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

June 3, 2022
Law Enforcement News

Appeals Court Orders LA County DA Gascón To Enforce Three-Strikes, Special Circumstances
A three justice panel of the California Appeals Court ruled Thursday that LA County District Attorney George Gascón cannot order prosecutors to sidestep elements of the state's 3-strikes law that may increase prison terms when filing criminal charges, and cannot order prosecutors to drop or withdraw special circumstance allegations that could lead to sentences of life without the possibility of parole. "We conclude the voters and the Legislature created a duty…that requires prosecutors to plead prior serious or violent felony convictions to ensure the alternative sentencing scheme created by the three strikes law applies to repeat offenders," the Appeals Court said. The opinion followed a ruling by an LA Superior Court judge last year who found Gascón had exceeded his authority when he ordered prosecutors to dismiss or ignore prior convictions in many cases where those priors would increase the sentence of a person convicted of a new crime. The Appeals opinion also said, however, that the 3 strikes law does not require prosecutors to prove that those prior convictions, or strikes, are true, and said prosecutors could ask to eliminate or drop sentencing enhancements for reasons unrelated to an individual defendant or the evidence in a specific case. "Today the Appellate Court gave a civics lesson to DA George Gascón," said Eric Siddall with the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the prosecutors' union that brought the suit. "They basically told George Gascón you don't have absolute power as LA DA, that you're an elected official, that you have to abide by the law." NBC 4

Friends Of Venice Library Says 'Enough' After Tent Fire Threatens To Destroy Building
The nonprofit group, Friends of Venice Library, is fighting determinedly to save what once was a vital library for the Venice community. The Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library is under constant danger because of a nearby homeless encampment at the adjacent Centennial Park. More than 60 encampments have staked claim in the park. And, after warning city officials of a potential fire hazard, just one of many dangers facing the area, the nonprofits concerns became a reality last Friday night, May 27, when a tent burst into flames, nearly torching the building.  "Do we have to wait until the library burns down before city officials take notice?" asked Linda Martinek, President of Friends of Venice Library. "Sadly, it was only a matter of time that a fire was going to happen. We have sent countless emails to [Councilmember] Mike Bonin's office and other city officials warning them that the tents surrounding the building were a potential fire hazard. Their response? Nothing. Absolutely nothing." Westside Current

Ex-Gang Leader Convicted In 1993 Westlake Arson Fire That Killed 10, Including 2 Pregnant Women
A Palmdale man whom prosecutors contend was a gang leader was convicted Wednesday, June 1, of the murders of 10 people, including two pregnant women, who died in a 1993 arson fire at an apartment building in the Westlake area of Los Angeles. The downtown Los Angeles jury deliberated about two hours before finding Ramiro Alberto Valerio — also known as “Greedy” — guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree murder of a human fetus. Authorities said in 2017 that they believed the fire was set in retaliation because a building manager was trying to crack down on drug-dealing at the 69-unit complex in the 300 block of West Burlington Avenue. Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder during arson of an inhabited structure, along with aggravating factors including one alleging that the victims were particularly vulnerable. The 48-year-old defendant is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, with sentencing set for Aug. 5 before Superior Court Judge Curtis B. Rappe. Prosecutors had opted not to seek the death penalty under prior Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey's administration. Los Angeles Daily News

Tesla Driver Killed After Crashing Into Pole While Racing With Another Driver In Hit-and-Run Crash: LAPD
The driver of a Tesla was killed late last month after crashing into a pole while apparently racing with another driver who then fled the Lake Balboa scene, police said Friday. The incident occurred about 12:30 a.m. May 28 near Victory Boulevard and White Oak Avenue, when the Tesla driver “encountered a BMW sedan and engaged in speed racing,” according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The Tesla driver apparently lost control near Victory Boulevard and Encino Avenue, ran off the roadway and crashed into a light pole and a tree, police said. The BMW driver stopped, observed the aftermath of the crash but did not get out of the car. Instead he or she sped off heading west on Victory, police said. The Tesla driver was pronounced dead at the scene. He was only described as being about 35 years old. The BMW is being sought for engaging in speed racing and felony hit-and-run. The car is described as being a 2011 to 2015 M3 or M5, police said. It is dark blue or purple and lowered, with modified exhaust and a built-in spoiler. A reward of up to $50,000 is being offered to anyone who can provide information leading to the drivers identification, apprehension and conviction. KTLA 5

L.A. County Raises Alarm About Mysterious Blue Pills After Three Girls Nearly Die
A bag of mysterious, deadly blue pills has prompted health and school officials to raise a countywide alarm this week after three 16-year-olds crushed a few, snorted them and nearly died — a dangerous development amid a pandemic-related rise in drug overdoses. The incident happened May 25 in Los Angeles County and involved teens who thought they were buying the drug ecstasy, but got more than they bargained for. One girl suffered a brain injury that resulted in her temporarily losing the ability to breathe on her own and a second girl tested as having potentially serious damage to her heart. The lethal pills have entered the L.A. marketplace during an especially dangerous time, when opioid use has been on the rise, along with drug overdose deaths. Provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics tabulated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during the 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before. Los Angeles Times

Trial For Suspect Accused Of Killing Nipsey Hussle Set To Start With Jury Selection
The murder trial for the suspect accused of fatally shooting LA native and Grammy-winning rapper Nipsey Hussle is set to start Thursday with jury selection. Eric Holder Jr., 32, was charged in 2019 with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon in the killing, prosecutors said. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Nipsey Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was killed on March 31, 2019, outside his clothing store in South Los Angeles. He was 33. Two other men also were wounded in the attack. Holder fled the scene and was arrested in Bellflower, prosecutors said. If convicted as charged, he faces a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison, officials said. Among the witnesses set to appear in the trial is Hussle's friend and fan Herman "Cowboy" Douglas. The trial is expected to take up to four weeks. Hussle accused the suspect of being a snitch minutes before the man allegedly used two handguns to kill him and wound two other men, according to an unsealed transcript of a grand jury hearing. "Nipsey was like, 'Man, you know, they got some paperwork on you, you know. I haven't read it, you know. Like you my bro, you know. Like maybe you need to take care of that, you know,'" one witness told the grand jury in early May of 2019. NBC 4

Convicted Felon From South L.A. Arrested For Suspected Gun Possession
A convicted felon from South Los Angeles has been arrested on a federal firearms charge alleging he illegally possessed several firearms and more than a 1,000 rounds of ammunition, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced Thursday. Anthony Butterfield, 36, was charged in Los Angeles federal court with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. On Jan. 7, Los Angeles police responded to a call reporting an assault with a deadly weapon at 3748 Inglewood Blvd., according to the federal criminal complaint filed last week. Butterfield allegedly was verbally threatening a neighbor while pacing back and forth with an axe in front of his residence. He then allegedly brandished a rifle, according to the complaint. Butterfield was arrested, and police executed a search warrant, which led to the seizure of two AR-type pistols, one 9 mm pistol, one suppressor, two body armor plates, narcotics laced with fentanyl and a cache of assorted magazines and ammunition from his Los Angeles home, the complaint states. Butterfield was subsequently released on bail.

L.A. Man Linked To $8.3 Million Precious Metals Scheme Sentenced To Prison
A Los Angeles man was sentenced Thursday to three years behind bars for conning investors out of $8.3 million in a scheme involving the sale of “ancient slag,” a mining waste byproduct that supposedly contained precious metals. Michael Godfree, 80, a United Kingdom citizen who lives in the Mount Washington area, was also ordered to pay $8.3 million in restitution to victims of the scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Godfree pleaded guilty last year to a single mail fraud charge. The defendant “was nothing more than a glorified con man,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “At bottom, (Godfree) was selling nothing more than worthless dirt along with a non-existent `process' to extract value from the dirt … Unsurprisingly, not a single victim-purchaser has ever seen any return on their purchase. Instead, the money was spent on lavish goods and personal expenses."

Prosecutors Detail Vermont Murder-for-Hire Scheme Tied To L.A. Biotechnology Company Co-Founder
A conspiracy that stretched across the continent and resulted in the killing of a Vermont man grew out of a financial dispute between the victim and one of the men now charged with arranging to have him killed, federal prosecutors say. In filings from federal court in Las Vegas, prosecutors laid out details of the alleged conspiracy that resulted in the January 2018 shooting death of Gregory Davis, who was abducted from his Danville home on Jan. 6. He was found dead the next day in a snowbank on a back road in Barnet. In a Monday filing, prosecutors said Davis had been threatening to go to the FBI with information that Serhat Gumrukcu, 39, an inventor and the co-founder of a Los Angeles-based biotechnology company, was defrauding Davis in a multi-million dollar oil deal that Gumrukcu and his brother had entered into with Davis in 2015. During 2017, Gumrukcu was facing felony fraud charges in California state court, prosecutors say. In 2017 Gumrukcu was putting together a successful deal that came together soon after Davis's death, which gave him significant ownership stake in Enochian Bioscience. The Los Angeles-based company describes itself as developing therapies “to cure and treat diseases that kill millions of people each year.” Los Angeles Daily News

Orange County AB 109 Crime Impact Task Force Nets Over 400 Arrests, Dozens Of Firearm Seizures Over Three Year Period
The results of a large scale task force operating in Orange County were announced by the county's District Attorney Thursday, reporting hundreds of arrests and dozens of firearms seized over a three-year span. AB 109 Task Force, an undercover effort including investigators, police officers and probation officers operating under the jurisdiction of Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, resulted in 567 arrests, including 10 attempted murder suspects and 38 stolen car suspects. They also seized a massive amount of narcotics, including enough fentanyl to kill hundreds of thousands of individuals and 55 firearms, six of which were considered to be assault weapons. "Hundreds of dangerous felons are off Orange County streets along with illegal drugs and guns as a result of the AB 109 Task Force," Spitzer said via statement on Thursday. "The ongoing efforts by the state Legislature to decriminalize felonies and release dangerous and violent felons back into our communities have forced local law enforcement to protect our residents from violent criminals who should have never been let out in the first place." CBS 2

Tulsa Mass Shooting Highlights Vulnerability Of Hospitals
Hospitals, like schools, are not typically designed to guard against the threat of a determined gunman entering the building to take lives. The vulnerability of health care facilities was highlighted by a shooter who killed four people and then himself Wednesday at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The assailant got inside a building on the Saint Francis Hospital campus with little trouble, just hours after buying an AR-style rifle, authorities said. Here's a look at what's known about security at the Tulsa facility and other American hospitals: DID THE GUNMAN HAVE TO PASS THROUGH SECURITY? No, the 45-year-old man identified as the shooter, Michael Louis, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, parked his car in an adjoining garage, then went through unlocked doors into the medical building, authorities said. “It is an entry that is open to the public,” Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin told reporters Thursday. “He was able to walk in without any type of challenge.” It was a short walk from that entrance to the office area where Louis fatally shot his primary target, Dr. Preston Phillips. Police said Phillips recently performed surgery on Louis and that Louis blamed the doctor for chronic pain he still suffered. Associated Press

Neighbors Fly Thin Blue Line Flags After HOA Tells Slain Officer's Father To Take His Down
An Ohio neighborhood is standing in solidarity with a resident who was told to remove a thin blue line flag from his yard. According to KATV, more and more residents are flying thin blue line flags after the neighborhood's HOA ordered Thomas DiSario to take down his flag. DiSario has flown a thin blue line flag since his son, Chief Steven Eric DiSario, was killed in the line of duty in 2017. In a letter to DiSario, the HOA said the flag violated a rule against displaying political signage. “The political sign in the form of a flag must be removed from your property,” reads the letter obtained by NBC 4. “The flag on your pole is not a United States flag. It is a political statement.” DiSario says he doesn't see the flag as a political statement, and it seems his neighbors agree. “We wanted to show respect for our neighbor. And we appreciate the service that his family member gave,” neighbor Kathy Riddle told KATV. “It's growing. You see more flags out every few days.” "I feel like we are here to support one another and that's what we're doing,” added Kari Culver, another neighbor.  PoliceOne

Public Safety News

L.A. County Confirms 1st Presumptive Case Of Monkeypox
The first presumptive case of a monkeypox infection in Los Angeles County was confirmed by L.A. County Department of Public Health officials Thursday. The case is still awaiting final confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a news release from the LADPH. The patient, described only as an adult resident, apparently traveled recently and had a known close contact to another monkeypox case. The patient is symptomatic but is doing well and has not been hospitalized. The person is being isolated from others, the news release stated. Officials said the risk of monkeypox to the general population remains very low. “Monkeypox is very different than COVID-19,” Dr. Jonathan D. Green told KTLA. “This disease has been around for decades … it typically requires close contact or sometimes intimate contact between people. It's not a disease that spreads in casual settings.” KTLA 5

LA County Could Return To Indoor Mask-Wearing If COVID Numbers Keep Rising
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer says that at the current pace of increases in local COVID-19-related hospitalizations, the county could move into the federal government's "high" virus activity category within a few weeks, possibly by the end of June. Such a move would mean a return of mandatory indoor mask-wearing in the county, she warned. Under CDC guidelines, counties in the "medium" category will move to "high" if the rate of new virus-related hospital admissions reaches 10 per 100,000 residents, or if 10% of the county's staffed hospital beds are occupied by COVID-positive patients. The number of COVID-19-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals rose above 500, according to the latest data, continuing an upward trend on the heels of a weeks-long spike in infections. According to state figures, there were 502 COVID-positive patients hospitalized in the county as of Wednesday, up from 479 a day earlier. It's the highest hospitalization number since mid-March.  FOX 11

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