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

April 23, 2021
Law Enforcement News

Suspect In 2016 Killing Of L.A. County Sheriff's Sergeant Pleads Guilty
A man accused of gunning down a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department sergeant and nearly running over another deputy in 2016 pleaded guilty to murder Thursday and is expected to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole under the terms of a plea deal next month, officials said. Sgt. Steve Owen, 53, was responding to a report of a break-in when he was shot by 31-year-old Trenton Lovell, authorities have said. Lovell previously confessed to emptying his revolver into Owen's body during the deadly confrontation, admitting he “finished the job,” according to court documents made public in 2018. Lovell pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder, false imprisonment and robbery in connection with the attack on Owen and the chaotic manhunt that followed in October 2016, prosecutors said. After killing Owen, Lovell was shot and wounded by a deputy. Police said Lovell then tried to steal a Sheriff's Department vehicle before running away. As law enforcement set up blockades in the neighborhood, Lovell ran into a nearby home where police say he stumbled upon two teenagers. The teens “befriended” Lovell, and one faked a panic attack so they could contact their mother, who told deputies where the suspect was hiding, the family previously told The Times.
Los Angeles Times

D.A. George Gascón's New Vision For Taking On L.A. County Gangs Draws Confusion, Criticism
After weeks of rumors that he would eliminate the office's Hardcore Gang unit — long a treasured spot for veteran prosecutors hoping to take on some of the most violent crimes in Southern California — Gascón finally confirmed Tuesday the unit would be reduced in size, renamed and reorganized. The new unit will have 26 prosecutors, as opposed to the 40 who staffed the prior unit, officials said. News of the changes to the unit have infuriated some veteran prosecutors, who say the shift was poorly thought out and poorly timed as homicides and gang violence are on the rise in Los Angeles. The unit primarily prosecuted murders and attempted murders involving documented gang members. The number of homicides in Los Angeles rose above 300 for the first time in a decade last year, and the LAPD considers many of those slayings to be gang-related. At least 60 of the 105 homicides that had taken place in Los Angeles as of April 20 were believed to be connected to gang activity, police officials have said. “You have 700 open cases. Gang crimes and gang murders on the rise, and you expect 26 prosecutors to handle all of those cases?” asked Eric Siddall, vice president of the union representing line prosecutors who has been a frequent critic of Gascón. “It's absurd.”
Los Angeles Times

Op-Ed: Mike Bonin's Cold-Hearted Response To Tragic Fire Raises Questions
If there's one thing about Angelenos, we're dog people. We love our mutts like we love our Dodgers and our Lakers (and, erm, Clippers?). They're part of our families. It was true before the COVID crisis paralyzed the nation and upended our lives, and over the last year-plus our canine companions have become even more important. Our love for our dogs is irrational, and we own that fact as proudly as we own the absurdity of our reaction to a light rain shower. Heck, it's no secret that some (maybe a lot) of us tend to like our dogs more than people. All of which makes Councilman Mike Bonin's response to a horrific fire early Wednesday morning that cost the life of a woman's one-year-old Husky mix baffling. For starters, he waited more than 24 hours even to acknowledge a tragedy in which a woman's dog perished horrifically, neighbors trying desperately to break down the door as the animal screamed - yes, it was that goddamn awful. When he did, belatedly, he didn't so much as offer condolences to a constituent who just experienced the twin tragedies of losing her home and her beloved pet. Instead, he leapt to the defense of Venice Beach's homeless population. Set aside for a moment Mr. Bonin's breathtakingly insulting opinion of his own constituents, accusing them of unfounded, malicious gossip. How far removed from common decency, even from basic humanity, does an individual have to be for their immediate reflex upon learning that a constituent's dog burned alive in an arson fire to be, “Not my fault!”
Venice Current

LAPD Searching For Big Rig Driver In Boyle Heights Hit-and-Run That Left Bicyclist Hospitalized
Detectives are searching for the driver of a big rig that struck a bicyclist on a sidewalk in Boyle Heights, leaving the victim hospitalized for days in an intensive care unit, authorities said. The Los Angeles Police Department released photos Thursday of the white semi-truck authorities say was involved in the collision, describing it as possibly a 2015 Freightliner Columbia 120. On March 9, the big rig was entering a commercial fueling station when it struck a bicyclist riding on the north sidewalk of Olympic Boulevard in an area just east of Boyle Avenue, according to LAPD. While the driver stopped briefly, he did not identify himself or offer to help the victim, police said. The crash happened around 6:04 p.m. and left the 30-year-old bicyclist with multiple fractures and internal injuries, according to LAPD. Paramedics took him to a nearby hospital where he was hospitalized for “several days” before being released, and he is still “slowly recovering,” the department said in a news release. Police have released few details on a description of the driver, only describing him as a man in his 30s who is “possibly” Hispanic. Anyone with information can reach LAPD Officer Garcia at 213-833-3713 or e-mail him at .

‘Jersey Shore' Star Ronnie Ortiz-Magro Arrested In Playa del Rey On Suspicion Of Domestic Violence
“Jersey Shore” star Ronnie Ortiz-Magro was arrested Thursday for investigation of felony domestic violence, police said. Ortiz-Magro, 35, was arrested in the coastal Playa del Rey section of Los Angeles, LAPD Officer William Cooper said. Police said Ortiz-Magro was arrested on suspicion of violating a California law covering violence against intimate partners. No other details on the person were given. Ortiz-Magro's attorneys, Scott E. Leemon and Leonard Levine, said they have just learned of the new allegation and need time to investigate before they can comment. Ortiz-Magro was previously arrested on suspicion of domestic violence in 2019. Last year, he pleaded no contest to domestic battery and resisting arrest. He remains on probation from that case.

A Rising Actor, Fake HBO Deals And One Of Hollywood's Most Audacious Ponzi Schemes
The promise of easy money brought Jim Russell to a bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Russell, a steel company executive from Las Vegas, had come to meet Zachary Horwitz, a low-level actor seeking investors for his film company. Horwitz made it sound simple: He would use Russell's money to buy the rights to cheap movies — “Slasher Party,” “Satanic Panic” and the like — and then resell them to HBO for distribution in Latin America. He'd pay Russell back in six months with a 15% profit. Russell had already wired Horwitz more than half a million dollars after a friend vouched for the 30-year-old actor. Now, Horwitz was offering a chance to invest much more. At dinner that night in 2017, Russell was intrigued but nervous. What would happen if HBO declined to buy the rights to a film, he asked. “HBO has never backed out,” Horwitz replied, according to Russell. Over the next two years, Russell and his partners made $80 million in loans to the actor's company. They thought they were financing scores of deals to buy and sell film rights. In reality, they'd been lured into what federal investigators describe as one of the most audacious Ponzi schemes in Hollywood history. Horwitz collected $690 million from investors for movie deals authorities say were fictitious. The HBO and Netflix contracts he used to convince Russell and others that his business was legitimate were forgeries, the government says. For years, Horwitz kept the con going by using loans from one group of investors to repay what he'd borrowed from another, according to a federal criminal complaint. The investors are now trying to recover $235 million that he never repaid.
Los Angeles Times

Possible Human Remains Found In Hills Above Burbank
The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office was investigating Thursday after a hiker found bones in the hills above Burbank. According to the Burbank Police Department, officers responded to the top of Elmwood Drive, near a hiking trail, at about 1:35 p.m. after a hiker found what were believed to be human remains. Police said the coroner would make the final determination on whether the bones were in fact human.

Presiding Judge Extends Deadlines For LA Criminal Trials
The presiding judge of Los Angeles County's court system issued an order Thursday authorizing a new set of emergency continuances in criminal cases as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Despite the dramatic decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County since the winter surge, the court continues to rely on this emergency authority to safely increase the number of jury trials while limiting the number of people in our courthouses,” Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor said in a written statement. “The court cannot operate at pre-pandemic levels while the COVID-19 virus remains a concern in our community and social distancing and mask mandates are necessary.” He noted that court officials are “making progress in Los Angeles County to safely and carefully ramp up criminal and civil jury trials.”

Father Accused Of Helping Son Hide The Body Of Kristin Smart Released From Jail
A man accused of helping his son hide the body of California college student Kristin Smart, who went missing nearly 25 years ago, has been released from jail. San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Craig Van Rooyen reduced bail Wednesday to $50,000 for Ruben Flores, 80, who has pleaded not guilty to accessory after murder in Smart's death. His son, Paul Flores, 44, has pleaded not guilty to murder and is being held without bail. The judge indicated Monday that he would reduce bail for Ruben Flores from $250,000 to an amount the elder Flores could afford because of health problems and the fact that he faces a maximum of three years in prison if convicted — and he could serve that much time awaiting trial. Jail records indicated Ruben Flores was not in custody Thursday morning. Attorney Harold Mesick, representing Ruben Flores, said his client poses no threat to the public and argued he should be released on his own recognizance because it would otherwise take money he needs to hire a soils expert and biologist for the case. Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle said bail should remain at $250,000, which he said was affordable, based on documents submitted in court. The judge concluded the bail should be set at $50,000, explaining that “setting bail in something more than he can afford is a detention under the law.”

Boulder Supermarket Shooting Suspect Faces Dozens Of New Charges
The man accused of killing 10 people in a mass shooting in a Boulder, Colo. grocery store last month now faces more than 40 additional charges. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, was already facing charges of 10 counts of murder in the first degree and one count of attempted murder over the shooting rampage at a King Soopers supermarket. Prosecutors amended the criminal complaint against him to add 43 new felony charges, according to a motion filed Wednesday in Boulder County District Court. Of the 54 total charges now facing Alissa, 32 are new counts of attempted first-degree murder. Eleven police officers responding to the attack at the grocery store are named as victims of the attempted murder. Alissa also faces one charge of assault in the first degree and 10 charges of using a large capacity magazine in the shooting. If convicted of the 10 murder charges, Alissa would spend life in prison without the possibility of parole. Colorado abolished the death penalty last year.

Senate OKs Bill To Fight Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans
The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would help combat the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a bipartisan denunciation of such violence during the coronavirus pandemic and a modest step toward legislating in a chamber where most of President Joe Biden's agenda has stalled. The measure would expedite the review of hate crimes at the Justice Department and provide support for local law enforcement in response to thousands of reported violent incidents in the past year. Police have seen a noted uptick in such crimes, including the February death of an 84-year-old man who was pushed to the ground near his home in San Francisco, a young family that was injured in a Texas grocery store attack last year and the killing of six Asian women in shootings last month in Atlanta. The names of the six women killed in Georgia are listed in the bill, which passed the Senate on a 94-1 vote. The House is expected to consider similar legislation in the coming weeks. Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, the legislation's lead sponsor, said the measure is incredibly important to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, “who have often felt very invisible in our country, always seen as foreign, always seen as the other.” She said the message of the legislation is as important as its content and substance.
Associated Press

Public Safety News

LA County Offers Appointment-Free COVID-19 Vaccinations At Large Sites
Large-scale vaccination sites operated by Los Angeles County began offering appointment-free shots Thursday, and the walk-in inoculations will continue through Monday while vaccine supplies last. The shots are open to anyone aged 16 and older, but teens aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by an adult. The walk-in vaccinations are available at: Palmdale Oasis Recreation Center, 3850 E. Avenue S; The Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood; Balboa Sports Complex, 17015 Burbank Blvd., Encino; College of the Canyons, 25000 Valencia Blvd., Santa Clarita; Cal State Northridge, 18343 Plummer St.; Eugene Obregon Park, 4021 E. First St., Los Angeles; Pomona Fairplex, 2370 E. Arrow Highway, gate 15; and L.A. County Office of Education, 12830 Columbia Way, Downey. County officials have insisted in recent weeks that demand for vaccinations is still high, with appointments at many sites quickly filling. But the offer of walk-in shots would appear to indicate more supply than demand.

DEA To Hold National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day This Saturday
The Drug Enforcement Administration will hold its semiannual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday at numerous locations in the Southland and throughout the country. During the event, people can turn in their expired, unused prescription medications for proper disposal. “DEA's October 2020 Take-Back Day brought in a record-high amount of expired, unused prescription medications, with the public turning in close to 500 tons of unwanted drugs,” the DEA said in a statement. “Over the 10-year span of Take-Back Day, DEA has brought in more than 6,800 tons of prescription drugs,” the DEA reported. “With studies indicating a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets, clearing out unused medicine is essential.” The agency will collect tablets, capsules, patches and other solid forms of prescription drugs. 

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: