ALHAMBRA — Prosecutors Wednesday filed 18 counts of arson and attempted arson against a South Pasadena accused of torching brush and cars in Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles during a five-month arson spree that ended with his arrest over the weekend, officials said.
Javier Adolfo Viera, 35, was charged in Alhambra Superior Court, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Jane Robison.
Though investigators linked Viera to 26 fires, he was formally charged with 18 counts of arson, according to a felony complaint filed against him.
If convicted as charged, he could face up to 32 years in state prison, Robison said.
Following his arrest Sunday after a car fire in the 6100 block of Oak Hill in Los Angeles, Viera confessed to a series of arsons, officials said, saying that he never meant to hurt anyone and “needed help.”
The suspect told investigators he was frustrated by financial problems, and had taken to torching luxury cars out of jealousy, according to South Pasadena police Sgt. Robert Bartl.
Viera was being held in lieu of $2 million bail pending his scheduled arraingment, which was scheduled for May 6 in Alhambra Superior Court, according to court officials and booking records.
SOUTH PASADENA — Two liquor thieves escaped police following a brief chase in a stolen car Saturday, but it wasn’t a clean getaway, authorities said. They left behind identification, including an inmate wristband from a previous stay in county jail.
Police did not release the names of the men as they continued seeking them and prepared a criminal case for prosecutors, South Pasadena police Lt. Mike Neff said.
Police received a call about 1:30 p.m. reporting the men were stealing liquor from Bristol Farms, 606 Fair Oaks Ave., the sergeant said. In addition to Saturday’s theft, they were seen the previous day stealing alcohol, he added.
Responding officers spotted the suspects, who fled to a nearby 1996 Honda and sped away, Neff said.
The Honda led police on a brief pursuit, which ended about half a mile away in the 300 block of Garfield Road, where the suspects abandoned the car and continued fleeing on foot, Neff said.
The suspects were not found, however they left behind in the stolen car all of the alcohol they had just stolen — valued at more than $300 — as well as identifying documents, police said.
Among them were a California ID and a wristband ID issued to county jail inmates, Neff said. Officers confirmed the men they chased were the same ones listed on the documents.
Both men have outstanding felony arrest warrants stemming from unrelated cases, he added.
The Honda had been reported stolen earlier in the day to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Harbor Division.
Police arrested a Riverside teenager over the weekend after he was confronted by a resident while burglarizing a San Marino home, then tried to rob a man of a cell phone before ultimately being captured in South Pasadena, authorities said.
San Marino police responded about 10:15 a.m. Sunday to a report of a burglary in progress in the 2000 block of Winthrop Road, South Pasadena police Sgt. Brian Solinsky said.
The 17-year-old suspect “used a brick to break a window and gain entry into the home,” Solinsky said.
A woman who lives in the home heard a commotion and found the suspect stealing valuables, police said. He fled when confronted, escaping with an ornamental lock from a Japanese cabinet.
Solinsky said the fleeing burglar ran to a home that was under construction nearby in the 1300 block of Garfield Avenue and asked the caretaker to use a phone, Solinsky said.
When the caretaker refused, the teenage suspect claimed to have a gun and demanded the caretaker’s cell phone, the sergeant said. But the would-be robbery victim refused, and the suspect continued on his way.
South Pasadena police then received a call reporting a suspicious person, who was sweaty and appeared to be trying to change clothes, just across the city border in the 2000 block of Edgewood Drive, Solinsky said. Officers found him in the area and arrested him without a struggle.
No weapon was found in the teenage suspect’s possession, officials said. Due to his age, his name was not released.
SOUTH PASADENA — Police pulled a suicidal woman from a freeway overpass early Saturday, officials said.
The incident took place about 2:20 a.m. on the Fair Oaks Avenue bridge over the 110 Freeway, South Pasadena police Sgt. Tony Abdalla said.
“They received numerous 9-1-1 call of a female wearing black clothing attempting to jump off the 110 Freeway overpass,” the sergeant said.
Officers arrived and grabbed onto the 29-year-old woman and pulled her off the bridge, he said. She was taken for psychiatric evaluation.
SOUTH PASADENA — An Alhambra man allegedly led police on an intoxicated, slow-speed chase through South Pasadena and Pasadena late Friday and early Saturday before finally surrendering, authorities said.
Tim Neal Morgan, 35, was released from jail with a citation early Saturday after being booked on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and misdemeanor evading police, South Pasadena police Sgt. Tony Abdalla said.
The pursuit began about 11:45 p.m. when an officer patrolling in the 300 block of Garfield Avenue, which has had recent issues with burglaries and auto thefts, spotted Morgan sitting in a parked 1999 Ford Explorer and thought him suspicious, the sergeant said.
As the officer approached Morgan, he began driving away in the SUV with his headlights off, Abdalla said.
The officer tried to pull the Explorer over, but Morgan continued driving, he said.
“It was a slow-speed pursuit in the area of 20 to 30 mph, with the suspect stopping at red lights and stop signs,” Abdalla said.
After leading officers on a 50-minute chase on South Pasadena and Pasadena surface streets, Morgan pulled over and surrendered to police just inside the Alhambra city limit on Huntington Drive near Garfield Avenue, police said.
Prosecutors Wednesday filed eight felony charges, with more likely to come later, against an Arcadia man who used a complex credit card fraud and forgery scheme to support an opulent lifestyle at the expense of others for more than a year, investigators said.
South Pasadena police arrested Feng Xian, 21, Monday on charges including forgery, fraud, burglary and possession of equipment for forging fake credit cards, South Pasadena police Detective Bill Earley said.
At a room he was renting in Arcadia, police found 244 allegedly fraudulent credit cards, along with embossing machines and electronic equipment used to create the bogus cards, the detective said.
And it appeared Xian, who drove a Mercedes-Benz and wore designer clothing and jewelry despite having “no visible means of support,” had been involved in the scheme for many months.
“He’s been doing this for at least a year,” Earley said. “I have receipts more than a year old.”
… FULL STORY
PHOTOS of seized property, suspect Feng Xian courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department
SOUTH PASADENA — Malfunctioning train crossing arms caused traffic delays throughout South Pasadena early Friday, officials said.
Train crossing arms along most of the city’s Metro Gold Line railroad crossings were staying down for several extra minutes following the passages of trains, creating significant delays for motorists stuck behind them, South Pasadena police Sgt. Tony Abdalla said.
Friday’s problems began about 7 a.m., he added.
“It is just about every crossing we have in the city, with exceptions of Hope Street and Fremont (Avenue),” the sergeant said.
Metrolink officials replaced circuit boards to correct the issue, he said.
The arms were back to normal operation before 4 p.m., police said.
Problems with traffic arms along the Metro Gold Line track through the city also experienced problems Thursday, though they were remedied by the end of the day, Abdalla said.
SOUTH PASADENA — A man wearing a black hat, black clothing and with a black bandanna covering his face entered a home Friday night but fled after a resident confronted him, police said.
The burglary attempt in the 1000 block of Highland Street was reported at 7:45 p.m.
South Pasadena Cpl. Matthew Ronnie said the man walked in using an unlocked back door. The resident was home at the time.
Ronnie said the resident confronted the suspect who took off running. He was last seen running southbound.
The resident called police.
Officers searched the surrounding area using a helicopter and police dogs but couldn’t find the would-be burglar.
The suspect was described as 5 feet 11 inches tall, maybe white.
- Ruby Gonzales
SOUTH PASADENA — Police are investigating a reported threat of gun violence against South Pasadena High School after receiving a tip from a student late Thursday, officials said.
A female student told police that a person described only as a male wearing a hooded sweat shirt told her during the lunch period Thursday something to the effect of, “Don’t come to school tomorrow. There’s going to be a shooting,” South Pasadena police Detective Richard Lee said.
The incident was not reported to police until about 9 p.m.
Detectives investigated through the night, interviewing students and trying to identify the person who made the statement, Lee said.
The source of the potential threat remained unclear Friday, Lee said. The student who reported the statement did not recognize him.
No other students reported any similar incidents, he added.
There was no evidence the threat was credible, police said.
“But at the same time, students’ safety is very important to us,” Lee said.
Extra officers were sent to patrol the campus and would remain there through the remainder of the school day, officials said.
Friday is the last day of school at the campus before winter break.
SOUTH PASADENA — A family was fortunate to escape injury after a drunken driver plowed a car into their living room early Sunday, police said.
Veronica Villanueve, 24, of Oregon was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor drunken driving and released with a citation, South Pasadena police Sgt. Mike Neff said.
She was believed to be a student from Oregon who was visiting family in Rosemead for the holidays, and it appeared she borrowed the involved car from her mother, he said.
The car was northbound on Raymond Avenue just after 2:20 a.m.at high speed when it reached a “T” intersection with Alhambra Road, the sergeant said.
The car skidded through the intersection and, “ended up in the living room,” Neff said.
“There were about nine people staying in the house,” he said. “Fortunately, no one was in the living room at the time.”
Investigating officers determined Villanueva was under the influence of alcohol and arrested her, Neff said.
According to county booking records, she was due for an arraignment Dec. 24 in Alhambra Superior Court.
PHOTOS courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department