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Category: San Fernando Valley

$2.5 million in cocaine found stashed in floor of big-rig trailer

Up to 100 kilos of cocaine worth an estimated $2.5 million were discovered hidden in the floor of a big-rig trailer in the San Fernando Valley, authorities said.

Los Angeles police became aware of the narcotics after arresting two men Thursday in Lake View Terrace at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Paxton Street, KTLA-TV reported.

The semi was discovered just a few blocks away, at a storage yard on Lopez Canyon Road.

Undercover officers from the LAPD’s gang and narcotics division called in Los Angeles County firefighters to cut open the hidden compartment where the drugs were found.

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— Kellan Connor, KTLA-TV

Senior LAUSD officials knew of child abuse claims, lawyers say

Robert Pimentel appears at his arraignment in January in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Credit: Jeff Gritchen /Getty Images

Senior LAUSD officials were allegedly aware of parent complaints in 2009 about a Wilmington teacher who was charged in January with abusing children over an extended period of time, say attorneys who represent alleged victims.

The latest allegations concern the case of Robert Pimentel, 57, who has been charged with molesting 12 students at De La Torre Elementary School. Pimentel has pleaded not guilty.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials had previously acknowledged Pimentel’s principal was aware of allegations in 2002 and 2008. The principal’s alleged failure to act was cited as reason for her removal by L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy. Both Pimental and Principal Irene L. Hinojosa resigned as the district was preparing to fire them.

The superintendent said in January that he did not know whether allegations against Pimental went higher than the principal.

On Thursday, attorneys alleged the allegations reached senior officials, namely Holly Priebe-Diaz, a veteran district mediator, and Linda Del Cueto, who oversees instructional programs in the San Fernando Valley. In 2009, she was one of eight top regional administrators across the nation’s second-largest school system.

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Bobby Brown spends only 8 hours in jail

Bobby Brown

Singer Bobby Brown is now wearing an electronic ankle bracelet and is out of jail after serving eight hours behind bars in connection with a DUI conviction, sheriff's officials said Thursday.

Brown, who was part of the group New Edition and for a time had a successful solo career, reported to court Wednesday to begin serving his sentence of 55 days in jail and four years of informal probation after pleading no contest in February to a DUI charge, one of two such offenses last year by the singer.

Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said Brown was likely to serve no more than nine days in County Jail because of overcrowding, as well as time off for good behavior and credit for "good time work time." But Whitmore also noted the sentence could be influenced by his county probation officials.

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It was their decision to place Brown on an electronic ankle bracelet, Whitmore said. The exact requirements were not available, Whitmore said, but inmates typically cannot travel outside their homes for the time they are under electronic monitoring.

In addition to the jail time for pleas related to drunk driving, driving on a suspended license and a probation violation for a prior DUI incident, Brown also must complete an 18-month alcohol-treatment program and attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week.

Brown, once married to the late Whitney Houston, had been sentenced to a day in jail and three years' probation for the March 26, 2012, arrest, which took place in the San Fernando Valley after officers with the California Highway Patrol spotted him talking on his cellphone while driving.

The second arrest, also in the Valley, took place Oct. 24.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Bobby Brown last year in Connecticut. Credit: Associated Press.

L.A. Votes: Endorsements flow as Greuel and Garcetti seek edge

Photo: Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

A new stream of endorsements emerged in Los Angeles' mayoral race Wednesday as Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti sought an edge in the May 21 runoff. The backing has two overarching goals – blunting criticism the two Democrats are facing about their ability to confront the most pressing financial problems in the city, and courting voters who supported candidates who did not survive the primary.Election Memo

Greuel won the backing of former Republican Mayor Richard Riordan, who pledged he would serve as a senior advisor to her administration for a salary of $1 a year. This move, long sought by Greuel, comes as the city controller has faced increased heat about her support by the city’s labor unions and recent statements about her views on pension reductions for newly hired city employees. The latter prompted the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, which has backed Greuel, to call on the controller to explain her position on retirement benefits in person today.

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Greuel’s campaign hit back, with a co-chairman of her campaign, former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, promising that Greuel would fight to cut retirement costs at City Hall, including by exploring raising retirement age for existing city employees, a hugely controversial proposal.

Greuel’s rival Garcetti, who edged her in the March 5 primary, also named new endorsements on Wednesday. He picked up the backing of Republican developer Steve Soboroff and an influential African American Democratic club, which could help Garcetti make inroads with two key groups he and Greuel are battling over: white GOP voters in the Valley and black Democrats in South Los Angeles.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

In other city races, the candidates seeking to become Los Angeles’ next city attorney clashed in the first runoff debate, with incumbent Carmen Trutanich and challenger Mike Feuer showing they have starkly different visions of the role of the city’s top prosecutor. And the statement for two competing medical marijuana initiatives survived legal challenges to appear unchanged on the May ballot.

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-- Seema Mehta

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

Photo: Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

Suspected cocaine trafficking fugitive arrested in Northridge

A suspected cocaine trafficker was scheduled to appear in court Thursday after he was arrested by U.S. marshals in Los Angeles following his alleged escape from a federal holding center in South Carolina.

After nearly two years, Charles Dwight Ransom Jr. was arrested Wednesday in his apartment next to the Cal State Northridge campus.

After escaping federal custody in South Carolina by forcing a fellow inmate to switch identification wristbands with him so he could go free, officials say, Ransom returned to Los Angeles.

Ransom was apparently unaware the federal drug trafficking case against him was based in Los Angeles, the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement.

His name and photo were still listed on the Drug Enforcement Agency Los Angeles bureau’s Most Wanted List Thursday morning.

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14-year-old girl dies after inhaling computer cleaner

Friends and family are mourning a 14-year-old honor student who died after inhaling computer keyboard cleaner, authorities say.

Aria Doherty, a student at Nobel Charter Middle School in Northridge, died at her at her home Monday of apparent cardiac arrest, KTLA-TV reported. An autopsy was pending.

Her older sister found her in bed with a can of compressed air still attached to her mouth, her nostrils taped shut, the TV station reported. Her parents said they want their daughter’s death to be a message to other parents to be aware of the threat posed by common household items.

“It’s what the students are doing. We didn’t know much about it at all,” said Aria’s father, Richard Doherty. “Apparently it’s a quick high and it’s fatal in something like 20% of the times you use it,” he added.

Aria loved animals and was active in the school’s drama productions. Grief counselors from the Los Angeles Unified School District were at the school Wednesday talking to students.

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Fate of controversial Northridge elder care project weighed

A Los Angeles city zoning administrator said he would continue to receive comments through Wednesday on a controversial 83,000-square-foot, three-story elder care project before making a decision on whether to approve the plan.

Associate zoning administrator Fernando Tovar said it would take at least another two weeks to review the “hundreds” of remarks he has so far received about the 162-bed home proposed for 2.3 acres at Parthenia Street and Shoshone Avenue in the Sherwood Forest community of southern Northridge.

The project has spawned fierce opposition from residents who argue that the structure would be incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood in terms of scale, size and architectural design. They worry about increased traffic and noise and reject the argument that there is a dearth of this type of senior housing in the community.

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Bobby Brown turns himself in to begin serving DUI jail sentence

Bobby Brown last year in Connecticut. Credit: Joe Giblin / Associated Press

Bobby Brown reported to court Wednesday to begin serving his sentence of 55 days in jail and four years' informal probation after pleading no contest in February to a DUI charge -- one of two such offenses last year by the singer.

Because of jail overcrowding, as well as time off for good behavior and credit for "good time work time," Brown is likely to serve no more than nine days in county jail, sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

He noted that Brown's sentence could be influenced by his county probation officer or a judge's order.

In addition to the jail time for pleas related to drunk driving, driving on a suspended license and a probation violation for a prior DUI incident, Brown also must complete an 18-month alcohol-treatment program and attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week.

Brown had been sentenced to a day in jail and three years' probation for the March 26, 2012, arrest, which took place in the San Fernando Valley after officers with the California Highway Patrol spotted him talking on his cellphone while driving. The second arrest, also in the Valley, took place Oct. 24.

The singer, who went solo after being part of the group New Edition, also has a previous DUI conviction from 1996. The latest incidents came after the death of his former wife, Whitney Houston.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Bobby Brown last year in Connecticut. Credit: Joe Giblin / Associated Press

Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy to go on tour despite DUI charge

Peter Murphy released from custodyBauhaus lead singer Peter Murphy plans to go on tour beginning next month despite being charged with driving under the influence in Glendale, his attorney said.

Murphy pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he allegedly rear-ended a vehicle in Glendale and fled to Los Angeles, where an eyewitness blocked his Subaru until police arrived.

Murphy, 55, who did not appear in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday, entered his plea via his attorney, Robert Wilson.

Murphy is charged with three misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, hit-and-run driving and possessing methamphetamine, according to a Los Angeles County Superior Court criminal complaint.

Murphy is best known for his lead vocals with the group Bauhaus, which recorded four albums and ignited the Goth rock movement.

Judge Frederick Rotenberg allowed Murphy to be released on his own recognizance despite concern from the prosecution the British native, who has a residence in Turkey, may be a flight risk, the Glendale News-Press reported.

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Glendale bans gun shows on city property

Defending the majority of the City Council that voted to ban gun shows on city-owned property, Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero on Tuesday said it was well within the purview of local officials to set guidelines for use of public facilities.

“If we’ve reached a point where a local jurisdiction cannot decide what goes into their Civic Auditorium and their parks, then we’re in sad shape,” Quintero said. “The idea that there can’t be any control, that you have to just kowtow to the [National Rifle Assn.] and the gun lobby, I disagree.”

The National Rifle Assn. and the operator of the Glendale Gun Show have already threatened to sue the city over the ordinance, which they say violates the 1st and 2nd amendments, according to letters sent to the city attorney’s office.

But the City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to approve the ban before a crowd of about 45 people, noticeably less than the roughly 140 who showed up last week when the ordinance was introduced.

City officials contend that it is a landlord-tenant issue that does not infringe on public right to bear arms, particularly since consumers can still purchase guns from private commercial vendors.

The ordinance blocks the possession or sale of guns at all city parks and facilities, but exempts public right-of-ways, such as sidewalks and streets.

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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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