West Covina woman gets 2 years in prison for embezzling from PTA, little league, Girl Scouts

WEST COVINA >> A judge sentenced a West Covina woman to two years in state prison Friday for embezzling more than $92,000 from local Girl Scouts, Little League and PTA organizations for which she volunteered, authorities said.
Veronica Monique Paderez, 38, pleaded “no contest” to three felony counts of embezzlement in November.
Between 2013 and 2015, she embezzled more than $52,000 from the Vine Elementary School PTA, $26,000 from the West Covina American Little League and $11,000 from Girl Scout Troop #4754, for a total theft of more than 92,000, according to investigators and prosecutors.
“Paderez was a volunteer with each of the organizations and had access to their accounts and money collections,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Upon sentencing Paderez, Judge Victor Martinez also ordered her to repay $92.048.81 to the three organizations she stole from, Ardalani said.
She could have received a lesser sentence had she been able to produce a lump sum restitution payment of $15,000 at Friday’s hearing, officials said.
But she did not have the money at the hearing, according to Ardalani.
Paderez was initially charged with nine counts of theft by embezzlement and could have faced up to four years behind bars if convicted at trial as charged.
Paderez served as treasurer of the Vine Elementary PTA for the 2014-2015 school year. She also served as treasurer and auxiliary vice president for the Little League, and police said she was in charge of the local Girl Scout troop and controlled its accounts.
West Covina Police Officer David Sifling, who took part in the investigation, said Paderez showed no signs of remorse in court.
He commended police investigators, as well as Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Goodrich, for their hard work in unravelling the complicated case.

PHOTO of Veronica Paderez courtesy of the West Covina Police Department

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Man sentenced for Monterey Park pizza parlor murder


MONTEREY PARK >> A Bakersfield man received a sentence of more than 16 years in state prison Thursday for stabbing another man 15 times, killing, at a Monterey Park pizza parlor four years ago, officials said.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury in Burbank convicted Jose De Jesus Ruiz, also known as Jose De Jesus Salas, 26, in July of second-degree murder for the Oct. 6, 2012, stabbing death of 25-year-old Patrick Raymond Ortega at Shakey’s, 1955 S. Atlantic Blvd. The jury also found true the special allegation that Ruiz personally used a knife in the crime.
Judge Michael Carter sentenced Ruiz to 16 years to life in state prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
The stabbing took place shortly after 7 p.m. as Ruiz was gathered at the restaurant with members of a youth football organization.
He became involved in a dispute with Ortega, who witnesses testified was being “disruptive” inside the pizza parlor while dining with friends, according to Deputy District Attorney Theodore Swanson, who prosecuted the case.
Ruiz briefly left the restaurant before returning and stabbing Ortega 15 times, Swanson said.
Ruiz was found hiding in his car several hours later and arrested, officials said. .
Second-degree murder is defined in California as the unlawful killing of another with malice, but without deliberation or premeditation.
If convicted of first-degree murder — a murder deemed deliberate, premeditated and with malice — Ruiz could have faced a maximum sentence of 26 years to life behind bars.

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Man guilty of murder in stabbing at Monterey Park pizza parlor


MONTEREY PARK >> A man who “viciously” stabbed another man to death at a Monterey Park pizza parlor is guilty of murder, a jury ruled Thursday.
The fatal stabbing of 25-year-old Patrick Raymond Ortega took place Oct. 6, 2012, at a Shakey’s restaurant, 1955 S. Atlantic Ave., according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and district attorney’s officials. He was stabbed 15 times with a large knife, with a blade measuring more than 6 inches long.
“The jury deliberated for two hours before finding Jose De Jesus Ruiz of Bakersfield guilty of second-degree murder,” district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement. The convict is also known as Jose De Jesus Salas.
The jury also found true the special allegation that Ruiz personally used a knife in the slaying.
“To stab an unarmed person so many times and in such a vicious manner is unfathomable,” said Deputy District Attorney Theodore Swanson, who prosecuted the case. “No one should have been killed that day.”
The deadly stabbing took place shortly after 7 p.m., according to sheriff’s investigators and Monterey Park police officials.
Evidence and testimony during the trial showed Ruiz was affiliated with a youth football organization that had met for a gathering at the pizzeria, Swanson said. Ortega was not affiliated with the sports organization and was at the restaurant with friends.
Testimony showed Ortega became “disruptive,” including gang references, the prosecutor said.
Surveillance video footage from a neighboring Bank of America branch showed Ruiz and another man exiting the restaurant just before the fatal attack.
“The defendant then reenters Shakey’s and stabbed the victims 15 times,” Swanson said.
Immediately after, Ruiz left the restaurant and returned to his car.
“He’s seen on video taking of his Dodgers jersey an hiding it under the wheel well of the car,” Swanson said. “He then gets into the back seat of the car and lies down.”
Police found Ruiz hiding in the car and arrested him several hours later, officials said.
The knife used in the killing was found hidden between the tire of a car Ruiz’s car had been parked next to, Swanson said. DNA tests determined blood on the knife, as well as Ruiz’s socks, belonged to Ortega.
The confrontation involved only Ruiz and Ortega, Swanson said. There may have been other arguments or fights among representatives of rival youth football teams, but the fatal stabbing was not believed to be related to the football rivalry.
A Monterey Park police officer fired a shotgun during the aftermath of the shooting, but injured no one, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The officer opened fire as a car drove toward him at high speed, authorities said at the time. A woman at the wheel of the car was arrested on suspicion of assault on a police officer, but she and her passengers were not suspected to be involved with the stabbing.
Ruiz’s trial began June 27.
Ruiz faces a maximum sentence of 16 years to life in state prison when he returns to the Burbank branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing Sept. 1, Ardalani said.
If he had been convicted of first-degree murder, Ruiz would have faced up to 26 years to life behind bars.

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