SAN MARINO >> San Marino police arrested a woman on suspicion of embezzling nearly $200,000 from her elderly employer over the past two years, authorities said.
Rebecca Diaz, 44, of Los Angeles is accused of embezzlement and grand theft following her arrest, which took place just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to San Marino police officials and Los Angeles county booking records.
Los Angeles County Adult Protective Services officials contacted San Marino police regarding possible financial elder abuse earlier in the afternoon, San Marino police Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said in a written statement.
The victim, a San Marino man in his 70s, employed Diaz as the account manager at his South Pasadena-based agricultural business, Detective Brian Wong said.
“The initial report claimed there were abnormally large amounts of money being deducted from the victim’s bank account,” Tebbetts said.
“Further investigation revealed (Diaz) had been making cash advances and purchases using the victim’s business credit card and business checking account,” Tebbetts said. “It is believed the suspect embezzled over $195,000.00 in just over two years.”
Diaz had worked for the victim even longer, and detectives continued looking into the possibility of additional theft, Wong said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Wong a 626-300-0719.
SOUTH PASADENA >> A repeat convicted felon pepper-sprayed and stabbed a hardware store employee who tried to stop him from shoplifting Saturday evening, police said.
Officers arrested Jay William Brewer, 48, of Sylmar on suspicion of attempted murder shortly after the incident, which unfolded about 8 p.m. at Orchard Supply Hardware, 452 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena police Sgt. Shannon Robledo said.
An employee of the store saw Brewer set off the store’s anti-theft alarm while leaving the store, so he followed him outside and confronted him about the alleged theft, the sergeant said.
“In an attempt to escape, the suspect sprayed the employee with pepper spray,” Robledo said in a written statement. “The employee was disoriented for a moment, but continued after the suspect.”
“During a second confrontation, the suspect produced a knife, stabbing the employee in the abdomen before fleeing,” according to the sergeant.
The victim, a man in his 50s, was taken to a hospital with “significant, but non-life-threatening” injuries, he added.
Officers found Brewer hiding in the area and arrested him without a struggle. They recovered the pocket knife believed to have been used in the stabbing, as well as other pieces of evidence from Brewer.
No property from the store was recovered, and it was unclear what the suspect may have stolen from the business, Robledo said.
Brewer has a lengthy criminal history, including past convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, burglary, possession of a dangerous weapon, criminal threats, vehicle theft, petty theft and violating parole.
According to Los Angeles County booking records,, Brewer was being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Alhambra Police Department jail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Wednesday in the Alhambra branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Anyone with information is urged to contact South Pasadena police at 626-403-7297.
SAN MARINO >> San Marino police jailed a San Gabriel man this on suspicion of identity theft, mail theft and other crimes after catching him with a car filled with hundreds of pieces of stolen mail, checks, identification cards, credit cards, and other identity-theft related materials, police said.
Joseph Kamel, 40, was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail Saturday following his arrest on Thursday evening, according to San Marino police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Investigators had been seeking Kamel after he and his car were seen in connection with at least two mail or package thefts in the city dating back to May,San Marino police Sgt. Robert Matthews said.
After spotting Kamel driving through the city, an officers summoned backup and followed him into the 1500 block of Oak Knoll Avenue in Pasadena, where they pulled the car over and detained Kamel without a struggle, police said. He was alone in the black, 2011 Chevrolet Camaro.
“A subsequent investigation revealed Kamel to be in possession of a U.S. Postal service master key, hundreds of pieces of mail addressed to individual persons and businesses across Los Angeles County, over 100 checks that were addressed to other victims, banking statements, U.S. Passports, California Identification cards and Driver Licenses, credit card encoding and skimming devices, and ledgers containing personal and banking information of many other potential victims,” Sgt. Timothy Tebbetts said in a written statement.
Some of the people whose information was recovered from Kamel’s car had already been the victims of identity theft, Matthews said.
It was yet to be determined whether the case would be turned over to federal officials for prosecution, though it appeared likely, Matthews said. Mail theft is a federal crime.
Thursday’s arrest was the latest in series of arrests by area police for alleged large-scale mail and identity theft schemes.
Police in South Pasadena arrested a Highland Park woman on Sept. 3 after finding her driving through town with a treasure trove of stolen mail, documents, mail keys and other theft-related items. Marisa Rae Delgado, 27, is facing federal charges in the case.
And San Marino police in May arrested a mother and daughter for allegedly driving around with stolen mail, a U.S. Postal Service master key and methamphetamine, police said at the time. Estela Castaneda, 48, of Huntington Park and Elizabeth Castaneda, 22, of Rosemead, also face federal charges.
The two San Marino cases appear to be linked, officials said. Kamel posted bail for Elizabeth Castaneda following her arrest in May, officials said. Their relationship was unclear Saturday.
Kamel is scheduled to make his first appearance Tuesday in the Alhambra branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, records show.
PHOTOS courtesy of the
SOUTH PASADENA >> Police and firefighters are inviting the public to enjoy a day of festivities, demonstrations, classic car show and more as they host the South Pasadena Police and Fire Department Open House this Sunday.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pasadena Police Department, 1422 Mission Street, as well as at the neighboring South Pasadena Fire Department, 817 Mound Ave., city officials said in a written statement.
Police canine demonstrations, fire department demonstrations and helicopter landings and fly-overs are planned, along with child fingerprinting, a classic car show, informational booths and workshops, giveaways and raffles.
For more information, including a schedule of events, visit www.southpasadenaca.gov, or contact Detective Richard Lee at 626-403-7285.
SOUTH PASADENA >> A Highland Park woman is facing federal charges after she was found driving through South Pasadena early Saturday with a treasure drove of identity theft-related items, including hundreds of pieces of stolen mail, stolen driver licenses, mailbox keys, blank credit cards and a credit card embossing machine, police said.
Marisa Rae Delgado, 27, was accused of mail theft, a federal offense, and other crimes, according to South Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
She was speeding along the 110 Freeway when an officer pulled her over, South Pasadena police Cpl. Craig Phillips said in a written statement.
“The female driver was found to have an outstanding felony warrant for grand theft auto,” he said.
Police arrested Delgado and searched the rented BMW she was driving, which she told officers had been rented by her boyfriend.
“An inventory search of the rented BMW found over 200 pieces of U.S. mail not addressed to the driver, which officers believe to be stolen,” Phillips said. “Officers also found dozens of blank credit cards, a credit card embossing machine, multiple mailbox keys for multi-unit housing complexes, several stolen driver’s licenses and other tools commonly used to commit thefts.”
Delgado, who has previous arrests for auto theft and identity theft, was being held without bail pending her initial court appearance, police said.
PHOTOS: [ABOVE] South Pasadena police seized hundreds of documents belonging to other people and other identity-theft-related items during a traffic stop on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. A Highland Park woman was arrested. [CENTER] Marisa Rae Delgado, 27, of Highland Park. [BELOW] South Pasadena police seized this credit card embossing machine, used to create fraudulent credit cards, along with hundreds of documents belonging to other people and other identity-theft-related items during a traffic stop on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. A Highland Park woman was arrested. (Courtesy, South Pasadena Police Department)
SOUTH PASADENA >> Police arrested a Los Angeles man suspect who went on an alleged crime spree Wednesday morning, sexually assaulting two teenage girls and one woman before breaking into five apartment in the south end of South Pasadena, authorities said.
The identity of the 22-year-old suspect, who was already on parole for burglary, was withheld as police continued following up investigative leads Wednesday afternoon, South Pasadena police Capt. Brian Solinski said during a press conference.
The string of crimes took place beginning about 7:30 a.m. in a four- to five-block area near South Pasadena High School, Solinksi said.
The suspect inappropriately touched or exposed himself to a woman and two underage girls out on the street, police said.
Immediately afterward, Solinski said the man began a burglary spree, breaking into five apartments in the same general neighborhood, Solinski said. Detectives determined the same man was responsible for all eight crimes reported in South Pasadena early Wednesday.
With help from the victims, detectives tracked the suspect to the 3000 block of Emery Street in Los Angeles, where they spotted a man matching the description of the South Pasadena suspect.
“The individual got into a car and tried to flee the scene,” Solinski said. Officers quickly pulled over the car and took the driver into custody.
Items inside the car linked the driver to the South Pasadena crime scenes, Solinski said. It was also determined that the car the suspect was driving had also been stolen early Wednesday.
None of the three sexual assault victims were physically unharmed, he said.
“There was some contact made, but nothing that produced any injuries,” Solinski said.
It at least some of the break-ins, the suspect got into the apartments through windows, he added.
Police and school officials placed South Pasadena High School and South Pasadena Middle School on precautionary lockdowns due to their proximity to some of the locations where the crimes occurred, South Pasadena police said in a written statement.
Police said officers found a knife at one of the residences that was burglarized. The lockdowns were lifted after the knife was discovered.
The investigation was ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to call South Pasadena Police at 626-403-7297.
WEST COVINA >> Coroner’s officials have identified a Lakewood man who died in a fiery multi-car freeway wreck in West Covina last week along with a South Pasadena man described as one of Taiwan’s most wanted fugitives, authorities said.
Gregory Donald Smith, 69, died at the scene of the crash, which took place about 1 a.m. on May 27 on the westbound 10 Freeway, just east of Citrus Avenue, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
He was unable to get out of his pickup truck following the crash. The truck became engulfed in flames.
An autopsy determined Smith died of “thermal burns,” and the death was ruled accidental, Winter said.
Also killed in the crash while driving another vehicle was 89-year-old You T. Wang, also identified by authorities as Wang You-theng, of South Pasadena.
Wang was in the middle of a decade-long court battle to avoid extradition to Taiwan, where he’s accused of embezzling more than $9 billion from a steel company called Rebar, which Wang founded in 1959. He allegedly drained the company’s assets and fled to the U.S. after the company when business took a sour turn in 2006.
Wang was ordered removed from the U.S. in late-2014 after years of litigation.
His appeal of that order was dismissed in December, but he then filed a petition for a review of his case by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.
That review was yet to be heard when Wang was killed in last week’s crash.
The cause of the fiery five-car chain reaction, which resulted in two separate crash scenes, remained under investigation by the CHP.
It was initially believed to have been triggered when a Toyota Tacoma driven by Smith sideswiped a Lexus in the left-hand lane, initiating a series of collisions, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
Anyone with information can reach the Baldwin Park area office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
SOUTH PASADENA >> A South Pasadena police corporal and an officer on his first patrol rescued a suicidal woman who was threatening to jump from a freeway overpass Sunday afternoon, officials said.
The incident unfolded shortly after 6:10 p.m., when police received a report of a woman threatening to jump from the Prospect Avenue overpass of the 110 Freeway, South Pasadena police Sgt. Spencer Louie said in a written statement.
Nine-year department veteran Cpl. Juan Salcido and Officer Brian Wiley, who graduated Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Academy 412 on Friday and was out for his first day of patrol, found the woman sitting on the ledge, facing the freeway, he said.
“She was hysterical and yelling while she was talking on her cell phone, threatening to jump,” Louie said. “Seeing that she was distracted while talking on the phone, Cpl. Salcido approached the female subject and grabbed her around the waist to pull her off the ledge.
“She struggled momentarily with Cpl. Salcido and with the assistance of Officer Wiley, they were able to safely get her onto the sidewalk,” he said.
The woman, 20, was taken for psychiatric evaluation, police said.
SOUTH PASADENA >> A jury convicted a parolee Wednesday of kidnapping and other charges in connection with a home-invasion robbery and attack targeting an elderly South Pasadena woman in 2012, officials said.
An Los Angeles County Superior Court Jury in Alhambra deliberated for less than a day before finding Alonzo Bernard Johnson, 53, of Los Angeles guilty of robbery, kidnapping to commit robbery and burglary in connection with the Aug. 6, 2012, crime at the victim’s home in the 1000 block of Indiana Avenue, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement. The jury also found true the special allegations that Johnson used a knife in the crime, and that he inflicted great bodily injury on his 79-year-old victim.
Johnson entered the victim’s home and asked if he could charge his cell phone, South Pasadena police Cpl. Matthew Ronnie said.
When the woman told Johnson to leave, he attacked the woman, breaking her nose, and pulled out a knife, according to police and district attorney’s officials.
“Johnson demanded money from the victim in her kitchen and then pulled her to the bedroom while using a knife, where he forced her to lay face down on her bed and attempted to tie her up with an electrical cord,” Ardalani said in the statement.
“Johnson repeatedly demanded that the victim give him jewelry as he continuously punched her in the head and face while threatening to kill her,” the statement continued The victim suffered brain bleed and a ruptured ear drum from the assault.”
As the victim continued struggling with Johnson, her 8- and 12-year-old grandchildren entered the house, and she called out for them to get help, Ardalani said. Johnson grabbed some jewelry and fled, but was soon apprehended across the city border in Los Angeles in the 5100 block of Huntington Drive, police said.
DNA evidence also led investigators to link Johnson to another home burglary that occurred in Pasadena on June 22, 2012, in which another elderly woman found Johnson rifling through her jewelry before he ran from her home, district attorney’s officials said..
Johnson had absconded from parole supervision for a previous robbery conviction at the time of the South Pasadena home invasion, and also had a prior burglary conviction, South Pasadena police Detective Bill Earley said.
Johnson faces the possibility of life in prison when he returns to court for sentencing June 17, officials said.
SOUTH PASADENA >> Police are seeking a 75-year-old woman visiting South Pasadena from Nepal who went missing Wednesday afternoon.
Ruk Bhandari was last seen about noon, walking away from her family’s home in the 1400 block of Grevalia Street, South Pasadena police officials said in a written statement.
“Ms. Bhandari is visiting from Nepal and only speaks Nepalese,” according to the statement.
She is 5 feet tall, 150 pounds, with brown eyes and gray shoulder-length hair. She was last seen wearing a skirt, with pants, and gold earrings.
Anyone with information is asked to contact South Pasadena police at 626-403-7297.
PHOTO of Ruk Bhandari courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department.