Alleged intoxicated wrong-way driver arrested following 60 Freeway crash in South El Monte

SOUTH EL MONTE — An allegedly intoxicated wrong-way driver caused a crash early Sunday on the Pomona (60) Freeway, authorities said.
The crash, which resulted in the closure of all but the right-hand lane of the westbound freeway for about an hour, was first reported at 6:58 a.m. on the 60 Freeway near Rosemead Boulevard, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
A white hatchback was heading the the wrong way in traffic lanes at about 50 mph prior to the collision, logs indicate.
It struck an SUV just east of Rosemead Boulevard, CHP Sgt. Tariq Johnson said.
The collision sheared of a portion of the side of the SUV and send it tipping onto its side, the sergeant said.
A 33-year-old Hacienda Heights woman who was driving the SUV was treated for apparently minor injuries, Johnson said. The alleged intoxicated driver, initially described as a 26-year-old La Puente woman, was unhurt.
Had the vehicles collided head-on, the incident could have been far worse, Johnson added.
The suspect’s name was not available pending the booking process, he said.
The crash was under investigation by officers from the CHP’s East Los Angeles office.

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Sheriff’s task force jails 8, seizes $115,000 worth of allegedly stolen plastic goods in South El Monte, Lynwood

A task force based out of the sheriff’s Industry Station recovered more than $115,000 worth of stolen plastic goods late Wednesday from a South El Monte recycling business and a Lynwood home, officials said.
Eight people were arrested during the bust, which was carried out at Broadway Plastics in the 2000 block of Lee Avenue in South El Monte, as well as at a home in the 3500 block of Virginia Street in Lynwood, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Arrested were: Carlos Torres, 41, who is accused of masterminding the operation; Torres’ wife, Cecilia Torres, 38; their daughter, Carmen Torres, 18; Broadway Plastics owner Jason Wang, 46; Jesus Martinez, 23; Jose Gomez, 42; Joshua Barragan, 19; and Alex Merino, Sgt. Nabeel Mitry said. Their cities of residence were not available early Thursday.
Five of those arrested are family members, and two of them worked at Broadway Plastics, in addition to the business owner, Mitry added.
Officials described them as five family members, as well as two employees and the owner of the South El Monte recycling business. They were booked on suspicion of receiving stolen property.
The allegedly stolen plastics include items such as pallets and crates used to transport products.
At the South El Monte location, “Stolen trademarked plastic products were being stowed, ground and primed to be sold,” according to the sheriff’s statement. “Some of the products were still intact, while some had already been ground.”
The investigation and arrests were the result of an investigation by the sheriff’s Industrial Plastic Theft Task Force, based out of the sheriff’s Industry Station.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, the eight suspects were being held in lieu of $20,000 bail each pending their scheduled arraignment Friday in El Monte Superior Court.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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South El Monte man sentenced for 2010 murder of ex-girlfriend

LOS ANGELES — A South El Monte received a sentence of 40 years to life in prison Monday for shooting a former girlfriend to death more than two years ago, court officials said.
Toan Phan, 40, was convicted in July in Los Angeles Superior Court of the July 17, 2010 murder of 34-year-old Hong Nguyen.
Both Phan and Nguyen were found suffering from gunshot wounds when deputies responded to a report of a shooting shortly before 5 a.m. at Phan’s home in the 11400 block Thienes Avenue, officials said.
Phan was found wounded in the the doorway of the home and hospitalized prior to his arrest. Nguyen, an Orange County resident, was pronounced dead inside the home.
Phan and Nguyen had dated in the past, but the relationship had ended, authorities said. Phan had married someone else.
But following what Deputy District Attorney Terrie Tengelsen described as a botched murder-suicide, a suicide note from Phan was found indicating he still loved Nguyen and hoped they could be together in the next life.
Phan went to Greater El Monte Community Hospital complaining of chest pains in the hours prior to the shooting, the prosector said.
Either the hospital or Phan called Nguyen to pick him up, officials said. She drove Phan home before he shot her to death.

- Staff report

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South El Monte woman beaten and bound in home-invasion robbery

SOUTH EL MONTE — A South El Monte woman attacked and bound as she arrived home Friday evening in a violent home-invasion robbery, authorities said.
The woman, who is in her 40s, arrived at her home in the 10400 block of Thienes Avenue about 6:50 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said.
The robber was hiding outside the home, apparently waiting for someone to arrive, Sgt. Ann Devane said.
“He attacked her and forced his way in,” the sergeant said.
The robber punched the woman in the face several times and bound her hands, officials said. He then stole various small items from the home and fled.
Her hands still bound, the victim tried to chase after her attacker, Devane said.
The woman’s husband arrived home just after the attack, she said, and neighbors also came to the woman’s aid after noticing a commotion.
Officials took the woman to a hospital for treatment of her injuries, which were not believed to be major.
Deputies described the robber as a Latino man between 25 and 30 years old, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall and about 170 pounds. He had black hair and brown eyes, and wore a black hooded sweatshirt and dark blue jeans.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the sheriff’s Temple Station at 626-285-7171.

- Staff report

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Man shot to death in South El Monte

A man was found fatally shot near a local museum Wednesday night, deputies said.
The man’s identity was not released Thursday pending confirmation that his family had been notified, according to coroner’s officials. He was initially described as being 27 years old.
At 6:42 p.m., the sheriff’s Temple station received calls about gunshots and cars on Rosemead Boulevard, according to Lt. Ignacio Somoano.
He said someone then called to report a “person down” by the ditch in front of the American Society of Military History Museum in the 1900 block of Rosemead Boulevard, south of Rush Street.
Deputies discovered the victim dead at the scene, and homicide detectives were called in.
Initial investigation revealed that two cars were stopped next to one another when one person exited each car, Dolson said.
The victim was shot mutliple times before both cars sped away, he said.
A motive or suspect description was not available, though the shooting was not believed to be gang-related, the lietenant said.
Rosemead Boulevard between Rush Street and the 60 Freeway were closed remained closed as of 8:28 p.m.
The California Highway Patrol assisted deputies in diverting traffic around the area.

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Sheriff’s, Caltrans vehicles involved in crash on 60 Freeway

SOUTH EL MONTE — The California Highway Patrol issued a Sig Alert on the eastbound 60 Freeway near Peck Road Wednesday after a crash involving a Caltrans truck and an unmarked sheriff’s car, authorities said.
CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos said there were no reports of injuries in connection with the crash, which was reported about 10:15 a.m.
The circumstances of the crash and the extent of the damage to the vehicles were not immediately available.
Officials declared a Sig Alert for the right-hand lane of the eastbound 60 Freeway, as well well as the Peck Road onramp to the eastbound 60 Freeway, as they cleared the damaged Caltrans truck from the roadway, Villalobos said.
The crash was being investigated by the East Los Angeles office of the CHP.
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Check cashing business, employee robbed at gunpoint

SOUTH EL MONTE – An armed man robbed a Check ‘n Go of about $590 and also took an employee’s wallet and cell phone Tuesday.

Lt. Loy McBride of the sheriff’s Temple station said no one was injured during the 3 p.m. robbery of the business at 1936 Durfee Ave.

McBride said the robber walked in, pointed a gun at the employee and demanded money.

The suspect was described as a black man, 20 to 25, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 140 pounds. He was armed with a semi automatic pistol.

- Staff report

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UPDATED: Jail escapee and wife sought for wounding deputy with shotgun, multiple carjackings

SOUTH EL MONTE – Officials are seeking a jail escapee and his wife after they wounded a sheriff’s deputy with a shotgun Sunday in the midst of a violent crime spree, authorities said.
The deputy was treated for non-life threatening injuries and released from a hospital later in the day, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said.
The suspects, identified by sheriff’s officials as Darnell Washington, 24, and his wife, Tania Washington, 25, remained at large Sunday night.
Darnell Washington escaped from the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center in Devore Tuesday, with help from his wife, sheriff’s officials said.
In addition to the attack on the deputy, they were believed to be linked to a series of carjackings, including one about 45 minutes after the shooting in South Gate, Parker said. 
The shooting took place just before 9 a.m. at a 7-Eleven store at Durfee Avenue and Michael Hunt Drive.
A deputy assigned to the sheriff’s Temple Station, which patrols South El Monte, saw a Nissan Armada pull into the parking lot of the convenience store and found it suspicious, Parker said. The deputy ran the Armada’s license plate and determined it was reported, “armed and dangerous,” prompting him to call for backup from additional deputies.
Before help arrived, however, “The suspects came out of the store, and a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” Parker said. “Gunfire was exchanged between at least one suspect and the deputy.”
It was not clear if either of the suspects was wounded by the deputy’s gunfire.
The suspects then fled in the Nissan Armada they arrived in, which was initially believed to have been carjacked.
About 45 minutes later, the suspects abandoned the Nissan in South Gate, where they carjacked a minivan.
The carjacked minivan the suspects were last seen in was described as a light blue, 1996 Plymouth Voyager with a California license plate number of 3PHK484.
Deputies were also investigating the suspects in connection with other area carjackings.
“Frankly, these two suspects are responsible for a crime spree, and a violent one at that,” Parker said.
Anyone who spots them was advised to call 9-1-1 immediately, but not approach them.
“They’re considered armed and extremely dangerous,” Parker said. “We very much want to get them into custody before they hurt someone else.”
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
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South El Monte man admits role in defrauding distressed homeowners

LOS ANGELES — A South El Monte man has agreed to plead guilty in connection to a scam that allegedly bilked about 200 distressed homeowners out of more than $2.5 million by falsely promising to eliminate their mortgage debt for a large fee, authorities announced Friday.
Ernesto Diaz, 57, agreed to admit a single count of mail fraud for his role in a scam operated by his company, Crown Point Education, which has offices in Montebello and El Monte, California Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
Diaz solicited homeowners to pay fees of about $15,000 each to, promising he and his organization could force banks to forgive their mortgages, Mrozek said. He further promised clients their mortgages would be forgiven within six to eight months.
“Instead of working on behalf of the homeowners, the man simply sent worthless ‘Sovereign Citizen’ paperwork to lenders — paperwork that did nothing to affect the mortgage of a single homeowner,” according to the statement.
As part of his plea agreement, officials said, Diaz promised to cooperate in an investigation into Crown Point Education, Inc., which began operating in early 2009.
While pitching the fraudulent scheme to clients, which he admitted in his plea agreement had never been successful, “Diaz failed to tell distressed homeowners that earlier Crown Point clients — including Diaz’s own brother — has lost their houses to foreclosure and been evicted from their houses,” Mrozek said.
Additionally, authorities allege, Diaz and other Crown Point representatives filed bankruptcy documents on behalf of homeowners to delay foreclosure or eviction without their knowledge, often forging signatures in the process.
Diaz was scheduled to appear in federal court Sept. 13.
If convicted as charged, Diaz faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
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South El Monte food truck robbery nets suspects $4 in change

OUTH EL MONTE — A group of men on Thursday attacked and robbed the owner of a food truck then took his cash box which contained about $4 in pennies.
Sgt. Mark Skaggs of the sheriff’s Temple Station doubted if the suspects knew how much was in the box.
“Apparently (the victim) kept pennies there,” Skaggs said.
The robbery was reported at 10:07 p.m. in the 2300 block of Continental Avenue.
Skaggs said four to six men tried to pull the victim out of the truck. He was knocked down inside the vehicle. Some of the robbers then punched and hit him, Skaggs said.
One suspect took the cash box from the truck.
The robbers, described only as Latinos, fled in a silver 4-door Jeep.
- Ruby Gonzales
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