UPDATED with VIDEO: Gunman robs West Covina massage/acupuncture parlor


WEST COVINA >> An armed robber took $400 and a purse from a business Thursday night.
West Covina Police Officer Eddie Flores said no one was injured during the 7:42 p.m. robbery in the 1400 block of West Garvey Avenue North.
A car pulled into the parking lot of the business which Flores described as a pain management center where acupuncture is available.
Flores said a man got out of the back seat, entered the place, pulled a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at an employee. A second employee was in the back, he added.
Flores said the employee ran to the rear and locked herself in a room with her co-worker.
The robber ransacked the counter area, took a purse, money and left.
He was described as Latino or white, 21 to 25, between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing between 140 and 170 pounds. There was no description available for the getaway driver. The car they used was described as 4-door black or dark gray sedan.

- By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

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Nursing assistant accused of stealing identities of elderly Glendora nursing home guests

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GLENDORA >> A West Covina man who has worked as a nursing assistant at healthcare facilities throughout the San Gabriel Valley is accused of stealing more than $40,000 from at least two elderly patients in Glendora by fraudulently using their financial information, police said.
Police arrested 29-year-old Maui Berganio at his home Thursday, Glendora police Detective Zach Houser said in a written statement.
He allegedly stole debit card and account information from two elderly guests of Kindred Transitional Care in Glendora to purchase items for himself online, including furniture, Nike tennis shoes and car parts, Glendora police spokeswoman Tricia Ayers said.
“He’s worked at several different care facilities,” Ayers said. Detectives continued seeking any additional victims. “There could be possible additional charges filed,” she said.
0228_NWS_SGT-L-ELDERTHEFT2In addition to Kindred Transitional Care, over the past 10 years, Berganio has also worked at Arbor Glen Care Center in Glendora, Doctors Hospital in West Covina, West Haven Healthcare Center in West Covina, Citrus Valley Health Partners – Queen of the Valley Camapus in West Covina and Sierra View Care Center in Baldwin Park, police said. And it’s possible he has worked at other Southern California facilities.
Berganio’s alleged identity theft first came to light Jan. 8 when a woman in her 80s staying at the care center noticed some suspicious behavior, officials said.
An elderly guest as Kindred Transitional Care in Glendora awoke to find certified nursing assistant Maui Berganio kneeling by her bedside,” Houser said. “It was later discovered that Berganio had obtained the elderly guest’s debit card information, which 0228_NWS_SGT-L-ELDERTHEFT3he used to attempt numerous fraudulent online transactions totaling over $8,000.”
Investigators ultimately arrested Berganio Thursday afternoon at his home in the 1300 block of East Fairgrove Avenue in West Covina, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
The suspect admitted also using the financial information of another woman in her 80s who was staying at Kindred Transitional Care over the past year, police said. The alleged victim died earlier this month.
In that case, Berganio is accused of running up more than $40,000 in online purchases, Ayers said.
Police booked Berganio on suspicion of elder abuse and identity theft, she added.
According county booking records, Berganio was being held in lieu of $50,000 bal. He is scheduled to appear Monday in West Covina Superior Court.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Houser at 626-914-8286.

PHOTOS of suspect Maui Berganio, 29, of West Covina, and photos of goods allegedly purchased with the stolen identities of elderly women, courtesy of the Glendora Police Department.

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UPDATED: Mentally ill Glendora man who went missing in West Covina found safe in Norwalk

WEST COVINA >> A mentally ill Glendora man who went missing in West Covina Tuesday turned up safe in Norwalk early Friday, officials said.
The 57-year-old man walked away from Doctor’s Hospital of West Covina Tuesday after exiting the facility for a cigarette, according to West Covina police officials and the man’s sister.
Isidoro “Izzy” Limon, 57, was found safe in Norwalk Friday morning and was being returned to the facility where he lives in Glendora, West Covina police Lt. Dave Lee said.

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UPDATED: Passenger killed, driver accused of DUI in West Covina solo-car crash; Suspect and victim both from Baldwin Park

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WEST COVINA >> A Baldwin Park man riding as a passenger in the car of an alleged drunken driver died late Friday in a solo-car crash in West Covina, authorities said.
Aldo Armando Dominguez, 24, of Baldwin Park died at the scene of the 11:45 p.m. crash in the 2700 block of Hillside Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
Dominguez was riding as a rear passenger in a Honda sedan being driven by 27-year-old Felipe Lamas-Spino of Baldwin Park, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez said. Police booked Lamas-Spino on suspicion of felony drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter. He suffered no significant injuries.
0215_NWS_SGT-L-WCRASH2Another young man riding as a front passenger in the Honda also escaped significant injury, Lopez said.
Lamas-Spino lost control of the car as he drove west through the residential neighborhood, according to the corporal.
“Speed appears to be a factor,” he said.
The Honda struck the curb and smashed into a tree before overturning and coming to rest against a wall, Lopez said. The impact snapped a tree in half and created massive cracks in a stone retaining wall
Paramedics pronounced Dominguez dead at the scene, Lopez said. He was not believed to have been wearing a seat belt.
Two white candles and a small white cross marked the scene of the crash Saturday.
A nearby resident, who declined to giver her name, said she heard the loud crash from her home but did not know how it happened.
She said she was saddened to learn that a young man had died as a result of the crash.
Family members of Dominguez could not be reached for comment.
The crash occurred on an curving, uphill section of the road.
A cement mailbox pillar next to the destroyed tree had been dislodged by a previous crash about two months ago, the neighbor said.
Lamas-Spino was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Wednesday in West Covina Superior Court, county booking records show.
Witnesses to the crash are encouraged to contact West Covina police at 939-8500, or the department’s 24-hour tip hotline at 626-939-8668.

 

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Good Samaritan stabbed while intervening in 8 on 1 beating in West Covina

WEST COVINA >> A good Samaritan suffered a stab wound Thursday when he intervened as eight teens were beating up another young man in West Covina, police said.
The stabbing took place about 2:30 p.m. in a residential neighborhood in the 1700 block of East Nanette Avenue, West Covina police Cpl. Brandon Karmann said.
A 29-year-old West Covina man told police he saw eight teenagers beating up another teen, the corporal said. When he tried to break up the one-sided fight, one of the eight attackers stabbed him in the torso.
The group of suspects had fled the scene when police arrived, Karmann said. Officers searched the area, but did not find them.
The wounded man was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with an apparently moderate injuries, Karmann said. The injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.
The 17-year-old West Covina boy who was being attacked by the group declined to be taken to a hospital, he added.

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Police seek additional victims after West Covina Craigslist robberies

WEST COVINA >> After two men were robbed in West Covina in separate incidents over the past two weeks while responding to Craigslist ads for computers, police are seeking an potential additional victims of similar crimes, authorities said Wednesday.
The robberies, believed to have been carried out by the same perpetrator, both occurred after the victims agreed to meet the purported seller at residential carports in West Covina, West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez said.
“We’re confident they’re connected,” Lopez said.
The first crime took place in the late afternoon of Jan. 28 in the 1800 block of East Grovecenter Street, Lopez said. The second unfolded mid-afternoon Feb. 1 in the 2400 block of S. Ridgewood Drive.
In the first robbery, a 44-year-old Paramount man had responded to an advertisement regarding a computer on craigslist.com, Lopez said.
“The victim called the posted number and spoke to a male who directed him to meet in the (Grovecenter Street) carport,” Lopez said. “When the victim arrived, the suspect displayed a handgun in his waistband and demanded the money. The loss was over $700.”
The Ridgewood Drive robbery took place four days later when a 35-year-old Hacienda Heights man responded to a similar Craigslist advertisement for a computer, police said. Though worded differently, the adds offered to sell similar computers.
The victim arrived to meet the seller, who gestured as if he had a gun in his waistband, Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The demanded the victim’s cash and fled with more than $700.
Police have described the robber as a Latino man in his mid-30s with short hair.
In addition to tips on avoiding scams primarily perpetrated through non-face-to-face transactions, craigslist.com provides personal safety tips when dealing with people in person through the website.
“The overwhelming majority of craigslist users are trustworthy and well-intentioned,” according to the statement. “With billions of human interactions facilitated, the incidence of violent crime is extremely low. Nevertheless, please take the same common sense precautions online as you would offline.”
Safety tips for in-person transactions include insisting on meeting in a public place, such as a cafe; never meeting in a secluded place or inviting strangers to a home; tell a friend or family member about your plans; take a cell phone if available; consider bringing a friend during the transaction; and trusting your instincts. Users were advised to be extra cautious when dealing with high-value items.
“It is believed that there are additional victims of this kind of robbery that may have occurred in West Covina and in neighboring cities,” Lopez said.
Detectives were eager to speak to anyone who may has been a victim of a similar crime as they continued their investigation, Lopez said. Anyone with information was asked to contact West Covina police at 626-939-8557.

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28 grams of methamphetamine found hidden in suspect’s buttocks in West Covina

WEST COVINA >> Police discovered 28 grams of methamphetamine hidden in a Rialto man’s buttocks Sunday after taking him into custody for a probation violation following a routine traffic stop in West Covina, authorities said.
Jimmy Ontiveros, 24, was booked on suspicion of possession of narcotics for sale, possession of narcotics in a custodial environment and violating his probation stemming from a previous case, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
An officer pulled over a 2004 Dodge Intrepid just after 9 a.m. at Cameron and California avenues, the lieutenant said.
The driver was ultimately released with a citation, he said. But officers discovered that a passenger, Ontiveros, was wanted for violating his probation.
While searching the suspect during the booking process, officials first discovered a small amount of methamphetamine hidden inside Ontiveros’ sock, Patton said.
Police then discovered 28 additional grams of methamphetamine concealed between the suspect’s buttocks, he said.
In addition to possession of drugs for sales, Ontiveros is accused of an additional felony for bringing drugs into a secure portion of a police department.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Ontiveros was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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West Covina man killed by hit-and-run driver while changing tire along 605 Freeway in Irwindale identified

IRWINDALE >> Coroner’s officials have released the name of a 35-year-old West Covina man who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while changing a tire along the side of the 605 Freeway in Irwindale just over a week ago.
Kevin Armando Marquez died at the scene of the collision, which took place about 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 30 along the southbound 605 Freeway, just north of Rivergrade Road, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corral said.
Marquez was changing a flat tire on a 2001 Honda Accord parked on the right shoulder of the freeway when he was struck, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Arlene Brannon said.
An unknown vehicle heading south veered to the right shoulder and struck Marquez, Brannon said.
Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics pronounced Marquez dead at the scene, officials said. The impact was believed to have killed him instantly.
An autopsy determined that Marquez died from multiple blunt force injuries, and his death was ruled accidental, Corral said.
The vehicle fled the scene.
A second driver struck Marquez’s body following the first collision, but the driver stopped at the scene and cooperated with investigators, officials said.
No description of the hit-and-run vehicle was available.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Baldwin Park office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.

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West Covina man struck by hit-and-run driver dies

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WEST COVINA >> A West Covina man who was struck and badly injured by a hit-and-run driver while crossing Francisquito Avenue last month succumbed to his injuries Thursday, officials said. The SUV driver who fled the scene after striking him remains at-large.
Emilio Simon, 50, fought for his life at a hospital for nearly two weeks before ultimately succumbing to his injuries, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
He was walking his bicycle across the street mid-block when he was struck and severely injured by a westbound SUV about 8:10 p.m. on Jan. 23 on Francisquito Avenue, just west of California Avenue, according to police spokesman Rudy Lopez.
The driver of the SUV, described as a silver, 1997 to 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee, drove off after striking Simon, police said. It was believed to have sustained damage to the front driver side. It was last seen heading south on Sunset Avenue.
0129_NWS_SGT-L-HITRUNFOLO2Police released surveillance camera images of the involved SUV in the days following the crash in hopes of generating tips, however the hit-and-run SUV and driver have not been found.
Anyone with information is asked to contact West Covina police at 626-939-8500, or the department’s 24-hour tip hotline at 626-939-8688.

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West Covina man badly injured in 10 Freeway crash in Baldwin Park

BALDWIN PARK >> A 21-year-old West Covina man suffered major injuries and three other people suffered minor injuries in a four-vehicle wreck on the 10 Freeway in Baldwin Park Friday night, authorities said.
The crash took place about 8:45 p.m. on the eastbound 10 Freeway, just east of Baldwin Park Boulevard, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
A 21-year-old West Covina man was at the wheel of a 1997 Chevrolet Blazer believed to have triggered the crash, according to the CHP. A 26-year-old Baldwin Park man was riding as a passenger in the SUV and suffered injuries described as minor.
The Blazer, travelling at a “high rate of speed,” in the No. 5 lane, went out of control and struck a 2007 Toyota Runner traveling ahead of it in the No. 4 lane, according to the CHP statement. A 39-year-old West Covina woman and a 1-year-old West Covina inside the 4Runner were treated for apparently minor injuries.
The impact of the collision pushed the 4Runner into a 2004 Dodge directly in front of it, officials said. The Dodge was subsequently pushed into a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser to its left. The lone drivers of the Dodge and the FJ Cruiser were unhurt.
The Blazer rolled over after the initial impact with the 4Runner, according to the CHP. The driver suffered injuries including head trauma and was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Officers from the CHP’s Baldwin Park officer are handling the investigation.

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