WEST COVINA >> A man believed to be high on bath salts and methamphetamine threatened passers-by with a gas can, doused himself in the flammable liquid and bit a police officer before finally being wrestled into custody by police early Saturday, authorities said.
Juan Carlos Urrutia, 24, of West Covina was arrested in connection with the incident, according to West Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The bizarre series of event unfolded shorty after 7 a.m. in the area of West Covina Parkway and Glendora Avenue.
Police received numerous calls of a man — later identified as Urrutia — of about 19 years old walking in the middle of the street with a gasoline can in-hand, “threatening motorists to light them on fire,” West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Callers further reported that the man had doused a bush, as well as himself, in gasoline, and had been seen carrying both a lighter and a crowbar, the lieutenant said.
Officers arrived and confronted Urrutia, who was still carrying the gas can, as well as some jumper cables and paper towels that had been soaked in gasoline, Patton said. He appeared highly intoxicated.
“He disobeyed call commands,” Patton said.
But because the man was soaked in flammable liquid, officer were unable to use a Taser to subdue Urrutua for fear of igniting a fire, police said. So police wrestled him into custody.
“It took multiple officers to get this guy into custody,” Patton said.
Urrutia bit an officer in the arm during the struggle, breaking the skin and causing a “significant injury,” Patton said. The officer was treated and released at a hospital.
The suspect told officials that he had consumed bath salts and methamphetamine, he said. He was taken to a hospital for examination.
Bath salts is a term used to describe a family of synthetic stimulants often sold as items such as bath salt, labeled not for human consumption.
After being examined at a hospital, Urrutia was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, resisting arrest and being under the influence of drugs, police said.
According to county booking records, Urrutia was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his arraignment, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
WHITTIER — Whittier police will join the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation Saturday in collecting unwanted prescription drugs, officials said.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., residents are invited to bring unused, unwanted, expired and potentially dangerous prescription drugs to Whittier City Hall, 13230 Penn Street, for safe disposal, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked,” according to the police statement. Syringes will not be accepted at the event.
“This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” according to the police statement. “Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.”
Simply throwing medications in the trash or flushing them down the toilet can pose safety and environmental hazards as well, officials added.
For more information, the Whittier Police Department can be reached at 562-567-9200.
LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from La Mirada surrendered to federal authorities Thursday after being indicted on charges of illegally prescribing powerful painkillers and other drugs and laundering the proceeds from the illicit sales, authorities said.
Andrew Sun, 78, turned himself in at the United States Courthouse in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. A federal grand jury returned an indictment on March 18 charging him with 24 counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances, as well as four counts of money laundering.
Sun operated medical clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles, according to federal officials.
“Sun prescribed drugs, including hydrocodone, to undercover agents on 13 separate occasions, each time in exchange for $150 cash,” Mrozek said.
The prescriptions were written between July of 2011 and April of 2012, according to the federal indictment.
In once instance, “Sun encouraged an undercover agent to provide a fraudulent justification for the ‘maximum’ allowable number of extra-strength Vicodin pills,” Mrozek said.
Other drugs allegedly prescribed illegally by the doctor include Xanax, Soma, Valium and cough syrup containing promethazine and codeine.
The indictment alleges that Sun prescribed the powerful drugs, “while acting and intending to act outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.”
Investigators noted that between mid-2009 and mid-2010, Sun issued nearly 5,000 prescriptions for controlled substances.
In addition to illegally selling drugs, “The indictment also charges Sun with four counts of laundering the proceeds generated by his illegal prescriptions,” Mrozek said. “The indictment charges Sun with laundering cash on four specific occasions when he deposited thousands of dollars in cash on dates that undercover agents met with him and received prescriptions,” Mrozek said.
The indictment lists $16,950 in allegedly laundered funds, which were deposited between July of 2011 and March of 2012.
While looking into the doctor, IRS investigators determined Sun and his wife controlled 44 bank accounts, and Sun had deposited more than $1.1 million in cash into the accounts between 2008 and 2012, according to the DOJ officials.
After pleading not guilty to all 28 charges, Sun was released from custody on a $500,000 bond, Mrozek said. A trial date was scheduled for May 27.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the California Medical Board, the California Department of Health Care Services and the Monterey Park Police Department took part in the investigation.
Sun’s medical license has been suspended since late 2013 and he is barred from practicing medicine, according to a California Department of Consumer Affairs database.
He was first licensed to practice medicine in 1967 after graduating Harvard Medical School in 1966, records show.
If convicted as charged, Sun faces up to 248 years in federal prison, officials said.
PICO RIVERA >> A man with a handgun robbed a Pico Rivera pharmacy Wednesday of prescription-strength cough syrup commonly used in the street drug known as “purple drank,” officials said.
The robbery took place about 2:40 p.m. at the Rivera Pharmacy, 9253 Telegraph Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Dodson said.
The robber was described as a white man with a bandana covering his face who carried a handgun, the sergeant said. He brandished the weapon and demanded cough syrup.
Initial reports indicated the cough syrup contained promethazine and codeine. The same type of cough syrup is commonly mixed with soda and candy to create the illicit intoxicant known as “purple drank,”
“Promethazine is commonly known on the street as “purple drank,” “syrup,” “purple liquid” and “lean,” with the latter name coming from the abuser’s difficulty in standing up straight,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrations officials said in a 2011 statement. “Promethazine is a central nervous system depressant which can cause death if it is combined with alcohol.”
EL MONTE — El Monte police will be collecting residents’ unwanted prescription medications this month for safe disposal, officials said.
Unused or expired drugs can be turned in from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 26 in the rear parking lot of the El Monte Police Department, 11333 Valley Boulevard, El Monte police officials said in a written statement.
For more information, El Monte police can be reached at 626-580-2100.
PASADENA — Pasadena police gang detectives arrested man and seized a handgun, more than three ounces of methamphetamine and more than 10 ounces of hash while serving a search warrant at a Pasadena apartment Thursday afternoon, officials said.
Eddie Vasquez, 33, of Pasadena was booked on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine for sale, possession of concentrated cannabis for sale and being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun following the 2:30 p.m. search in the 500 block of North Marengo Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said.
Officers assigned to the Pasadena Police Departments Special Enforcement Section were continuing an ongoing investigation when they showed up at Vasquez’s home, he said. Vasquez was suspected to have gang ties.
According to county booking records, Vasquez was being held in lieu of $35,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
PASADENA >> Police released video footage of two burglars believed to be responsible for half a dozen pharmacy break-ins and attempted break-ins in Pasadena over the past six months.
The series of pharmacy burglaries began in September, with the most recent crime reported March 8, Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra said.
All of the pharmacies linked to the series occurred near Huntington Hospital, near the intersection of Fair Oaks Avenue and California Boulevard, Ibarra said. All of the break-ins took place during overnight hours while the businesses were closed.
The burglars successfully forced their way into four of the businesses, while they apparently abandoned attempts to burglarize two other nearby pharmacies, the lieutenant said.
Each of the pharmacies was equipped with an alarm, and the intruders spent only a short time in each one, Ibarra said.
“Various” medications were taken in the burglaries, Ibarra said. An accounting of what types of drugs and how many had been stolen was not available.
“They’re opportunists,” Ibarra said. “They grab what they can.”
In at least some of the cases, the burglars targeted medications that had been left unlocked for the following day’s customers, Lt. John Dewar said. And in at least one of the break-ins, the burglars fled empty-handed.
Dewar advised pharmacies to always leave all medications locked up overnight.
Police described one of the burglars as a white man of about 30 years old, 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. The second burglar was described as a Latino man in his mid-20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and 180 pounds.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Pasadena police Detective Robin Stinson at 626-744-7097, or police dispatch at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously by contacting L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
COVINA — A man believed to be hallucinating under the influence of methamphetamine terrorized a Covina family and attempted to stab a man with a metal stake Saturday, police said.
Jeffrey Benjamin Jimenez, a 37-year-old transient, was ultimately booked on suspicion of attempted murder and burglary in connection with the bizarre incident, which unfolded shortly before 10 a.m. at a home in the 1300 block of North Glenfinnan Avenue, according to Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Jimenez, who later admitted to police to using methamphetamine earlier in the day, was walking in the neighborhood when he apparently began hallucinating, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said.
“He believed that he heard the voice of a family member coming from inside a home,” the lieutenant said.
The home in question was occupied by a man, woman and their two sons, Walczak said.
“He walked into their home and asked to search their home,” he said. “He began looking around. Then he left for a short period of time.”
The startled family locked their doors when Jimenez left.
“He came back,” Walczak said. “He kicked in the front door. He had armed himself with a metal garage sale sign stake. He began chasing the father around the inside of the residence, attempting to stab him with the stake.”
Jimenez ultimately smashed several windows at the home before leaving, police said. No injuries were reported.
Responding officers detained Jimenez nearby and ultimately arrested him.
According to county booking records, Jimenez was being held in lieu of $1.05 million bail pending his scheduled arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
LOS ANGELES >> Prosecutors Thursday filed a felony charge against a former Baldwin Park police officer accused of filing a false police report related to a drug arrest last year.
Matthew DeHoog, 29, pleaded not guilty to a count of filing a false report in Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. Judge Renee Korn ordered him released on his own recognizance pending his next court appearance.
“DeHoog wrote a false police report about a July 31, 2013, incident where a man was arrested for investigation of possession of methamphetamine,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
The criminal complaint filed against DeHoog alleges that, while working as a police officer, he filed a report regarding the commission and investigation of a crime, “and knowingly and intentionally included a statement and statements regarding a material matter which the defendant knew to be false.”
But further details regarding the alleged false police report, including the identity of the man who was arrested, were not available.
“We’re not releasing any more facts of the case,” district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling said. “They’ll be released during the (preliminary hearing).”
The case was investigated by DeHoog’s former colleagues at the Baldwin Park Police Department. But police also declined to discuss the circumstances of the case.
“He’s a former police officer with our department and he’s no longer employed by us,” Baldwin Park Police Chief Michael Taylor said.
DeHoog’s employment with the department ended in early January, Taylor said.
The chief said he had no further comment regarding the allegations against the former officer, or the case filed Thursday by the district attorney’s office.
“It’s unfortunate when anything like this happens in the law enforcement community,” Taylor said.
DeHoog was ordered to return to court March 4 for a preliminary hearing setting, Risling said.
DeHoog could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Under state law, DeHoog faces up to three years in prison if convicted as charged.
The July, 2013, incident was not DeHoog’s first time being involved in a controversial arrest.
He, along with two other Baldwin Park police officers, arrested then-city councilman Anthony Bejarano on suspicion of being drunk in public.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office ultimately declined to file any charge against Bejarano, and the former councilman filed a personnel complaint against his arresting officers. He denied he was drunk or uncooperative, as was stated in the officers’ report.
An internal department review into the situation was conducted and completed, though the results were never made public, as then-police chief Lili Hadsell said the issue was a confidential personnel matter.
A man and woman from El Monte were behind bars Saturday after leading West Covina police on a high-speed chase in a stolen car during which the driver rammed a police car, authorities said.
Driver and parolee William Paul East, 30, was booked on suspicion of auto theft, driving a stolen car, assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer and felony evading of police following the pursuit, which began about 11:10 p.m. Friday in West Covina before officers stopped it with a PIT maneuver in El Monte, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
His passenger, 32-year-old Jenny Anne Lao, was arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, the lieutenant said.
East was being held without bail and was scheduled to appear in West Covina Superior Court Feb. 20, according to county booking records. He was already being sought for absconding from parole supervision when the chase took place, officials said.
Lao was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail and was scheduled to appear Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
The incident began when a man called police to report seeing his compact Toyota sedan, which had been stolen in El Monte, driving through West Covina, Patton said.
“He happened to come across his vehicle and notified West Covina police,” he said. It was not immediately clear when the car had been stolen.
The caller directed police toward where he had spotted his stolen car, and officers caught up with it in the area of Valinda Avenue and Maplegrove Street, on the western border of West Covina, Patton said.
“Officers proceeded to attempt to stop the vehicle, when the vehicle abruptly fled at a high rate of speed and a pursuit was initiated,” Patton said.
The fleeing car led officers along side streets before getting onto the westbound 10 Freeway, where it reached 105 mph, he said.
As the car exited at Peck Road, East lost control and the Toyota spun out, Patton said. Lao got out of the car and fled on foot, but was quickly apprehended. East continued fleeing in the car.
Police continued chasing the car south on Peck Road until it crashed into a car parked in a used car lot at Peck Road and Valley Boulevard, Patton said.
“After that impact with a parked vehicle at the auto dealership, the driver put the vehicle into reverse and intentionally rammed a police vehicle,” he said. The officer was not injured, and the damage appeared minor.
When East tried to continue driving, officers used a PIT maneuver to bring the chase to an end, according to Patton. East then surrendered.