Burglars steal valuables, guns in La Canada Flintridge burglary

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — Burglars broke into two houses and took antique silverware worth about $50,000, four computers and two weapons Friday.
They tried to hit a third house but fled when a resident spotted them in the backyard. Deputies and a sheriff’s helicopter searched for the silver Porsche Cayenne carrying two men and a woman driver but didn’t find the culprits.
Lt. Brian Fitch of the sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station said the first break-in occurred sometime between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday in the 4700 block of La Canada Boulevard.
Residents came home to find the back sliding door smashed, Fitch said. The burglars took silverware, two laptops, a handgun and a shotgun.
At 2:45 p.m., a woman rang a doorbell in the 4300 block of Oakwood Avenue. As the resident was walking to the front door, he noticed two black men in red hooded sweatshirts in the backyard, Fitch said, The resident yelled at the intruders. A neighbor saw the two men getting into a vehicle driven by a black woman, according to the lieutenant.
Half an hour later, the trio struck again.
Fitch said a baby-sitter pulled into a circular driveway in the 4500 block of Loma Vista Drive and saw a Porsche driven by a black woman with a male passenger. She discovered a smashed back door. Fitch said two Mac computers were stolen from the house.
– Ruby Gonzales

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Body discovered in Angeles National Forest north of JPL

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A hiker discovered a man’s body early Saturday in the Angeles National Forest north of La Canada Flintridge, authorities said.
The body, described as that of a man in his 20s or 30s, was found and reported to officials about 7:50 a.m. near the Gould Mesa Debris Basin Dam in the forest north of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Cynthia Gonzalez said.
Paramedics responded to the scene via helicopter and pronounced the man dead at 8:33 a.m., officials said.
The investigation remained in its early stages and communication from the remote canyon area was limited, however Gonzalez said it initially appeared the dead man may have been another hiker who had taken a fall.

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Officials rescue dog from Angeles National Forest

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Search and rescue team members hoisted a stranded dog to safety Saturday after it tumbled 150 feet over the side of a steep cliff during a hike with its owner, authorities said.
A man was hiking with his dog shortly before 5:45 p.m. in the Dark Canyon area of the Angeles National Forest, off of Angeles Crest Highway about 5 miles north of the Foothill (210) Freeway, when the dog fell over the side of a hiking trail, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The 100-pound animal tumbled down a steep cliff and became trapped in debris, officials said. The owner was unable to rescue the dog himself and went to a nearby U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station to seek help.
Members of the sheriff’s Montrose and Sierra Madre search and rescue teams responded.
“Working in the rain and fog with 24 rescuers, the teams were able to rapel down 150 feet of a steep cliff to retrieve the dog who was stuck in debris,” according to the sheriff’s statement.
Team members calmed the frightened dog as they attached it to a hoist to they could being the animal back to the trail, officials said. The pet was then loaded onto a stretcher to be carried out of the canyon.
“The dog has minor injuries from his fall and is recovering with his grateful owner,” the statement said.

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“Lucky” Altadena teen bicyclist escapes major injury after 150-foot plunge off side of Angeles Crest Highway

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A 16-year-old bicyclist was “very lucky” to escape serious injury after plummeting 150 feet over the side of Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles National Forest north of La Canada Flintridge, officials said.
The teen, an Altadena resident, was riding with two friends when the mishap occurred, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Angela Shepherd said.
“He just got too close to the edge and fell right off, 150 feet down,” the lieutenant said.
The injured rider’s friends summoned help, and rescuers hoisted the teen out of the canyon via helicopter, she said. He was then taken to a hospital by ambulance with apparently minor injuries including scrapes, bruises and a possibly sprained ankle.
Considering the distance the young man fell, “He is very lucky,” Shepherd said.

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Three accused of real estate fraud involving $3.5 million La Canada Flintridge home

Detectives arrested three people Friday in connection with a complex real estate fraud scheme centering around a multi-million dollar La Canada Flintridge home, authorities said.
Saliya “Sal” DeSilva, 49, of Northridge, Nora Yefima, 50, of Santa Clarita and Vahe Hayrapetian, 45, of Burbank were each arrested at their homes Friday after being indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of wire and bank fraud, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The alleged scheme began in July of 2009 after the owner of a $3.5 million home on Gould Avenue in La Canada Flintridge defaulted on the mortgage, officials said. Bank of America then foreclosed and the property and took possession of it.
Posing as the home’s previous owner and presenting counterfeit documents, DeSilva contacted Bank of America and persuaded officials there that the foreclosure was improper, sheriff’s officials said.
The bank rescinded the foreclosure and DeSilva, who is a licensed real estate salesperson, “listed the property for sale without the consent or knowledge of the prior owner,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
DeSilva sold the house in 2011 through a fraudulent short sale for a fraction of it’s market value, officials said. Fraudulent documents were used to move the transaction forward.
The buyer obtained $1.5 million in loans for the purchase, which were wire transferred to Oshana Escrow in Encino, owned by Yefima.
Yefima is accused of sending false documents to a title insurance company, Fidelity National Title Company, as well as wiring a small portion of the $1.5 million loan to the title insurance company while dispersing more than $1 million to “several other parties who had nothing to do with the transaction,” according to the statement.
In order to secure the fraudulent $1.5 million loan, authorities allege loan broker Vahe Hayrapetian provided falsified documents to the lender.
The new buyer of the Gould Avenue home defaulted on the allegedly fraudulent loan, officials said. But since Bank of America never approved the short sale and is still owed $3.5 million, there is not enough equity in the home to reimburse the subsequent lender for the $1.5 million lost in the defaulted loan.
The title insurance company may end up having to pay for the discrepancy, officials added.
The investigation was carried out by detectives from the sheriff’s Real Estate Fraud Team, in partnership with the FBI.
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Teen struck by motorcycle in La Canada Flintridge

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — A 14-year-old La Canada Flintridge boy was hit by a motorcycle when he tried to run across an intersection Friday night, deputies said.
Lt. Brian Fitch said the teen’s injuries included a broken leg and a collapsed lung. The motorcyclist sustained minor injuries, he added.
The collision happened 10:07 p.m. at Chevy Chase Drive and Foothill Boulevard.
Fitch said after being struck, the boy was carried by the motorcycle about 50 feet until he was thrown off or fell off. The motorcycle then hit a curb and the rider was thrown off, according to the lieutenant.
Both were taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital.
None of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening, Sgt. Randy Tuinstra said.
The initial indicated that the injured teen and another young man were jaywalking across the street when the boy was struck, he said.
– Staff Report
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Officials ID motorcyclist killed in Angeles Crest Highway crash

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — Authorities Sunday identified a 38-year-old Valley Village man who died Saturday in a motorcycle crash on Angeles Crest Highway.
Dan Cretu died at a hospital shortly after the 11:20 a.m. crash at near mile marker 27 of Angeles Crest Highway, about four miles north of the 210 Freeway, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Cheryl MacWillie said.
Cretu was riding a 2012 Aprilia motorcycle when, “for reasons still under investigation,” the motorcycle veered off the right side of the roadway and struck an Angeles National Forest sign, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
The rider was thrown from his motorcycle and landed on a dirt and grass embankment, officials said. He was rushed by helicopter to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena where he was pronounced dead.
The crash is being investigated by the Altadena office of the CHP. Anyone with information was asked to contact the office at 626-296-8100.
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Motorcyclist killed in crash on Angeles Crest Highway

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — A motorcyclist died Saturday after crashing on Angeles Crest Highway, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The rider, initially described as a man in his late 30s, was pronounced dead at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena just over an hour after the 11:22 a.m. solo-motorcycle crash at mile marker 27.65 of Angeles Crest Highway, about four miles north of the 210 Freeway, CHP Officer Christian Cracraft said.
The circumstances of the crash were being investigated by the Altadena office of the CHP.
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UPDATED: Detectives investigate man’s death in Angeles National Forest

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — The body of a man was discovered early Wednesday near the wreckage of a car that had gone over the side of Angeles Crest Highway in the forest north of La Canada Flintridge, authorities said.
The body, initially described as that of a 41-year-old man from Los Angeles, was found after passers-by spotted the crash scene near mile marker 31 of Angeles Crest Highway about 6 a.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Angela Shepherd said.
The man had been thrown from the car in the crash, she said. He appeared to have been the only person inside the car.
Though the crash scene was first spotted Wednesday morning, the crash likely occurred sometime earlier, Shepherd said. It was unclear when.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department fire engine responding to the incident collided with a sheriff’s search and rescue vehicle just north of the fatal crash scene, according to sheriff’s officials and California Highway Patrol logs. A firefighter was treated for injuries, the extent of which were not available.
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UPDATED: Motorcycle crash prompts closure of Angeles Crest Highway in Angeles National Forest

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Authorities shut down both lanes of Angeles Crest Highway north of La Canada Flintridge Sunday after a motorcycle crash.
The crash was reported about 10:30 a.m. at mile marker 37.6 of Angeles Crest Highway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Angela Shepherd said.
The California Highway Patrol issued a Sig Alert for both directions of the road, which was lifted about an hour later.
Initially reported as a motorcycle over the side, the crash involved the motorcycle and one other vehicle, CHP officials said. The motorcyclist was flown to a hospital by helicopter as a precaution, though the injuries were not believed to be severe.
Further details on the crash were not available Sunday afternoon.
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