Three accused of graffiti vandalism at Pasadena park

PASADENA >> Three men were behind bars Saturday for allegedly scrawling graffiti in and around Brenner Park in Pasadena, officials said.
Police arrested Allen Rafael Padilla, 19, of Pasadena, Daniel James Blancarte, 18, of Pasadena, and Anthony Medina-Olvera, 19, of Alhambra, on suspicion of felony vandalism after a city worker caught them tagging about 6:30 a.m. Friday at Brenner Park, at Barthe Drive and Mountain Street, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
“A city worker observed the suspects walking out of the women’s restroom at Brenner Park,” Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said. The worker soon discovered that the bathroom had been vandalized with fresh graffiti, along with eight other spots in and around the park.
Officer found and detained the three suspects in the area and arrested them after the witnesses identified them as the taggers, Luna said.
“The suspects were in possession of paint cans and paint markers matching the vandalism,” the lieutenant added.
The vandalism spree caused nearly $1,000 worth of damage, he said.
According to county booking records, Padilla and Blancarte were being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending their initial court appearances. Medina-Olvera, who had a pre-existing case against him, was being held in lieu of $35,900 bail.

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Teens steal tip jar containing $7 in Pasadena robbery

PASADENA >> Three teenagers robbed a water vending business of its tip jar Friday, police said. The felony netted them $7.
The crime took place about 10:10 a.m. at a business in the 1200 block of North Lake Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
A woman working at the store suffered minor injuries to her hand while scuffling with one of the young robbers, he said.
“They intimidated the clerk and attempted to steal the tip jar,” Luna said.
The woman struggled with one of the teens before he ultimately managed to flee with the tip jar, along with his two accomplices, the lieutenant said.
The woman suffered a small cut and abrasions to her hand during the scuffle, he added.
The tip jar contained about $7, Luna said.
Police searched the area but did not find the robbers, described as three black teens of 15 or 16 years old, of thin build, standing 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall.

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Man fatally shot at Norwalk park

NORWALK >> Gunfire at a Norwalk park left one man dead early Saturday, authorities said.
The fatal shooting took place about 6:20 a.m. at Arthur Gerdes Park, 14700 Gridley Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Navares said.
Deputies responded to several calls reporting gunshots and a “victim down” when they encountered a man in his 20s who had been shot, the sergeant said.
Paramedics rushed the wounded man to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, Navares said.
No suspects were in custody, and no suspect description was immediately available.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau are handling the investigation. Anyone with information can reacht he bureau at 323-890-5500.

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La Habra water main break damages street, floods police station basement

LA HABRA >> A ruptured water main Friday buckled Euclid Avenue in La Habra and flooded a portion of the La Habra Police Department, officials said.
The water main break occurred about 12:40 p.m. on Euclid Avenue, just north of La Habra Boulevard, La Habra police Sgt. Clint Angle said. Water gushed for more than two hours before crews shut off the flow.
In addition to buckling the street above, water poured into the basement of the nearby La Habra police station, the sergeant said.
Portions of the station’s basement — which houses telephone equipment and come computers, as well as a property room, locker room and gym — ended up flooded with 2 to 3 inches of water, Angle said.
No important equipment was damaged, and the station continued operating as normal, he said.
Workers temporarily patched the roadway to allow traffic to resume, Angle said. Crews will return Monday morning to make permanent repairs, and Euclid Avenue north of La Habra Boulevard is expected to be closed through most of the day.

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UPDATED: One killed, one arrested in Rosemead crash

ROSEMEAD >> One person died, another suffered major injuries and a man is accused of drunken driving and hit-and-run following a two-vehicle crash on a 10 Freeway offramp in Rosemead late Friday, officials said.
The crash took place about 11:15 p.m. on the Rosemead Boulevard offramp of the eastbound 10 Freeway, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
Two vehicle ended up down an embankment in the crash, CHP logs show.
The driver and passenger of one of the involved vehicles were seriously injured in the crash, CHP Officer Jennifer Cassidy said. The passenger died at a hospital, while the driver was hospitalized with serious injuries.
The driver of the second vehicle abandoned it at the scene and fled on foot, Cassidy said. He was arrested a short time later at his home on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, drunken driving and hit-and-run, Cassidy said.
The suspect’s identity was not available Saturday, and no further details were released.
The Rosemead Boulevard offramp from the eastbound 10 Freeway remained shut down for nearly three hours following the crash, which is under investigation by officers from the CHP’s East Los Angeles office.

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Parolee accused of burglarizing Pasadena home

PASADENA >> Police jailed a parolee Friday after catching him in the act of an alleged home burglary, authorities said.
Michael Keith Trujillo, 22, of Highland Park, was booked on suspicion of residential burglary following the 10:30 a.m. break-in at a home in the 300 block of North Carmelo Avenue, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
A neighbor called police to report seeing a stranger on his neighbors property, Pasadena police Lt. Art Chute said.
When officers arrived, Trujillo had already forced his way into the home through a rear window.
Police ordered Trujillo out of the home and he surrendered without a struggle, Chute said. He was already in the process of gathering up items inside the home.
According to booking records, Trujillo, who is on parole, was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance.

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So Cal businesses accused of selling cosmetic contact lenses without prescriptions; some lenses tainted with dangerous bacteria

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LOS ANGELES >> Federal prosecutors charged 12 people and businesses this week with selling illegal and potentially dangerous cosmetic contact lenses, including some contaminated with a virulent strain of bacteria capable of blinding wearers, authorities said.
The charges stem from an investigation into the sales of cosmetic contact lenses without prescriptions in the weeks leading up to Halloween dubbed “Operation Cat Eyes,” Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Bettinelli said.
“The goal was to protect consumers in advance of Halloween,” Bettinelli said.
Cosmetic contact lenses used to change the wearer’s eye color have been growing in popularity, officials said. They range from subtle color changes to ornate designs. But while contact lenses are illegal to sell without a prescription, non-presciption, or “misbranded,” lenses have been increasingly popping up in beauty salons and costume stores.
“They’re so easily available, and they can do horrific injury to your eye in a short period of time,” Bettinelli said.
1108_NWS-SGT-L-LENSES1Without being properly fitted to each individuals eyes, contact lenses have the potential to cause abrasions, lesions and other serious injuries, Bettinelli explained.
There are no guarantees regarding the quality of the lenses or the conditions in which they are manufactured, which are sometimes “filthy,” she said. And in some cases, the lenses and the fluid they are stored in have been found to be contaminated with dangerous pathogens.
Mike Honabach, 45, of Highland is accused of selling lenses contaminated with a “particularly insidious” strain of bacteria at a booth at the recent Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona called Halloween and Party Discounters Inc., Bettinelli said.
Lenses seized from the booth in September, sold under the brand name “I Color Complete,” were found to be contaminated with the bacteria Bacillus cereus, the prosecutor said. No injuries had been directly linked to the contaminated batch of contact lenses.
“The Bacillus cereus bacterial strain can cause severe infections that, even with prompt treatment, can lead to blindness,” U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
Honabach is charged with introducing adulterated devices into interstate commerce, receipt of bacteria-adulterated contact lenses and sale of misbranded products. Honabach’s supplier, Intertrade Imports Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, along with Intertrade manager Eunju Kang Savvidis, 53, of Jacksonville, are charged with introducing adulterated devices into interstate commerce, Mrozek said.
1108_NWS-SGT-L-LENSES2Eight other people and businesses are names as defendants for allegedly selling misbranded contact lenses to undercover investigators in the series of cases resulting from “Operation Cat Eyes.”
Doris Owusa Ansah, 53, of West Covina, who owns Sunset Beauty Salon in West Covina, is charged with selling misbranded contact lenses; CKL Fashion, Inc., a Corona company that operated a business called “T-Shirt Mart in Glendale, along with manager Young Kim, 51, of of La Cresenta is accused of selling misbranded contact lenses; Jung Rae Jo, 60, of Cerritos, who owns Fashion Young in Westminster, is accused of selling misbranded contact lenses; Halloween Superstore in Glendale, as well as owner Zinaida Khrimyan, 25, of Glendale and manager Patrick Abedi, 30, of Glendale, are accused of selling misbranded contact lenses; and Hong Kong-based Aspirational International Inc. is accused of selling misbranded contact lenses online.
All 12 people and businesses are scheduled to appear for arraignment hearings in federal court in Los Angeles Dec. 9, Mrozek said. If convicted, each defendants faces a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison and for each count, along with a $100,000 fine for individuals and $200,000 fine for corporations.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Consumer affairs took part in the investigation.

PHOTOS courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice

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Pomona man pleads “no contest” for fatal DUI crash in Alhambra

ALHAMBRA >> A Pomona man pleaded “no contest” to a vehicular manslaughter charge Thursday for a drunken driving crash in Alhambra that claimed the life of one of his passengers, a 21-year-old female rapper from Los Angeles, authorities said.
Jacob G. Garcia Jr., 51, entered the plea in Alhambra Superior Court in connection with the Dec. 16, 2010, crash on the 10 Freeway in Alhambra, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Under a negotiated plea arrangement, Garcia pleaded “no contest” to a single count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, officials said. Charges of murder, DUI causing injury or death and driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent were dismissed.
“Under the terms of the negotiated plea, Garcia is expected to be sentenced to 13 years in state prison,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Garcia was ordered back to court Feb. 5 for sentencing and a restitution hearing.
He was drunk when he got behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz C 250 with five passengers during a rainstorm, according to CHP officials.
Garcia’s car veered to the side of the road about 12:45 a.m. on the westbound 10 Freeway, just west of Fremont Avenue, in Alhambra, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Connie Guzman said at the time. The car slammed into a backhoe that was parked along the right shoulder in a construction zone.
Passenger and rapper Maria Faith Solomon died from injuries suffered in the crash, authorities said. Two teenage boys who were also riding as passengers suffered serious injuries in the crash as well. Garcia suffered minor injuries in the crash.

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South El Monte 7-Eleven store robbed

SOUTH EL MONTE >> A man armed with a handgun robbed a South El Monte convenience store early Wednesday, officials said.
The crime took place about 2 a.m. at 7-Eleven, at Rush Street and Tyler Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ismael Chavez said.
The robber entered the store while brandishing a handgun and demanded money from the clerk, the lieutenant said. The clerk handed over an undetermined amount of cash, and the robber ran east down Rush Street. The clerk was not injured.
A detailed suspect description was not available.

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Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Alhambra vandalized with graffiti

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ALHAMBRA >> Police are seeking whoever vandalized the Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Alhambra Wednesday, just ahead of Veterans Day.
Park workers discovered sloppy lettering scrawled across the Veteran Memorial Wall about 8:30 a.m., Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
The curved wall marred by the graffiti is inscribed with the Thomas Jefferson quote: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” Bricks arranged in front of the wall bear the names of local service members who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
The painted message included two apparent monikers, along with the symbol of a local “tagging crew,” Johnson said.
“The fact that they would do it to a veterans’ memorial is appalling,” Johnson said. “There’s no question they knew exactly what they were doing.” Johnson served as a medic in the U.S. Army in the 1980s.
“Speaking as a veteran… I can see why it would really push some people’s buttons,” the sergeant said.
In addition to the graffiti on the memorial at the northwest corner of Alhambra Park, the workers also found similar markings elsewhere in the park, including on a nearby swimming pool facility, police said.
“They’re a group of teenage hooligans, if you will,” he said. “Many of them live in that general area.”
Investigators were working with school officials to identify the culprit or culprits, Johnson said.
“We’re hoping to get someone in custody soon,” he said.
Workers had cleared the graffiti from the memorial by Wednesday afternoon, Johnson said. “It looks like they were able to clean it off really well.”
A Facebook post from the Alhambra Police Department late Wednesday describing on the incident had received more than 200 “likes” and 150 comments by Thursday afternoon.
“That’s disgusting! And to think my son is in the military fighting for the freedom of these low lives!!” Stacey Calzada posted.
“This is a slap in the face to our veterans, and Alhambra won’t stand for it!” Joe Mojica posted. “I would like to see more patrols and more police presence around the park.”
The dollar-value estimate of the damage was still being calculated Thursday, but was expected to amount to nearly $1,000, Johnson said.

PHOTO courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department

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