Law Enforcement News
LA's Unvaccinated Workers Are Still Untested
Over the weekend city workers were notified that the Covid-19 testing for unvaccinated employees, which after several delays had been promised to start Monday, Nov. 15, had been postponed indefinitely. The unvaccinated employees were required to register with the testing contractor, called PPS Health, Inc. and Bluestone Safe, and had $260 deducted from their bi-monthly paychecks to fund the tests.
City Hall corruption scandal: Former S.F. building inspector, building commissioner indicted
A former San Francisco senior building inspector and former city building commissioner were indicted in federal court Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and committing honest services wire fraud, records show. Rodrigo Santos, a former building commissioner, asked his clients to make charitable contributions to San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Association “intending that those donations would influence” then-San Francisco senior building inspector Bernie Curran “in the performance of his official duties,” according to the indictment filed in the Northern District of California in San Francisco. Curran would then give Santos’ clients “favorable official treatment in his capacity” as a senior building inspector, the indictment says.
San Francisco Chronicle
California Attorney General Bonta, DA Gascon Colluding To Overturn Death Sentences, Prosecutor Alleges
District Attorney George Gascón and California Attorney General Rob Bonta are working in tandem as part of an apparent legal strategy that has already overturned the death penalty sentences of four Los Angeles County convicted killers, a high-ranking prosecutor said Tuesday. On Nov. 5, Bonta filed notices of withdrawal in Los Angeles County Superior Court and deferred to the District Attorney’s Office habeas corpus petitions from the condemned inmates challenging their death sentences, records show. In each instance, the District Attorney’s Office then told the court it conceded the inmates’ claims and asked the judge to vacate their death sentences. As a result, each inmate was resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Attorney General’s Office has recently filed at least 20 other withdrawal notices leading Gascon critics to fear that more convicted killers will soon also have their death sentences vacated. “The Constitution of California says that it is the ‘duty of the Attorney General to see that the laws of the State are uniformly and adequately enforced.’ Attorney General Bonta is doing exactly the opposite. He is facilitating collusive litigation by the Los Angeles district attorney for the purpose of defeating the enforcement of the law,” Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a Sacramento-based crime victims rights organization, said Tuesday in a statement.
Los Angeles Daily News
LAPD To Pursue Fentanyl Suppliers In Certain Overdose Deaths
The Los Angeles Police Department said Tuesday it had begun to more carefully investigate fatal overdoses in which multiple people obtained illegal drugs from the same source. Assistant Chief Bea Girmala said the Department's Gang and Narcotics Division was now being notified as part of a new protocol and would attempt to find the source of the drugs, as a result of the nationwide spike in accidental overdose deaths linked to the synthetic opiate Fentanyl. "So that we're not just dealing with the emergency at hand, but what does the supply chain look like," she said. "Can we link it to any particular dealer or an establishment where maybe people had frequented prior to the overdose?" The LAPD would cooperate with DEA agents on these investigations, much as other local law enforcement agencies have been doing in efforts to identify and prosecute the suppliers, Girmala said. Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced last week that his office would consider pursuing murder charges against certain drug dealers caught providing illegal substances that lead to a death. Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said his office has already begun to prosecute dealers. They said those prosecutions rely on giving dealers a formal warning prior to a death allegation, similar to how convicted drunk drivers can be charged with second-degree murder if a subsequent wreck causes a death.
Loved Ones Suspect Drugging After Woman Dead, Another Hospitalized Following Night Out In L.A.
Loved ones are left with unanswered questions after a woman died and another was left hospitalized in critical condition following a night out in Los Angeles over the weekend. Friends and family believe the women might have been drugged by men described by others as predators. Cilliers says the circumstances around his wife’s death are suspicious. But her final moments were documented on social media. She and 26-year-old Marcela Cabrales, an interior designer who had just moved to Los Angeles from Mexico, were at a warehouse party, when Cabrales apparently met a guy and they were all going to go to an after party in the Hollywood Hills. Cilliers believes at some point overnight, the women became incapacitated. Nearly 12 hours after anyone had heard from the women, Giles’ body was left at a Culver City hospital. Two hours later, Cabrales was taken to a different hospital in West Los Angeles. Cilliers told KTLA heroin was found in his wife’s system, but indicated neither of the women would ever take the drug. Cilliers said he knows who the women were with that night. He and Giles’ best friend said they have been receiving messages from other people sharing their own bad experiences with the men.
Jury Handed Case Against Man Charged In 2 1/2-Year-Old Boy’s Death
Jurors were handed the case Tuesday against a man charged with assaulting and murdering his live-in girlfriend’s 2 1/2-year-old son at their Los Angeles apartment in 2015. Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami told the panel in his closing argument that Ronald Salmond “beat Elijah to death,” with defense attorney Angela Cheung countering that the prosecution had failed to prove its case. Salmond, now 31, is charged with one count each of murder and assault on a child causing death involving the boy, who died June 12, 2015, less than eight hours after the defendant made a 911 call reporting that the boy was choking and not breathing. The boy had been left in Salmond’s care along with his 4-year-old sister by their mother while she was away from the home for an appointment that afternoon. An autopsy determined that the boy had suffered multiple traumatic injuries, according to records from the coroner’s office. Salmond was arrested by Los Angeles police in March 2017 and has remained behind bars since then, according to jail records.
Rooftop Standoff With Burglar Forces Evacuations In Panorama City
A burglary suspect refused to come down off the roof of a commercial building in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Panorama City Monday night, prompting a standoff. The incident took place at a building in the 14600 block of Titus Street. Los Angeles police said the suspect was stealing scrap metal from a building which had been damaged in a fire back on Aug. 13. Sky2 was overhead as the suspect got on the roof of the building and refused to come down. Employees who work in the building were forced to evacuate during the ordeal. The suspect eventually surrendered.
Search For Armed Prowler In Sunland Area Turns Up Empty As Another Burglary Is Reported
An hours-long search for an armed man in the hills around Sunland came up empty Tuesday morning, police said. The search began around 12:42 a.m. when SWAT units responded to calls of a barricaded man with a gun in the 10300 block of Sunland Boulevard, according to Los Angeles Police Officer Drake Madison. Several patrol cars and K-9 units were sent to the scene as well. The man, described as being in his 30s or 40s, may be responsible for eight residential and commercial burglaries in the nearby Shadow Hills neighborhood and the northeast San Fernando Valley, officials said. He was last seen near the Green Verdugo Reservoir close to the 210 Freeway on property owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power before he fled and hid, authorities said. Video obtained by ABC-TV showed the man on LADWP property in Shadow Hills overnight carrying what appears to be a rifle. A representative for LADWP did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Officials said there is a possibility the man is experiencing homelessness. The California Highway Patrol closed the east and westbound Sunland Boulevard offramps from the 210 Freeway to limit traffic from entering the area. By 8 a.m., police had called off the search, saying the man was not in the “area of containment.”
Los Angeles Times
7 Arrested, 6 sought After Multi-Agency Investigation Into LA Harbor Area Drug Trafficking
Several arrests were made Tuesday, Nov. 16, as a result of a multi-agency effort dubbed Operation “Wipe Out,” the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office announced. Seven defendants were arrested in Los Angeles, San Diego, Bullhead City and Calexico for their roles in a drug trafficking organization operating out of the Harbor Area of Los Angeles. Six others are still being sought after by authorities. Those arrested made their initial appearances in federal court in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday. The 13 defendants are named in four separate indictments that outlines various charges of illegal transactions, including undercover purchases of firearms and narcotics such as methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine. The defendants arrested today include: Adrian Abasolo, 26, of San Diego; Alejandro Mendoza, 45, of Los Angeles; Hector Valentin, 28, of Long Beach; Rodolfo Ulyses, 61, of Bullhead City, Arizona; Juan Antonio Aguilar-Bravo, 45, of Calexico; Gabriela Contreras, 42, of Gardena; and Marisela Sanchez, 43, of Wilmington.
Los Angeles Daily News
Police Chase On 5 Freeway Ends In Horrific Crash In Lincoln Heights
A lengthy police chase along the 5 Freeway ended in a horrific crash in Lincoln Heights. SkyFOX was over the chase scene as the suspect – a female driving a black GMC pickup truck – led officers on a chase to parts of Newhall, Arleta, San Fernando Valley, Los Feliz and Lincoln Heights Tuesday night. A little after 7 p.m., the GMC hit a big rig truck and smashed into one of the dividers on the freeway. Crews on the scene pulled the female driver out of the GMC minutes after the crash. The driver's conditions are unknown as of 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, but one of the emergency crews was spotted giving the driver CPR on scene. The driver was initially wanted for failure to yield.
Couple Attacked With Stun Gun And Robbed Outside Upland Home After Being Followed From Hollywood
Police are looking for the robbers who followed a couple home, held them at gunpoint and used a stun gun on one of the victims after he refused to give up his car. The early morning attack outside of the couple’s home was all caught on camera. Police believe this couple was followed nearly 50 miles into a community in Upland. Video captured by a neighbor’s home-security camera shows the couple pulling into their driveway near North 23rd Street in Upland early Sunday morning. The driver gets out of the car and walks around to open his fiance’s door when three men are seen running toward him. Police say one robber was holding a gun, demanding jewelry, money, and their car. When he refused, the robber used a stun gun, according to Sgt. Anthony Kabayan. “They ended up getting one of the victims’ watches. We believe it’s a Rolex and worth $18,000,” Kabayan said. Sgt. Kabayan says that watch may have been what caught the robber's eye. He believes the pair followed home from The Highlight Room in Hollywood. The robbers made the nearly 50-mile trek to Upland. The robbers' cars caught on camera appear to be a white, newer model Ford Mustang and a white newer model Mercedes. It’s the first ‘follow-home’ case Kabayan says he’s aware of in the inland empire. LAPD, on the other hand, say their detectives are investigating at least 110 similar incidents in their jurisdiction.
2 L.A. Area Men Collected Ransom Payments For People Kidnapped Near U.S.-Mexico Border : DOJ
Two Los Angeles County men were found guilty of collecting ransom payments for the release of people kidnapped near the United States-Mexico border, officials said Monday. The kidnapping operation targeted people who either were waiting or trying to cross the U.S. border from Mexico. Kidnappers would offer to help with smuggling the victims across the border, then hold them for ransom instead, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. The kidnappers would reach out to the victims’ families, demanding money for their release. The ransom payments picked up ranged from $12,000 to $30,000 in cash. Edgar Adrian Hernandez Lemus, 23, of Vernon, and Junior Almendarez Martinez, 23, of Watts would then pick up the cash from the families, who were instructed to go to specific sections at Walmart and other stores in Southern California from March 29 to June 1, the Department of Justice said. The family members would stay on the phone with kidnappers, who would direct them towards Lemus at the ransom pickup locations. “After the payments were made, however, the kidnappers demanded additional money rather than releasing the victims,” Department of Justice officials said.
LASD Seeking Public’s Help Locating Kameron Bryant, 27, Missing In Lancaster
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sought the public’s help Monday in locating a 27-year-old man who is diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression missing from the Lancaster area. Kameron David Bryant was last seen on Oct. 20 in the Lancaster area with his family, according to LASD. Bryant is described as a Black man standing 5-feet-8 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds. He has black hair, brown eyes and a scar on his left forearm. Anyone with information on his whereabouts was asked to contact the LASD Missing Persons Unit at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at lacrimestoppers.org.
Los Angeles County Brothers Get Probation For Breaking Into US Capitol During Jan. 6 Riot
Two brothers from Los Angeles County who broke into the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riots have been sentenced to probation rather than time behind bars after agreeing to plea deals. Kevin Cordon, 33, of Alhambra was sentenced to 12 months of probation and Sean Cordon, 35, of Los Angeles was sentenced to two months of probation during separate sentencing hearings in recent days in a Washington, D.C. courtroom. Both men were tracked down by the FBI and charged with breaking into the Capitol and attempting to impede an official proceeding after a video interview of them taken just outside the Capitol on the day of the riot was posted on a Finnish news website. The video on the news site reportedly depicted Kevin Cordon — wrapped in an American flag with blood on his forehead — admitting to entering the Capitol and getting hit with a projectile. Sean Cordon apparently could be seen in the background. “We’re standing up and taking our country back,” Kevin Cordon was quoted as telling his interviewer. “This is just the beginning.” The FBI also alleged that security-camera footage from inside the Capitol depicted Kevin Cordon wearing the same flag and Sean Cordon donning a gas mask.
Los Angeles Daily News
L.A. County To Investigate Alleged Abuse Of 4-Year-Old By His Foster Mother
The Los Angeles County Office of Child Protection will investigate the alleged abuse of a 4-year-old boy in Norwalk by his foster mother, the Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday. The foster mother, 26-year-old Gabriela Casarez of Norwalk, was arrested Oct. 29 and has pleaded not guilty to two counts of child abuse and one count of assault leading to coma or paralysis after the boy, identified as Andres F., was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. The investigation will focus on the handling of the case by the Department of Children and Family Services and other county agencies, including the experience level of social workers and how they addressed language and cultural barriers. The Office of Child Protection was created in 2015 after public outcry over the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, whose mother and her boyfriend were convicted of torturing and murdering him. The office is independent of DCFS, reports directly to the supervisors and plays an oversight role, reviewing child deaths, recommending policy changes and encouraging collaboration among agencies.
Los Angeles Times
California Electrician Ordered To Pay $481 Million For Scam
A California electrician was ordered Tuesday to pay $481.3 million in restitution as part of his sentence for participating in a $1 billion Ponzi schemed that suckered Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., among many others. Joseph W. Bayliss, 46, of Martinez, was sentenced to three years in federal prison on top of the restitution. He was an electrician who prosecutors say was hired by Benicia-based DC Solar to pose as a licensed engineer to inspect new mobile solar generator units that were mounted on trailers. The company marketed the generators between 2011 and 2018 as being able to provide emergency power for cellphone companies or to provide lighting at sporting and other events. But the owners started telling investors they could benefit from federal tax credits by leasing the generators back to DC Solar, which would then provide them to other companies for their use, prosecutors say. The generators never provided much income, and prosecutors say early investors were paid with funds from later investors. The company eventually stopped building the mobile generators altogether, and prosecutors say a least half the company’s claimed 17,000 generators didn’t really exist.
3 Miami Women Sentenced To Prison For California EDD Fraud
Three Miami women were sentenced to federal prison for filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits in the names of California identity theft victims, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. Bonia Bon and Bonize Bon, who are 32-year-old twin sisters, and Eldia Dieujuste, 32, were each sentenced Monday to one year and one day in federal prison, according to a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. The defendants were also ordered to pay $104,570 in restitution to the California Employment Development Department by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder. The Bons and Dieujuste each pleaded guilty last year to mail fraud in connection with their scheme that defrauded the state’s Employment Development Department. In a sentencing memorandum filed with the court, prosecutors said the women stole “monies that were intended to be used to help persons who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own” by exploiting “the mechanisms put in place by EDD to help unemployed workers more easily apply for these benefits – for example, on-line applications and rapid processing of applications.”
US Overdose Deaths Topped 100,000 In One Year, Officials Say
An estimated 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in one year, a never-before-seen milestone that health officials say is tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and a more dangerous drug supply. Overdose deaths have been rising for more than two decades, accelerated in the past two years and, according to new data posted Wednesday, jumped nearly 30% in the latest year. Experts believe the top drivers are the growing prevalence of deadly fentanyl in the illicit drug supply and the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many drug users socially isolated and unable to get treatment or other support. The number is “devastating,” said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University expert on drug abuse issues. “It’s a magnitude of overdose death that we haven’t seen in this country." Drug overdoses now surpass deaths from car crashes, guns and even flu and pneumonia. The total is close to that for diabetes, the nation's No. 7 cause of death. Drawing from the latest available death certificate data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 100,300 Americans died of drug overdoses from May 2020 to April 2021.
Public Safety News
SoCal Firefighter's Need For Kidney Donor Ends With 2 Lives Saved
Becky Yourex and Tammy Basile have worked together for the past 25 years at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. "I've always seen things on TV about donating organs and donating kidneys in particular, and I wondered, 'Gosh I wonder how you do that and what you would go about to do that' and Becky started talking about how her son needed a kidney," said Basile. Basile without hesitation said she would get screened to see if she could be a match for Becky's son, Lyle. Lyle Yourex is a firefighter for Cal Fire in San Diego. Becky Yourex said the news of her son's kidneys failing was a double whammy because she lost her younger son in 2019. "I had already just lost a son so it was really devastating," said Yourex. Lyle Yourex's cousin ended up steeping forward to donate his kidney to him. Yourex had his surgery in October of 2020, but Basile wanted to still help someone in need. She decided to donate her kidney to a complete stranger. Tammy went into surgery on June 23 of this year.
Local Government News
LA County Offering Rent Relief Grants Up To $40,000 To Small Brick-And-Mortar Businesses
Some small storefront businesses struggling to keep their doors open can get as much as $40,000 in rent relief from Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County’s Small Business Rent Relief Grant Project, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, launches Wednesday. The project will give grants of up to $40,000 to help businesses cover their rents that became past due as of March 4, 2020. “Just because a business survived the pandemic, doesn’t mean they don’t need help,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. “The COVID-19 crisis and the health orders the county put in place to try to save lives hit our small businesses hard and many of the still owe back rent.” To qualify, businesses must be a brick-and-mortar location in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, have an annual average of nine or fewer full-time equivalent employees, have an annual total gross revenue of no more than $1 million, and be able to prove a loss of at least 25% of their revenue over a 12-month timeframe that must include a portion of the time Los Angeles County was under the COVID-19 emergency order.