WHITTIER >> What began as a routine traffic accident investigation earlier this week ended with police arresting of the involved drivers, a convicted felon, after finding an AK-47-style rifle, a sawed-off shotgun, a handgun and drugs in his car, authorities said.
Joshua David Fink, 38, was booked on suspicion of being convicted felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, possession of illegal weapons, possession of drugs while armed and existing warrants following his Wednesday morning arrest, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Police responded to a two-car crash shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday in the 15400 block of Whittier Boulevard, Whittier police Lt. Mike Przybyl said. Further details were not available regarding the collision itself, but it was not believed to involved any major injuries.
“As paramedics were treating one of the drivers, they noticed a handgun hidden in the car,” police said in a written statement. “Officers conducted a field investigation and recovered a handgun, assault rifle, sawed-off shotgun, ammunition and drugs from the vehicle.”
Fink appeared in Bellflower Superior Court Friday, where he was charged with seven gun- and drug-related crimes, court documents show. His arraignment hearing was postponed until Monday, officials said.
PHOTO courtesy of the Whittier Police Department.
WHITTIER >> Police arrested a 50-year-old woman on suspicion of selling methamphetamine out of her Whittier apartment during an early-morning raid Thursday, officials said.
Sylvia Diane Garcia was arrested about 6 a.m. when Whittier police Special Enforcement Team members served a search warrant at her apartment in the 7700 block of Bright Avenue, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Officers recovered methamphetamine and “items consistent with narcotics sales” at the home, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said. It was unclear how much of the drug was seized.
Garcia was being held in lieu of $60,000 bail pending her initial court appearance, records show.
PHOTO courtesy of the Whittier Police Department
WHITTIER >> Police arrested an alleged drug dealer, seizing methamphetamine and cash, while serving a search warrant at a Whittier apartment early Wednesday, officials said.
A police SWAT team served the warrant about 7 a.m. in the 7200 block of Milton Avenue and arrested 54-year-old Larry Paul Salazar of Whittier, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
In addition to methamphetamine and cash, police also seized scales and other drug paraphernalia, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
He was booked on suspicion of possession of drugs for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said.
It was unclear Wednesday how much methamphetamine was seized. Police seized about $1,000 in suspected drug proceeds, Lt. Mike Przybyl said.
Salazar was being held in lieu of $90,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
WEST COVINA >> Police seized a submachine gun and an ounce of methamphetamine, as well as arrested five suspects, outside a West Covina motel Sunday, police said.
Officers were on patrol about 9 a.m. when they noticed a car parked in the parking lot of the Days Inn, 2804 E. Garvey Ave. South, with three men and two women sitting inside, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Upon approaching the group, police learned the owner of the car was on probation due to a drug-related conviction, the lieutenant said.
Officers searched the car and discovered an ounce of methamphetamine hidden inside, along with evidence related to drug sales, Patton said.
“Further search of the vehicle led to the discovery of an Uzi-type machine gun, equipped with a loaded magazine,” he said.
Patton said all five suspects were jailed on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales and possession of a machine gun.
An Uzi is a fully automatic machine pistol developed in Israel.
The suspects’ names were not available pending the booking process, he said.
POMONA >> Tens of thousands of electronic music lovers swarmed to electronic music concerts in Pomona and San Bernardino over the Halloween weekend, resulting in more than 300 arrests, but no major incidents, authorities said.
The HARD Day of the Dead took over the Fairplex at Pomona Saturday and Sunday, while the Escape: Psycho Circus filled The National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino with the sounds of electronic dance music Friday and Saturday.
The rave in Pomona was the first held at the Fairplex since two young women died of suspected drug overdoses at the HARD Summer Festival rave in early August, drawing renewed scrutiny of raves from Los Angeles County supervisors.
In Pomona, police reported making 148 arrests Saturday, which was the first day of the two-day festival.
“Nearly all arrests were made at the security screening area or outside the venue, prior to entry,” Pomona police officials said in a written statement.
The vast majority of arrests were related to public intoxication, being under the influence of drugs, possession of drugs for personal use or sales, police said. Fifty people were arrested for having fake IDs, and officers arrested 10 allegedly intoxicated drivers at and around the Fairplex.
Guests noted the crowd at the Fairplex appeared smaller than previous electronic music concerts at the venue. The last event, HARD Summer Festival, was open to guests ages 18 and older. HARD Day of the Dead only admitted people 21 and over.
Police estimated 16,000 to 17,000 people attended HARD Day of the Dead on Saturday. HARD Summer Festival, by comparison, attracted about 65,000 to the two-day event.
“It’s hard to dissect any of this yet,” said Pomona Police Chief Paul Capraro said as he monitored the entrance checkpoints. “I’m hoping people think we did out job. I think it’s good to note we’re making it a safer event.”
Two “amnesty boxes” provided a place for people to throw away contraband with no questions asked before entering the venue.
“We had fewer medical issues. We didn’t have any other issues,” Capraro said.
There was a strong law enforcement presence at both the Pomona and San Bernardino events this weekend.
California Highway Patrol officers drove up and down the aisles in the parking lot, as Pomona police handed out anti-drug fliers encouraging concert-goers to “Play hard, not high.”
“There’s a lot more police here. It makes it a lot harder to focus on having fun,” said Amanda Lopez, 24, of Chatsworth. “It feels like someone is breathing down my back.”
While officers were making arrests of those who ignored warnings not to bring drugs to the Fairplex, they were also working to engage the public, Capraro said. “We’re also talking to people.”
Statistics regarding any possible overdoses or other injuries related to the concert treated at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center were not available Sunday, hospital spokesman Frank Garcia said.
In San Bernardino, 193 people were arrested during the two-day event, with 86 people arrested Friday and 107 people arrested Saturday, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which collaborated with the San Bernardino Police Department for event security.
The event attracted more than 40,000 people Friday night, promoters said. A crowd estimate from Saturday was not available.
Officials did not give details about the arrests at the San Bernardino concert.
PHOTO by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher
LOS ANGELES >> A jury Friday convicted a Rowland Heights doctor of three counts of murder for the deaths of three patients who overdosed on drugs she prescribed following a two-month trial.
The case is the first time a medical doctor has been convicted of murder in the United States for overprescribing drugs, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
Hsiu-Ying “Lisa’ Tseng, a 45-year-old doctor of osteopathic medicine and Walnut resident, operated the Advanced Care AAA Medical clinic in Rowland Heights along with her husband.
The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury also convicted her of 20 counts of unlawfully prescribing prescription drugs, but acquitted her on a single charge of prescribing drugs fraudulently, Los Angels County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
“This verdict sends a strong message to individuals in the medical community who put patients at risk for their own financial gain,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “In this case, the doctor stole the lives of three young people in her misguided effort to get rich quick.”
The verdict followed more than a week of jury deliberation.
Investigators arrested Tseng in March of 2012. She has remained in custody in lieu of $3 million throughout the legal process.
The second-degree murder charges stemmed from the deaths of Vu Nguyen, 29, of Lake Forest, on March 2, 2009; Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert, on April 9, 2009; and Joseph Rovero III, 21, of San Ramon, on Dec. 18, 2009.
Prosecutors, who described Tseng as a “Dr. Feelgood,” argued she prescribed the three young men powerful drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and Xanax, without valid medical reasons.
She has a sentencing hearing on Dec. 14, where she faces up to 45 years to life in state prison.
“This is the most severe penalty we have ever gotten ona doctor who illegally overprescribed drugs to patients,” Lacey said.
Tseng’s defense attorney, Tracy Green of Los Angeles-based Green & Associates, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
The ground-breaking case was prosecuted by deputy district attorneys John Niederman and Grace Rai of the D.A.’s Major Narcotics Division.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began looking into Tseng and her practice in 2008 after pharmacies noted high numbers of Tseng’s patients showing up to fill prescriptions for painkillers, prosecutors said. Investigators made undercover visits to the office, and conducted a search of it, in 2010.
Prior to the criminal case, Tseng had already settled civil lawsuits with the families of five other men who overdosed on drugs she proscribed. Testimony revealed at least 12 of Tseng’s patients in all have died of prescription drug overdoses.
Tseng denied the charges, and her trial began in late August.
Tseng received her medical license in 1997, according to Osteopathic Medical Board of California records.
She opened her Rowland Heights clinic in 2005, officials said.
“During the time-frame when nine of her patients died in less than three years, Tseng took in $5 million from her clinic and continued dispensing potent and addictive drugs unabated,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Tseng often no medical records while prescribing the drugs, officials said.
“In many instances, she faked medical records when authorities began investigating,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Tseng surrendered her license in March of 2012 and is not permitted to practice medicine, records show. Her DEA registration was revoked in 2010 amid the ongoing investigation.
COVINA >> Police jailed a San Gabriel man found passed out behind the wheel of his car in Covina early Thursday after discovering nearly a quarter-pound of methamphetamine, along with some heroin, in his vehicle, officials said.
Officers first responded about 4:15 a.m. to reports of a solo-car crash in the 900 block of North Grandview Avenue, Covina police Lt. Tim Doonan said.
“When officers got there, the driver-side tires were up on the sidewalk with the passenger side tires on the street,” the lieutenant said. “The vehicle was running with the suspect asleep behind the wheel.”
Police woke the suspect, who was believed to be under the influence of heroin and appeared “lethargic and confused,” Doonan said.
Upon searching the 2002 Lexus, he said, police found 100 grams of methamphetamine, with an estimated street value of more than $1,500, as well as a vial of heroin and a pipe and a “shaved” car key often used to steal or burglarize cars.
Binh Chi Ly, 33, of San Gabriel, was booked on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine for sales, possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a burglary tool, according to Covina police and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
PHOTOS: [TOP] – Binh Ly, 33, of San Gabriel. [BELOW] – 100 grams of seized methampetamine
WHITTIER >> Police jailed a man and woman on suspicion of robbery and drug possession after finding them driving around Whittier with ski masks, a fake gun, latex gloves and methamphetamine early Wednesday, officials said.
An officer noticed a “suspicious” SUV parked about 1:50 a.m. outside a Rite Aid Pharmacy store at the Quad at Whittier, at Painter Avenue and Whittier Boulevard, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
The officer waited until a man and woman emerged from the store and drove off in the SUV, then stopped the vehicle nearby for a traffic violation, the lieutenant said.
Inside the SUV, police found a replica Colt pistol, ski masks, latex gloves and about three grams of methamphetamine, Ellis said.
Police suspect the pair had either just committed, or was about to commit, a robbery, Ellis said.
The 33-year-old man and 29-year-old woman were jailed on suspicion of robbery and drug possession, he said. Their names were withheld Wednesday as detectives continued their investigation.
GLENDORA >> Police used a newly-obtained anti-overdose nasal spray for the first time Saturday to revive a man overdosing on heroin in Glendora, officials said.
The incident unfolded shortly before 11 p.m. at a home in the 800 block of East Route 66, Glendora police Lt. Rob Lamborghini said in a written statement.
Officers responding to a report that a 31-year-old man had overdosed on heroin found the patient unconscious in an bathroom “in respiratory distress,” Lamborghini said.
“His breathing was very shallow and slow and his pulse was weak and slow,” he said. “Other signs of an opiate overdose were observed by the officers, two of whom are trained emergency medical technicians.”
The officers administered a dose of nasal naloxone, or Narcan, just as paramedics arrived at the scene.
The drug, which was first obtained by the department six months ago, is used to help reverse respiratory arrest caused by opiate drugs such as heroin or prescription painkillers.
“Within a minute and a half he was breathing more normally and his pulse rate rose significantly. He was treated by paramedics and was taken to Glendora Community Hospital where he regained consciousness and fully recovered,” Lamborghini said.
The Glendora Police Department became the first Los Angeles County law enforcement agency to be authorized to use the anti-overdose drug — known as nasal nolaxone, or Narcan — in April.
Five Glendora police officers and one community service officer, who are also trained as EMTs, carry the spray, officials said. They also carry oxygen, which, in conjunction with Narcan, can be very effective in reviving overdose victims.
The program was introduces after police noticed a significant increase in both incidents of heroin possession and overdoses in recent years, officials said at the time.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have noted a national “epidemic” of increasing heroin use nationwide.
“Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013,” according to a CDC statement.
Glendora police have long been at the forefront of marrying new medical technology with law enforcement duties.
In 1997, the department first in Southern California to issue portable defibrillators to all of its officers, officials said.
PHOTO: A dose of nasal naloxone, or Narcan, phorographed on Sept. 2, 2015. (Stephan Savoia/Associated Press)
SAN DIMAS >> A report of a “suspicious person” in a residential San Dimas neighborhood Friday led deputies to arrest an alleged methamphetamine dealer with a loaded handgun, officials said.
Paul Matthew Moreno, 43, of Covina was arrested on suspicion of possession of meth for sales and possession of a loaded, concealed handgun in public, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
A witness called police about 10:35 a.m. to report a “suspicious person in a vehicle” in the 1300 block of Calle Caballero, sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said.
Deputies confronted the man — later identified as Moreno — and found him in possession of a loaded revolver, as well as a “large quantity” of meth separated into multiple baggies, Edwards said. He was arrested without a struggle. The exact amount of drugs recovered was not available Friday afternoon.
Moreno was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Wednesday in Pomona Superior Court.
PHOTO of seized handgun courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.