Pasadena police plan Friday night checkpoint

PASADENA >> Police plan to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a planned checkpoint late Friday in Pasadena.
The checkpoint will take place from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Pasadena police officials said in a written statement.
Over the past three years, Pasadena police have investigated 73 DUI-related crashes, which resulted in four deaths and 108 injuries, police said.
“Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized DUI checkpoints and proactive DUI patrols are conducted routinely,” according to the statement.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.

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Pasadena man accused of pointing laser at police helicopter


PASADENA >> Police arrested a Pasadena man Wednesday after they said he repeatedly shined a laser at a police helicopter, authorities said.
Brian Candido, 20, was booked on suspicion of pointing a laser at an aircraft shortly after 7 p.m., Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
A Pasadena police helicopter pilot and observer reported the airship was struck repeatedly by a laser emitted from the area of Oak Avenue and Del Mar Boulevard, the lieutenant said. The officers in the helicopter directed officers on the ground to the source of the beam.
Police found and arrested Candido in the 100 block of South Oak Avenue, Luna said. A laser was found nearby.
Under California law, the offense of shining a laser at an aircraft can be punished as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

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Masked gunman robs Pasadena Del Taco


PASADENA >> A masked man robbed a Pasadena fast food worker at gunpoint Wednesday afternoon as she left the store to deposit the business’ earnings, police said.
The heist unfolded about 4:30 p.m. when a 26-year-old employee of Del Taco, 3566 E. Foothill Blvd., left the store with a deposit envelope filled with cash in order to make the a bank deposit, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
“The employee entered her car with a cash deposit in-hand, at which point the suspect approached her vehicle and demanded the loss at gunpoint,” Luna said.
Police said the victim handed over the deposit bag, which contained an undisclosed amount of money.
He was last seen fleeing the area on a motorcycle.
The robber wore a mask and all-dark clothing, Luna said. He was about 5 feet 10 inches tall and 200 pounds.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man’s sentence overturned in Pasadena marijuana deal-turned shotgun slaying

LOS ANGELES >> A state appeals court panel on Tuesday overturned a man’s life prison sentence without the possibility of parole for a marijuana deal that turned violent and left a 21-year-old man dead in Pasadena in 2013.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal found there was insufficient evidence against John Michael Piepoli Jr. to support the jury’s finding of a special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery for the Jan. 15, 2013, shotgun murder of 21-year-old Zane Goldstein of Pasadena.
The appellate court panel ordered the case against Piepoli to be sent back to the trial court for re-sentencing, but it was not immediately clear what sentence he would now face.
Piepoli is one of five men convicted of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Goldstein, according to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich. He was convicted of murder in November of 2014, and the jury found true the special, sentence-enhancing allegation that the murder was committed during the coarse of a robbery.
The shotgun slaying occurred after the killers lured Goldstein and his brother to Holliston Avenue in Pasadena with a text message stating they wanted to buy marijuana from the brothers, according to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich.
Peter Parra, 39, of Pasadena, Kevin Jessie Cabrera, 29, of North Hollywood, and Raymond Frank Conchas, 27, of Covina were each convicted in February of 2015 of first-degree murder, attempted robbery and conspiracy. The jury also found true the special circumstance of murder during a robbery, as well as the allegations that a shotgun was used in the crime and that the crime was gang-related.
Parra, Cabrera and Conchas each received sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus another 25 years to life in state prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Ricardo Santiago said at the time. Their appeals are still pending.
The Goldstein brother’s fled in their car when the suspect’s pulled a shotgun on them during their meeting, but the killers chased them and caught up with them nearby at Maple Avenue and Chester Street. Parra fired through the windshield of the Goldstein brothers’ car, mortally wounding Zane Goldstein, who died two days later.
A fifth defendant, 21-year-old Ward Lacey IV of Pasadena,pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the case in July of 2015 and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
In their 28-page ruling, the justices found that Piepoli “did not plan the criminal enterprise that led to Zane’s death,” had no role in supplying any firearms and was not present at the scene of the attempted robbery or the Jan. 15, 2013, shooting of Zane Goldstein, who died two days later.
“Under the circumstances here, there was insufficient evidence as a matter of law that appellant was a major participant in the robbery,” the justices wrote.
Piepoli repeatedly told a police detective that he thought the plan was merely to scare Goldstein into turning over his marijuana and he wasn’t aware that Goldstein had been shot until he was informed the next morning by police, according to the ruling.
The justices, however, rejected the defense’s contention that Piepoli’s statements to police should have been excluded from his trial.
A fifth man, Ward Lacey IV, was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
During Piepoli’s trial, Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich acknowledged that Piepoli was not at the crime scene, but told jurors that he was “equally guilty.”
Piepoli’s trial attorney, William Jacobson, countered that it was “a case that has nothing to do with robbery.”
The defense lawyer told jurors in his closing argument that it was “simply an attempted assassination” stemming from Goldstein’s alleged failure to pay a gang “taxes” for selling marijuana in its territory. He argued that his client was “never part of an agreement to commit a murder” and “never knew what the actual conspiracy was here.”
— By Brian Day and City News Service

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Car struck by bullets in Pasadena shooting


PASADENA >> Police investigating reports of gunfire in a residential neighborhood in Pasadena early Sunday found a car that had been struck by bullets, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 12:05 a.m. in the 600 block of Palisade Street, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
Officers found a parked car with bullet holes in it, but no injured people, he said.
No witnesses to the shooting came forward, and no suspect description was available.

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UPDATED: Elderly woman found dead in burning Pasadena home

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PASADENA >> An elderly woman died in a house fire in Pasadena Friday morning despite a neighbor’s “heroic” efforts to rescue her, authorities said.
Neighbors called 911 at about 8 a.m. after noticing smoke coming from the two-story home in the 300 block of Redwood Drive, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
A neighbor tried to rescue the trapped woman, but was driven back by the intense house fire. The man, who is in his 40s, suffered apparently minor burns from the fire but declined to be taken to a hospital.
Firefighters arrived to find flames rising from the home, officials said. Neighbors told firefighters that an elderly woman who lived alone at the home had been heard yelling for help from within, officials said.
“A neighbor who was walking by, heard a female screaming inside and saw light smoke coming from the rear of the structure,” Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington said in a written statement. “After recognizing there was a fire, the neighbor heroically made entry through the front door and attempted to pull the elderly resident to safety.
“He was met with tremendous heat and a wall of fire in the room she was lying in. The victim was pulled out of the fire room, but not before the neighbor sustained minor burn injuries,” Washington said.
Pushed back by the flames, the man called out for help from other members of his family, who rushed to try to help as well.
“Despite being driven out of the building by smoke and heat, and he made a second heroic attempt to rescue the victim by running inside again, placing himself in even greater peril,” according to Washington. “Even though the neighbor made great effort in attempting to rescue the victim, the fast moving fire quickly consumed both the victim and interior of the structure.”
Firefighters found the woman in the home as they worked to extinguish the flames, Derderian said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Los Angeles County coroner’s investigators had yet to identify the victim Saturday. The identification process was expected to be delayed due to the charred condition of the body, officials said.
But the elderly woman believed to be the home’s lone resident remained unaccounted for Friday afternoon.
Fire investigators identified multiple possible causes of the fire, but had yet to isolate the specific cause.
Overloaded wiring, excessive use of extension cords and power strips, an electric heater, and electric blanket, candles and smoking materials were all discovered in the roo
Investigation into the fire cause identified overloaded wiring, excessive use of extension cords and power strips, a portable heater, electric blanket, candles and smoking materials in the room of origin, fire officials said.
“Due to potential failures of so many items, the cause has yet to be determined,” Washington said. “There is no indication of foul play.”
The bottom floor of the two-story home is partially underground, which contributed to “very challenging” and “very stubborn” fire, Derderian said. Firefighters declared the fire “knocked down” about 20 minutes after it was reported.
Firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading to any other nearby homes or vegetation.
Derderian said the involved home sustained, “a significant loss, if not a total loss.”
The deadly fire remains under investigation by a newly-formed multi-agency arson task force comprised of investigators from Pasadena and other area fire departments.

pasfire3 Photos courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department

— Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

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Pasadena man killed in Angeles Crest Highway head-on collision identified

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Authorities have identified a 22-year-old Pasadena man who died in a head-on collision between his Honda Civic and a pickup truck on a winding forest road late Thursday.
Genaro Pliego died following the crash, which took place about 8:45 p.m. at mile marker 27.38 of Angeles Crest Highway, in the Angeles National Forest north of La Canada Flintridge, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
He was at the wheel of a 1998 Honda Civic that was heading south, rounding a turn, when the car crossed into an opposing traffic lane and struck a Ford F-550 pickup truck head-on, California Highway Patrol Officer J. Saunders said in a written statement.
Paramedics pronounced Pliego dead at the scene, officials said. The driver of the pickup truck suffered injuries described as minor.
An autopsy determined he dead from “traumatic injuries,” and the death was ruled accident, according to coroner’s records.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation by the CHP’s Altadena-area office.

PHOTO by Rick McClure

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Shots fired in Pasadena


PASADENA >> Police found no victims or suspects after gunfire erupted in a Pasadena neighborhood early Saturday morning, officials said.
Officers received reports about 12:53 a.m. of gunshots heard in the area of Mountain Street and El Molino Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
“A systematic search revealed ballistic evidence in the 800 block of North Madison Avenue,” he said.
But no gunshot victims were found at the scene, and none turned up at area hospitals.
No eye witnesses could be found, and no description of the shooter was available.

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Teenage would-be Pasadena pharmacy robbers foiled by slang


PASADENA >> Police arrested two teenage would-be robbery after they tried to steal cough syrup from two Pasadena pharmacies on Wednesday, but were foiled when the employees they tried to rob could no understand the slang they used, officials said.
The suspects, a 15-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy, both from Altadena, were arrested as they tried to flee the scene of the failed robberies on a Pasadena Transit bus, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
Police first received a report about 11:34 a.m. that a teen had just tried, but failed, to commit a knifepoint robbery at a pharmacy in the 900 block of East Green Street , the lieutenant said.
The older boy entered the store, brandished a knife and demanded “the lean,” Luna said.
The teen was apparently demanding codeine-based cough syrup, but using a slang term the employee did not understand.
“When the employee did not understand what he was asking for, he left the store, slashing a paper sign as he left,” Luna said. The 14-year-old boy waited outside the store during the attempted robbery.
The young would-be robber and his accomplice then went across the street and tried the same thing at another pharmacy, police said.
The older boy brandished a knife as he again demanded, “the lean,” and advanced on employees, Luna said. An employee told the knife-wielding youngster that he did not understand what he was asking for, but to take whatever he wanted. Both teens fled from the store empty-handed.
A witness told arriving officers that the boys had gotten on a Pasadena Transit bus, Luna said. Police soon stopped the bus and arrested the two boys without a struggle. The knife believed to have been used in the crime was recovered.

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El Monte man killed in Pasadena collision identified


PASADENA >> Coroner’s officials on Saturday released the identity of a 63-year-old El Monte man who died in a crash between his compact car and a big rig in Old Pasadena early Thursday.
Epigmenio Miranda of El Monte died at a hospital shortly after Thursday’s 4:50 a.m. crash at Colorado Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said. Police initially described Miranda as 58 years old.
He was driving a 2008 Toyota Prius north on Pasadena Avenue when the car collided in an intersection with a big rig traveling east on Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said.
After freeing Miranda from the wreckage, paramedics took him to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Hettema said. He succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
It was believed one of the two vehicles may have ran through a red light prior to the collision, but investigators were yet to determine which one, according to the lieutenant. Police were seeking witnesses to the early-morning crash.
The truck driver suffered no injuries.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241.

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