Mail boxes stolen from Alhambra post office

ALHAMBRA >> Two mail drop boxes were stolen from the Valley Boulevard U.S. Post Office in Alhambra overnight by suspected identity thieves, police said.
Two boxes were stolen and a third was damaged but remained in place following the theft, which was first discovered about 3:20 a.m. at the U.S. Post Office at 1603 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra police Sgt. Gabriel Ponce said.
The theft took place sometime after the mail was picked up from the office, which generally occurs about 5 p.m., he said.
“A vehicle was possibly used to dislodge them,” Ponce said. No suspect description was available.
The crime was believed to be the work of identity thieves seeking personal information to exploit, police said.
“If you placed your outgoing mail in one of the mail drop boxes at Benito and Valley Blvd. late (Wednesday) afternoon, there maybe a good chance your outgoing mail will not arrive at its intended destination,” police said in a written statement.
Anyone who placed sensitive information in the boxes late Wednesday is advised to keep an eye on financial statements and accounts.
Further inquiries were referred to the post office, which can be reached at 626-289-1432.

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Rosemead sexual predator sentenced for threatening woman in Alhambra

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A 65-year-old sexual predator who cut off his GPS ankle bracelet before luring a church acquaintance to a coffee shop and pulling a gun on her last year will likely die in prison.
Frank Hernandez of Rosemead received a sentence of 40 years to life in prison Friday for making criminal threats against the young woman, who had refused his romantic advances, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Arvazian said.
Hernandez already had a lifelong criminal history which included two rape convictions and bank robbery when he met with his latest victim on Sept. 12, 2013, Ayvazian said.
“He’s a true predator,” the prosecutor said. “He is a very dangerous person.”
Hernandez’s sentence is effectively a life sentence, Ayvazian said. Hernandez will be required to serve all 40 years of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole, at which time he will be 105 years old, Ayvazian said.
The jury failed to reach a verdict on two additional charges of attempted kidnapping and attempted carjacking. Ayvazian said he did not pursue those counts further, as they would not have added any additional prison time to Hernandez’s sentence.
Hernandez had met a 23-year-old victim through his church and had tried to pursue a romantic relationship with her, the prosecutor said. But the woman was not interested. She was unaware of Hernandez criminal history or his status as a registered sex offender.
Ayvazian said Hernandez persuaded the woman to meet him at a Starbucks coffee shop on Fremont Avenue in Alhambra about 9:30 a.m. Sept. 12, Alhambra police Sgt. Edward Rodriguez said at the time.
But first, he removed his court-ordered GPS tracking device, Ayvazian said.
“He cut it off that morning and hid it in a supermarket by his house. It was all pre-planned.” Ayvazian said.
As soon as the woman arrived in her car, Hernandez approached her and pulled a gun.
Hernandez tried to force his way into the woman’s car while ordering her to be quiet and threatening to kill her, Ayvazian said. He also struck her with the gun.
The crime was interrupted to by good Samaritans. One woman confronted Hernandez and told him to leave the woman alone, despite hearing the terrified victim scream that he had a gun. Hernandez abandoned the crime and fled.
A second woman obtained a photograph of Hernandez’s license plate as he drove away, helping police to quickly identify him as a suspect in the crime, according to Alhambra police Sgt. Joe Flannagan.
“They’re wonderful,” Ayvazian said of the two good Samaritans. “They were amazing.”
Police arrested Hernandez at his home within a few hours.
Hernandez was paroled from prison in 2011 following a 1990 rape conviction, according to Ayvazian and court records. He was also previously convicted of rape in 1984.
Hernandez served prison time in the 1970 for bank robbery, and has other robbery convicted dating back to his youth in the 1960s, Ayvazian said.
All of Hernandez previous convictions took place prior to California’s three strikes law was enacted in 1994.

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Chino man convicted of follow-home robbery spree targeting women in the western San Gabriel Valley

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ALHAMBRA >> A Chino man is expected to face more than two-and-a-half centuries in prison after a jury convicted him Wednesday of a string of robberies targeting women arriving home throughout the western San Gabriel Valley, officials said.
An Alhambra Superior Court jury found Jose Lewis Avila, 32, guilty of all counts he was charged with, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
They included nine counts of robbery, one count of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of dissuading a witness and one count of child abuse, Ardalani said. The jury also found true the special allegations that Avila used a dangerous weapon during the crimes, which was ultimately determined to be a BB gun following Avila’s arrest, and that one of his victims, an Arcadia woman was shot with the BB gun, suffered great bodily injury. An Alhambra woman was pistol whipped during one of the robberies.
The robbery spree took place in March and April of 2011 in Alhambra, San Gabriel, Monterey Park and Arcadia, Ayvazian said.
“All of these are basically follow home robberies,” said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Ayvazian, who prosecuted the case along with Deputy District Attorney Gabriel Kim.
He targeted women outside their homes as they arrived home alone, investigators said. In the first robbery in Alhambra, a husband and wife were robbed as they arrived home together.
All of the victims targeted by Avila were Asian, Ayvazian said.
Avila was ordered back to court Sept. 26 for sentencing, Ardalani said.
Prior to receiving his sentenced, a judge will review Avila’s criminal history to confirm his status ass a third-strike offender, Ayvazian said.
He’s expected to receive a minimum sentence of 250 years to life in state prison, officials said. The maximum sentence Avila faces is 259 years behind bars.
The 12 charges stemmed from eight incidents, the prosecutor explained. Three robberies, one which involved two victims, occurred in Alhambra. Another three took place in San Gabriel, while one occurred in Arcadia and one took place in Monterey Park.
One of his victims was holding a child in her arms when robbed, resulting in the child abuse charge, officials said.
Avila threatened another of his victims and told her not to contact the police, resulting in a charge of dissuading a witness, Ayvazian said.
The assault with a deadly weapon charge stemmed from the Arcadia robbery, Ayvazian said. When the victim’s daughter overheard the commotion and came out so check on her mother, Avila shot her with the BB gun.
0724_NWS_PSN-L-AVILA2As the spree was ongoing, Alhambra, San Gabriel and Monterey Park police banded together and formed a task force to identify and capture the serial robber.
He was arrested April 20, 2011, after an officer spotted a man and vehicle matching the suspect description driving on Valley Boulevard in Alhambra and stopped it for a broken tail light, Ayvazian said. After learning the driver, later identified as Avila, was on parole, officers searched his car.
Investigators found a realistic-looking BB gun, bandanas, latex gloves and other items that indicated he was searching for new victims when stopped by police, Ayvazian said. A wealth of evidence including eyewitness statement, credit card records, cell phone records and surveillance camera footage also linked Avila to the crimes, officials said.
Additionally, even though Avila covered his face during his crimes, several witness were able to identify him due to his “very unique” eyes and eyebrows, Ayvazian said.
At the time of his arrest, Avila was already on parole in connection with a similar robbery spree that took place in the same area in 2005, Ayvazian said.
He had been arrested and charged with 19 criminal counts, but ultimately admitted two of the robberies under a plea agreement, the prosecutor said. As in the more recent case, some victims identified the masked robber based on his eyes and eyebrows.
While Avila was charged with robbing nine people in the 2011 spree, the police task force assembled to investigate the case capture the serial robber had also looked at Avila in connection with more than ten additional robberies, reaching into Pasadena and South Pasadena, officials said shortly after Avila’s arrest. No charges have been filed in connection with those robberies.
The prosecution presented 22 witness during Avila’s three-and-a-half-day trial, Ayvazian said.
Jurors deliberated for less than four hours before finding Avila guilty an all charges.
“The evidence was on out side,” Ayvazian said. “The jury obviously, in our opinion, did the right thing by bringing justice for our community.

PHOTOS:(Above)  Photo of Jose Avila courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department. (Below) Sketch of serial robber released to the public prior to Avila’s arrest in connection with a follow-home robbery spree continued in the western San Gabriel Valley in April of 2011, courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department.

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Suspect jailed following Alhambra sandwich shop robbery

ALHAMBRA — Police arrested a man Saturday after he robbed a sandwich shop at gunpoint, authorities said.
Jacob Adan Perez, 19, of Alhambra was arrested in connection with the robbery, which took place just before 1 a.m. at Subway, 2131 South Fremont Avenue, according to Alhambra police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Perez entered the restaurant with a handgun and demanded money, Alhambra police Sgt. Esther Rodriguez said. After obtaining cash, he ran off.
A responding police officer spotted the suspect — later identified as Perez — in the area, Rodriguez said. Police set up a search perimeter, in which Perez was found and arrested without a struggle a short time later.
Police recovered the handgun believed to have been used in the robbery, as well as other items possibly linking Perez to additional crimes, Rodriguez said.
Officials declined to described the items seized from Perez Saturday as they continued their investigation, she added.
Perez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court.

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Alhambra man pleads not guilty to pimping charges

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ALHAMBRA — A man accused of operating a brothel out of his Alhambra condominium pleaded not guilty Friday to pimping charges, authorities said.
Zhi Wang, 56, was charged with two counts of pimping stemming from his arrest Tuesday at his home in the 100 block of South Marguerita Avenue, according to Los Angeles County district attorney’s officials and Alhambra police. He entered his not guilty pleas in Alhambra Superior Court.
Wang’s bail was increased from $25,000 to $50,000 at the hearing, and a bail review hearing was scheduled for July 3 in Alhambra Superior Court, Los Angeles County district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Police arrested Zhi shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday while investigating reports that he was operating a house of prostitution, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
Wang admitted using the home for prostitution, and officers encountered two women believed to be working as prostitutes at his home.
If convicted as charged, Wang could face up to seven years and four months in prison.

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Stolen gun found hidden in baby crib during AB 109 probation compliance check in Alhambra

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Police arrested an AB 109 probationer Thursday after discovering a stolen handgun hidden inside a baby crib, as well as a small amount of drugs, during a compliance check, authorities said.
0627_NWS_PSN-L-CRIB_VERA_VINCENTVincent Daniel Vera, 28, was booked on suspicion of weapons and narcotics violations, as well as violation of his Post-Release Community Supervision stemming from a previous felony conviction, according to Alhambra police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Police and probation officials carried out a compliance check about 9 a.m. at Vera’s home on Almansor Street, near Main Street, officials said.
“As officers attempted a door knock at Vera’s residence, additional officers to the rear of the location observed Vera attempting to escape out the rear balcony,” Alhambra police officials said in a written statement. He was taken into custody and officers searched his home.
“A stolen firearm and loaded magazine were found in a baby crib that was in his bedroom,” the statement said. “A small amount of narcotics were also located.”
There was no baby in the crib with the gun and magazine filled with 9mm ammunition, police said.
Probation officials requested a check on Vera because he had failed to show up at an appointment to have his GPS ankle bracelet services, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
He was required to wear the ankle bracelet as a condition of his release from jail following a 2012 conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, officials said. His initial felony conviction was for domestic violence in 2006.
The handgun seized from Vera’s home had been reported stolen in Chino in 1990, Johnson said.
Vera was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in Alhambra Superior Court.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department

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Alhambra man accused of running brothel out of condominium

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ALHAMBRA — Police arrested a man on suspicion of pimping Tuesday after community tips led investigators to a brothel in a residential neighborhood, authorities said.
Zhi Wang, 56, was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
Police acting on tips from members of the public reporting a possible house of ill repute went to Zhi’s condominium in 100 block of South Marguerita Avenue early Tuesday evening, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said. Detectives knocked on his door, and he allowed them inside.
“Two female adults wearing robes were inside of the residence,” police officials said in a written statement. “The females worked for Wang by conducting massages and sexual acts at the residence for money.”
Through a Chinese interpreter, Wang admitted to running brothel Johnson said. He was arrested on suspicion of pimping.
The women, ages 44 and 47, were not arrested Tuesday, Johnson said. But charges could be filed later by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The women were not believed to have been held against their will.
According to county booking records, Wang was scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing Friday in Alhambra Superior Court.

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Alhambra police seek stolen pet lizard

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Police are seeking a lizard with red-painted claws that was stolen from an Alhambra pet shop last week.
Ganga the Bearded Dragon was pilfered by an unknown crook June 12 while she was being boarded at McCormick’s Met Emporium, 644 E. Main Street, Alhambra police Sgt. Esther Rodriguez said. The theft occurred between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The 12-inch-long lizard, which had the claws on three of its legs painted with red nail polish, requires daily doses of sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light to remain healthy, police said in a written statement.
“We have exhausted our leads in trying to recover the beautiful animal,” according to the police statement. So investigators turned to the public to see if anyone has seen the pilfered pet.
“If a friend or neighbor should suddenly be in possession of a dragon with painted nails, please give us a call,” the police statement said. “If, you should happen to see this animal unattended, please call us so we can return her to the rightful owner. If you have Ganga, bring her to the police station immediately.”
Anyone with information can reach Alhambra police at 626-570-5130.

PHOTO courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department

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Man sentenced for Monterey Park double-slaying

A judge sentenced a man to spend the rest of his life in prison Thursday for the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in Monterey Park in early 2010, authorities said.
Richard Tauch, 49, of Corona received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole in Pasadena Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
A jury convicted him in November of two counts of first-degree murder for the Jan. 19, 2010, shooting deaths of Jenny Sor, 40, of Los Angeles and Wenwa Chao, 53, of Alhambra. The jury also found true the special allegations of multiple murder and lying in wait.
Officials described Tauch as a casino security guard who was obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, Sor.
“Tauch and Sor were in a relationship for a year before she broke up with him in December 2009 and started dating Chao,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
On the day of the killings, Tauch went to Sor’s workplace at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood and hid himself in her car, investigators said. He remained concealed in her car as she drove to an assisted living facility in the 200 block of Northj Chandler Avenue in Monterey Park, where Chao was visiting his father.
“When Sor arrived at the care home, she went inside and Tauch followed,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “The defendant then accosted Sor and Chao and shot them multiple times. The victims died at the scene.”
Tauch fled the scene following the double-slaying, but detectives arrested him the following day.

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San Gabriel Valley police, firefighters to square off on basketball court in Arcadia to help the Special Olympics

2014 Battle of the Badges

San Gabriel Valley police officers will take on their fire department counterparts on the basketball court in Arcadia this weekend as the annual Battle of the Badges tournament returns bigger than ever to raise money for the Special Olympics.
The series of games will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in the gymnasium of Arcadia High School, 180 Campus Drive in Arcadia, organizers said in a written statement. The cost of admission will be a “donation of your choosing,” and proceeds will benefit the Special Olympics Southern California.
In addition to the action on the court, there will be jumpers for children, refreshments, a SWAT demonstration, historical vehicles, a fire truck and gaming booths set up by Dave & Buster’s, Arcadia police Detective Walter Ashby said. An iPad Air will also be raffled off.
“One-hundred percent of the proceeds are donated directly to the Special Olympics,” he said.
San Gabriel police officers will take on San Gabriel firefighters at 10 a.m.; Alhambra police will play Alhambra firefighters at noon; El Monte police will take on Upland firefighters at 2 p.m.; Pasadena police will play Pasadena firefighters at 4 p.m.; and Arcadia police officers and firefighters will face off on the court at 6 p.m.
For more information, contact Detective Ashby at 626-821-2654, or email washby@ci.arcadia.ca.us.

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