Monthly Archives: December 2011

LAKE ELSINORE: Army sergeant killed in Afghanistan attack

A decorated Army sergeant from Lake Elsinore was killed Tuesday when his unit was hit by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, a U.S. Department of Defense news release said.
Sgt. Noah M. Korte, 29, leaves behind his wife, Kristi, and two young children. He was assigned to the 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade based in Fort Hood, Texas.
Also killed in were Spc. Kurt W. Kern, 24, of McAllen, Texas, and Pfc. Justin M. Whitmire, 20, of Easley, S.C. The attack took place in Paktia.
Korte graduated from California Lutheran High School in Wildomar and was a member of the Surfrider Foundation. He married July 26, 2005, according to a posting on his Facebook page.
Korte enlisted in the Army in May 2003 as a military policeman. Korte deployed to Afghanistan his month. Korte also deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2007 to December 2008, from March 2005 to February 2006 and from January 2004 to April 2004.
His awards and decorations include four Army Commendation medals, two Good Conduct medals, the Army Achievement medal, National Defense Service medal, Iraq Campaign medals with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal and a Global War on Terrorism service medal.
Korte last posted a message on his Facebook page Dec. 19. He wrote: “Man, it is just getting colder and colder by the day here. People tell me it starts snowing by the end of the month. Last year they had up to 4 feet of snow.” His wife responded: “I miss you too!”
On Dec. 6, Korte posted: “To my beautiful wife and kids, daddy loves you very much, so be good and take care of mommy while I’m away.”


RIVERSIDE COUNTY: Action taken against medical marijuana dispensaries

Riverside County officials said Wednesday they have begun legal action to close about three dozen medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas.
Attorneys filed for an injunction and issued legislative subpoenas against two of the stores, the latest volley since the Board of Supervisors authorized crackdowns on Dec. 13.
The county asked a Riverside County Superior Court judge to declare Platinum Collective in Home Gardens, near Riverside, a public nuisance and issue an injunction to shut down operations at the shop in the 12000 block of Magnolia Avenue, east of McKinley Street. According to the Dec. 21 court filing, the dispensary creates traffic problems, and officials said it poses a safety issue for children who walk past the shop on their way to Villegas Middle School.
The county is asking for civil penalties of $1,000 for each day Platinum Collective has been open since March 7, when the business was notified it was operating illegally, and seeks reimbursement for the cost of abatement, investigation and enforcement.
A woman who answered the phone at the collective said no one was available to comment.
In other action, the county served legislative subpoenas on the operator of the Compassion and Wellness Center in Lakeland Village, near Lake Elsinore, and the owner of the property in the 15000 block of Grand Avenue near El Contento Drive.
Dispensary operator Ronald Wayne Williams was ordered to appear before the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 24, and property owner Thomas C. Deamer on Jan. 31, to explain why the dispensary remains open.
“That’s the logical next step before we start filing (civil) lawsuits,” said Ken King, a senior code enforcement officer. “There’s not a lot of things they can say. The ordinance is clear. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody in this field.”
Failure to comply will result in contempt of court proceedings, county officials said.
Deamer, 64, said he sold the building to Williams in 2007 and is receiving mortgage payments from him. Williams began leasing the property in 2003 for an auto sales business, which he lost in 2009. Deamer, a former air conditioning repairman, said he was unaware Williams was going to open a dispensary and fears the property could be seized.
“That’s mine and my wife’s retirement,” he said.
Williams did not return a telephone message Wednesday.
One dispensary already has closed and six more have indicated they intend to shut down, King said.
The county’s push focuses on storefront operations, which are illegal under a dispensary ban county that supervisors approved in 2006. In the years since, court rulings have upheld local authority to shutter dispensaries, including a city of Riverside case that has been appealed to the state Supreme Court, King said.
Dispensaries in cities are not covered by the county’s ban.


Pair arrested for allegedly stealing cross from Artesia cemetery

A man and a woman were jailed Thursday after they allegedly broke into a cemetery in Artesia and made off with a wooden cross.

Cross stolen from Artesia cemetaryJason Fluharty, 29, of Torrance and Jolynn Ramirez, 29, of Artesia were arrested Tuesday morning after employees at Artesia Cemetery reported finding evidence of an attempted break-in.

Deputies found the suspects, who had been caught on surveillance video, walking on Studebaker Road, near the cemetery.

After detaining them, a deputy allegedly found a wooden cross bearing a military insignia in Fluharty’s backpack. Sheriff’s officials said the cross had been stolen from a storage yard at the cemetery and that the suspects had also tried to burglarize the cemetery office.

The suspects were scheduled for arraignment Thursday morning.


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.