PASADENA >> A judge sentenced a gang member to more than three decades in prison for killing an 11-year-old boy and his 25-year-old cousin when he crashed an SUV into their family’s minivan in Pasadena on Christmas Day of 2012.
The Pasadena jury found Darrell Lee Williams, 25, guilty in November of two counts of manslaughter and five counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the crash at Marengo Avenue and Maple Street, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago. The conviction was his third strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. He was acquitted of a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dorothy L. Shubin sentenced Williams to 30 years to life in prison, Santiago said.
Killed were Tracey Ong Tan of Glendale and Kendrick Ng of Daly City. Ng was visiting relatives for the holidays. Ng’s parents and sister suffered serious injuries.
Williams was fleeing from an FBI SUV, driven by an FBI agent with a Pasadena police officer riding as a passenger, that had tried to pull over the Dodge Durango Williams was driving, authorities said.
“Williams refused to stop because he had a firearm in the SUV while on parole and a high-speed chase began,” Santiago said in a written statement.
William’s girlfriend and passenger in the fleeing SUV, 23-year-old Brittany Washington of Los Angeles, pleaded no contest to a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2014 and received a two-year jail sentence, officials said.
The fatal pursuit occurred as Pasadena police and FBI agents were conducting gang-suppression patrols following the fatal shooting of community youth coach and sheriff’s department employee Victor McClinton, 49, of Pasadena earlier on the same deadly Christmas Day in Pasadena.
A Los Angeles jury continued deliberating Friday in the case of alleged gang members Larry Darnell Bishop, 23, of Chino and Jerron Donald Harris, 28, of Pasadena, accused of gunning down McClinton with an errant bullet intended for a rival gang member.
The trial is the second for Bishop and Harris after a jury failed to reach a verdict in their first trial last July.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A suspect arrested Thursday following a Santa Fe Springs bank robbery is believed to be a serial bandit sought for previous heists in Anaheim and Orange, police said Friday.
Police arrested Ryan Thomas See, 25, of La Palma minutes after Thursday’s 2:50 p.m. robbery at a Chase branch at Telegraph and Carmenita roads in Santa Fe Springs, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was taken into custody as he attempted to flee in an Uber car, officials said.
“(See) presented the teller with a demand note, claiming he had a bomb and warned he would detonate it if police or others were alerted,” Whittier police said in a written statement. “The teller complied and handed over nearly $6,000 in cash.”
Officers arrested him around the corner in South Whittier as he attempted to enter a getaway car, later found to be an Uber car he had reserved, occupied by a female driver, police and FBI officials said.
A witness aided in the capture by following the suspect from the bank and reporting his position to police, Lt. Aaron Ruiz said. The stolen cash was recovered.
Following his arrest, investigators working with the FBI determined See was the suspected “Windy City Bandit,” sought for bank robberies at Chase banks in Anaheim on Oct. 5 and in Orange on Tuesday, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The FBI gave him the moniker due to a beanie emblazoned with a Chicago Bears logo he wore during the alleged crimes, she said.
See was initially booked on suspicion of bank robbery and making criminal threats at the Whittier Police Department, but was later turned over to federal custody to face federal prosecution, Eimiller said.
Upon being confronted with bank surveillance photos from the previous Orange County robberies, “See stated that he was the person in all three of the bank surveillance photographs,” FBI Agent Steve May wrote in a criminal complaint filed Thursday in federal court.
See claimed that he committed the robberies because he owed a “Mexican guy” money for drugs, but did not know man’s name, according to the complaint.
The defendant said the unnamed accomplice drove him to the scenes of the first two robberies. See told investigators he took an Uber car to get to the third robbery.
“See stated that he was pressured by the Mexican guy to go to that bank and rob that bank,” May wrote. “See further stated that if See did not do as instructed, the Mexican guy would harm/shoot his family.”
He was ordered held without bail during his initial court appearance Friday, Eimiller said.
BANK SURVEILLANCE IMAGES courtesy of the FBI.
NORWALK >> A man accused of sexually assaulting and fatally stabbing his disabled neighbor in Norwalk before fleeing to Guatemala returned to the U.S. Friday to face charges, authorities said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 22, was extradited back to Los Angeles County via LAX following his Dec. 4 arrest in San Miguel, Escuinta, Guatemala, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Diofron is suspected in the brutal stabbing death of 50-year-old Denise Battey Aug. 10, 2012, at her home in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials
He’s charged with murder, with the special circumstances of rape and burglary, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
After Diofron allegedly fled the country, federal authorities also charged the suspect with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. But the federal case is expected to be dismissed as the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes the murder case.
Diofron, who was living near Battey while in the U.S. on a work visa, attacked and sexually assaulted Battery as she watered her garden, according to sheriff’s officials and her twin sister, Annese Battey.
He then dragged her inside her home and stabbed her to death, authorities allege.
Denise Battey worked as a system support analyst for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students in college preparation part time, according to her twin sister, Annese Battey. She was an avid gardener and a classic movie buff.
And the victim was defenseless against her attacker, authorities and family members said. She had just undergone back surgery and suffered from severe sciatica in her left leg.
Diofron was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
PHOTOS: TOP: Murder suspect Luis Fernando Diofron (courtesy). BELOW: Homicide victim Denise Battey (courtesy)
FULLERTON >> A serial bank robber dubbed the “Quad Bandit,” who had been linked by the FBI to 10 bank robberies and attempted bank robberies, is in custody following his most recent alleged caper in Brea, authorities said.
The prolific serial bandit, identified as Jonathan Wade Oechsle, 42, of Anaheim, was jailed Thursday by Fullerton police following his final robbery in Brea, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. He made his initial court appearance Friday at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The Quad Bandit was already being sought in connection with nine crimes at banks in Los Angeles and Orange counties — including one in La Habra — since late March, officials said. The FBI have him his nickname because he started his alleged spree with four robberies and attempted robberies at Buena Park banks on March 22.
After robbing the Bank of the West, 311 S. State College Blvd. in Brea, Thursday afternoon, Fullerton police spotted the robber driving in a silver Chevrolet Cavalier, Brea police Lt. Darrin Devereaux said in a written statement.
“Fullerton officers pursued the suspect approximately two miles until he crashed into a curb in the 1600 block of Sjyline (Drive) in Fullerton,” Devereaux said. “The suspect surrendered to officers at the scene without further incident.”
Other robberies and attempted bank robberies attributed to Oechsle occurred July 23 in Anaheim Hills, in Anaheim on July 15, La Habra on July 3, and twice in Cerritos on June 16, according to the FBI.
PHOTO courtesy of the FBI.
The FBI is seeking a serial bank robbery they’ve dubbed the “Quad Bandit,” whose robbed or attempted to rob nine banks in Orange and Los Angeles counties since April, officials said Friday.
The bandit earned his moniker at the outset of his spree when he struck four Buena Park banks on March 22, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. Three of the crimes at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase branches failed, while one at a Chase bank was successful.
The robber then showed up in Cerritos March 16, where he tried unsuccessfully to rob a Wells Fargo before successfully robbing a Chase bank later the same day, officials said.
The Quad Bandit robbed a La Habra U.S. Bank branch July 3, followed by an Opus Bank branch in Anaheim on July 15 and a Union Bank branch in Anaheim Hills on Wednesday.
“During the robberies, the suspect known as the Quad Bandit typically passes a note and makes a verbal demand for cash,” Eimilller said. “In some of the robberies, the Quad Bandit has threatened a weapon, or has appeared to have gestured toward what might be a weapon, according to victims.”
In a bank surveillance photo released by the FBI from a Buena Park crime, the bandit is seen holding up a piece of paper toward the teller’s window with the words, “bank robbery,” written on it.
The FBI described the bandit as white, 40 to 50 years old, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, 150 to 160 grounds. he had dirty blond hair, a goatee and stubble during the crimes, during which he wore sunglasses and baseball caps.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles office at 888-226-8443.
PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI
WEST COVINA — A telephoned bomb threat caused a stir at the FBI’s office in West Covina, but was ultimately determined to be unfounded, authorities said.
A call was placed to the Whittier Police Department shortly before 4:20 p.m. threatening to detonate a bomb at the FBI building, 1050 Lakes Drive, Suite 350, West Covina police Sgt. Ken Plunkett said.
West Covina police joined FBI agents at the scene, and determined within half an hour that the threat was not credible, the sergeant said.
The FBI would be handling the investigation into the identity of the caller, he said.
INDUSTRY — Federal search warrants were served at a local business Friday morning, FBI officials said.
FBI spokeswoman Arielle Dekofsky said the warrants served at 15305 Stafford Street were due to an ongoing investigation.
However, she didn’t say what the investigation was about and didn’t name the business.
There were reportedly no arrests.
The address comes back to IKON Motorsports Inc. which was incorporated on March 6, 2007, according to the California Secretary of State online records.
Company officials couldn’t be reached for comment Friday night.
– Ruby Gonzales
Authorities on Friday asked for the public’s help in identifying and finding a serial bank robber dubbed “The Luger Bandit”.
They also released bank surveillance photos.
Bank of America and Wells Fargo are offering a combined reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robber.
The FBI gave the suspect the moniker “The Luger Bandit” due to the gun he uses which was described as a silver German Luger-style weapon.
The bandit robbed a Wells Fargo in Granada Hills on Jan. 3, a Wells Fargo in Fontana on Feb. 8, a Chase Bank in Mira Loma on March 12 and a Bank of America in Corona on June 4.
He is also tied to an attempted robbery of a Wells Fargo in San Dimas on March 8.
During each robbery, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the suspect orders employees and customers to the ground, brandishes a weapon and demands cash in various denominations.
The bandit left empty-handed when he tried to rob the Wells Fargo at 925 W. Arrow Highway in San Dimas.
Deputies said an armed masked robber ordered everyone to the floor.
But once all the customers and the employees complied, there was no one left to hand over money. The robber left the bank.
Eimiller said witnesses have described the suspect’s vehicle as a charcoal gray BMW, 3-series with a sports package.
Bank surveillance photos show the the bandit wearing pullover sweatshirts with hoods as well as a face mask, sunglasses and black gloves to conceal his appearance.
He also carries a black bag with a strap during the robberies.
The suspect was described as a white man or Latino, 30 to 40, between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet in height and about 200 pounds.
Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the bandit is asked to call the FBI or dial 9-1-1. In Los Angeles, the FBI can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-888-226-8443.
– Ruby Gonzales
PHOTO courtesy of the FBI
WHITTIER – Police and the FBI are working to identify a “suspicious substance” found inside a Whittier College dorm room late Thursday, authorities said.
The material was discovered about 9 p.m. by campus security officers who were performing routine dorm checks, Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller said. No description of the substance was available.
Campus security officials collected the suspicious substance and notified Whittier police, Miller said.
“We had a hard time identifying it so we called the FBI,” Miller said.
Whittier police, FBI and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials remained at the campus, 13406 E. Philadelphia St., Friday morning trying to determine the nature of the substance, police said.
Investigators were also speaking with a “person of interest” — a resident of the dorm room where the substance was found — Friday morning, Miller said.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said it was too early in the investigation to describe the substance or discuss what it might be, “until we determine more, until they’re able to test it.”
“At this time, there are no immediate public safety concerns,” Eimiller said.
The substance was found in the Stauffer Residence Hall, a three-story freshman dorm at the west end of the campus. It houses about 185 students.
No evacuations were ordered, and classes were expected to continue as normal, Whittier College spokeswoman Ana Liliana Barraza said.
Students were notified of the situation via email and text message, she added.
FBI and campus police personnel escorted a young man, with a slight build and wearing glasses, back and forth from Ball Hall, adjacent to Stauffer Hall and the campus security trailer.
Officials would not confirm if he was the person of interest who was interviewed. Although not in handcuffs, campus police detained the young man in their facility, where they fed him, and then drove him from the area about noon.
The FBI is seeking a San Gabriel man who failed to show up for his sentencing Monday after pleading guilty to defrauding dozens of families of more than $11 million.
David Kaup, 29, pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of wire fraud April 9, FBI officials said in a written statement.
He admitted taking part in three separate schemes using the business names Lunden Investments, American Loans and Funding and First Mortgage West, officials said.
“Kaup admitted in his plea agreement that over a period of approximately five years, he defrauded more than 50 families out of more than $11 million,” according to the FBI statement. “Many of these victims were working class families who sought Kaup’s assistance in refinancing their homes.”
Through Lunden Investments, authorities said, Kaup solicited more than $9 million from investors, telling them them he was using the money to fund commercial loans.
“Kaup admitted in his plea, however, that he instead lost approximately $9 million of the victims’ money trading on the foreign currency exchange market,” according to the FBI statement.
Through the other two companies, ALF and FMW, Kaup tricked homeowners into sending him money by promising to help them refinance their homes at below-market rates, officials said. He told the victims he needed an up-front payment to demonstrate that they were financially qualified, which would be returned to them upon approval or denial of their loans.
But instead, officials said, Kaup used the money to buy luxury items for himself and trade on the foreign currency exchange market.
While carrying out the schemes, Kaup used the aliases David Smith and David Martinez, according to the FBI.
He’s described as 5 feet 11 inches tall, 190 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He’s been known to work as disc jockey in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas areas using the moniker, “New Age Dave.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles office at 888-226-8443.
PHOTO of David Kaup courtesy of the FBI.