COVINA >> A 33-year-old West Covina woman died in a crash early Saturday after an SUV ran a red light and slammed into her pickup truck in an unincorporated county area just outside of Covina, authorities said.
Leslie Mendiola died in the 6 a.m. collision in the intersection of Lark Ellen Avenue and Cypress Street, according to Officer J. Smith of the California Highway Patrol’s Baldwin Park area office.
She was driving a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck south on Lark Ellen Avenue in the left-hand lane just prior to the crash, Smith said. A 27-year-old Covina woman was driving a 2002 Ford Expedition west on Cypress Avenue.
“(The driver of the Expedition) failed to stop at the circular red light at the intersection of Lark Ellen Avenue and Cypress Street,” Smith said. “Due to (her) failure to stop at the circular red light, the front of the Ford Expedition collided into the left side of the Ford F-150.”
Paramedics pronounced Mendiola dead at the scene.
The driver of the Expedition was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries described as minor, Smith said.
The investigation was ongoing Saturday afternoon, and the driver had not been arrested.
COVINA >> Sheriff’s detectives and worried family members sought the public’s help Thursday in finding a Covina grandmother who disappeared more than two months ago under suspicious circumstances.
Tamara “Tammy” Rummel, 49, was last seen on May 20 on surveillance camera, accompanied by an unidentified man, using a an ATM machine in Covina on the afternoon of May 20, according to Deputy Lilian Peck of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Just before arriving at the Covina bank, Rummel is believed to have left her home in the unincorporated county area of Covina, “in an unfamiliar sports-utility vehicle with an unknown person(s),” Peck said in a written statement.
“Also suspicious, Tamara’s cell phone activity ended hours after the ATM transaction, and she has not been seen or heard from since,” Peck said. “Detectives would like to learn the identity of the man seen with Tamara at the bank, who may offer critical information in locating her.”
Detectives released bank surveillance camera photos of Rummel and the unidentified man in hopes of generating leads. Authorities had yet to determine whether the man seen in the bank surveillance camera images is the same who left Rummel’s home with her earlier in the day.
Rummel is a mother of four grown children and a “doting grandmother” of six, Peck said. She retired from a position as media director with a resource center for parent’s with special needs children about a decade ago.
“She is a responsible person who enjoyed home ownership, and interacting with friends and family,” Peck said. “Tamara’s family said her disappearance and complete lack of communication since Friday, May 20, 2016, is highly uncharacteristic and has caused them great worry for her welfare.”
Rummel is described as white, 5 feet 3 inches tall and 145 pounds. She has light brown hair and blue eyes.
Investigators also released a composite sketch of the man who accompanied Rummel to the ATM.
The person of interest pictured with her in the bank surveillance camera photos wore a white T-shirt and a baseball cap with a logo, possible a “B,” on the front.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sergeant Ken Perry or Sgt. Dan McElderry of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau’s missing persons unit at 323-890-5500.
Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
COVINA >> Coroner’s officials have identified a 19-year-old man who was fatally shot by an off-duty reserve Los Angeles police officer during an alleged armed robbery attempt at a Covina Carl’s Jr. restaurant last week.
Victor Vidal Sigala died at the scene of the shooting, which took place just before 3:15 p.m. on July 6 at the restaurant at 573 N. Azusa Ave., Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Mario Sainz said. His city of residence was unclear.
The off-duty LAPD officer was having lunch when Sigala approached him and brandished a handgun an apparent robbery attempt, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
The officer drew his own weapon and shot Sigala, mortally wounding him, police said.
The suspect’s gun was recovered at the scene, LAPD officials said. The identity of the involved officer was not released.
There was no indication the officer and Sigala knew one another prior to the shooting, Peterson said.
Covina and Los Angeles police are working together to investigate the shooting.
Anyone with information can reach the Covina Police Department’s Detective Bureau at 626-384-5628.
COVINA >> Police are seeking a woman caught on camera pilfering a package from a porch in Covina earlier this week.
The theft took place about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at a house in the 1300 block of East Puente Street, Covina police Sgt. Trevor Gaumer said.
A resident had been awaiting the delivery of a package, valued at about $150, but it seemingly never arrived, the sergeant said.
The woman reviewed her home surveillance camera footage, which had captured video of a woman walking up to the porch and taking the package immediately after it was delivered, Gaumer said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Covina police at 626-384-5995.
PHOTO courtesy of the Covina Police Department
COVINA >> An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department reserve officer fatally shot a man who tried to rob him at gunpoint inside a fast-food restaurant, officials said.
The occurred just before 3:15 p.m. at Carl’s Jr., 573 N. Azusa Ave., Covina police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
The off-duty reserve officer had stopped in for lunch when gunman approached and apparently tried to rob him, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
“The preliminary investigation revealed the suspect brandished a weapon at the off-duty officer, who then shot the suspect in the upper torso,” Peterson said.
The sergeant said the suspect was struck multiple times.
Paramedics pronounced the wounded man dead at the scene, according to fire department Dispatch Supervisor Melanie Flores.
His identity was not available pending positive identification and notification of family members, authorities said.
Covina police are handling the investigation into the incident.
The name of the involved off-duty LAPD officer was not released Wednesday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Covina Police Department’s Detective Bureau at 626-384-5628, or the watch commander at 626-384-5665. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY >> San Gabriel Valley sheriff’s deputies and police officers arrested four suspects and recovered weapons and drugs Tuesday when they teamed up for a compliance sweep targeting parolees and those under AB 109 felony probation in the San Gabriel Valley, officials said.
More than 40 law enforcement officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, as well as the West Covina, Covina, Baldwin Park took part in the early-morning operation, joined by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, state parole agents, county probation officers and representatives from the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services, according to sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro, who oversees law enforcement for the city of La Puente.
After visiting more than 30 homes of convicts, officials arrested a parolee for being a felon in possession of a loaded handgun in La Puente, Cacheiro said.
Officials arrested three AB 109 probationers in West Covina, he said. One was arrested for possession of a Taser by a felon, one was jailed for possession of ammunition by a felon and one is accused of possession of methamphetamine for sales.
The task force operation, “exemplified out community policing strategies,” Cacheiro said.
La Puente City Manager David Carmany commended the effort in a written statement. “
“Our local law enforcement strives to maintain our communities safe and provide quality services to our residents,” he said.
Law enforcement officers from agencies throughout the San Gabriel Valley prepare for parole and probation compliance sweep at their command post at the Plaza West Covina shopping mall on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (Courtesy, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)
LOS ANGELES >> A federal jury convicted a Pasadena doctor and an Anaheim doctor Thursday of health care fraud for collecting more than $8 million in fraudulent insurance payments and kickbacks by falsely certifying that patients were terminally ill and referring them to a Covina hospice care facility, authorities said.
Boyao Huang, 43, of Pasadena and Sri Wijegoonaratna, also known as “Dr. J,” were found guilty of taking part in the fraudulent scheme between March of 2009 and July of 2013 following a two-week trial in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. DOJ spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
In concert with Covina-based California Hospice Care, the doctors falsely stated that patients were ill in order to bill Medical and Medi-Care for $8.8 million worth of hospice services that were not necessary, Mrozek said.
“CHC nurses performed ‘assessments’ to determine whether the beneficiaries were terminally ill and, regardless of the outcome, Wijegoonaratna and Huang certified that the beneficiaries were terminally ill — even though the vast majority of them were not dying,” according to Mrozek. “CHC personnel altered medical records in response to Medicare audits to make the beneficiaries appear sicker.”
Wijegoonaratna also took tens of thousands of dollars in illegal “kickback” payments from CHC in return for sending patients to the facility, prosecutors alleged.
Huang was convicted of four counts of health care fraud, while Wijegoonaratna was convicted of seven counts of health care fraud.
The doctors are due for sentencing August 15, officials said. Huang faces up to 40 years behind bars, and Wijegoonaratna faces up to 70 years in prison.
Four other defendants have already been charged and convicted in connection with the case, including Priscilla Villabroza, 70, of Placentia, “who purchased CHC in 2007 and operated the facility after being charged and incarcerated in another health care fraud scheme,” and her daughter, Mrozek said.
“This scheme is one of many that has victimized public health care programs and, in the end, the taxpayers who fund these important programs,” according to U.S. Attorney for California Central District Eileen M. Decker. “We will continue to investigate these fraudulent schemes, shut down the operations and incarcerate those responsible for stealing from the system.”
A Covina man who was allegedly stabbed by a Domino’s Pizza delivery man during an argument over late pizza in January is suing the restaurant chain and the driver.
Austin Reilly, 20, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Domino’s and driver Michael Charles Parker, seeking unspecified damages on allegations of negligence, battery and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Also named as plaintiffs are Reilly’s parents, Owen and Christie Reilly, who witnessed the attack on their son, the suit alleges.
A Domino’s Pizza representative could not be immediately reached for comment.
Parker delivered a pizza to Reilly’s family home in the 1600 block of North Mangrove Avenue about 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 2, Covina police Sgt. Ryan Davis said at the time.
He became involved in an argument with Reilly, who claimed the pizza was late, the sergeant said. The argument turned into a fight, during which the delivery man allegedly slashed the customer in the neck, wrist and hand with an unknown sharp object.
Paramedics took Reilly to a hospital for treatment of wounds described as significant, but not life-threatening.
Police found and arrested Parker, 31, of Glendora shortly before 1 a.m. the following morning at the restaurant on Glendora Avenue in Covina, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Parker was released the day of his arrest after posting $30,000 bail, records show.
Charges were yet to be filed Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Officials said. The case remained under consideration, officials said.
The lawsuit alleges that Parker used a box cutter intending to “disfigure and slay” Reilly and that his injuries were life-threatening.
Domino’s had an obligation to make occasional checks to see that its stores — including the one in Covina where Parker worked — were hiring people fit for the job of dealing with customers in their homes as opposed to in a normal restaurant setting, the suit states.
- Staff and wire report
- Photo of Michael Charles Parker, 31, of Glendora courtesy of the Covina Police Department.
COVINA >> A home burglary turned into a home-invasion robbery after two brothers interrupted two intruders inside their Covina home late Wednesday, police said.
The crime unfolded about 7:30 p.m. in the 800 block of North Citrus Avenue, Covina police Lt. Dave Foster said.
A man was asleep in his home when he was awakened by a noise in another room and went to investigate, the lieutenant said.
Two intruders confronted the man and ordered him into another bedroom, which was unoccupied, he said.
One of the robbers brandished a knife and demanded money from the man, Foster said. As the confrontation continued, the man’s adult brother arrived home and interrupted the crime.
The brother was also ordered into the bedroom and ordered to lie down, Foster said.
The robbers grabbed a jewelry box, containing about $400 worth of valuables, and fled from the home.
The victims, described as men in their late-20s and late-30s, suffered no injuries, Foster said.
Officials described the robbers as two black men, both of thin build. One was in his early-20s, stood 5 feet 11 inches tall and wore all-black clothing. The other robber was in his early-30s and wore all-dark clothing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Covina police at 626-384-5595. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
COVINA >> A 17-year-old boy repeatedly stabbed his 24-year-old girlfriend in an attack late Tuesday, authorities said.
Police arrested the teen on suspicion of attempted murder following the stabbing, which unfolded shortly after 9 p.m. in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 700 block of East Workman Street, Covina police Sgt. Trevor Gaumer said.
The woman suffered multiple stab wounds and was flown to a trauma center by helicopter, where she was rushed into surgery, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said in a written statement.
Police first received reports of a woman in the parking lot who was bleeding from her neck, officials said.
“Officers located a 24-year-old female who was suffering from numerous stab wounds in her upper torso, neck and face,” Peterson said.
The woman remained hospitalized in “serious” condition Wednesday afternoon, Peterson said. She was described as a Covina resident.
Investigators learned the suspect in the brutal attack was still in the area, the sergeant said. Police found the teenage suspect in a condominium complex in the 600 block of E. Workman Street.
“(Officers) noticed he was bleeding from some cuts to his hands and he also made some statements regarding the stabbing, at which time he was taken into custody for attempted murder,” Peterson said.
Police took the teenage suspect, whose name was not released due to his age, to be treated for his injuries before he was booked at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, Peterson said.
He was being held without arraignment pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in Pomona Juvenile Court, he added.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Covina police detectives at 626-384-5628. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.