A man was found fatally shot inside a Honda Civic in the parking lot of Faith Community Church on San Bernardino Road in West Covina Saturday August 13, 2016. Police have the victim’s body covered by a tent awaiting the Coroner Department’s arrival. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
WEST COVINA >> A young man died after he shot in the passenger seat of a friend’s car in Covina while meeting someone to sell property via an online advertisement, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 11:50 a.m. in the parking lot of Clearman’s North Woods Inn, at San Bernardino Road and Azusa Avenue, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
Immediately following the shooting, the driver of the car drove away from the shooting scene, heading west across the city border into West Covina, the sergeant said.
“After the shooting, the victim’s friend drove away from the location and into the parking lot of Faith Community Church in the City of West Covina,” Peterson said.
It was there that first-responders encountered the victim.
“When fire department personnel arrived, he was in full arrest,” West Covina Fire Department Captain Esteban Rodriguez said.
Police have Clearman’s North Woods Inn parking lot cordoned off where they believe a man was shot late Saturday morning. The man was found fatally shot inside a Honda Civic in the parking lot of Faith Community Church on San Bernardino Road in West Covina Saturday August 13, 2016. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
Police, and then paramedics performed CPR on the wounded man, but he was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene, according to the captain.
The black Honda Civic in which the victim was riding came to a stop within a painted parking stall at the northwest end of the sprawling church property, 1211 E. Badillo Street.
Police covered the body with a sheet and a tent as they awaited the arrival of coroner’s officials.
The driver of the Honda, also a young man, spoke with investigators at the church Saturday afternoon.
He declined to comment and appeared angered by the presence of media.
The victim’s identity was not released Saturday.
The investigation remained in its early stages Saturday, however it initially appeared the victim and his friend had gone to the parking lot in Covina to sell some property after arranging the transaction online, Peterson said.
Police declined to say exactly what was being sold, but said the transaction did not involve contraband.
The shooter was described only as male, Peterson said. It was unclear if he was alone, or if was accompanied by accomplices.
No further details were available.
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.
LA PUENTE >> Local sheriff’s deputies, police officers and CHP officers will be meeting with the community this week for a “Coffee with a Cop” event in La Puente, officials said.
The informal gathering will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday at Starbucks, 1283 N. Hacienda Blvd., organizers said in a written statement.
Deputies from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Industry Station’s La Puente Special Assignment Team will chat with residents, as well as Covina police officers, West Covina police officers and California Highway Patrol officers.
There are no agendas or speeches planned, “just a chance to meet your deputies and officers,” according to the statement.
For more information, contact Deputy Viviana Marez at 626-934-3061.
COVINA >> Police jailed three Anaheim teenagers Saturday amid an alleged massive theft spree in which they collected more than $3,000 worth of razors, baby formula and Rogaine from stores in Covina, Glendora and La Habra, authorities said.
Jailed were Mirabela Stoican, 18, of Anaheim, as well as a 17-year-old Anaheim girl and a 15-year-old Anaheim girl, Covina police Lt. Tim Doonan said.
Security guards at Rite Aid, 139 N. Grand Ave., first called police about 3 p.m. to report three young women had just tried to steal a large amount of razors from the store, but dropped the goods and fled empty-handed, according to the lieutenant.
Security watched as the trio went across the street into a Vons supermarket and pointed them out to arriving police officers as they left, the lieutenant said. Police pulled over the suspects’ car and detained them. Stoican’s infant child was also in the car.
A large amount of baby formula believed to have been stolen from the Vons was recovered from the car, Doonan said.
“A further search of the car located six 30-gallon trash bags filled with stolen property,” he said. The items were primarily baby formula, razor blades and the hair regrowth product Rogaine.
“The property we recovered is valued at about 3,000,” Doonan said..
Investigators suspected the items had been stolen previously during the day during visits to at least one other store in Glendora, and two in La Habra, he said.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Stoican was released from custody later in the day pending her initial court appearance after posting $20,000 bail.
The two underage suspects were taken to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, Doonan said.
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.
(Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)
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.”