LAPD investigating liquor store robbery in February on Eagle Rock Blvd. | Photo Bill Hendrickson

Crime and Punishment in Northeast L.A.

2019 April Crime Editions Updates

By Laura Brady-Allen

Here’s the follow up on some of the NELA’s recent crimes:

It has not yet been determined if Joseph Esposito, Jr. 28, is fit to stand trial for the attempted robbery of a cell phone that escalated into an officer-involved shooting on January 2 at the Eagle Rock Plaza.Esposito allegedly tried to steal a cell phone from a woman in the parking lot of the Plaza and, when approached by Glendale police who had responded to the woman’s 911 call, reportedly backed his car at high speed toward one of the officers, who opened fire. Esposito fled, abandoned his car near the Verdugo Rd. exit of the 2 Freeway, and was arrested at his home not far from there. Esposito is out on bail with a next court date of April 29.

Meanwhile, the Glendale Police Department has not responded to questions from the Boulevard Sentinel about the status of the investigation into the shooting and whether the officer who fired the shots is back on patrol. At the time of the shooting, the officer was reportedly placed on temporary administrative assignment.

There are no suspects and no arrests in the burglary of Sunny Side Up Café on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock on February 2. The thieves stole $40,000 from the safe.

The two men arrested for multiple break-ins on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock and Pasadena on January 5 –Juan Manuel Morales, 19, of Southeast Los Angeles, and Kiyonte Levell Sowell, 18, of the MacArthur Park area of L.A. — are in jail with court dates scheduled for April 9. A third suspect seen on surveillance video of the burglaries “remains outstanding,” according to Lieutenant John Luna with the Pasadena Police Department.Two juveniles believed to be members of a gang from South Gate have been identified but not yet arrested in the armed robbery of a Metro PCS store in the 2900 block of Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock on February 12, according to Northeast LAPD Detective Jeana Franco.


Christian Cuevas, 36, of Las Vegas, and Enrique Rugelio, 31, of Highland Park, have been sent to state prison for their roles in the armed robbery of an auto repair shop in Highland Park on November 27, 2018 and the ensuing hour-long chase between the men and LAPD that ended with their capture. Cuevas recently pleaded no contest to a felony count of robbery with the use of a firearm and was sentenced to seven years behind bars. Rugelio pleaded no contest to a felony count of fleeing a pursuing police car while driving recklessly and was sentenced to two years after waiving his credits for the eight months he had already served.

LAPD has identified a “person of interest” in the bomb threat on October 15, 2018 that prompted a lockdown at Franklin High in Highland Park, said Detective Douglas Stice of LAPD Major Crimes unit. A “person of interest” is someone who is being investigated for a crime but has not been arrested or formally charged. The person was identified through phone records obtained under a search warrant. Stice said that the person “is not associated with the school in any manner.” The investigation is ongoing.