 2013 and 2012.
Cesar Rodriguez worked as an explorer at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station for four years prior to his death and planned to pursue a career as a sheriff’s deputy, sheriff’s officials said.
George Rodriguez said he remains hopeful his brother’s killer will be found and brought to justice, and wanted anyone with information about the shooting to provide that information to investigators.
Detectives have followed up on information regarding possible persons of interest over the past year, but nothing has developed into a solid lead, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. “We’re back to square one.”
Corina also asked that anyone with information come forward. “They can be anonymous if they want,” he said.
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.