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

July 23, 2021
Law Enforcement News

California police sergeant rips Gov. Newsom for denying crime spike: He's living in a 'fantasy world'
Los Angeles Police Protective League vice president Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz slammed Gov. Gavin Newsom, D., for  denying  a statewide rise in crime on "Fox & Friends" Friday, saying Newsom was living in a "fantasy world" and crime data and numbers don't lie. Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz: That's a fantasy world. Where are we living in? I mean, you could look at the numbers throughout California and the rest of the country. Crime is increasing. It is surging, and there's no consequences. 
Fox News

Swift LAPD Action Saves Life Of Unresponsive Woman
Three LAPD officers are being credited for saving the life of a woman who was found unconscious Wednesday. Officer Matthew Corona, Dan Wilson and Brian Lee from the Pacific REACT unit were on their way to deliver a report when they were flagged down on 5th Street. Bystanders said a transient had overdosed and was lying on the sidewalk, unconscious and not breathing. Officer Corona ran to the individual and immediately started chest compressions as the other officers called for help. Due to their swift response, the woman began breathing and regained consciousness by the time paramedics arrived. The crowd who had gathered around began cheering as the woman came back to life. 
Venice Current

For A Black LAPD Officer, Police Reckoning Brings Pressure From Protesters And Fellow Cops
Los Angeles Police Officer Michael Silva stood stoically on the steps of LAPD headquarters one night last fall as several young protesters, two in horror masks, taunted him with racial slurs and flashed the middle finger in his face. The demonstrators, who were Black, were protesting a grand jury decision not to chargee officers in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in her home in Louisville, Ky. Silva, who is also Black, normally patrolled some of L.A.'s most impoverished neighborhoods, but that evening, he had been given protest duty. As the slurs landed, Silva appeared unfazed, even calm, as a video of the encounter that later went viral shows. But his brain was working overtime, he said, trying to focus on his training while processing thoughts about the rage directed at him. Silva watched the protesters' eyes and hands for threats but saw none. The young men were just venting frustration and anger — which Silva could understand — in an immature way, he thought. For Silva, 28, the moment was one of many in the past year and a half in which his dual identity as a Black man and a Los Angeles Police Department officer has left him straddling one of the nation's most volatile cultural fault lines — and feeling criticized for not landing solidly on either side.
Los Angeles Times

Homeless Man Found Shot To Death In Culver City Park
An investigation was underway in Culver City after a homeless man was found shot to death in a park Thursday morning, officials said. LAPD officers were called to Media Park located near the intersection of Venice and Culver boulevards around 5:45 a.m. Arriving investigators found a dead body near a trash can, alcohol bottles, and an abandoned bicycle. The victim's name has not been released. Authorities were in the early stages of the investigation and anyone with information is being asked to call the LAPD. 
FOX 11

New Federal Strike Force Aims To Cut Inflow Of Guns To L.A. And Target ‘Ghost Gun' Sellers
A new federal strike force launched by the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday will focus on disrupting the illegal flow of weapons into Los Angeles from neighboring states while also going after makers of local “ghost guns,” according to local and federal authorities. Both sources of weapons are a major driver of violence within L.A., and local officials hope their disruption will help stem the city's increasing levels of shootings and homicides. Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said ghost guns — many of them locally made — now account for a third of all weapons recovered by the LAPD. Others, he said, come from known trafficking routes into L.A. from sellers in Arizona, Nevada and Utah. “Suspects go to those locations,” Moore said, “buy those weapons because of lax or permissive gun laws and then traffic those weapons here and sell them to the market of people who are not lawfully able to own or possess or purchase a weapon.” The new federal effort will target “heavy players” responsible for making or moving large quantities of weapons into the city, “because the idea is to interrupt the supply cycle,” Moore said. It will be less likely to focus on federal firearm licensees known to be selling weapons in the L.A. area, Moore said, because “there's a finite number of them in this region, they're well policed, they're well managed, [and] they're well supervised by ATF and frankly by our gun detail.”
Los Angeles Times

$50K Reward Proposed In Case Of Murdered South LA Woman After Family's Emotional Plea
A Los Angeles councilmember is proposing a reward for information in the case of a murdered South Los Angeles woman following an emotional plea from her family. On Thursday, the family of Fatima Johnson held a press conference to ask the city to offer a reward to help the investigation into her killing. Johnson's two daughters found her body, bound and gagged, in her South Los Angeles home on July 1 after she didn't show up for work. Later Thursday, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson said he is proposing a motion to offer $50,000 in the case. "All of South LA was saddened by the tragic murder of Fatima Johnson, and our hearts go out to her family and friends. However, we know someone has information about this crime that can lead to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator," Harris-Dawson said. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call LAPD South Bureau Homicide Division, Detectives Brian Smith or Pat Farmer at (323) 786-5113.

Two Men Injured In Gang-Related Shooting In South Los Angeles
Two men were injured in a gang-related shooting in South Los Angeles Thursday. The two men were talking in the 2300 block of 48th Street, near Van Ness Avenue, when two men approached them in a vehicle just before 4:50 p.m., according to Officer William Cooper of the Los Angeles Police Department Media Relations Division. The two armed suspects got out of the vehicle and fired several shots at the two men before driving from the area in an unknown direction. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics were called to the scene and took the two men to a hospital with gunshot wounds. They were listed in stable condition, Cooper said. LAPD investigators determined the shooting was gang-related, but no further details were released.

Body Found In Kern County Desert ID'd As Murdered 24-Year-Old Los Angeles Woman
Remains found near Rosamond in Kern County have now been identified as a murder victim from Los Angeles. The remains were discovered in January and March of this year in the desert off Rattlesnake Road. Through DNA analysis, the remains have now been identified as Stephanie Ashley Bonilla, 24, of Los Angeles. An examination determined she was the victim of a homicide, according to the Kern County Sheriff's Office. The case remains under investigation.

Hollywood Hills-Based Engineer Sentenced To Five Years For Illegal Exports
An electrical engineer from the Hollywood Hills who schemed to illegally obtain integrated circuits with military applications that were exported to China without the required filing of electronic export information was sentenced Thursday to 63 months in federal prison. Yi-Chi Shih, 66, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt, who also ordered him to pay $362,698 in restitution to the IRS and fined him $300,000, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. After a seven-week jury trial that concluded in July 2019, Shih was convicted of one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and the Export Administration Regulations. Shih also was convicted of four counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, one count of making false statements to an FBI agent, three counts of subscribing to a false tax return, and four counts of making false statements to the IRS about his foreign assets.

Encino Man Created 8 Fake Businesses, Filed For $27 Million In Bogus COVID-19 Loans, Feds Say
An Encino man was arrested Thursday for attempting to bilk the federal Paycheck Protection Program, created last year to prop up business struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, out of about $27 million in loans to a handful of fake companies he created, prosecutors say. Robert Benlevi, 52, was accused of fabricating the details of eight businesses he registered in California over several weeks in Summer 2020, saying each company employed 100 people and averaged $400,000 a month in payroll. In an indictment unsealed Thursday, a grand jury said he then used those companies to apply for 27 different PPP loans, each totaling $1 million. He received three of those loans for $3 million total from one bank. “Benlevi falsely represented that the funds sought through the PPP loan applications would be used to pay payroll, health benefits, utilities and other business expenses of (his companies,” the grand jury wrote, “when, in fact, defendant Benlevi knew that the entities did not have any of these business expenses.” Instead, the grand jury said, Benlevi wired the $3 million to different bank accounts that he controlled, in some casing using the money to pay off credit card debt and other personal expenses.
Los Angeles Daily News

SoCal Gang Member Sentenced To 31 Years In Prison For Drugs, Firearms, Attempted Murder Charges
A Southern California man was sentenced on Thursday to 31 years in federal prison for the attempted murders of three rival gang members. 28-year-old Jesus Gonzalez Jr. of Sun Valley, also known as “Lil Chito,” “Gunner” and “Chuy,” pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, two counts of violent crime in aid of racketeering, one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Gonzalez admitted his involvement in multiple gang-related shootings, officials said. In early April 2016, he shot and seriously injured one victim and wounded others in a drive-by shooting outside a party in Sun Valley after he thought the victim had insulted his gang. A few weeks later, he stalked and shot a rival gang member. Among other crimes, Gonzalez is also accused of selling methamphetamine and firearms, including an AR-style rifle without a serial number.

Californians Lost More Than $620 Million To Online Scam Artists In 2020
In 2020, Americans lost $4.2 billion to online scam artists, with Californians suffering the greatest losses compared to the rest of the country. According to a recent study by the identity verification website Social Catfish, state residents lost more than $621 million last year, three times more than scammers earned in 2017, and the age group with the largest loss growth was 18 to 39-year-olds. Theresa Bebee was recently the victim of an online scam. She lost her job last month and was searching for new employment on Facebook Jobs. The very next day, Bebee received a text asking for an interview. It lasted three hours and was all done online. She was offered the job and during the onboarding process, done online, she provided everything from her driver's license to her social security number and banking info to what she assumed was her new employer. It turns out, though, there was never a job and the scammers used Bebee's identity to make a fraudulent unemployment claim. The most common scams reported in the study were business emails being compromised, with romance scams coming in second.

Public Safety News

Ret. LAFD Captain Rick Godinez Honored Thursday As 2019 Firefighter Of The Year
After cancelling the ceremony last year, the LA City Firefighters Association celebrated its 2019 Firefighter of the Year Thursday. Captain Rick Godinez retired in April 2020 after serving 36-years with fire department across 10 different stations. During his tenure, Godinez responded to some of the biggest events in U.S history, such as the 911 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haiti earthquake among others. “I get asked many times, ‘You know, Rick, do you miss the LAFD?' and the answer is yes, a resounding yes, absolutely. This was my dream job for over 35 years and I revered it. It was what I always wanted to do with my life and I feel so lucky. It was such a fulfilling career for me, and it exceeded all of my expectations,” Godinez told the assembled crowd. Godinez also thanked his wife, Terri Godinez, for keeping the family together while he went out on the fire line.

West Nile Virus Confirmed In Mosquito In Los Angeles County
The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District Thursday announced the first West Nile virus-positive mosquito samples to be confirmed this year in its service area. The positive mosquito samples were collected from mosquito traps in Bellflower (90706), Studio City (91602), and Tarzana (91356), confirming the presence of the virus in mosquito populations within the community. Results for additional samples are pending. GLACVCD officials noted that while this confirmation serves as the District's first positive West Nile virus mosquito pool this year, virus activity has been increasing steadily throughout California, including in other vector control jurisdictions within the county. Additionally, a dead bird located in Valley Village was confirmed positive for WNV.
FOX 11

Wildfire Preparedness Meeting Held Thursday By Councilwoman Nithya Raman And City Fire Officials
With another long and dangerous wildfire season unfolding in the Southland, fire preparedness is top of mind for firefighters and residents. Councilwoman Nithya Raman, of the 4th District, held a special fire preparedness meeting Thursday night, along with LA City Fire Department officials who spoke about high-fire severity zones like hillside and canyon communities and how technology is being used to warn people and mitigate the fire danger. Brush clearance and the steps homeowners need to take protect their homes and their neighbors was also talked about. “We're not in the business to hand out fees,” Capt. Bryan Nassour, with LAFD Brush Clearance Division, said during the virtual meeting. “We are in the business of compliance. That's all we want. We just want to make sure people are in compliance and they're safe, not only for themselves, but for their neighbors.” LAFD started home inspections back in May and said that so far some 12,000 homes are failing to meet the required standards.

L.A. County Reports Rapid Rise In COVID-19 Cases With 80% Increase Since Last Week
In what appears to be an unfortunate step backward, Los Angeles County is experiencing another swift rise in coronavirus cases. More than 2,700 new coronavirus infections and 13 more deaths were reported on Thursday, the highest number since the deadly winter surge in February, health officials reported. “We are continuing to see a very rapid rise in transmission countywide, with cases doubling over the last 10 days. We are reporting 2,767 new cases,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a news conference Thursday. “This is an 80% increase over the last week.” The concerning numbers come one day after the county reported 2,551 new infections and seven deaths on Wednesday, calling the number a 20-fold increase from June 21 when only 124 new cases were reported. Hospitals are currently treating 645 people with COVID-19, up vastly from the 213 people who were reported as being hospitalized on June 21. Health officials said the rapid rise in cases is attributable in part to the fast-spreading delta variant and about 4 million L.A. County residents who remain unvaccinated.

Southern California Would Be Back In Purple, Red Tiers If Old Color-Coded System Still Existed
California has come a long way in the battle against COVID-19. But maybe not as far as many think. Case rates have risen enough in recent weeks that if the state's old four-color tier system were still in place, Los Angeles County could have just moved into the most restrictive purple tier, where Southern California spent the darkest days of the pandemic, while Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties would likely now be in the second-most restrictive red tier, according to state data updated Thursday, July 22. Hospitalizations are on the rise as well, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients undergoing hospital treatment statewide doubling in just the past 16 days to more than 2,400 and the number requiring intensive care doubling in the past 17 days to 575. The last time the numbers rose that quickly was in November and December, as the devastating winter surge was building.
Los Angeles Daily News

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: