“Pico Rivera nightclub owner Edgar Fragoso, right, 38, leaving Edward Roybal Federal Building after his arraignment in downtown Los Angeles Friday, March 13, 2015. (Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)”
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.
LA HABRA >> Burglars smashed their way into a La Habra Boulevard pharmacy late Wednesday for the second time in just over two weeks, authorities said.
The most recent break-in was reported about 10:30 p.m. at Central Drugs, 520 W. La Habra Blvd., La Habra police officials said in a written statement.
“Upon arrival, it was discovered that the front window had been smashed and entry made into the business,” according to the statement.
Officers search the building with help from Buena Park Police Department K-9s but found no suspects.
It was yet to be determined Thursday exactly what had been stolen from the pharmacy.
The same drug store was also the scene of another burglary on Aug. 16, police said at the time.
Three suspects were jailed in connection with that incident, and another escaped. Officers recovered allegedly stolen prescription painkillers from the suspects.
LA HABRA >> Police jailed three suspects and sought another following a break-in targeting prescription drugs at a La Habra pharmacy early Friday morning, authorities said.
An alarm activation at 3:30 a.m. first attracted the attention of police to Central Drugs, 520 W. La Habra Blvd., La Habra police officials said in a written statement.
The first officer to arrive on-scene spotted a suspicious silver Hyundai Sonata near the pharmacy, but it immediately sped away once the driver spotted the patrol car, according to the statement.
The driver of the Honda fled, but soon crashed into a wall at a dead end in the 700 block of West First Avenue, police said.
The driver, later identified at Daniel Estrada, 29, of Apple Valley, allegedly put the car into reverse and rammed the police car. He and passenger Lina Medina, 24, of Rialto, where then taken into custody.
“While this was occurring, two additional suspects, who had still been in the business when the officers arrived, fled the area on foot,” according to the statement.
Officers searched the area and found Gabriel Pille, 23, of Fontana behind a nearby supermarket and arrested him. The fourth and final suspect evaded police, but officers recovered “numerous pieces of evidence,” including recovered prescription drugs.
Police recovered thousands of prescription painkillers such as morphine, codeine and oxycodone from the suspects, Sgt. Ron Hurst said.
The investigation was ongoing.
Estrada and Pille were booked on suspicion of burglary, possession of stolen property and conspiracy, police said. Estrada is additionally accused of assault on a peace officer. Media was booked on suspicion of conspiracy.
Anyone with information can reach La Habra police at 562-383-4300. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online at www.tip411.com.
ALHAMBRA >> Police arrested a Norwalk man after he robbed a grocery store pharmacy of painkillers Sunday, officials said.
Albert Eloy Keil, 23, was booked on suspicion of robbery and burglary shortly after the crime, which took place about noon inside an Albertsons store, 2400 W. Commonwealth Ave., according to Alhambra police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Keil verbally threatened employees at the pharmacy before hopping over the counter and helping himself to about $900 worth of codeine pills, Alhambra police Sgt. Ruben Soriano said.
But store security guards immediately captured the robber, who was not armed, and held him until police arrived, the sergeant said.
Keil was believed to have been accompanied by an accomplice who acted as a lookout, Soriano said. The second suspect, described only as male, was not found Saturday.
Keil was being held in lieu of $120,000 bail pending an arraignment hearing, scheduled Wednesday in Alhambra Superior Court, records show.
ARCADIA >> Police are seeking two men who hopped a pharmacy counter to steal bottles of codeine-laden cough syrup last week.
The crime took place about 9:30 p.m. on May 25 at CVS Pharmacy, 1401 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia police Lt. Roy Nakamura said in a written statement.
“As one suspect distracted a pharmacist with a ‘consultation,’ the second suspect jumped the pharmacy counter and moved directly to a supply of bottled promethazine (with) codeine cough syrup,” Nakamura said. “He grabbed a number of bottles and placed them in a brown bag. Both suspects then ran out of the store through an emergency exit.”
No getaway car was seen.
Police released store surveillance camera images of the thieves Thursday in hopes of generating leads.
Both suspects were described as white or Latino men between 20 and 30 years old. One stood 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed about 130 pounds, while the other was about 6 feet tall and 160 pounds.
Anyone with information can reach Arcadia police at 626-574-5150 in reference to Case No. 16002821. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SURVEILLANCE CAMERA photos courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department
SAN GABRIEL >> Two brothers from Long Beach were behind bars Friday after San Gabriel police found them driving through town with a kilogram of cocaine stowed in a shoe box, officials said.
Manuel Eugenio Salazar, 23, and brother Jorge Eugenio Salazar, 22, were both booked on suspicion of transportation of narcotics following their arrests shortly before noon Thursday, according to San Gabriel police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The bust stemmed from a “routine traffic stop” about 10:25 a.m. in the 1300 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard, Lt. Riki Nakamura said.
An officers topped a Nissan being driven by Manuel Salazar, with his brother riding as a passenger, for having no license plates, the lieutenant said. It was also soon determined that the driver had no license.
Police prepared to tow the car, Nakamura said. While conducting an “inventory search,” police found a 2.2-pound brick of cocaine stashed inside a shoebox within the car.
A drug-sniffing dog examined the car but found no additional drugs, he said.
Manuel and Jorge Salazar were being held in lieu of $30,000 bail each at the Alhambra Police Department’s jail pending their initial court appearances, scheduled Tuesday in Alhambra Superior Court, records show.
WHITTIER >> An early-morning search warrant led police to arrest two men — including an injuncted gang member — and seize a cache of methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana, along with suspected stolen property and burglary tools, officials said.
Larry Paul Salazar, 54, of Whittier was booked on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales, drug possession and possession of a billy club during the raid, which took place shortly before 6 a.m. at an apartment in the 7200 block of Milton Avenue, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Joshua Jacob Poore, 34, a Whittier resident an injuncted member of the Whittier Varrio Locos street gang, was booked on suspicion of heroin possession, receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools, trespassing and violating the gang injunction, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
Detectives arrived at the apartment, armed with a search warrant, as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
At the targeted apartment, officers found and arrested Salazar, he said. Inside the apartment, officers found a quarter-pound of methamphetamine, 4.5 grams of black tar heroin, 7.1 grams of marijuana and a billy club.
Police found Poore hiding in the laundry room of an apartment building, White said. He had heroin, suspected stolen checks and credit cards and burglary tools with him.
According to county booking records, Salazar was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his initial court appearance. Poore was released from custody Friday afternoon pending his initial court appearance after posting $10,000 bail.
COVINA >> Police jailed three gang members late Friday after finding them driving through Covina in stolen car, with two ounces of methamphetamine and a loaded handgun, officials said.
Officers were on a special patrol due to increased crime in the area when they spotted a suspicious car with no license plates driving in the 1000 block of West Cypress Street, Covina city officials said in a written statement.
The officers pulled over the car, which contained driver Ricardo Castillo, 35, of Baldwin Park, as well as passengers Mary Magalena Leos, 26, of Baldwin Park and Marco Antonio Villaneda, 35, of West Covina, according to city officials and Los Angeles County booking records. All three are documented gang members.
Police soon found the car had been reported stolen in Las Vegas, and noticed a bullet hole in the driver-side door, officials said. Castillo admitted the car had been shot in Baldwin Park last week.
Police found Villaneda in possession of two ounces of methamphetamine, and Leos had property not belonging to her.
“A loaded hand gun was also located concealed in the engine compartment of the vehicle,” according to the statement.
Castillo was booked on suspicion of auto theft, being a felon in possession of a gun and driving on a suspended license. Villaneda was booked on suspicion of auto theft, possession of a controlled substance for sales and being a felon in possession of a loaded firearm. Leos was booked for misappropriation of found property and two outstanding warrants.
According to county booking records, Castillo and Villaneda had both been released from jail Saturday afternoon pending their initial court appearances after posting $25,000 and $30,000 bail, respectively. Leos was being held without bail.
[TOP] Ricardo Castillo, 35, of Baldinn Park, Marco Villaneda, 35, of West Covina and Mary Leos, 26, of Baldwin Park.
[BELOW] Police recovered stolen car, two ounces of methamphetamine and a loaded handgun after pulling over a car containing three gang members in the 1000 block of West Cypress Street in Covina on Friday, April 8, 2016. (Courtesy)
SAN MARINO >> Police jailed a wanted Alhambra man and his girlfriend after the man fled from a stolen car, which contained drugs and a gun, in San Marino early Sunday, police said.
The series of events began when police in San Marino pulled over a car in their city, according to Alhambra police officials, who assisted San Marino police.
“The male driver fled on foot, leaving his girlfriend behind inside the car,” Alhambra police officials said in a written statement. “Unfortunately for the fleeing suspect, he left his driver license in the car.”
Officers detained the female suspect and discovered a gun and drugs inside the car, which had been reported stolen, officials said. It was also determined that the fleeing man had several outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Police began keeping watch over the male suspect’s home in Alhambra, suspecting he may be trying to make his way there. An officer spotted the man walking down the street.
“The officer was able to sneak up on the subject and detain him,” according to the Alhambra police statement. “The subject was identified as the same person who fled from the San Marino officer.”
The suspects identities were not available Sunday. San Marino police, who are handling the investigation, could not be reached for comment.
LOS ANGELES >> A Monterey Park doctor received a four-year jail sentence Friday for prescribing diet pills without a legitimate medical purpose and insurance fraud, authorities said.
Dr. Thomas Lin, 46, was scheduled to surrender Friday evening after pleading “no contest” in December to two felony counts, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“Lin provided diet pills known as phentermine, a controlled substance, through his pediatrics clinic known as “Kid’s M.D.” on Atlantic Boulevard in Monterey Park,” according to the statement.
He also fraudulently billed Medi-Cal and other insurers for services never rendered, prosecutors said.
“Over the course of several months in 2012, investigators from the California Medical Board posed as new patients and were able to secure phentermine with little or no physical examination by Dr. Lin,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Investigators received the drug either by paying his front office staff or receiving the drug for free.”
After serving two years in custody, Lin is to remain on mandatory supervision for another two years, officials said.
Prior to pleading “no contest” to the two felony charges, Lin was initially named in a 55-count indictment. If convicted on all original charges, he could have faced up to 34 years in state prison.