Commerce swim coach from Whittier denies child molestation charges


LOS ANGELES >> A Whittier man a denied charges related to the alleged repeated molestation of a 7-year-old girl who was a student at the Commerce aquatics center where he worked as a swim coach.
Steven Matthew Garcia pleaded not guilty to six felony county of committing a lewd act upon a child, Los Angeles County District attorney’s officials said. He was ordered back to Los Angeles Superior Court on Feb. 1 for a preliminary hearing setting.
Garcia is accused of fondling a 7-year-old student of the center on multiple occasions in recent months, while he worked as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at Brenda Villa Aquatic Center in Commerce, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
“Detectives conducting the investigation subsequently arrested Suspect Garcia, a resident of Whittier, on Friday, January 13, 2017, for multiple counts of lewd acts and continuous sexual abuse of a minor,” Navarro-Suarez said in a written statement.
Prosecutors filed their case Wednesday. Garcia is being held in lieu of $600,000 bail.
Detectives from the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau reached out to the public in search of additional information, or any possible additional victims of the suspect, the deputy added.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau can be reached at 877-710-5273. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

BOOKING PHOTOS of Steven Matthew Garcia courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Commerce swimming coach from Whittier charged with molesting 7-year-old girl


COMMERCE >> Prosecutors filed six felony charges on Wednesday against a swimming coach from Whittier accused of repeatedly molesting a 7-year-old girl at the Commerce aquatic center where he worked, officials said.
Steven Matthew Garcia, 27, was charged with six counts of committing a lewd act upon a child in Los Angeles County Superior Court, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling.
He entered no plea, as his arraignment hearing was postponed until Thursday, he said.
“Garcia is accused of fondling a 7-year-old girl in an employee lounge at an aquatic center on several occasions,” Risling said in a written statement. “After each incident, he allegedly threatened the victim, ordering her not to tell anyone.”
The alleged crimes took place between October and this month, officials said
Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau, who handled the investigation, arrested Garcia on Friday afternoon, according to county booking records. He was being held in lieu of $750,000 bail.
If convicted as charged, Garcia faces up to 14 years in state prison.

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$10,000 reward offered in search for alleged street racer in triple-fatal 5 Freeway crash

COMMERCE >> The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has authorized a $10,000 reward for information leading to an alleged street racer who fled the scene of 5 Freeway crash in Commerce that left three people dead over the weekend.
The crash, which killed a UPS driver, a 19-year-old college student and the 18-year-old son of a homicide detective, took place just after midnight Saturday on the 5 Freeway, just north of Triggs Street, authorities said.
The crash was blamed on an illegal street race between a Dodge Challenger and a Dodge Charger, California Highway Patrol officials said.
The driver of the Challenger, 35-year-old Dealio Lockhart of Whittier, was arrested at the scene and has been charged with three counts of murder.
But the Dodge Charger he was believed to be racing, as well as its driver, remain at large, officials said.
In hopes of generating tips in the investigation, the Board of Supervisors approved a $10,000 reward this week for information leading to the capture and conviction of the second driver, Solis’ spokeswoman Rosa Santana said in a written statement.
Killed were UPS driver Scott Treadway, 52, of Mira Loma; 19-year-old Michelle Littlefield of Santa Clarita; and 18-year-old Brian Lewandowski of Santa Clarita.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP’s East L.A. area office at 323-980-4600. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO courtesy of Caltrans

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Victims of triple-fatal 5 Freeway crash in Commerce identified; Whittier man accused of murder


CITY OF COMMERCE >> A Whittier man is accused of three counts of murder in connection with an alleged street racing crash on the 5 Freeway in Commerce early Saturday that killed a UPS driver, the son of a homicide detective and a young woman, authorities said.
Initially booked on suspicion of manslaughter, David Lockhart, 35, was being held on suspicion of three counts of murder Sunday, according to California Highway Patrol officials.
Lockhart was racing another car when he lost control of his Dodge Challenger on the southbound 5 Freeway near Triggs Street in Commerce just after midnight Saturday, striking a UPS truck and sending the big rig hurling over the center median and into opposing traffic lanes, CHP Officer Doris Peniche said. The UPS truck struck a Nissan sedan, shearing off the tops, as well as a Ford Explorer. The big rig burst into flames.
In addition to the three people killed, two other occupants of the Nissan were hospitalized with major injuries, and two more people suffered minor injuries in the crash, officials said.
The deceased young man and woman, both Santa Clarita teens, who were reportedly returning from a visit to Disneyland in a gray Nissan. Both were passengers.
0229_NWS_WDN-L-5FATAL-FOLOLos Angeles County coroner officials identified one of the victims from the Nissan as 18-year-old Brian Lewandowski.
Lewandowski was the son of Lt. Victor Lewandowski of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, who investigates homicides throughout Los Angeles County, sheriff’s officials said.
“Brian was an incredible young man and every parent’s dream for a son,” the Lewandowski family said in a written statement. “We are absolutely devastated by our loss. Our hearts go out to the other victims and their families and our prayers are for the survivors’ recovery. We are very thankful for the love and support of family and friends throughout this time.”
In addition to his father, Brian Lewandowski is survived by his mother, Jocelyn Lewandowski, and two brothers, sheriff’s officials said.
LITTLEFIELDThe young woman killed while riding in the Nissan was identified by her parents as 19-year-old Michelle Littlefield, a student studying business at College of the Canyons and an employee at Six Flags Magic Mountain, according to media reports.
The third victim was identified on a Teamsters Local 396 Facebook page as 52-year-old Scott Treadway of Mira Loma who had been with UPS for 30 years.
5FATAL-FOLO2“The Teamsters Local 396 Executive Board, Staff and Membership send our heartfelt condolences to the Family of our dear, departed Brother Scott Treadway, who we lost suddenly, in a tragic feeder accident last night. Scott was admired and loved by his friends and co-workers at UPS. We are still trying to come to grips with this horrible loss,” the organization posted. “We love and miss you Brother!”
Fellow teamsters held their meeting Sunday, “under such difficult circumstances,” in honor of Treadway, who worked out of a Cerritos UPS facility, according to the union chapter.
“The members honored Scott’s memory by sharing their thoughts and memories regarding Scott’s remarkable legacy as a UPS Teamster Brother,” Teamsters Local 396 wrote online.
The Dodge Charger Lockhart was allegedly racing, as well as it’s driver, had not been found Sunday, officials said.
Both directions of the 5 Freeway remained closed in the area of the crash through Sunday morning as officials made repairs to the damaged road surface and barriers, according to Caltrans and CHP officials.
According to county booking records, Lockhart was being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Anyone with information regarding the crash was asked to contact officers Fonseca or Flores of the CHP’s East Los Angeles area office at 323-980-4600.
— City News Service contributed to this report.

PHOTOS: Crash scene [ABOVE] courtesy of Caltrans; Photo of Brian Lewandowski, 18, of Santa Clarita [2nd FROM TOP] courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Photo of Michelle Littlefield, 19, of Santa Clarita via Facebook; Photo of Scott Treadway, 52, of Mira Loma via Teamsters Local 396 Facebook page.

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DA tells Commerce councilman to resign

From The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office:

LOS ANGELES – A City of Commerce councilman must resign and abstain from holding public office for the next three years after pleading guilty today to obstruction of justice, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

East Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Henry Barela, who imposed the sentence, further indicated that Hugo Argumedo, 49, may not hold public office while on his three-year probation term.

Deputy District Attorney Sandi Roth of the Public Integrity Division said the defendant pleaded to a misdemeanor count of obstructing justice. A felony count of perjury by declaration was dismissed at sentencing.

The case, filed Dec. 14, stems from a false affidavit that Argumedo certified as true, filed in a civil lawsuit between the City of Commerce and the former city attorney, Francisco Leal.

The false affidavit, signed by Argumedo, was filed by Leal in an attempt to defend allegations that he failed to pay a settlement owed to the City of Commerce after a contractual dispute.

Argumedo’s conduct caused the city to incur additional legal fees and resulted in a miscarriage of justice to the city, the prosecutor said.

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