SOUTH PASADENA >> A Highland Park woman is facing federal charges after she was found driving through South Pasadena early Saturday with a treasure drove of identity theft-related items, including hundreds of pieces of stolen mail, stolen driver licenses, mailbox keys, blank credit cards and a credit card embossing machine, police said.
Marisa Rae Delgado, 27, was accused of mail theft, a federal offense, and other crimes, according to South Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
She was speeding along the 110 Freeway when an officer pulled her over, South Pasadena police Cpl. Craig Phillips said in a written statement.
“The female driver was found to have an outstanding felony warrant for grand theft auto,” he said.
Police arrested Delgado and searched the rented BMW she was driving, which she told officers had been rented by her boyfriend.
“An inventory search of the rented BMW found over 200 pieces of U.S. mail not addressed to the driver, which officers believe to be stolen,” Phillips said. “Officers also found dozens of blank credit cards, a credit card embossing machine, multiple mailbox keys for multi-unit housing complexes, several stolen driver’s licenses and other tools commonly used to commit thefts.”
Delgado, who has previous arrests for auto theft and identity theft, was being held without bail pending her initial court appearance, police said.
PHOTOS: [ABOVE] South Pasadena police seized hundreds of documents belonging to other people and other identity-theft-related items during a traffic stop on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. A Highland Park woman was arrested. [CENTER] Marisa Rae Delgado, 27, of Highland Park. [BELOW] South Pasadena police seized this credit card embossing machine, used to create fraudulent credit cards, along with hundreds of documents belonging to other people and other identity-theft-related items during a traffic stop on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. A Highland Park woman was arrested. (Courtesy, South Pasadena Police Department)
PASADENA >> Police in Pasadena jailed an identity theft suspect from San Bernardino Thursday after the woman tried to order an Uber ride with a stolen cell phone, authorities said.
The series of event began about 10:30 a.m. when the woman tried to rent a car using a fraudulent credit card and ID at Hertz rentals, 2070 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
The woman ran from the business after being confronted about the attempted fraud by an employee and another customer, the lieutenant said.
She was accompanied by two men as she fled, Luna said. Hertz employees notified police.
Responding officers soon found the two male suspects walking in the area and arrested them, Luna said. The female suspect eluded police, but not for long.
Representatives from the ride-sharing mobile app Uber notified police later in the afternoon that someone was trying to order a ride using a smartphone that had been reported stolen, Luna said.
“Officers responded to the pickup location,” he said. There, at Colorado and San Gabriel boulevards, police encountered the same woman who had fled following the earlier incident less than a mile away at Hertz.
Vanessa Wilson, 23, of San Bernardino was booked on suspicion of identity theft, along with Justin Ryan Kimbro, 25, and Anthony Vincent Flores, 22, both of Loma Linda, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Wilson and Kimbro were being held in lieu of $50,000 bail each pending their initial court appearances, records show. Flores was being held in lieu of $80,000 bail, records show.
MONTEBELLO >>MONTEBELLO >> Prosecutors Tuesday charged two convicted felons who were released previously released early from jail as a result of Proposition 47 with new charges including drug-, gun- and identity theft-related crimes after a traffic stop in Montebello last week led to their arrests, authorities said.
David Castaneda, 33, faces charges of unauthorized use of another person’s identifying information, fraudulent possession of another persons identifying information, two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a gun, possession of drugs for sales and possession of a firearm with drugs, according to Montebello police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Jonathan Gonzales, 29, is accused of unauthorized use of another person’s identifying information and fraudulent possession of another person’s identifying information, Montebello police officials said in a written statement.
Castaneda was already on parole for robbery and was being sought as an parolee-at-large, police said. Gonzales was on parole for assault with a deadly weapon.
“Both suspects were early release parolees as a result of Proposition 47,” according to the statement.
Montebello police pulled over a car containing the two men about 12:30 a.m. on March 3 in their city, officials said.
“Castaneda was found in possession of several credit cards not in his name. Several stolen and altered checks were also located inside the vehicle in the names of different victims,” according tot he statement.”
“Gonzalez was found in possession of approximately 20 credit cards, drivers’ licenses, health insurance cards and credit receipts not in his name,” the statement continued.
Both men were arrested on suspicion of identity theft-related crimes.
A search of Castaneda’s South Gat home the follow day yielded two handguns, 12 ounces of methamphetamine, marijuana and property believed to have been obtained “through fraudulent means,” according to the statement.
Castaneda and Gonzales were each being held without bail, records show. Castaneda was scheduled to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court March 10, while Gonzalez was scheduled to appear in the same court March 18.
ALHAMBRA >> An automated license plate reader helped Alhambra police capture an escaped fugitive from Pennsylvania and a second man found riding in a stolen SUV with phony credit cards, $13,000 in cash and a loaded .45-caliber handgun Friday, authorities said.
A police officer was patrolling about 11 a.m. along Garfield Avenue, just south of Valley Boulevard, when an automated license plate reader mounted on his patrol car notified him it had detected a stolen car, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
The officer called for backup in preparation to pull the 2016 Ford Flex over, but before he could do so, the SUV rounded a corner and pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant and Valley Boulevard and 2nd Street, the sergeant said.
Police detained the driver, 46-year-old Ronald Bang of Pasadena, and passenger, 64-year-old Robert Richard Zgurzec, without a struggle, Johnson said.
“We searched the car. We found a loaded .45-caliber semi-auto handgun,”Johnson said.
Police also recovered a back containing more than $13,000 in cash, he said.
“As they keep searching, they’re finding different IDs, different debit and credit cards,” Johnson said. The documents were in the names of other people.
The SUV itself had been reported stolen last month in the Victorville area, Sgt. Joseph Mallette said.
Police soon learned that authorities in Pennsylvania had been seeking Zgurzec since “on or about Feb. 3,” when he escaped from a halfway house while serving a sentence for wire fraud, Johnson said.
Zgurzec was booked on suspicion of auto theft, possession of fraudulent credit and debit cards and being a felon in possession of a gun, officials said. Authorities in Pennsylvania have issued a “no bail” warrant for Zgurzec’s arrest.
Bang was booked on suspicion of auto theft and possession of fraudulent credit and debit cards, officials said.
Alhambra police were working with the U.S. Marshal’s service to determine whether Zgurzec would be returned to Pennsylvania before or after facing charges in California, Johnson said.
Bang was being held at the Alhambra Police Department’s jail in lieu of $25,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, while Zgurzec was transferred to a Los Angeles jail facility due to a pre-existing medical problem, he said. Zgurzec was being held without bail.
GLENDORA >> Watchful neighbors helped Glendora police nab to convicted felons with a loaded handgun and items stolen from throughout the area early Wednesday, authorities said.
Gilbert Gonzalez, 25, and Gabriel Ibarra, 34, both of Pico Rivera, were jailed about 7 a.m., Glendora police Lt. Scott Strong said. Residents had called police about 5:30 a.m. to report a suspicious person looking into cars and homes in a neighborhood in the 500 block of Comstock Avenue, but the person was not found.
But police spotted a man matching the description of the prowler sitting in a car an hour-and-a-half later at Cullen and Bennett avenues, Strong said. He was accompanied by another man, and each was sitting in their own vehicle.
Gonzalez ran but was soon captured, the lieutenant said. Police arrested Ibarra without a struggle.
Inside their cars, police found a loaded handgun, as well as numerous items believed to have been stolen from car break-ins in Glendora, Monrovia, and other nearby cities, he said.
They were booked on suspicion of being felons in possession of a firearm, possession of stolen property and identity theft, Strong said.
According to county booking records, Gonzalez was being held without bail, while Ibarra was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
IRWINDALE >> A routine traffic stop Saturday led police to arrest two San Bernardino brother — both convicted felons — riding in a stolen car along with an unregistered handgun and identity theft materials, officials said.
Donnie Jesse Reyes, 27, and Ricardo Augustine Reyes, 37, were each booked on suspicion of taking a car without the owner’s consent, possession of fraudulent credit cards, possession of a concealed firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto
An officer on patrol about 4:20 p.m. at Vincent Avenue and Arrow Highway noticed a black, 2005 Infiniti QX SUV with dealer plates make a traffic violation and pulled it over, police said. Donnie Reyes was at the wheel.
“During the officer’s investigation, he learned that the vehicle had been reported stolen to the California Highway Patrol (Santa Fe Springs office) in July, 2015,” Gatto said.
After arresting the two men for auto theft, a search of the car turned up an unregistered, .380-caliber handgun, along with fraudulent or altered credit cards and other people’s identifying documents, officials said.
“It was also learned that both of the suspects were convicted felons prohibited from possessing firearms,” Gatto added.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Donnie Reyes was being held in lieu of $145,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Wednesday in West Covina Superior Court. Ricardo Reyes, described by police as a documented gang member, was being held in lieu of $45,000 pending his arraignment, scheduled for the same date and courthouse.
SANTA ANA>> An El Monte DMV clerk and five others defendants face federal identity theft charges stemming from an alleged scheme to sell legitimate Puerto Rican birth certificates and Social Security numbers to create phony new documents for buyers, many of them previously deported felons, authorities said Wednesday.
Tracey Lynette Jones, 33, of Long Beach, an employee of the DMV office in El Monte, surrendered to investigators Monday after a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment against her and five other defendants, late last month, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
Also charged is alleged scheme ringleader Wilfredo Montero, 36, of Los Angeles; Adolfo Maria Cruz, 47, of Corona; Roberto Ruiz, 35, of Tustin; Jose Cruz, 49, of Corona; and Jorge “Diablo” Perez, also known as Pedro Josue Figeroa-Martinez, 33, of Mexico.
All six defendants are charged with conspiracy to produce ID theft documents, officials said. Some of them, including Jones, are also charged with additional ID-theft related crimes.
“The conspiracy was allegedly spearheaded by Montero and catered to individuals willing to pay as much as $5,000 for new identities obtained with genuine birth certificates and Social Security numbers obtained from Puerto Rico residents,” Mrozek said. “Investigators are working to identify the source of the documents obtained from Puerto Rico.”
The three-year-long investigation determined that “many” of the customers of the ID theft ring were previously deported felons, he said.
“Federal prosecutors have filed charges against three people believed to be customers of the identity theft ring, and authorities are seeking to take those individuals into custody.”
Claud Arnold, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations division, said the case highlights the public safety threat associated with identity theft.
“Based on our evidence, this ring’s clients had good reason to want to obscure their pasts,” Arnold said. “And for a price, the defendants were allegedly willing to oblige. Our probe is ongoing and we’re aggressively pursuing all those involved.”
Jones pleaded not guilty at her initial court appearance Monday and was released on $25,000 bond, Mrozek said.
Three of the other defendants in the case, who were arrested in September, have been freed on bond pending trial, officials said. One remains in custody, and Perez remains a fugitive.
Trial is scheduled for Nov. 24.
In addition to procuring bogus ID documents, the defendants helped their clients obtain California driver licenses and identification cards under their false identities, Mrozek said. Jones allegedly altered DMV records to make it appear clients had passed written driving exams when, in fact, they hadn’t.
“This identity theft scheme was particularly insidious because it both victimized the individuals whose identities were stolen and required the active participation of a government official,” United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker said. “The fact that a DMV official abused her position of authority in committing this crime is egregious since such conduct can undermine the public’s confidence in a government institution entrusted with our personal information.”