LA PUENTE >> A La Puente man faces up to 120 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him Thursday of molesting two young female relatives over the coarse of eight years, officials said.
The Pomona Superior Court jury deliberated for less than three hours before finding Mark Christopher Acosta, 45, guilty of eight felony counts related to child molestation, as well as a count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
He is scheduled to return to court for sentencing April 7, she said. He faces a maximum sentence of 120 years to life in state prison.
Acosta sexually abused two female relatives over different time periods between 2001 and 2009, Ardalani said.
“The first victim revealed the abuse to an adult in 2007, but the adult did not believe her,” Ardalani said.
“In 2013, the second victim came forward about being sexually assaulted,” she said. “As a result, the first victim also alerted authorities to the abuse she suffered.”
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau arrested Acosta in February of 2014, according to county booking records. He had been held in lieu of $6 million bail pending the trial process.
LA PUENTE >> The community is invited to join sheriff’s officials for a conversation regarding La Puente’s gang injunction next week.
The community meeting will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 5 at the La Puente Community Center, 501 Glendora Ave., according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro.
The permanent civil injunction targeting gang members and gang-related activity has been in place since 2011. It is meant to curb the activities of the local street gangs Puente 13 and Bassett Grande. Deputies have described the injunction as a valuable tool in combating gang crime.
Members of the sheriff’s gang task force, known as Operation Safe Streets, will be on hand to discuss the injunction, along with the La Puente Special Assignment Tem and Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Michael Fern of the D.A.’s Hardcore Gang Division, Cacheiro said. And crime analyst Henry Gil will provide statistics regarding the gang injunction and its impact on crime.
In addition to La Puente, the injunction also covers a portion of West Covina and nearby unincorporated county area such as Valinda and Bassett.
For more information, contact Deputy Viviana Marez at 626-934-3303, or email email@example.com.
COVINA >> A La Puente resident and self-described El Monte gang member stabbed two Black men late Saturday at a Covina shopping center in unprovoked attacks which police are investigating as hate crimes, authorities said.
Louis Vasquez, 19, is accused of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, along with special allegations that the crime was a hate crime and gang-related, Covina police officials said.
Vasquez had just been released from jail Saturday morning after serving a sentence for an auto theft conviction, according to officials and county records.
Both victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the stabbings, which took place just after 7:40 p.m. at a shopping center at the northeast corner of Azusa Avenue and Badillo Street, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
The first attack occurred outside a Smart & Final store, where an 18-year-old employee was collecting shopping carts, Peterson said. He noticed Vasquez standing behind him before being attacked without warning.
“Out of nowhere, (Vasquez) just stabbed him,” Peterson said.
The teen, who suffered a stab wound to his shoulder, ran from his attacker, the sergeant said. Vasquez shouted insults, including racial slurs, as the victim fled, he added.
Immediately following the first stabbing, Vasquez headed to a neighboring CVS Pharmacy and attacked a 27-year-old man who was approaching the entrance.
The second victim did not see his assailant approach when he was stabbed from behind.
“He felt a pain in his right shoulder. He looked and saw the suspect holding the knife. The suspect stabbed him again,” Peterson said.
The wounded man tried to run into the store, but an automatic door wouldn’t open quickly enough for him to escape his pursuer, the sergeant said. The victim then ran along the front of the store, where he fell.
“(Vasquez) started slashing at him,” Peterson said. The attacker slashed the victim in the leg before the victim managed to kick the knife out of Vasquez’s hand, then grab hold of it.
Once disarmed, Vasquez ran, police said. He fled into a residential neighborhood in the 800 block of West Edna Place, where residents reported seeing him jumping through backyards.
Officers found Vasquez hiding in a yard and arrested him without a struggle, Peterson said.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court and booking records, Vasquez was released from jail about 2:40 a.m. Saturday, 17 hours before the stabbings.
After being arrested by El Monte police in October, Vasquez was convicted of auto theft in November and served 112 days of a 242-day sentence, records show.
Vasquez’s has other previous criminal convictions including receiving stolen property in receiving stolen property in December, theft in September and trespassing in August, according to court records.
Vasquez remained in custody Sunday in lieu of $500,000 bail pending an arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
PHOTO: Louis Vasquez, 19, of La Puente (Courtesy of the Covina Police Department)
LA PUENTE >> Deputies and a keen-eyed employee foiled an armed robbery at a La Puente shoe store late Tuesday, a sheriff’s lieutenant said.
The incident unfolded about 9 p.m. at Warehouse Shoe Sale, 1081 N. Hacienda Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Raymond Enriquez said.
Three suspects, all believed to be gang members, entered the store just before closing time, he said. The suspects asked employees if they were the last customers in the store.
One of the three men exited the store and stood out front, Enriquez said. He was believed to be acting as a lookout.
An employee who happened to be on the phone with a district manager noticed a gun tucked into the waistband of one of the two suspect still inside the store, the lieutenant said. The employee told the manager that the store was about to be robbed, and the manager called for help.
Deputies quickly arrived and detained the alleged lookout, Enriquez said. They then ordered the five employees and two customers out of the shoe store, followed by the to remaining suspects.
Deputies found a loaded 9mm handgun hidden in a shoe box inside the store, Enriquez added.
All three men, who are in their mid-20s, were arrested on suspicion of robbery, he said. Their names were not available late Tuesday pending the booking process.
Throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, cops have been working to brighten the holidays of needy and disadvantaged kids.
Police and California Highway Patrol Officers, as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, have been busily playing the roles of elves distributing toys, food and cheer to young people in need of some holiday spirit.
The California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have run large-scale toy drives to collect gifts for kids who might otherwise go without this holiday season.
And sheriff’s officials even brought Santa Claus, via helicopter, to meet with kids in Compton Saturday as deputies took them on a special Target shopping trip. Sheriff’s deputies also hosted an annual party Dec. 7 for abused and neglected children.
Police officers from both the Irwindale and Covina police departments have delivered toys to the young patients at the City of Hope in Duarte this month.
Police agencies including those in Whittier and West Covina, as well as some sheriff’s stations, joined Target stores for the “Heroes & Helpers” program, in which officers take needy youths shopping for gifts, officials said.
In La Puente, deputies visited schools and churches and neighborhood to hand out about 300 bags full of groceries Friday, sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. And more food giveaways are planned this week.
Baldwin Park police attracted an estimated 2,000 kids to their police station Friday as they handed out more than 3,500 toys, according to the Baldwin Park Police Association. And of course, Santa Claus was on-hand as well.
PHOTOS: (top to bottom) 1.)Covina police officials deliver toys to children at the City of Hope in Duarte on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (Courtesy) 2.) Whittier police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (Courtesy) 3.) Principal Mona Diaz of Workman Elementary School in La Puente stands in front of a patrol car as Sgt. John Suh unloads bags of groceries to be handed out to families to help out for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 18, 2014. (Courtesy) 4.) Children meet with Santa Claus at the Baldwin Park Police Station as the Baldwin Park Police Association handed out more than 3,500 toys. (Courtesy) 5.) Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy) 6.) West Covina police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Courtesy)
IRWINDALE >> Irwindale police delivered a truck full of toys to the young patients at City of Hope hospital in Duarte Wednesday.
Officials collected hundreds of donated playthings during a toy drive Tuesday at Mariscos Uruapan restaurant in Irwindale, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said. Tuesday’s event featured a meet and greet with Mexican recording artist Luis Coronel.
City officials from Irwindale and La Puente joined Irwindale police in the drive, organizers said.
Police loaded the toys into a police truck Wednesday and delivered them to City of Hope, Zendejas said.
“Chief (Anthony) Miranda wants to thank all who came out to support the toy drive as we worked together to brighten the day of children who will be spending Christmas at the hospital this year,” Zendejas said.
PHOTO: Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy)
LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from Covina pleaded not guilty to last week in a 31-count federal drug trafficking case that could land him more than 300 years in prison, authorities said.
Dr. Daniel Cham, 47, entered his plea Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice officials said in a written statement. He posted a $140,000 bond and was ordered to serve home detention pending trial, scheduled for Dec. 16. He is prohibited from practicing medicine in the meantime.
Federal agents arrested Cham Wednesday at his Covina home, officials said. The doctor operated medical offices in La Puente and Artesia.
A federal grand jury returned a 31-count indictment against the doctor in October, however it remained sealed until Cham was arrested.
The indictment alleges Cham distributed powerful painkillers and other drugs to patients, including an undercover investigator, who had no legitimate medical need for them.
Anthony Williams, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles Field Office, said federal authorities take a tough stance against doctors who cross into drug dealing.
“Along with our law enforcement partners, we continue to aggressively target medical professionals who act as drug traffickers cloaked in a white lab coat,” Williams said.
If convicted of all 31 counts — which included drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud and making false statements to federal authorities — Cham faces up to 339 years behind bars, according to the DOJ.
“Unscrupulous doctors who prescribe controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose are simply fueling a black market of narcotics,” Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura said. “These doctors are the same as street dealers who face lengthy sentences in federal prison.”
The primary drugs illegally distributed by Cham include oxycodone, also known as OxyContin; hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin or Norco; alprazolam, also known as Xanax; and carisprodol, also known as Soma, officials said.
Cham often saw patients in the middle of the night on weekends, but post-dated prescriptions to make it appear they had been written during the week, according to the DOJ statement.
“In the year that ended in March 2014, Chan issued more than 5,500 prescriptions for controlled substances,” the statement said. “…and he issued more than 42,000 such prescriptions since July 2010.”
An undercover investigator visited Cham’s La Puente office three times and obtained prescriptions for powerful drugs in exchange for $200 to $300 in cash or money orders, prosecutors allege.
Cham issued the prescriptions even though the undercover agent told him he had been, “drunk and high while receiving controlled substance prescriptions,” according to the DOJ statement.
“On another occasion, Cham prescribed oxycodone even though the undercover law enforcement officer presented, in lieu of photo identification, a written notice that his license had been suspended for driving under the influence,” the statement continued.
LA PUENTE >> Gang investigators arrested a carjacking suspect Thursday following a brief stand-off at a La Puente home, authorities said.
Jairo Vasquez, a 20-year-old member of a local street gang, was ultimately booking on suspicion of carjacking, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
Deputies had been seeking Vasquez after identifying him as a suspect in a Sept. 7 carjacking in a nearby unincorporated county area when they spotted him about 4 p.m. on Radway Avenue, near Prichard Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Mileski said.
“They obtained information that he was inside a residence,” Mileski said.
Deputies surrounded the home before the suspect tried to run out of the back door and was quickly captured, the sergeant said.
LA PUENTE — Sheriff’s deputies, in partnership with the City of La Puente and the National Latino Peace Officers Association, is in the process of distributing 100 backpacks full of school supplies to needs students.
The giveaway began last week at Workman Elementary School and Hurley Elementary School, and will continue next week at Sparks Elementary School and Del Valley School, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. and La Puente Police Chief Pete Cacheiro said.
The backpacks and supplies were donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, and were arranged by Explorers from the sheriff’s Industry Station. Sheriff’s officials worked with the schools to identify the students most in need of the supplies.
In addition to putting smiles on children’s faces, the event exemplifies the “Community Oriented Policing” strategy employed in La Puente, fostering trust between young people and law enforcement.
La Puente City Councilwoman Valerie Munoz accompanied deputies as they distributed the backpacks at the first two schools.
“In our community, we do have students who need these services,” she said.
Students also got a chance to chat with deputies and sit in their patrol cars.
“How wonderful it is they take the time to build those relationships. They’re very present in the community,” Munoz said. ” They’re going above and beyond and making a big impact in our community by being involved.”
Cacheiro and Munoz both credited community-oriented policing with significant drops in La Puente’s crime rate this year, which is among the lowest in the county.
“The effort that they’ve made in community-oriented policing is something that’s shown a vast improvement,” Munoz said.
PHOTOS: (Top)Sheriff’s deputies, La Puente City Councilwoman Valerie Munoz and students of Workman Elementary School in La Puente pose for a photo after deputies gave them backpacks full of school supplies, donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. (Below) Deputy Richard Muehlich hands out backpacks full of school supplies, donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, to kids at Workman Elementary School in La Puente on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. (Courtesy)
Two men who were fatally shot outside a Panorama City 7-Eleven on Thursday have been identified by coroners’ officials as police continued Sunday to hunt two suspects still at large.
The victims were identified as Maron States, 26, of La Puente and Miles DeShawn, 19, of Panorama City, said Lt. Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner’s Investigations Unit. The precise cause of death was still pending Sunday morning.
A third man, who was also standing outside the store, was shot in the leg and was taken to a local hospital for treatment, officials said.
A radio call went out at 5:55 a.m. Thursday of an assault with a deadly weapon and shots fired outside the 7-Eleven at 8243 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, said Sgt. S. Carlsen, a watch commander with LAPD’s Mission Station.
… FULL STORY by Brenda Gazzar
PHOTO by Gene Blevins