Los Angeles: Two Marijuana Dispensaries Raided by Feds

August 12, 2009 by  
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marijuana-leadLOS ANGELES – Federal and local agents are raiding at least two marijuana dispensaries.

Officials say more than 20 people from various agencies served a state search warrant at around 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Organica Collective in Marina del Rey.

The raid occurred at facilities on Washington Boulevard in Culver City and on Overland Avenue in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles police, the FBI and DEA were still searching the distribution center three hours later.

DEA spokesman Jose Martinez says agents also served the warrant at the Overland Gardens Collective in West Los Angeles.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Torrance Police Department and Culver City Police Department took part in the raids.

Authorities will not say what investigators are searching for at either location.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office says a residence also was named in the warrant.

Small plane, helicopter collide over Hudson River

August 8, 2009 by  
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NEW YORK – Authorities say a small plane has collided with a tour helicopter over the Hudson River.

Hudson Mid Air Collision

Witnesses say the accident happened just after noon between Manhattan and Hoboken, N.J. Both aircraft crashed into the water.

Federal Aviation Administration officials say the plane took off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, and that the helicopter was owned by Liberty Tours, a sightseeing and charter company. Officials don’t know how many people were aboard the plane, but say there may have been five passengers and one crew member aboard the helicopter.

The Coast Guard says one person has been rescued.

Emergency crews are on both sides of the river and police divers are going into the water.

Blogger George Sodini Kills 4 people at LA Fitness

(CNN) — A gunman walked into an LA Fitness gym outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, turned off the lights and fired off 50 rounds, killing three women before killing himself Tuesday evening, police said.

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The man didn’t speak but was carrying a gym bag with a note inside it. He was found dead in the gym lying on top a gun about 7 feet away from a victim, said Charles Moffatt, Allegheny County police superintendent.

At least 10 other people were injured in the barrage of bullets that sent people in the gym ducking for cover, Moffatt said.

A law enforcement source identified the gunman as George Sodini, a 48-year-old gym member.

Moffatt would not release the name of the victims during a Wednesday news conference.

Sodini was a systems analyst in the finance department of K&L Gates, a law firm with an office in Pittsburgh, said Mike Rick, a spokesman for the firm. Sodini had worked for the firm since 1999, Rick said.

Neighbors described Sodini as a bit of a recluse. They said he had stopped talking to neighbors.

The gunman apparently was on a mission, Moffatt said.

“He did what he set out to do, and I think nobody could have stopped him, ” he said. Video Watch whom the shooter may have been targeting »

Moffatt would not confirm a newspaper report that Sodini’s ex-girlfriend was wounded in the shooting.

He also did not say what was written on the note that was found in Sodini’s gym bag. But the law enforcement source said that the gunman in the note “talks about his hatred of women.”

Sodini entered the fitness center around 8 p.m. Tuesday and went straight to an aerobics classroom, where he opened fire with multiple handguns, Moffatt said.

More than two guns have been recovered, the law enforcement source said, and at least one was registered to Sodini.

The shooting victims arrived at three major hospitals in the area.

A spokeswoman for UPMC Mercy Hospital confirmed five female shooting victims arrived at the facility with multiple gunshot wounds. “All arrived in critical condition,” hospital spokeswoman Linda Ross said. “Three of them were upgraded to serious condition overnight.”

Allegheny General Hospital received two wounded patients at its trauma center, a spokesman said. Both victims are women and were listed in fair condition early Wednesday.

A St. Clair Hospital spokesman said three shooting victims arrived there Tuesday night; two were in stable condition and one, who was shot in the chest, died at about 8:55 p.m.

Perry Calabro of nearby Bridgeville told CNN he was between racquetball games at the gym when he suddenly heard screaming and multiple gunshots. He said he ran out but didn’t see the gunman or others.

Other witnesses told CNN affiliate WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh that the lights went out before they saw flashes in dark, later realizing it was gunfire.

Sodini apparently left behind an online diary that details his loneliness and longing for a female companion — and his growing rage at what he perceived as rejection by women. The diary lists Sodini’s dates of birth and death, with the death date listed as Tuesday, the same day as the shootings.

The source who identified Sodini provided a month and year of birth that matches the birth date listed on Sodini’s diary.

The diary seems to offer a rare glimpse into the mind of the suspected killer.

“Why do this?? To young girls? Just read below. I kept a running log that includes my thoughts and actions after I saw this project was going to drag on,” the diary begins.

Throughout the log, the writer refers to a shooting that he is planning as an “exit plan.”

The first entry is November 5, 2008. “Planned to do this in the summer but figure to stick around to see the election outcome,” it says.

The December 22 entry says: “Time is moving along. Planned to have this done already. I will just keep a running log here as time passes. Many of the young girls here look so beautiful as to not be human, very edible. After joining this gym, started lifting weights and like it.”

The Web site on which the diary appears is registered to George Sodini of Pittsburgh. It lists an address in or near Scott Township. The law enforcement source said Sodini lived in Scott Township.

Broward deputy charged with fourteen felony counts

August 4, 2009 by  
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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — The Broward County Sheriff has announced the arrest of a sheriff’s deputy on fourteen felony counts including sexual battery in a position of control or authority, armed kidnapping, stalking and battery.

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Jonathan Bleiweiss

Sheriff Al Lamberti says the deputy “betrayed his badge and abused his power.”

Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss has been with Broward County Sheriff’s Department since 2002.

The Sheriff says Bleiweiss was targeting undocumented immigrants while on patrol in uniform, armed, in his patrol car.

According to the Sheriff, Deputy Bleiweiss would search for his victims, pull them over, and sexually batter them.

Sheriff Lamberti says the investigation began when an employer of one of the victims came forward with the allegations. Fort Lauderdale PD was contacted by an attorney and then notified BSO’s Sex Crimes Unit when they realized the incidents happened in Oakland Park.

The Sheriff’s Office says there are several victims and believes there are more.

In one case an adult male victim was waiting outside an apartment complex in Oakland Park for a ride to work. That’s when Sheriff Lamberti says Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss approached in a marked BSO patrol car and requested his identification.

The victim told BSO Sex Crimes detectives that Deputy Bleiweiss placed him against the patrol unit and during the pat down placed his hand inside the victim’s underwear and groped him.

Investigators said during that encounter Dep. Bleiweiss demanded the victim’s cell phone number and proceeded to call and send him text messages. Similar sexual encounters continued until June.

The Sheriff’s Office wants victims to come forward and are urged to call Detective Graciela Benito at (954) 321-4249.

Bleiweiss is remains in BSO custody. He is currently suspended without pay and being held without bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Third Suspect Arrested in Disappearance of L.A. Designer

August 3, 2009 by  
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SANTA CRUZ — The last of three suspects has been arrested in the disappearance of an Los Angeles fashion designer., who authorities believe is now killed.
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Santa Cruz police report that Adam Hunt, 29, of Watsonville, surrendered to police and was arrested at 12:40 a.m. Saturday morning.

Elias Sorokin, 29, vanished during a business trip to Northern California.

Sorokin is a co-owner of a clothing business called Kucoon.

Friends last heard from Sorokin on July 20.

He told them he was driving from Oakland to Santa Cruz to meet an acquaintance.

His plans were to return to L.A. the following morning, friends have said.

Detectives believe Sorokin was kidnapped and robbed in the course of a pre-arranged marijuana transaction at a residence in Santa Cruz.

Police are treating the case as a homicide investigation.

Santa Cruz police arrested Stewart Skuba and Kenneth Klamp, each 29-year-old Santa Cruz residents.

Skuba is being charged with kidnapping with the intent to commit robbery.

Clamp is currently being charged with a parole violation.

Hunt is also charged with kidnapping with the intent to commit robbery.

There was a $1 million arrest warrant for Hunt before his surrender Saturday.

Police believe that the men had a prearranged meeting to sell a large amount of marijuana and that the deal went sideways at a condominium at 244 Felix St. in Santa Cruz.

In the days following his disappearance, someone tried to use his check card at a Target store in Watsonville and cash one of his business checks at a bank in Santa Cruz.

Sorokin’s burning truck of was discovered a few days later in an unincorporated, mountainous area of Santa Cruz County off Empire Grade Road near Bonny Doon.

Law enforcement say it’s unclear how the truck caught fire or how long the truck had been parked in that location before it burned.

Sorokin’s body has not been located though police believe he was killed before his truck was dumped.

But friends remain hopeful.

They have announced a $20,000 no-questions-asked reward for information leading to Sorokin’s safe return.

Teen in “Theme Park Murder” Found Guilty

August 3, 2009 by  
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MURRIETA — An 18-year-old Lake Elsinore woman was found guilty Monday of murder, carjacking and kidnapping in the death of a 20-year-old woman whose baby was then taken and left on a doorstep so the teen could go to Knott’s Berry Farm with her friend.

ana-salinasThe defendant, Dayana Cordova, who was 16 when Angelina Arias was killed on Oct. 18, 2007, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read.

The seven-woman, five-man jury also found Cordova guilty of child abuse for leaving the child unattended on a doorstep and found true an allegation that the murder was committed during a carjacking. Cordova faces life in prison with no parole when she’s sentenced on September 11.

Meantime — a second jury is still deliberating the fate of Anna Alejandra Salinas, now 17, who prosecutors say fired the gun that killed Arias. Because Salinas was 15 at the time of the murder, she does not face special circumstance allegations. She could be sent to prison for 53 years, according to prosecutor Daniel DeLimon.

The teens allegedly killed Arias so they could take her car to Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County for a Halloween event.

Investigators believe the girls saw a Chrysler 300 and went into a restaurant to find the owner, who turned out to be Arias, and that she offered them a ride.

After she stopped to pick up her 9-month-old daughter, Salinas allegedly shot the woman twice in the head, according to prosecutors. The girls allegedly dumped her body on the side of the road, and Salinas then drove to Perris, where they abandoned the baby on the doorstep of a home picked at random.

The baby — who was not harmed — was not found for several hours, authorities said.

Cordova was arrested at her home the next day, tracked down with the help of a school resource officer and surveillance tape from a liquor store, which she entered before the shooting. Salinas was caught driving the victim’s car.

In the video of the girls left alone together in an interview room at the sheriff’s station, the teens ate burgers and fries and slurped sodas, while they laughed about the events surrounding the shooting.

After they were informed the woman had died and they were up for prosecution for murder and kidnapping, they at first cried and then blamed the woman for giving them a ride.

“Nobody told her (expletive) to give us a ride,” Cordova said on the tape.

Jurors said outside court that the deciding factor in Cordova’s conviction was a candid video recording of Cordova talking with Salinas in a sheriff’s interview room after their arrests.

“There didn’t seem to be any remorse,” said one juror, who declined to give his name.

“They were laughing and joking … about it,” he said.

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