Latest Southern California news, sports, business and entertainment


Police say fugitive Calif. rapist in custody

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fugitive paroled rapist is back in custody after authorities say he cut off his ankle monitor and made dozens of threatening and obscene phone calls to the family of his 80-year-old victim.

San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller says 58-year-old Dennis Michael McKenzie was arrested by a SWAT team at 4:30 p.m. in Palm Springs. She says a citizen recognized him from photos in the media and tipped off deputies.

McKenzie was living in a Long Beach halfway house when he disappeared and will be transported back to San Bernardino. He's being held on a felony no-bail warrant.

McKenzie's parole agent received a tamper alert Oct. 1 and officials amplified the push to locate him after he made more than 50 harassing phone calls to his victim's family home in San Bernardino.


Major drug tunnel found on US-Mexico border

SAN DIEGO (AP) — U.S. authorities say a highly sophisticated secret tunnel has been discovered on the border connecting San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said late Wednesday that the passage was recently completed. Officials didn't elaborate in a brief statement.

Mexican news organizations published photos that show a deep, well-built tunnel near the Tijuana airport. Alberto Capella, Tijuana's public safety chief, told The Associated Press that a law enforcement operation was underway and he couldn't provide details.

Dozens of tunnels have been discovered along the border in recent years, designed largely to smuggle marijuana to the United States.


Calif. woman gets jail time for framing volunteer

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A California woman who planted drugs in the car of an elementary school volunteer has been ordered to serve almost four months in jail.

City News Service says Jill Easter got a year's sentence Wednesday after pleading guilty to false imprisonment, but a judge stayed most of the term and she'll only serve 120 days. She also must perform 100 hours of community service.

Easter's husband, Kent Easter, is expected to face trial next week.

Prosecutors say the Irvine couple planted prescription painkillers, marijuana and a marijuana pipe in the car of a parent volunteer at their son's school in 2011, then called police.

Authorities say the Easters disliked the volunteer because they felt the woman hadn't properly supervised their son.


19 people found in phony AC unit at S. Cal border

(Information in the following story is from: U-T San Diego,

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Authorities say 19 people have been found crammed into a false air conditioning unit on a truck that was crossing from Mexico into Southern California.

U-T San Diego says a trailer carrying three commercial-sized air conditioners was stopped at the Otay Mesa cargo facility Wednesday morning.

Angelica De Cima of Customs and Border Protection says officials found 14 men and five women hiding inside one unit measuring about 5 feet by 8 feet in size.

De Cima says two people needed medical attention, including one who was taken to a hospital.


Baby born on Orange County freeway

(Information in the following story is from: The Orange County Register,

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — It was a rush delivery on an Orange County freeway Wednesday morning as a pregnant woman gave birth in a car.

Authorities say the woman's husband was taking her to the hospital but the baby wouldn't wait. He pulled onto the shoulder of State Route 22 in Santa Ana.

She delivered the child at around 12:30 a.m. The Orange County Register says it's the woman's fourth child and she was a day overdue.

Arriving paramedics cut the child's umbilical cord and took mother and child to the hospital, where they're said to be doing fine.

There's no word on whether it's a girl or a boy.


Jewel thief, 83, arrested again in Southern CA

(Information in the following story is from: The Desert Sun,

PALM DESERT, Calif. (AP) — An 83-year-old jewel thief is back behind bars in Southern California.

The Desert Sun of Palm Springs says Doris Payne was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of lifting a $22,000 ring from a Palm Desert store on Oct. 21.

She remains jailed. The ring hasn't been recovered.

Over more than five decades, Payne claims to have swiped millions of dollars' worth of jewels in the U.S. and Europe by posing as a well-to-do buyer. A movie of her life reportedly is in the works.

Payne has four theft convictions since 2009 in Southern California. In 2011, she was sentenced to 16 months in prison for stealing a $16,000 ring in Santa Monica and was on probation at the time of her latest arrest.


Man pleads not guilty to stealing corpse gold

LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) — A former funeral home apprentice has pleaded not guilty to stealing gold crowns from the teeth of corpses in the Antelope Valley.

City News Service says 39-year-old Pete Lara entered pleas Wednesday to more than two dozen felony counts, mostly burglary but also grand theft and possession of methamphetamine.

He was arrested Monday and remains jailed.

Authorities say Lara was an apprentice embalmer at Halley-Olsen-Murphy Funeral Home in Lancaster when he began taking the dental crowns last year, along with medallions from funeral urns.

Prosecutors contend that he sold the gold at pawn shops and jewelry exchanges.

He faces up to 19 years in prison if convicted.


Man sentenced for killing girlfriend, dumping body

COMPTON, Calif. (AP) — A man who shot his girlfriend and shoved her body from a car has been sentenced to 47 years to life in state prison.

City News Service says 31-year-old Juan Valencia was sentenced Wednesday in Compton. He was convicted earlier this month of second-degree murder in the September 2012 death of Selene Mayoral.

Prosecutors say Valencia shot the 24-year-old Cudahy woman in the head after Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies stopped his car for a traffic violation. He then drove off, stopping only to dump the body, and after a chase barricaded himself in a Hawthorne apartment.

He surrendered there the next day after a standoff.

Authorities say Valencia was high on methamphetamine at the time.


Judge may rule this week in neo-Nazi's son's case

(Information in the following story is from: The Press-Enterprise,

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A judge may rule this week on where a 13-year-old California boy should be sent for shooting to death his neo-Nazi father three years ago.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Wednesday that a Superior Court Judge could decide by Thursday on whether the boy should be held in a state juvenile detention center. He was convicted of second-degree murder.

Defense attorney Punam Patel Grewal told the court that an alternative location would be more appropriate for a child who grew up in abusive home.

Prosecutors say the boy shot Jeff Hall in 2011 at point-blank range while the man slept. The boy later told police he was afraid he would have to choose between living with Hall and his stepmother.

Hall was a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement.


Los Angeles ponders rewards to fight 'swatting'

(Information in the following story is from: Los Angeles Times,

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles is taking aim at the prank of "swatting" — calling in fake 911 calls that have sent SWAT teams to the homes of celebrities and others.

The Los Angeles Times says the City Council voted Wednesday to offer rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the pranksters. A second vote's set next week.

In April, swatting calls sent police to the homes of Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and Selena Gomez.

Councilman Paul Koretz said he also was targeted after asking the city to crack down on swatting. Koretz says he was about to take a shower when police with drawn guns pounded on his door. Koretz says he held up his council badge and said he wouldn't let them in while he was naked.


Head of LAX security will move to LAPD in new year

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The head of homeland security and law enforcement at Los Angeles World Airports will join the Los Angeles Police Department next year as its highest ranking civilian administrator.

Arif Alikhan has been appointed the special assistant for constitutional policing by Chief Charlie Beck after two years of supervising security at the Los Angeles International, Ontario International and Van Nuys airports. He replaces Gerald Chaleff, who oversaw the department's implementation of the more than decade-long consent decree.

Starting Jan. 13, Alikhan will supervise divisions including internal audits and inspections, risk management, and planning and research.

As an airport director, Alikhan oversaw policing, counterterrorism, emergency functions and was the main law enforcement liaison.

Alikhan is a former federal prosecutor and was senior adviser to two U.S. Attorneys General on cybercrime and intellectual property.