The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

March 2010 Archives

Graffiti at Church Being Investigated as Hate Crime

KTLA News reports that vandals struck St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Reseda earlier this week. Police are now investigating the incident as a hate crime. An officer with the Los Angeles Police Department first noticed the sacrilegious graffiti on Wednesday morning around 8:00 a.m. At least 10 different messages were written across the church.

The sayings "Satan Lives," "Revolution 666," and "False Messiah" are just some of the sayings that were inscribed on the walls and doors of the church. The damage is estimated to be at thousands of dollars.

Understanding California's Ballot Initiative To Legalize Pot

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And in the time of an economic crisis, Californians must find a new way to face the current $20 billion deficit. In an attempt to solve the state's money troubles, some are hoping that a law to legalize, tax, and regulate the sale of marijuana will come into play.

The New York Times reported last week that the California voter initiative to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana officially qualified for the November ballot. The passage of this initiative would make California the first U.S. state to legalize marijuana.

Middle School Teacher Pleads No Contest to Sex With a Minor

A former teacher at David Starr Jordan Middle School in Burbank who admitted that she had sex with a 14-year-old, pleaded no contest on Thursday to charges of unlawful sex with a minor.

The Burbank Leader reports that the defendant Amy Beck now faces up to two years in state prison as part of her plea deal that was established through her criminal attorney in Los Angeles. She'll also have to register as a sex offender because of the unlawful sex with a minor conviction. Ms. Beck was originally charged with four counts of unlawful sex with a minor and one count of oral copulation with a minor, yet all but one of these charges were dropped through the plea deal.

Police Believe Corey Haim's Death Was Associated With Drugs

Los Angeles Police Department officials believe that the 1980s teen actor Corey Haim died of an accidental drug overdose on March 10, and have even arrested an unidentified suspect that may or may not have directly provided Mr. Haim with the drugs.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the suspect was part of an alleged prescription drug ring. The drug ring supposedly operates by using stolen doctor identities to order prescription drug pads from authorized sellers. A shocking 5,000 fraudulent prescriptions have so far been linked to this drug ring.

It's reported that Mr. Haim, who was in 1980s movies like "The Lost Boys" and "License to Drive," struggled with drug problems in recent years. Police believe that the actor received drugs from the prescription drug ring, which ultimately led to his death.

Rachel Lee Seen as Leader of Bling Ring

Bling Ring members went to court last week. They expected to have a date set for their preliminary hearings. Yet, ABC News reports that defendants Nick Prugo, Rachel Lee, Courtney Ames, Alexis Neiers, Diana Tamayo, Roy Lopez Jr., and Johnny Ajar heard that the Los Angeles judge has so far declined to set a date. This is so that Deputy District Attorney Sarika Kapoor could cut deals with some of the defendants.

Many Los Angeles community members are surprised by the potential plea deals and the lack of progress on this case. The defendants were supposed to have their preliminary hearing date set last January. The young adults, whose ages range from 19 to 27, all pleaded not guilty to the burglary charges of several celebrities last December.

Another Los Angeles Animal Cruelty Case

Not only is animal cruelty inhumane, but it's also against the law.

The Los Angeles Times reports that 46-year-old David Plumamena was arrested last Saturday in downtown Los Angeles after he allegedly tried to sell animals that were malnourished and held in cramped cages. Los Angeles police officers found the man with 35 miniature rabbits, 79 turtles, six iguanas and a parrot.

The LAPD officers say that they saw Mr. Plumamena putting caged animals along the sidewalk in the 1200 block of Wall Street. They believe that the man had intended to sell them. Mr. Plumamena was then arrested and booked on suspicion of felony animal cruelty. Now, it looks like the man will need help from a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney so that he can get the best defense possible.

LAPD Searches For North Hollywood Sexual Assault Suspect

A 37-year-old woman claims that she was sexually assaulted in North Hollywood while she was walking down Lankershim Boulevard on March 11, according to L.A List. Now police officers in North Hollywood are searching for the suspect.

The Los Angeles Police Department described the suspect as a "Hispanic male, 24-26 years of age with curly or wavy shoulder- length hair." The man stands at 5'6" tall and weighs approximately 120 pounds. The crime took place around 12:45 a.m. after the suspect grabbed the victim and took her to a nearby parking lot. He ordered her to remove her clothing and proceeded to sexually assault her. The suspect then fled the parking lot on foot.

Man Arrested After Being Robbed at Gunpoint

Here's an odd story for a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.

The Orange County Register reports that a 62-year-old man was arrested in Garden Grove on suspicion of growing marijuana after he had told the cops that his house was being robbed. Police say that several people broke into Dennis Edgar Chailland's home on Wednesday trying to steal his marijuana plants. At least one of the robbers was said to have had a gun. But by the time authorities arrived at the scene, the robbers were gone, along with a laptop computer, an iPod, a wallet with cash, and possibly marijuana plants.

Girlicious Singer Found With Cocaine

Glendale police say that they found more than a dozen plastic bags of cocaine in Natalie Mejia's Gucci purse, yet the singer claims that the drugs were not hers and that she had no idea how the cocaine got in her purse. The Los Angeles Times reports that Ms. Mejia of the pop group Girlicious was charged yesterday with a felony count of drug possession with the intent to distribute or sell.

If the 21-year-old wants to enter a not guilty plea in court, she'll likely need the help from a criminal attorney in Los Angeles. Ms. Mejia's arraignment has been scheduled for April 15.

Jewelry Heist at Four Seasons Hotel

A very skilled Los Angeles burglar was somehow able to steal $45,000 worth of jewelry from the Florida billionaire Jose Pepe Fanjul and his wife Emilia at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. The most shocking thing was that the burglar stole the items while he was in the hotel room with the couple, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The burglar posed as a hotel employee and said that he needed to fix the air conditioner vent in their room. Los Angeles police described the suspect as a man in his mid-30s with slicked-back black hair and wearing tuxedo-style clothing.

No Sexual Assault Charges Filed Against Johnny Pride

Police arrested Santa Clarita City Council Candidate Johnny Pride last week on suspicion of sexually assaulting two teenage girls. However, the candidate may not even need a criminal attorney in Los Angeles County because prosecutors have so far failed to file criminal charges against him.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the district attorney's office cites insufficient evidence for not bringing charges against Mr. Pride. His arrest came after two 14-year-old girls reported him to authorities.

Woman Receives Life Sentence For Setting Dancer on Fire

A woman who set a pole dancer on fire last year in a Tarzana bar was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday, according to ABC News - Los Angeles. The defendant, Rianne Theriault-Odom, originally wanted to postpone the sentencing in Van Nuys Superior Court because she claimed that she was emotionally unstable for the sentence and had requested a psychiatrist. However, Superior Court Judge Susan Speer turned down the request to postpone the sentencing.

Prosecutors say that the two woman got into an argument outside of Babes & Beer bar in February 2009, where the victim, Roberta Santo-Busby, worked as a dancer. Ms. Theriault-Odom took a soda can filled with gasoline and through it at Ms. Busby before setting her on fire. Ms. Theriault-Odom was convicted of aggravated mayhem and torture in connection with the incident, but a jury actually aquitted her of an attempted murder charge.

Whittier Football Coach Accused of Sexual Molestation

Whittier Daily News reports that a Pop Warner football coach from Whittier has been charged with one felony count of oral copulation of a child under 10 and eight felony counts of sexual molestation of a child under 14. The suspect, Paul Ayala, pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday.

All the charges are in connection with two alleged victims, both 10 years-old, who played on a youth football team that Mr. Ayala had coached in 2008 and 2009. Police were informed of Mr. Ayala's alleged behavior after one of the kids told family members about what had happened. The Whittier Police deferred the case the case to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department because of its sensitive nature.

Misdemeanor Charges Stem From Billboard Signs

Los Angeles has strict sign laws when it comes to installing supergraphics and now city officials are cracking down on the use of such unpermitted signs.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the use of supergraphics, which are vinyl or plastic signs that can be draped across one or more sides of a building, can be legally troublesome. Forty-nine year old Kayvan Setareh was arrested last week for illegally erecting a supergraphic on Hollywood Boulevard. He was accused of violating three misdemeanor city code violations; two of which related to the the city's sign law.