COVINA – Police arrested three Arizona women Friday on suspicion of tricking drivers into donating money by falsely telling them they were collecting for the funeral of a young boy, authorities said.
South Pasadena’s Bernie Madoff will be in court today for arraignment:
SOUTH PASADENA – The man local authorities have dubbed “Bernie Madoff of South Pasadena” is scheduled to be arraigned Friday at Los Angeles Superior Court.
Morris Gussin is facing twenty felony counts of grand theft and securities violations in a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme.
He was arrested by a Federal Bureau of Investigations Task Force in Las Vegas and was extradited by South Pasadena authorities after a two and half year investigation.
Janice and Carlos Sams Cespedes said they were referred to Gussin by a mutual friend to help them go over their insurance policy and write a will after Carlos was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2004.
“She trusted him and because she trusted him, I trusted him,” Janice said. “He used her name because she’s known in the Pasadena community and unbeknownst to her he was stealing people’s money.”
Gussin is being represented by the law firm of Brown, White & Newhouse, LLP.
“(Gussin) will certainly enter a plea of not guilty to the charges,” said George Newhouse, attorney. “A great number of the charges appear to be seven or eight years old and under the law they have three years to allege grand theft.”
WEST COVINA — Police arrested an Azusa man Wednesday on suspicion of scamming a Covina woman out of $45,000, authorities said.
Gerardo Alejandro Torres, 27, was booked on suspicion of grand theft and was released later Wednesday after posting $20,000 bail, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez said.
Police released a picture of Torres on Thursday in hopes of tracking down additional victims, Lopez said.
“We think this guy’s probably done this before,” he said, adding that Torres may have targeted the woman because she spoke primarily Spanish.
After obtaining a search warrant for Torres’ home, “We found $39,000 in his house,” he added. The other $6,000 allegedly stolen from the woman remained unaccounted for.
The scam took place Monday, West Covina police said in a written statement.
Torres told the woman he could help her buy a house in Ontario without going through the usual escrow process and without the usual fees, authorities said.
The woman gave Torres $45,000 and the two went to a Carrows restaurant in West Covina, 101 S. Azusa Ave., Lopez said.
While at the restaurant, Torres told the woman his car had been broken into and the money had been taken, according to the police statement.
Torres then called police and reported the break-in, Lopez said. “The woman, who spoke Spanish, didn’t really understand what was being said.”
When she realized Torres had not reported the $45,000 as missing, she herself became suspicious and called police.
An investigation led police to jail Torres, Lopez said. Other charges may be added in the future.
“There could be other victims out there and the suspect may have been targeting the Hispanic community,” the police statement said.
Officials ask that anyone who has had a suspicious encounter with Lopez to contact the West Covina Police Department.
According to court records, Torres is due for arraignment in West Covina Superior Court Friday.
*Photo courtesy of the West Covina Police Department
At left is Susan Bendigo, also known as Susan Lim. She’s a federal fugitive in a 42-defendant case involving shady nurses operating out of Santa Fe Springs.
Corniel lost his life in the Iraq war. IndyMac then lost between $71,000 and
$36,000 of the $370,000 life insurance policy Corniel purchased to
ensure the livelihood of his family.
I can’t say that I was shocked so much as I
was disappointed when I viewed reader responses on our website.
Some comments blamed Corniel’s mother, Elaine Lopez, for investing poorly, while others seemed
to equate losing a son in war with winning the lottery.
I don’t dispute that Lopez could
have invested her money more wisely, but at the same time it’s not like she went out and bought a Cadillac. Lopez placed $70,000
in a money market checking account and the remaining $300,000 in a
CD, from which she used the $1450 a month interest yield to sustain her
I believe Lopez, when she says that
IndyMac Bank managers persuaded her not to withdraw the money by
claiming the addition of a third beneficiary would insure the entire sum.
The Monday after the news of Indy
Mac’s financial trouble broke, I went to Indy Mac and spoke with
patrons. My questions were met by belligerent customers who informed
me that bank representatives warned them against speaking with the
press, and cited the media as a cause for Indy Mac’s problems.
Funny, I don’t remember receiving a check from Indy Mac for managing
their stocks to 23 cents a share, what they were prior to any
Despite my Ivy League education, the
hours I spent reading regulations, the two interviews I conducted with
securities lawyers, and numerous calls to the Federal Deposit
Insurance Company, I still fail to understand how the FDIC is not
returning somewhere between $36,000 and $71,000 of Lopez’s money.
Sure, Lopez was nave for taking
the word of a bank manager. But I bet she wasn’t the only one to lose
money because of promises made by IndyMac representatives. It’s
possible that IndyMac’s employee’s weren’t intentionally deceiving Lopez. Maybe bank officials just didn’t comprehend the same regulations that
two securities lawyers, and a financial adviser failed to understand
well enough to answers my questions. But should incompetence excuse so-called officials from accountability?
When did regulations start to cloud
our understanding of right and wrong? After all regulations are
created by men, frequently flawed, and certainly subject to change.
Some have argued that Lopez should feel
lucky to still have $300,000. Why? Because her son went to great
lengths to protect his family? The $370,000 wasn’t a gift from the
government or a death benefit, but something that Corniel payed for
with both his money and life.
Despite promises that he would be a
recruiter, and by the spring of 2005 Corniel was back in Iraq, stationed
with the 184th Infantry out of Fullerton, CA..The 184th
was sustaining heavy causalities when Corniel decided to purchase
the additional $170,000 in life insurance.
As an Iraq veteran, I knew a lot of
servicemen who declined to pay the $40 a month for the $250,000 in Serviceman’s Group Life
Insurance. At the same time I was never aware of anyone who sought additional life insurance. But Corniel,
who was the patriarch of his family, wanted to ensure that his two
younger sisters and mother were taken care of in the event of his
On New Years Eve of 2005, most
23-year-old-Americans were drinking themselves into stupors while
Corniel was defending their freedom to do so. As a former Marine
attached to “Killer” company, Corniel had already seen a good deal
of combat. But unlike some men, he didn’t try to get a family
hardship discharge and avoid his second tour. Corniel sacrificed his
life for our freedom, with the knowledge his family would be able survive in his absence.
Corniel’s legacy was intended to send
his sisters to college, and support his illmother, not pad the bank
accounts of rich men, as some would argue his service did. I urge
Americans to remember Corniel as they drive their yellow ribbon
adorned sport utility vehicles. And think about the regulations that
qualify the loss of his legacy, while justifying the outlandish
incomes of IndyMac’s executives. In the end you can blame Lopez for mismanaging the money, but don’t think it couldn’t happen to you.
Here’s the top of her story as it stands:
COVINA – Stevan Ortiz and his girlfriend planned to move into a three-bedroom home on Calera Avenue Thursday.
The couple – expecting their second child in June – gave notice at their apartment in Baldwin Park, bought a washer and dryer and even made plans to pick up a dog.
But Tuesday afternoon, Ortiz, 22, discovered he was among a group of people who have been victims of a real estate fraud.
“We made so many plans,” said Ortiz, who tried contacting the owner all weekend. “I had this in the back of my mind when I couldn’t get a hold of him.”
At least 12 families have filed complaints connected to the property located at 5441 N. Calera Avenue, said Detective Ted Williams, of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department. Each family gave first and last month rent, totaling $2,400, officials said.