Former Norwalk man extradited back to L.A. County to face trial in rape, slaying of disabled neighbor


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.
0412_NWS_WDN-L-DIOFRON2Denise 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)

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Serial bank robbery suspect arrested following Brea heist


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.

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‘Quad Bandit’ sought for bank robberies in Los Angeles, Orange counties


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.”
0726_NWS_WDN-L-WUADBANDIT2In 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

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Bomb threat phoned in to West Covina FBI building

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.

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FBI searches Industry business

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

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Reward offered for capture of ‘Luger Bandit’

Luger Bandit

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

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‘Suspicious substance’ found at Whittier College

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.

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FBI: San Gabriel man skips out on sentencing after admitting more than $11 million in fraud

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.

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UPDATED: FBI ‘Ten Most Wanted’ fugitive, sought for 4 killings including one in North Whittier, captured in Mexico

One of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives suspected of killing four people including a North Whittier man, was arrested Thursday in Mexico and will be returned to Los Angeles, officials said.
Reputed Los Angeles gang member Joe Luis Saenz was taken into custody in Guadalajara following a joint operation with the Mexican government, said Bill Lewis, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.
“Saenz will be returned from Mexico to Los Angeles this weekend under FBI escort,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a written statement.
Saenz is believed to be about 37 years old, though he has used numerous dates of birth over the years, officials said.
Saenz is suspected of the Oct. 5, 2008 fatal shooting of Oscar Torres, 37, in the 2200 block of Mardel Avenue which is in the unincorporated county area of North Whittier. A second man was shot but survived.
According to sheriff’s homicide detectives, Torres was killed because he lost $620,000 that allegedly belonged to Saenz. Torres denied owing the money.
During a traffic stop in Missouri, FBI officials said state troopers discovered the money in a secret panel of a rental car.
Authorities said they have videotape from a surveillance camera at Torres’ house that shows Saenz killing Torres and wounding a second man.
Investigators said Saenz also shot and killed two rival gang members in July 1998 to retaliate for an assault on one of his associates.
Saenz suspected Sigrieta Hernandez, his girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, was going to tell police about the slayings, investigators said. He is accused of kidnapping, raping and killing her less than two weeks later.
Saenz, who is about 37 years old, was believed to be hiding in Mexico, working as an enforcer and hit man for a Mexican drug cartel, officials said.
“Saenz has been described by gang associates and others as a major enforcer and hit-man for a Mexican drug cartel who is believed to be involved in importing cocaine into Los Angeles,” FBI officials said in a written statement upon adding him to the agency’s “Ten Most Wanted” list in October of 2009.
“In addition to the murders for which he is charged, Saenz is wanted for question for additional crimes, including kidnapping and murder. Saenz is considered a career criminal and is a known repeat offender, according to the FBI statement. “In addition, he has an extensive criminal history, including motor vehicle theft, assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, and possession of narcotics.”
A U.S. citizen, investigators who were seeking Saenz suspected he was moving freely between the U.S. and Mexico using fraudulent identification, according to the FBI.
When place on the FBI’s most-wanted list in 2009, Saenz picture joined was placed among the ranks of Osama bin Laden, Boston crime lord James “Whitey” Bulger and other notorious criminals. There was a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to his arrest, however it was unclear Saturday if anyone would be claiming that reward.
More information was to be released Monday, officials said.

– Staff and wire reports

PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI

(Top): Undated photo of suspect Joe Saenz.

(Below): This surveillance camera image, provided by the FBI, pictures former
FBI fugitive Joe Luis Saenz, believed to be about 37 years old,
moments before allegedly fatally shooting a man in the 2200 block of
Mardel Avenue in an unincorporated county area north of Whittier on
Oct. 5, 2008. Saenz was captured in Mexico on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012.

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Statistics show bank robberies on the decline

LOS ANGELES COUNTY — Bank robberies in Los Angeles County and across the state have hit a 10-year low, according to the FBI.
Annual bank robbery statistics released by the FBI Wednesday indicate that officials investigated 122 bank robberies in the county in 2011, compared with 168 in 2010.
With the exception of a moderate uptick in bank heists in 2008 and 2009, bank robberies in Los Angeles county have been steadily waning since 2002, when 401 such crimes were reported.
58208-EXPLOSIVE THREAT bandit-thumb-300x333-58207.jpeg
A similar trend was seen statewide, where 677 bank robberies took place in 2011, down from 779 in 2010 and 1,405 in 2002, according to the FBI report.
“The decrease in overall robberies is attributable in part to closer cooperation among law enforcement agencies, successful prosecution by the United States Attorney’s Office and its counterparts at the district attorney’s offices, as well as a more proactive approach by the banking community in the implementation of additional security measures,” FBI officials said in a written statement.
“In addition, media coverage of increasingly clear bank surveillance photographs, and rewards offered by banks and law enforcement (have) contributed to the community’s awareness and has generated valuable assistance from the public in the identification of unknown subjects,” the statement said.
According to the data, California saw about twice the number of bank robberies as any other state. New York comes in second with 339 bank robberies reported in 2011.
Bank heists have been on a steady decline since the early 1990s, officials added.
The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Officer serves seven Southern California Counties including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.
Though yearly numbers show bank robberies declining, “In January 2012, the pace of bank robberies has increased and so far this year, 40 bank robberies have been reported in the seven-county area, primarily in Los Angeles and Orange counties, followed by Riverside County.
About 12 percent of the heists reported to the Los Angeles Field Office of the FBI were “takeovers” — in which employees or customers are held hostage during the crime.
Along with the updated statistics, the FBI Wednesday issued a list of the region’s top ten wanted serial bank robbers.
58210-LIFT AND SHOW bandit-thumb-300x396-58209.jpg
They include the “Explosive Threat Bandit,” tied to six L.A. County bank robberies since November — the first of which took place at a West Covina Bank of America Branch; as well as the “Lift and Show Bandit,” linked to three bank robberies in La Puente, West Covina and Pico Rivera since December.
Seven suspected serial bank robbers who have been operating in the Los Angeles area have been arrested this month, including the prolific “Market Duo,” “Bubble Wrap” and “Puffy Coat” bandits.
Anyone with information about a bank robber at-large is asked to call the FBI’s 24-hour tip line in Los Angeles at 310-477-6565.
PHOTOS of the “Explosive Threat Bandit” (top) and the “Lift and Show Bandit,” (below) courtesy of the FBI.
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