Two arrested following chase from Arcadia to Pomona

ARCADIA >> A Pomona man and woman fled from Arcadia police in a stolen car before being arrested Friday night, officials said.
Michael Gomez, 35, and Chelsea Casas, 25, were expected to be booked on suspicion of auto theft “at a minimum,” Arcadia police Lt. Vaughn Whalen said. Gomez was also accused of evading police.
Arcadia officers tried to pull over a 1996 Honda Civic about 8:10 p.m. at Huntington Drive an Second Avenue, the lieutenant said. The car had been reported stolen out of Pomona.
The car accelerated away, kicking off a pursuit.
The driver stopped at Huntington Drive and Fifth Avenue and let out a passenger before continuing to flee, Whalen said. Police detained the passenger, later identified as Casas.
Police chased Gomez onto the eastbound 210 Freeway before calling off the chase and electing to follow the car via helicopter, Whalen said.
Officers watched from a safe distance as Gomez exited the freeway, abandoned the car at a mobile home park at Foothill Boulevard and Garey Avenue and ran, officials said. Pomona police found and arrested him within minutes.

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UPDATED: More than 300 arrested at raves in Pomona, San Bernardino; no major incidents reported


POMONA >> Tens of thousands of electronic music lovers swarmed to electronic music concerts in Pomona and San Bernardino over the Halloween weekend, resulting in more than 300 arrests, but no major incidents, authorities said.
The HARD Day of the Dead took over the Fairplex at Pomona Saturday and Sunday, while the Escape: Psycho Circus filled The National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino with the sounds of electronic dance music Friday and Saturday.
The rave in Pomona was the first held at the Fairplex since two young women died of suspected drug overdoses at the HARD Summer Festival rave in early August, drawing renewed scrutiny of raves from Los Angeles County supervisors.
In Pomona, police reported making 148 arrests Saturday, which was the first day of the two-day festival.
“Nearly all arrests were made at the security screening area or outside the venue, prior to entry,” Pomona police officials said in a written statement.
The vast majority of arrests were related to public intoxication, being under the influence of drugs, possession of drugs for personal use or sales, police said. Fifty people were arrested for having fake IDs, and officers arrested 10 allegedly intoxicated drivers at and around the Fairplex.
Guests noted the crowd at the Fairplex appeared smaller than previous electronic music concerts at the venue. The last event, HARD Summer Festival, was open to guests ages 18 and older. HARD Day of the Dead only admitted people 21 and over.
Police estimated 16,000 to 17,000 people attended HARD Day of the Dead on Saturday. HARD Summer Festival, by comparison, attracted about 65,000 to the two-day event.
“It’s hard to dissect any of this yet,” said Pomona Police Chief Paul Capraro said as he monitored the entrance checkpoints. “I’m hoping people think we did out job. I think it’s good to note we’re making it a safer event.”
Two “amnesty boxes” provided a place for people to throw away contraband with no questions asked before entering the venue.
“We had fewer medical issues. We didn’t have any other issues,” Capraro said.
There was a strong law enforcement presence at both the Pomona and San Bernardino events this weekend.
California Highway Patrol officers drove up and down the aisles in the parking lot, as Pomona police handed out anti-drug fliers encouraging concert-goers to “Play hard, not high.”
“There’s a lot more police here. It makes it a lot harder to focus on having fun,” said Amanda Lopez, 24, of Chatsworth. “It feels like someone is breathing down my back.”
While officers were making arrests of those who ignored warnings not to bring drugs to the Fairplex, they were also working to engage the public, Capraro said. “We’re also talking to people.”
Statistics regarding any possible overdoses or other injuries related to the concert treated at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center were not available Sunday, hospital spokesman Frank Garcia said.
In San Bernardino, 193 people were arrested during the two-day event, with 86 people arrested Friday and 107 people arrested Saturday, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which collaborated with the San Bernardino Police Department for event security.
The event attracted more than 40,000 people Friday night, promoters said. A crowd estimate from Saturday was not available.
Officials did not give details about the arrests at the San Bernardino concert.

PHOTO by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher

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Sexual predator charged with two cold case child murders denies charges


POMONA >> A convicted sex offender awaiting trial for the 1981 slaying of a 6-year-old boy pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a second murder charge stemming from the 1986 slaying of a second young boy, authorities said.
Kenneth Kasten Rasmuson, 53, who was living in Idaho when arrested by cold case investigators in March after DNA evidence linked him to the killing of 6-year-old Jeffrey Vargo of Anaheim. Vargo’s body was discovered in Pomona the day after he disappeared while riding his bicycle in Anaheim on July 2, 1981.
After more than 30 years, Rasmuson was linked to the crime by DNA evidence and arrested, Pomona police Lt. Eddie Vasquez said at the time.
As the legal process moved forward in the murder case, DNA evidence linked Rasmuson to another slaying, that of 6-year-old Miguel Antero of Agoura Hills, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials said.
Prosecutors amended the felony complaint already filed against Rasmuson for Vargo’s killing to include Antero’s slaying as well, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
His body was found in a wash on April 8, 1986, the same day he went missing from outside his home, prosectors allege.
He pleaded not guilty to the new charges Wednesday in Pomona Superior Court, officials said. He was ordered back to court for another hearing in the case on Jan. 14.
Rasmuson now stands charged with two counts of murder, along the special circumstances that both killings were committed during the commission of lewd or lascivious acts on children, as well as the special circumstance of multiple murders.
Prosecutors are yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty in the case, or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Rasmuson was previously convicted of sex crimes against children in California in the 1980s.

PHOTO: Kenneth Rasmuson, 53. (courtesy)

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Ex-Pomona court clerk pleads guilty to embezzling $6,000 in court fees

LOS ANGELES >> A former Los Angeles County Superior Court clerk pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing more than $6,000 in court fees while working out of the Pomona courthouse between 2010 and 2014, authorities said.
Linda Mascorro, 60, pleaded guilty to one felony charge of misappropriation of public funds in Los Angeles and was ordered back to court Nov. 5 for sentencing, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
Mascorro will receive 500 hours of community service, three years of probation and be ordered to repay $6,345 in restitution to the court, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
She had been free on $100,000 bond pending the legal process.
Mascorro stole the money while processing and collecting fees from individuals filing civil petitions to change their names, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. The theft did not impact the cases of those petitioning for name changes.
Wednesday’s guilty plea was the result of a negotiated plea arrangement between the defense and prosecution, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Following Mascorro’s arrest in late July, prosecutors initially charged her with 15 felony counts of misappropriation of public funds. The additional 14 counts are expected to be dismissed at sentencing, Robison said.
If convicted as charged at trial, Mascorro could have faced up to 18 years in state prison.

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Armed gang member wearing bullet-proof vest jailed in Pomona

POMONA >> Police arrested a paroled gang member Saturday after he was found prowling around a Pomona neighborhood armed with a handgun and clad in a bullet-proof vest, officials said.
Nathan Daniel Ware, 31, of Pomona is accused of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and possession of body armor by a convicted felon, Pomona police officials said in a written statement.
Police received information shortly before 12:30 p.m. that a man with a gun had been spotted on the roof of a home in the 1400 block of Edgehill Drive, police said. Officers found Ware walking down the street nearby.
“Officers detained suspect Ware and found that he was wearing a ballistic vest and armed with 9mm handgun,” according to the police statement. “The reason he was on the roof was unexplained.”
Ware, described by police as a gang member who is on parole, has a criminal history including a conviction for assault likely to cause great bodily injury in March of 2013, according to San Bernardino County Superior Court records.
In Los Angeles County, he was convicted of transporting drugs in 2003, possession of narcotics for sale in 2007 and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2010, records show.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Ware was being held without bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.

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Pregnant woman punched during Pomona robbery; Upland man arrested

POMONA >> An Upland man punched and robbed a pregnant woman before the victim’s screamed attracted the attention of police, who arrested the suspect late Saturday, officials said.
Najune Taevon Hudson was booked on suspicion of robbery, false impersonation and resisting or obstructing arrest, Pomona police officials said in a written statement.
The crime took place about 11:30 p.m. in an alley running just to the south of the 900 block of East Holt Avenue.
An officer heard a woman screaming and spotted the victim, a 22-year-old Hemet resident, emerge from the alley, police said. She told the officer she had been robbed.
“The victim was pregnant and had been punched in the head by the suspect,” according to the police statement. She was taken to a hospital for treatment, but not before she pointed out the fleeing suspect, officials said.
Police chased the fleeing suspect and ultimately found him hiding in the yard of a nearby business.
Officers found a cell phone and purse stolen from the woman discarded in the area.

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Two women die after attending HARD Summer Festival in Pomona

POMONA >> Two young women died of suspected drug overdoses after attending the Hard Summer Festival in Pomona Saturday night, authorities said.
The women, both 19, died after being hospitalized for reported drug overdoses in separate incidents during the first day of the two-day electronic musical at the Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
The identities of the women were not released.

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Woman killed, man severely wounded in Pomona shooting

POMONA >> A woman died and a man was hospitalized in critical condition after they were both found shot in the back seat of a car in a residential neighborhood early Sunday morning, police said.
Vanessa Renee Lopez, 28, of Pomona died at the scene of the 2:50 a.m. shooting in the 1300 block of Caprino Way, Pomona police officials said in a written statement.
Manuel Flores Jr., 30, of Pomona was rushed to a hospital by helicopter and was listed in critical condition, police said.
Officers responding to a report of a shooting found the victims wounded in the rear seat of a car parked in the driveway of a home, according to the statement.
The relationship between the two victims was unclear. No suspect information was available, and no further details were released as Pomona police homicide detectives continued their investigation Sunday.

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Pomona mother and daughter accused of Hacienda Heights burglary

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Officials arrested a mother and daughter from Pomona on Saturday in connection with a Hacienda Heights residential burglary earlier in the day.
Deana Stanley, 48, and daughter Maria Tucker, 30, were booked on suspicion of burglary, receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools and conspiracy to commit burglary, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Gannon said. Ticker was additionally accused of possession of counterfeit credit or access cards.
A witness called deputies about 8:35 p.m. to report seeing intruders inside a neighbor’s home in the 1500 block of Flamstead Drive, Gannon said. The burglars were gone when deputies arrived, but the tipster was able to provide them with a description of the burglars’ car, the lieutenant said.
Pomona police found the car Saturday afternoon parked outside a home on Gordon Street in Pomona, Gannon said.
Deputies arrested the two women and served a search warrant at their home, he said. Officials recovered all of the jewelry and other items stolen in the Hacienda Heights break-in, and also seized a handgun.

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UPDATED: Idaho man arrested in 1981 Pomona slaying of Anaheim boy


POMONA >> A California sex offender living in Idaho is in custody in connection with the 1981 slaying of a 6-year-old Anaheim boy who disappeared while riding his bicycle before being found strangled to death the following day in Pomona, police announced Saturday.
Cold case detectives traveled to Sandpoint, Idaho, to help in Friday’s arrest of Kenneth Rasmuson on suspicion of the July, 981, strangulation death of 6-year-old Jeffrey “Jeffy” Vargo, Pomona police Lt. Eddie Vasquez said. Rasmuson was linked to the crime by DNA evidence.
He was convicted three times of violent sex crimes in California in the 1980s, according to a Bonner County, Idaho, sex offender registry.
Jeffrey Vargo was last seen alive riding his bicycle about 5:30 p.m. on July 2, 1981, near a fireworks stand at Imperial Highway and Santa Ana Road in Anaheim, Vasquez said.
“At approximately 7:20 p.m., his parents found his bike abandoned in an alley near the fireworks stand,” the lieutenant said in a written statement.
The following day, “Two construction workers found the child’s lifeless body near 34 Edgebrook Drive in the city of Pomona,” Vasquez said.
An autopsy concluded Vargo had been strangled to death, Vasquez said. “DNA evidence was confirmed and linked to Idaho resident Kenneth Rasmuson.”
The boy had reportedly been sexually assaulted.
Leads in the investigation dried up, and the case went cold for more than 30 years, Vasquez said.
DNA evidence collected during the initial investigation was not able to identify a suspect based on the technology of the time, Vasquez said.
In 2014, as technology continued to improve, Pomona police cold case investigators resubmitted the their DNA evidence. Forensic analysis was able to link the sample to Rasmuson.
0329_NWS_IDB-L-COLDCASE2Jeffrey Vargo’s mother, Connie Vargo, said the family was pleased to learn of the long-awaited arrest.
“It’s bittersweet, of course. We’re glad he has been captured and cannot hurt anyone else, but it also brings up a log of memories and things.”
“The Pomona PD never gave up on it. I really want to thank Detective (Jennifer) Turpin, who really has worked hard on this case,” the mother said.
Rasmuson was a stranger to the family, she said.
In addition to his mother, Jeffrey Vargo is survived by his father, Bob, and older brother, Michael.
Connie Vargo described Jeffrey as “brown-haired, brown-eyed, happy little boy.”
“He was only 6 years old. He had just started the first grade,” she said.
“He was a happy little guy,” Connie Vargo said. “Jeffy just liked to be outside. He loved anything with wheels. His skateboard, his big wheels.”
That’s why when she discovered Jeffrey’s bicycle abandoned while searching for him, she knew something was seriously wrong. “He wouldn’t leave that bike anyplace.”
According to Bonner County’s sex offender registry, Rasmuson was convicted of kidnapping for the purpose of committing a sexual offense in California in late-1981, as well as committing lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under 14 years old in 1987.
Sandpoint police, the FBI, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Bonner County District Attorney’s Office and the Anaheim Police Department took part in the investigation and subsequent arrest, police said.
Rasmuson was being held in the Bonner County Jail in Sandpoint, Idaho, pending extradition proceedings to bring him back to California to face charges, Vasquez said.
Connie Vargo said she was looking forward to seeing justice for her son.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a long, drawn-out process, but hopefully, justice will be served and he’ll never be able to hurt anyone ever again,” she said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Pomona police detectives at 909-620-2085. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO: [TOP] Kenneth Rasmuson, 53, of Idaho. (Courtesy) [BELOW] Jeffrey “Jeffy” Vardo, 6, of Anaheim. (Courtesy)

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