UPDATED: Rookie Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy accused of molesting girl in Orange County

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WHITTIER >> A rookie Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy is accused of molesting a 12-year-old girl he met through an online video game over the course of a year, officials said Thursday.
Costa Mesa police, aided by Los Angeles county sheriff’s officials, arrested Jovanni Argueta, 26, of Los Angeles at a sheriff’s training facility in Whittier Wednesday afternoon, Costa Mesa police Lt. Greg Scott said.
Police first began investigating Argueta Oct. 22 after responding to a report of a “suspicious male” seen on the campus of Costa Mesa Middle School, police said in a written statement. The man had left the campus when officers arrived, but was quickly identified as Argueta, a deputy in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Detectives learned that Argueta and the victim, now-13 years old, had met a year earlier via an online fantasy computer game, officials said.
“Over the course of the year, when the female student was 12 years old, Argueta met with her on numerous occasions,” according to the police statement. “Argueta reportedly performed sexual acts with the girl. Argueta would meet the girl both on campus and away from school.”
Scott said Argueta has been a sworn Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy for less than a year.
Argueta was hired by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in August of 2013, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. He was assigned to a men’s jail facility.
“The 26-year-old deputy was immediately relieved of duty, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation,” according to the LASD statement.
“We will be monitoring the criminal proceedings closely and will take appropriate and swift action when the outcome of the judicial process has concluded,” the statement continued.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department expects all of its members to hold themselves to the highest ethical and professional standards at all times,” according to the statement. “Allegations of this magnitude are disturbing and disappointing. Any proven criminal, or other acts of misconduct that violate public trust will not be tolerated and immediate appropriate remedies will be taken by the Department as permitted by law.”
Argueta was booked on suspicion of child molestation and child annoyance.
Argueta posted $100,000 bail Thursday and was released from jail pending his initial court appearance, according to Orange County booking records.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Costa Mesa Police Department at 714-754-5281. Orange County Crime Stoppers can also be reached anonymously at 855-847-6227.

 

BOOKING PHOTO of Jovanni Argueta, 26, of Los Angeles courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Public input sought on sheriff’s department proposal to take over police services in Sierra Madre

SIERRA MADRE >> Sierra Madre’s city officials will meet with Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials Monday to discuss the sheriff’s department’s proposal to take over police services in the city, replacing the Sierra Madre Police Department.
The Sheriff’s Contract Proposal Committee will meet with sheriff’s officials at 6 p.m. at the Sierra Madre Council Chambers, 232 Sierra Madre Blvd., city officials said in a written statement.
Those unable to attend may email concerns or questions to the Public Safety Committee at psc@cityofsierramadre.com.

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Deputies to wait tables for charity in San Dimas


SAN DIMAS >> Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and Red Robin are teaming up to raise money for the Special Olympics Thursday in San Dimas.
Deputies will act as servers from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the restaurant for the “Tip-A-Cop” event, 565 West Arrow Highway, organizers said.
All of the tips collected by the deputies will benefit the Special Olympics.
For more information, contact Russell Evans at 909-319-7693, or email acudados2@yahoo.com.

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Deputies, church volunteers renovate seniors’ homes throughout San Gabriel Valley, Los Angeles County

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LA PUENTE >> Dozens of volunteers teamed with sheriff’s deputies, church members, elected officials and local businesses Saturday to perform much-needed home repairs at the homes of elderly San Gabriel Valley resident and local park facilities as part of a county-wide effort dubbed “Operation Love Loud.”
The massive effort, lead by Faith Community Church in West Covina Pastor Kelly DuPee and Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Stanley, began Saturday and continues throughout the county through the end of October, said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro, who effectively serves as La Puente’s police chief. A total of 140 projects are planned in 18 cities, from Sylmar to Long Beach.
“The mission of our deputies, volunteers and city staff will be to re-beautify the residences for the elderly home owners,” he said.
1018_NWS_SGT-L-LOVELOUD2More than 40 eager volunteers descended on two homes and a park building in La Puente, as well as seven schools, two parks and a house in West Covina and a park in San Dimas, Cacheiro said.
State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, helped at the event at the invitation of his daughter, La Puente Councilwoman Valerie Munoz.
“It was great. I’m very pleased to see that not only the church and the (sheriff’s) department, but more importantly, the cities and local government, work together to help people in need,” the senator said.
He described a touching experience at the home of a senior citizen on Greenberry Drive in La Puente, where volunteers conducted extensive work, including painting her home’s exterior and taming overgrown landscaping.
“She was literally in tears, just ecstatic, Hernandez said.
The woman’s husband died last year. “She was going through a really tough time, the house was in disarray,” he said.
And it was only after deputies offered the woman help that they learned the woman herself was a sheriff’s department volunteer, who had recently been named a Volunteer of the Year, Hernandez said. “It was just such a great coincidence.”
And the community spirit proved contagious.
At the home of an elderly couple on Cadwell Street, curious neighbors came out to see what patrol cars were in the neighborhood, Cacheiro said.
“When they found out what we were doing for this homeowner, they got involved and started helping,” he said.
Officials including La Puente City Manager David Carmany also pitched in, Cacheiro said.
The residents benefitting from the campaign were selected by deputies, who identified homeowners in need of a helping hand during their routine patrols, he said.
Home Depot of Industry and Valley Vista Services provided supplies, and the La Puente donated food and drinks for the volunteers.
For more information, visit www.loveloud.go2faith.com.

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PHOTOS:

[TOP] – Church, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and community volunteers work to revitalize the home of a senior citizen on Greenberry Drive in La Puente as part of the Faith Community Church of West Covina’s “Love Loud” campaign on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
(Courtesy)
[CENTER] – Church, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and community volunteers work to revitalize the home of a senior citizen on Caldwell Street in La Puente as part of the Faith Community Church of West Covina’s “Love Loud” campaign on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. Sheriff’s Sgt. John Suh, pictured here, chips in with painting.
(Courtesy)
[BOTTOM] – State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, center, talks with Church, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and community volunteers as they work to revitalize the home of a senior citizen on Greenberry Drive in La Puente as part of the Faith Community Church of West Covina’s “Love Loud” campaign on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
(Courtesy)

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La Puente city, sheriff’s officials honored by Buddhist organization

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LA PUENTE >> City and sheriff’s officials in La Puente received an award from an international Buddhist organization championing peace this week for contributions to peace and harmony in the community.
Soka Gakkai International presented their a La Puente Mayor Dan Halloway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro — who effectively serves as La Puente’s police chief — and La Puente Recreation Services Manager Roxanne Lerma with the SGI-USA Justice Award Tuesday.
“The City of La Puente has partnered with the local SGI-USA organization and the LASD to present the National Night Out program at La Puente Park in August for the last two years, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. “This cooperative effort has strengthened the organizations relationship with the City and local law enforcement.”
The efforts have been instrumental in helping La Puente rank in the top 50 safest cities in the U.S. this year in a list composed by security company SafeWise.
The sheriff’s department and city have worked to forge strong relationships with are nonprofit organizations and private companies to help with community outreach efforts, officials added.

PHOTO: Flanked by representatives of Soka Gakkai International, left to right, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro, La Puente Mayor Dan Halloway and La Puente Recreation Services Manager Roxanne Lerma receive the SGI-USA Justice Award on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (Courtesy of the City of La Puente)

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LA County Sheriff’s Dept. gets $1.5 million to combat human trafficking

LOS ANGELES COUNTY >> The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will receive a $1.5 million federal grant to combat human trafficking, authorities announced Thursday.
The funding comes from $44 million in federal grant money set aside to fight human trafficking — “a wide variety of criminal conduct involving the exploitation of minor and adult victims who are compelled to engage in sex and labor and support its victims,” U.S. Department of Justice officials said in a written statement.
Los Angeles County is one of 16 sites across the nation to receive a grant to support a human trafficking task force. Each site receives funding for both law enforcement and victim support services.
Riverside County was awarded $1.4 million to fund a task force. Some of the task forces are county-wide or regional, while others operate statewide.
The DOJ will also add additional prosecutors specializing in human trafficking cases, officials said.
More than $22.7 million have been allocated for the 16 task forces, with the remainder of the federal grant money going to support victim services and research nationwide. The grant will be effective Oct. 1. 2015, through Sept. 30, 2018.
“As those who commit this horrible crime and prey on trafficking victims become more sophisticated, we must work together to find new and comprehensive strategies,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Kim McDonnell said. “If we are to truly make a difference in combatting human trafficking, we must do more than simply prosecute the wrong-doers. We need a regional, multi-disciplinary approach that enables us to cross jurisdictional and agency lines.
“Working with other justice system and community partners, we will be able to amplify our ability to rescue and address the needs of the victim; investigate, effectively punish and pro-actively prevent criminal misconduct; and address the demand side by recognizing that buyers of sex with minors should be viewed as child molesters and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
All too often, the victims of human trafficking are children, said Eilee Decker, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
“The devastating crime of human trafficking often is hidden behind the locked doors of a sweatshop or the supposedly ‘victimless’ crime of prostitution,” Decker said. “Law enforcement in Los Angeles is now redoubling efforts to combat this horrific offense with additional resources, improved training and a growing awareness that perpetrators are often victimizing children. I am fully committed to working with Sheriff Jim McDonnell — a national leader in this arena — to seeing that perpetrators of these offenses are brought to justice.”

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UPDATED: Brand new deputy resuscitates lifeless driver along 210 Freeway in Pasadena

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VIDEO: Sheriff’s Jim McDonnell discusses freeway rescue

PASADENA >> A sheriff’s deputy less than two weeks out of the academy, along with three other good Samaritans, is credited with resuscitating and saving the life of a man found pulseless on the 210 Freeway following a car crash earlier this week, officials said.
Deputy Jason Flores who graduated the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s academy Sept. 4, spotted a car that had crashed into the center divider along the eastbound 210 Freeway near Madre Street in Pasadena as he was on his way home from work about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“The male adult driver was unresponsive inside the locked vehicle, prompting the deputy and another passerby, to spring into action as they risked their own lives by stopping on the busy freeway,” Sgt. John Glynn said in a written statement.
The young deputy forced his way into the car an unlocked a door to reach the unconscious driver, he said.
“Deputy Flores realized the driver was not breathing and did not have a pulse,” Glynn said. “Deputy Flores instructed the passerby to call 9-1-1 and request medical assistance, while he started to perform (CPR).”
As Flores continued CPR, “the driver gasped for air and had a faint pulse,” the sergeant said.
Two off-duty nurses stopped at the scene to assist before California Highway Patrol officers and paramedics arrived to take over treatment and rush the injured driver to 0919_NWS_PSN-L-FREEWAY2a hospital, officials said. The victim’s heart stopped twice during the ambulance ride, but was resuscitated both times by emergency medical personnel.
Doctors rushed the man into emergency surgery, authorities said.
The driver, a 60-year-old Brea man, was listed in stable condition Friday, sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said.
Further details regarding the circumstance of the crash were not available.
Flores had basic CPR training prior to joining the sheriff’s department, “but he credits the majority of his life-saving skills and techniques to the Sheriff’s Academy Recruit Training Program,” Glynn said.
Having just graduated the academy, Flores, 23, has not yet received his formal duty assignment, sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said. He will most likely be assigned to the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles.

PHOTOS: [TOP] – LASD Deputy Jason Flores (courtesy). [BELOW] – Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Jason Flores receives his badge from his grandfather, retired Deputy Jimmy Jackson, upon graduating the sheriff’s Academy on Sept. 4, 2015. (Courtesy)

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Marchers seek justice for slaying of sheriff’s Explorer Cesar Rodriguez in South Whittier


SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of loved ones, friends and community members marched through South Whittier Friday in a call for justice for the murder of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scout Cesar Rodriguez, who was gunned down four years ago along with a friend in a double-slaying that remains unsolved.
Led by a young relatives of Rodriguez carrying his picture and a banner stating, “We want justice,” the group met at Laurel Avenue and Beaty Street before marching through the neighborhood, past the scene of the shooting, and heading to Amelia Mayberry Park for a candlelight vigil.
Rodriguez, 19, was shot to death along with friend Larry Villegas, 24, on Aug. 28, 2011, as they left the home of a friend in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue.
Rodriguez’s loved ones have held the march each year since the double-slaying.
“We’ll be here every year until that person, or persons, come to justice,” Rodriguez’s mother Lupe Rodriguez said. “Cesar will never be forgotten.”
20150828_190321Also marching was Rodriguez’s father, Jorge Rodriguez, as well as brothers George and Hector, along with numerous other family members.
The group came to a stop and stood in silence when the procession reached the driveway where Rodriguez and Villegas were shot. Immediate family members laid flowers and candles at the spot, as dozens of sheriff’s Explorer Scouts stood in a stoic salute.
All along the march route, Explorers handed out fliers seeking information on the unsolved killings, with messages in both English and Spanish.
Lupe Rodriguez said she looks forward to the day when her son’s killer is arrested and the march will no longer be necessary.
But in the meantime, she said she felt encouraged by the strong show of community support.
“I think it gets bigger every year,” she said, adding that she was grateful to the community.
Homicide detectives have been left with few clues to work with, and the case remains unsolved, said Sgt. Michael Rodriguez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. The sergeant took part in the march, as he has done each year since the shooting.
AR-140829514“As you can see, the support for Cesar and this investigation has not waned,” he said.
Sgt. Rodriguez said he remains optimistic that he and his fellow investigators will ultimately bring Cesar Rodriguez’s killer or killers to justice.
“This case ha not gone cold,” he said.
Both the investigator and Lupe Garcia said they believe there are people who know who killed Cesar Rodriguez and Villegas, but have yet to come forward. They both implored any such witnesses to do so.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Homicide detectives investigate man’s death in La Crescenta


LA CRESCENTA >> Homicide detectives are investigating the death of an elderly man Friday in a La Crescenta home.
Few details were initially available regarding the investigation, which began about 1:30 p.m. in the 3000 block of Frances Avenue.
Detectives responded the scene, “to investigate the circumstances surrounding the suspicious death of a man,” Deputy Sara Rodriguez of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Deputies first responded to the home after a local resident asked them to “check the welfare” of a neighbor, who had not been seen for several days, Lt. Mohrhoff of the sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station said.
After discovering the body of a man inside the home, deputies summoned their counterparts in the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau to take over the investigation, Mohrhoff said.
The man, who was in his 70s, appeared to have suffered “blunt force trauma,” according to deputy Trina Schrader.
“The identity of the victim and the cause of death will be determined by the coroner,” Schrader said.
No further information was released. Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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10 jail deputies relieved of duty amid investigation into allegations of inmate abuse

LOS ANGELES >> Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced an investigation into more than a dozen deputies accused of leaving an inmate handcuffed and depriving him of food for 32 hours following a June 19 arrest.
Ten deputies have been relieved of duty and “a number of others” have been reassigned to other duties pending further investigation, officials from the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“I expect every member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to perform at the highest standards of professionalism,” McDonnell said.
“Immediately upon learning of troubling allegations of possible neglect of an inmate at the Inmate Reception Center, my Department’s executives relieved ten jail employees of duty, including supervisors,” the sheriff said. “The investigation into this incident is ongoing and will be thorough. It will not only focus on employee actions, but also on corrective policies and procedures.”
Those relieved of duty include two lieutenants, a sergeant, a senior deputy, four deputies and a two custody assistants, sheriff’s officials said.
The alleged misconduct stem from the arrest of an unidentified inmate who was booked at the Inmate Reception Center June 19.
“Allegations included the inmate not being provided food and being handcuffed for a lengthy period of time following a force incident during which the inmate reportedly assaulted a female deputy,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “The inmate ate upon entry to the jail, but was allegedly restrained for approximately 32 hours; during that time he received medical attention and a cup of water.”
The inmate filed a complaint June 27, initiating an investigation, officials said. McDonnell learned of the complaint Thursday and placed the involved deputies on leave or reassignment within 24 hours, officials said.
The sheriff’s department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau and Intern Affairs Bureau are looking into the matter, sheriff’s officials said. The Office of the Inspector General and the FBI were also notified of the investigation.
Custody officials at the Inmate Reception Center have been reminded of protocols regarding restraint, checks and feeding of inmates, and additional training was ordered, the sheriff’s department statement said. “Further corrective action is pending.”
“I am deeply committed to providing the highest levels of constitutional care to those in our charge and will quickly address and remedy any conduct, policies or practices that do not meet this expectation and high standard,” McDonnell said.
Further details were not available Saturday.

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