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Category: L.A. Now Live

L.A. Now Live: Latest on Chris Brown community service dispute

Los Angeles County prosecutors on Tuesday accused singer Chris Brown of failing to complete his court-ordered community service for his 2009 assault conviction and questioned whether the documents submitted as proof of his service were fraudulent.

Times reporter Andrew Blankstein will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the latest on the allegations.

A motion filed by the district attorney's office said that Brown claimed he completed four hours of trash pickup between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on one day when he was actually on a private plane to Cancun that he boarded at 4 p.m.

DOCUMENT: Read the motion

On another day that the entertainer said he was picking up trash in a Richmond, Va., alley, news photographers were snapping him 100 miles away in Washington, where he hosted a charity event that raised funds for the developmentally disabled, prosecutors contended.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary A. Murray outlined a series of inconsistencies with a report prepared by Richmond police about the number of hours Brown had served. She said a district attorney's investigation into Brown's community service claims found "significant discrepancies indicating at best sloppy documentation and at worst fraudulent reporting," and she asked a judge to order Brown to carry out his court-ordered labor in Los Angeles County instead of Virginia, where he lives.

Brown's attorney, Mark Geragos, disputed the allegations, accusing prosecutors of making "scurrilous, libelous and defamatory statements" against the R&B star.

L.A. Now Live: How was troubled ex-priest hired by LAUSD?

An ex-priest who allegedly admitted a sexual relationship with a minor remained employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District for more than a decade despite several warning flags about his background, according to interviews and records.

Times staff writers Howard Blume and Richard Winton will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the case of Joseph Pina.

Pina admitted to repeated "boundary issues" with women throughout his career in the clergy, according to internal church documents. An internal 1993 psychological evaluation by the L.A. Archdiocese concluded that Pina "remains a serious risk for acting out."

Nine years later, L.A. Unified hired him as a community outreach coordinator for its $19.5-billion school-construction effort. In that position, Pina came in frequent contact with families at community events but did not work directly with children in schools.

No allegations of impropriety have emerged during Pina's employment with L.A. Unified. But L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy said the district has severed ties with Pina, adding that the district should have never hired him given his background.

A church spokesman said Monday that it did warn the school district in the form of a questionnaire that L.A. Unified sent to the archdiocese in August 2001.

L.A. Now Live: Some raves have proved tragic; worth the revenue?

L.A. Times reporter Paul Pringle will join L.A. NOW Live at 9 a.m. to discuss an investigation into large rave events produced by Pasquale Rotella, considered within the industry as the nation's leading rave promoter.

Since 2006, at least 14 people who attended concerts produced by Rotella and Reza Gerami, another prominent Los Angeles-based impresario, have died from overdoses or in other drug-related incidents, a Times investigation has found.

GRAPHIC: Read more about the 14 deaths

These days, raves fill fairgrounds, basketball arenas and football stadiums. Their audiences are no longer a few hundred revelers but tens of thousands.

As raves have moved into the mainstream, there have been more tragedies across the country.

According to an analysis of coroners' and law enforcement reports from nine states, most of the deaths were linked to Ecstasy or similar designer drugs — hallucinogens tightly bound with raves.

L.A. Now Live: Discuss priest abuse, Cardinal Mahony's legacy

In a move unprecedented in the American Catholic Church, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced Thursday that he had relieved his predecessor, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, of all public duties over his mishandling of clergy sex abuse of children decades ago.

Times reporter Harriet Ryan will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the extraordinary move.

The announcement came as the church posted on its website tens of thousands of pages of previously secret personnel files for 122 priests accused of molesting children.

"I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil," Gomez wrote in a letter addressed to "My brothers and sisters in Christ."

The release of the records and the rebuke of the two central figures in the L.A. Archdiocese scandal signaled a clear desire by Gomez to define the sexual abuse crisis as a problem of a different era — and a different archbishop.

"I cannot undo the failings of the past that we find in these pages. Reading these files, reflecting on the wounds that were caused has been the saddest experience I've had since becoming your Archbishop in 2011," Gomez wrote.

L.A. Now Live: Discuss latest twists in Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax

Times reporter Matt Stevens will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the latest twists and turns in the Manti Te'o hoax.

For the last two weeks, the story of Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend has unraveled one layer at a time.

The Notre Dame linebacker spoke, then a Long Beach woman whose pictures were used in the ruse came forward. But the biggest questions could be answered only by a 22-year-old man from Palmdale -- the man Te’o and the woman allege was the mastermind behind the hoax.

Now Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has broken his public silence, saying he fell “deeply, romantically in love” with the Heisman Trophy runner-up in an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw set to air Thursday.

Tuiasosopo’s attorney, Milton Grimes, told The Times his client “feels as though he needs therapy and part of that therapy is to come out of the closet, so to speak, and tell the truth.” Grimes said Tuiasosopo is seeing a medical professional.

“His point is that he wants to heal,” Grimes said. “He knows that if he doesn’t come out and tell the truth, it will interfere with him getting out of this place that he is in.”

L.A. Now Live: Latest on doctor killed in Newport Beach

Times reporter Nicole Santa Cruz will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the case of Dr. Ronald Gilbert, who was slain at his medical office near Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach this week.

A 75-year-old man from Lake Elsinore has been arrested on suspicion of murder in the case.

Although authorities have not suggested a motive for the killing or the relationship between the suspect, Stanwood Fred Elkus, and the doctor, Elkus' neighbors said the man had problems with his prostate and had several surgeries. He told one neighbor he had cancer and didn't expect to live much longer.

Colleagues said Gilbert, 52, had an "impeccable" reputation, having worked as the chief of urology at Hoag Hospital from 1998 to 2002 and as a volunteer faculty member at UC Irvine Medical School, from which he graduated in 1987. His research interests included sexual dysfunction and bladder and prostate cancer.

"He was just a good soul," one colleague and friend said.

L.A. Now Live: Can early earthquake warnings save lives?

Earthquake experts say every second of advance warning counts.

And now, they want California to create an earthquake early warning system similar to those in Japan, Mexico and even Romania. Times reporter Ron Lin will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss their proposal.

In the 2011 Japan earthquake, a sensor embedded in the ground detected the first signs of movement and immediately sent out an alert at the speed of light. Within seconds, text messages warning of impending shaking went out to roughly 50 million people.

Many people in Tokyo, 200 miles away from the epicenter, knew the quake was coming before they felt the shaking about 30 seconds later. Trains were able to slow down or stop, and not a single car derailed.

State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) is proposing legislation to create the statewide network. California already has hundreds of ground sensors measuring earth movement, but experts said another $80 million is needed to expand and upgrade the monitors. They said the system could be up and running in two years if funding is found.

An early warning system could be particularly beneficial in Southern California, which is at risk of a major temblor on the San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas is located far enough away from metropolitan Los Angeles that officials believe residents would have a one-minute warning of the huge quake.

L.A. Now Live: Elections will dramatically alter City Council

Voters across Los Angeles are poised to engineer the biggest shake-up on the City Council in a dozen years, sending seven newcomers into office in a series of contests that will unfold between March and July.

Times staff writer David Zahniser will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the race.

Although the mayoral campaign has grabbed most of the attention this election year, with millions raised by the five leading candidates, the stakes are just as high for the city's powerful 15-member legislative body.

"You're talking about the most powerful City Council in the United States," said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State L.A. "You could argue in some ways that individual council members are more important than state legislators. They have a great deal of power over the nature of the neighborhood you live in and the services it receives."

Term limits and other factors — illness and the election of a sitting councilman to higher office — have created the largest number of incumbent-free council races in more than a decade. Six current council members depart June 30 and a seventh — Tony Cardenas -- already has moved to Congress.

L.A. Now Live: Discuss the Bell corruption trial

As the Bell corruption trial began Thursday, prosecutors in their opening statements depicted six former council members as greedy operators who schemed to collect outsized salaries by serving on various government boards that did nothing.

Times staff writer Jeff Gottlieb will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. today to discuss the trial.

As the defense attorneys presented their initial statements, it didn't take long for the strategy to become clear: Blame former City Administrator Robert Rizzo.

"It was reasonable to rely on this man because he had a track record of being this amazing, productive city manager," said Ronald Kaye, attorney for former Councilman George Cole. "When he ripped off this city and these council members, he duped them."

In addition to Cole, former council members Luis Artiga, Victor Bello, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal are facing charges in the trial. All six face potential prison terms if convicted.

L.A. Now Live: Ex-LAUSD teacher accused of abusing 20 children

A former Los Angeles Unified School District teacher was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of committing lewd acts and sexually abusing 20 children and an adult, law enforcement authorities said.

Times staff writer Richard Winton will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the allegations against Robert Pimentel, 57, who taught at George de la Torre Jr. Elementary School in Wilmington.

Prosecutors filed 15 charges against Pimentel involving a dozen alleged victims. The charges allege sexual abuse and lewd acts on a child and cover the period from September 2011 to March 2012, according to court records. Authorities said the teacher is suspected of inappropriately touching children under and over their clothing.

Detectives suspect Pimentel victimized an additional eight children and the adult, LAPD Capt. Fabian Lizarraga told The Times.

Wednesday evening, L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy said both Pimentel and the school's principal were immediately removed when the district found out about the allegations in March. Deasy said he removed the principal because he was "dissatisfied" with how the situation was handled at the school.

United Teachers Los Angeles issued a statement saying that union officials were "not familiar with details of the case" and that the accused ex-teacher was no longer a member of the union. The union will not be involved in his defense, the statement said.

"The allegations described are horrific. As teachers we have a duty to uphold the trust our students and their parents place in us," the union said. "We urge our members and the community to cooperate with ongoing law enforcement investigations in this case."


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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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