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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Most Wanted: Robber who took over bank

TUSTIN – Authorities are asking for the public’s help to identify a man who robbed a bank at gunpoint last week.
The armed man executed a take-over style holdup at 10:42 a.m. Aug. 18 at U.S. Bank, 17851 E. 17th St. in Tustin. Authorities said he took cash from two tellers before fleeing on foot.
He was seen headed north on Prospect Avenue, police said.
At 8:17 a.m. the same day, police said, a man was seen checking out a U.S. Bank in Baldwin Hills. That man was driving a vehicle that looked like a 1998 Mercedes-Benz M series SUV, officials said.
Police believe the man inside the SUV appeared to be casing the bank, and suspect it could be the same person who robbed the Tustin branch.
The man was described as 5-feet-8-inches tall, 170 pounds, 35 to 40 years old, and wearing a dark-colored shirt.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Colton Kirwan at 714-573-3249. The man is considered armed and dangerous, and anyone should contact authorities if he is seen.
The armed robber is the latest to be added to The Orange County Register’s list of wanted suspects. The list of suspects is gathered from local, federal and state law-enforcement agencies.
Rewards, if any, are mentioned.

 

4 arrested in rash of residential burglaries

LA PALMA – Four burglary suspects, including a 17-year-old girl, were arrested in connection with ransacking homes and taking cash, jewelry and electronics, a police sergeant said. Two suspects remain on the run.
On Monday, police arrested a 17-year-old boy and a 19-year-old man on suspicion of trying to get inside a home in the 5400 block of La Luna Drive, La Palma police Sgt. Raul Morales said.

At 1:21 a.m., police got a 911 call from a resident reporting that two males were trying to get inside his home through a back window, Morales said. The males fled before police arrived, but a 17-year-old boy was found hiding behind shrubbery in the front yard of a nearby home. His alleged accomplice, Kenneth Arana of Los Angeles was arrested several hours later at a motel in Cypress, Morales said.
Arana was booked on suspicion of burglary and is being held at the Orange County Jail. His alleged accomplice was taken to Juvenile Hall.
Later that day, officers investigated three residential burglaries that apparently happened between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. while residents were at work.
Around 4:50 p.m., a resident returned to her home in the 7200 block of Rampart Lane and discovered the master bedroom was ransacked and cash and jewelry were missing. Morales said the burglars got in through an opened window on the side of the house.
Officers also responded to a home in the 5300 block of Verner Drive after the resident came home and found noticed jewelry and electronics were taken. Morales said it appears the burglars got in through an unlocked rear window.
As officers were taking a report, the next-door neighbors reported their home was ransacked and the back window was broken, Morales said. Jewelry and electronics were missing from the home.
“I believe a lot of this has to do with the heat,” Morales said. “Burglars realize people are leaving windows opened when they are at work and they are taking the opportunity to find the homes with opened windows.”
Shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, officers went to a home in the 5400 block of Andrew Drive after a woman called police to report she found four people burglarizing her home, Morales said.
The suspects ran out the back door, jumped over a block wall and into a neighbor’s yard, Morales said. The resident followed them and detained a 17-year-old girl. The resident suffered minor injuries while trying to detain the girl.
Three male suspects ran through the neighbor’s backyard and down Marview Drive. Officers searched the area and found 18-year-old Cameron Becker two blocks away. The other suspects got away.
Becker’s vehicle was parked in front to the home and items taken from the home were found in the neighbor’s yard and along their escape route, Morales said.
The teen-age girl was booked at Juvenile Hall on suspicion of burglary. Becker is being held at the Orange County Jail on suspicion of burglary.
Detectives believe the teen-age girl, Becker and their alleged accomplices are responsible for the burglaries at the homes on Rampart, Verner and Andrew, Morales said.
Police believe the suspects are responsible for additional burglaries that may have not been reported to police. They are asking anyone who has been the victim of a burglary or who may have information about the suspects to call La Palma police at 714-690-3370.

 

Ex-Laker jailed on murder charges after JWA arrest

A former Lakers player is in custody at Los Angeles County jail Tuesday, facing charges of murder in a fatal shooting of a woman in Atlanta.
Javaris Crittenton was taken into custody at John Wayne Airport Monday evening as he checked in for a flight to Atlanta. Instead, the 23-year-old man was apprehended by the FBI-Los Angeles Police Department Fugitive Task Force.Crittenton will likely face extradition to face murder charges in Atlanta.
Arrest records show he was booked by LAPD and being held without bail.
Crittenton is wanted in connection with a deadly shooting on Aug. 19, when Jullian Jones, a mother of four, was fatally wounded as she walked with two men, according to The Associated Press.
Authorities believe one of the men was the intended target of the shooting, possibly in retaliation for a robbery in which Crittenton was the victim.
On Aug. 24, Crittenton is believed to have bought a plane ticket to Los Angeles, where he has friends and family. Before his arrest Monday, his attorney Brian Steel said his client was planning to surrender in Atlanta.
Crittenton was a No. 1 draft pick for the Lakers in 2007 and was then traded for Pau Gasol in 2008. He was later suspended from the NBA for having guns in a locker room and was released by the Charlotte Bobcats before the 2010-11 season.

 

No parole for woman in drug-robbery murder

A Santa Ana woman convicted of murder for her role in a drug hold-up and shooting more than 20 years ago will spend at least three more years in prison after agreeing to postpone a parole hearing.
Diana Sue Snyder, now 52, is being held at the Central California Women’s Facility on a 26-years-to-life sentence. She was scheduled to have her parole hearing on Monday but conceded that she would likely be turned down and agreed to postpone it until 2014, prosecutors said.

Snyder already had an extensive record of prostitution, drug use, fraud and theft when she and two men went to rob a Santa Ana apartment on a December night in 1987, prosecutors said. They believed that drugs were being sold from the apartment.
Snyder tried to talk her way into the apartment by saying she wanted drugs in exchange for sex or credit, then forced the door open with her elbow, according to the District Attorney’s Office. During the robbery, a resident of the apartment hit one of her partners, Martin Eckert, with a Kahlua bottle, prosecutors said at the time.
Eckert shot the man in the chest, prosecutors said. The group then stole drugs, money and a VCR before fleeing.
Snyder was arrested more than two weeks later after she tried to solicit prostitution to an undercover Santa Ana police officer, prosecutors said. She was convicted in 1992 of murder.
Eckert was also convicted of murder; state records show that he is being held at Corcoran State Prison. Court records do not list the third robber as a defendant in the case.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office had planned to oppose Snyder’s bid for parole, saying that she has shown no remorse for the killing. “She incredulously denies any knowledge of the robbery and murder yet admits that her drug use was a factor in her involvement,” prosecutors wrote in an opposition letter.

 

Irvine man accused of killing business partner

SANTA ANA Instead of paying $1 million to buy out his business partner, Edward Younghoon Shin killed his associate in the offices of their advertising agency, authorities said.
Shin then took over his partner’s email, investigators said, and began responding to emails from family and friends who were becoming increasingly suspicious. Christopher Ryan Smith, 32, of Laguna Beach was reported missing to the Laguna Beach Police Department in April, but authorities believe he was killed in San Juan Capistrano in June 2010. Shin, 33, pretended to be Smith in numerous emails to family and friends, authorities said, and was able to hide Smith’s death for months by giving relatives multiple excuses for Smith’s disappearance.
Relatives harbored suspicions of Smith’s whereabouts for months, and it was in April that Smith’s father reported his son missing.
“It wasn’t the typical email his son would send,” said Lt. Jason Kravetz of the Laguna Beach Police Department. “It was different words, short, strange.”
Investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of Shin on Monday morning, alleging he killed Smith instead of paying $1 million to buy him out. The two men had been co-owners of an advertising agency, 800Xchange, for two years but began to have a falling out in 2010, said Assistant Sheriff Mark Billings.
Smith wanted to leave 800Xchange and a financial settlement of $1 million was reached, Billings said. But in June 2010, investigators believe Shin instead killed Smith in the offices of their San Juan Capistrano office.
After the killing, Shin is believed to have pretended to be Smith through emails that were sent to relatives and friends who inquired about his whereabouts, said Don Voght, a homicide investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Investigators would not say how many emails were sent or what was said in them, but relatives who lived out of state began to grow suspicious, officials said. Relatives hired a private investigator to find Smith, and reported him missing in April.
During their investigation, detectives with the Laguna Beach Police Department interviewed several acquaintances of Smith, including Shin, Kravetz said.
Police searched the business offices of the two men and found traces of blood in the area, Billings said. Through DNA testing, authorities were able to match the blood to Smith’s DNA.
Investigators said Shin went through extensive measures to try to hide the blood in the business, including cleaning it thoroughly and repainting the walls.
Shin of Irvine was taken into custody Sunday morning at Los Angeles International Airport as he was boarding a plane headed to Canada, Voght said.
After a six-hour interview, Shin admitted to killing Smith in June 2010, Billings said.
Investigators with the Sheriff’s Department said they have been unable to find Smith’s body and would not released details as to how he was killed. Investigators said they are not sure if Shin was alone in the incident.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714-628-7170 .

 

Man gets 10 years in prison for Ponzi scheme

A Laguna Niguel man accused of taking more than $900,000 in a home-flipping Ponzi scheme was sentenced to 10 years in state prison Friday morning.
According to authorities, William Warren Baker recruited investors for a business where he promised to buy, refurbish and sell distressed homes for a profit. Instead, authorities said Baker did not buy property for the business. Instead, one piece of property was purchased and turned over to a trust in his son’s name. The property was then transferred to a trust belonging to Baker’s wife.Law enforcement officials said Baker targeted friends in church and other personal relationships to invest in the company, where he sold unqualified stock certificates.
The scheme came to light in early 2009, when Baker’s 82-year-old mother went missing. Investigators with the sheriff’s department began looking into financial accounts to locate the 82-year-old woman and discovered several inconsistencies, officials said.
Prosecutors also accused Baker of taking more than $6,000 from his mother’s social security funds after she had been reported missing.
Baker’s mother is still missing.
In May, Baker pleaded guilty 13 felony counts of making false statements in the sale or purchase of securities, and one felony count of grand theft from the U.S. Social Security Administration.
Baker has also been ordered to pay $900,000 in restitution and $1.8 million in state fines.

 

MySpace rapist gets 15 years in prison

FULLERTON – The woman addressed the rapist in court.
From this day on, she said, you will be a figment of my imagination.
You will cease to exist.
Making a tearful victim-impact statement at the sentencing Wednesday of Jason Ara Erpinar, 22, who pleaded guilty Monday to raping three women – two of whom he met on MySpace – Jane Doe No. 2 called Erpinar “a disgrace to the human race” and said what he did will not define her.
“I can now begin to find closure,” the now 25-year-old woman said.
A few minutes later, after a second victim’s statement was read while Erpinar’s third victim watched from the gallery, Judge James E. Rogan sentenced Erpinar to 15 years in state prison for the attacks that occurred between August 2006 and March 2008.
Erpinar, of Yorba Linda, worked at a gym, installed Christmas lights and did other odd jobs before he was arrested and charged with two felony counts of rape by intoxication and one felony count of forcible rape.
If the case had gone to trial and had a jury convicted him of all charges, Erpinar could have faced up to 24 years in state prison, prosecutors said.
The plea agreement was reached just as jury selection was about to start at the North Justice Center in Fullerton.
Erpinar, wearing a light-gray suit and blue tie and shirt, declined to make a statement before sentencing. After the hearing, his attorney, Robert D. Rentzer, also declined to comment.
“My client had nothing to say, and therefore I have nothing to say,” Rentzer said.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Birney, in an interview outside the courtroom, described Erpinar as a prolific dater on the social networking site MySpace.
The first rape occurred on March 26, 2008.
Erpinar invited then 22-year-old Jane Doe No. 2 – whom he met on MySpace — on a date.
He and Jane Doe No. 2 went to two Orange County parks and drank alcohol until the woman became “severely intoxicated” and vomited, Birney said.
Erpinar then drove her to a Newport Beach hotel and raped her, Birney said.
The woman woke up the next morning with a cracked tooth and scrapes on her nose, chin and upper lip. She went to the hospital and reported the attack to Newport Beach police.
At the time, however, no criminal case was filed due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
Nearly a year later, on March 7, 2009, Erpinar met an 18-year-old woman on MySpace and invited her to a house party in La Habra after contacting her by phone and email.
The 18-year-old – Jane Doe No. 1 — consumed alcohol with Erpinar and got so intoxicated she also began to vomit, Birney said. Erpinar raped Jane Doe No. 1 on the floor of a bedroom.
The woman reported the rape to La Habra police the next day. Erpinar is not alleged to have gotten physically violent with Jane Doe No. 1 beyond the rape, Birney said.
In both cases, the women were unable to resist the attack because of severe alcohol intoxication, according to the prosecutor.
“It couldn’t be clearer that these women were in no condition to have sex with anyone,” Birney said.
It’s not clear if the women had been drugged, Birney added.
After Jane Doe No. 1 went to La Habra police, an investigation led to an ex-girlfriend of Erpinar – Jane Doe No. 3.
Jane Doe No. 3 told police Erpinar was physically abusive toward her during their dating relationship when she was 17. Between August 2006 and October 2007, he forcibly raped her, Birney said.
The three victims do not know each other.
In her statement in court, Jane Doe No. 2 said she hopes Erpinar spends his years in prison reflecting on his crimes and that he never attacks again.
With about one year and nine months of actual and credited jail time already served, Erpinar likely will remain in prison for seven to eight years.
He must serve 85 percent of the time for the three years he was sentenced for the more severe forcible rape conviction, Birney said. It’s unclear, however, if Erpinar will serve 85 percent or 50 percent for the other two convictions – each of which got him six years behind bars.
In a statement read by a DA investigator in court, Jane Doe No. 1 said it makes her sick to know that Erpinar tried to claim the sex was consensual. She said depression forced her to quit school and work because she “felt dirty.”
She addressed Erpinar: “I hope that someday you get raped.”
She added that he will never forget what he did to her and the other two victims.
“It will haunt you everywhere you go.”