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Sep 2022
Fentanyl-Related Deaths Increase By More Than 1700% Over 5 Years In LA County

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Law Enforcement News

Fentanyl-Related Deaths Increase By More Than 1700% Over 5 Years In LA County
The recent death of a high school student in Hollywood is being described as a wake-up call by police, parents, and leaders at local school districts. 15 year old Melanie Ramos recently died in a bathroom at Bernstein high school in Hollywood after taking what she believed was the prescription pain killer, Percocet. The pill was a counterfeit. Lab reports show it contained fentanyl. The Centers For Disease Control says fentanyl is fifty times more powerful than morphine. Ramos’s death is among several local incidents that are being called poisonings by parents and police. They all involve teenagers taking fake pills containing fentanyl which are often bought on social media apps. The NBC4 I-Team found fentanyl related deaths in LA County have increased by more than 1700 percent from 2016 to 2021. Many of the deaths are young people. Several local school districts are urgently planning educational programs for students, staff, and parents to help raise awareness about the dangers of counterfeit pills.

Hit-and-Run In Downtown L.A. Leaves Woman On Life Support; Police Searching For Distinctive Car
A 45-year-old woman is on life support after she was critically injured by a hit-and-run driver in downtown Los Angeles, and her family and the Los Angeles Police Department are looking for the driver. Veronica Lugo was walking just outside of a crosswalk at San Pedro and 9th streets before 8 p.m. on Sept. 8 when she was hit by a 2007 to 2011 Lincoln Town Car with a distinctive two-toned color: white on top and gold or tan on the bottom. “Obviously doesn’t stop. Doesn’t render aid, doesn’t ID himself and flees the scene … Definitely going to have some front end damage, possibly to hood, to the front windshield, possibly some areas we’re looking at,” said Detective Daniel Ramirez. Now Lugo’s daughter, Monica Lugo, comes to downtown L.A. each day to see her mom. “I’ve been with her all the time I can … I try to hold her hand and touch her arm, hopefully she responds, but she’s not responding,” she said. Monica, an only child, said she hasn’t watched the video — “I don’t want to see my mom, the way she got hurt” — but she’s been driving the streets of L.A. looking for that Town Car.

Former Dean Of USC School Of Social Work Pleads Guilty To Federal Bribery
A former dean of the USC School of Social Work has pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge in a political corruption case involving suspended Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, is scheduled to be sentenced March 20, 2023. Prosecutors are expected to recommend that she serve roughly one year of imprisonment, served on home confinement, and pay a fine of at least $100,000. The federal bribery charges potentially carries of term of up to 10 years behind bars. Responding to news of Flynn's plea agreement, USC issued a statement last week saying, "USC strongly supports the School of Social Work and the role it plays in training those who serve the public good. After the university learned during the summer of 2018 about unethical conduct by the former dean, we quickly disclosed the matter to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Marilyn Flynn has not been employed by the university since September 2018. USC is not a party to the criminal case but respects the judicial process."

LAUSD Trainer Arrested For Sexually Abusing Students; Police Searching For Additional Victims
Authorities are searching for additional victims of a sexual abuse suspect who has worked as a trainer at two separate Los Angeles Unified School District schools. On Wednesday, Richard "RT" Turner, 64, was arrested after Los Angeles Police Department received a report that he had "inappropriately touched" a male student who is a minor at Birmingham High School in Lake Balboa, where he works as an athletic/physical trainer. He was arrested for forcible penetration with a foreign object. During their investigation, police also learned of a second victim, also a minor, who alleged he had been inappropriately touched by Turner when he was a student at Van Nuys High School in 2017, where Turner was employed at the time. Due to the repeat behavior, police are hoping that any potentially additional victims will come forward as they prepare to present the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Anyone with who may have been a victim of Turner or who has any information regarding potential additional assaults was asked to call the LAPD (818) 374-5415.

Video: Armed Robber Holds Up Pico-Union Convenience Store
Detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department hope someone will come forward with information that will lead to the arrest of the man seen on surveillance video robbing a convenience store in the Pico-Union area. LAPD investigators said on Sept. 13 around 1:05 a.m., the suspect walked into a convenience store in the 1800 block of West Olympic Boulevard. Video shows that the suspect walked up to the counter after waiting in line and produced a handgun a short time later. He then fired a single shot over the counter and asked the store employees to fill a bag with money. The employees complied and the suspect proceeded to fire a second shot before running away from the scene with the bag of money. Authorities described the suspect as a Hispanic man around 24 years old with black hair and brown eyes, standing at 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 250 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray and blue Dodgers hooded sweatshirt with black pants and white tennis shoes. Anyone with information is asked to call Rampart area detectives at 213-484-3450. Those who wish to remain anonymous can submit tips online.
FOX 11

Woman, Daughter Plead Not Guilty To Murder In Woman's Death During Buttocks Augmentation
A woman and her daughter pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder involving an alleged buttocks augmentation procedure on a woman who died in a hospital emergency room. Libby Adame, 52, and her daughter, Alicia Galaz, 24, are charged with murder in the Oct. 15, 2019, death of 26-year-old Karissa Rajpaul. Adame and Galaz are also charged with three felony counts of practicing medicine without certification. The two were arrested in August 2021 in Riverside in connection with the woman's death. She died from acute cardiopulmonary dysfunction and intramuscular/intravascular silicone injections, according to records from the LA County coroner's office. LA Police Department officials said in a statement released after the two were arrested that the cosmetic procedure in a non-medical facility involved injecting an uncontained liquid silicone substance directly into the buttocks to make them look bigger, noting that injecting uncontained silicone into the body can cause it to enter the bloodstream and create embolisms that can result in serious illness or death. "The suspects fled the scene without identifying or informing the paramedics of the cosmetic procedure for proper life-saving protocols to be initiated. As a result, the victim died in an emergency room with tending physicians unaware of the silicone injection,'' police said.

Activist Wants To Protect LA Street Vendors From Rising Crime
There are about 75 street vendors along Alvarado Street and Wilshire Boulevard. As activist Edin Enamorado goes from vendor to vendor along Alvarado by MacArthur Park he says that here, like in many parts of Southern California crimes against street vendors have seemingly gone up community-wide over the summer. Some street vendors have been robbed, hurt and even killed. Fifty-three-year-old Daisy Alvarado had the important documents she carries with her ripped off just two weeks ago. Enamorado has made it his mission to help street vendors after his dad was attacked. He guides and arms them. "First of all I usually give them pepper spray, a horn. I ping their phone number and add them to my database," he said. He wants them to be able to call for help. Enamorado says August was the worst month, but in the Rampart Division, crimes like these have actually gone down. Los Angeles Police Department Captain Raul Jovel says officers have made it a mission to work with vendors who in many cases fear being arrested by ICE.
FOX 11

Marilyn Manson Sexual Assault Allegations Submitted To DA’s Office
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Tuesday it has officially turned over its investigation of sexual assault allegations against singer Marilyn Manson to the District Attorney’s Office for consideration of possible criminal charges. The Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau completed a 19-month investigation into Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, according to the department. The Special Victims Bureau investigates sexual and physical abuse cases of children and felonious sexual assaults involving adult victims. Manson, 53, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the face of assault allegations brought by several women. His attorney, Howard King, issued a statement last year saying, “Mr. Warner vehemently denies any and all claims of sexual assault or abuse of anyone. These lurid claims against my client have three things in common — they are all false, alleged to have taken place more than a decade ago and part of a coordinated attack by former partners and associates of Mr. Warner who have weaponized the otherwise mundane details of his personal life and their consensual relationships into fabricated horror stories.”

Santa Monica Mayor Says It’s Time To End L.A. County Needle Exchange Program At Park
Santa Monica city officials and residents are calling for an end to a Los Angeles County Department of Public Health weekly needle exchange program in Reed Park. In an open letter sent to county officials last week, Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich called for the program to be relocated from public spaces in the city and preferably to an indoor site. She outlined Santa Monica’s four pillars strategy, which aims to “address homelessness and prevent residents from becoming unhoused.” One of those pillars is to maintain access to the city’s open spaces, something Himmelrich’s letter states the syringe exchange program impedes with each week. “We understand our limited regulatory authority,” the letter reads, “however, rather than implement this program in our parks and open spaces, we seek your assistance in immediately moving this program to a service rich environment (preferably indoors) where individuals in need of substance abuse, mental health, and other services can coordinate and work directly with service providers.”
LA Times

La Cañada Businessman Charged With Trying To Hire Hitman To Kill 2 People He Owed Money
A La Cañada Flintridge businessman faces federal charges of trying to hire a hitman to kill an attorney and a real estate banker he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the ATF. Arthur Aslanian, 53, was charged with one count of conspiracy to murder for hire in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday, when he also made his first court appearance. According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, Aslanian sent an employee meet with a cooperating witness and an undercover agent to discuss the murder of two people, an attorney and a banker who had won lawsuits against him. In both cases, federal agents say Aslanian owed about $200,000 in legal fees to the men he wanted dead. The ATF says law enforcement became aware of the murder-for-hire plot in July of 2022. Aslanian allegedly negotiated the price for each murder as $20,000 through his employee and required proof of the murder with photos.

L.A. Clothing Importer Admits To Skirting $6.4 Million In Customs Tariffs
A Los Angeles County clothing brand has agreed to plead guilty to submitting fake customs forms to skirt almost $6.4 million in tariffs and to doing business with a woman who has ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. Ghacham Inc. and a company executive, Mohamed Daoud Ghacham, 38, will both plead guilty to conspiracy to pass false and fraudulent papers through customs, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California. Ghacham, who managed the Paramount company’s international business affairs, submitted false documents that undervalued clothing the company imported, allowing it to avoid paying the full amount of tariffs owed, according to court documents. Chinese suppliers provided Ghacham two invoices at his request: one with the correct amount Ghacham Inc. paid for the goods, which the company kept in its bookkeeping, and a second invoice with a lower price. Over 10 years, imported items were undervalued by more than $32 million, and Ghacham and his company, which sold clothing under the Platini brand name, avoided paying nearly $6.4 million in customs tariffs, prosecutors said.
LA Times

Feds Want Drunk-Driving Detectors On All New Cars After California Crash That Killed 9
An investigation into a New Year’s Day crash in Avenal, Calif., in 2021 that killed nine people — including seven children — has prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to call for an alcohol-impairment detection system to be installed in all new cars. The NTSB, which investigates the most severe traffic collisions along with other transit disasters, wants in-vehicle technology that tests all motorists for potential impairment. The recommendation comes after reports on the deadly Fresno County collision show it was caused by an impaired driver who was speeding nearly 100 mph. The crash occurred when Daniel Luna slammed head-first into a pickup truck carrying seven children ages 6 to 15 years on State Route 33 between Avenal and Coalinga, NTSB officials said. Luna was driving a Dodge Journey SUV, traveling 98 mph on the rural stretch of road, federal authorities said. He ran off the shoulder of the road to the right and overcorrected, swerving across the center line and directly in front of an oncoming Ford F-150 pickup truck.
LA Times

Photos: Man Hurls 25-Pound Railroad Tie At Patrol Car, Shatters Windshield
Shocking photos capture the aftermath of a department’s patrol car after a suspect hurled a 25-pound railroad tie at the windshield, spraying glass all over the officers inside the vehicle. The officers witnessed the suspect throw the railroad tie just after they turned a blind corner, according to the Bellingham Police Department’s Facebook page. “They narrowly missed being severely injured,” the department wrote. Following the incident, the officers called for assistance – noting that the suspect refused to comply. “The officers spent a considerable amount of time getting glass shards out of every pocket and crevasse of their uniforms, off their skin, and out of their hair and mouths, ” the department continued. “The man did not know it was a police car at which he was throwing the railroad tie, meaning he was hurling at just any passing car.” Police said the suspect had been contacted by police 26 times this year – with a total of 15 previous arrests and eight outstanding warrants.

5 Arrested For Home Depot Theft Ring, Responsible For $300K In Stolen Merchandise
A recent theft attempt was foiled by Coweta County deputies at a local Home Depot after authorities discovered several bins filled with stolen merchandise in two minivans. According to FOX 5 Atlanta, a Newnan police officer identified suspicious behavior and followed the individuals to their vehicles. Upon closer investigation, police discovered several bins filled with stolen equipment, tools and batteries totaling more than $9,000. "The individuals who put the items in the totes, sealed the totes, put them in a shopping cart and then go by all points of sale. Once they go past all points of sale, they would run to their vehicles, put the totes in their vehicles, and then flee the area," Coweta County Sheriff’s Deputy Antonio Vives told FOX 5 Atlanta. Detectives have also linked the five suspects to several other Home Depot thefts across the country with more than $300,000 in equipment stolen. "So, there were two mini vans, each minivan had two individuals in it, and there was also one individual who was identified as a sort of ring leader, who went out and identified what objects he wanted stolen. And the other four individuals would put the items in the totes and they would actually commit the theft," Vives said.

Local Government News

Bass, Caruso Clash On USC Ties, Ethics, Crime In L.A. Mayor Debate
U.S. Rep Karen Bass and real estate developer Rick Caruso battered each other with charges of misbehavior and inauthenticity during an hourlong debate Wednesday, the latest rhetorical escalation in the once relatively genteel campaign for mayor of Los Angeles. The veteran Washington lawmaker pilloried the businessman as being out of touch with overwhelmingly Democratic L.A., because of his previous Republican registration and financial contributions to anti-abortion politicians. Caruso, in turn, depicted Bass as a hidebound member of a failed political class that has been ineffectual at curbing the city’s homelessness and crime — the two issues voters say are their top worries. The rancorous exchanges during the debate, televised live from the Skirball Cultural Center in the Sepulveda Pass, built on the coarser tone the campaign has taken in recent weeks. That represented a stark departure from previous proclamations of mutual respect between the two would-be mayors, including a moment three years ago when the duo sat side by side as dignitaries at a USC graduation.
LA Times

LA Council Leaders Introduce Resolution Backing Abortion Rights Initiative
Council President Nury Martinez and Council President Pro Tempore Mitch O’Farrell introduced a resolution Tuesday to support Proposition 1, a November ballot initiative that would establish a right to reproductive freedom — including the right to an abortion — in the state constitution. The resolution was seconded by Councilwoman Heather Hutt. Martinez, O’Farrell and Hutt held a news briefing Tuesday along with Celinda Vázquez, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles County, at City Hall. “Abortion must be protected in this country and failing to do so denies women the equality we all deserve,” Martinez said. “Californians are unwilling to treat women as less than, and here in Los Angeles, we have been consistent in our commitment to protecting the right to a safe and legal abortion. No one should be forced to care for a child because their state’s legislators want to push personal beliefs onto women in their state.”



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