Ex-Montebello police corporal accused of assault under color of authority

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.


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Four DUI suspects arrested during Montebello checkpoint

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.

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Fatal crash reported on 60 Freeway in Montebello

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


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Convicted felons charged with ID theft, drug, gun crimes following arrest in Montebello


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.

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Homeless man convicted, sentenced for sparking Lincoln Fire in Montebello


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.
LINCOLNFOLLOW4Aguilar 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)

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Montebello police uproot more than 1,200 marijuana plants at commercial complex near school; 2 arrested


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 0225_NWS_WDN-L-POTGROW3Glendale 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.
0225_NWS_WDN-L-POTGROW2The 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)

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Montebello man sentenced to death for 2010 Hawaiian Gardens triple-slaying

NORWALK >> A judge sentenced a Montebello man to death three times over Friday for a 2010 AK-47 attack on his ex-girlfriend’s family in Hawaiian Gardens, leaving three people dead and another seriously wounded.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Raul Sahagun ordered Joseph Mercado, 32, to death row for the early-morning May 6, 2010 triple-slaying that claimed the lives of his ex-girlfriend Serena Tarin, 23, her brother Alfredo Tarin Jr., 19, and her father Alfredo Tarin Sr., 54, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Also critically wounded in the rampage at the family’s home in the 21900 block of Devlin Avenue was Serena Tarin’s mother, who survived. Six additional family members fled from the home, some of them hiding on the roof of the home, which Mercado had doused with gasoline and set afire before breaking in through the back of the home and opening fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, authorities said.
A Norwalk jury convicted Mercado in November of 10 felony counts. They included three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, first degree burglary, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, arson of an inhabited structure and child abuse.
The jury also found true the special circumstances of multiple murders, lying in wait and engaging in arson — each one making him eligible for the death penalty. The jury also found true the special allegations that Mercado personally used a firearm in the crimes and personally inflicted great bodily injury.
He was acquitted of a single count of assault with a deadly weapon.
The jury recommended Mercado be put to death for his crimes during the penatty phase of the trial, Ardalani said.
Following the shooting, Mercado was arrested after being shot by a sheriff’s deputy after exiting the home with his rifle still-in hand, officials said.
Mercado and Serena Tarin had an infant son together, sheriff’s investigators said. The 9-month-old child was unharmed in the incident.
Authorities said the shooting took place amid a custody dispute between Mercado and Tarin, who had been separated for several months.

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Dog found in Montebello dumpster had to be euthanized


MONTEBELLO >> A small white dog pulled from a dumpster by Montebello police Tuesday night had to be euthanized after it was determined the animal had been badly wounded in an attack by a coyote or another dog, officials said.
Police found the dog Tuesday night, abandoned in a dumpster behind a business in the 600 block of West Whittier Boulevard, Montebello police Sgt. Marc Marty said.
“We were saddened that someone would do such a thing, but we were happy that we were able to rescue the dog,” police said in a written statement. “The dog appeared to be in good condition at the time and was taken by our partners at (the South East Area Animal Control Authority) to be cared for.
But upon calling SEAACA to check on the dog, police received sad news.
“We were extremely saddened to find out that after the dog was cleaned up several untreatable puncture wounds were located on his neck, possibly from a coyote or a dog,” according to the police statement. “Due to these wounds, the dog had to be humanly euthanized.”
Officials thanked community members who expressed concern for the dog and eagerness to adopt it, as well as their partner’s at SEAACA.
A listing of animals available for adoption is available online at www.seaaca.org.

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Police rescue small dog from dumpster in Montebello


MONTEBELLO >> Police found and rescued a small white dog abandoned in a dumpster behind a Whittier Boulevard restaurant Tuesday night, officials said.
A tipster called police to report a possibly abandoned dog in a dumpster behind Alondra Hot Wings, 616 W. Whittier Blvd., Montebello Police Sgt. Marc Marty said.
“Officers found a small white dog in a large trash dumpster,” he said. “Officers rescued the dog which appeared to be unharmed and in good condition and turned the dog over to (South East Area Animal Control Authority).”
Police referred anyone interested in adopting the dog to SEACCA, at www.seaaca.org.

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UPDATED: Child found safe after being abducted by car thief in Montebello


MONTEBELLO >> A car thief stole a minivan with a 1-year-old boy inside of it from a Montebello recycling center Thursday afternoon before being found unharmed, along with the abandoned vehicle, four hours later in Pico Rivera, authorities said.
The theft and possibly unintentional kidnapping took place about 3 p.m. at S.A. Recycling, 1545 Gage Road, Montebello police officials said.
One-year-old Caleb Castro, who was passenger in the red 2003 Honda Odyssey minivan when it was stolen, was found safe inside the minivan nearly four hours later after it was abandoned outside a Pico Rivera McDonalds restaurant, according to police.”
“The child was found inside (the minivan) safe and unharmed and is at a local hospital being looked at,” police said in a written statement.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert following the initial carjacking, Montebello police Lt. Michael Bergman.
“The suspect approached the parked vehicle, while three children sat in the car. Their mother stepped away approximately 10 feet and was going to recycle some items,” according to a police statement.
“The suspect approached the vehicle, ordered two girls — 6- and 4-year-olds out of the car,” the statement continued. But the woman’s 1-year-old son remained in the minivan.
The thief drove off in the minivan, which had the keys still in the ignition, police said.
“The mother screamed that her baby was in the car, however the suspect fled with the vehicle out of the parking lot and southbound on Gage Road,” according to the statement.
A witness who had seen the Amber Alert spotted the stolen minivan shortly before 7 p.m. in the parking lot of a McDonald’s restaurant, 9333 W. Slauson Ave. in Pico Rivera, officials said.
The carjacker remained at large, officials said. He was described as a Latino man, about 30 years, with spiked hair. He spoke Spanish.


Suspect photo courtesy of the Montebello Police Department

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