Police plan checkpoint in Montebello

MONTEBELLO >> Police are planning a sobriety and driver license checkpoint Friday in Montebello, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. the following morning at an undisclosed location within the city, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
“Over the course of the past three years, DUI collisions have claimed 8 lives and resulted in 791 injury crashes harming 1,057 of our friends and neighbors,” according to Sgt. Larry Jackson.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Montebello police officer accused of DUI following Diamond Bar crash

DIAMOND BAR >> Deputies arrested a Montebello police officer early Wednesday on suspicion of drunken driving following a crash in Diamond Bar, according to officials and county booking records.
Christopher Andrew Cervantes, 43, was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI about 3:30 a.m. and released on $5,000 bail within the hour, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
Lt. John Saleeby of the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar station confirmed the arrest, but declined to provide information regarding the circumstances of the arrest, saying the investigation was “ongoing.” He deferred further inquiries to the Montebello Police Department.
In addition to the sheriff’s department investigation, Montebello police have launched their own internal investigation into the incident, Montebello police Lt. Kelly Gordon said.
“At 12:40 this morning, one of our employees was involved in a traffic collision in Diamond Bar,” Gordon said. “The employee was arrested.”
Gordon declined to confirm the name of the involved officer.
She said she did not know whether the involved police employee was on-duty or off-duty, or whether the crash involved a police vehicle or a personal car.
Further details were not available. Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
Wednesday’s arrest was not Cervantes first scrape with the law from the other side of the badge.
He was arrested by San Diego police in July of 2011 when he was allegedly drunk, resisted arrest and falsely identified himself to arresting officers as an agent from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Fellow officers who filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Montebello Police Department in 2012 accused the department of failing to properly discipline the officer.
Former Mongol Al “The Suit” Cavazos and his brother, former club president Ruben “Doc” Cavazos, have accused Cervantes and his partner in the ATF of lying about the circumstances of a 2007 shooting in order to obtain a search warrant which ultimately led to federal convictions for 78 Mongols and a state conviction for the shooter. Both Montebello police and ATF officials have denied the allegation.
The Mongols have voted the Cavazos brothers “out bad” of the organization.
Al Cavazos said he was not surprised Cervantes, who he described as “crooked,” had gotten into legal trouble.
“I have put in numerous complaints with the Montebello Police Department department about his corruption,” Al Cavazos said of Cervantes. “He falsified documents that put me in jail.” Al Cavazos served nine months behind bars in connection with the case, and has since successfully sued the government for the return of a seized motorcycle.
“(Cervantes) falsified evidence, which I could prove,” he said. “He went as far as to falsify two attempted murder, and drug charges.”
Al Cavazos said he has also filed complaints with the sheriff’s East Los Angeles Station, which patrols the jurisdiction where the 2007 Nicola’s bar shooting took place. But nothing has come of the complaints, which Cavazos said police and sheriff’s administrators were not taking seriously.

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Five ‘Courageous Citizens’ honored by D.A. for acts of heroism is Montebello, Alhambra, Burbank


Video by Walt Mancini
PASADENA >> Five “Courageous Citizens” who put themselves in danger to stop three different violent attacks in Montebello, Alhambra, and Burbank received awards Wednesday form the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
A man who intervened in the beating of an elderly man by an assailant half his age; two women who stopped a registered sex offender and lifelong felon from kidnapping a young woman; and two men who helped stop and capture a man who as he stabbed his ex-wife were the five “ordinary citizens” who District Attorney Jackie Lacey said showed uncommon courage in the face of violent crimes against strangers.
“We hope these stories will inspire others to do the right thing when the time calls,” Lacey told the Pasadena Rotary Club audience.
Telesforo Arellano Diaz, 58, of Montebello, received the Courageous Citizens Award for defending a 78-year-old man who was being severely beaten by an unprovoked attacker half his age, Deputy District Attorney Tony Cho said.
Richard Paul Garcia, then-39, attacked the victim as he collected recyclables from a Montebello dumpster near Washington Boulevard and Greenwood Avenue, Cho said. Garcia punched, kicked and struck the victim with a broomstick.
Diaz rushed to help, Cho said. Garcia attacked Diaz, biting him on the hand during the scuffle. But Diaz, with the help of two other good Samaritans, held Garcia until police arrived.
The victim suffered a broken hand, but no permanent injuries, Cho said. Without Diaz, “It could have been much worse.”
Diaz said he never thought twice about getting involved. “An old person like that, it could have been by father. It’s not right,” he said through a Spanish interpreter.
Jennifer Clark, 43, of Redondo Beach and Connie Tejada, 58, of Downey stopped by a Fremont Avenue Starbucks in Alhambra for coffee on Sept. 12, 2013, when they noticed a man yelling at a woman in her 20s as she sat in a car.
The man — later identified as Frank Hernandez, now-66, of Rosemead — had met the victim at his church and lured her to the coffee shop by telling her he had a gift for her, Deputy District Attorney David Ayvazian said. He cut off his GPS tracking device before meeting the woman.
Hernandez brandished what appeared to be a revolver, forced his way into the woman’s car, threatened to kill her and pistol-whipped her, Ayvazian said.
As the terrified victim made eye contact with Clark, “She mouthed, ‘help me,’” Clark said. Clark then told the man, “She doesn’t want you here. You need to go away now.”
As the attacker fled, Tejada used her cell phone to take video footage of Hernandez and his license plate, which she promptly handed over to police, helping them promptly arrest Hernandez, officials said.
“We believe that she was going to be kidnapped, possibly worse, and these two women got involved and stopped that from happening,” Ayvazian said. If not for Clark and Tejada, “who knows what harm this innocent woman would have had to suffer? And another violent predator would be continuing to roam our streets.”
Francisco Godinez, 40, of South Gate and Zinobi Gerbs, 44, of Burbank were honored for intervening when they saw Trino Godinez, 47, attacking his ex-wife with a knife following a planned custody exchange at a Burbank gas station.
The woman ran from her car at a red light after the suspect hopped into the car, brandished a handgun and threatened the woman, Deputy District Attorney Melanie Buccat said. The attacker chased after her, stabbing her three times.
Frank Godinez leapt from his work truck to help and struck the knife-wielding attacker in the head with a wrench before he, Gerbs and an off-duty sheriff’s deputy subdued the man.

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Montebello doctor sentenced for molesting patients

MONTEBELLO >> A judge sentenced a Montebello doctor to five years in prison Friday for sexually molesting four female patients in his care, officials said.
Arturo Vargas, 44, pleaded “no contest” Friday to two counts of felony sexual battery, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
A jury convicted Vargas in February of two counts of sexual exploitation by a physician for molesting two additional patients, but acquitted him of seven charges involving four other alleged victims, officials said. The Los Angeles Superior Court jury failed to reach verdicts on more than a dozen additional charges.
Vargas entered Friday’s “no contest” pleas during what was scheduled to be a pretrial hearing on the remaining charges.
In addition to being sentenced to five years in state prison, Judge Curtis Rappe also ordered Vargas to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Montebello police first arrested Vargas in Jan. 2012 after a woman reported being molested by him at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices on Towne Center Drive, authorities said. Seven additional women subsequently came forward and made similar allegations of molestation at the Baldwin Park facility, as well as at other medical facilities in Los Angeles County.

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Montebello man, 75, sentenced for wife’s murder

MONTEBELLO >> A 75-year-old man convicted of strangling his wife of 44 years at their Montebello apartment received a sentenced of 15 years to life behind bars Wednesday, authorities said.
Baghdo Hayrapetyan, 75, received the sentence from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta, court officials said.
A jury convicted him Oct. 30 of second-degree murder for the March 5, 2012, strangling death of his wife, 63-year-old Anahit Hayrapetyan, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials. At a hearing the following month, the same jury determined that Baghdo Hayrapetyan was sane at the time of the killing.
The couple, who had been married for more than four decades, became involved in an argument at their home in a seniors’ apartment complex in the 2000 block of West Whittier Boulevard.
Rescuers and police arrived at the scene to find Anahit Hayrapetyan unconscious and not breathing, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said. Baghdo Hayrapetyan was also suffering from stab wounds on his torso that were believed to be self-inflicted. He was initially hospitalized in critical condition before receiving medical treatment and facing trial.
The crime was first discovered by worried family members who went on the apartment to heck on the couple after being unable to contact them, Lt. Eddie Hernandez of Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.

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Medical service dog goes missing in Montebello


MONTEBELLO >> Police asked the public to keep an eye out for a Montebello family’s service dog, which went missing last week.
Pipistrello, a 2-year-old Australian terrier called “Pip” for short, was last seen Tuesday in the 300 block of North Greenwood Avenue, near Harding Avenue, Montebello police Lt. Rich Meadows said.
More than a pet, Pip is a service dog who aids her owner, who suffers from a medical condition, Meadows said.
Upon hearing of the lost service dog, Montebello police decided to help the family spread the word in hopes that someone will find and turn in Pip, the lieutenant said.
Pip is reddish-blond and was wearing a pink collar and a dog tag attached to the collar with a pink, heart-shaped clip, officials said.
Anyone who spots the dog is asked to contact Montebello police at 323-887-1313.

PHOTO courtesy of the Montebello Police Department

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Masked gunman shoots at man in Montebello alley

MONTEBELLO >> A man escaped injury Sunday when a masked gunman opened fire on him in a seemingly random shooting in a Montebello alley, authorities said.
The incident took place about 3:30 p.m. in an alley behind the 100 block of North Poplar Avenue, Montebello police Lt. Mike Flores said.
A man was standing in the alley when he noticed a male attacker with a handgun crouching near a car, wearing all black clothing and a bandana over his face, the lieutenant said.
Flores said the gunman fired two shots, both of which missed the victim. The bullets struck two nearby apartments, but injured no one.
The attacker fled on foot and was not found, Flores said. The victim told investigators he had no idea who the gunman was.
Anyone with information can reach Montebello police at 323-887-1313.

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UPDATED: Vehicle strikes apartment building in Montebello

MONTEBELLO >> A car crashed into an apartment building in Montebello Sunday afternoon, prompting the temporary evacuation of four units, officials said.
The crash was reported about 2:51 p.m. at a two-story apartment building with carports located below in the 800 block of North Wilcox Avenue, Montebello Fire Department officials said.
A Honda Accord being driven by a man in his 20s was northbound on Wilcox Avenue when it crossed southbound lanes and struck a wall of the carport that lies beneath the apartment’s building’s first floor, Montebello police Lt. Mike Flores said.
The driver told police he swerved to avoid another car that was entering traffic, though the cause remained under investigation, the lieutenant said. Intoxicated driving was not initially suspected.
The driver, as well as another man in his 20s who was riding as a passenger in the car, suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene by paramedics, Flores said. No injuries were reported in the apartment building or carport.
The Honda ended up partially penetrating the carport wall, Flores said.
As a precaution, authorities evacuated four apartment units, which housed about a dozen residents, he said.
Engineers examined the building and declared it was safe for the displaced residents to return shortly after 5 p.m., Flores said.

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Montebello man killed in alleged street racing crash identified

MONTEBELLO >> Coroner’s officials have released the name of a 20-year-old Montebello man who died in a suspect street racing crash in Montebello Wednesday.
Luis Manuel Oliveras died at the scene of the crash after the 2004 Honda Accord he was driving struck a light pole about about 11:15 p.m. on San Gabriel Boulevard, just north of Plaza Drive, in an unincorporated county area near Montebello, according to California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Department of Coroner officials.
A 19-year-old woman riding as a passenger in the Honda suffered injuries in the crash, CHP officials said. An update on her condition was not available.
Investigators believe the Honda was involved in a street race when the crash occurred, CHP Sgt. Cesar Murillo said. The car that was racing the Honda fled the scene and has not been found. No description was released.
Oliveras lost control of the car as he was driving south on San Gabriel Boulevard at high speed, CHP officials said in a written statement.
The car crossed the center median and struck a light pole along the northbound traffic lanes, officials said.
Anyone with information about the crash was asked to call theCHP’s East Los Angeles office at 323-980-4600.

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Big rig mishap in Montebello shears fire hydrant, knocks down power pole


MONTEBELLO >> An improperly secured cargo container slipped from a big rig Saturday, knocking down a power pole and shearing a fire hydrant on Telegraph Road in Montebello, authorities said.
The mishap occurred about 4:30 p.m. on Telegraph Road, just west of Gage Road, Montebello police officials said.
A big rig had just pulled out of a nearby business when the metal cargo container loaded on the back slipped, Lt. Julio Calleros said.
“The load was improperly secured,” he said. “The load fell from the truck, striking the telephone pole and the fire hydrant.”
The driver was unhurt, he said.
A geyser erupted from the damaged fire hydrants, and power lines fell to the street, he said.
The accident knocked out power to the nearby Quality Inn & Suites, trapping several people inside elevators, but the electricity was restored within minutes, Calleros said.
The eastbound lanes of Telegraph Road remained shut down early Saturday evening, though the westbound lanes were closed as workers repaired the damage, police said.

PHOTO courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.


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