Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch
LA Police Protective League


Los Angeles
Police Protective League
the union that represents the
rank and file LAPD officers

  Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch

Daily News Digest
from LA Police Protective League

March 6, 2020
Law Enforcement News

Alabama Executes Man Convicted As Accomplice In Slaying Of Police Officers
Nathaniel Woods, who was convicted in the 2004 killings of three Birmingham, Ala., police officers, was put to death by a lethal cocktail of drugs late Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court denied him reprieve. Woods, 43, reportedly had no last words as the drugs flowed into his body. He was pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m. CST. The three officers, Harley A. Chisholm III, Carlos "Curly" Owen and Charles R. Bennett, were killed in a hail of bullets as they sought to arrest Woods and another man, Kerry Spencer, at a suspected drug house in Birmingham. Although prosecutors said Spencer was the gunman, Woods was convicted as an accomplice on capital murder charges. Immediately after Woods' death, Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement saying no argument was made during his trial that he had "tried to stop the gunman from committing these heinous acts."

Mother. Officer. Boxer. LAPD’s ‘Sugar Dre’ Brings Grit To The Ring And The Streets
The boxer stands at the bottom of a staircase leading to the ring. It’s shortly before 9 p.m. and “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses is blasting inside the Novo theater in downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles Police Officer Deirdre Fonseca, also known as “Sugar Dre,” is the co-headliner in the last match of the night. Her 5-foot, 2-inch frame bounces from one foot to the other as she beats her bright blue gloves together. Fonseca squares up against Destiny Moreno, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. Punches fly over three two-minute rounds. Moreno keeps attacking amid cheers and boos from the crowd. But Fonseca is focused. It’s a quality she exhibits both in and outside the ring. At 32, after a stint working gangs, she was recently promoted to the department’s expanded Community Safety Partnership program in the San Fernando Gardens public housing project. Fonseca will use her policing skills to help build trust in a community with a historically fractured relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department.

$50,000 Reward Offered For Info In Deadly 2016 Drive-By Shooting In Vermont Vista
Nearly four years after a drive-by shooting in South Los Angeles claimed the life of a 21-year-old, officials announced Thursday that they were offering a $50,000 reward for information on the killer. Vallan Gavilan was standing near the 400 block of West 87th Street in the Vermont Vista area around 8:20 p.m. on March 28, 2016, when "unknown suspects" drove by and shot him multiple times, the Los Angeles Police Department said. Gavilan was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Detectives have yet to identify a suspect in the case. On Thursday, L.A. police investigators were joined by Gavilan’s family as they announced a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of suspects involved in the killing. "It's been a rough almost four years," Gavilan's mother, Joy Gavilan, said at the press conference Thursday. "We forgive the person or persons that has done it but we still would like for them to come forward and help us get closure."

3 Charged With 12 Counts In North Hollywood Illegal Prostitution Scheme: AG Becerra
Three people have been charged with 12 counts in an illegal prostitution operation out of North Hollywood in which models were pressured to have sex for money, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday. Karine Michmichian, Dwight Cunningham, and Derek Hay face charges of pimping and pandering. Officials allege that Michmichian and Cunningham worked through a company called The Luxury Companion to solicit women for prostitution from Hays’ pornography agency, LA Direct Models. Between 2017 and 2018, Hay allegedly introduced of female clients to Michmichian and Cunningham for the purpose of prostitution, according to the criminal complaint filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The defendants allegedly helped set up hundreds of sexual encounters involving models employed by Hay and instructed the women to secure payment ahead of time, Becerra said during a news conference Thursday. Michmichian and Cunningham allegedly benefited from those encounters by those sexual encounters by taking a “cut” of the proceeds.

Valley Village Woman Sentenced To More Than Three Years For Billing Scheme
The owner of a Studio City clinic was sentenced Thursday to 37 months in federal prison for causing more than $11.5 million in bills to be submitted to healthcare benefit programs for unnecessary — and sometimes nonexistent — sleep studies, primarily for employees of United Parcel Service and Costco. Anna Vishnevsky, 52, of Valley Village was sentenced by U.S. District Judge George H. Wu, who also ordered her to pay $2.74 million in restitution. Vishnevsky, who owned Atlas Diagnostic Services, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to one count of healthcare fraud. From March 2014 until June 2016, Vishnevsky participated in a scheme to defraud healthcare benefit plans. She and others working at the defendant’s direction recruited patients to participate in sleep study testing at Atlas by offering them cash. She also offered them additional cash if they brought in other sleep study participants, including their co-workers and relatives, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.

Robert Durst Trial: Victim’s Lie About Speaking To Police ‘Sealed Her Fate,’ Prosecutors Say
Susan Berman told her close friend Robert Durst that police had contacted her, hoping to speak with her about the mysterious disappearance of Durst’s wife. It was a lie, and Durst wouldn’t learn that for 15 years. But he said he reluctantly agreed Berman could talk to detectives: “What am I going to say, no?,” he said in an interview prepared for the HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” Los Angeles County prosecutors alleged Thursday that Durst’s permission concealed a violent plan that climaxed in 2000 with Berman’s killing. “It was that statement by Susan Berman to Bob Durst that sealed her fate,” Deputy Dist. Atty. John Lewin said during the second day of his opening statements in the murder trial for Durst, who has pleaded not guilty. Berman was found dead in her Benedict Canyon home on Christmas Eve and the fateful events of that year occupied much of Lewin’s address to the 12 jurors and 11 alternates in the compact courtroom near Los Angeles International Airport.

Mystery Photos Found At Accused Serial Killer’s Home
Police in Burbank said the women seen in a cache of photographs discovered during a search of an accused serial killer’s home could be important clues in the man’s upcoming murder trial. "I don’t know who they are," said Burbank Police Department Det. Aaron Kay. "My concern is that either they’re missing or dead. They could be the victim of something." The photographs were found last fall when Horace Van Vaultz was arrested, the first case brought by the LA County District Attorney’s Office that relied, in part, on searches of genealogical DNA databases in order to identify an alleged killer. "A 64-year-old man...was charged with two counts of murder, with seven counts of special circumstance allegations, including multiple murders and lying in wait," DA Jackie Lacey announced in November. The charges included the 1986 murder of Mary Duggan, whose body was found in the trunk of her own car parked near the 5 Freeway in Burbank. She was last seen at a bar on Vanowen in Reseda and a pizza restaurant on Saticoy St. nearby.

Death Penalty Sought In 2019 Shooting At Poway Synagogue
Prosecutors in California plan to seek the death penalty against a former college student accused of carrying out a 2019 attack on a San Diego-area synagogue that left one woman dead and three others wounded. The San Diego County prosecutors said during a court hearing Thursday that they will ask for the death sentence against John T. Earnest in the April 27, 2019, attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue. That’s despite Gov. Gavin Newsom signing an executive order last year placing a moratorium on executions. Even before that, California has not executed anyone since 2006. Prosecutors say Earnest, a 20-year-old nursing student, opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle during the last day of Passover services. The attack killed 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye and wounded three others, including an 8-year-old girl and the rabbi, who lost a finger.
All Cops Can Get You For Speeding Or Any Other Traffic Violation
Q. Hello Honk: This past weekend I saw a very odd sight on the 91 Freeway – an Orange County Sheriff’s Department patrol car with no one daring to drive past him or her for a few miles until the sheriff’s car exited the freeway. I’m thinking that was because it was a black and white car and most everyone thought it was the California Highway Patrol’s. Can an Orange County sheriff’s deputy give you a speeding ticket on the freeway? – Mario Luna, Anaheim A. You bet. The deputy’s focus was likely on getting to a work-related destination, but under the law he or she could have pulled out a citation book. “California peace officers can cite on any public roadway and/or make an arrest anywhere within the state of California,” said Lt. Joses Walehwa of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. What is a peace officer exactly? Well, any sworn officer with a force recognized under the law as a police agency, including those that serve cities, universities, transit authorities or airports. This does not include security-guard forces.

Public Safety News

4 New Cases Of Coronavirus Confirmed In LA County, Bringing Total Number To 11
Four new cases of novel coronavirus were confirmed in Los Angeles County, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 11, public health officials said Thursday. Public Health has identified additional people who may have had close personal contact with these individuals, including any friends, family members or health care professionals, to assess and monitor them for signs and symptoms of illness. All confirmed cases are being isolated and their close contacts are quarantined. There are no known significant exposures to the general public. All of these additional positive cases are part of a group of travelers who were in Northern Italy, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued new directives Thursday for travelers returning from areas experiencing local outbreaks; the guidance asks these travelers to distance themselves from the public for 14 days by staying home from work and/or school, avoiding public spaces and public transit, and monitoring themselves for signs and symptoms of respiratory illness.

Local Government News

LA County Considering Sending Mail Ballots To All Voters
Reacting to the hours-long waits that occurred at some voting centers during the primary election, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla called on Los Angeles County Thursday to automatically send vote-by-mail ballots to every voter in the county ahead of the November general election. "Fifteen counties, including Los Angeles County, conducted their elections under the Voters Choice Act," Padilla said in a statement. "In the 14 other Voters Choice Act counties, every voter received their ballot by mail 29 days in advance of the election and had multiple options for returning their ballot. Los Angeles must do the same. "I am calling on Los Angeles County to mail every registered voter a ballot for the November 3, 2020, general election in addition to improving the performance of vote centers," he said. "This would be a first, but important, step in better meeting the needs of the largest, most diverse voting jurisdiction in the nation." Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said the idea will have to undergo a cost analysis.

About the LAPPL Formed in 1923, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) represents the more than 9,900 dedicated and professional sworn members of the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPPL serves to advance the interests of LAPD officers through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education. The LAPPL can be found on the Web at: