PASADENA >> A man suffered a cut to his cheek while fighting with an armed robbery Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The victim, a 23-year-old Azusa man, had just arrived to work about 2:50 p.m. at a restaurant in 3500 block of East Foothill Boulevard when the robber approached his car and opened the door, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
The man pointed a handgun at the victim, threatened to shoot him and demanded he turn over whatever he had in his pockets, Luna said.
But the victim refused, and struggled with the would-be robber, the lieutenant said. The gunman ultimately fled empty-handed and got into a nearby green van, which was last seen east on Foothill Boulevard.
The victim suffered a cut to his cheek during the struggle, Luna said, though it was not clear exactly how he received the injury.
Police described the gunman as a Latino man between 20 and 25 years old, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, of medium build. He wore a dark baseball cap and white sweater.
ROSEMEAD >> The winner of a Powerball drawing who purchased the winning ticket in Septmeber at the Rosemead Supermarket has until 5 p.m. Thursday to claim a $1 million prize, California Lottery officials said.
Lottery officials have released store surveillance camera footage of the winner in hopes of tracking him down before the 180-day deadline to collect the prize. The ticket, purchased at the market, 8815 E. Valley Blvd., matched five numbers on the Sept. 13, 2014, Powerball drawing, officials said. The ticket bore the numbers 37, 6, 1, 53, and 16, missing only the Powerball number of 27. It won $1,098,624.
If the winner does not claim the prize by the deadline, “every penny of the unclaimed prize money is transferred to California public schools,” Lottery officials said in a written statement.
The Rosemead Supermarket received a bonus of $5,493, which amounts to one-half of one-percent of the prize, for selling the winning ticket, Lottery officials said.
The winner is advised to sign the back of the ticket in ink and keep it in a safe place and visit a local Lottery District Office as quickly as possible.
LOS ANGELES >> Federal officials on Wednesday arrested the owner and two manager of a chain of four schools, including one in Alhambra, on charges of running a “pay-to-stay” scheme officials allege helped hundreds of foreign nationals remain in the U.S. as foreign students without attending classes.
A federal grand jury returned a 21-count indictment against the three defendants Tuesday, U.S. Department of Justice spokesoman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. The involved schools are the Likie Fashion and Technology College in Alhambra, Prodee University/Neo American Language School in Los Angeles; Walter Jay M.D. Institute, and Educational Center in Los Angeles; and the American College of Forensic Studies in Los Angeles.
“Given the implications for national security and public safety, we will move aggressively to target individuals who compromise the integrity of our nation’s immigration system out of greed and self-interest,” HSI in in Los Angeles Special Agent in Charge Claude Arnold said. “Simply put, those who exploit the benefits of the student visa program can expect to get a lesson in criminal justice.”
The schools were authorized by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations to sue Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status for academic and languages students, Mrozek said. The school-issued forms, known as form I-20, made students eligible to obtain F-1 student visas allowing them to remain in the United States.
The schools’ enrollees paid up to $1,800 “tuition” for six months of enrollment, Mrozek said. The schools collected as much as $6 million per year in purported tuition payments.
But HSI officials who made an unannounced visit to Prodee University’s main campus in 2011 investigators to Prodee University’s main campus found only three students attending a single English class, although records indicated more than 900 students were enrolled at the university’s two campuses, Mrozek said. Another inspection the same day as the American College of Forensic Studies turned up a single student sitting in one religion class, officials said. Federal records reflected that the school should have had more than 300 active students.
His investigators also found dozens of purported foreign students, primarily from South Korea and China, who originally entered the U.S. to attend other schools, but transferred to the Prodee Network, Mrozek said. “These students lived across the nation, indicating that they were not actually attending classes at Prodee or the other schools,” he said.
School network owner Hee Sun Shim, 51, of Beverly Hills, who is also known as Leonard Shim and Leo Shim, is charged in the indictment along with alleged co-conspirators Hyung Cham Moon, 39, of Los Angeles, also known as Steve Moon, and Eun Young Choi, 35, of Los Angeles, also known as Jamie Choi, according to the DOJ.
All three are charged with conspiring to commit immigration fraud, Mrozek said. Shim is also charged with 13 counts of use or possession of an immigration document procured by fraud, three counts of encouraging illegal residence and two counts of money laundering.
Moon and Choi are each accused of one count of use or possession of an immigration document procured by fraud.
HSI officials planned to immediately seek withdrawal of the schools’ Student and Exchange Visitor Program certification, Mrozek added.
Any students enrolled at the involved schools were advised to contact SEVP representatives at 703-603-3400 for further instructions, officials said. Information is also available online at the SEVP page of ICE’s website at www.ice.gov/sevis/whats-new.
WEST COVINA >> Two alleged gang members were in custody and a third was being sought after they intentionally struck a bicyclist with their car Sunday afternoon police said.
The incident took place just after 4 p.m. at Willow and Pacific avenues, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Police responded to several calls reporting a man on a bicycle had been struck by a car, Patton said. The car then crashed into a tree.
Paramedics took the injured bicyclist, a man estimated to be in his 20s, to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with injuries not believed to be life-threatening, the lieutenant said.
Police soon learned that the collision was not an accident, he said.
The driver of the compact car had struck the bicyclist on purpose, Patton said.
“After they hit the bicyclist intentionally, they tried to hit him again, and they rammed their car into a tree,” he said.
All three occupants of the car ran from the wreck, Patton said. Officers found and arrested two of the suspects nearby, while the third eluded capture.
The circumstances preceding the alleged attack remained under investigation, and the motive was unclear, Patton said.
PASADENA >> A carjacker pulled a man from his BMW before driving off in it late Saturday, police said.
The crime occurred about 8:30 p.m. as the victim was heading east on Del Mar Boulevard and stopped at a red light at Raymond Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
The robber ran from a street corner up to the victim’s black, two-door, 2007 BMW 328i, Mercado said.
“(The carjacker) opened the driver-side door and ordered the victim to get out,” Mercado said.
The victim, a Pasadena man in his 50s, fumbled with his seat belt as he tried to exit the car, he said. The carjacker ultimately pulled him out of the car and threw him to the ground.
Police said the carjacker was last seen heading south on Raymond Avenue in the stolen BMW, which has a California disabled person’s license plate number of 370CN.
The victim was not injured.
Mercado described the carjacker as a black man between 20 and 30, 5 feet 6 inches to 6 feet tall, 190 to 210 pounds, of muscular build. He was either balding or had very short hair, and he wore a black hooded jacket and blue jeans.
Anyone who sees the vehicle is urged not to approach it, but to call 9-1-1 immediately, Mercado said.
MONTEBELLO >> Police asked the public to keep an eye out for a Montebello family’s service dog, which went missing last week.
Pipistrello, a 2-year-old Australian terrier called “Pip” for short, was last seen Tuesday in the 300 block of North Greenwood Avenue, near Harding Avenue, Montebello police Lt. Rich Meadows said.
More than a pet, Pip is a service dog who aids her owner, who suffers from a medical condition, Meadows said.
Upon hearing of the lost service dog, Montebello police decided to help the family spread the word in hopes that someone will find and turn in Pip, the lieutenant said.
Pip is reddish-blond and was wearing a pink collar and a dog tag attached to the collar with a pink, heart-shaped clip, officials said.
Anyone who spots the dog is asked to contact Montebello police at 323-887-1313.
ALTADENA >> An elderly woman and her son lost their lives and two other people were hurt in a fire at their home late Saturday, authorities said.
The fire, which gutted the home, was first reported about 10:20 p.m. at the single-story home in the 2400 block of Holliston Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Tuinstra said.
Sheriff’s officials described the victims as a 85-year-old woman and her 58-year-old son.
Neighbor identified them as Betty and Robert “Bob” Kopp.
Authorities did not release the victims’ names Sunday pending positive identification of the badly burned remains, coroner’s Investigator Dana Bee said.
Phillip Marin said he rented a room in the Kopp’s home, along with two other roommates. Marin was standing in the backyard of the home when an explosion blew out a sliding glass door at the rear of the house.
The explosion was believed to have been caused by oxygen tanks used by the elderly woman, according to sheriff’s officials and neighbors.
The house was quickly engulfed in flames, Marin said.
“I tried to get in, but I couldn’t,” he said.
The two other renters managed to get out of the home, he said. But the woman and her son, who used a wheelchair, did not.
Flames and smoke poured out of most, if not all, of the homes’ windows, county fire Capt. Brian Jordan said. It took firefighters about 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze.
Once the fire was out, firefighters discovered the bodies, Tuinstra said.
The two renters who got out of the home were taken to a hospital with apparently minor injuries, the captain said.
The fifth resident of the home, Marin, suffered no injuries.
“There was smoke all the way down the street,” neighbor Ray Martin said.
“The fire department got here and just knocked it down in a hurry,” he added. The cause of the fire remained under investigation, investigators found nothing suspicious at the scene, sheriff’s officials said.
“Though it’s under investigation, it appears accidental,” Jordan said.
A scorched wheelchair, the handset from a wireless home telephone and eight oxygen canisters sat in the front yard of the home Sunday. One of the canisters had ruptured in half.
The fire was first reported by a neighbor, Jordan said. The home had no working smoke alarms and was equipped with security bars on its windows.
Marin said he’d known Bob Kopp for more than a decade.
Bob Kopp took care of his mother, Marin said. “He was a nice guy.”
Marin was caring for Bob Kopp’s pet cat and cockatiel until animal control officials could make permanent arrangements for the animals. Fire officials estimated the fire caused $700,000 worth of damage.
The Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail was handling the investigation, and anyone with information was asked to contact investigators at 323-881-7500.
SOUTH EL MONTE >> A man in a wheelchair pepper sprayed another man during a failed robbery Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
The crime took place just before 5 p.m. in the parking lot of Alberto’s Mexican Food, 2740 Rosemead Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. James Long said.
A Latino man in his 20s who was using a wheelchair approached the victim, a man in his 30s, and asked for money, Long said.
As the victim pulled money out of his pocket and counted it, the robber lunged for the cash and sprayed the victim with pepper spray, the sergeant said.
The victim managed to hang on to the money, he said. The robber fled empty-handed.
Long said the robber got into a Honda Civic, with the wheelchair, and drove off. A Latina woman was riding as a passenger.
The victim suffered no serious injuries, Long said.
It was not clear whether the would-be robber was genuinely disabled, or merely used the wheelchair as a ruse.
PASADENA >> Musical instruments recovered by sheriff’s deputies Tuesday night are believed to be at least some of those stolen from John Marshall High School in Pasadena last weekend, officials said late Friday. Burglars stole more than $10,000 worth of musical instruments and equipment from the band room high school, 990 North Allen Ave., late Feb. 28, police and school officials said.
The stolen gear included flutes, trumpets, trombones, saxophones, guitars, amplifiers, sound-mixing equipment and a flat-screen television, Pasadena police Lt. Diego Torres said. The theft was discovered Monday. No arrests have been made.
Sheriff’s deputies patrolling in the 2800 block of East Colorado Boulevard late Tuesday encountered a “suspicious” man rummaging through a 2001 Mercedes-Benz station wagon, according to Lt. Cruz Solis of the sheriff’s Altadena Station.
The man ran as deputies approached, the lieutenant said. He was not found.
“When the deputies looked inside the station wagon, they saw several musical cases and electronic equipment marked ‘Property of Pasadena School District.’” Solis said in a written statement. The deputies impounded the car and detectives are currently working the case.
Sheriff’s officials contacted Pasadena police Friday regarding the recovered instruments, officials said.
Though the instruments were believed to be at least some of those stolen in the high school break-in, school officials had not yet taken a look at them Friday night to confirm it, Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo said.
A fundraiser website set up by the band to help cover the cost of the stolen instruments garnered more than $12,000 as of Friday night.
SAN DIMAS >> Deputies investigated reports of a shooting Friday, but found no sign of a victim or suspect, officials said.
Authorities received calls reporting gunfire about 7:33 p.m. in the 300 block of West Nubia Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said.
Witnesses reported seeing a group of Latino men shooting at a black man with a semi-automatic handgun, she said. It was unclear of the intended target was struck.
But deputies found no victim or suspects at the scene, Edwards said. And no gunshot victims had shown up at nearby hospitals Friday night.