Monterey Park man accused of Pasadena burglaries, brick attack

PASADENA >> Police arrested a Monterey Park man Thursday after he broke into several Pasadena businesses and cars, then attacked a business owner who confronted him with a brick, officials said.
Brian Anthony Wheeler, 45, was booked on suspicion of burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and making criminal threats following the incident, which unfolded about 6:25 a.m. in the 1000 block of South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
A business proprietor caught Wheeler leaving his businesses, where a window had been smashed out with a brick, police said. Wheeler had stolen a can of beer.
Wheeler attacked the business owner with the brick, leaving him with redness to his face but no serious injuries, Luna said.
The attacker fled from the area, trying unsuccessfully to steal a car.
Witnesses pointed responding police officers in the direction where the fleeing suspect had jumped a fence onto Marengo Avenue.
Officers found Wheeler hiding in the community laundry room of a nearby apartment complex, Luna said.
Investigators soon found other windows allegedly smashed by Wheeler.
“Prior to this incident, the suspect attempted to enter two adjacent business and (several) cars,” Luna said.
Officials suspected Wheeler was under the influence of some sort of narcotic, he added.
According to county booking records, Wheeler was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

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Fireball streaks across SoCal sky

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA >> A fireball seen streaking slowly across the northern sky before breaking into two pieces and vanishing late Wednesday left residents throughout Southern California and beyond wondering what they had just witnessed.
The unidentified object was seen, and in some cases, video-recorded, in the Southland skies shortly after 9:30 p.m.
Reports of the strange celestial activity flooded into Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies, officials said.
The National Weather Service in Reno reported witness sighting in their jurisdiction.
Astronomer Phil Plait took to Twitter to share his thoughts. He said the object was also reported in Utah and Colorado.
“#Meteor over western US almost definitely human space debris like a rocket booster or the like. Slow moving and broke apart,” tweeted the scientist, known as “The Bad Astronomer.”
At the sheriff’s Industry Station, in the central San Gabriel Valley, deputies received numerous calls from people who believed they’d just witnesses an aircraft breaking apart mid-air.
“Our helicopter crew and a pair of deputies on patrol reported they actually witnessed it also and it appeared to be a meteorite shower breaking up in the atmosphere,” sheriff’s Lt. John Gannon said in an email. “It must have been quite a show for a moment, because it was very noticeable and bright within the area of the valley between 605 and 57, 60 and 210 (freeways).”
There was no indication an aircraft had crashed, Gannon said.
It appears to have been just a natural phenomenon,” the lieutenant said. “We are in contact with LAX and local aviation officials and verifying no plane is unaccounted for, just to be sure.”

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Report: Alleged Arcadia-based ‘Gemcoin’ scam garnered more than $164 million in bogus investments


A massive Arcadia-based suspected pyramid scheme revolving around a fraudulent, precious stone-backed digital currency called “Gemcoin” has grown five-fold in scope since federal authorities filed their allegations last year, now encompassing $164 in alleged fraud, according to court documents.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a federal lawsuit in October alleging Steven Chen and his company, U.S. Fine Investment Arts Inc., and their affiliates promised investors a sound investment in Gemcoin, which USFIA claimed was a burgeoning digital currency backed by precious gem reserves and amber mines. But officials, and investors, allege the claims were bogus, and the so-called investment amounted to nothing more than a “worldwide pyramid scheme” of epic proportions targeting primarily Chinese investors.
Investigators initially linked Gemcoin to $32 million in fraudulent investments. Authorities seized USFIA’s assets and the court appointed a receiver, Thomas Seaman, to oversee the seized assets.
“To date, the accounting indicates the Receivership Entities received funds from external sources in the approximate amount of $164 million,” Seaman wrote in his 3rd report, filed July 7 in federal court. “The accounting is ongoing and the Receiver’s goal for completion is September 30, 2016,” he continued. The amount will likely increase as the accounting process continues, he added.
Furthermore, the report found no source of income, other than the alleged scheme.

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Man guilty of murder for drowning death of baby daughter in Pasadena

PASADENA >> A jury convicted a man of murder and child abuse Wednesday for drowning his 1-year-old daughter five years ago in Pasadena, authorities said.
The jury deliberated for one day before finding Marquise Jackson, 26, of Lancaster guilty of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death in connection with the May 20, 2011, drowning of Mo’Nayjah Jackson according to Pasadena police and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
“According to the evidence presented at trial, Jackson drowned baby Mo’Nayjah Jackson at the apartment of the child’s mother, in the 100 block of West Del Mar Boulevard in Pasadena while the mother was at work,” district attorney’s office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said in a written statement.
Shortly after his arrest, Jackson admitted the killing, Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra said at the time. ”He (said he) wanted to be alleviated of his responsibilities of being a father,” she said.
Jackson later denied the charges and unsuccessfully argued he was mentally incompetent to stand trial for the crime.
Jackson faces 25 years to life in state prison when he returns to the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court on Aug. 12.

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Man and woman beaten, robbed in Pasadena

PASADENA >> A group of attackers beat and robbed a man and woman in a residential neighborhood in Pasadena late Tuesday, officials said.
The crime took place about 10:15 p.m. along Fair Oaks Avenue, near Washington Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said.
A 29-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, both described as transient, were walking down the street when two women pulled up in a small, green or gray SUV.
The victims became involved in an argument with the to women, Hettema said. Two men then emerged from the nearby apartments and also confronted the two victims.
“All four suspects began assaulting the victims with their hands,” the lieutenant said.
The two victims dropped their cell phones, as well as a small red purse, during the struggle, he said. The robbers snatched up the victim’s property and fled.
The victim declined to be taken to a hospital, he said.
Detailed suspect descriptions were not available.

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Man attacked, robbed in Pasadena

PASADENA >> Police are seeking a man who attacked and robbed another man in a Pasadena neighborhood early Friday.
The crime took place about 9:20 a.m. as the victim, an 18-year-old Pasadena man, was getting into his car in the 1300 block of N. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
“He was approached from behind by the suspect,” he said.
“The suspect pushed a hard object into his back,” Goodman said. The victim did not get a look at the object.
“The suspect demanded money and then rifled through the victim’s pockets,” the lieutenant said.
After obtaining about $600 in cash, the robber tripped the man, then kicked him in the upper body once he fell to the ground before fleeing, Goodman said. The robber was last seen running south along Raymond Avenue.
Goodman said the victim declined to be taken to a hospital for treatment.
Police described the robber as a black man, about 5 feet 2 inches tall and 140 pounds, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants and black tennis shoes.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241.

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Two young men killed in Pasadena multi-vehicle wreck


PASADENA >> A violent five-vehicle wreck on the 210 Freeway in Pasadena initially thought to have killed one person Friday afternoon left two Northern California men dead, officials said Saturday.
Authorities initially pronounced Tristan Lee Witte, 20, of San Rafael dead at the scene immediately following the 4:50 p.m. crash on the eastbound 210 Freeway near Sierra Madre Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Marion Sainz said. He was the driver of a 2004 Buick sedan that was mangled into an unrecognizable mass of metal after being crushed between two trucks, officials said.
But firefighters continued working to access what had been the passenger compartment of the Buick, ultimately discovering the body of a passenger several hours later, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Palmer described the passenger as a 20-year-old Novato man. Coroner’s officials were yet to identify the passenger Saturday, Sainz said.
The chain-reaction collision was initiated when a 2007 Nissan box truck collided with 2012 Jeep Cherokee in the carpool lane, Officer T. Palmer of the California Highway Patrol’s Altadena area office said in a written statement.
“The Jeep was pushed into a red Buick, driven by (Witte),” Palmer said. “The box truck continued in an easterly direction, where it collided with a Chevy GMC (pickup truck).”
“This impact caused the Buick to fold in half, causing fatal injuries to the driver and passenger,” Palmer said.
The Chevy pickup rolled onto its side in the fast lane and was broad-sided by a 2015 Hyundai sedan, he said.
The four drivers of the involved vehicles other than the Buick were treated for minor injuries, officials said. All had been treated at local hospitals and released by Saturday morning.
“At this time, DUI is not a factor in this collision,” Palmer said.
The crash briefly prompted the closure of all eastbound lanes of the 210 Freeway. A Sig Alert remained in affect for some lanes through nearly 11 p.m., causing a backup for miles.
The cause of the deadly crash remained under investigation.
Any witnesses can reach the CHP’s Altadena area office at 626-296-8100.

PHOTO courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department.

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UPDATED: Fatal crash reported on 210 Freeway in Pasadena

PASADENA >> One person died and two others suffered injuries in a multi-car crash that shut down the eastbound 210 Freeway in Pasadena Friday afternoon, officials said.
The crash, which involved at least five vehicles, was first reported at 4:57 p.m. on the eastbound 210 Freeway, just west of Sierra Madre Boulevard, according to California Highway Patrol and Pasadena Fire Department officials.
One person was pronounced dead at the scene, CHP Officer Jennifer Bond said. No description was available.
The vehicle in which the person was traveling was “crushed” an unrecognizable, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Two other victims were treated for minor injuries suffered in the crash, she said.
Another couple of people were treated by paramedics for issues such as heat exhaustion and chest pain while stuck in traffic behind the crash scene, Derderian added.
Authorities initially shut down all eastbound lanes of the freeway to allow ambulances to access the scene, Bond said.
“(Eastbound) traffic was shut down completely for probably half approximately half and hour,”Derderian said.
Officials gradually reopened lanes through the afternoon, causing a major backup during the rush-hour commute.
Traffic on the Metro Gold Line tracks was reduced to one track as officials inspected the track closest to the crash for damage or debris. Buses were used to help passenger travel between the Lake and Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line Stations, according to Metro.
The crash was being investigated by the CHP’s Altadena area office. Anyone with information can reach the office at 626-296-8100.

PHOTO courtesy of L.A. Metro

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Woman robbed at gunpoint in front of her East Pasadena home

EAST PASADENA >> A woman arrived home this week in East Pasadena to find to be confronted by two gunman who demanded her valuables, officials said.
The crime took place about 12:25 a.m. Tuesday in front of a home in the 100 block of Madre Street in the unincorporated county area, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tom McNeal said.
A woman in her 30s pulled in to her driveway, the lieutenant said. Before she got out of her car, two men approached her from both the driver-side and passenger-side of her car.
Both men brandished handguns and demanded her valuables, McNeal said. The woman handed her wallet and cell phone through a partially opened car window and the suspect fled.
The robbers wore hooded sweat shirts and dark clothing, he said. A detailed description was not available.
They got into a small, green, four-door compact car, which sped north on Madre Street, then got onto the eastbound 210 Freeway, McNeal said. Deputies searched the area, but did not find the robbers.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Temple Station at 626-448-9861. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Police disarm, arrest knife-wielding man in Pasadena

PASADENA >> Police used a Taser to disarm and arrest a homeless burglary suspect believed to be high on drugs who confronted officers with a knife in each hand early Saturday, officials said.
Charles Romero, 50, was ultimately booked on suspicion of burglary and assault on police officers, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
The incident began about 2:30 a.m. after officers received a report of a man in the street armed with a knife in the 100 block of West Dayton Street, the lieutenant said.
Officers encountered Romero, a homeless man known to frequent Pasadena, “with a kitchen knife in each hand.”
Romero appeared “agitated” and was “yelling incoherently,” but initially complied with police command to drop the knives and back away from the weapons, Goodman said.
The suddenly, Romero sprints back to the knives, picked them up and began advancing on officers, Goodman said.
“The suspect walked parallel to the officers while holding both knives over his head in a threatening manner,” he said.
Police used a Taser on the man, causing him to again drop the knives. Officer then took Romero into custody without a further struggle.
Officials soon learned that Romero had stolen the two kitchen knives during a break-in at a nearby apartment, Goodman said. Based on his behavior, police suspected Romero was under the influence of a stimulant, such as methamphetamine.
Goodman commended the judgement and restraint of the officers.
“Officers involved used exceptional decision making skills, combined with sound tactics, which clearly prevented as lethal encounter,” he said.

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