18th Street clique charged with baby killing in Federal gang case

From the Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities have unsealed a racketeering indictment charging about 40 members and associates of a clique of Los Angeles’ 18th Street gang with a slew of offenses, including the murder of a 3-week-old baby.

The FBI said Tuesday that federal and local agents had arrested eight of those named in the indictment. Several others were already in state and local custody.

Among the crimes outlined in the indictment, members of the gang are accused of the 2007 killing of the baby near MacArthur Park, as well as the 2001 murder of an innocent man who was mistaken for a rival.

The indictment also charges a defense attorney with laundering illegal proceeds on behalf of the Mexican Mafia, a prison-based gang.

*Here’s a copy of the 144-page indictment: clcs 2nd superseding rico final.pdf
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What did Manny Ramirez take? Source says Viagra*

A source close to Dodger slugger Manny Ramirez said the banned substance Manny Ramirez tested positive for was Viagra.

I don’t believe the MLB bans the little blue pill, but I’m linking to Wikipedia’s list of MLB banned substances and a pdf of MLB substance abuse policy.
Finally a poll question:


*UPDATE: Yahoo reports it wasn’t Viagra, but another “sexual enhancement” drug:

LOS ANGELES – A source close to Manny Ramirez(notes) said Thursday that the illegal substance for which the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger tested positive was not “an agent customarily used for performance enhancing.”

At least not on the baseball diamond. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the substance is supposed to boost sex drive. It is not Viagra, but a substance that treats the cause rather providing a temporary boost in sexual performance, the source said.

Ramirez tested positive for the substance during spring training, then was administered a second test more recently, and it also was positive. Major League Baseball notified Ramirez of the second positive test after Wednesday night’s Dodgers victory over the Washington Nationals. Ramirez admitted to having taken the substance and declined to appeal. His 50-game suspension begins today.

“The substance is not a steroid and it is not human-growth hormone,” the source said.

Ramirez, the source said, acquired the substance through a prescription from a doctor in Miami for his medical condition. The source intimated that Ramirez might bring legal action against the physician.

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50 game suspension for Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez

Dodger slugger Manny Ramirez will be suspended for 50 games, according to the Los Angeles Times this morning. Ramirez reportedly tested positive for a performance enhancing drug.

Here’s the Times story:

Manny Ramirez has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and will be suspended 50 games starting today, The Times has learned.

The test result and suspension is expected to be announced later today.

Ramirez works out at a Pasadena gym.
Here’s what MLB.com is reporting:

 

LOS ANGELES — Major League Baseball will suspend Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez for 50 games for use of performance enhancing drugs, sources told MLB.com on Thursday.

Major League Baseball has not yet made an official announcement.

Ramirez, who turns 37 on May 30, would be eligible to return July 3 if the suspension starts with Thursday night’s Dodgers-Nationals game.

Ramirez — an 12-time All-Star who immediately became the face of the Dodgers franchise upon his acquisition last summer — is the biggest name player to be issued such a suspension under the MLB’s stringent drug policy that was adopted in 2006.

According to the drug policy, a player receives a 50-game suspension for a first positive drug test, a 100-game suspension for a second positive test and a lifetime ban for a third positive test. The suspensions are without pay.

Ramirez re-signed with the Dodgers as a free agent this spring to a two-year contract that was to pay him $25 million.

Ramirez has been a key component in leading the Dodgers to the best record in baseball this year. In 27 games, he is batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. He is among league leaders in slugging and on-base percentage and has become the biggest drawing card the Dodgers have had since Fernando Valenzuela, even recently having a portion of the left-field box seats rechristened “Mannywood.”

 

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John Floyd Thomas Jr. and the hunt for the Grim Sleeper

From find.thegrimsleeper.com:

Until his April 2 arrest, John Floyd Thomas Jr was a Los Angeles insurance adjuster. Police now call him the “Southland Strangler” — named for the geographical section of Los Angeles County where they suspect he killed at least 30 women and raped many more. Thomas is also in the frame for a spate of crimes police say were committed by the “Westside Rapist”.

On first glance this suspect doesn’t fit the profile of the Grim Sleeper. Reports suggest he targets much older females who live alone and are white. This is a direct opposite of the Grim Sleeper’s known victims – young and black. However there are some striking similarities that are worth mentioning.

Many of Thomas’ victims were strangled and beaten and at least one victim was killed in a location other than her home which suggests Thomas’ MO is markedly varied. The LA times is quoted as saying “On the 17 who were killed, he placed pillows or blankets over their faces.” This is also a signature of the Grim Sleeper who is known to have placed items over the faces of some of his victims.

.Perhaps one of the most startling similarities is the time span and ‘gaps’ that separate Thomas’ crimes. The first wave of slayings took place in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. There followed a decade of ‘Sleep?’ until 1983 when Thomas was released from prison. He committed rape and murder over the next 6 years until 1989.

The site also has an interesting map, developed with the help of a profiler who notes that

“the Grim Sleeper attacks women within one mile from his home, and works to blend into the neighborhood.”

Here’s the map:

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John Floyd Thomas Jr: “Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killer” *

From the Associated Press:

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LOS ANGELES – Police believe a 72-year-old man charged with two cold-case murders is tied to two decades-old waves of Southern California serial killings and as many as 25 victims.

DNA matching former insurance adjuster John Floyd Thomas Jr. was found at five crime scenes spanning the killing-and-rape rampages in west Los Angeles in the 1970s and Claremont in the 1980s, said LAPD Robbery-Homicide Cold Case Detective Richard Bengston.

“When all is said and done, Mr. Thomas stands to be Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killer,” Bengston told the Los Angeles Times.

Police planned to reveal details of the case at a Thursday news conference.

In the first wave of killings in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, a man police dubbed “The Westside Rapist” entered the homes of elderly women who lived alone, raped them and choked them until they passed out or died. The 17 who were killed were found with pillows or blankets over their faces.

A decade later and 40 miles to the east, five elderly women in Claremont were found raped and killed, also with blankets or pillows over their faces.

Despite some 20 survivors of similar attacks, detectives said they didn’t solve either set of cases nor connect the two. They blamed conflicting descriptions from victims, lack of communication between agencies and a past absence of DNA technology.

LA Times map of Westside crime spree.

*LAPD press release on the jump

Continue reading

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Reward offered in 1977 murder of LA boxing manager

From the Associated Press

LOS ANGELES–A $50,000 reward was announced Wednesday for information that helps solve the 1970s murder of Howard Steindler, a flamboyant boxing manager and gym owner who helped inspire the character of Mickey in the “Rocky” movies.

Steindler was forced into his gold Cadillac Seville on March 9, 1977, a block from his Encino home. Police said the car may have been rear-ended by robbers who kidnapped him when he pulled over.

Witnesses said they saw Steindler arguing with two men who punched him several times and put him in the car.

The car was later found on the Ventura Freeway with Steindler inside. He had been beaten, robbed and smothered.

More than 1,000 people attended his funeral. Boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson delivered the eulogy.

His daughter said her 72-year-old father might have been killed while resisting the robbers.

“Maybe it went further than it should have gone because he fought back so hard,” Carol Steindler Ferris of Thousand Oaks said in a telephone interview.

Steindler’s jewelry, including a diamond-and-gold ring in the shape of a boxing glove, was never found. But after his death, someone mailed his car keys and wallet to his widow.

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Feds probe Cardinal Mahoney in sex abuse scandal

The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles has opened up a probe of Cardinal Roger Mahoney for his role in the sex abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese in recent years. Here’s a portion of the story that appears on the Time’s Web site this afternoon:

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The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has launched a federal grand jury investigation into Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in connection with his response to the alleged molestation of children by priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the case.

The probe, in which U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien is personally involved, is aimed at determining whether Mahony, and possibly other church leaders, committed “honest services fraud” by failing to adequately deal with priests accused of sexually abusing children, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

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LA gang shooting claims the life of a five-year-old

A gang shooting in Los Angeles near Echo Park claimed the life of a four-year-old. Here’s what the LA Times reported this a.m.:

A 4-year-old boy walking with his sister was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon south of Angelino Heights, Los Angeles police officials reported.

LAPD Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz said that at least one person opened fire on a red car driving down the street, and one of the shots apparently struck the boy in the chest. The shooting occurred in the 1200 block of Court Street about 4:25 p.m.

“Word has gotten out that a child has been killed here,” Diaz said, adding that neighbors were gathered on their front porches. 

The boy was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Two years ago in the same neighborhood, a 9-year-old girl was standing in the kitchen of her home as her mother rinsed dishes, when gang members drove up to a house across the street and exchanged shots with rival gang members, police said. None of the gang members were injured. But one bullet tore through the front wall of the girl’s home, passed through the living room and struck the girl in the head.

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AMW joins the hunt for “Grim Sleeper”

America’s Most Wanted will devote part of its show Saturday to the tale of the Grim Sleeper. The LA Weekly outlined the story several weeks ago. Here’s a link to the show’s Web site. This from the AMW press release:

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AMW host John Walsh and special guest LAPD Chief William Bratton will share the latest developments in the case of “The Grim Sleeper,” a serial killer who earned his nickname after committing at least 11 violent murders in the 1980s, only to resurface and strike again 13 years later.
 
Walsh will also take viewers to the mean streets populated by the city’s homeless, and ask them to help solve the brutal and senseless murder of John McGraham. McGraham was a fixture on the streets of L.A.’s Koreatown neighborhood, a man who’d been given a raw deal by life but was making the best of it. The community considered him to be one of their own, and protected him as best they could. In October 2008, someone doused the helpless man with gasoline and set him ablaze, leaving him to die in the streets.

 

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