Monthly Archives: December 2011

Arsonist set 3 Hollywood fires 15 minutes apart, police say

Hollywood arson
An arson suspect has been arrested in Hollywood after allegedly setting three fires that caused massive property damage early Thursday morning.

Samuel Arrington, 22, of Sunland, is charged with arson for torching a vehicle and setting rubbish on fire.  The fires were set 15 minutes apart from one another along a five-block stretch of Sunset Boulevard, authorities said.

It is estimated that the fires caused more than $100,000 in property damage, said Captain Jaime Moore, a public information officer for the Los Angeles Fire Department. An elderly male was treated for smoke inhalation.

The first blaze took place at 1:12 a.m. on Poinsettia Place and Sunset Avenue, where a dumpster was set on fire.

Around the same time, firefighters received a call about a car fire in the carport attached to an apartment building at 1434 N. Fuller Ave.  Firefighters rushed to rescue the 20 occupants who lived inside the 10-unit apartment complex. A 73-year-old male was taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

Four vehicles were destroyed in the front of the building.  As the flames rose from the carport to the building itself, it damaged at least two apartment units.

In the third blaze, the suspect set a trash can on fire at Sunset Boulevard and Sycamore Avenue before a witness apprehended him.

The witness, Pedro Mejia, was cleaning the sidewalk with a pressure washer when he encountered the suspect.

“I saw him turn the trash can on fire,” Mejia told KTLA News. “After that, he walked toward my equipment and tried to set it on fire.”

Arrington was trying to ignite two fuel tanks attached to Mejia’s pressure washer. Mejia said the fuel tanks on the washer contain 30 gallons of diesel. “I ran over there and chased him away.”

Mejia detained Arrington and flagged down passing police. The LAFD’s arson unit is investigating the crime. No motive has been determined, but it is suspected that Arrington may have been under the influence of a controlled substance, Moore said.

“He could have done a lot more damage,” he said.


Bicyclist carried 23 pounds of marijuana in a cooler, police say

A man was arrested after police in South Pasadena found him allegedly carrying 23 pounds of marijuana in a cooler while riding a bicycle.

The suspect, Marco Solis, 53, was stopped about 2:30 a.m. Thursday in the 300 block of Monterey Road for not having the required front light and rear reflector on his bike.

During the stop, officers found the pot in an Igloo water cooler and arrested Solis on suspicion of possessing and  transporting marijuana for sale.

He was booked into Pasadena City Jail, where he was being held on $50,000 bail.


Top quirky stories of 2011: Dinner on the 405, SpongeBob and more

Covina men arrested in beer heist

Be it the macabre mummified remains of a Playboy playmate or the odd sentence of the avocado thief, Californians were prominently featured in some of 2011’s quirkiest stories.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites from L.A. Now.

It wasn’t a Michael Bay movie, but for Westside residents the closure of the 405 Freeway for an entire weekend was expected to be a disaster, and was dubbed “Carmageddon.” Some, however, took advantage of the closure. Stephen Estes, 23 , looked at the empty 405 Freeway as an invitation to start “planking.” Basically, Estes made like a board and lay down on the freeway in a type of craze whose latest incarnation is “Tebowing.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Quirky stories of 2011

Soon after, others sneaked past police onto what is usually the nation’s busiest freeway to hold adinner party, complete with a table and fine silver.

At least they weren’t harmed, which cannot be said for the sad soul stuck in a kiddie swing for nine hours in Vallejo. It was all over a bet to see whether he could fit — at least that’s what the 21-year-old man told the firefighters who pulled him out.

Silly crimes also made our list of the quirkiest.

Three Covina men attempted to steal a 30-pack of Tecate beer from a market but crashed the getaway car after a store worker jumped on the car’s hood. One suspect tried to make a clean getaway through a car wash –- while it was running. You might guess which one after taking a look at theirpriceless mug shots. This wasn’t exactly a meticulously planned crime — one cohort left his ID behind at the market.

We aren’t sure what sentence the trio faced. If they were in North San Diego County, they might have a limit on future beer consumption. That’s what happened to one avocado thief who was ordered to possess no more than 10 at a time.

Of course, no list of odd stories would be complete without a few animal tales: the capybara sightingin Paso Robles, the killer pit bulls who slaughtered 42 goats and the Chihuahua sexually assaulted by a career criminal.

Several cartoon characters also graced L.A. Now in 2011: SpongeBob SquarePants was detained after a brief run-in with two women on Hollywood Boulevard, Gumby tried to rob a 7-Eleven in San Diego, and a man in a Smurf costume was shot after a Halloween party.

And, in a twist on one of Hollywood’s biggest mysteries, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department chose to reopen the Natalie Wood death investigation three decades after she died in waters off Santa Catalina Island. Did she fall -– or was she killed? Authorities quickly said her husband, legendary actor Robert Wagner, wasn’t a suspect, though he did land a role as one a week or so later on an episode of “NCIS.”


Babysitter Michael Plumadore Allegedly Chopped Up Aliahna Lemmon With Hacksaw: Cops

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — To assist her dying father, Tarah Souders made a choice: She moved her three young girls to a run-down trailer park in rural Indiana to help take care of him as his lungs rotted from emphysema.

She knew it could be dangerous. The park of about two dozen homes was teeming with convicted sex offenders, with one living at nearly every address. She worried about neighbors with sex offense records who had been helping her father get by, according to trailer park residents. And before she arrived, she even asked her father if her children could be at risk for abuse from two specific men – including a suspect now accused in her daughter’s death.

“He said, `No. They will not touch your children. They’re doing everything they’re supposed to do,'” said Greg Shumaker, one of 15 convicted sex offenders who live at the park and the other man that Souders had inquired about.

Not long after they moved, police say, a horrific tragedy unfolded. Her 9-year-old daughter, Aliahna Lemmon, was brutally killed. Police say 39-year-old Michael Plumadore told investigators that he bludgeoned her to death last week with a brick, then dismembered her and hid her head, hands and feet at her grandfather’s trailer before dumping the other remains elsewhere.

Shumaker said Aliahna’s family moved there to help take care of 66-year-old James E. “Shorty” Lemmon, who also was a convicted sex offender and died Dec. 3. He said Lemmon was “getting old” and “had trouble breathing.”

Shumaker said he introduced Plumadore to Lemmon shortly after Plumadore moved into the trailer park, and Plumadore moved in with Lemmon a few days later. Shumaker said he knew Lemmon because they were both sex offenders and were in jail together.

Sheriff’s department spokesman Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel confirmed that Lemmon was a sex offender. Indiana Department of Correction records show he was convicted of child molesting in March 2006.

Paulette Hair, 45, a former manager at the trailer park who lives at a nearby trailer park, said she also knew Lemmon was a sex offender.

“He stayed out of everybody’s way,” she said. “Shorty couldn’t take care of himself very well.”

Shumaker said Plumadore briefly moved away, but returned when Souders asked him to care for her father.

A man who answered the door at Souders’ home Tuesday afternoon referred all questions to the Allen County sheriff’s department. The home was one of only a few at the trailer park – located off an expressway and across from an open field – with signs of children: A small bicycle, play car and car seat sat on the wooden porch connected to a long wooden ramp.

Aliahna and her two younger sisters were staying with Plumadore for about one week because their mother had been sick with the flu.

Richard Patee, 58, whose trailer is next to where Plumadore was living, said he didn’t think it was odd that Aliahna’s mother had him watching the girls for an extended period.

“They had known each other for somewhere of three to four years, I know that, and he took care of their grandfather,” Patee said. “I didn’t see any reason to question it at all.”

Shumaker said it wasn’t unusual for Plumadore to watch Souders’ children “because the kids liked him.” Souders and Aliahna were listed among nearly 600 friends on a Facebook page listed under Plumadore’s name that said he was “Self Employed and Loving It!”, and enjoyed fantasy novels.

According to the affidavit, Plumadore told police that after beating Aliahna to death on the front steps of the home in the early morning hours Thursday, he stuffed her body into trash bags and hid her in the freezer. He said he later cut up her body with a hacksaw and stuffed her remains into freezer bags.

The next morning, Plumadore made a trip to a convenience store to buy a cigar, according to surveillance video and The Journal Gazette.

Police said Plumadore told them he had hidden Aliahna’s head, feet and hands at the trailer and discarded her other remains at a nearby business. Police obtained a warrant to search the trailer on Monday and found the body parts.

Authorities didn’t say Tuesday why Plumadore killed the child, but Sheriff Ken Fries said investigators suspected Plumadore was involved since soon after she was reported missing Friday night because of inconsistencies in his story that the girl had vanished while he went to a store that morning.

“Things that were said in 29 years of doing this that just didn’t make sense,” Fries said during a Tuesday news conference. “We needed to get him to talk.”

A judge ordered Plumadore held without bail or bond at an initial hearing Tuesday, Tinkel said. He has yet to be formally charged in Aliahna’s death.

Mike McAlexander, the Allen County chief deputy prosecutor, wouldn’t say whether anyone else was suspected of being involved and said “nothing has been ruled out.”

“How could you live?” asked Hair. “How could you sit in that trailer, knowing what you did, knowing what’s in your household when everybody is out there in the cold and the rain praying to God that she comes home safely and you’re sitting there.”

A state website shows that 15 registered sex offenders live in the park that numbers about two dozen homes. Self-identified sex offenders living at the trailer park said Tuesday that they were given maps by the Indiana Department of Corrections and a local mission showing them where it was OK to live. The aerial maps show areas legally away from schools and daycare centers and help guide offenders when they are released from prison to new homes.

Plumadore is not on Indiana’s registered sex offenders list. He has a criminal record in Florida and North Carolina that includes convictions for trespassing and assault, and an Indiana conviction for forgery.


Officer Kenneth Shaw’s Wife Denied Accidental Death Benefits

To hear Maura Shaw tell it, her husband died in the line of duty.

But, as MyFOX Boston reports, Kenneth Shaw’s widow has been repeatedly denied accidental death benefits because she can’t prove exactly how her husband died.

Shaw worked in the Boston Police Department’s identification unit where his wife and two doctors believe he contracted hepatitis C while working in gruesome crime scenes. However, no benefits have been awarded 13 years after Shaw died from the disease.

“It’s like a slap in the face. He loved his job. He loved doing what he did,” Maura Shaw told MyFOX Boston.

Joseph Connarton, a spokesperson for the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission, told The Huffington Post that Shaw’s situation was an “unfortunate case,” but said current laws prevent the commission from awarding benefits.

“It is sadly the fact that Massachusetts law requires a specific criteria to be met prior to either accidental disability or accidental death benefits being granted,” Connarton wrote in an email. “In the case the statutory requirements just were not met by either the Boston Retirement Board or the Boston Police Dept.”


Patrick Lott, Middle School Principal, Arrested For Allegedly Recording Boys Showering

Patrick Lott

Patrick Lott, Bernardsville Middle School assistant principal, has been arrested for allegedly recording boys showering at Immaculata High School in Somerset County, N.J., where he was a volunteer,the New Jersey Journal reports.

Lott was arrested last week after authorities used a Superior Court search warrant to find videos of the nude teenagers in his home.

Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano told the Journal that nine of the boys videotaped were under 16 years old. According to the report, authorities have notified a total of 22 victims.

Based on the results of the search warrant, CBS New York reports the videos were recorded over a span of nearly three years, beginning in 2008.

A high-ranking and respected educator at the middle school and in the community, Lott recently ran for the Somerville Borough Council on the Republican ticket, NBC New York Reports. His bid was unsuccessful.

Lott now faces charges including child endangerment. He is currently being held in the Somerset County Jail on $500,000 bail.


State Supreme Court to rule on redevelopment fight

SACRAMENTO – The California Supreme Court on Thursday will release its decision about whether the state has the right to eliminate community redevelopment agencies and divert billions of tax dollars toward schools, law enforcement and other local services.

The state is counting on $1.7 billion from the agencies in this year’s budget and $400 million a year thereafter. A nonpartisan analyst has since reduced the savings estimate to $1.4 billion for the year.

Article Tab: image1-State Supreme Court to rule on redevelopment fight

The case not only has long-term implications for the state’s budget but also will determine the fate of about 400 redevelopment agencies, which primarily are controlled by cities and counties to promote construction projects and revitalize blighted districts. Critics say many of the agencies have strayed from that intent and instead have evolved to benefit private developers, while audits have revealed questionable projects and some misuse of money.


The justices heard arguments from both sides last month.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers said redevelopment agencies were created by the Legislature, giving the state the authority to dissolve them and impose new requirements if they want to continue operating. Cities and redevelopment agencies called the move illegal because California voters banned raids on local government money by passing Proposition 22 in 2010.

Cities argued that the initiative, which passed with 61 percent of the vote, protects redevelopment agencies from tampering by the Legislature.

State attorneys argued that lawmakers have the authority to eliminate the agencies despite Proposition 22 because the Legislature passed legislation in 1945 allowing cities and counties to establish redevelopment agencies.

The governor and supporters of the law say redevelopment agencies have become little more than slush funds for private developers, and they want the tax money generated by new developments to be diverted from the agencies to local services and agencies.

Local government officials say it does not make sense for the state to eliminate redevelopment agencies, which contribute $2 billion a year in economic activity. They say the agencies are their main vehicle to rebuild communities and create jobs.

The Supreme Court’s decision will determine the fate of a process that has shaped economic development in California for decades.

After World War II, the Legislature allowed cities to combat blight by creating special districts for redevelopment. Growth in property taxes in those areas then could be used to finance more projects, known as tax-increment financing.

In turn, the agencies have used their power to acquire property by eminent domain and sell, lease or develop the land.

California began the year with a projected $26.6 billion deficit and closed the gap with spending cuts, fee hikes and revenue estimates that were overly optimistic. The state budget called for 70 state parks to close next year, tuition increases at state colleges and universities, and cuts to schools and libraries.

In June, lawmakers passed legislation to dissolve the redevelopment agencies and a companion measure that allows cities and counties to continue their redevelopment efforts if they voluntarily funnel their tax revenue toward local services. The budget was passed on a majority vote by Democrats, who were unable to coax Republicans to support fee increases and closing tax loopholes.

Earlier this month, the governor authorized midyear budget cuts of an additional $1 billion.


Man injured by machete in fight with ex-wife’s boyfriend

COSTA MESA – A fight between two members of a love triangle, one of whom is believed to have been armed with a machete, left one man injured and another being sought by police Wednesday night, authorities said.

Officers responded to reports of an altercation at a gas station in the 3000 block of Fairview about 7:30 p.m., Costa Mesa police Sgt. Matt Grimmond said.

Investigators believe one of the men drove to the area in order to find his ex-wife’s new boyfriend, Grimmond said.

The two men, who were in separate cars, apparently saw each other before driving to the gas station, where a fight ensued, Grimmond added.

During the fight, the boyfriend is believed to have brandished a large knife, which police described as a machete, Grimmond said, while the ex-husband is believed to have used pepper spray.

The ex-husband reportedly suffered a broken arm, as well as cuts to one of his elbows and his legs, and was taken to a hospital.

Police are searching for the boyfriend, who reportedly left before officers arrived.


Killings to gang crackdowns: 2011 in mug shots

A man suspected of killing eight people in a shooting rampage, a woman charged with cutting off her husband’s penis and men who police say were members of an organized crime syndicate fighting among themselves for power: These were some of the arrests made by law enforcement this year.

In this slide show, we revisit some of 2011’s most significant crimes and the people police believe committed them. Some of those pictured have been convicted, while others are awaiting trial.

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JANUARY: According to prosecutors, Adam Randy Baker flicked a cigarette at a group leaving a Costa Mesa hotel after a New Year’s Eve party, and then started an argument with a man. Authorities allege Baker began a fight with an Air Force veteran, pulled out a knife, and slashed the man in the chest. Witnesses overtook Baker before police took him into custody. He is charged with murder and attempted murder of another person. Baker is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing Jan. 27, 2012.

12-year-old girl dies while dashing onto freeway to grab clothing

A 12-year-old girl died after she was struck by a car on the 60 Freeway in Riverside County while trying to retrieve belongings that fell from the roof of the vehicle she was in, the California Highway Patrol said.

Eunice Flores, 12, of Riverside, was struck by a sedan on the westbound side of the freeway in Mira Loma, just east of Wineville, at about 11 p.m. Sunday.

She was running in and out of traffic to recover clothing from suitcases that had fallen from the roof rack of the Chevrolet Suburban in which she was a passenger, the CHP said in a news release. She was pronounced dead at the scene. No information was released about who was traveling with her.

John Sullivan, 74, was driving a 1991 Mercedes 300E at about 70 mph when he saw the girl in the road too late to avoid the collision, according to CHP officers.

Sullivan was not injured and was not arrested. The CHP is investigating the crash.


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