A teacher from an El Monte high school accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old student pleaded not guilty Friday to 17 felony charges, officials said.
Mountain View High School music teacher Abel Heriberto Acosta, 40, was charged Friday with five counts of unlawful sex with a minor, five counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, four counts of lewd acts on a minor and three counts of oral copulation of a minor, according to a felony complaint filed in Pomona Superior Court.
He entered a not guilty plea and was ordered to return to court May 23 for a preliminary hearing, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said
The alleged molestation took place between December of 2012 and April of 2013, according to the complaint.
El Monte police arrested Acosta Tuesday after several days of investigation, police and El Monte Union High School District officials said. The allegations against the teacher first came to light four days earlier.
Acosta has been an employee of the school district for nearly two years, officials said.
EL MONTE — A Mountain View High School music teacher is behind bars Thursday on suspicion of carrying on an inappropriate relationship with a freshman student, authorities said.
Abel Acosta, 40, was arrested Tuesday, according to El Monte police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
El Monte Unified High School District and police launched an investigation on May 3, when district officials, “received information that a Mountain View High School teacher was having an illicit relationship with a student,” EMUHSD officials said in a written statement.
“Late Tuesday night, the El Monte Police Department arrested (Acosta) for having a sexual relationship with a minor,” El Monte police Lt. Dan Burlingham said.
“The minor is safe and cooperating with authorities,” the lieutenant added. “No other victims have been identified at this time.”
The investigation was ongoing, Burlingham said.
Acosta, who has been employed by the EMUHSD for nearly two years, had no previous allegations against him, according to the school district’s statement.
“This was the first complaint that has been received regarding this particular teacher,” the statement said. “This employee had cleared all preliminary screening and requirements as a school employee, including clearance of fingerprints through the Live Scan system.”
The school and school district have been cooperating and collaborating with police, and will continue to do so, district officials added.
“Parents of students attending the school have been notified of the situation and counseling is available for all students if needed,” according to the EMUHSD statement.
EMUHSD Superintendent Nick Salerno said the teacher’s status with the district was yet to be determined as he remained behind bars, but he would not be back in a classroom while the investigation continues.
Though Acosta continued teaching Monday and Tuesday as police investigated and gathered evidence, “There was very close monitoring by both the police department and school officials,” Salerno said.
Mountain View High School parents were notified Thursday of the situation via automated phone calls, he said.
Salerno said the allegation was handled swiftly and appropriately.
“I appreciate the efforts of the El Monte Police Department and our staff,” he said. “I commend the police in their quick work.”
According to county booking records, Acosta was being held in lieu of $1.3 million bail pending his initial court appearance. The date of Acosta’s first court appearance was not available Thursday.
Anyone with information was asked to contact El Monte police Detective Jake Fisher at 626-258-8696.
EL MONTE — A man died Wednesday after falling through the roof of a hangar at the El Monte Airport, authorities said.
Lon Schultz, 46, of Alhambra died in the apparent accident, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
The fatal mishap occurred about 1:40 p.m. as the man was making repairs to an air vent atop the hangar at the airport, 4233 N. Santa Anita Ave., El Monte police Lt. Dan Burlingham said.
When the roof gave way, “He fell about 30 feet and suffered a fatal injury,” the lieutenant said. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
The investigation was ongoing, Burlingham said, however the incident was being investigated as an accident, and no foul play was initially suspected.
Airport officials deferred comment to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, which administers El Monte Airport, along with four other airfields in the county.
DPW spokesman Bob Spencer said the hangar where the accident took place was privately owned, and not managed by the county.
It was owned by Parker Aero Hangar Development, a hangar rental company based at the El Monte Airport.
It was not clear whether Schultz was the tenant of the hangar, or an employee of Parker Aero Hangar Development. The company could not be reached by telephone Thursday.
According to the company’s web site, it rents out hangars at the airport for storage of boats, recreational vehicles, vintage and classic cars, airport cars and aircraft.
EL MONTE — A 33-year-old El Monte man was convicted Wednesday of sexually abusing two children, officials said.
According to Deputy District Attorney Deborah Scott, jurors deliberated less than a day before finding Roberto Edgar Torres guilty of two counts each of unlawful sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child 10 years or younger, and unlawful oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years or younger.
He was also convicted of one count each of sending harmful matter with the intent to seduce a minor and lewd act with a child under 14 years. Jurors found true a special allegation of multiple victims.
Torres faces a maximum sentence of 80 years to life at his May 28 sentencing.
Authorities said Torres abused a boy and a girl between January 1997 and March 2009. The girl was then 7 and the boy was 7 or 8.
Torres fled during the investigation and was caught in Tamaulipas, Mexico. He was sent back to the U.S. Pomona police investigated the case.
- Ruby Gonzales
SAN GABRIEL — A man shot and wounded by El Monte police at the end of a pursuit in San Gabriel was backing a stolen delivery truck toward officers when they opened fire, authorities said Saturday.
The name of the suspect wounded in Friday’s 4:40 a.m. shooting on Leslie Drive, just west of San Marino Avenue in San San Gabriel, was not released by investigators. A second suspect not identified by authorities was also arrested in connection with the alleged truck theft.
Prior to the officer-involved shooting, officials said the two suspects stole a large box truck that was making a delivery to a 7-Eleven store in the 12100 block of Ramona Boulevard in El Monte, officials said.
El Monte police spotted the truck on the 10 Freeway and began a pursuit when it failed to pull over, Deputy Peter Gomez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement. The truck exited the freeway at Temple City Boulevard and crashed into several parked cars as the chase continued through Rosemead.
The truck briefly came to a stop on Guess Street, at which point one of the suspects got out and surrendered to police, Gomez said. But the other suspect then continued driving, leading officers into San Gabriel.
“When the suspect turned onto West Leslie Drive in San Gabriel, he stopped the stolen truck when he saw spike strips had been deployed,” according to Gomez. “The officers ordered the suspect to turn the vehicle off numerous times. The suspect did not comply and instead put the truck in reverse and started backing toward the officers, trying to hit them. At that time an officer-involved shooting took place.”
The wounded suspect was hospitalized in stable condition, while the other suspect was booked at the El Monte Police Department.
No officers were injured, officials said.
El Monte police shot and wounded a suspect in San Gabriele arly Friday after he led them on a pursuit in a stolen delivery truck, authorities said.
The officer-involved shooting took place about 4:40 a.m. at San Marino Avenue and Leslie Drive, Deputy Don Walker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
The suspect was hospitalized and expected to survive, officials said.
No officers were injured in the incident, Walker said.
The suspect had allegedly stolen a large box truck from a 7-Eleven store in the 12100 block of Ramona Boulevard in El Monte, officials said. Officers spotted the truck on the 10 Freeway, initiating a pursuit that ended at the scene of the shooting in San Gabriel.
Information regarding what prompted police to open fire was not available early Friday as the investigation continued.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau were spearheading the investigation, as is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings involving Los Angeles County police agencies.
An admitted gang member from Rosemead faces a potential third-strike after he and his wife were arrested last week following a traffic stop in El Monte that led to the discovery of more than $20,000 worth of cocaine, authorities said.
Duong Che, 32, who is on parole for home-invasion robbery, and his wife Helena Hong, 30, of Rosemead, were booked on suspicion of possession of cocaine for sales and transportation following their arrests Thursday night, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
About a pound of cocaine was seized in the bust, with an estimated street value of $20,000 to $30,000, sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Kim said in a written statement.
Sheriff’s gang investigators assigned to the Asian Gang Team pulled Che over for a minor traffic violation as he was driving with his wife as a passenger near El Monte Superior Court, 11234 E. Valley Blvd., Kim said. Deputies discovered Che was on parole, giving them authority to search him and his vehicle.
Several packages of cocaine were found in his pocket, and more packages were found inside the vehicle, the sergeant said. More than nine ounces of the drug were recovered from the traffic stop, and Che and Hong were arrested.
Kim said investigators then turned their attention to Che’s home in the 7400 block of Whitmore Street in Rosemead, Kim said.
“During the search, an additional seven ounces of cocaine, and other evidence of narcotics — such as scales, empty bags and cash — were discovered and seized,” he added.
As a potential third-strike offender, Che faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted as charged, officials said. He was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance.
Hong was released from jail Friday afternoon after posting $60,000 bail, according to county booking records.
Both Che and Hong were scheduled to appear in El Monte Superior for arraignment Monday.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
TEMPLE CITY – A man surrendered to El Monte police Thursday after spending several hours holed up inside a Temple City home, authorities said.
Juan Gonzalez, 37, of Temple City was arrested on suspicion of spousal abuse an assault with a deadly weapon, according to El Monte police Sgt. Roger Cobian.
The incident began around 9 a.m. When El Monte police officers went to the 9500 block of Woodruff Avenue in search of the domestic violence suspect, Cobian said.
Gonzalez went inside a home and refused to come out, prompting a stand-off that continued for about three hours, Cobian said.
A SWAT team was summoned to the scene, and Gonzalez ultimately surrendered without a struggle.
Further details of the alleged domestic violence, which took place late Wednesday in El Monte, were not available Thursday afternoon, police said.
EL MONTE — A man suspected of trying to kill his girlfriend was arrested Friday after he fled from police in a stolen pickup and crashed.
Dorian Guerrero was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, auto theft and felony evading of police, according to El Monte police and Los Angeles County booking records.
El Monte Police Sgt. Michael Buckhannon said an officer was given a description of a vehicle tied to the suspect. He saw the Nissan pickup truck at 3:33 p.m. on Peck and Lower Azusa roads.
The pickup took off.
Buckhannon said the pickup hit a car at Lower Azusa Road and the 605 Freeway. The injured suspect ran to a nearby nursery and tried to hide in the foliage, he said.
After being placed in the back of a patrol car, Buckhannon said the suspect kicked out the rear window.
The man was treated at Methodist Hospital of Southern California for a laceration to the forehead, Buckhannon said. He was being held at the El Monte jail.
The attempted murder occurred two months ago when the man allegedly shot at his girlfriend on Maxson Road as she drove away from him, according to Buckhannon. The woman reportedly wasn’t injured.
Police said the pickup truck was stolen in Monrovia.
Guerrero was being held in lieu of $1.06 million bail pending his initial court appearance, according to booking records.
- Ruby Gonzales
EL MONTE — A man wanted for violating parole tried to elude officers by hiding in an attic Friday night.
It didn’t work. He was ordered out and taken into custody.
Modesto Alcala, 33, was booked on suspicion of violating parole, according El Monte police and Los Angeles County booking records. His city of residence was not available.
Gang detectives looking for a man with a warrant for violating parole conducted a surveillance of an Arcadia residence Friday, Sgt. Michael Buckhannon said.
But Alcala wasn’t there. Detectives headed to the 12300 block of Poinsettia Street in El Monte.
Buckhannon said when investigators went to check the location around 9:15 p.m., they saw someone climbing out of a back window. It was the man they were looking for.
Police closed off the area.
Buckhannon said Alcala returned to the house and hid in the attic. He was discovered by police and ordered to come out.
According to county booking records, Alcala was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance.
- Ruby Gonzales