Pasadena shopkeeper badly beaten by robber with declined debit card


PASADENA >> A man severely beat a Pasadena shopkeeper late Saturday after becoming enraged that his debit card was rejected, police said.
The clerk suffered injuries including a broken eye socket and a broken nose in the incident, which took place about 11:50 p.m. at a store in the 1300 block of North Lake Avenue, near Washington Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
Two men entered the store and one tried to make a purchase with a debit card, he said.
“The suspect became angry when he was informed that his debit card was not good,” the lieutenant said. “He decided to walk out with the items without paying.”
When the shopkeeper, a Los Angeles man in his 60s, confronted the robber about the theft, he began punching the clerk repeatedly in the head and face before fleeing with the items, Mercado said.
Paramedics took the injured worker to a hospital for treatment. It was not clear Sunday what was stolen in the crime.
Police described the attacker as a black man in his 20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, 160 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a blue and white hooded sweatshirt.
He was accompanied by a black man between 20 and 25 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, 160 to 170 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes, wearing a baseball cap with white lettering on it and a black seater with white lettering on it.
Both were last seen fleeing the area on foot.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Suspect charged with murder in South El Monte workplace shooting


SOUTH EL MONTE >> Prosecutor have filed a murder charge against South El Monte man accused of fatally shooting another man accused of gunning down another man outside an El Monte business Monday, officials said.
Prosecutors charged Leonel Xotoy, 31, with murder on Wednesday in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
He’s also accused of the special allegation that he personally used a gun in the crime, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Xotoy entered no plea at Wednesday’s court appearance, Robison said. An arraignment hearing was scheduled for June 1.
The defendant allegedly targeted and killed Higinio Jimenez Gonzalez, 22, of South El Monte at his workplace about 8:30 a.m. Monday, officials said.
Xotoy rode a bike to the business, Baby Blue Fashion Inc., 9643 Aplaca Street, and asked for the victim by name.
“When the victim came outside, the suspect produced a revolver and shot him multiple times,” Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Coworkers of Gonzalez tackled the gunman and held him down until deputies arrived and took him into custody, Jauch said.
“Deputies placed handcuffs on the man and recovered a firearm laying nearby that the suspect had used to shoot the victim,” Navarro Suarez said.
Jauch declined to discuss the motive in the deadly shooting, or the specific relationship between Xotoy and Gonzalez, citing the ongoing investigation and prosecution.
“I can’t share what we were told in the (suspect) interview,” Jauch said.
“They had prior contacts,” he said, but added, “there’s no indication that they were friends.”
“It was not a random act of violence. Certainly, our victim was the intended target,” the lieutenant said.
Officials have disclosed that Xotoy had three children with a woman who worked with Gonzalez. Jauch described the relationship as “on again, off again.”
Xotoy was being held without bail, records show.
Funds to benefit Gonzalez family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/23dsbt8q.

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UPDATED: Man gets 18 years for Pasadena auto body shop arson

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PASADENA >> A homeless man received an 18-year prison sentence Wednesday after admitting to arson and other charges for torching a Pasadena auto body shop in 2014, officials said.
Jesse Cole Nicholas, 31,pleaded guilty to eight felony counts and one misdemeanor in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. The charges included arson of a structure, arson of a vehicle, auto theft, two counts of burglary and four counts of vandalism and petty theft.
“He was… given two strikes and ordered to pay over $550,000 in restitution,” Derderian said.
The case stems from a Sept. 27, 2014, arson fire that destroyed a building and two cars at Alliance Auto Body, 826 S. Arroyo Parkway, causing more than $375,000 worth of damage, officials said.
In addition to the charges, Nicholas also admitted to the special allegations of using an accelerant in the structure arson, and that the damage exceeded $200,000, Robison said.
The fire, which broke out about 7:20 a.m., was immediately deemed suspicious by fire investigators.
Derderian said the fire scorched a rear building used for detailing and prep work and destroyed two cars parked inside.
Surveillance camera footage depicted a man jumping a fence and breaking into the business just before the flames erupted, officials said at the time.
Nicholas stole a car and drove away, but returned several hours later and broke into several cars before lighting one on fire, Derderian said.
Nicholas, described as a “career criminal,” was believed to be high on drugs during the unusual crime.
He was on felony probation under the terms of AB 109 at the time of the arson, records show.
Police and fire investigators found and arrested Nicholas on outstanding warrants two days after the fire at Central Park.
He was being held on the previous charges when he was positively identified through DNA evidence as the arsonist in mid-October, Derderian said.
A restitution hearing was scheduled for June 1.

PHOTO: Pasadena firefighters work at the scene of an arson fire that caused about $375,000 damage to a building and two vehicles parked at Alliance Auto Shop, 826 S. Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. (Courtesy, Pasadena Fire Department)

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Pasadena teen killed in solo-car crash near Rose Bowl


PASADENA >> A 17-year-old Pasadena boy died early Sunday in a solo-car crash near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, authorities said.
The crash took place about 2:50 a.m. as the teen was driving a 2002 BMW 330i south on West Drive, Pasadena police officials said.
“The driver lost control of the car near Seco (Street) and struck a light pole,” police said in a written statement. “The driver and sole occupant of the car sustained fatal injuries as a result of the collision.”
Pasadena Fire Department paramedics pronounced the young man dead at the scene, officials said. His identity was not released.
Officers from the Pasadena Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team are investigating the cause of the crash.
Anyone witnesses, or anyone with information, was asked to contact Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema at 626-744-7159, or the on-duty watch commander at 626-744-4620.

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Charges filed against sex offender in alleged Pasadena kidnapping

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Anthony Seth McDaniel, 38, of Compton. (Courtesy, California Department of Justice)

PASADENA >> Prosecutors filed charges against a convicted sex offender from Compton Friday for the alleged kidnapping of two young Pasadena woman managed to break free from their captor in harrowing escapes, officials said.
Anthony Seth McDaniel was charged with two counts of kidnapping with intent to commit oral copulation, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
He entered no plea, Santiago said. His arraignment hearing was postponed until May 20 in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
McDaniel is accused of abducting two 18-year-old women about 10 p.m. on April 30 from a bus at Fair Oaks Avenue and Montana Street in Pasadena, Pasadena police officials said. He offered the victims a ride and persuaded them to get into his car.
But the women realized something was amiss when McDaniel drove in the opposite direction of where he had said he would take them, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
One of the women jumped from McDaniel’s pickup truck as it entered the 210 Freeway at Mountain Street, suffering a broken angle.
After the first victims escaped, McDaniel allegedly pulled a gun, threatened the second victim not to escape as well and ordered her to perform sex acts on him, police said. But she yanked on the steering wheel of the truck, causing it to crash into another car on the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles, police said in a written statement. McDaniel then pushed her from the slowly-moving car, causing injuries to her shoulder and arm.
In addition to two counts of kidnapping with intent to commit a sex crime, prosecutors also allege the special circumstances that McDaniel caused great bodily injury during the crimes, and that he is already a convicted sex offender.
McDaniel was convicted in 2008 of assault with intent to commit a sex offense, according to California’s sex registrant database. He remained on parole and was fitted with a GPS ankle bracelet.
During Friday’s court appearance, McDaniel’s bail was set at $2.08 million, Santiago said.
If convicted as charged, McDaniel faces up to two life terms in prison.

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Parolee accused of kidnapping two Pasadena women over the weekend

PASADENA >> A parolee who kidnapping two young women in Pasadena before they escaped from him over the weekend was behind bars Thursday, police announced.
Parolee Anthony Seth McDaniel, 38, of Compton, who is fitted with a GPS tracker due to a 2008 conviction for assault, is now accused of kidnapping for the purpose of sexual assault in connection with Saturday’s abduction, which occurred about 10 p.m. at a bus stop at Fair Oaks Avenue and Montana Street, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The 18-year-old Pasadena women were waiting at a bus stop when the suspect approached in a pickup truck and offered them a ride, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
“After some coaxing by the driver, the women accepted his offer,” police said in a written statement. But soon, the women noticed the man was taking them in the opposite direction of where they wanted to go.
Realizing something was wrong, one of the women jumped from the truck as it entered the 210 Freeway from Mountain Street, Luna said. She suffered a broken ankle, but managed to escape her captor.
Following the escape of the first victim, McDaniel, “brandished a handgun, demanded sexual favors and threatened to kill the second (victim) as he drove with her,” according to the police statement.
As the truck was traveling along the southbound 110 Freeway near Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles, the remaining kidnapping victim pulled on the steering wheel of the suspect’s truck, causing the suspect to crash into another car on the freeway, officials said.
“The suspect then opened the front passenger door and pushed the victim out of the slow moving truck before speeding away,” the statement said. A good Samaritan stopped to help the woman, who suffered injuries to her shoulder and arm.
The kidnapper fled and was not found, police said.
“Pasadena Police detectives immediately began an intensive investigation and discovered the suspect was a parolee outfitted with a GPS monitoring device,” according to the statement.
The U.S. Marshal’s Pacific Southwest Fugitive Task Force arrested McDaniel Wednesday afternoon at his workplace in Carson, according to police and booking records.
McDaniel was already on parole for his 2008 conviction for assault to cause mayhem, police said. Mayhem is legally defined in California as, “(a) person who unlawfully and maliciously deprives a human being of a member of his body, or disables, disfigures, or renders it useless, or cuts or disables the tongue, or puts out an eye, or slits the nose, ear, or lip.”
Further details regarding McDaniel previous case were not available Thursday.
According to county booking records, McDaniel was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Friday in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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Doctors convicted of fraud scheme revolving around Covina hospice care facility

LOS ANGELES >> A federal jury convicted a Pasadena doctor and an Anaheim doctor Thursday of health care fraud for collecting more than $8 million in fraudulent insurance payments and kickbacks by falsely certifying that patients were terminally ill and referring them to a Covina hospice care facility, authorities said.
Boyao Huang, 43, of Pasadena and Sri Wijegoonaratna, also known as “Dr. J,” were found guilty of taking part in the fraudulent scheme between March of 2009 and July of 2013 following a two-week trial in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. DOJ spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
In concert with Covina-based California Hospice Care, the doctors falsely stated that patients were ill in order to bill Medical and Medi-Care for $8.8 million worth of hospice services that were not necessary, Mrozek said.
“CHC nurses performed ‘assessments’ to determine whether the beneficiaries were terminally ill and, regardless of the outcome, Wijegoonaratna and Huang certified that the beneficiaries were terminally ill — even though the vast majority of them were not dying,” according to Mrozek. “CHC personnel altered medical records in response to Medicare audits to make the beneficiaries appear sicker.”
Wijegoonaratna also took tens of thousands of dollars in illegal “kickback” payments from CHC in return for sending patients to the facility, prosecutors alleged.
Huang was convicted of four counts of health care fraud, while Wijegoonaratna was convicted of seven counts of health care fraud.
The doctors are due for sentencing August 15, officials said. Huang faces up to 40 years behind bars, and Wijegoonaratna faces up to 70 years in prison.
Four other defendants have already been charged and convicted in connection with the case, including Priscilla Villabroza, 70, of Placentia, “who purchased CHC in 2007 and operated the facility after being charged and incarcerated in another health care fraud scheme,” and her daughter, Mrozek said.
“This scheme is one of many that has victimized public health care programs and, in the end, the taxpayers who fund these important programs,” according to U.S. Attorney for California Central District Eileen M. Decker. “We will continue to investigate these fraudulent schemes, shut down the operations and incarcerate those responsible for stealing from the system.”

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Man attacked, robbed at Pasadena ATM


PASADENA >> Police are seeking an attacker who punched and robbed a man as he withdrew cash from a Pasadena ATM Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
A 30-year-old Pasadena man was using the ATM machine at the bank branch, 1739 E. Colorado Blvd., when the crime occurred, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said. The robber struck once the machine dispensed his money.
“(He) heard a noise and was punched in the face by the suspect,” Goodman said.
The victim fell to the ground, and the robber snatched $300 from the man’s hand and fled, the lieutenant said. He was last seen running west down Colorado Boulevard.
Officers searched the area but did not find the robber.
Goodman said the victim did not wish to be taken to a hospital.
Police described the robber as white or Latino man, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, of medium build, with brown hair. He wore a gray hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: Monrovia woman faces federal case in alleged pepper-spray attack on postal carrier in Pasadena


PASADENA >> Postal inspectors arrested a Monrovia woman Wednesday on suspicion of chasing down and pepper-spraying a mail carrier while screaming racial slurs in an incident of road rage in Pasadena two weeks ago, officials said.
Ruby Guerrero Valenzuela, 64, was arrested on suspicion of assault on a U.S. Postal Service employee in connection with the bizarre attack, reported about 10:40 a.m. on April 20 in the 1000 block of North Lake Avenue, according to Pasadena police and U.S. Department of Justice officials.
Valenzuela became enraged after the 55-year-old postal worker, who was driving a mail truck, accidentally cut her off in traffic in the area of Claremont Street and Mar Vista Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said at the time.
“Valenzuela shouted obscenities and followed the victim to her next stop (on Lake Avenue),” U.S. DOJ spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“Valenzuela ran up the victim, who had walked the entrance of building on Lake Avenue,” Mrozek continued. “According to witnesses, Valenzuela screamed additional obscenities and racial epithets at the victim before spraying the victim in the face with pepper spray, which caused the victim to suffer severe pain and blurred vision.”
The postal carrier declined to be taken to a hospital, Luna said.
Despite the racial slurs allegedly uttered by Valenzuela, both the suspect and victim are Latina, police said.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service joined Pasadena police in the investigation, as did Monrovia police, once the suspect was identified as a Monrovia resident.
Federal officials arrested Valenzuela on Wednesday morning, and she made her initial appearance in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon, Mrozek said.
She entered no plea and was released after posting a $10,000 bond, Mrozek said. She was scheduled to return to court for an arraignment hearing on May 31.“The evidence in this case indicates that a postal carrier carrying out her duties was the victim of an unwarranted attack,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of California’s Central District said. “All federal employees should be able to carry out their duties without fear of attacks based on the performance of those duties.”
If convicted as charged, Valenzuela faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

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Two young Pasadena women escape armed kidnapper

PASADENA >> Two young Pasadena women escaped from an armed kidnapper late Saturday, including one who broke her ankle leaping from his truck as it entered the 210 Freeway, authorities said.
The would-be kidnapper remained at-large following the attempted abduction, which took place about 10:20 p.m. at Fair Oaks Avenue and Montana Street, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
The suspect approached the two victims, both young Pasadena women in their late-teens, and offered them a ride across town, the lieutenant said. The victim agreed and got into his pickup truck.
“They realized, as they went in the opposite direction of where they wanted to go, he was not going to take them to their destination,” Mercado said.
One of the young women, who was riding as a front passenger, jumped from the car as it entered the 210 Freeway from Mountain Avenue to escape her captor, he said. She suffered an apparent broken ankle.
The kidnapper continued driving with the second victim still in his truck, the lieutenant said. “He pulled a gun out and told her not to do the same thing.”
But after the truck reached Los Angeles, the second victim managed to escape the gunman as well and flee. She was taken to a hospital for examination after complaining of pain to her body, but it was not clear exactly how she was injured.
Police described the kidnapper as a black man in his 20s, clean-shaven, of medium complexion. He drove a light-colored pickup truck with a rear seat and was armed with a black, semi-automatic handgun.
It was not clear Sunday what the kidnappers ultimate intentions were, had his victims not escaped.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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