Stabbing victim reports being robbed by masked men in Arcadia

ARCADIA — An intoxicated man showed up at a hospital with stab wounds late Friday and told police he was injured while being robbed by two masked men in Arcadia, officials said.
Details were initially limited regarding the incident, which unfolded about 11 p.m., Arcadia police Sgt. Dan Crowther said.
A man was brought to the emergency room of Huntington Hospital by a private vehicle with lacerations to his shoulder and chest, the sergeant said. The wounds were not considered life-threatening.
The 20-year-old El Monte man told police he was attacked and robbed by two masked man at Baldwin Avenue and Huntington Drive, Crowther said. The “somewhat intoxicated” man was unable or unwilling to provide further details, and it was unclear what, if anything, was stolen.

Jury convicts Arcadia man of vehicular manslaughter, deadlocks on murder charge

POMONA — A jury convicted an Arcadia man Friday of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated Friday for driving through a freeway closure while drunk, fatally striking a road worker on the 10 Freeway in Baldwin Park last year, but could not reach a verdict on a murder charge, authorities said.
The Pomona Superior Court jury convicted Tatsuhiko Sakamoto, 39, of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, along with a charge of driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent, court officials said. But the jury acquitted the driver of a count of drunken driving causing injury, and became deadlocked regarding a second-degree murder charge.
He was ordered back to court Dec. 2, at which time prosecutors were expected to announce whether they would re-try the murder case.
Caltrans subcontractor Connor McDermott Penhall, 21, of Corona, died at the scene of the crash, which took place about 11:45 p.m. April 4, 2012, on the westbound 10 Freeway just west of Francisquito Avenue, officials said. Penhall, who is the son of actor and motorcycle champion Bruce Penhall, was performing construction work with Colorado-based Flatiron West Inc. when he was struck.
Sakamoto drove through signs and cones warning of the full freeway closure before the fatal collision.
Sakamoto was initially charged only with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and the two DUI-related charges in the days after his arrest, however prosecutors in December filed an additional charge of second-degree murder.
Sakamoto is being held in lieu of $1.05 million bail.
Penhall’s family has since filed a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages from Flatiron West Inc., Caltrans and the CHP alleging the agencies failed to follow proper procedures regarding the road closure the night Penhall was killed.

UPDATED: Police search Arcadia Burlington Coat Factory following break-in

ARCADIA — Police conducted a search of an Arcadia Burlington Coat Factory early Wednesday after an employee arrived to discover a jewelry display case had been smashed open, police said.
Police received a call shortly after 7 a.m. reporting the burglary at the store, 1201 S. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said.
An employee arrived to work and immediately exited the store and called the police after seeing a jewelry display case on the first floor of the store had been smashed, the lieutenant said.
Police surrounded the store as a team of officers searched the interior in case any burglary suspect remained inside, Castro said. Officers completed their search about 9:25 a.m., finding no one inside the store.
Investigators were still trying to determined what time the overnight burglary took place, he added.
It was not immediately clear what, if anything, other than the jewelry from the display case had been stolen, Castro said.

La Puente woman vanishes while en route to Pasadena City College


Authorities sought the public’s help Friday in locating a 22-year-old La Puente woman who vanished a little more than a week ago while believed to be en route to class at Pasadena City College.
Gale Anne Williams last spoke with relatives Sept. 25, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement. She has no vehicle or cell phone and was believed to be heading to PCC. She was reported missing Oct. 1.
“Relatives say the subject has gone missing in the past, as recently as June, but not for this duration,” according to the police statement. “Inquiries with area hospitals and other facilities have been fruitless.”
Though Arcadia lies between William’s hometown of La Puente and PCC, “There is no known nexus with the subject to the City of Arcadia,” the statement said. “The missing person report has been referred to the Pasadena Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Industry Station.”
Authorities described Williams as half black and half white, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 130 pounds, with medium-length brown curly hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black and blue shirt and black leggings.
Anyone with information was asked to contact local law enforcement. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO of Gale Williams courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department.

Three-legged dog stolen along with car in Arcadia returned to owner

1003_NWS_PSN-L-DOGFOUNDARCADIA — A three-legged dog stolen along with a car from an Arcadia shopping mall earlier this week was reunited with its owner with help from a good Samaritan, police said.
Luna the schnauzer was inside a Honda Accord that was stolen shortly after 8 p.m. fro ma parking lot on the south side of the Westfield Santa Anita, 400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo said.
The owner of the car and dog, Alberto Gonzalez of Alhambra, was shopping inside a store when his keys, then his car, were stolen, Sgt. Tom LeVeque said.
“He set down his keys while trying on some shoes,” the sergeant said. When the man went outside, his 2004 Honda Accord was gone, along with his dog.
The car was recovered a little more than two hours later in Bell Gardens, LeVeque said. Some personal items had been stolen, but the car was undamaged.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the victim, Robert Yantz of Sierra Madre spotted the schnauzer in the area of Baldwin Avenue and Huntington Drive, the sergeant said. He took the dog home to look for its owner.
But when Yantz saw a Pasadena Star-News article Wednesday describing the theft of the car and dog, LeVeque said he realized the schnauzer belonged to the victim and contacted Arcadia police.
Luna and Gonzalez were reunited Wednesday afternoon.
Yantz and Luna were already at the police station when Gonzalez arrived to retrieve his pet, LeVeque said. The dog owner called out to the animal from across the lawn, and Luna ran toward him.
“For having three legs, it ran like the wind,” LeVeque said.

PHOTO courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department

UPDATED: Ex-Arcadia cop accused of embezzling more than $50,000 from police officer’s association

A former Arcadia police officer and police officer’s association treasurer surrendered Wednesday to face accusations of embezzling more than $50,000 from the union to buy items including motorcycle accessories and cigars, authorities said.
Christian Eric Blesch, 36, pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles Superior Court to a felony charge of grand theft by embezzlement, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. He turned himself in prior to the hearing after an ongoing investigation by the District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division resulted in the generation of an arrest warrant Sept. 24.
“The warrant was the result of an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations that Blesch, a 6-year employee of the department, feloniously stole money from the Arcadia Police Officers’ Association over a period of several months,” Arcadia police Capt. Paul Foley said.
“Blesch, who was elected in January 2011 to serve as treasurer for the Arcadia Police Officers’ Association, allegedly used the association’s credit card to purchase parts and accessories for his personal motorcycles, as well as personal items such as clothing , exercise equipment, shaving accessories and cigars,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement. “Blesch allegedly paid the monthly credit card bills via check from the association’s bank account.”
He also allegedly used the association’s money to put a down payment on a motorcycle, officials said.
Blesch resigned from the department last month, the same day the warrant was issued for his arrest, according to police and district attorney’s officials.
He, along with another Arcadia police officer, were placed on administrative leave in March after the allegations came to light, Arcadia Police Chief Robert Guthrie said at the time.
The investigation into the second Arcadia police officer remained “in review,” Robison said.
The second officer remained on paid administrative leave Wednesday as the investigation continued, Arcadia police Lt. Mike Castro said.
Prosecutors had not yet determined whether to file charges against him, Robison said.
Blesch’s defense attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
Before the case could move forward, the POA elected to prosecute Blesch by majority vote, Foley said.
“We’re just being patient and working with the D.A.’s office to make sure this gets resolved, the captain said.
“We just want to move on from here, and remember there’s a lot of good men and women who work at our police department,” he added.
If convicted as charged, he could face up to three years behind bars, officials added.
Blesch, who was released from custody on $45,000 bail after his court appearance Wednesday, was scheduled to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court Nov. 8 for a preliminary hearing setting.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact district attorney’s Bureau of Investigations at 213-974-3528.

El Monte men accused of breaking into home near Arcadia during fumigation

ARCADIA — Deputies arrested to men who allegedly broke into a home while it was being tented for fumigation early Wednesday in an unincorporated county area near Arcadia, officials said.
Miguel Solorzano, 31, of El Monte and Constancio Lopez Jr., 30, of El Monte were booked on suspicion of burglary following the incident, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Dexter said.
A witness reported seeing the two men about 6:30 a.m. burglarizing the home in the 5100 block of Marshburn Avenue, Dexter said.
Deputies responded and found the suspects hiding along Tyler Avenue, just behind the tented home, the sergeant said. They appeared to have made it into the house, though nothing was initially believed to have been taken.
Investigators were looking into the possibility that other items found in the men’s possession were stolen in other area burglaries, Dexter added.
Though not a new phenomenon, incidents of burglars breaking into homes during fumigation is growing trend in Southern California, Dexter added.

Arcadia police seek missing 80-year-old woman

0909_NWS_PSN-L-ARCMISSINGARCADIA – Police asked the public’s help Sunday in tracking down an 8-year-old woman who suffers from dementia and went missing from a hotel.
Arlen Ellefsen was last seen about 10:15 Sunday at the Hampton Inn, 311 Huntington Drive, Arcadia police Lt. Roy Namamura said in a written statement. She does not drive.
Ellefsen is white, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 125 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink and white striped shirt and blue pants.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Arcadia police at 626-573-5123.

Dry cleaning business robbed in Arcadia

ARCADIA — A man robbed an Arcadia dry cleaning business early Wednesday, officials said.
The crime took place about 9:30 a.m. in the 100 block of South First Avenue, Arcadia police Sgt. Vaugn Whalen said in a written statement.
The robber entered the business and demanded money from an employee, he said. The employee handed over about $50 from the register and the robber ran from the store.
He was last seen getting into a a white, four-door Honda sedan, which headed south on First Avenue, Whalen said. It was unclear if he was accompanied by a getaway driver, or drove the car himself.
No weapon was seen during the robbery, the sergeant said. The robber was described as black, about 6 feet tall, wearing a black shirt and white pants.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Arcadia police at 626-574-5150.

San Gabriel man sentenced for fatal Arcadia stabbing

PASADENA – A judge sentenced a San Gabriel man to prison Tuesday after he admitted fatally stabbing an 18-year-old Pomona man during a fight outside an Arcadia strip mall in 2011, authorities said.
At what was scheduled to be a pre-trial hearing Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court, Juan Lorenzo, 33, of San Gabriel pleaded “no contest” to a count of voluntary manslaughter, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. He also admitted the special, sentence-enhancing allegation that he personally used a knife in the crime.
The plea was entered as part of a negotiated plea agreement, Robison said. He was initially charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
Immediately following the plea, “He was sentenced to 12 years in state prison,” Robison said. He received the sentence from Pasadena Superior Court Judge Dorothy Shubin.
Lorenzo was working at the Money Pot Shabu Shabu restaurant in the 1300 block of South Golden West Avenue when he became involved in an argument with Anthony Berry, who was sitting in a parked car waiting for an acquaintance who worked at another nearby resident, according to Arcadia police officials.
During the dispute, Lorenzo pulled a knife and stabbed Berry, who ran toward the businesses and collapsed, Arcadia police Lt. Tom LeVeque said at the time. Berry was taken to Huntington Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
Lorenzo was held without bail pending trial due to a hold placed on him by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A second restaurant employee initially arrested in connection with the fatal fight was released without charges due to insufficient evidence, district attorney’s officials said.