Former Monterey Park elementary school special education teacher sentenced for molesting four students

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ALHAMBRA >> A former Monterey Park special education teacher convicted of molesting four students received a 16-year prison sentence Friday, authorities said.
Ex-Repetto Elementary School teacher Jose Jesus Mosqueda, 45, of Los Angeles, was sentenced by Alhambra Superior Court Judge Jared Moses, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He pleaded guilty in July to three counts of committing lewd acts on a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, she said.
“The defendant sexually molested special education students in fourth grade between 2008 and 2011,” Ardalani said in a written statement.
Some of the molestations took place during class time, according to attorney’s representing the victims in pending civil lawsuits against the Alhambra Unified School District.
Mosqueda was first arrested in October of 2011 after a students reported her teacher had sexually assaulted her, according to Ardalani.
Mosqueda posted bail and was released from jail before a second girl came forward and made similar allegations, officials. Police re-arrested Mosqueda.
While still behind bars for the second time, a fourth special education student reported being molested by Mosqueda, Ardalani said.
After initially pleading not guilty to eight felony charges, Mosqueda accepted a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to four of the charges July 29, Ardalani said. Additional charges of child molestation and dissuading a witness were dropped under the “negotiated plea.”
Mosqueda was ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Ardalani said. He was scheduled to appear at a restitution hearing Dec. 4.
He passed a state-mandated background check when he was hired by the AUSD five years prior to his arrest, district officials said shortly after his arrest.
Mosqueda was placed on compulsory leave once the allegations first emerged.
His employment was expected to be terminated upon conviction, however AUSD officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
Two additional criminal cases alleging sexual misconduct by AUSD personnel are pending, along with civil claims filed against the district by the parents of Mosqueda’s victims.
Another AUSD teacher is awaiting trial on accusations of carrying on a seven-year-long sexual relationship with a former student.
Garfield Elementary School teacher Jeffrey Yoshitake, 43, is charged with five counts of committing lewd acts on a child for carrying on a sexual relationship with a teenage formers student.
Yoshitake was arrested in February, district attorney’s officials said. Prosecutors allege he began a sexual relationship in April of 2005 with a then-15-year-old former student, who was in high school at the time.
The tenured teacher, who first joined AUSD as a substitute teacher in 1996, has denied the charges.
Yoshitake has been released from custody on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in Alhambra Superior Court Sept. 23 for a preliminary hearing setting, according to booking records.
Yoshitake was also placed on leave at the outset of the investigation.
Meanwhile, former Alhambra High School assistant principal Andrea Cardosa, 40, is awaiting trial in Riverside County on 16 counts of child molestation that allegedly took place while she worked with the Riverside Unified School District and the Val Verde Unified School District in years past.
Cardosa resigned from her position in January after on of her two alleged victims posted a YouTube video in which Cardosa appears to admit having a sexual relationship with the now-adult woman when she was a in middle school and high school between 1997 and 2001.
A second woman came forward days later to report she was also victimized by Cardosa when she was a high school student in 2009 or 2010, officials said.
Cardosa, who is being held in lieu of $5 million bail, is scheduled to appear in Riverside Superior Court Oct. 22 for a felony settlement conference, court records show.

PHOTO of Jose Mosqueda courtesy of the Monterey Park Police Department.

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Two jailed in connection with bear hug robbery in Monterey Park

MONTEREY PARK >> Police arrested a man and woman in Los Angeles late Friday less than an hour after they robbed a man in Monterey Park, authorities said.
A Los Angeles man in his 20s was walking on a sidewalk at Emerson and Moore avenues about 9 p.m. when he was approached by the two suspects, Monterey Park police Lt. Tina Montoya said.
“The victim was approached by a male suspect who placed him in a bear hug,” the lieutenant said.
While the man held the victim, the woman went snatched his wallet and iPhone 5 from his pockets, police said. The robbers then fled in a white car. The victim was unhurt.
Police were able to quickly track the iPhone’s location and found the suspects driving on Pico Boulevard in Westlake Village, officials said. The stolen items were found in the car.
Juan Jose Cruz, 18, of Montebello and Michelle Salinas, 20, of Los Angeles were arrested on suspicion of robbery, Montoya said.
Cruz and Salinas were being held in lieu of $100,000 bail each pending their initial court appearances, scheduled Friday in Alhambra Superior Court.

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Chino man convicted of follow-home robbery spree targeting women in the western San Gabriel Valley

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ALHAMBRA >> A Chino man is expected to face more than two-and-a-half centuries in prison after a jury convicted him Wednesday of a string of robberies targeting women arriving home throughout the western San Gabriel Valley, officials said.
An Alhambra Superior Court jury found Jose Lewis Avila, 32, guilty of all counts he was charged with, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
They included nine counts of robbery, one count of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of dissuading a witness and one count of child abuse, Ardalani said. The jury also found true the special allegations that Avila used a dangerous weapon during the crimes, which was ultimately determined to be a BB gun following Avila’s arrest, and that one of his victims, an Arcadia woman was shot with the BB gun, suffered great bodily injury. An Alhambra woman was pistol whipped during one of the robberies.
The robbery spree took place in March and April of 2011 in Alhambra, San Gabriel, Monterey Park and Arcadia, Ayvazian said.
“All of these are basically follow home robberies,” said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Ayvazian, who prosecuted the case along with Deputy District Attorney Gabriel Kim.
He targeted women outside their homes as they arrived home alone, investigators said. In the first robbery in Alhambra, a husband and wife were robbed as they arrived home together.
All of the victims targeted by Avila were Asian, Ayvazian said.
Avila was ordered back to court Sept. 26 for sentencing, Ardalani said.
Prior to receiving his sentenced, a judge will review Avila’s criminal history to confirm his status ass a third-strike offender, Ayvazian said.
He’s expected to receive a minimum sentence of 250 years to life in state prison, officials said. The maximum sentence Avila faces is 259 years behind bars.
The 12 charges stemmed from eight incidents, the prosecutor explained. Three robberies, one which involved two victims, occurred in Alhambra. Another three took place in San Gabriel, while one occurred in Arcadia and one took place in Monterey Park.
One of his victims was holding a child in her arms when robbed, resulting in the child abuse charge, officials said.
Avila threatened another of his victims and told her not to contact the police, resulting in a charge of dissuading a witness, Ayvazian said.
The assault with a deadly weapon charge stemmed from the Arcadia robbery, Ayvazian said. When the victim’s daughter overheard the commotion and came out so check on her mother, Avila shot her with the BB gun.
0724_NWS_PSN-L-AVILA2As the spree was ongoing, Alhambra, San Gabriel and Monterey Park police banded together and formed a task force to identify and capture the serial robber.
He was arrested April 20, 2011, after an officer spotted a man and vehicle matching the suspect description driving on Valley Boulevard in Alhambra and stopped it for a broken tail light, Ayvazian said. After learning the driver, later identified as Avila, was on parole, officers searched his car.
Investigators found a realistic-looking BB gun, bandanas, latex gloves and other items that indicated he was searching for new victims when stopped by police, Ayvazian said. A wealth of evidence including eyewitness statement, credit card records, cell phone records and surveillance camera footage also linked Avila to the crimes, officials said.
Additionally, even though Avila covered his face during his crimes, several witness were able to identify him due to his “very unique” eyes and eyebrows, Ayvazian said.
At the time of his arrest, Avila was already on parole in connection with a similar robbery spree that took place in the same area in 2005, Ayvazian said.
He had been arrested and charged with 19 criminal counts, but ultimately admitted two of the robberies under a plea agreement, the prosecutor said. As in the more recent case, some victims identified the masked robber based on his eyes and eyebrows.
While Avila was charged with robbing nine people in the 2011 spree, the police task force assembled to investigate the case capture the serial robber had also looked at Avila in connection with more than ten additional robberies, reaching into Pasadena and South Pasadena, officials said shortly after Avila’s arrest. No charges have been filed in connection with those robberies.
The prosecution presented 22 witness during Avila’s three-and-a-half-day trial, Ayvazian said.
Jurors deliberated for less than four hours before finding Avila guilty an all charges.
“The evidence was on out side,” Ayvazian said. “The jury obviously, in our opinion, did the right thing by bringing justice for our community.

PHOTOS:(Above)  Photo of Jose Avila courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department. (Below) Sketch of serial robber released to the public prior to Avila’s arrest in connection with a follow-home robbery spree continued in the western San Gabriel Valley in April of 2011, courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department.

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Men killed in Monterey Park crash identified

MONTEREY PARK >> Coroner’s officials have released the names of two young men who died in a high-speed solo-car crash in Monterey Park earlier this month.
Driver Brian Anthony Gomez, 19, of Los Angeles died at a hospital shortly after the crash, which took place about 3:40 p.m. July 10 in the 500 block of Monterey Pass Road, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator S. Dixson said.
His passenger, 21-year-old Nicholas Ivan Gonzalez of Montebello, died at the scene of the crash, according to coroner’s Lt. Fred Corral.
Autopsies determined both men died of “traumatic injuries,” and the deaths were ruled accidental, coroner’s officials said.
The Infiniti Q60 was travelling at high speed when is struck a parked car and overturned, Monterey Park police officials said. At least one witnesses indicated the car was traveling in excess of 100 mph when it crashed.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation by traffic officers from the Monterey Park Police Department.

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UPDATED: Person killed in Monterey Park car crash

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MONTEREY PARK — One person died and another was hospitalized with major injuries following a crash on Monterey Pass Road in Monterey Park Thursday afternoon.
The crash was reported at 3:43 p.m. in the 500 block of Monterey Pass Road, just southwest of Fremont Avenue, Monterey Park police Lt. Eric Kim said.
The investigation remained in its early stages, however it initially appeared a car travelling on Monterey Pass Road struck parked vehicle, the lieutenant said.
Witnesses indicated the car, which appeared to be an Infiniti sedan, had been travelling at a “very high rate of speed,” prior to the crash, Kim said. One witness estimated the Infiniti was travelling in excess of 100 mph before crashing.
No one was inside the Nissan SUV struck by the speeding car, officials said.
Paramedics pronounced one person dead at the scene, Kim said. A second person was hospitalized in critical condition.
The two occupants of the car were initially described only as male.
A utility poll was struck in the crash, and the sedan that struck the parked car ultimately struck a nearby commercial building, creating a hole in the wall about the size of two basketballs, before coming to a rest upside down.
Monterey Pass Road was shut down in both directions as police conducted an investigation.
No further details were available.

PHOTO by Keith Durflinger

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Man sentenced for Monterey Park double-slaying

A judge sentenced a man to spend the rest of his life in prison Thursday for the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in Monterey Park in early 2010, authorities said.
Richard Tauch, 49, of Corona received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole in Pasadena Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
A jury convicted him in November of two counts of first-degree murder for the Jan. 19, 2010, shooting deaths of Jenny Sor, 40, of Los Angeles and Wenwa Chao, 53, of Alhambra. The jury also found true the special allegations of multiple murder and lying in wait.
Officials described Tauch as a casino security guard who was obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, Sor.
“Tauch and Sor were in a relationship for a year before she broke up with him in December 2009 and started dating Chao,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
On the day of the killings, Tauch went to Sor’s workplace at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood and hid himself in her car, investigators said. He remained concealed in her car as she drove to an assisted living facility in the 200 block of Northj Chandler Avenue in Monterey Park, where Chao was visiting his father.
“When Sor arrived at the care home, she went inside and Tauch followed,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “The defendant then accosted Sor and Chao and shot them multiple times. The victims died at the scene.”
Tauch fled the scene following the double-slaying, but detectives arrested him the following day.

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Firefighters douse small brush fire in Monterey Park

MONTEREY PARK — Firefighters made quick work of a small brush fire in Monterey Park Friday afternoon, extinguishing the flames before the fire grew larger than a quarter-acre, officials said.
The fire was first reported at 5:17 p.m. in a brush area along the 1400 block Monterey Pass Road, Verdugo Fire Communications Center Dispatch Supervisor Lynda Sims said.
Firefighters declared the fire “knocked down” at 5:34 p.m., she added, and began mop-up operations.
The fire came during the third day of a Red Flag Warning in Los Angeles County due to increased fire risk presented by high temperatures and low humidity levels.

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UPDATED: Ferrari driver killed, Hyundai driver badly hurt and accused of drunken driving following crash

MONTEREY PARK >> A man driving a Ferrari died and his passenger was critically injured, while the driver of a Hyundai sedan also suffered major injuries and was suspected of drunken driving following an early-morning crash at a major Monterey Park intersection, authorities said.
Fu Duan, 21, of Temple City died in the crash, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said.
0504_NWS_PSN-Z-FATAL1Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene of the crash, which took shortly after 2 a.m. at Garvey and New avenues.
A passenger in the mangled Ferrari 458 Italia was hospitalized in critical condition, Montebello police Sgt. Brent Archibald said. A description of the passenger was not available.
The driver of a Hyundai Accent that collided with the Ferrari was also hospitalized in critical condition, and suspected of drunken driving.
“We do suspect that alcohol is involved,” Archibald said.
The driver, 28-year-old Omar Placencia of Los Angeles, was expected to be booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, Lt. Eric Kim said.
He was the only person inside the Hyundai.
The cars collided in the intersection as the Ferrari was southbound on New Avenue and the Hyundai was westbound on Garvey Avenue, “The (Hyundai) collided into the driver-side of the Ferrari, fatally injuring the driver,” Archibald said.
Officers had not yet determined which vehicle had the green light, he said. The speed at which the cars were traveling when they crashed was also under investigation.
The Ferrari “appears to be new,” Archibald said, adding that it was not yet fitted with permanent license plates.
The luxury sports cars’ starting price is around $230,000
The front end of the luxury sports car was sheared of in the crash.
0504_NWS_PSN-Z-FATAL3Coroner’s officials planned to perform an autopsy on Duan and look into whether he had any substances in his system at the time of the crash.
Neighbors living near the crash scene said they’d seen the white Ferrari speeding around the area in recent days.
Erica Olson, 44, said she’s seen the sports car driving at high speeds three times in the previous week.
“It’s just been zooming around,” she said. “It was doing 70 mph on New (Avenue). It was going so fast, I couldn’t tell who was driving it.”
“I pray for the victims,” Olson added.
Neighbor Lee McClure said saw noticed the Ferrari for the first time Friday afternoon as it was speeding along Egley Avenue in front of Arlene Bitely Elementary School. “I haven’t seen it before,” he said.
The intersection remained shut down through 2 p.m. as officials took measurements, collected evidence and examined the scene of the fatal collision.

of the fatal collision.

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Crash involving fire trucks and restaurant in Monterey Park injures 15, one critically

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MONTEREY PARK >> Six firefighters and nine civilians were injured, one of them critically, Wednesday after two fire engines collided in a Monterey Park intersection, sending one of them careening into a dim sum restaurant, authorities said.
The crash, which involved a Monterey Park Fire Department fire engine and an Alhambra Fire Department ladder truck, was first reported about 3:15 p.m. at the Lu Dumpling House, at the southeast corner of Garfield and Emerson avenues, according to Monterey Park police and fire officials.
The critically injured civilians was taken to a trauma center, Monterey Park Fire Department Chief Jim Birrell said. The other eight civilians’ injuries were believed to be minor.
Three Alhambra firefighters and two Monterey Park firefighters suffered minor injuries in the crash, while another Monterey Park firefighter suffered injuries described as moderate, Monterey Park fire Capt. Matt Hallock said.
Both vehicles were rushing to the scene of a house fire toward the southern end of Monterey Park when the crash occurred, officials said. The East Los Angeles office of California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision.
The Monterey Park engine was eastbound on Emerson Avenue just prior to the crash, and the Alhambra Fire Department ladder truck was southbound on Garfield Avenue, CHP Officer Doris Peniche said.
“They both had their full lights and sirens on as they approached the intersection,” Peniche said. “They collided, causing one of the engines to crash into the building.
The critically injured man was believed to be inside the restaurant when it was struck, authorities said. A further description was not available.
It was unclear whether the other eight civilians who were hurt were inside the restaurant.
The firefighter who suffered moderate injuries had been driving the Monterey Park fire engine, Hallock said.
Firefighters involved in the crash hopped off the damaged trucks and began tending to injured, he added.
The vehicles easily weigh more than 70,000 pounds each, Hallock said.
The fire truck remained lodged halfway into the restaurant late Wednesday afternoon, and it was not immediately clear if the restaurant had sustained structural damage.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department urban search and rescue team assisted their counterparts from the Monterey Park, Alhambra, Pasadena, San Gabriel, Burbank and Glendale fire departments at the scene.
Though the involved trucks came from different agencies, they often work together under a regional assistance plan and are dispatched by the same Glendale-based center.
Hallock described Wednesday’s collision as “highly unusual” and “highly unfortunate.”
While firefighters often rush to emergency calls, “we train to drive cautiously and arrive at the scene safely,” he said.
When a fire department emergency vehicle is en route to a call with emergency lights and sirens activated, procedure is to enter the intersection at a safe speed and make sure the intersection is clear before proceeding, Birrell said.
“This is the first time in my career — 30 years — that I’ve witnessed an accident like this,” the chief said.

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UPDATED: Driver arrested after chase from Alhambra to Monterey Park

ALHAMBRA — A reckless and intoxicated driver led Alhambra police on a chase Wednesday, turning donuts in a major intersection before ultimately being arrested in Monterey park, police said.
Daniel Thach, 32, if Monterey Park was ultimately arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, felony evading of police and assault with deadly weapon following the wild chase, Alhambra police Sgt. Eddie Elizalde said.
A witness called police at 3:08 p.m. to report seeing an apparently intoxicated driver, Sgt. Jerry Johnson said. Officers spotted the car about a minute later, driving recklessly along Atlantic Boulevard near Mission Road.
The white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck sped away when the officers tried to pull it over, officials said. As officers chased the car, the driver began spinning donuts in the car in the intersection of Atlantic Boulevard and Main Street.
Police continued following the car until the driver finally pulled over at 3:18 p.m. in the 400 block of South McPherrin Avenue in Monterey Park, Johnson said.
Thach’s alleged reckless driving led to the accusation of assault with a deadly weapon, Elizalde said, though it was not clear late Wednesday exactly when during the chase the alleged assault took place, or against who.
According to county booking records, Thach was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Friday in Alhambra Superior Court.

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