PASADENA — A former youth boot camp operator could face more than 12 years in prison after admitting to child molestation, kidnapping and extortion charges earlier this month, officials said.
Kelvin Bernard McFarland, 43, of Monrovia entered no contest pleas to all eight remaining charges against him, as well as one misdemeanor, at a July 1 appearance in Pasadena Superior court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jean Guccione said. One charge of forcible rape was dismissed by the court.
The pleas were “open,” meaning that McFarland had arranged no plea deal with regard to his sentence, Guccione said.
He could face more than 12 years in state prison when he returns to court for sentencing Jan. 21, district attorney’s officials said.
The charges stemmed from two separate cases.
In one of the cases, he was accused of molesting two then-14-year-old girls in 2004. It was not clear how McFarland met the victims.
In the other case, McFarland was accused of kidnapping and handcuffing a 14-year-old girl who was truant from school in 2011, then refusing to release her until her family paid him $100. He also brandished a badge resembling a police badge when approaching the girl, prosecutors said.
Following his arrest in March of 2012, McFarland pleaded not guilty to charges of lewd acts upon a child, unlawful sexual intercourse , oral copulation of a person under 16 years old, sexual penetration by a foreign object, forcible rape, kidnapping, child abuse, false imprisonment, extortion and unlawful use of a a badge.
The forcible rape charge was dismissed by Pasadena Superior Court Judge Suzette Clover on a defense motion contending insufficient evidence, Guccione said. McFarland pleaded “no contest” to all remaining charges.
McFarland formerly ran the Family First Growth Camp in Pasadena. He became the subject of controversy in October of 2011 after two videos depicting the treatment of troubled teen campers at a differed Pasadena-area boot camp program surfaces. McFarland and other instructors pictured children being urged to drink water until they vomited and a boy with a tire around his neck being berated by the instructors.
McFarland denied that he was in either video.
A Glendora man accused of striking two bicyclists and a car containing two good Samaritans who tried to follow him over the weekend pleaded not guilty Tuesday to eight felony charges, authorities said.
Anthony Pina, 19, was charged with four counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of drunken driving causing injury and two counts of hit-and-run causing injury, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. He was ordered to return to Pasadena Superior Court July 31 for a preliminary hearing setting.
The charges stem from an alleged spree of hit-and-run crashes that left two bicyclist injured, one of them seriously, according to Monrovia police and California Highway Patrol officials.
Monrovia police alleged that at least one of the bicyclists, a 63-year-old Duarte man, was intentionally run down by Pina. Police initially said investigators planned to seek a charge of attempted murder against Pina for that crash, however prosecutors did not include that allegation in the officials charges filed Tuesday.
Pina was drunk behind the wheel of 1997 Buick Regal shortly before 6 a.m. Saturday when struck a 46-year-old El Monte man who was riding a bicycle at Mountain and Schrode avenues in an unincorporated county area near Monrovia, CHP Sgt. Chris Hamilton said. The bicyclist suffered injuries described as moderate, and the Buick fled the scene.
Minutes later, Pina’s Buick struck the older bicyclist at Huntington Drive and Mountain Avenue in Monrovia, according to Monrovia police.
That crash, which left the cyclist hospitalized with serious injuries but expected to survive, was believed to be intentional, Alfaro said. Pina allegedly tried unsuccessfully to strike the 63-year-old bicyclist moments earlier a short distance away.
After striking the second bicyclist, Pina continued fleeing but was followed by two good Samaritans in a Mini Cooper who followed him and provided police with information as Pina headed east on the 210 Freeway, according to police and CHP officials.
Pina was suspected of ramming the car of the good Samaritans, causing no injuries, before crashing into the center divider and flipping his Buick near Vernon Avenue, Hamilton said. He ran from the wreck and was arrested nearby by Azusa police.
Initially held in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to county booking records, Robison said Pina’s bail amount was increased to $320,000 at Tuesday’s hearing.
A man struck two bicyclists — one of them intentionally — with his car in Monrovia early Saturday, as well as the car of two good Samaritans who followed him as he fled the scene, authorities said.
Anthony Pina, 19, of Glendora was booked on suspicion of drunken driving and felony hit-and-run following the nearly fatal chain of events that unfolded just before 6 a.m., according to Monrovia police and California Highway Patrol officials. Charges including attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon were also expected to be sought against Pina.
He was behind the wheel of a Buick sedan that struck and badly injured a 63-year-old Duarte man who was riding a bicycle at Huntington Drive and Mountain Avenue, Monrovia police Lt. Jaime Alfaro said.
“The investigation indicated the hit and run was not an accident, but was an intentional act by Mr. Pina,” Alfaro said.
The injured bicyclist was initially hospitalized in critical condition, but stabilized after undergoing surgery, Lt. Michael Lee said.
Pina turned “donuts” around the bicyclist before driving directly into him, Alfaro said.
The victim told investigators Pina had also tried unsuccessfully to strike him with his car moments earlier at Mountain Avenue and Royal Oaks Drive, the lieutenant added. The men did not appear to know each other prior to Saturday’s encounter, and a motive in the alleged attack was unclear.
Officers soon learned that Pina’s 1997 Buick Regal matched the description of one that had struck and injured another bicyclist five to ten minutes earlier at Mountain and Shrode avenues in an unincorporated county area just outside Monrovia, CHP Sgt. Chris Hamilton said.
In that collision, Pina’s car struck a 46-year-old El Monte man, inflicting moderate injuries, the sergeant said. There was no indication that crash was intentional, however Pina allegedly fled the scene.
After the car struck the 63-year-old man, two men inside a brand new Mini Cooper saw who had seen what had happened followed Pina onto the eastbound 210 Freeway while calling authorities, officials said.
“At some point, Mr. Pina discovered he was being followed by a vehicle and pulled over,” Alfaro said. The Mini Cooper containing the good Samaritans drove past the Buick as they approached Vernon Avenue in Azusa.
“Pina then collided into their vehicle,” Alfaro said.
The Mini Cooper sustained only minor damage in the collision, and the two men inside were unhurt, Hamilton said.
Pina’s Buick then struck the center divider, causing it flip over, the sergeant said.
Pina got out of the damaged Buick and ran, Hamilton said, but was captured within minutes by an Azusa police officer.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Pina was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
MONROVIA – Police surrounded and searched a home for a possible burglary Friday but ultimately came up empty-handed, officials said.
The incident began about 3 p.m. when officers responded to a burglary alarm at a home in the 600 block of Almond Avenue, Monrovia police Lt. Michael Lee said.
On arrival, officers saw the open front door of the home close and heard what sounded like footsteps, the lieutenant said.
Believing an intruder may still be inside the home, officers surrounded it and ordered anyone inside to come out for about three hours, he said. Ultimately, officers entered and searched the home, finding no one inside.
Lee said police were still waiting to speak with the homeowner late Friday to determine what, if anything, had been stolen from the house.
MONROVIA — A large bear and two cubs forced their way into a home Tuesday, helped themselves to cat food and made a large mess before ultimately scampering back into the wilderness, authorities said.
The four-legged burglars showed up shortly before 12:40 p.m. at a house in the 800 block of Ridgeside Drive, Monrovia police Sgt. Dan Verna said. No one was home at the time, and the incident was reported by a neighbor.
“A very large female brown bear broke out a window,” Verna said. “The female bear and two cubs entered the home through the opening and ate cat food. They made a large mess and exited out the same window.”
The bears lingered in the neighborhood, so officers used a bean bag gun to shoo them back into the forest, the sergeant said. The mother bear ran back to the wilderness, but the cubs became startled and climbed a nearby tree.
When the bear realized her cubs were not behind her, “The mother returned and took a position to guard her cubs at the base of the tree,” Verna said.
Monrovia Animal Control officials, as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials, were summoned to take charge of the situation, Verna said.
Officials asked everyone to leave the area so the cubs would come down from the tree, Verna said. Once left alone, the cubs descended and returned to their forest with their mother.
The incident lasted about three hours.
Deputies arrested a man Thursday following a series of five baseball bat robberies at San Gabriel Valley convenience stores in matter of hours, authorities said.
Malcom Buchanan, 19, of Duarte was booked in connection with the final robbery in Thursday’s spree at a gas station in unincorporated East Pasadena as officials continued investigating him in connection with the other four robberies, police and sheriff’s officials said.
While a concrete link had not been established Thursday afternoon, ““They’re definitely looking into it,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said.
The string of robberies began shortly after midnight at a 7-Eleven store in San Dimas, investigators said. Similar robberies and attempted robberies were then reported in West Covina, Monrovia, Arcadia and unincorporated Pasadena before deputies spotted a car matching the description of one used in at least one of the robberies was spotted, stopped and arrested by deputies from the sheriff’s Temple Station in Duarte, sheriff’s Sgt. Lynette O’Brien said.
Sgt. Pete Shupe of the sheriff’s San Dimas station said masked robber entered the 7-Eleven at 660 E. Foothill Blvd. at 12:11 a.m.
He found a clerk working in a back stockroom, Lt. Andy Berg said.
The bat-wielding robber ordered the clerk to the front of the store and demanded cash from the register, officials said.
When the clerk opened the register, he said the robber reached in, took $200 and fled the store.
About half an hour later, a masked man lugging a baseball bat then showed up at the 7-Eleven at 1319 W. Merced Ave. in West Covina around 12:42 a.m.
“He told the clerk ‘Give me the money’ while holding the bat threateningly,” West Covina Police Lt. David Lee said.
The robber grabbed about $350 from the till and left.
Lee said the suspect was last seen in a white vehicle, possibly a van or a sport utility vehicle. A second suspect was driving the vehicle.
The robber was described as possibly Latino, around 5 feet 5 inches tall and about 150 pounds.
In the San Dimas case, the robber wore a gray jacket, officials said.
Initial investigation indicated the same robber was involved in both crimes, Berg said.
Nearly 11 hours passed before three more incidents of convenience store robberies involving a suspect armed with a baseball bat were reported.
Monrovia police responded to a report of a similar robbery about 11:25 a.m. at 7-Eleven, 922 W. Duarte Road, officials said. Again, the robber brandished a baseball bat during the crime.
A witness to the Monrovia crime was able to provide police with a description and license plate of the getaway car, which was immediately broadcast to nearby law enforcement agencies.
Another attempted heist involving a baseball bat wielding suspect occurred minutes later at a liquor store in the 800 block of West Huntington Drive in Arcadia, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said.
It was unclear what caused him to abandon the robbery attempt and flee empty-handed.
Minutes after the Arcadia crime, a man with a baseball bat arrived at a gas station at Colorado Boulevard and Michillinda Avenue in an unincorporated county area east of Pasadena, O’Brien said.
A witness provided investigators with the license plate number of the getaway car, and deputies spotted the vehicle
Deputies searching the area spotted the vehicle and pulled it over on Bashor Street near Vineyard Avenue in Duarte about noon.
There was no description of a second robber who may have partnered with the suspect in at least some of the alleged crimes.
The robbery in San Dimas capped off a particularly unfortunate month for the convenience store.
It was the third incident at the store in recent weeks, which has also experienced another robbery, as well as a car crashing through the front window, officials said. The same clerk was working during all three incidents.
A man brandished a pistol in a robbery at the store on May 14, Berg said. He was described as black, 25 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 pounds, investigators said. He wore a dark green hooded sweatshirt and black pants.
A car Sunday smashed through the front window of the Foothill Boulevard convenience store, officials said.
No crime was suspected in connection with the crash, in which a 50-year-old San Dimas man’s 1990 Honda Accord struck the store after his foot slipped off the brake pedal and onto the accelerator, Sgt. Victor Ibarra said.
- Staff writers Ruby Gonzales and Melissa Pinion-Whit contributed to this report.
MONROVIA — Officials Wednesday located 10-year-old boy who had gone missing the previous day from a relative’s Monrovia home.
The boy was last seen about 6 p.m. Tuesday at a relative’s home in the 200 block of West Walnut Avenue, Monrovia police officials said in a written statement.
“He had run away several times before and had run away from his family the day before in Pasadena,” according to the statement.
After seeking the public’s assistance, sheriff’s deputies found the missing boy Wednesday in Rosemead.
“He was transferred to the custody of the (Los Angeles County) Department of Children and Family Services, where he was then reunited with family members,” according to a police statement.
“(The boy) is determined to be a frequent runaway and efforts are being made to provide appropriate custodial care,” the statement continued. “No foul play or neglect by a guardian is suspected.”
MONROVIA — Police jailed a wanted Baldwin Park man Wednesday after he was confronted by a resident during a residential break-in, authorities said.
Maximino Alejandro Acevedo, 29, was booked on suspicion of burglary as well as outstanding warrants stemming from burglary and narcotics cases, Monrovia police Lt. Michael Lee said.
The break-in took place just before 5 p.m. in the 700 block of Anita Street, police said in a written statement.
A resident noticed a man — later identified as Acevedo — inside his vehicle, which had been left unlocked in an attached garage, police said.
“The victim yelled at the suspect, who ran from the house,” according to the police statement. “The home owner chased the suspect as the police were called, but he lost sight of him.”
Officers caught up with Acevedo a short time later about a quarter-mile away at Mayflower Avenue and Diamond Street, Lee said.
After taking him into custody, the victim positively identified Acevedo as the intruder and he was placed under arrest, officials said.
According to county booking records, Acevedo was being held without bail pending a scheduled appearance Friday in Pasadena Superior Court.
MONROVIA — Volunteer fire cadets began the work of removing about 2 miles of fire hose from the hillsides of northern Monrovia as officials declared the Madison Fire was all but fully surrounded.
The wildfire, which was ignited by gardening work along the 300 block of Madison Avenue shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday, had consumed 125 acres and remained 95 percent contained Wednesday morning, Monrovia spokeswoman Alexis Newell said.
“We’re hoping to announce 100 by the end of the day,” Newell said.
Officials were in the “mop-up” phase of the fire, and about 30 fire cadets from the Rio Hondo Fire Academy in Whittier volunteered to pitch in my removing fire hoses left on the hillsides by firefighters as a precaution, in case they were to be needed again.
The cadets were tasked with removing about 2 miles of hose line from the steep terrain and returning them to the fire department’s which left them, Newell said.
Active fire fighting had ceased Wednesday, and officials were primarily keeping an eye on the situation to watch for flare-ups as they worked toward 100 percent containment.
All remaining evacuation orders in Monrovia were lifted Sunday afternoon as firefighters had surrounded a brush fire that charred more than 100 acres in the foothills at the northern edge of town since Saturday morning.
Monrovia Fire Chief Chris Donovan announced all residents still evacuated due to the Madison Fire were free to return home shortly after 3 p.m. Only residents were being allowed into the recently evacuated neighborhoods in case the wind should pick up and again.
“The fire has been held to 125 acres,” he said. Firefighters had drawn solid containment lines around 85 percent of the wildfire, he said, leaving only a small portion on the eastern flank uncontrolled.
Though estimates Saturday placed the size of the fire, which ignited shortly after 11 a.m. along the 300 block of Madison Avenue, at 175 acres, the estimate was revised Sunday, Monrovia spokeswoman Jennifer McLain said.
“We do have crews continuing to work the fire line as we speak,” Donovan said Sunday afternoon. Twenty fire engines and 10 hand crews remained assigned to the fire, which was burning in steep, tough terrain, with a water-dropping helicopter on stand-by.
“At the height of the incident, over 400 homes were directly threatened by the fire, and due to the hard work of Monrovia Firefighters and mutual aid partners from across Southern California, no homes were damaged or destroyed,” Donovan said.
Overnight, three to five patrol crews would continue working the fire, Donovan said. Today, crews were expected to finish building the containment lines in the form of a 200-foot-thick layer of fire retardant foam between the wildfire and nearby neighborhoods.
The fire was largely smouldering Sunday, Donavoan said, although “we did have some spot fires.”
Though the weather continued to be cooperative Sunday, an increase in wind remained a concern.
“If we get a significant wind, it can pick up embers and carry them over the containment line,” Donovan said.
About 200 homes were evacuated at the peak of the fire Saturday, McLain said.
“They were pretty aggressive using foam to protect the homes,” McLain said.
“Residents will see smoke in the area from active fire, and you might also spot fire in open areas,” city officials said in a written statement. “Hand crews will be working in the hills, and fire engines will be in neighborhoods supporting this work.”
In an ironic twist, the fire is blamed on a fire prevention effort, officials said.
It was sparked by a gardener’s power tool, Donovan said. The homeowner had hired the gardener to perform weed abatement ahead of fire season.
Having discussed with other fire chiefs the weather and vegetation conditions in the area, “We are anticipating a very bad fire season,” Donovan said.
And to have such a large fire so early in the season seemed to indicate that prediction was accurate.
“I think we’re in for a long road.”