PASADENA >> A man who drove to Pasadena to buy some jewelry after arranging a meeting with a prospective seller ended up being robbed at gunpoint, police said.
The crime unfolded about 10:15 a.m. after the victim, a 28-year-old Los Angeles man, arranged to sell some jewelry via the online marketplace, “OfferUp,” and met the purported buyer near Colorado Boulevard and Oakland Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said. A man and women met him.
“Upon meeting the suspects, one produces a handgun, the female, produced a handgun,” Goodman said.
Her male accomplice assaulted the victim and stole his money, as well as some jewelry he happened to be wearing, the lieutenant said. Police did not disclose the amount of money stolen. The victim declined to be taken to a hospital.
Police described the robbers a black woman between 21 and 23 years old, of thin build, with black hair and wearing dark gray clothes. The second robber was described only as a Latino man between 18 and 20.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PASADENA >> An elderly woman continued recovering from serious burn injuries after accidentally set herself on fire while lighting a cigarette in front of a Pasadena grocery store on Thursday, police said.
The 78-year-old woman was initially hospitalized in critical condition following the apparent mishap, which took place about 4 p.m. outside of Vons in the Orangewood Center, 155 E. California Blvd., Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said. An update on her condition was not available Saturday.
The woman and her husband arrived at the store in their car, the lieutenant said. The woman stayed in the car while her husband went inside to make some purchases.
While lighting a cigarette, “It appears she may have accidentally set her clothing on fire while seated in the vehicle,” Goodman said.
Witnesses noticed the fire and pulled the woman from the car before rescuers arrived, he added.
Paramedics rushed the woman to a hospital with “significant” burn injuries, Goodman said.
Police recovered a disposable cigarette lighter at the scene.
Though the incident appeared accidental, police and Pasadena fire officials still investigating, Goodman said. “There’s nothing to suggest there was any foul play.”
POMONA >> Four people died and four other were hurt in a hit-and-run collision on the 60 Freeway in Pomona early Saturday morning, authorities said.
The crash took place about 5 a.m. on the eastbound 60 Freeway, just west of Reservoir Street, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
The eight victims, four men and four women between 21 and 49 years old, were all riding in a 2003 Ford Explorer and on their way home after a night out at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights when the crash occurred.
All four of those killed were passengers, and all were residents of Lake Elisnore, officials said.
They were identified as Elba Rosales, 26; Luis Herrera, 29; Noemi Herrera, 21; and Gerardo Herrera, 49, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Acting Lt. B. Kim said. The relationship between the victims was not available.
The four survivors, two men and two women, were hospitalized with injuries ranging from moderate to major, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
The Explorer, which was only configured to seat seven people, was traveling in the No. 2 lane at 65 to 75 miles per hour when a newer-model white vehicle struck the left side of the SUV, according to CHP Officer S. Sullinger.
(The Explorer driver) immediately lost control of her vehicle as it veered sharply to the right,” Sullinger said. “(The Explorer) subsequently overturned within the No. 4 lane and on the right shoulder area.
“The vehicle continued to overturn multiple times down a dirt embankment, across the Reservoir Street offramp, down a second dirt embankment, and finally came to rest against the chain-link perimeter fence,” Sullinger said.
Four victims were pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
Six of the eight people inside the Explorer were thrown from the SUV, he said.
Investigators found damage, and possible paint transfer, on the left side of the SUV that appeared consistent with the account of the driver, a 25-year-old Lake Elisnore woman, Jimenez said.
A detailed description of the hit-and-run car was not available, Jimenez said.
Of the four people who died, only one was wearing a seat belt, officials said.
The victims had just spend the evening at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Night and stopped for dinner before the crash occurred as they were on their way home, Jimenez said.
There was no indication the crash involved alcohol or drugs, officials said.
The fatal crash resulted in a Sig Alert that affected the freeway and nearby connector roads through Saturday afternoon.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office at 626-338-1164.
PASADENA >> Police arrested a man and teen following a brief pursuit in a stolen car, as well as the man’s brother, who they say interfered with the arrest on Friday, officials said.
Jose Ibarra, 19, of Pasadena and a teenage boy were booked on suspicion of auto theft, while Ibarra’s brother, Rafael Ibarra, was accused of resisting police with violence and resisting or obstructing police, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said.
The incident began about 1:25 p.m. when patrol officers received a notification from an automated license plate reader that a Ford Escape driving in the area of Penn Street and Garfield Avenue had been reported stolen, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said.
The driver, later identified as Jose Ibarra, refused to pull over, initiating a chase, he said.
The teenage passenger got out of the car and ran in the area of Howard Street and Fair Oaks Avenue, but was soon captured, the lieutenant said.
The driver of the Ford Escape continued until he reached Navarro Avenue, just south of Howard Street, where he pulled over near his home, Hettema said. As officers took the driver into custody, his older brother came outside and interfered with the arrest, Hettema said. Rafael Ibarra scuffled with officers before being arrested on suspicion of resisting police with violence and resisting or obstructing police. He was treated for a minor injury suffered in the scuffle before being booked into jail.
According to county booking records, Jose Ibarra was being held in lieu of $75,000 pending his initial court appearance, while Rafael Ibarra was being held in lieu of $51,000 bail.
LOS ANGELES >> The owner of nightclubs in Pico Rivera and Moreno Valley who admitted laundering drug money for foreign drug traffickers through his businesses received a two-year prison sentence on Thursday, officials said.
Edgar Fragoso, 39, of Hacienda Heights was sentenced to 24 months in custody, with one year to be served behind bars, and another year of home detention, U.S. DOJ spokesman Thom Mrozek said. U.S. District Judge George Wu also ordered Fragoso to pay a $14,000 fine and agreed to give up his liquor license.
Fragoso owned the El Rodeo nightclubs, formerly at 8825 Washington Blvd., as well as another location in Moreno Valley.
Fragoso agreed to plead guilty in August of 2015 to a single count of money laundering.
Prosecutors allege Fragoso laundered more than $35,000 from methamphetamine sales for a drug dealer operating out of Mexico, and also collected $200,000 in payments from undercover federal agents posing as members of a drug-trafficking organization, according to the indictment.
Prior to reaching a plea deal, Fragoso was initially indicted on one count of conspiracy to launder money and seven counts of money laundering. He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges at his arraignment in March of 2015.
All but the single count of money laundering was dismissed under the plea arrangement.
If convicted as charged, Fragoso could have faced up to 20 years in federal prison for each of the eight counts on which he was indicted.
The two-year sentence handed down Thursday was only a fraction of the 25 years in prison Fragoso could have faced as a maximum penalty.
The reasoning behind the sentence was unclear Friday, as the sentencing memorandum in the case had been filed under seal, Mrozek said.
LOS ANGELES >> Three gang members, including a “shot caller” who directed the gang on behalf of the Mexican Mafia, each received sentences of more than decade in prison stemming from a federal investigation targeting the El Monte Flores gang, authorities announced Friday.
Mexican Mafia shot caller James “Chemo” Gutierrez, 53, and EMF gang member Kenneth Cofer, 37, were sentenced Thursday to 15 years in federal prison each, while co-defendant and fellow EMF member John Rivera, 54, was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months behind bars, U.S. Department of Justice Spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“We now have secured lengthy prison terms for key members of one of the oldest street gangs in Los Angeles County after using the federal racketeering statute to dismantle the organization’s leadership structure,” according to U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker.
But the fight against gangs continues.
“Even with significant gains made by law enforcement, street gangs remain one of the most dangerous criminal elements in the region and a significant contributor to violent crime,” Decker said. “We are committed, however, to restoring order in neighborhoods affected by the violence and drug trafficking perpetrated by street gangs like the El Monte Flores gang.”
Gutierrez and Cofer pleaded guilty in April to violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, conspiracy to distribute drugs and conspiracy to launder money in connection with a 61-count indictment targeting 41 EMF members first unsealed in 2014.
Gutierrez served as a “shot caller,” directing activities of EMF at the behest of the Mexican Mafia.
Gutierrez acknowledged in his plea that he regularly extorted “taxes” from drug dealers operating in EMF’s claimed territory, and had authorized an attack on a rival gang member, Mrozek said. Prosecutors noted he has a lengthy criminal history, including a racketeering-related murder convictions that resulted in a 20-year prison sentence.
Gutierrez served a “pivotal role in the gang’s drug distribution, extortion, and violent activity,” according to the prosecution’ sentencing memorandum. Prosecutors described Gutierrez as the lead defendant in the case.
In addition the RICO and conspiracy charges, Cofer also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, Mrozek said.
Cofer admitted to managing and supervising the gang’s extortion and drug trafficking, including directing the use of violence on behalf of the gang, according to Mrozek. He admitted to authorizing the shooting of someone who had been involved in a dispute with a fellow gang member.
Rivera pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to violate the RICO Act and conspiracy distribute drugs.
Thirty-one of the 41 gang members names in the 2014 indictment have pleaded guilty in connection with the case, Mrozek said.
Gutierrez admitted to
Prosecutors claimed EMF was holding meeting and selling drugs from the Boys & Girls Club on Mountain View Road, which was closed a month after the indictment against the gang was unsealed.
In a related case, another EMF member, 30-year-old Christian “Bossy” Lafargo, was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in federal prison in May after admitting to charges including conspiracy, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, committing violent crime in aid of racketeering and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
WEST COVINA >> A gunman wearing a Halloween mask carried out an armed robbery at a West Covina Chinese food restaurant, police said.
The heist took place shortly after 2 p.m. at the Silver Dragon Restaurant at the Plaza West Covina shopping mall, 1129 West Covina Parkway, West Covina police Lt. David Lee said.
A robber entered the store, brandished a handgun and demanded money from the cash register, he said. He fled with between $100 and $200.
The gunman wore a white, plastic Halloween mask similar to that of “Jason” in the “Friday the 13th” horror movie series.
He was in his late-30s to early-40s, heavy set, about 6 feet tall, with a tattoo on the right side of his neck.
Anyone with information can reach the West Covina Police Department at 626-939-8500, or the department’s 24-hour tip hotline at 626-939-8688.
WEST COVINA >> A man stabbed a woman and her adult daughter in West Covina before turning himself in to authorities in East Los Angeles late Thursday, police said.
Eduardo Marin, 46, of East Los Angeles was arrested following the double stabbing at a home in the 3100 block of South Adrienne Drive, West Covina police Lt. David Lee said.
A woman in her 40s, with whom Marine had previously had a relationship, was hospitalized in critical condition but expected to survive after undergoing surgery, he said. Her daughter, a woman in her 20s, suffered injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
Marin showed up at the victims’ home about 9 p.m. and became involved in argument, according to the lieutenant.
“Some type of argument ensued,” he said. “He stabbed the mother and daughter.”
Marin fled from the crime scene on a motorcycle but soon turned himself in to the deputies at the Los Angeles County sheriff’s East Los Angeles Station, Lee said.
He was expected to be booked on suspicion of attempted murder.
Authorities cordoned off the neighborhood as detectives and crime scene investigators scoured the scene for evidence.
Lee said the knife believed to have been used in the stabbing was recovered at the scene.
WHITTIER >> Rescuers flew a badly injured man to a trauma center after he was struck by a minivan after running into traffic along Colima Road in Whittier on Thursday afternoon, police said.
The collision took place about 3:45 p.m. along Colima Road, just north of Mar Vista Street, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Witnesses reported the man, estimated to be in his mid-20s, ran into traffic before being struck by a Honda minivan, the lieutenant said.
Paramedics took the injured man to a nearby baseball diamond, where they landed a helicopter to rush the patient to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Ellis said.
He remained hospitalized in critical condition with major head injuries Thursday night, Officer John Scoggins said.
The driver of the minivan remained at the scene and was cooperating with police, Ellis said.
The minivan was heading south, down a steep hill, when it struck the pedestrian, police said. There was no crosswalk at the collision site.
It was unclear why the man ran into traffic lanes, officials said.
Police shut down Colima Road as they investigated the scene. The road was expected to reopen late Thursday afternoon.
No further details were available.
MONTEREY PARK >> A Bakersfield man received a sentence of more than 16 years in state prison Thursday for stabbing another man 15 times, killing, at a Monterey Park pizza parlor four years ago, officials said.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury in Burbank convicted Jose De Jesus Ruiz, also known as Jose De Jesus Salas, 26, in July of second-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2012, stabbing death of 25-year-old Patrick Raymond Ortega at Shakey’s, 1955 S. Atlantic Blvd. The jury also found true the special allegation that Ruiz personally used a knife in the crime.
Judge Michael Carter sentenced Ruiz to 16 years to life in state prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
The stabbing took place shortly after 7 p.m. as Ruiz was gathered at the restaurant with members of a youth football organization.
He became involved in a dispute with Ortega, who witnesses testified was being “disruptive” inside the pizza parlor while dining with friends, according to Deputy District Attorney Theodore Swanson, who prosecuted the case.
Ruiz briefly left the restaurant before returning and stabbing Ortega 15 times, Swanson said.
Ruiz was found hiding in his car several hours later and arrested, officials said. .
Second-degree murder is defined in California as the unlawful killing of another with malice, but without deliberation or premeditation.
If convicted of first-degree murder — a murder deemed deliberate, premeditated and with malice — Ruiz could have faced a maximum sentence of 26 years to life behind bars.