Man denies charges in fatal Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet stabbing

SANTA FE SPRINGS >> The second of two defendants denied murder and assault charges in connection with the fatal stabbing of a La Mirada woman during a fight over a parking space at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet last month, officials said.
Reggie Cervantes, 22, of South Los Angeles pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and one count of assault with a deadly weapon for the Oct. 17 stabbing in the parking lot of the swap meet at 13963 Alondra Boulevard, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Cervantes is additionally accused of the special allegation that he personally wielded a knife in the crime, officials said.
Cervantes’ co-defendant Brenda Jasmine Rangel, 19, of South Los Angeles pleaded not guilty to murder and assault charges Oct. 21 in Norwalk Superior Court.
The two suspects are accused of fatally stabbing 43-year-old Elizabeth Yanez of La Mirada during a dispute over a parking space about 9;30 p.m., Whittier police officials said.
Yanez was in a vehicle with her two adult children when she got into an argument with Cervantes and Rangel, who were in another car, police and district attorney’s officials said.
“At some point, Cervantes exited his car and attempted to stab Yanez’s son, but was unsuccessful,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Cervantes then allegedly walked over to Yanez and stabbed her,”
Yanez succumbed to her injuries at an area hospital.
Investigators found and arrested Cervantes and Rangel in connection with the fatal stabbing the following morning at a South Los Angeles apartment, according to Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller said.
Prosecutors said Cervantes was previously convicted of robbery in 2009 and receiving stolen property in 2010.
Both face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted as charged, officials said.
Cervantes and Rangel were being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending trial, according to booking records. They were scheduled to return to court Dec. 15 for a preliminary hearing.

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UPDATED: La Mirada woman killed in weekend stabbing at Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet

SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A La Mirada woman died after she was stabbed in front of her adult children during a dispute over a parking space at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet late Friday, Whittier police officials announced Thursday.
A man and woman face murder charges in connection with the stabbing, which took place about 9:30 p.m Friday. at the swap meet, 13963 Alondra Boulevard, Whittier Police Department officials said in a written statement.
Elizabeth Yanez, 43, died at the hospital shortly after the stabbing, police said.
Police found and arrested Reggie Cervantes, 22, and Brenda Jasmine Rangel, 19, both of South Los Angeles, in connection with fatal stabbing early Saturday in South Los Angeles, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Prosecutors filed murder charges against both suspects Tuesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Whittier police officers, who provide police service for Santa Fe Springs, first responded to the swap meet after receiving a report of a fight in the parking lot, Whittier police officials said.
“When officers arrived, they located a female victim lying on the ground with multiple stab wounds to her neck and back,” according to the statement. Police rendered first aid to the woman, who was taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. She succumbed to her injuries a short time later.
“As the investigation developed, it was determined that she had been stabbed by a male and female over a dispute involving a parking space within the lot,” the police statement said. The woman’s 22- and 23-year-old children were present during the incident.
Investigators identified a possible suspect vehicle and two potential suspects, who were tracked to South Los Angeles, Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller said.
Cervantes and Rangel were arrested as they were exiting an apartment shortly before 9 a.m. Saturday, according to police and county booking records.
The weapon used in the stabbing remained outstanding Thursday, Miller said. It was unclear what type of stabbing implement was used.
Police did not disclose the stabbing or the arrest until Thursday, two days after charges were filed against the suspects.
Yanez’s mother, Sally Yanez, said the family was still in shock over the sudden tragedy.
“It’s beyond senseless,” she said. “It’s beyond words.”
“In just the blink of an eye, everything’s changed,” Sally Yanez said.
Elizabeth Yanez’s granddaughter was treated for minor injuries following the incident, Sally Yanez said. Her grandson was struck in the head, but did not go to a hospital.
The 43-year-old woman was a dedicated mother who spent a lot of time with her children, her mother said. “She really based everything around them.”
Elizabeth Yanez grew up in South Gate before moving to La Mirada in 1987, Sally Yanez said. She graduated Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton in 1988. She worked in accounting at an Orange County construction company.
“She had a terrific personality, a terrific sense of humor. She was just a force to be reckoned with,” her mother said.
“She loved her Dodgers. She was a die-hard Dodger fan.”
Elizabeth Yanez is survived by her parents, Sally and Larry, her children, 22-year-old Renee Crable and 23-year-old Daniel Crable, and the children’s father, Donnie Crable, who lives out-of-state.
Services were yet to be scheduled.
Prosecutors charged Cervantes and Rangel each with murder and assault with a deadly weapon Tuesday in Norwalk Superior Court, Ardalani said.
Prosecutors also allege that Cervantes personally used a knife in the commission of the crime, and that he has prior felony convictions for robbery and receiving stolen property, according to the felony complaint filed against him and Rangel.
Rangel pleaded not guilty to all charges Tuesday and was ordered back to court Oct. 29 for preliminary hearing, Ardalani said. Cervantes entered no plea Tuesday. His arraignment was postponed until Nov. 20.
Cervantes and Rangel were being held in lieu of $1 million bail each.

 

 

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La Mirada man killed in freeway crash in Pomona

POMONA >> A La Mirada man died early Thursday after his speeding Honda Accord rear-ended a big rig on the 10 Freeway in Pomona, authorities said.
Cody Tyler Campbell, 25, died following the 12:52 a.m. crash on the westbound 10 Freeway, just east of Kellogg Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
The driver of the big rig involved in the collision, a 42-year-old Corona man, was uninjured, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
Investigators said Campbell was driving at “a high rate of speed” in the right-hand lane when his 2002 Honda Accord rear-ended the big rig.
“As a result of Mr. Campbell’s unsafe speed for prevailing road and traffic conditions, the left front of (the Honda) collided with the right rear of (the big rig),” according to the CHP statement.
Despite wearing a seat belt, Campbell was thrown from his car and suffered major head injuries, CHP officials he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officials shut down all but the left-hand lane of the westbound 10 Freeway for several hours following the crash.
The collision was being investigated by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.

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86-year-old La Mirada woman fatally struck by pickup truck

LA MIRADA >> A pickup truck fatally struck an 86-year-old La Mirada woman Thursday morning, officials said.
Amparo Garcia died at the scene of the collision, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Courtney Morrow said.
The collision took place just after 7 a.m. at an unmarked intersection at Rosecrans Avenue and Jacana Drive, Lt. Eric Smitson of the sheriff’s Norwalk station said.
He said Garcia crossing Rosecrans Avenue got hit by a pickup truck heading eastbound. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.
Smitson didn’t know how fast the vehicle was traveling before the collision.
The 40-year-old man driving the pickup stayed at the scene. He wasn’t arrested. The investigation was ongoing.

- By Ruby Gonzales and Brian Day

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Man with baseball bat robs La Mirada liquor store

LA MIRADA >> A man armed with a baseball bat robbed a La Mirada liquor store late Wednesday, authorities said.
The robber fled with several hundred dollars following the 8:30 p.m. robbery at Palisades Liquor, 15827 Imperial Highway, just east of Santa Gertrudes Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Stephen Moreno said.
He brandished a baseball bat and threatened the clerk while demanding cash, officials said. The clerk was not injured.
The robber was described as a Latino man, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, wearing a black hooded sweat shirt and blue jeans, Moreno said. He was last seen driving east on Imperial Highway in a black, four-door car similar to a Honda.

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UPDATED: 20 tickets, no arrests, reported at La Mirada checkpoint

LA MIRADA >> Deputies issued 20 tickets but made no arrests during a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint Saturday night in La Mirada, officials said.
The checkpoint was held from 5 p.m. to midnight on westbound Imperial Highway, just east of Santa Gertrudes Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Eric Smitson said.
No drivers were arrested during the checkpoint, however 19 tickets were issued for driving without a license, and one was issued for driving on a suspended license, sheriff’s officials said. Thirteen cars were released to other licensed drivers at the checkpoint.
Deputies impounded six vehicles for one day, and a one vehicle was impounded for 30 days, he added.
Funding for the checkpoint was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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La Mirada doctor faces up to 157 years in prison after drug dealing conviction

LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from La Mirada has been convicted of federal drug trafficking charges for the improper and illegal distribution of powerful painkillers, officials announced Friday.
A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted Dr. Andrew Sun, 78, of 14 counts of distributing controlled substances and three counts of money laundering for concealing the proceeds of his crimes, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. The conviction came after three days of trial.
Sun, who ran clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles, faces up to 157 years in prison when he returns to court for sentencing Nov. 10, officials said.
His medical license was already probationary after he was targeted in a similar investigation in 2004. His license was suspended in late 2013.
Sun was ordered to appear at an Aug. 25 hearing in which the court will determine whether Sun must forfeit almost $350,000 in drug proceeds, officials said.
Sun turned himself in to authorities in April after being indicted by a indicted by a grand jury.
He was convicted of prescribing powerful drugs such as hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin, alprazolam, also known as Xanax, carisprodol, also known as Soma, and promethezine with codeine, which is used to make the street drug known as “purple drank” or “sizzurp.”
Through an undercover sting operation, investigators determined Sun “profited by prescribing addictive painkillers and other controlled substances to persons whom he believed were drug addicts, and thus that the defendant acted without lawful medical purpose,” according to court documents.
The doctor issues more than 24,000 for controlled substances, netting $1 million in cash between 2009 and 2012, according to the DOJ.
When undercover agents visited Sun seeking drugs, “Sun failed to conduct any physical examination and he sold prescriptions for $150 in cash — even when he believed he was writing the prescriptions for drug addicts,” Mrozek said.
The investigation was carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the California Department of Health Care Services and the Monterey Park Police Department.

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Doctor from La Mirada pleads guilty to prescribing painkillers illegally, money laundering

LOS ANGELES — A doctor from La Mirada who ran clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally prescribing painkillers and money laundering, officials announced.
Andrew Sun, 78, agreed to plead guilty to one count of distribution of hydrocodone and one count of money laundering, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. The powerful painkiller hydrocodone is better known by it’s brand name, Vicodin.
He surrendered to authorities April 10 after being indicted on 24 charges related to drug distribution and money laundering.
Though he pleaded guilty only to money laundering and illegally prescribing hydrocodone, “(Sun) admits in his plea agreement that he also illegally prescribed and distributed other drugs, including those best known by the brand names Xanax and Soma,” Mrozek said.
The improper prescriptions issued to undercover investigators between 2011 and 2012, “outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose,” he said.
The doctor further admitted accepting $554,070 in cash payments for the drugs, which he deposited into a personal bank account, “for the purpose of disguising the source and nature of the funds,” according to Mrozek.
Under the plea arrangement, Sun agreed to forfeit $342,000 that was seized from his bank account in July of 2012, officials added. He also agreed to pay nearly $87,000 in restitution to the California Medical Board, which participated in the investigation along with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the California Department of Health Services and the Monterey Park Police Department.
Sun’s medical license was suspended in 2013, according to a California Department of Consumer Affairs database.

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UPDATED: Officials: Off-duty cop accidentally shoots self in the leg in La Mirada

LA MIRADA — An off-duty law enforcement officer was hospitalized Sunday after accidentally shooting himself in the leg, authorities said.
The incident took place shortly after 1:30 p.m. as the man was driving his car on Valley View Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Beggs said.
The injured man, an off-duty law enforcement officer in his 20s, was stopped at a red light at Rosecrans Ave., when the accidental discharge took place, Lt. Kevin Beggs said.
He was moving the handgun from one place to another within the vehicle when it went off, striking him in the leg, the lieutenant said. The off-duty officer was expected to be OK.
The investigation was being handled by detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
Beggs declined to say what law enforcement agency the off-duty officer worked for, deferring further inquiries to homicide bureau detectives.

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Doctor from La Mirada accused of illegally prescribing drugs, money laundering

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.

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