Former teacher’s assistant from West L.A. sentenced for trading in ‘sadistic’ child pornography images

LOS ANGELES >> A judge sentenced a West Los Angeles man who formerly worked as a teacher’s assistant to eight years in federal prison for distributing “sadistic” child pornography images online, authorities said.
Steven Petlak, 53, pleaded guilty to a single count of distribution of child pornography in July in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“In court filings, Petlak admitted that he made an effort to seek out the worst types of child pornography he could find — in Petlak’s words, “the really dark stuff,” Mrozek said in a written statement.
Images traded via a peer-to-peer file-sharing system included pornographic pictures of children under 15 years old, “including child images deemed to be ‘sadistic’ under the federal sentencing rules,” Mrozek said.
While out of custody and awaiting trial, “Petlak was caught by a law enforcement officer looking at what appeared to be graphic images of a juvenile female,” Mrozek added.
Officials said Petlak had previously worked as a teachers’ assistant, however DOJ officials did not disclose what school or schools he has worked for.
Petlak received his sentence from U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald.
“Predators who seek out child pornography online threaten the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable in our real-world community. This defendant’s conduct exemplifies a horrific and dark part of our society, and the sentence today reflects the harm caused by defendants who trade in these heinous materials, ” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Eileen Decker said.
Upon his release from federal prison, Petlak will be required to register as a sex offender and stay away from places where children are present.

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Los Angeles man convicted of trying to recruit undercover cop posing as teen into prostitution via social media

SANTA ANA >> A Los Angeles man admitted to two felony charges in Orange County on Thursday after attempting to recruit an undercover investigator who he believed to be a teenage girl into prostitution via social media, authorities said.
Michael Joseph Mata, 34, pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court to one county of attempted pimping of a minor and one count of pandering by procuring, Orange County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“Mata is a pimp who exploits women for financial gain,” according to the statement. “With the rise in popularity of social media and ease of meeting people on the Internet, many pimps and human traffickers utilize a variety of social media to locate potential victims,” according to the statement.
Between October and December of 2015, Mata was in contact with an undercover investigator, who he believed to be a 17-year-old girl, online via social media, prosecutors said.
“The defendant tried to recruit the officer to perform commercial sex acts for his benefit,” the statement said. “The defendant arranged to meet with the officer and was subsequently arrested by the Orange Human Trafficking Task Force at the arranged meeting spot.”
Mata was immediately sentenced to three years in state prison.
The case prosecuted by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit.

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Pasadena man charged with murder in alleged DUI crash that killed infant girl on 110 Freeway


LOS ANGELES >> A Pasadena man who was allegedly drunk and on probation for a previous DUI conviction when he rear-ended a car on the 110 Freeway in Elysian Park, killing an infant who was riding as a passenger, has been charged with murder, authorities said.
Prosecutors on Tuesday filed a charges of murder, DUI causing injury or death and driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent against 26-year-old Jared Hale Lynch Silvestri of Pasadena in connection with Saturday evening’s crash on the northbound 110 Freeway near Stadium Way, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
An arraignment hearing scheduled Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles County Superior Court was postponed until Dec. 15, he said.
Four-month-old Melanie Brown of Carson, who was riding as a passenger in a car driven by her grandmother, died at a hospital following the crash, according to California Highway Patrol officials and prosecutors. The grandmother and another 9-year-old granddaughter who was also riding as a passenger were hurt.
The 48-year-old La Crescenta woman was pulling her Chrysler over to the right shoulder when Silvestri approached from behind in a Volkswagen Jetta and slammed into the slow-moving Chrysler at “a high rate of speed”, CHP officials said in a written statement.
A third car became involved in the collision, but the driver was unhurt, according to the CHP.
Paramedics tool the injured grandmother and her two granddaughters were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where the infant girl succumbed to her injuries several hours later.
Silvestri was initially booked on suspicion of drunken driving following the crash, according to the CHP.
But after the young victim died, and it was determined that Silvestri has been convicted of DUI in another case eight months ago, prosecutors ultimately charged the defendant with murder.
Under California Law, a murder charge in a DUI case necessitates an accusation of “implied malice.”
Those convicted of DUI are generally issued what’s known as a Watson advisory upon sentencing. By signing the advisory, the convict is acknowledging that DUI is extremely dangerous to human life, and that if someone is killed as result of the convict’s DUI, prosecutors may file a murder charge.
Silvestri received just such a Watson advisory earlier this year, when he was convicted of misdemeanor DUI in March in a separate case, Santiago said.
He pleaded “no contest” to a count of driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than .08 percent in Pasadena Superior Court in March, Los Angeles County Superior Court. A second charge of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage was dismissed. Silvestri was sentenced to three years of summary probation,fined $390 and ordered to attend a three-month substance abuse counseling program.
If convicted as charged in the new case, Silvestri could face up to 25 years to life in state prison.
According to county booking records, Silvestri was being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

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Pasadena man suspected of DUI in 110 Freeway crash that killed infant in Elysian Park


LOS ANGELES >> A Pasadena man is accused of drunken driving in connection with a crash that killed a 4-month-old girl and injured a 10-year-old boy and a woman on the 110 Freeway in Elysian Park late Saturday, officials said.
Jared Silvestri, 26, was under the influence of alcohol during the 6:37 p.m. crash on the northbound 110 Freeway, just south of the 5 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer K. Herrera said in a written statement.
He was at the wheel of a 2001 Chevrolet when it slammed into the rear of a 2006 Chrysler that was slowing and pulling over to the right shoulder, officials said.
A 48-year-old La Crescenta woman, a 4-month-old Carson girl and a 10-year-old La Crescenta boy inside the Chrysler were all hospitalized with injuries, CHP Officer Stefan Brandt said.
The infant girl, who was initially listed in critical condition, was in cardiac arrest while rushed to the hospital, where she ultimately succumbed to her injuries, Brandt said.
The woman driving the Chrysler and the boy riding as a passenger suffered injuries describes as “moderate,” Herrera said.
The Chrysler had pulled halfway on to the right shoulder when it was struck from behind by Silvestri’s car ‘at a high rate of speed,” according to Herrera.
Following the initial impact, both vehicles careened out-of-control and struck another 2001 Chevrolet before coming to a rest, officials said. The driver of the third vehicle was not hurt.
“(Silvestri) was determined to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, and the proximate cause of this collisions, and was subsequently arrested,” Herrera said.
The suspect was treated for minor injuries before being booked into jail, officials said.
Following the death of the child, Silvestri may see a pending charge of DUI causing injury upgraded to a more serious crime, such as vehicular manslaughter.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Silvestri was being held in lieu of $2 million bail at the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Street Division pending his initial court appearance.

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2 suspects arrested in West Adams shooting that left 3 dead, 12 wounded

A body is removed by the Los Angeles County coroner staff after three people were killed during a shooting after a dispute at a pop-up Jamaican restaurant in Los Angeles on October 15, 2016 Three people were killed and at least a dozen more injured, police said Saturday. One person has been arrested and police have launched a manhunt for another in connection with the deadly incident in West Adams, in the southwestern part of the metro area, said spokesman Lieutenant Chuck Springer.   / AFP / Mark RALSTON        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

A body is removed by the Los Angeles County coroner staff after three people were killed during a shooting after a dispute at a pop-up Jamaican restaurant in Los Angeles on October 15, 2016 Three people were killed and at least a dozen more injured, police said Saturday. One person has been arrested and police have launched a manhunt for another in connection with the deadly incident in West Adams, in the southwestern part of the metro area, said spokesman Lieutenant Chuck Springer. / AFP / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Police on Sunday announced the arrests of two in connection with a shoot-out at a home operating as a makeshift Jamaican restaurant that left three people dead and 12 others wounded in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles early Saturday.
Mowayne McKay, 33, and Deigo Reid, 25, both Jamaican nationals, were booked on suspicion of murder Saturday morning, according to Los Angeles Police Department officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
They’re accused of being involved in Saturday’s 12:30 a.m. shooting that sent a barrage of bullets flying through the crowded home in the 2900 block of Rimpau Street, striking 15 people in all, LAPD officials said in a written statement.
Both McKay and Reid were initially arrested in the hours immediately following the shooting, but were not formally booked until Sunday morning, records show.
Information regarding the suspects’ specific alleged roles in the complex shooting were unclear, and information regarding where and how they were arrested was not available.
The identities of the three people who died in the shooting were not released Sunday pending notification of their families, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner officials said.
About 50 people were at the makeshift restaurant prior to the gunfire, officials said.
“A dispute broke out between one male individual and at least two other males, one of whom produced a handgun and shot the male individual,” according to the LAPD statement.
“Immediately following the shooting of this one individual, several other shots were fired indiscriminately in the crowd, including some that appeared to be ‘return’ fire from other party-goers in the direction of the suspects,” the statement said. “The initial shooter and at least one other associate, who is also believed to have fired in the crowd, fled the scene on foot.”
Nine men and six women were wounded. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics pronounced three of the victims dead at the scene.
The injuries suffered by the 12 survivors ranged from minor to severe, police said.
“Currently, one male victim is in extremely critical condition, while most of the other victims have been released from their local hospitals,” the statement said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPS Criminal Gang Homicide detectives David Dilkes or Isidro Soto at 323-786-5110. During non-business hours or weekends, the LAPD can be reached at 877-527-3247. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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71-year-old Pasadena man with Alzheimer’s disease goes missing upon release from jail in Los Angeles

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LOS ANGELES >> Police sought the public’s help Saturday in finding a 71-year-old Pasadena man with Alzheimer’s disease who went missing in downtown Los Angeles Friday evening after being released from jail following a DUI arrest in downtown Los Angeles.
Gerald Masao Sakamoto was last seen just after 7:30 p.m., when he was released from the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles, according to Pasadena police and Los Angeles County booking records. He had been arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving by officers from the California Highway Patrol’s Glendale-Verdugo Hills area office about 3 a.m. after being involved in a freeway crash.
But two-and-a-half hours later, Sakamoto was nowhere to be found, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said. His wife reported him missing.
Sakamoto suffers from medical issues, including Alzheimer’s disease, police said.
He’s described as Asian, 5 feet 3 inches tall, 165 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Pasadena Police Department at 626-744-4241.

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UPDATED: Man shot to death outside San Gabriel Valley house party in L.A. County’s sixth homicide in 12 hours


EAST VALINDA >> Gunfire erupted following a house party in East Valinda early Saturday, leaving one man dead and another hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said.
The slaying was the sixth deadly shooting reported in Los Angeles County in less than 12 hours.
The deadly shooting took place just before 2:50 a.m. in the 400 block of Shipman Avenue, in the unincorporated county area between La Puente and West Covina, according to Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Both victims had just attended a house party.
“As the party ended and the guests dispersed, the victims were leaving the location but were confronted by an unknown suspect,” Saldana said in a written statement. “The suspect produced a handgun and opened fire fatally striking one victim in the upper torso. He died at the scene.”
The man’s identity was not released pending positive identification and notification of family, coroner’s officials said.
The second victim suffered gunshots to his “upper and lower torso,” she said. He was taken to a hospital where he was listed in critical condition.
No suspects were in custody, Saldana said. Investigators sought a white SUV seen speeding away from the shooting scene. It was last seen heading west on Northam Avenue.
No further details were available.
The attack was the last of six deadly shooting reported within 12 hours in Los Angeles County. Five men and one woman lost their lives in the afternoon and overnight violence.
Three of the deadly shootings occurred in the same neighborhood surrounding Franklin D. Roosevelt Park in an unincorporated county area just east of Los Angeles, officials said.
A man died in a 1 a.m. shooting in the 7600 block of Miramonte Avenue in an unincorporated county area just east of Los Angeles, according to the sheriff’s department.
“The victim was working on a car parked along the curb in front of a residence when an unknown suspect approached him,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. “The suspect produced a firearm and opened fire striking the victim.”
The victim succumbed to his injuries at a hospital, authorities said.
Another man died in a 12:30 a.m. shooting in at Union Pacific Avenue and Bonnie Beach Place in East Los Angeles, Saldana said.
Deputies responding to reports of “shots fired” encountered a man lying on the sidewalk suffering from a gunshot wound, she said. He died at a hospital. No further details were available.
A woman died in an ambush attack in a 12:10 a.m. at Carson Street and Evonda Avenue in Carson, authorities said.
“…the victim was walking west on Carson Street when an unknown suspect approached her from behind,” according to a statement issued by the sheriff’s Information Bureau. “The suspect produced a firearm and opened fire striking the victim. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Two men were shot, one fatally, three hours earlier in the 1900 block of East 78th Street, less than a mile from the scene of the Miramonte Avenue shooting.
The victims were standing in a driveway with several other people when two men approached on a minibike, Deputy Trina Schrader of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
“One of the men on the minibike produced a handgun and opened fire. Following the shooting, the suspects rode away westbound and out of view,” according to Schrader.
Two men were struck by the gunfire, she said. One of them succumbed to his wounds at a hospital, while the other was hospitalized with injuries described as “serious.”
Friday’s violence began with a 3:47 p.m. shooting in the 7500 block of Compton Avenue in unincorporated Los Angeles, around the corner from the shooting on Miramonte Avenue.
The victim was riding his bike along the sidewalk when his attacker exited a white car parked along the curb and began shooting, Schrader said.
“The suspect got back into the vehicle and drove away southbound Compton Avenue to eastbound 76th Street and out of view,” she said.
The victim, who was shot multiple times, died at a hospital.
No suspects were in custody, and no suspect descriptions were available in any of the shootings.
And in Boyle Heights, a young girl, reportedly 10 years old, was wounded in the head by an errant bullet from a nearby shooting.
A male suspect in a vehicle shot at a bicyclist, also described only as male, about 6 p.m. Friday at Chicago Street and Rogers Avenue, Los Angeles police Officer Rosario Herrera said.
The gunfire missed the intended target, but a bullet struck the girl in the head, officials said.
An update on the girl’s condition was not available Saturday, but her injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, Herrera said.
Anyone with information on any of the deadly shootings is asked contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anyone with information regarding the Boyle Heights shooting can reach the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Station at 323-342-4100.
Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Parolee accused of kidnapping two Pasadena women over the weekend

PASADENA >> A parolee who kidnapping two young women in Pasadena before they escaped from him over the weekend was behind bars Thursday, police announced.
Parolee Anthony Seth McDaniel, 38, of Compton, who is fitted with a GPS tracker due to a 2008 conviction for assault, is now accused of kidnapping for the purpose of sexual assault in connection with Saturday’s abduction, which occurred about 10 p.m. at a bus stop at Fair Oaks Avenue and Montana Street, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The 18-year-old Pasadena women were waiting at a bus stop when the suspect approached in a pickup truck and offered them a ride, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
“After some coaxing by the driver, the women accepted his offer,” police said in a written statement. But soon, the women noticed the man was taking them in the opposite direction of where they wanted to go.
Realizing something was wrong, one of the women jumped from the truck as it entered the 210 Freeway from Mountain Street, Luna said. She suffered a broken ankle, but managed to escape her captor.
Following the escape of the first victim, McDaniel, “brandished a handgun, demanded sexual favors and threatened to kill the second (victim) as he drove with her,” according to the police statement.
As the truck was traveling along the southbound 110 Freeway near Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles, the remaining kidnapping victim pulled on the steering wheel of the suspect’s truck, causing the suspect to crash into another car on the freeway, officials said.
“The suspect then opened the front passenger door and pushed the victim out of the slow moving truck before speeding away,” the statement said. A good Samaritan stopped to help the woman, who suffered injuries to her shoulder and arm.
The kidnapper fled and was not found, police said.
“Pasadena Police detectives immediately began an intensive investigation and discovered the suspect was a parolee outfitted with a GPS monitoring device,” according to the statement.
The U.S. Marshal’s Pacific Southwest Fugitive Task Force arrested McDaniel Wednesday afternoon at his workplace in Carson, according to police and booking records.
McDaniel was already on parole for his 2008 conviction for assault to cause mayhem, police said. Mayhem is legally defined in California as, “(a) person who unlawfully and maliciously deprives a human being of a member of his body, or disables, disfigures, or renders it useless, or cuts or disables the tongue, or puts out an eye, or slits the nose, ear, or lip.”
Further details regarding McDaniel previous case were not available Thursday.
According to county booking records, McDaniel was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Friday in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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Two young Pasadena women escape armed kidnapper

PASADENA >> Two young Pasadena women escaped from an armed kidnapper late Saturday, including one who broke her ankle leaping from his truck as it entered the 210 Freeway, authorities said.
The would-be kidnapper remained at-large following the attempted abduction, which took place about 10:20 p.m. at Fair Oaks Avenue and Montana Street, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
The suspect approached the two victims, both young Pasadena women in their late-teens, and offered them a ride across town, the lieutenant said. The victim agreed and got into his pickup truck.
“They realized, as they went in the opposite direction of where they wanted to go, he was not going to take them to their destination,” Mercado said.
One of the young women, who was riding as a front passenger, jumped from the car as it entered the 210 Freeway from Mountain Avenue to escape her captor, he said. She suffered an apparent broken ankle.
The kidnapper continued driving with the second victim still in his truck, the lieutenant said. “He pulled a gun out and told her not to do the same thing.”
But after the truck reached Los Angeles, the second victim managed to escape the gunman as well and flee. She was taken to a hospital for examination after complaining of pain to her body, but it was not clear exactly how she was injured.
Police described the kidnapper as a black man in his 20s, clean-shaven, of medium complexion. He drove a light-colored pickup truck with a rear seat and was armed with a black, semi-automatic handgun.
It was not clear Sunday what the kidnappers ultimate intentions were, had his victims not escaped.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED — Officials: Pasadena woman tries to run down parents with SUV, strips nude at end of police chase in Downtown L.A.

PASADENA >> A woman allegedly tried to run down at least one of her parents with an SUV in Pasadena Friday night before leading police on a pursuit that came to an end in Downtown Los Angeles, where she stripped nude before being taken into custody.
The bizarre string of events began about 10:30 p.m. when police received a report of a family dispute at a home in the 1300 block of Linda Vista Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said.
Officers learned a woman had gotten into an argument with her parents, during which she allegedly tried to run them down with an SUV.
“She tried to strike one or both of her parents,” Gourdikian said. “They had to jump out of the way.” The parents were not injured.
The suspect also struck her parents’ parked car with her SUV and smashed a car window with a brick, Lt. Jesse Carrillo said.
The woman fled the scene before police arrived, but officers soon spotted the woman driving near the Rose Bowl, the lieutenant said. She refused to pull over, initiating a chase.
News helicopters broadcast live as police chased the SUV down the 134, 101, 118 and 210 freeways toward Los Angeles.
Police cancelled their pursuit as a safety precaution and planned to seek the woman later, as they knew her identity, Gourdikian said.
But news helicopters continued to follow and broadcast live online as the woman got onto the 110 Freeway, exited in Downtown Los Angeles and parked the SUV in a parking lot along 3rd Street, just east of Main Street.
The woman exited the SUV and began walking down the street, speaking with several passers-by, a live stream broadcast online by CBS Los Angeles. More than 15 minutes passed for Los Angeles police arrived.
In the meantime, a freelance news photographer arrived on the scene. He approached the woman, camera in-hand, and appeared to speak with her briefly.
As police approached, the woman suddenly stripped off all of her clothing. Police handcuffed the suspect and tried to cover her with a shirt before placing her into a squad car.
She made “incoherent” statements to officers during her arrest, Carrillo said.
Simone Megan Gonzalez, 32, of Pasadena was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism and evading police, according to police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Officials had yet to determine Saturday whether Gonzalez’s bizarre behavior may have been the result of mental illness or intoxication.
She was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending her initial court appearance, records show.

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