West Covina man sentenced for San Gabriel Valley arson spree


POMONA >> A West Covina man received an eight-year prison sentenced Friday after admitting an arson spree targeting six San Gabriel Valley businesses late last year and early this year, officials said.
During what was scheduled to be a pretrial hearing in Pomona Superior Court, David Lin, 43, pleaded “no contest” Friday to five counts of arson of property and one count of arson of an inhabited structure, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. The outcome was the result of a negotiated plea arrangement.
Judge Salvatore Sirna sentenced Lin to eight years in state prison and ordered him to register as an arson offender for life, officials said.
Lin was arrested Feb. 3 after investigators linked him to a series of seven arson fires that ignited primarily inside the bathrooms of San Gabriel Valley businesses since December, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. John Hanson said at the time. No one was injured in the fires, at least one of which caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.
The fires were reported in December at the Guppy House restaurant in Hacienda Heights, as well as the Rolling Wok restaurant in Rowland Heights.
Two more similar fires broke out in January at L & L Hawaiian Barbecue in Walnut and at Office Depot in Rowland Heights, investigators said. The final three fires were reported the day of Lin’s arrest at a McDonalds, a Del Taco and Ten Ren’s Tea Time, all in Rowland Heights.
A motive for the bizarre crime spree was not clear, prosecutors said. Officials described Lin as a former West Covina resident who had been living in his car at the time of the arsons.

PHOTO of Davin Lin courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Walnut man found dead after Rowland Heights car crash named

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> Officials Sunday released the identity of a Walnut man found dead at the wheel of his car after suffering an apparent medical emergency and crashing into a residential front yard.
Steven Irving Fischer, 61, died at the scene of the incident, which was reported just after 9 p.m. Wednesday in the 19200 block of Windrose Drive in Rowland Heights, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
An autopsy had been performed, but Fischer’s cause of death was deferred pending the results of further testing, Corral said.
California Highway Patrol Sgt. Brian Axt said the driver had dropped off a passenger before the crash which was reported just after 9 p.m.
Fischer was traveling east when his 2000 Jaguar came to a stop in the middle of the road, then accelrated toward the curbline and ended up in a front yard, California Highway Patrol officials said.
There were no signs of trauma on the body, Corral said.

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Doctor from Walnut convicted of running ‘pill mill’

LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from Walnut faces up to seven behind bars after a jury convicted him Thursday of prescribing painkillers and other drugs without a medical reason at his Wilmington clinic, authorities said.
The Los Angeles Superior Court Jury found jury John Dimowo, 56, guilty of seven felony counts of unlawful prescription of a controlled substance in an operation described by prosecutor as a “pill mill,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“Undercover agents with the Medical Board of California went to Dimowo’s pain management clinic in Wilmington between March 2012 and March 2013 and received prescriptions for Adderall, hydrocodone and alprazolam without receiving any appropriate exams,” according to the statement. “The agents paid between $250 to $400 per visit.”
After posting bail following his initial arrest in October of 2013, officials re-arrested Dimowo in April after they said he continued writing prescriptions in violation of the terms of his bail. He again posted bail a week later, records show.
Following the jury’s decision, Dimowo was being held without bail pending his sentencing, scheduled for May 29.

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UPDATED: Security guard fires shots during Rowland Heights jewelry store theft

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A security shot at a man who stole a Rolex watch from a Rowland Heights jewelry store Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
Few details were initially available regarding the incident, which unfolded about 3:15 p.m. at Hing Wa Lee Jewelers, on Fairway Drive just north of Colima Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Buckner said.
It was not clear if the suspect had been wounded, the lieutenant said.
A man tried on an item and fled the store with it, he said. An armed security guard chased after him.
“At some point there was an altercation in the parking lot, which resulted in the security guard shooting,” Buckner said.
The guard fired several rounds, though it was not clear if the suspect had been wounded. He was last seen getting into a silver car with a driver waiting at the wheel.
The stolen item was described as a Rolex watch worth up to $25,000.

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Wanut doctor accused of continuing to write prescriptions pending trial

LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from Walnut awaiting trial on accusations of over-prescribing powerful painkillers were re-arrested this week on suspicion of violating the conditions of his bail by continuing to issue prescriptions, district attorney’s officials said.
John Dimowo, 56, of Walnut was arrested during a court appearance Friday, ahead of the planned April 24 start of his trial on eight counts of unlawful prescription of a controlled substance, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
“Dimowo, who was out on $60,000 bail on a restricted prescribing license, wrote dozens of prescriptions to his patients in violation of the court’s orders, prosecutors alleged in the motion,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
He was being held in lieu of $120,000 bail pending his trial, authorities said. He’s accused of prescribing Adderall, hydrocodone and alprazolam to undercover investigators at his Wilmington office without providing appropriate examinations between 2012 and 2013.

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Man suspected in arson spree in Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights, Walnut


SAN GABRIEL VALLEY >> A man is accused of lighting a series of seven fires inside the restrooms of open businesses in an unusually brazen arson spree in recent weeks in Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights and Walnut, authorities said.
Deputies arrested David Lin, 42, Tuesday, Sgt. John Hanson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail said.
He had been sought in connection with a string of fires that began in December, the sergeant said. Three of the alleged fires occurred Tuesday alone.
Though the fires remained confined to the restrooms they were lit in, the suspect’s reckless and bold behavior was deeply concerning, arsonist profiler Detective Ed Nordskog of the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail said.
“For somebody to go into an open business during business hours and light a fire, it’s really rare, even for serial arsonists,” Nordskog said.
“What he does is so high-risk” the detective added. “He’s a rare breed. That makes him dangerous.”
No injuries were reported in the fires, Hanson said.
Detectives first became aware of an arsonist operating in the area when they were called to investigate a fire lit Jan. 29 in the bathroom of L & L Hawaiian Barbecue, 515 S. Gran Avenue in Walnut, Hanson said. Someone set fire to paper items such as toilet paper and toilet seat covers, inside the bathroom.
The following day, another similar fire erupted in a bathroom at Office Depot, 17450 Colima Road in Rowland Heights, Hanson said. The flames caused at least $2,000 in damage before fire sprinklers and firefighters extinguished it.
Detectives learned that another similar fire had taken place in December at the Rolling Wok restaurant, 18382 Colima Road in Rowland Heights, as well as at the Guppy House restaurant, 17188 Colima Road in Hacienda Heights, on Jan. 27, the sergeant said.
A break in the case Tuesday, as the suspect accelerated his arson spree, Hanson said. Three similar bathroom fires were reported Tuesday at McDonalds, 19775 Colima Road in Rowland Heights; Del Taco, 21060 Golden Springs Drive in Rowland Heights; and finally at Ten Ren’s Tea Time, 515 S. Grand Ave. in Rowland Heights.
But as the fires were igniting Tuesday, detectives were managed to identify a suspect through surveillance images, witness statement and booking photos from previous arrests. A bulletin was sent out to patrol deputies, who spotted Lin driving Tuesday afternoon.
Lin led deputies on a brief chase before pulling over and surrendering in the parking lot of a Rowland Heights supermarket, Hanson said. During the pursuit, he allegedly through methamphetamine from the car.
He was booked on suspicion of one count of arson for the tea house fire, felony evading of police and drug possession, Hanson said. Addition charges for the other six arson fires were expected to come later.
Lin, described as a former West Covina resident who has been living out of his car in recent months, was being held in lieu of $35,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in Pomona Superior Court, records show. But Lin’s bail is likely to increase as additional charges are added later.

BOOKING PHOTO of San Gabriel Valley arson spree suspect Davin Lin, 42.(Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

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Officials: Car sought in connection with fatal street racing crash in Walnut

WALNUT >> Investigators reached out to the public Friday for information into a fatal crash in Walnut last week believed to have occurred during an illegal street race, authorities said.
The crash took place about 6 p.m. on Nov. 13 at Amar Road, just east of Alta Sierra Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Investigator Paul Alaniz said in a written statement.
A Honda believed to have been racing another car collided with a third car before slamming into a stationary object, Lt. Frank Rivera said. The impact through the Honda driver from his vehicle. The car believed to be racing the Honda continued driving.
Officials rushed a badly injured Honda driver to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries Sunday, officials said. His name was not available Friday.
The driver of the car struck by the Honda suffered only minor injuries, Rivera said.
Deputies were told by witnesses that the Honda appeared to have been racing another car when the crash took place, officials said.
“The vehicle was described as a black Acura Integra, or possible a 1990s Honda Civic, two-door,” Alaniz said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Investigator Alaniz at 909-595-2264. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Walnut man killed in solo-car crash

WALNUT — A 68-year-old Walnut man died late Saturday after his vehicle struck a utility pole near Mt. SAC, authorities said.
Loi Van Nguyen died at the scene of the crash, which took place about 7 p.m. on Temple Avenue at Service Road, according to Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said and California Highway Patrol Officer Monica Posada.
No further details were available regarding the crash, which was being investigated by the Baldwin Park Office of the CHP.

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UPDATED — Walnut carjacking suspect arrested after hit-and-run, burglaries in West Covina

A Walnut carjacking suspect fleeing the scene of a crash broke into two homes, startling residents, and was trying to break into a third when police arrested him Thursday, authorities said.
Joseph Zavala, 24, of North Hollywood was ultimately arrested on suspicion of carjacking, felony hit-and-run, burglary and possession of stolen property, West Covina police Lt. Pat Cirrito said.
The incident kicked off about 2:40 p.m. when the suspect grabbed a set of keys from a woman at a gas station at Pierre Road and Valley Boulevard in Walnut, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said. He fled with the woman’s Toyota sedan, he said. The woman was not injured.
About five minutes later, police in West Covina received a report of a hit-and-run car crash at Grand Avenue and Cortez street, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said. A woman had suffered a minor injury in the collision when the suspect struck her vehicle, then ran from the scene.
Officials soon linked the car Zavala had been driving to the earlier carjacking, Patton said.
Zavala arrived at a home in the 500 block of Grand Avenue, the lieutenant said. “He removed the window screen and entered the residence, where he was confronted by the homeowners.” The residents managed to chase the intruder away, however further details of the encounter were not immediately available.
Patton said the fleeing suspect then showed up at a second home in the 600 block of Ferrari Way, “…where he broke a window of that residence. He entered into that structure, where he confronted the female resident, who feared for her safety and fled from her residence.”
Zavala helped himself to the woman’s refrigerator before continuing to run, Patton said.
Officers caught up with the man as he was breaking a window of a garage in the 600 block of Wrede Lane, Patton said. He was taken into custody without a struggle.
Officials took Zavala to a hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash and the break-ins prior to booking him into jail, Patton said.
Investigators were also looking into the possibility the suspect was under the influence of methamphetamine during the incident.

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Walnut man admits being gang ‘shotcaller,’ faces 27 years in prison

LOS ANGELES >> A Walnut man and “shotcaller” of a South Los Angeles street gang faces 27 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to federal racketeering and dug trafficking charges for helping the gang’s incarcerated leader continue managing the gang from behind bars, authorities said.
Manuel Valencia, 38, pleaded guilty to violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and “engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise connected to drug trafficking,” U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
Valencia, who could have faced life in prison if convicted at trial, is expected to receive 27 years in prison when he returns to federal court in Los Angeles for sentencing Sept. 8, officials said. He admitted to being a shotcaller for the Harpys street gang, one of more than a dozen Latino gangs in the South Los Angeles Area controlled by imprisoned Mexican Mafia member Danny Roman.
Acting on the orders of Roman, who is serving a life sentence at Pelican State Prison, Valencia, “admitted that he oversaw and participated in gang activities, which included collecting ‘taxes’ from drug dealers who were allowed to operate in gang territory, retaliating against people who ran afoul of the gang and engaging in drug trafficking,” Mrozek said.
Valencia’s plea comes a week after Roman’s daughter, 37-year-old Vianna Roman of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to racketeering, drug and weapons offenses for “acting as a conduit for her father’s orders as he exercised control of the Harpys gang,” Mrozek added.
Vianna Roman is expected to receive 20 years in prison when she returns to court for sentencing July 28, Mrozek said, though additional prison time is possible if deemed appropriate by U.S. District Judge R. Hary Klausner.
The guilty pleas come as a result of a 2-year-old indictment against 29 defendants, officials said. Of those originally charged in the indictment, 24 have pleaded guilty, one is awaiting trial, three are fugitives and one had charges dismissed after being convicted of murder in an unrelated case.

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