PICO RIVERA >> A judge Friday sentenced three of four people linked to a massive real estate loan modification scheme in Pico Rivera victimizing more than 500 Spanish-speaking homeowners already in financial distress, authorities said.
The years-long investigation into the company “Safe Haven,” also known as, “Your Dreams Come True,” has resulted in four felony convictions and the disbarment of an attorney, Sgt. Dana McCants of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau said in a written statement. Another suspect in the case remains a fugitive.
The investigation began in September of 2009 in response to customer complaints about the company, located on Slauson Avenue, officials said. Many of the victims sought out the fraudulent company for help after hearing advertisements on Christian Spanish radio.
“Safe Haven posed as a loan modification and foreclosure consultant company, but the entire premiss of their business was a scam,” McCants said.
“The Real Estate Team responded to the Safe Haven business office in Pico Rivera and served search warrants which led to the seizure of thousands of fraudulent documents and paperwork,” McCants said. “All the homes were being foreclosed on and all of the victims money had been taken (or) misused by the suspects.”
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office ultimately filed fraud charges against five suspects in May of 2010, officials said.
Safe Haven Executive Director, who previously denied any wrongdoing, accepted a plea deal in the case in September, along with co-defendants Alex Canjura, Erika Perez and Oswaldo Flores, McCants said. Canjura received a 5-year prison sentence immediately following his plea.
Jurado, Perez and Flores, who have been free on bail, were sentenced Friday.
Jurado and Canjura each received a 5-year-prison sentenced, McCants said. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge sentenced Perez and Flores to 16 months in county jail each.
The convicts were also ordered to pay $4.5 million in restitution.
Prior the filing of criminal charges, Jurado denied any wrongdoing, saying the company was merely, “behind on the files.”
A fifth suspect in the fraud case, Candy Cabrera, fled from Canada upon learning she was to be extradited back to California to face charges, McCants said. She is believed to be hiding out in Nicaragua.
An attorney involved with the bogus loan modification company, Tanmay Mistray, was disbarred after being accused of 13 counts of professional misconduct, McCants added.
— Staff Writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.
PICO RIVERA >> Deputies subdued and arrested a psychologically troubled man following a six-hour standoff early Saturday after he shot passers-by with a crossbow in Pico Rivera, authorities said.
A SWAT team ultimately arrested Armando Marron, 48, of Pico Rivera on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and drug possession, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva said.
Deputies first responded about 10:45 p.m. Friday to reports of an assault in the 8500 block of Hasty Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Chapman said.
They encountered a 23-year-old Pico Rivera man who had been shot in the leg with a crossbow, Villanueva said. The victim was accompanied by a second young man who was not injured.
Marron also allegedly fired his crossbow at another nearby home with people gathered in the front yard, the lieutenant said. No one in the yard was struck.
No argument or exchange of words preceded the seemingly unprovoked attack, sheriff’s officials said. The wounded man and his companion were merely passing by when the attack occurred. At least one of the young men was riding a skateboard.
Paramedics treated the wounded man at the scene and removed the arrow from his leg, Chapman said. He declined to be taken to a hospital.
Deputies learned the attacker was inside his nearby home, Chapman said. Deputies ordered the occupants out of the house.
Two relatives of the suspect emerged from the home and told deputies that Marron was still inside, Chapman said. The relatives also told officials that the man had a history of psychological problems, off his medication and potentially violent.
A SWAT team was summoned to take over the situation, and a stand-off ensued for about six hours, officials said.
Deputies fired tear gas into the home about 5 a.m., and the suspect ultimately came out, Chapman said. But he continued refusing to surrender.
Officials used a less-lethal projectile and a K-9 to subdue the man, who was taken to a hospital for treatment prior to booking, Chapman said.
Deputies recovered a crossbow, arrows and a small amount of a substance believed to be methamphetamine from the suspect’s home, Chapman said.
Deputies have had more than a dozen past encounters with Marron in connection with calls such as disturbances, officials said.
According to county booking records, Marron was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Downey Superior Court.
PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Enforcement Bureau.
PICO RIVERA >> A man suffered a graze wound to his chin in a shooting at a Beverly Boulevard gas station early Thursday, authorities said.
The injured man declined to be treated by paramedics for the superficial injury, which he suffered in a shooting about 2:15 a.m. outside a gas station at Beverly and Rosemead boulevards, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jacqueline Sanchez said. He was believed to have been struck by shrapnel or a ricocheted bullet and not a direct hit.
Two men in their 20s or 30s were talking in the parking when a car described as possibly a Nissan approached, the sergeant said.
A passenger got out of the car and asked the men where they were “from,” referring to gang affiliation, she said.
The victims responded that they were not in a gang, and the former passenger opened fire with four shots from a handgun.
Detailed descriptions of the shooter and the getaway driver were not available Friday.
PICO RIVERA >> Families are invited the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station Saturday as officials once again host their “Haunted Jail” and open house.
The free event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the station, 6631 Passons Blvd., sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
A “scary and fun-filled day” is in store for guests, complete with lots of decorations along with treats and goodies, according to the statement.
Guests are encouraged to support the station’s holiday food drive by bringing canned goods and other non-perishable items to donate.
The event is being hosted in conjunction with the Pico Rivera Parks and Recreation.
For more information, contact the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station at 562-949-2421.
WHITTIER >> Prosecutors filed murder charges Friday against two alleged Pico Rivera gang members accused of fatally shooting a man as he took out the garbage at his Whittier home in broad daylight.
Jonathan Rojas, 34, died at a hospital following the Aug. 30 shooting at Washington Avenue and La Cuarta street, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County coroner’s officials.
Anthony Michel Delci, 30, and Victor Marcus Arzate, 24, pleaded not guilty Friday in Bellflower Superior Court, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Police described both suspects as members of the Pico Nuevo street gang.
Delci, Arzate and a teenager who has not been charged in the case drove past Rojas’ home about 12:10 p.m., investigators said. They stopped in front of a front of a group of people on the porch.
“Delci and Arzate yelled out their gang affiliation, flashed some gang signs and then drove off,” according to the Whittier police department statement.
“Delci and Arzate circled around and came back to the residence on Washington Avenue, Delci stopped his vehicle in front of the victim’s address and Arzate exited the vehicle and approached Rojas who was taking out the trash,” the statement said.
Arzate asked Rojas what gang he belong to, and Rojas responded he was not in a gang, the police statement said. “Arzate then fired a .357 revolver at Rojas, striking him several times.”
The two suspects and the teen then all fled in Delci’s Honda CRV SUV, officials said.
After identifying Delci’s SUV as the one used in the shooting, Delci was arrested later that night, police said. He had the alleged murder weapon with him. Arzate was arrested Sept. 5.
Prior to being charged with murder Friday, Delci was being held on suspicion of illegal gun possession, and Arzate was being held in connection with an alleged robbery, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Brock Lunsford said. Arzate has also since been charged with illegal gun possession.
Prosecutors also allege the slaying was gang-related, that a firearm was used in the killing and that Delci personally used a gun in the crime.
If convicted as charged, Delci and Arzate could each face more than 50 years to life in state prison. They were scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court Oct. 14 for a preliminary hearing setting. Bail has been set at more than $2 million each.
EL MONTE >> A Pico Rivera man who led police on a chase through the streets of El Monte last month has been sentenced to three years in state prison, officials said Wednesday.
Parolee Gregory Patrick Flexen, 22, received the sentence Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court after pleading “no contest” to a felony charge of evading police with willful disregard for public safety, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
El Monte police arrested Flexen Sept. 8 after he led police on a pursuit during which he drove on the wrong side of the road, and at times, at excessive speeds, officials said.
He also garnered a crowd of onlookers as he drove around city streets at slow speed, flashing hand gestures that appeared to be gang signs.
The chase began at Ranchito Street and Cypress Avenue, EL Monte police Sgt. Eric Sanchez said at the time. Flexen continued driving after his tires were punctured by police spike strips, but ultimately pulled over and surrendered at Peck Road and Elliot Avenue.
PICO RIVERA >> Bullets ripped through a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant after an argument escalated into gunfire in front of the children’s pizza parlor late Sunday, officials said.
Though there were “quite a few” people at the restaurant, 6005 Rosemead Boulevard, when the 8 p.m. shooting occurred, no one inside was struck, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Meyer said.
“At least 13 rounds were fired,” the lieutenant said. Front windows of the restaurant were shattered by the gunfire.
Initial investigation indicated two men got into an argument in front of the restaurant just before the shots rang out, Meyer said. “Gunfire erupted between the two parties involved.”
It was unclear if either of the two was struck, he said. No shooting victims were found in the area, or at local emergency rooms.
A detailed description of the two men seen arguing prior to the shooting was not available.
Anyone with information can contact the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station at 562-949-2421. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PICO RIVERA >> Deputies arrested one person on suspicion of drunken driving during a checkpoint late Friday, authorities said.
The checkpoint was held from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday on eastbound Whittier Boulevard, just west of Paramount Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
In addition to the one DUI arrest, deputies cited eight unlicensed drivers and four people driving on suspended or revoked licenses, officials said.
Four cars were impounded for 30 days, while three cars were impounded for one day and eight more were released to licensed drivers at the checkpoint.
PICO RIVERA >> Sheriff’s deputies in Pico Rivera will hold a checkpoint Friday to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses, authorities said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within Pico Rivera, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
In Los Angeles County over the past three years, DUI-related crashes have claimed 49 lives and left 1,113 people injured, officials said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
PICO RIVERA >> A teenage boy previously sought as a “person of interest” in his father’s fatal stabbing in Pico Rivera was arrested on suspicion of murder Sunday, along with a second suspect, authorities said.
Detectives sought Sergio Anthony Gutierrez, 17, of Pico Rivera since his 50-year-old father was found fatally stabbed about 1:30 a.m. Saturday at the family home in the 3700 block of Oaklawn Lane, Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Coroner’s officials have not yet released the name of the slain father, however neighbors said he was also named Sergio Gutierrez.
The teenage Gutierrez was detained Sunday morning, along with Jesus Rafael Adame, 18, by Montebello police, according to sheriff’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records. Adame’s city of residence was not available.
After questioning the teen and Adame, detectives arrested them both on suspicion of murder about noon, Sgt. Sean Geske of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station said.
The investigation was ongoing, and detectives continued seeking possible additional suspects, Geske said.
Handling detectives could not be reached for comment Sunday, and no further details regarding the arrests were available.
Deputies went to the house inside a gated community after a woman described as the suspect’s mother and victim’s wife called 9-1-1 to report a robbery, sheriff’s officials said. Deputies arrived to find the elder Gutierrez mortally wounded in the family room of the home. He had been stabbed several times in the torso.
There were no signs of forced entry at the home, Francisco said. It was not clear if anything had been stolen.
The teenage Gutierrez was believed to have been home, along with his mother and another woman who rented a room in the home, when the stabbing took place, Francisco said. But by the time deputies arrived at the scene, both the teen and the family car were missing.
Investigators described the teen as a “person of interest” as they sought him Saturday, stopping short of labeling him a suspect in his father’s slaying.
It was unclear Sunday whether prosecutors would seek to charge the 17-year-old murder suspect as an adult.
According to county booking records, Adame was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Downey Superior Court.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.