So Cal businesses accused of selling cosmetic contact lenses without prescriptions; some lenses tainted with dangerous bacteria


LOS ANGELES >> Federal prosecutors charged 12 people and businesses this week with selling illegal and potentially dangerous cosmetic contact lenses, including some contaminated with a virulent strain of bacteria capable of blinding wearers, authorities said.
The charges stem from an investigation into the sales of cosmetic contact lenses without prescriptions in the weeks leading up to Halloween dubbed “Operation Cat Eyes,” Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Bettinelli said.
“The goal was to protect consumers in advance of Halloween,” Bettinelli said.
Cosmetic contact lenses used to change the wearer’s eye color have been growing in popularity, officials said. They range from subtle color changes to ornate designs. But while contact lenses are illegal to sell without a prescription, non-presciption, or “misbranded,” lenses have been increasingly popping up in beauty salons and costume stores.
“They’re so easily available, and they can do horrific injury to your eye in a short period of time,” Bettinelli said.
1108_NWS-SGT-L-LENSES1Without being properly fitted to each individuals eyes, contact lenses have the potential to cause abrasions, lesions and other serious injuries, Bettinelli explained.
There are no guarantees regarding the quality of the lenses or the conditions in which they are manufactured, which are sometimes “filthy,” she said. And in some cases, the lenses and the fluid they are stored in have been found to be contaminated with dangerous pathogens.
Mike Honabach, 45, of Highland is accused of selling lenses contaminated with a “particularly insidious” strain of bacteria at a booth at the recent Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona called Halloween and Party Discounters Inc., Bettinelli said.
Lenses seized from the booth in September, sold under the brand name “I Color Complete,” were found to be contaminated with the bacteria Bacillus cereus, the prosecutor said. No injuries had been directly linked to the contaminated batch of contact lenses.
“The Bacillus cereus bacterial strain can cause severe infections that, even with prompt treatment, can lead to blindness,” U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
Honabach is charged with introducing adulterated devices into interstate commerce, receipt of bacteria-adulterated contact lenses and sale of misbranded products. Honabach’s supplier, Intertrade Imports Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, along with Intertrade manager Eunju Kang Savvidis, 53, of Jacksonville, are charged with introducing adulterated devices into interstate commerce, Mrozek said.
1108_NWS-SGT-L-LENSES2Eight other people and businesses are names as defendants for allegedly selling misbranded contact lenses to undercover investigators in the series of cases resulting from “Operation Cat Eyes.”
Doris Owusa Ansah, 53, of West Covina, who owns Sunset Beauty Salon in West Covina, is charged with selling misbranded contact lenses; CKL Fashion, Inc., a Corona company that operated a business called “T-Shirt Mart in Glendale, along with manager Young Kim, 51, of of La Cresenta is accused of selling misbranded contact lenses; Jung Rae Jo, 60, of Cerritos, who owns Fashion Young in Westminster, is accused of selling misbranded contact lenses; Halloween Superstore in Glendale, as well as owner Zinaida Khrimyan, 25, of Glendale and manager Patrick Abedi, 30, of Glendale, are accused of selling misbranded contact lenses; and Hong Kong-based Aspirational International Inc. is accused of selling misbranded contact lenses online.
All 12 people and businesses are scheduled to appear for arraignment hearings in federal court in Los Angeles Dec. 9, Mrozek said. If convicted, each defendants faces a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison and for each count, along with a $100,000 fine for individuals and $200,000 fine for corporations.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Consumer affairs took part in the investigation.

PHOTOS courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

La Verne police arrest Pomona man, 3 teens, in connection with robbery and carjacking spree

LA VERNE >> La Verne police arrested a man and three teenagers early Sunday accused of a crime spree including an armed carjacking in La Verne, as well as armed robberies in La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Upland in recent days.
Officers arrested Edwin Miguel Garcia, 18, of Pomona, and three teenage boys from Pomona were arrested in connection with the series of crimes after tracking them down in Pomona about 2:30 a.m., according to La Verne police officials and Los Angeles County booking records. Officials withheld the names of the juvenile suspects due to their age.
A man called police just before 11 p.m. Saturday to report being robbed and carjacked outside the Shogun Restaurant, 2123 Foothill Blvd. in La Verne, La Verne police Sgt. Sam Gonzalez said.
“Upon arrival, officers received information that three armed suspects demanded money and a cellular phone from the victim before forcibly taking his vehicle and fleeing the scene,” Gonzalez said.
A short time later, police received a second call from a bicyclist reporting he had been robbed by a group of young men in the 1900 block of Dover Way, police said.
“A preliminary investigation revealed the same subjects from the earlier carjacking were also responsible for the incident on Dover Way,” Gonzalez said.
Police found the four suspects in the area of Towne Avenue and the 10 Freeway in Pomona, Gonzalez said. Officers arrested them without a struggle.
They were found with the carjacked car, as well as a second car that had been reported stolen.
“Upon further investigation it was discovered the suspects arrested were responsible for similar crimes in the cities of Claremont, Pomona, and Upland,” Gonzalez said.
All of the crimes took place within recent days, he added.
In addition to the two stolen cars, the suspects were in possession of a loaded gun, two replica guns, stolen property and drugs, Gonzalez said.
Garcia was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail and the La Verne Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, records show.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

La Mirada man killed in freeway crash in Pomona

POMONA >> A La Mirada man died early Thursday after his speeding Honda Accord rear-ended a big rig on the 10 Freeway in Pomona, authorities said.
Cody Tyler Campbell, 25, died following the 12:52 a.m. crash on the westbound 10 Freeway, just east of Kellogg Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
The driver of the big rig involved in the collision, a 42-year-old Corona man, was uninjured, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
Investigators said Campbell was driving at “a high rate of speed” in the right-hand lane when his 2002 Honda Accord rear-ended the big rig.
“As a result of Mr. Campbell’s unsafe speed for prevailing road and traffic conditions, the left front of (the Honda) collided with the right rear of (the big rig),” according to the CHP statement.
Despite wearing a seat belt, Campbell was thrown from his car and suffered major head injuries, CHP officials he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officials shut down all but the left-hand lane of the westbound 10 Freeway for several hours following the crash.
The collision was being investigated by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Four wounded in shooting at Pomona restaurant drive-through

POMONA >> Four men were hospitalized in stable condition after gunfire erupted in the drive-through of a Mexican restaurant Saturday, police said.
The shooting took place just after 6:40 p.m. at Alberto’s Mexican Food, 1925 West Holt Ave., east of Fairplex Drive, Pomona police Sgt. Steve Congalton said in a written statement.
The victims were inside a car that was in the drive-through of the restaurant just before the shooting
“An altercation took place between the occupants of the vehicle and suspect that were on foot,” Congalton said. “Moments later, shots were fired and four individuals were hit.”
A motive in the shooting remained under investigation, though detectives suspected it was gang-related, Congalton said.
All four wounded men were flown by helicopter to area hospitals, where they were listed in stable condition, police said. Their ages or cities of residence were not released.
No description of the suspects was available.
Police were investigating the shooting as attempted murder.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Pomona Police Department detectives at 909-620-2085. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: Man critically wounded in Pomona shooting

POMONA >> A man was critically wounded in a shooting at his Pomona home Friday afternoon, officials said.
The shooting took place about 4:45 p.m. in the 200 block of West Willow Street, just east of Garey Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Art Marrujo said.
Paramedics rushed the wounded man to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, Marrujo said
The victim, who had been shot several times, immediately underwent surgery, Pomona police officials said. The man, who was described as being in his 30s, remained hospitalized in critical condition Saturday.
“The motive for the shooting is unknown at this time, but it appears that the victim was possibly specifically targeted and at this point detectives do not believe that it was a random act,” Pomona police Sgt. Lena Becker said in a written statement.
No suspect description was available.
The shooting was not believed to be gang-related, Lt. Chuck Becker said. It was unclear if anything had been stolen from the victim or his home.
Police released no further details.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Pomona Police Department Detective Bureau at 909-620-2085. Tips may also be submitted anonymously by contact L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Pedestrian struck, killed by vehicle in Pomona

POMONA — A pedestrian died after being struck by a car along Holt Avenue in Pomona late Friday, officials said.
Firefighters first responded about 7:40 p.m. to a report of a vehicle striking a pedestrian at Holt Avenue, west of White Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Kyle Sanford said.
Paramedics took a victim to Pomona Valley Medical Center, where the patient was pronounced dead, according to fire and Pomona Police Department officials.
Pomona police shut down both directions of Holt Avenue between Hamilton Boulevard and Filmore Place as officers investigated the scene.
No further details were available.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED: Firefighters douse smoking train brakes in Pomona

POMONA >> Firefighter doused smoking and overheating brakes on a freight train Thursday after it came to a stop in Pomona, authorities said.
The incident, initially reported about 1:05 p.m. as a fire in the locomotive of the train at the 71 Freeway and Pomona Boulevard, was ultimately determined not to be an active fire, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Larry Jordan said.
Firefighters found smoke rising from the superheated brakes and axle of the BNSF locomotive, which was hauling a full load of cargo containers, the captain said.
Officials used water to carefully cool the overheated components, he said.
Firefighters declared the incident under control at 1:40 p.m., officials said. No injuries were reported.
The operators of the train had stopped after a warning light on board the train indicated something was wrong with an axle, Jordan said. “Something malfunctioned,” he added.
Upon stopping the train, they found a great deal of smoke emanating from the axle and called for help.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

57 Freeway briefly shut down in Pomona by man threatening to jump from transition road

POMONA >> A man threatening to jump from a freeway transition road prompted officials to shut down the 57 Freeway for about half an hour late Thursday, officials said.
Witnesses reported seeing the man on the elevated transition road connecting the northbound 57 Freeway to the westbound 10 Freeway at 6:58 p.m., California Highway Patrol Officer Patrick Kimball said.
Officials shut down the 57 Freeway as they worked to persuaded the man to come down from the transition road, which he did at 7:34 p.m., Kimball said. The freeway reopened minutes later.
The man was expected to be taken for psychiatric evaluation, officials said.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

Pomona man accused of abandoning 6-year-old boy at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area

SOUTH EL MONTE >> Investigators arrested a Pomona man early Thursday for allegedly abandoning his prospective adopted 6-year-old son at the Whittier Narrow Recreation Area in South El Monte earlier this week.
Deputies arrested Juan Manuel Garcia-Tellez, 31, about 9 a.m. Thursday after spotting him at his Pomona home, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records. He is in a relationship with the boy’s mother and was apparently in the process of trying to adopt the boy.
The investigation began about 9:40 p.m. Monday when a good Samaritan called authorities to report finding a 6-year-old boy wandering alone in the park near Legg Lake, Deputy Johnny Jones of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Parks Bureau said.
“He was just throwing rocks into he water. He was crying because he was looking for his dad.”
A car, later determined to be Garcia-Tellez’s, was found several miles away, however there were no signs of the man, officials said.
“The child, who was cold and hungry, was placed in the deputy’s patrol car and fed while parks bureau personnel continued to search,” Jones said.
After more than three hours of searching with no success, deputies turned the boy over to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services about 1 a.m., Jones said.
Officials ultimately contacted the boy’s mother and returned her child to her.
Garcia-Tellez’s motive was not clear, Jones said. The suspect said he left the boy at the park while running errand.
But investigators learned that he had been involved in an argument with the boy’s mother hours before leaving the boy alone at the park.
Deputies stopped by Garcia-Tellez home several times this week, but did not find him, Jones said. But they found him there Thursday morning and took him into custody without a struggle.
Garcia-Tellez was booked on suspicion of child endangerment, Jones said.
He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in El Monte Superior Court, records show.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email

UPDATED — Officials: Girls abducted by father at gunpoint in Pomona, found safe in Riverside County

***UPDATE: California Highway Patrol officials deactivated the Amber Alert early Saturday morning after both children were found safe in Riverside County. Further details of the exactly where and how the girls were found were not immediately available. Los Angeles County booking records indicated Adame was arrested at 1:38 a.m. He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the Pomona Police Department’s jail and was scheduled to appear for an arraignment Wednesday in Pomona Superior Court.
POMONA — Officials issued an Amber Alert late Friday after a man abducted his two young daughters at gunpoint, officials said.
Pete Valencia Adame, 43, kidnapped his ex-girlfriend along with their two daughters, ages 2 and 4, about 7 p.m. in Pomona, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
“Adame assaulted the former girlfriend before releasing her at an unknown location,” according to the statement. “Adame then fled with the two daughters.”
The potentially armed and dangerous suspect was believed to be driving a gray 2014 Jeep Patriot with California license plate No. 7CJF267, officials said. He was described as Latino, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 180 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a white undershirt and light blue pants with a stripe.
2014 Jeep PatriotThe missing 2-year-old, Valarie Persaea Adame, was described as Latina about 2 feet tall, 30 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a white shirt with flowers on the shoulders and black pants.
The abducted 4-year-old, Aurora Akira Adame, was described as Latina, about 2 feet 6 inches tall and 35 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt with a heart design and cheetah print spandex pants.
Anyone with information was urged to contact the Pomona Police Department, or call 9-1-1.
PHOTO of kidnapping suspect Pete Adame courtesy of the Pomona Police Department.
Facebook Twitter Reddit Tumblr Linkedin Email