San Bernardino woman in bizarre, viral Rowland Heights car crash video sought after skipping court


ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A San Bernardino woman accused of abandoning a stolen car while high on drugs, allowing it to roll downhill and into opposing traffic in a bizarre Rowland Heights crash captured on a viral dashcam video, is now a fugitive after skipping out on her court date last month, officials said.
Jasmin Lacey, 23, faces charges of driving under the influence of drugs, hit-and-run with a runaway car, auto theft, taking a car without the owner’s consent and driving without a valid license in connection with the Sept. 1 crash along Harbor Boulevard, between Vantage Point Drive and Pathfinder Road, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
But Lacey failed to appear for a Feb. 10 arraignment hearing scheduled in the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s West Covina branch, she said.
“A bench warrant was issued for her arrest,” Ardalani said.
•Video: Bizarre Rowland Heights crash
The strange series of events, which resulted in no injuries, was captured on another driver’s dashcam. The video, posted on YouTube, has since garnered more than 4.9 million views.
In the video, the driver of a 2010 Hyundai Sonata — later identified as Lacey — suddenly slams on the car’s brakes, bring the car to a halt, and exits the vehicle. The driver then walks down the center median with a casual stride as the abandoned Hyundai rolls downhill and across opposing traffic lanes.
California Highway Patrol officials said the car struck an SUV. A second SUV also became tangled in the wreck before the Hyundai ultimately struck two trees and came to a stop.
After being found in the area, Lacey appeared extremely intoxicated and provided no explanation for her alleged actions, CHP Officer Armando Perdomo said at the time.
She was initially arrested, but released from custody pending further investigation as officials awaited the results of blood tests, according to Perdomo and Los Angeles County booking records.
Prosecutors filed charges Feb. 5, records show.
The two auto theft-related crimes Lacey is charged with are felonies, Ardalani said. The three additional charges of hit-and-run, DUI and driving without a license are misdemeanors.

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Elderly Rowland Heights couple bound in home-invasion robbery


ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> Three masked intruders tied up an elderly Rowland Heights couple and ransacked their home during a home-invasion robbery late Friday, authorities said.
The crime unfolded about 9 p.m. in the 1400 block of Annadel Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Bruce Yoell said.
A man was home alone when he heard a noise in front of his home and opened the door to see what it was, the sergeant said.
“He opened the door, there they are,” Yoell said. At least one of the masked robbers was armed with a handgun.
The robbers tied up the man and began ransacking the home, he said.
The victim’s wife arrived home in the midst of the home invasion, Yoell said. The robbers tied her up as well before fleeing the home.
Neither victim wished to be taken to a hospital, he added. Both were senior citizens.
It appeared the intruders were looking for money, officials said. It was not initially clear what, if anything, was taken in the crime.
A detailed suspect description was not available, Yoell said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station at 626-913-1715. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Woman killed while crossing street in Rowland Heights, driver accused of DUI


ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A Hacienda Heights man is accused of being high on drugs when he struck and killed a woman as she crossed the street in Rowland Heights late Tuesday, authorities said.
Yussef Hadi Afra, 23, is accused of felony drunken driving in connection with the 7 p.m. collision on Batson Avenue, just south of Colima Road, according to California Highway Patrol officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The identity of the woman killed remained unknown Wednesday, Investigator B. Kim of the Los Angeles County Department of Medical-Examiner Coroner said. She was officially listed as a “Jane Doe.”
Afra was driving a 2015 Honda Civic northbound on Batson Avenue as the woman was crossing west across the roadway, officer Tim Zaspal of the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office said in a written statement.
The Honda struck the woman, who was rushed to a hospital with major injuries, Zaspal said. She died a short time later.
“(Afra) was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs,” Zaspal added. It was unclear what type of drugs Afra was accused of being under the influence of.
After being examined at a hospital, Afra was booked into jail, where he was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, according to officials and records.

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Man arrested following quadruple-fatal Rowland Heights New Year’s Eve shooting released from jail

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A Rowland Heights man initially arrested on suspicion of murder after fatally shooting his father, who had just shot three other family members to death on New Year’s Eve, has been released from custody pending further investigation, according to officials and booking records.
Christopher John Morey, 33, was released from custody at the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Los Angeles County booking records show. Detectives will still present their findings to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office later for consideration of potential charges.
Prior to his release Saturday afternoon, Morey had been held in lieu of $1 million bail.
He had been in custody since New Year’s Eve, when he shot his 54-year-old father, Michael John Morey, at the family home in the 2200 block of Batson Avenue, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
Christopher Morey disarmed and shot his father after the elder Morey shot his bedridden wife, 54-year-old Betty Jean Morey, Christopher Morey’s 48-year-old girlfriend, Linda Patricia Merrell, and house guest Ernesto Calzadilla, 27, of Rowland Heights, authorities said.
The violence was preceded by an argument between Michael Morey and Merrell over the usage of a washing machine, Lt. John Corina of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The home was littered with beer bottles, and Michael Morey was known to become agitated when drunk, according to investigators and neighbors.
Corina has said the investigation is now focusing on whether Michael Morey continued to pose a threat when his son shot him, Corina said. If that’s determined to be the case, the shooting could be ruled lawful self-defense.
Handling detectives could not be reached for comment Sunday, nor could Christopher Morey. It was unclear whether he was being represented by an attorney.
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.

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Four killed in Rowland Heights New Year’s Eve shooting identified

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> Authorities have identified four people fatally shot during what investigators described as a domestic dispute at a Rowland Heights home on New Year’s Eve.
Michael John Morey, 54, shot and killed his 54-year-old bedridden wife, Betty Jean Morey; his son’s 48-year-old girlfriend, Linda Patricia Merrell; and a 27-year-old house guest Ernesto Calzadilla of Rowland Heights before his son wrestled the handgun away from him, then fatally shot his father, according to Los Angeles County coroner and sheriff’s officials.
Michael Morey’s son, Christopher John Morey, was subsequently arrested on suspicion of the murder, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. He was the lone survivor of the violence that unfolded just after 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the home in the 2200 block of Batson Avenue.
The Moreys, as well as Merrell, lived at the home, sheriff’s officials said. Calzadilla, a friend of Christopher Morey and Merrell, is survived by an 8-month-old daughter, according to his family.
Though the complex investigation remained in its early stages, Corina said the gunfire appeared to have been preceded by an argument over using the washing machine between Michael Morey and Merrell. Michael Morey was known to become agitated when drunk.
Neighbors and officials said the house was known for partying. It was littered with beer bottles following the shooting, and deputies reported responding to the home more than two-dozen times over the past three years for a variety of reasons.
Betty Morey was bedridden after suffering a stroke, Corina said.
Calzadilla’s brother, Wilfred Calzadilla, said Ernesto Calzadilla had expressed fear about the elderl Morey in the past, adding that he had a large collection of guns. A neighbor said Merrell has also expressed concerns about Michael Morey.
Christopher Morey remained jailed in lieu of $1 million bail Saturday pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in West Covina Superior Court.
Prosecutors will review the evidence to determine whether to file charges against Christopher Morey.
The potential case hinges on whether Michael Morey still posed a threat when his son shot him, Corina said.

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Two dead, two injured in Rowland Heights shooting


ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> Two people died and another two suffered injuries in a shooting in a residential neighborhood in Rowland Heights on New Year’s Eve, authorities said.
The shooting was first reported just after 8:30 p.m. in the 2200 block of Batson Avenue, Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Paramedics pronounced two people dead at the scene, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Reynold Dong said. Another two gunshot victims were treated for injuries.
A suspect was in custody, Schrader said. It was not immediately clear whether the suspect was among the wounded or dead.
No further details were available late Thursday as the investigation remained in its early stages.

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Robber snatches cash from bank counter in Rowland Heights


ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> An opportunistic robber snatched $1,700 from a bank counter and ran as a woman was making a deposit at a Rowland Heights bank branch Friday, officials said.
The crime took place about 11:40 a.m. at the Bank of America, 1501 Nogales Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Joseph Badaly said.
A woman in her 20s was making a deposit when she set the cash on the counter for the teller, he said.
The robber ran from the bank and a fled in a white, newer-model, four-door car, Badaly said. He was described as a black man in his 20s, about 6 feet tall, of medium build.
Deputies were still working to obtain any bank surveillance footage that may help the investigation.

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Fullerton man killed in Rowland Heights head-on collision


ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A man died early Thursday and two women suffered injuries after his Infinite sedan crashed head-on into another car along a single-lane road in Rowland Heights, authorities said.
The crash took place about 2:10 a.m. on Brea Canyon Cutoff Road, just south of Bickford Drive, Officer C. Chambers of the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Fe Springs area office said in a written statement.
A 25-year-old Fullerton man was at the wheel of a 2011 Infinity G37 headed south, Chambers said. A 23-year-old Fullerton woman rode as a passenger in the Infiniti.
A 22-year-old Walnut woman was heading north on Brea Canyon Cutoff Road in a 2010 Lexus IS350, he said.
“For some undetermined reason, (the Infiniti) crossed over the solid painted double yellow lines that separate the northbound lane from the southbound lane,” Chambers said. The Infiniti veered directly in front of the oncoming Lexus, which struck the Infiniti on the driver-side.
Paramedics pronounced the 25-year-old driver of the Infiniti dead at the scene, officials said. His name was withheld Thursday pending notification of his family.
His passenger suffered major injuries including numerous broken bones and lacerations, Chambers said.
The woman driving the Lexus suffered injuries described as moderate, including a broken nose and injuries to her shoulder and hip.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office at 562-868-0503.

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Rowland Heights doctor convicted of murder for 3 patient overdose deaths; first such conviction in U.S. history

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LOS ANGELES >> A jury Friday convicted a Rowland Heights doctor of three counts of murder for the deaths of three patients who overdosed on drugs she prescribed following a two-month trial.
The case is the first time a medical doctor has been convicted of murder in the United States for overprescribing drugs, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
Hsiu-Ying “Lisa’ Tseng, a 45-year-old doctor of osteopathic medicine and Walnut resident, operated the Advanced Care AAA Medical clinic in Rowland Heights along with her husband.
The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury also convicted her of 20 counts of unlawfully prescribing prescription drugs, but acquitted her on a single charge of prescribing drugs fraudulently, Los Angels County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
“This verdict sends a strong message to individuals in the medical community who put patients at risk for their own financial gain,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “In this case, the doctor stole the lives of three young people in her misguided effort to get rich quick.”
The verdict followed more than a week of jury deliberation.
Investigators arrested Tseng in March of 2012. She has remained in custody in lieu of $3 million throughout the legal process.
The second-degree murder charges stemmed from the deaths of Vu Nguyen, 29, of Lake Forest, on March 2, 2009; Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert, on April 9, 2009; and Joseph Rovero III, 21, of San Ramon, on Dec. 18, 2009.
Prosecutors, who described Tseng as a “Dr. Feelgood,” argued she prescribed the three young men powerful drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and Xanax, without valid medical reasons.
She has a sentencing hearing on Dec. 14, where she faces up to 45 years to life in state prison.
“This is the most severe penalty we have ever gotten ona doctor who illegally overprescribed drugs to patients,” Lacey said.
Tseng’s defense attorney, Tracy Green of Los Angeles-based Green & Associates, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
The ground-breaking case was prosecuted by deputy district attorneys John Niederman and Grace Rai of the D.A.’s Major Narcotics Division.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began looking into Tseng and her practice in 2008 after pharmacies noted high numbers of Tseng’s patients showing up to fill prescriptions for painkillers, prosecutors said. Investigators made undercover visits to the office, and conducted a search of it, in 2010.
Prior to the criminal case, Tseng had already settled civil lawsuits with the families of five other men who overdosed on drugs she proscribed. Testimony revealed at least 12 of Tseng’s patients in all have died of prescription drug overdoses.
Tseng denied the charges, and her trial began in late August.
Tseng received her medical license in 1997, according to Osteopathic Medical Board of California records.
She opened her Rowland Heights clinic in 2005, officials said.
“During the time-frame when nine of her patients died in less than three years, Tseng took in $5 million from her clinic and continued dispensing potent and addictive drugs unabated,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Tseng often no medical records while prescribing the drugs, officials said.
“In many instances, she faked medical records when authorities began investigating,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Tseng surrendered her license in March of 2012 and is not permitted to practice medicine, records show. Her DEA registration was revoked in 2010 amid the ongoing investigation.

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Small amount of cash, marijuana stolen in Rowland Heights home-invasion robbery


ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A man armed with a knife barged into a Rowland Heights home and robbed a resident of a small amount of money and marijuana late Wednesday, officials said.
The crime was reported about 10 p.m. at a home in the 17900 block of Calle Los Arboles, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said.
A man in his 20s has been in contact with the robber via social media prior to the incident, Saleeby said.
The robber arrived with a knife and demanded money from the victim, ultimately fleeing with less than $50 and a “small amount” of marijuana, the lieutenant said.
He was last seen getting into a green Toyota pickup truck with a long-haired driver waiting at the wheel, Saleeby said.

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