MONTEBELLO >> A former Montebello police officer charged with slamming a tagging suspect’s head into the pavement during an arrest will avoid jail time after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge Tuesday, authorities said.
Mark Jason Ryan, 37, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault under color of authority in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Los Angeles at what was scheduled to be a hearing to set a date for his preliminary hearing, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
He was immediately sentenced to 36 months of summary probation and 300 hours of community service, and ordered to stay 100 yards away from the victim for the term of his probation, Robison said.
Prosecutors initially filed a felony charge against Ryan for the on-duty attack, which took place on Halloween of 2014.
If convicted of the felony charge, Ryan could have faced up to three years in state prison.
Ryan worked as a corporal with the Montebello Police Department when he responded to a report of two men tagging in the 2100 block of West Whittier Boulevard.
While arresting then 26-year-old Anthony Acosta, Ryan slammed Acosta’s head into the pavement in an unjustified assault, prosecutors said.
“He was roughed up pretty good,” said Acosta’s father, Oscar Acosta said. His son, who already suffered from mental health issues, remains depressed and anxious and has been dealing with memory loss issues since the incident.
“Since it happened, he hasn’t been the same,” Oscar Acosta said.
And even following the conviction, the victim, his family and their attorney, Brian Claypool of the Pasadena-based Claypool Law Firm, said they have many questions about exactly what happened that day.
Oscar Acosta said he and his son first learned of the arrest through media reports and were not notified of the pending plea arrangement.
While the assault was reportedly captured on video by the surveillance camera of a nearby restaurant, authorities have not released the video.
Since the case ended in a plea arrangement prior to trial, the video was not entered into evidence and would not be released by the district attorney’s office, Robison said.
Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure deferred to the district attorney’s office regarding the video. “Everything evidentiary was turned over to the District Attorney and they have authority over it,” he said in an email.
Claypool said he intended to file a lawsuit to pursue more information.
“We plan on getting to the bottom of this. We want to see that video tape,” he said.
“We’re going to file a civil lawsuit,” Claypool said. “We’re also going to file a preservation of evidence letter,” Claypool said, which would seek to prevent authorities from deleting or discarding any video or other evidence.
Ryan retired from the Montebello Police Department in early 2016, officials said.
He worked for the department for 13 years, according to his online resume. Prior to that, He served in the U.S. Army from 1999 to 2003
Ryan served as president of the Montebello Police Officers’ Association in 2015.
McClure declined to comment on Tuesday’s conviction.
“Mark Ryan was a former officer so we were not made aware of today’s proceeding’s,” McClure said. The Montebello PD does not have any comment related to this case.”
Ryan was scheduled to return to court for a probation progress report in one year, Robison said.
MONTEBELLO>> Ten horses died in a fire that tore through a Montebello stable early Sunday, officials said.
The fire was first reported a few minutes after midnight at a large stable in the 300 block of South Bluff Road.
It quickly grew to consume a 120-foot by 170-foot section of the large stable, Montebello Fire Department Battalion Chief Richard Fredrickson said.
“It took about an hour for us to get more-or-less control,” he said. The fire was declared extinguished about two hours after it began.
Ten horses inside the stables died in the fire, Fredrickson said. No people were hurt.
Montebello police and firefighters managed to evacuate another 22 horses unharmed, according to Montebello police and fire officials.
Representatives of the stable could not be reached for comment Sunday.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, Fredrickson said.
“We’re still looking into everything. We haven’t ruled anything out,” the battalion chief said.
Police had not been asked to get involved to get involved investigation Sunday, Montebello police Lt. Rick Rojas said.
A dollar-value estimate of the damage was not available.
EAST LOS ANGELES >> A sheriff’s SWAT team helped Montebello police apprehend a wanted, armed felon without violence Friday after he barricaded himself inside an East Los Angeles home for five hours, authorities said.
Frank Javier Chavez, 28, of Los Angeles was ultimately arrested about noon following the stand-off, which began about 7 a.m. in the 100 block of Carmelita Street in East Los Angeles, according to Montebello police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
“Montebello personnel made contact with the suspect, however he barricaded himself in a rear dwelling,” Montebello police said in a written statement. “After several hours of negotiations, the suspect surrendered without incident.”
Following the standoff, deputies recovered three guns — two handguns and a rifle — from the detached bungalow in which Chavez had been holed up.
Deputies evacuated nearby homes as the standoff continued, including one woman who was invalid, Montebello polic Sgt. Julio Calleros said. The disabled woman was taken to a friend’s house by paramedics.
Chavez first crossed paths with Montebello police June 3, when he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, police said.
He was released from jail the same day pending his initial court appearance after posting $50,000 bail, county booking records show.
“On June 8, 2016 Mr. Chavez returned to the victim’s residence in an attempt to retrieve some personal items,” according to the police statement. “Mr. Chavez became angry at which point it is alleged that he made threatening statements, brandished a firearm and shot the victims vehicle several times before fleeing the area.”
Chavez was not found, and detectives obtained an arrest warrant related to the shooting incident.
Investigators tracked Chavez to Carmelita Street in East Los Angeles Friday morning, leading to the standoff and arrest.
Chavez was booked on suspicion of domestic violence, making criminal threats, shooting at a vehicle and possession of firearms by a convicted felon, police said.
Chavez, who was recently discharged from parole following a previous felony conviction, was expected to be held without bail pending his next court appearance, officials said.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau.
MONTEBELLO >> A 73-year-old man with dementia who was reported missing by concerned neighbors earlier this week was found safe Friday in Japan, police said.
Jiro Kamai was last seen Monday at his home in the area of Sycamore Street and Bluff Road, Montebello police officials said.
“He suffers from dementia,” police said in a written statement. “He doesn’t have any friends or family in the area.”
Police began searching for Kamai after neighbors reported he’d gone missing, Sgt. Julio Calleros said.
After “some digging,” investigators determined Kamai had boarded a flight to Japan Wednesday to visit an ailing relative, Calleros said. He was in the company of family members.
Though it ultimately tuned out Kamai was in no danger, Calleros thanked the concerned neighbors who notified police when they became concerned for his well-being.
MONTEBELLO >> Investigators arrested a former Montebello police corporal Wednesday on a charge of assault under color of authority for slamming a tagging suspect’s head into the pavement during a 2014 arrest, according to authorities, as well as county court and booking documents.
Mark Jason Ryan, 37, is charged with one felony count of assault by a public officer in connection with an alleged on-duty attack, which took place on Halloween of 2014, according to a felony complaint for arrest warrant filed against the former officer April 5 in Los Angeles Superior Court. The charge followed an investigation that lasted more than 17 months.
Los Angles County Sheriff’s Department deputies, who have been investigating the case, arrested Ryan on a warrant about 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court and booking records.
According to the complaint, “(Ryan) assaulted and beat Anthony Acosta under color of authority, the defendant being then and there a public officer, to wit, Montebello Police Department Corporal.”
Ryan responded to a report of two men tagging in the 2100 block of West Whittier Boulevard, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
While arresting one of the men, “Ryan allegedly slammed one suspect’s head into the pavement,” according to the statement.
Acosta was 26 years old at the time of the alleged attack, records show.
He ultimately pleaded “no contest” to a count of vandalism, and admitted the crime was gang related, and received a one-year prison sentence in March of 2015, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Prosecutors declined to discussed the level of injury suffered by the alleged victim. Further detail regarding the circumstances of the alleged assault were not available Wednesday afternoon.
Ryan retired from the Montebello Police Department early this year, Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure said.
The chief declined to comment further regarding the case or the incident, deferring to investigators in the district attorney’s office and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
According to Ryan’s online resume, he left the Montebello Police Department in February after 13 years as an officer, and is now working as a real estate agent. Ryan also served in the U.S. Army from 1999 to 2003, according to the profile.
Ryan served as Montebello Police Officers’ Association president last year.
According to prosecutors and county booking records, Ryan was released on a $35,000 bail bond Wednesday pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled May 4.
If convicted as charged, Ryan faces up to three years in state prison.
MONTEBELLO >> Four suspected drunken drivers found themselves behind bars following an overnight police checkpoint in Montebello, officials said Sunday.
The checkpoint was held from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday in the 1500 block of South Greenwood Avenue, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
More than 2,000 cars passed through the checkpoint.
Police jailed four drivers on suspicion of DUI, and eight people on suspicion of other crimes, according to the statement.
Officers also issued 27 tickets for those driving without licenses and with suspended or revoked licenses.
Funding for the checkpoint was provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.
MONTEBELLO >> A person died in a crash involving a big rig and a passenger car on the 60 Freeway in Montebello during rush-hour Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
The crash was first reported about 4:14 in the westbound lanes of the 60 Freeway near San Gabriel Boulevard, California Highway Patrol Officer Jennifer Bond said. Initial reports indicated it involved a jackknifed big rig and a sedan.
One person died at the scene, she said.
Officials shut down all but the right-hand lane of the westbound 60 Freeway as they cleared the wreckage and investigated the scene, along with the northbound San Gabriel Boulevard onramp to the westbound 60 Freeway.
All traffic lanes were reopened about 8:30 p.m., according to the CHP.
PHOTO courtesy of Caltrans
MONTEBELLO >>MONTEBELLO >> Prosecutors Tuesday charged two convicted felons who were released previously released early from jail as a result of Proposition 47 with new charges including drug-, gun- and identity theft-related crimes after a traffic stop in Montebello last week led to their arrests, authorities said.
David Castaneda, 33, faces charges of unauthorized use of another person’s identifying information, fraudulent possession of another persons identifying information, two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a gun, possession of drugs for sales and possession of a firearm with drugs, according to Montebello police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Jonathan Gonzales, 29, is accused of unauthorized use of another person’s identifying information and fraudulent possession of another person’s identifying information, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
Castaneda was already on parole for robbery and was being sought as an parolee-at-large, police said. Gonzales was on parole for assault with a deadly weapon.
“Both suspects were early release parolees as a result of Proposition 47,” according to the statement.
Montebello police pulled over a car containing the two men about 12:30 a.m. on March 3 in their city, officials said.
“Castaneda was found in possession of several credit cards not in his name. Several stolen and altered checks were also located inside the vehicle in the names of different victims,” according tot he statement.”
“Gonzalez was found in possession of approximately 20 credit cards, drivers’ licenses, health insurance cards and credit receipts not in his name,” the statement continued.
Both men were arrested on suspicion of identity theft-related crimes.
A search of Castaneda’s South Gat home the follow day yielded two handguns, 12 ounces of methamphetamine, marijuana and property believed to have been obtained “through fraudulent means,” according to the statement.
Castaneda and Gonzales were each being held without bail, records show. Castaneda was scheduled to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court March 10, while Gonzalez was scheduled to appear in the same court March 18.
MONTEBELLO >> A homeless man who sparked a 384-acre wildfire in the Rio Hondo Riverbed in Montebello last year pleaded “no contest” Thursday to a charge of recklessly causing a fire, prosecutors said.
Arturo Miallan Aguilar, 46, was immediately sentenced to a year in county jail and three years of probation and ordered to attend a year-long live-in drug treatment program after entering the plea in Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. A restitution hearing was yet to be scheduled.
Aguilar sparked the fire while cooking food in the riverbed near the Whittier Narrows Reservoir about 1:30 p.m. Aug. 16, Montebello police Lt. Michael Bergman said.
The blaze quickly exploded out of control, ultimately scorching 384 acres in Montebello and nearby unincorporated county area before firefighters contained it days later. No structures were damaged.
Four firefighters suffered minor injuries while fighting the fire, including three who were hurt when a helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing at Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary in Whittier, and one who suffered heat exhaustion, officials said.
PHOTOS: [TOP] A fast moving brush,tree and bamboo fire spreads through out the Whittier Narrows Recreation area south of the 60 Freeway, Sunday, August 16, 2015. (Mike Mullen photo) [MIDDLE] Seen from Irwindale on the 605 Freeway, a fast moving brush,tree and bamboo fire spreads through out the Whittier Narrows Recreation area south of the 60 Freeway, Sunday, August 16, 2015. (Mike Mullen photo) [BELOW] A “Super Scooper” Quebec 1 scoops water to fight the Lincoln Fire burning in Montebello Hills as people cool off in the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale on Sunday, August 16, 2015. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
MONTEBELLO >> Police seized more than 1,200 marijuana plants valued at more than half-a-million dollars Tuesday and arrested two men after raiding two commercial properties neighboring a Montebello school, authorities said.
Police arrested Nicholas Stone, 23, off North Hills and Artin Khudanyan, 32, of Glendale on suspicion of cultivating marijuana following the busts, which took place Tuesday afternoon and evening at two commercial units in the 3300 block of West Beverly Boulevard, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
The illicit indoor farm was separated only by an alley from Eastmont Intermediate School, which had already let out for the day when police carried out the raid.
• VIDEO: A look at the pot farm in the Montebello building
An anonymous tip spawned the rapidly-developing investigation, Montebello police Lt. Andy Vuncanon said. Police then began a stake-out outside one of the two adjacent, unmarked business units.
“During the surveillance, we saw the suspects in or about the business complex,” the lieutenant said.
Officers stopped a car occupied by Stone and Khudanyan nearby shortly after 3 p.m. and detained them pending further investigation, Vuncanon said.
Investigators then obtained a search warrant for the first business.
“Once inside the commercial property, investigators identified a fully operational marijuana grow equipped with artificial lighting, ventilating fans/temperature control, an odor control system and soil/nutrients for the plants,” according to the police statement.
The rear portion of the business, where the marijuana was growing, was separated from the front by a metal security door, Vuncanon said.
But the investigators were not finished. The investigation led detectives to obtain a warrant to search the business next door as well, where officers uprooted another 500 to 700 marijuana plants, officials said.
“Once inside the (second) commercial property, investigators once again identified a fully operational marijuana grow equipped with same type of operation and set up as next door,” the police statement said.
Vuncanon described the setup as a “very sophisticated, very clean operation.”
According to Los Angeles County booking record, Stone and Khudanyan were both released from custody Wednesday pending their initial court appearances after posting $50,000 bail each.
PHOTOS: Nicholas Stone, 23, of North Hills [MIDDLE] and Artin Khudanyan, 32, of Glendale [BELOW] were arrested on suspicion of cultivating more than 1,200 marijuana plants in two commercial buildings in the 3300 block of West Beverly Boulevard in Montebello on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (Courtesy, Montebello Police Department)
(Courtesy – Montebello Police Department)