January 2010 News: The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

January 2010 Archives

Naked Man Arrested in Santa Ana

People driving on I-5 Freeway were surprised to see a naked man standing on a rooftop and masturbating in front of motorists. His actions prompted multiple drivers to call the Santa Ana Police Department on Wednesday, to report the man's inappropriate behavior.

A police helicopter was sent to arrest the suspect identified as Charles Edward Meaux Jr., but the suspect fled the scene on foot and hid inside a home, where a family and child were present. The police eventually found Meaux inside a closet, where he struggled with police and was allegedly uncooperative.

A prominent Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer has been accused of one felony count each of dissuading a witness, bribery of a witness and offering to bribe a witness, according to Los Angeles Daily News.

The lawyer Sean G. Erenstoft, 42, pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday morning in a grand jury indictment. Prosecutors allege that the Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer dissuaded the victim in a stalking case from testifying against his client at a preliminary hearing.

LAPD Officers Arrested for Assault With a Deadly Weapon

Two off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officers were arrested on Tuesday night after they allegedly pistol-whipped a Whittier man.

The two officers have been identified as Brandon Valdez, 29, and Patrick Fitzgerald, 38. They have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Perhaps a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will come to their rescue, if they are indeed charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Bicycle Theft in Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles police detectives are investigating a bicycle-theft ring that has netted several stolen bicycles and parts. Yet LAPD believes that there has already been a significant breakthrough with the case, where two men associated with the bike-theft ring were arrested last weekend in downtown Los Angeles for receiving stolen property.

Police arrested Edward Rene Arciga, 43, and Konstantin Rostovtsev, 51. The men allegedly posted advertisements on Craigslist.com selling bicycles that had previously been stolen. Police also found that the two men had several counterfeit bills and drug paraphernalia that indicated heroin use.

San Gabriel Man Arrested For Allegedly Soliciting Child

A man who allegedly solicited young girls at the William Mead Homes Project near downtown Los Angeles was arrested on Monday for "annoying a child under 14 and soliciting an act of prostitution," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles police detectives were able to arrest Marco Julio Gonzales, 41, of San Gabriel, after a judge granted an arrest warrant for Gonzales. He was booked and released in lieu of $40,000 bail.

Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Found Growing in Lake Los Angeles Home

It's rare that Los Angeles authorities arrest suspects for growing hallucinogenic mushrooms, but when they do, the story usually hits all the major media outlets.

"We don't see a lot of that -- mainly in the last couple years we've seen marijuana growth inside public residences," said Los Angeles County Deputy Keith Ho in the Los Angeles Times.

Deputies arrested Joseph Scott Jackson, 37, and Angela Coffey, 41, on Monday for growing hallucinogenic mushrooms in a vacant Lake Los Angeles home. Deputies then dispatched a hazardous materials team to clean up any toxic spores in the area.

Criminal Attorney in Los Angeles County Faces Prison

Walter Loustari, a criminal attorney in Los Angeles County, was convicted last week of possessing child pornography and possessing an assault rifle. Now the criminal attorney faces up to three years and eight months in state prison.

Loustari was arrested without incident at his law office in La Canada on a felony complaint charging him with possessing child pornography and an assault weapon last October. He was charged after a three year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Glendale Police Department. The 58-year-old defendant entered a no contest plea before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan, before he was convicted of the crimes last Friday.

Possible Death Penalty For Man Accused of Starting 2003 Old Fire

Prosecutors are now recommending the death penalty for Rickie Lee Fowler, the man who allegedly started the Old Fire in San  Bernardino County in 2003. If convicted, his sentence may stir up an emotional response from the San Bernardino community.

Fowler, 28, was indicted last October on five counts of murder and one count each of arson of an inhabited structure and aggravated arson. The 2003 fire destroyed 1,003 San Bernardino County homes and burned 91,281 acres. Five people also died of heart attacks in the Old Fire, when trying to make a getaway.

Courtney Leigh Ames Charged With Receiving Stolen Property

Nineteen-year-old Courtney Leigh Ames, an alleged member of the 'bling ring' in Los Angeles went to court last December, as she was accused of burglarizing Paris Hilton's home. However, the teenager is now being charged with more counts after allegedly appearing in court wearing a stolen necklace belonging to Lindsay Lohan.

Last week, Ames was charged with two counts of receiving stolen property. In addition to allegedly wearing Lohan's necklace to a December court hearing, prosecutors also allege that Ames received a leather jacket that belonged to Hilton.

California Supreme Court Strikes Down Medical Marijunana Limits

The California Supreme Court struck down certain limits on medical marijuana possession yesterday, making it legal for prop. 215 patients to possess any amount of marijuana as long as it is "reasonably related to the patient's current medical needs."

The voter-approved Proposition 215 initiative that passed in 1996 allowed for patients with a doctor's recommendation to possess an unspecified amount of marijuana. But in 2003, Legislatures gave law enforcers guidance on when to make marijuana possession arrests. The Legislature mandated that each patient could have a maximum of 8 ounces of dried marijuana with a maximum amount of six mature marijuana plants.

Domestic Violence Suspect Arrested in Buena Park

After a 90 minute police chase, officers were finally able to arrest a domestic violence suspect in Buena Park. Police say that the suspect led authorities on a chase that started in the city of Palmdale. The suspect then allegedly drove through the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, through downtown Los Angeles, and then finally surrendered in Orange County's Buena Park.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department received a call about a possible domestic violence case around 9:25 p.m. Wednesday from a home in the 37700 block of 52nd Street East in Palmdale. The man allegedly head-butted his girlfriend and fired shots through a door as she closed it. The man fled the Palmdale home as the authorities arrived. ABC News reports that no injuries were reported from the home.

'Stun Gun Bandit' Arrested and Taken into Custody

After a month long search, police have found a suspect known as the "stun gun bandit" in Los Angeles. Police have identified the suspect as 68-year old Lester Robert Evans. Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Paul Vernon says that it was only a matter of time, before authorities would find a suspect.

"We had a feeling this guy would surface eventually," Vernon said in the Los Angeles Times. "It just turns out he decided to rob a bank where he had his own account."

Investigators Looking For Kidnap-Rape Suspect

Authorities in Riverside County are now asking for the public's help in tracking down a kidnap-forcible rape suspect. Investigators say that the suspect pulled a gun on an adult female and that the suspect sexually assaulted the victim in a remote agricultural field. The suspect then left the victim in a field and fled the scene in a car.

The Coachella Police Department describes the suspect as a 25-year-old male, 5' 06", 140 pounds, with dark slicked-back hair, a small mustache, a goatee, and a small scar over his right eye brow. Police also say that the suspect has tattoos on his hands and shoulders. He was last seen driving a green, manual transmission, 2005 or 2006 VW sedan, with light tinted windows.

William Sadowski Sentenced To Life in Prison

Last week, William Sadowski was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The man has become well-known from various news reports for carjacking a law enforcement vehicle and killing an officer near Los Angeles International Airport in 2005. He was found guilty of first degree murder in the death of Officer Thomas Scott last November.

It's sad that Sadowski was given such a harsh sentence because he is mentally ill and suffers from bipolar disorder. The jury was told that Sadowski was at the airport trying to get to Russia in order to save a young woman from Hell and Satan, according to Kansas City Star. He wrote e-mails to then-President George W. Bush and then-Vice President Dick Cheney saying that Russia "needed his help." In addition, a psychiatrist met with Sadowski and found that he was off his medications and was refusing treatment just a few weeks before the incident.

Court Hearing Held For Ryan Seacrest's Alleged Stalker

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest is doing everything he can to make sure his alleged stalker is no longer a threat to him.

Chidi Benjamin Uzomah Jr., 25, was arrested last October at the E! building in the 5700 block of Wilshire Boulevard, where Seacrest tapes a daily TV show. But before his arrest, the man had already pleaded guilty in September to attacking the Hollywood star's security guard at an Orange County hospital, where the court established a temporary protective order for Uzomah not to go within 500 yards of Seacrest. Now, Uzomah is being charged with felony stalking and two misdemeanor counts of disobeying court orders. If convicted on all counts, he faces up to four years in state prison.

String of Armed Robberies in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Police Department has made headway on string of robberies in the Los Angeles area, where officers arrested two suspects last week. The suspects allegedly robbed six stores in which they demanded money from a safe and then took off with undisclosed amounts of money.

On January 13, 2010, Angelo Wngo, 18, and Devon Glover, 21, were arrested on suspicion of armed robbery. Investigators believe that Wngo and Glover are part of a large robbery ring, where there could potentially be others involved with the string of robberies. Wngo and Glover are currently being held in lieu of $200,000 bail at the Southwest Division Jail. Photos of the robbers are available through the LAPD's Media Relations Section.

Possible Misdemeanor Over Black Sea Bass Catch

Jon Apothaker probably thought he would have enough food to last a lifetime with his very large catch of the day. The fisherman caught a 5 foot long black sea bass at Balboa Pier on January 3, but little did Apothaker know that his catch would lead to a great heap of legal trouble.

Since the black sea bass is a protected species, Apothaker could face six months in jail and/or a $1000 fine for unintentionally catching the black sea bass. The law states that there is nothing wrong with hooking a fish, but once a black sea bass hits land it becomes an illegal act. A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney would certainly have a difficult time proving that Apothaker didn't catch the fish, because several bystanders took videos of the catch out of admiration. Some are posted on video sharing sites like Youtube.com

Marijuana Cultivation in Gardena

The Gardena police discovered almost 400 mature marijuana plants, 800 seedlings, and two pounds of dried cannabis all in a warehouse. Two men were arrested in connection with the raid on Thursday evening, where the suspects will likely need a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, if they want to avoid a prison sentence.

Man Arrested in Norwalk For Felony Domestic Violence

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Here's a sad story that happened earlier today that ends with an arrest.

The 32-year-old man and his 25-year-old wife were driving from Las Vegas to Montebello with their 9-month-old son in the car. The couple got into an argument in Upland, where the man allegedly beat his wife and left her unconscious next to a freeway. He then drove off and allegedly kidnapped their baby.

Another Man Pleads Guilty to Wearing Phony Military Medals

Today, a 69-year-old former Marine pleaded guilty in federal court in San Diego to a misdemeanor count of wearing medals that he did not earn.

David Vincent Weber was charged under the federal Stolen Valor Act, which criminalizes those who wear unauthorized military medals. In court, Weber admitted that he wore several medals that he didn't earn at a Marine Corps birthday celebration in Ramona last November, including Purple Hearts and Legions of Merit.

Suspect Fights Los Angeles Officers

Los Angeles police officers targeted a man in the Newton Area last week, but the suspect ended up assaulting two law enforcers when being approached. The incident resulted in what LAPD calls a Law Enforcement Related Injury (LERI).

The incident occurred on January 9 at approximately 10:05 PM. The two officers were driving a marked police vehicle on Holmes Avenue, approaching the "Pueblo Del Rio" public housing project. The officers thought they saw the suspect, Lorenzo Leggett, engaging in the sale of narcotics. But when the officers approached Leggett for detainment, the suspect tried to flee the scene by foot.

Pasadena Man Posing as City Employee Robs Homes

Here's a disturbing story for those living in the city of Pasadena.

Police are now searching for a man who has robbed two homes. In at least two different incidents, the man has posed as Water and Power employee, where he claimed that he needed to check the water pressure of certain houses. Once he was let inside homes, he stole items of value, according to ABC News.

Police Arrest Suspect in Downtown L.A Murder of Hotel Manager

The first 2010 Downtown Los Angeles murder last week was certainly shocking to many community members, as the victim was in her 70s (see earlier blog post "First Downtown Los Angeles Murder of 2010 Draws Questions"). But detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department are making headway on the case, where they have now arrested a suspect.

Lt. Paul Vernon with the Los Angeles Police Department told the Los Angeles Times that police had enough probable cause to arrest Jian Hong Li, a 39-year-old Chinese national who lived in the Chetwood Hotel. But a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney might question whether the police have enough evidence to attach Li to such a severe crime.

The Laws of Indecent Exposure

While some people would laugh if they were to see a naked man walking down the street, it's important to note that indecent exposure in Los Angeles is not a laughing matter when it comes to the law.

Some people may not take this type of crime seriously, but indecent exposure may happen more often than you think and can even lead to serious consequences. The city of El Segundo has just received its 10th reported incident in the area of a flasher exposing himself, according to KTLA News. Most recently the suspect exposed himself to two young girls when walking down the 600 block of Eucalyptus Avenue. Investigators say they fear his actions may escalate into more severe inappropriate behavior.

Religious Prejudice At High School Turns Into Hate Crime Investigation

A hate crime investigation is currently under way at Calabasas High School in Los Angeles County, where many in the community were shocked to hear of the religiously motivated motivated attack on a high school student.

Matthew Babajouni, 17, said that his car was vandalized on school property while he was in class. When he returned to his vehicle, there was a swastika carved into the hood of his 2009 BMW. The Jewish boy said that this is not the first time he's seen this type of hatred against him. He says that he has endured harassment weekly, in which he has endured swastikas being drawn on his car with dust and with paint in the past.

Long Beach Boy Dies From Stab Wounds

Long Beach police officers responded to a 911 call last Friday after a woman was heard screaming at a residence in the 500 block of East Pleasant Street.

When officers arrived at the apartment complex, officers saw that a 7 year old boy named Felix Sandoval had severe stab wounds. He was taken to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, but he died an hour later. His mother, who also had stab wounds, was also taken to the hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Takes on Bizzare Wire Fraud Case

A 69 year old woman is being charged with wire fraud, witness tampering, and making false statements to the FBI because she allegedly sold a fake Picasso drawing.

Investigators believe Tatiana Khan, owner of Chateau Allegre gallery on La Cienega Boulevard, hired an artist to fabricate a 1902 pastel drawing by Picasso called "La Femme Au Chapeau Blue," also known in English as "The Woman in the Blue Hat." She allegedly tricked an artist into drawing a replica of the drawing, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    Couple Arrested for Allegedly Running Prostitution Ring

    A husband and wife from Temple City who've been accused of operating a multi-million dollar prostitution ring in Pasadena need all the help they can get from criminal lawyers in Los Angeles county.

    Li Chen, 32, and her husband Thanh Ly, 35,  allegedly operated a prostitution ring that involved 24 women offering services at upscale apartment complexes. The couple was arrested last month on charges of pimping and pandering. In addition, four females have been arrested on prostitution charges.

    Members Of "Bling Ring" Plead Not Guilty

    Four young adults were put on trial earlier this month for allegedly steeling numerous items from various celebrities. The victims of theft include Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Brian Austin Green, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Audrina Patridge.

    The four accused include 19 year olds Nicholas Frank Prugo, Diana Tamayo, Courtney Leigh Ames, and 27 year old Roy Lopez Jr., all from Los Angeles County. The suspects have been labeled as members of the “bling ring” but have pleaded not guilty to a number of charges connected to a string of burglaries that net over $3 million in designer clothes, accessories, and jewelry.

    Ronald Reagan's Grandson Arrested and Put in Jail

    The grandson of former president Ronald Reagan was arrested earlier today on suspicion for resisting arrest, a misdemeanor charge. As of earlier this afternoon, Cameron Reagan was being held in lieu of $10,000 bail at Van Nuys Jail, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    Reagan, 31, will likely need a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to represent him if he wants to avoid being convicted of the misdemeanor charge. Officers arrested Reagan in his parents' home at the 4700 block of Allot Avenue in Los Angeles, after a panic button was pushed, causing a silent alarm to go off. When officers arrived at the home, LAPD officials said that Reagan had been drinking and that he was being "very uncooperative."

    When you make an expensive purchase from your local Apple Store, make sure you keep a lookout of your surroundings and be aware that somebody might be following you as you exit the store.

    An article in the Los Angeles Times reports that many customers of the Apple Store have been victims of "follow away" burglaries. These particular burglary crimes are not just occurring in Los Angeles, but all over the world.

    However, Los Angeles County and Orange County residents have been hit hard with these burglaries. The Orange County district attorney's office recently charged three Los Angeles residents with burglary and grand theft in relation to 28 cases, in which computers were stolen out of the vehicles of customers who had visited the Apple Store. Now, it's up to Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to come up with a good defense strategy.

    First Downtown Los Angeles Murder of 2010 Draws Questions

    The first murder of 2010 in downtown Los Angeles has turned some heads within the community as the victim was a woman in her 70s. She was killed today at the Chetwood Hotel, where a patron found the woman bleeding in the second-floor office of the hotel.

    The Los Angeles Police Department is still investigating the incident. Last year there were five homicide cases in downtown Los Angeles, making 2009 the year with the least amount of homicides in the downtown area in more than 20 years. 

    Man Receives Felony For Animal Cruelty

    Zvi Kriple of Pomona, said he took pride in his willingness to rescue unwanted animals and his hesitancy to euthanize horses when they became sick or injured. Little did Kriple know that this type of attitude would lead to a felony conviction.

    One might say that Kriple’s controversial horse training practices put a serious dent in the man’s life. He is now barred from training horses and works as a long-haul truck driver. As a Swedish citizen, he faces potential deportation because of his felony conviction. But what did he do that was so terrible that led up to a felony conviction and why wasn’t his Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer able to successfully defend him?

    Teen Who Allegedly Threw Baby in Dumpster Pleads Not Guilty

    Juana Perez Valencia, the 19 year old from Orange County who allegedly threw her baby in the dumpster after giving birth, pleaded not guilty yesterday in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

    The teenager from Anaheim was arrested on Christmas Eve for murder (see earlier blog post “Baby Found in Dumpster Leads to Murder Case”) and is still being held on $1 million dollar bail at the Orange County Jail, according to The Orange County Register.

    Walt Disney's Grandson May Go to Prison

    Patrick Disney Miller, grandson of the famous Walt Disney, was arrested last month at his suburban Woodland Hills home, after a search warrant was served. The Los Angeles Police Department officers obtained the search warrant after they discovered from a background check that Miller allegedly purchased ammunition

    Fox News reports that police found 13 handguns, a rifle, an illegal assault rifle, and other various drugs. In 2005, Miller was convicted of drug possession in Fresno and is now barred from owning guns or ammunition. 

    Santa Ana Police Kill Alleged Burglar

    After Santa Ana police officers got a phone call early this morning about a burglary in progress in the 2000 block of South Susan Street, authorities raced right to the scene. After officers confronted two male suspects, the alleged burglars were shot by the cops. One suspect was killed and the other was seriously wounded, then taken to the hospital. The shooting is now under investigation by Santa Ana Police detectives and a unit of the Orange County district attorney’s office.

    The Orange County detectives do not yet have details about what led up to the shooting, but the incident has already received a fair amount of publicity in various news reports. People in Southern California are questioning the motifs of the cops, and are comparing the incident to the 2008 BART shooting case in the Bay Area.

    Mike Tyson and Tony Echeverria Avoid Battery Charges

    It looks as though neither boxer Mike Tyson nor paparazzi photographer Tony Echeverria will be in need of their Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys with the start of this new year. The Los Angeles city attorney’s office decided not to charge Tyson and Echeverria after their brawl at the Los Angeles International Airport last November, due to “insufficient evidence.”

    “We took a look at the evidence and concluded that there was insufficient evidence that either party was at fault beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Frank Mateljan, spokesman for the city attorney’s office in the Los Angeles Times. “It didn’t rise to the level of filing a charge.”