Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Edgemont Grabber Convicted By Deputy City Attorney Dikran Sassounian

September 29, 2009

On September 21, 2009, defendant Moises Nunogomez (above) was convicted after a four day Jury Trial in case number 9CA04601.

22 year-old Nunogomez (DOB 11/30/1986) was found guilty of committing four counts of Sexual Battery in violation of Penal Code Section 243.4(e)(1).

The prosecution was handled by Deputy City Attorney Dikran Sassounian of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office Special Trials Unit and was tried in Department 55 of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center before Judge Terry Bork and a jury of eight women and four men.

Evidence presented during trial showed that, for a six month period between September 2008 and February 2009, the man who was only known as the "Edgemont Grabber," approached women from behind and grabbed their buttocks and genital area.

The crimes all occurred in the area of Edgemont and Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Four women who testified at the trial had reported the attacks to the police. The "Edgemont Grabber" was finally identified and arrested on February 13, 2009 by Detectives
Johneen Jones and Hovenessian and Officers Tojong and Lear of the Northeast Division of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The break in the case leading to the Defendant’s arrest came when officers Tojong and Lear responded to the last attack on February 13, 2009. The victim reported the crime from her child’s pre-school. While the officers were showing her a photograph of the suspect, the school handyman recognized him and told officers where he lived. The officers responded to the Defendant’s apartment, where he was taken into custody without incident.

The trial itself was not without problems; three of the victims were unable to identify the defendant, his attacks being sudden, from behind, and momentary. Additionally, although defendant had made admissions to the police regarding his identity, those admissions were not recorded and the defense claimed the admissions could not be trusted.

The defendant also called Antonio Manzo, his live-in boyfriend, as a witness to testify that Nunogomez was gay. The defense used that fact to argue that the defendant's grabbing of the victims' buttocks and genital area could not have been motivated by a "sexual motivation or purpose" (an element of the crime).

Thanks to DCA Sassounian's careful preparation and skillful presentation of evidence, video tape evidence proved the defendant to be the attacker on one occasion, and the defendant's Modus Operandi was sufficiently unique to convince the jury that he was the attacker on the other occasions, with the Jury returning "Guilty" verdicts on all four counts of Sexual Battery.

The still images from the surveillance camera (below) are chilling. They capture Nonogomez's last attack in broad daylight against an innocent and defenseless victim.. His actions, the expression on his face, and his aggressive behavior towards the victim leave no doubt in anyone's mind as to the intentions of the defendant.

After the verdict, DCA Sassounian thanked the Jury for their deliberations and especially thanked LAPD Detectives Jones and Hovhanessian for conducting a thorough and extensive investigation leading to the identification and arrest of the defendant. Sassounian noted that although only four women reported their attacks to the police, the number of victims is likely to be much higher.

Nunogomez remained in custody after the verdict, and he will be back in Department 55 on October 5, 2009 for sentencing. He faces a maximum sentence of Four Years in County Jail and Compulsory Lifetime Registration as a Sex Offender under Penal Code Section 290, popularly known as 'Megan's Law.'

Posted by: David Berger

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Deputy City Attorney Jerry Baik Fights To Change The Law

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jerry Baik (pictured above), Supervising Assistant City Attorney of the Identity Theft and Fraud Unit, prosecutes cases where counterfeit (fake) goods are seized. When the case is over and the defendant is convicted, the counterfeit goods are destroyed - that's the law according to Penal Code Section 350, and Jerry wants to change it.

Counterfeit goods come in all shapes and sizes, from the infamous fake Rolex watches through fake Louis Vuitton purses, fake Ralph Lauren Polo shirts, fake Nike trainers, and fake Mattel brand toys. You name it, they fake it; it's multi million dollar a year criminal enterprise.

While Jerry Baik and his Unit was busy prosecuting counterfeiters, he received a call from Ruth Schwartz who runs the Mark Taper Foundation Shelter Resource Bank.

The Shelter Resource Bank is a non-profit agency that distributes donated goods to the thousands of homeless people living in shelters in Los Angeles; people so poor they cannot afford a pair of shoes or T-Shirt.

The Shelter Resource Bank's warehouse is an impressive facility, but there's never enough of the basic needs for Los Angeles' most needy; clothes and shoes and maybe a present for a little holiday cheer. So Ruth had an idea; instead of destroying seized counterfeit merchandise, like clothes and trainers, why not donate them to the Shelter Resource Bank where they can be given to those who need them the most?

Ruth contacted Jerry Baik and asked him if it would be possible to use counterfeit goods in that way. Jerry had bad news for Ruth; the law commands destruction of counterfeit merchandise. "Can't anything be done?" asked Ruth, "it's such a waste." Jerry's answer was "Yes. Change the law!"

Ruth and Jerry worked together on the project; Ruth had to find someone in Sacramento who could propose a change in the law, and Jerry had to write the amendment. Ruth found a sympathetic ear in the form of State Senator Gilbert "Gil" Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) who succeeded in getting Jerry's amendment to Penal Code Section 350 passed in both Houses. The Bill awaits the signature of Governor Schwarzenegger, and anxious to move the process along, Ruth and Sen. Cedillo's staff arranged a Press Release on the roof of Skid Row's Union Rescue Mission for Sen. Cedillo and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.

And so it was that on Wednesday morning, Los Angeles City Attorney's Office Public Information Officer, Frank Mateljan paced Skid Row apprehensively outside the Mission, waiting for the Senator and the City Attorney to arrive.

It wasn't long before they arrived and were soon engaged in deep discussions as to how to make the most of the proposed change in the law.

Above (left to right), Ruth Schwartz, from the Shelter Resource Bank), Deputy City Attorney Jerry Baik, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, and Senator Gil Cedillo.

In the uncharacteristically blistering heat of a September morning, Sen. Cedillo spoke of how this change in the law could change the lives of so many needy people.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich spoke passionately about his childhood. As one of five children of a cannery worker, he knew how precious a gift could be, and if there were counterfeit and donated toys and clothes that could safely be given to our most needy families, he urged Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the Bill to make that happen.

After the speeches were over, the City Attorney met with another one of his deputies; Songhai Miguda-Armstead, Assistant Supervising City Attorney of the Safe Neighborhood Division's Skid Row Project, and LAPD Officer McCain.

Before leaving for his next engagement, the City Attorney paused to greet a young boy, one of the many homeless children at the Union Rescue Mission. Nuch couldn't resist a 'High Five'....

Pity this one didn't make the front page of the LA Times.

The City Attorney didn't have to go far for his next engagement. Frank Mateljan had arranged with the Mission's Carrie Gatlin to use her office for a radio interview with Larry Mantel on his show, AirTalk on KPCC 89.3FM.

Frank got Larry on the line, and we left Nuch to debate Larry over recent events at the City Attorney's Office.

You can hear the City Attorney's interview by clicking here.

Posted by: David Berger
Photos by: David Berger