Court documents: 2 firefighters could be fired for sharing Kobe Bryant crash scene photos

By STEFANIE DAZIO and BRIAN MELLEY

LOS ANGELES — Two Los Angeles County firefighters could be fired and a third suspended after first responders took and shared graphic photos from the site of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his teenage daughter and seven others, court documents say.

The court documents were filed Monday as part of widow Vanessa Bryant’s federal lawsuit against Los Angeles County that alleges invasion of privacy. The filings propose that a Nov. 16 trial be postponed five months to April 27, 2022, because of a large amount of material that attorneys need to review.

Kobe Bryant and the others were killed Jan. 26, 2020, when the helicopter they were aboard crashed west of Los Angeles. Federal safety officials blamed pilot error for the wreck that killed the basketball star, whom Michael Jordan will present for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.

An internal investigation by the Los Angeles County Fire Department found that two firefighters — whose names were not disclosed in the court filings — had taken photos of the bodies in the helicopter wreckage that “served no business necessity,” Vanessa Bryant’s attorneys wrote, and “only served to appeal to baser instincts and desires for what amounted to visual gossip.”

They then sent the photos to a third firefighter — a media relations officer who went to the scene and later shared the images with off-duty firefighters and their wives and girlfriends while socializing at an awards ceremony at a Hilton hotel the month after the crash.

The two firefighters — one of whom was at the site solely to monitor safety procedures — were sent “intention to discharge” letters last December. The third firefighter received an “intention to suspend” letter. The employment status of all three was not immediately clear Wednesday.

Los Angeles County attorneys have argued that there is no legal basis for Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit because the photos were not publicly disseminated. She can’t sue for a “hypothetical harm” that they may be shared publicly, the county said in filings.

Capt. Ron Haralson, a spokesperson for the county Fire Department, declined to comment, citing the lawsuit.

Several Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies — none of whom were directly involved in the investigation of the crash — are also included in the lawsuit because they are accused of taking or passing around the grisly photos with family, friends and, in one case, a bar patron and a bartender who later complained to the sheriff’s department.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva condemned the deputies’ behavior and, in a move that has since been heavily criticized, ordered them to delete the photos. The captain of the Malibu-Lost Hills sheriff’s station, which oversees the area where the crash occurred, pushed back on the decision but was overruled.

The Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday that “a full administrative investigation was conducted and appropriate administrative action was taken.” But it couldn’t provide details about discipline involving the deputies because of a pending lawsuit and state employment law that bars disclosing “specific administrative actions.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom last year signed a law that makes it a crime for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime.

The firefighters’ punishment was first reported by KNBC-TV. Representatives from the union that represents firefighters did not immediately respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment Wednesday.

The firefighter who received the photos and shared them with others was not named in court documents, but the Los Angeles Times has reported that Capt. Tony Imbrenda filed a retaliation lawsuit in November. Imbrenda alleged he was demoted for refusing to hand over his personal cellphone during the investigation into the photos, which he said was a violation of the Firefighter Bill of Rights.

Imbrenda did, however, hand over his department cellphone and laptop, the Times reported. His lawsuit says he received photos from people working at the crash site “as is common practice on all major incidents.”

He took his own photos the next day, the Times reported, but denied taking photos of the victims’ bodies and said he did not take photos with his personal cellphone.

Imbrenda did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Read more about Court documents: 2 firefighters could be fired for sharing Kobe Bryant crash scene photos This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Santa Ana Shredding Service

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Man pleads guilty in series of Southern California Trader Joe’s robberies

LOS ANGELES — A Huntington Park man pleaded guilty Wednesday to carrying out more than a dozen robberies of Trader Joe’s stores throughout Southern California during a four-month crime spree last year.

Gregory Johnson, 43, admitted federal counts of interference of commerce by robbery and using a firearm in a crime of violence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Johnson faces between seven years and life in federal prison, with sentencing set for Aug. 2.

The defendant admitted that from last Aug. 28 to Dec. 4, he robbed Trader Joe’s stores in Eagle Rock, Sherman Oaks, Chatsworth, Pasadena, Culver City, Rancho Palos Verdes, Agoura Hills, Brea, Santa Ana, Tustin and Chino Hills, and attempted to rob locations in Simi Valley and Corona.

During many of the robberies, Johnson brandished a handgun. On two occasions, he robbed stores in Rancho Palos Verdes and Brea, and returned weeks later to rob them again.

Johnson and his son, Gregory E. Johnson, were arrested following the Chino Hills robbery on Dec. 4, after a witness gave authorities a description of their getaway vehicle and license plate.

The younger Johnson, 20 at the time he was charged in December, pleaded guilty to participating in the Chino Hills and Chatsworth robberies. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he’s sentenced July 12 in downtown Los Angeles.

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12 indicted in alleged Southern California ‘green’ loan and mortgage fraud scheme

LOS ANGELES — A dozen people have been indicted in connection with an alleged mortgage fraud and “green” loan scheme that operated throughout Southern California and resulted in losses of about $15 million, the California Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.

The 133-count grand jury indictment, handed up April 26, alleges that the crimes occurred in Los Angeles, Riverside and Ventura counties.

The indictment charges the defendants with a variety of counts, including conspiracy, mortgage fraud, grand theft, identity theft, forgery, filing a false or forged document and money laundering.

The defendants allegedly exploited the Yrgene Energy Fund and Renew Funding, companies that provide funding to licensed contractors for energy- efficient home improvements for homeowners, and used false identities to get mortgage loans from conventional banks and hard money lenders, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

“The allegations against these defendants charge a pattern of disregard for the law and willingness to go as far as stealing the identities of the deceased just to further their scheme,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement announcing the charges. “Our office will seek to hold these defendants accountable for their alleged actions.”

Those named in the indictment are: Tamara Dadyan, 39, Richard Ayvazyan, 42, Artur Ayvazyan, 41, Grigor Tatoian, 50, Andranik Petrosyan, 46, Arshak Bartoumian, 48, Artashes Martirosyan, 43, Lilit Malyan, 39, Lubia Carrillo, 41, Rosa Zarate, 49, Estephanie Reynoso, 31, and Vanessa Bell, 60.

Eleven of the defendants have pleaded not guilty, with Malyan due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom for arraignment May 18.

The case stemmed from a multi-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, with assistance from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.

The attorney general lauded the two agencies for “their work to put an end to an extensive, six-year fraud scheme that resulted in the theft of an estimated $15 million.”

“If you were a victim or have information please call 213-486-6979,” said a tweet from LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza.

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Dodgers come up short in latest replay of rivalry with Padres

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws to the plate during the second inning of Thursday’s game against the Padres at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Ryan Weathers #40 of the San Diego Padres throws to the plate against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to the plate against the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to the plate against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Leftfioelder AJ Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers catches a drive by Wil Myers (not pictured) of the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to the plate against the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Second baseman Sheldon Neuse #56 of the Los Angeles Dodgers catches a fly ball by Jake Cronenworth (not pictured) of the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after striking out looking against the San Diego Padres in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres high fives teammate Wil Myers #5 after scoring on a RBI single by teammate Manny Machado (not pictured) against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres scores on a RBI single by teammate Manny Machado (not pictured) against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres singles against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks toward the plate after giving up a Rbi single to Manny Machado (not pictured) of the San Diego Padres in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres steals second base as Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers can???t handle the trow in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to the plate against the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manny Machado #13 RBI single as teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres scores against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after striking out looking against the San Diego Padres in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manager Dave Roberts, right, of the Los Angeles Dodgers not happy with a call by home plate umpire umpire Tony Randazzo #11 in the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres scores on a RBI single by teammate Manny Machado (not pictured) against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manager Dave Roberts, right, of the Los Angeles Dodgers not happy with a call by home plate umpire umpire Tony Randazzo #11 in the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Luke Raley #62 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is out at first after running inside the lines and being hit by the throw against the San Diego Padres in the fifth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fans socially distanced look on during a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Trent Grisham #2 of the San Diego Padres high fives teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • The Padres’ Trent Grisham, right, is congratulated by teammate Manny Machado after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of Thursday night’s game at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres looks on against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres and teammate Eric Hosmer #30 look on against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks at the baseball as Trent Grisham #2 of the San Diego Padres rounds second base after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Trent Grisham #2 of the San Diego Padres high fives third base coach after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers flips the baseball after giving up a solo home run to Trent Grisham (not pictured) of the San Diego Padres in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Outfielders Jurickson Profar #10 and Trent Grisham #2 of the San Diego Padres look on as Sheldon Neuse (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run to tie the game in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • AJ Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers high fives third base coach Dino Ebel #91 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after hitting a solo home run against the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • AJ Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers high fives manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after hitting a solo home run against the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Sheldon Neuse #56 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run to tie the game against the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Outfielders Jurickson Profar #10 and Trent Grisham #2 of the San Diego Padres look on as Sheldon Neuse (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run to tie the game in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fans reach for the baseball as Sheldon Neuse (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run to tie the game against the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Sheldon Neuse #56 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds second base after hitting a solo home run to tie the game off relieve pitcher Emilio Pagan #14 of the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Leftfielder Jurickson Profar #10 of the San Diego Padres dives for a baseball hit by Will Smith (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers that was ruled foul than overturned for a ground rule double in the eighth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Closer Mark Melancon #33 of the San Diego Padres high fives catcher Victor Caratini #17 of the San Diego Padres after striking out Mookie Betts (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the final out in the ninth inning of a baseball game as the San Diego Padres defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • San Diego Padres celebrate after getting out of the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers makes his way to the dugout prior to a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers and San Diego Padres pulled their budding rivalry back off the shelf and took another swallow Thursday night.

Yep – still good.

Last weekend’s exciting three-game series at Petco Park might have swung on a fantastic, game-ending defensive play by Mookie Betts in the middle game. The Padres got their own version of defensive grace in the opener of the series at Dodger Stadium as Jake Cronenworth snuffed out a late Dodger rally and preserved a 3-2 victory for the Padres.

“They had to make a great play, turn a big double play to hold us off,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We had a chance to win tonight and we got beat. Good baseball game.”

It was that. Again.

Tied after seven innings, the Padres pushed across the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth.

Justin Turner led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and Will Smith followed by lofting a high fly ball down the left-field line. Jurickson Profar raced over and made a diving attempt as the ball bounced off the chalked line.

Umpire Jim Reynolds signaled the ball had landed foul but a replay review overruled him. Smith was awarded a double, pumping life into a potential Dodger rally.

After Max Muncy grounded out, A.J. Pollock was intentionally walked to load the bases for Sheldon Neuse, a late addition to the lineup after both Chris Taylor and Zach McKinstry were scratched with lower back stiffness.

Neuse hit a bullet, a 108.7-mph one-hopper that Padres second baseman Cronenworth somehow smothered, sprawling on his stomach before tossing the ball to shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to start an inning-ending double play.

That went to replay as well but the call was confirmed and the Dodgers’ rally was snuffed out.

“It was a roller coaster inning. I thought we put ourselves in position to at least tie the game, potentially go ahead,” Roberts said.

“It took a great play by Cronenworth to recover on that ball and make a nice feed. And I just don’t know too many shortstops that can make that turn with his arm strength (Tatis). It was a heckuva play by them to end that inning.”

The double play took the life out of the Dodgers and Padres closer Mark Melancon struck out the side in the ninth.

But there hasn’t been much life in the Dodgers’ bats to begin with. Over their last five games (including three losses), the Dodgers have scored just 10 runs while batting .126 as a team (19 for 151).

And it’s not just a recent trend. Over their last 13 games, the Dodgers are batting .202.

“On the offensive side, I’m not too concerned,” said Roberts, diplomatically choosing not to point out injuries that have taken Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux out of their lineup at various times during this stretch.

“We’ve got a lot of good offensive players who have track records to back it up. I think we’ll be fine. There’s always parts of a season where there’s a lull offensively. That happens. Those pitchers are pretty good too. But I’m okay with our offense.”

The latest of those pitchers to handcuff the Dodgers is the youngest pitcher in the major leagues this season.

Twenty-one-year-old left-hander Ryan Weathers made his major-league debut in the postseason (one of only two players in baseball history who can say that). Counting that relief appearance in last October’s NL Division Series, Weathers has pitched in six big-league games, half of them against the Dodgers. He hasn’t allowed a run in 10-2/3 innings against them.

Held to two hits in Seattle on Wednesday, the Dodgers managed just one in 5-2/3 innings against Weathers – a leadoff single by Dodgers starter Walker Buehler in the third inning.

“We saw him twice in a week. His command in both those starts has been very good, fastball command,” Roberts said of Weathers, who allowed just one hit in 3-2/3 innings against the Dodgers last Friday. “Hell mix in a slider. You’ll see a handful of changeups. But he pitches off his fastball and it’s a plus-fastball. The last two times we’ve seen him it’s been really good command.”

The Dodgers’ only offense came in two swings in the seventh inning when Pollock and Neuse hit back-to-back home runs off Padres reliever Emilio Pagan.

That was all the 21st-century offense for the night.

The Padres put together the winning rally in the eighth against Blake Treinen. Profar and Victor Caratini led off with back-to-back singles, Profar going to third on Caratini’s hit. When Tatis hit a ground ball to short, the Dodgers turned a double play as the winning run scored.

“Yeah, I think we’ve talked about it plenty, about us two,” Buehler said of the Dodgers-Padres pairing that has excited baseball. “We’re both really talented teams that know how to play good baseball. You gotta assume there’s going to be a few nail-biters in there.”

Sheldon Neuse’s one-hopper was hit 108.7 mph off the bat. Jake Cronenworth smothered a bullet. https://t.co/DX1MqZzuma

— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) April 23, 2021

“They had to make a big double play to hold us off…we had a chance to win.” Dave Roberts shares his thoughts on tonight’s #Dodgers performance with @kirsten_watson. pic.twitter.com/PB1JyvGUjt

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 23, 2021

Walker Buehler (7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 9 K) reflects on his #Dodgers outing vs. San Diego with @kirsten_watson. pic.twitter.com/aMGADnT3CZ

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 23, 2021

Back-to-back for the @Dodgers and this game is tied! pic.twitter.com/7PKE1H8UyD

— MLB (@MLB) April 23, 2021

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Mookie Betts hit by 95-mph pitch in Dodgers’ loss to Mariners

The Dodgers have weathered injuries to Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux and Tony Gonsolin in less than three weeks.

On Monday night in Seattle, they were dealt a different dose of adversity: a game they never led, their first losing streak of the season, and a heart-stopping hit-by-pitch that sent All-Star Mookie Betts to his knees.

Mariners pitcher Rafael Montero hit Betts on the right forearm with a 95-mph sinker in the ninth inning of the Dodgers’ 4-3 loss at T-Mobile Park. Betts stayed in the game, only for Corey Seager to hit into a game-ending double play.

Manager Dave Roberts said Betts’ status for Tuesday’s game in Seattle was to be determined.

“Obviously Mookie’s going to want to be in there,” Roberts said. “Gotta make sure it doesn’t affect his throwing or his swing. He’s pretty honest with me. If he feels like he can play he’ll be in there.”

Replays showed that Montero’s pitch hit Betts in the muscular part of his forearm. Roberts described it as a “soft tissue” injury. While it was possible Betts would undergo an MRI scan, those are more frequently indicative of injuries involving “hard tissue,” such as bone.

It was a painful ending to a disappointing game for the Dodgers (13-4), who also lost Sunday in San Diego. Betts, Seager and Justin Turner reached base eight times in 14 plate appearances. The rest of the lineup went 1 for 21 with two walks. They finished 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position as a team.

Starting pitcher Dustin May (1-1) allowed four runs in five innings. Only three were earned, by virtue of an error by second baseman Chris Taylor.

Taylor Trammell, who began the day hitting .152, clubbed a solo home run and hit an RBI double that led to the Mariners’ critical fourth run.

“It was a tough feeling for me,” May said of pitching from behind. “I guess I failed the team today.”

Seager’s third home run of the season gave him bragging rights for a day over his brother, Kyle, the Mariners’ designated hitter who finished 0 for 4.

The Mariners (11-6) got the last laugh.

“We had the winning run on first base in the ninth inning,” Roberts said. “I thought we just got behind the 8-ball a little bit.”

In the bottom of the first inning, May allowed a one-out single to Ty France, followed by a two-out home run to Jose Marmolejos, giving Seattle a 2-0 lead. In the second inning, Trammell launched his third home run of the season, an opposite-field shot to left-center. The Dodgers quickly trailed 3-0.

Corey Seager got a couple of runs back with one swing. Betts swatted a double against Mariners starter Justus Sheffield (1-1) in the third inning. Seager hit the very next pitch 425 feet to center field for a two-run home run.

The next batter, Turner, worked the count full before hitting a double to left field. But Sheffield struck out Will Smith on three called strikes, stranding the potential tying run at second base. Smith went 0 for 4 out of the cleanup hole.

The Dodgers were still trailing 3-2 in the fourth inning when Luis Torrens hit a routine ground ball to Taylor at second base. The ball caromed off the heel of his glove for an error. With Torrens at first, Trammell sliced a double into right field, driving in the Mariners’ fourth run.

All the run-scoring hits May allowed came against his four-seamer, sinker, and cut fastball. For all its velocity, May said, his fastball was “all over the place.”

Meanwhile, all eight of May’s strikeouts came against his curveball. The right-hander threw 92 pitches and induced 13 swings and misses – eight on the curve.

“It felt right out of the hand today,” May said of the curveball, “so I used it in spots that I felt I could take advantage with it, and it worked today.”

The Dodgers threatened to tie the score in the seventh inning. Betts singled and Seager drew a walk against Mariners reliever Anthony Misiewicz, putting runners on first and second base.

Kendall Graveman relieved Misiewicz, struck out Turner for the second out, and induced a low line drive from Smith. Only a leaping catch by Dylan Moore at third base prevented the ball from landing in the outfield and driving in the game-tying run.

“I thought it might have had a chance to get over,” Smith said.

The Dodgers put only five balls in play that dropped for hits. They’ll hope for better luck with Betts’ test results.

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Dodgers score 5 runs in 12th inning to beat Padres in opener

  • The Dodgers’ Max Muncy is safe at home plate after a throwing error by Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. as catcher Luis Campusano applies the late tag during the sixth inning of Friday’s game at PETCO Park in San Diego. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Ryan Weathers #40 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the first inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres taps Mookier Betts #42 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after tagging out on a double play during the first inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres tags out Mookie Betts #42 after Corey Seager #42 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit into a double play during the first inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres avoids a high pitch as Will Smith #42 of the Los Angeles Dodgers makes the catch during the first inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: during the inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on after Manny Machado #13 scored on a single by Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres during the second inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Luis Campusano #21 looks on as Ryan Weathers #40 of the San Diego Padres walks off the mound after being taken out during the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Ryan Weathers #40 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field after being taken out of the game during the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to first but is unable to get the out on a single by Wil Myers #5 of the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Tommy Pham #28 of the San Diego Padres returns to the dugout after striking out during the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws out Jurickson Profar #10 of the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Dan Altavilla #57 of the San Diego Padres looks on after allowing a solo homerun to Luke Raley #62 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres looks on as Luke Raley #62 of the Los Angeles Dodgers touches the plate after hitting a solo homerun during the fifth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres hits a solo homerun as Will Smith #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and umpire Mark Ripperger #90 look on during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres reacts after hitting a solo homerun as umpire Mark Ripperger #90 looks on during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres congratulates Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres after his solo homerun during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Jake Cronenworth #9 congratulates Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres after his solo homerun during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres leaps to field a single hit by Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres leaps to field a single hit by Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres overthrows first base on a single hit by Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is safe at home plate after a throwing error by Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 as Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres places the tag late while umpire Mark Ripperger #90 looks on during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is safe at home plate after a throwing error by Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 as Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres places the tag late while umpire Mark Ripperger #90 looks on during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is safe at home plate after a throwing error by Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Jake Cronenworth #9 congratulates Ha-Seong Kim #7 of the San Diego Padres after he scored on a throwing error during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Victor Gonzalez #81 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the eighth inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 scores on an RBI double by Zach McKinstry #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres awaits the throw during the eighth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 scores on a double by Zach McKinstry #8 and is congratulated by Luke Raley #62 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres looks on during the eighth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers connects for an RBI single as Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres looks on during the ninth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 congratulates Mookie Betts #50 after he scored on an RBI single by Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 and Jake Cronenworth #9 congratulate Manny Machado #13 after he scored on a single by Eric Hosmer #30 of the San Diego Padres during the ninth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Dennis Santana #77 of the Los Angeles Dodgers challenges Jorge Mateo #3 of the San Diego Padres after hitting him with a pitch during the tenth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 and Max Muncy #13 hold back Dennis Santana #77 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as he challenges Jurickson Profar #10 after hitting Jorge Mateo #3 of the San Diego Padres with a pitch looks on during the tenth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 and Max Muncy #13 hold back Dennis Santana #77 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as he challenged Jorge Mateo #3 after hitting him with a pitch as Jurickson Profar #10 of the San Diego Padres looks on during the tenth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 and Max Muncy #13 hold back Dennis Santana #77 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as he challenged Jorge Mateo #3 after hitting him with a pitch as Jurickson Profar #10 of the San Diego Padres looks on while umpire Mark Ripperger #90 intervenes during the tenth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Third base coach Dino Ebel congratulates Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after his two run homerun during the twelth inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • The Dodgers’ Corey Seager, right, is congratulated by teammate Mookie Betts as Padres catcher Victor Caratini looks on after Seager hit a tiekbreaking two-run home run during the 12th inning of Friday’s game at PETCO Park in San Diego. The Dodgers won the opener of the three-game series, 11-6. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Tim Hill #25, Fernando Tatis Jr. #23, Eric Hosmer #30, and Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres look on from the mound during the 12th inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Manager Jayce Tingler relieves Tim Hill #25, as Jake Cronenworth #9, Eric Hosmer #30, Manny Machado #13, Luis Campusano #21 and Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres look on during the twelth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., right, goes over the top of Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy, as Muncy slides in safely to second base during the 12th inning of a baseball game Friday, April 16, 2021, in San Diego. Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chris Taylor grounded into a fielders choice, and Tatis picked up a fielding error on the play. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner (10) reacts with teammate Luke Raley (62) after scoring off a single by Raley during the twelfth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, April 16, 2021, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: David Price #33 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the 12th inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Corey Seager #5 and Zach McKinstry #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hug as Wil Myers #5 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field after the Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres 11-6 in a 12 inning game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Justin Turner #10, Mookie Betts #50, Corey Seager #5 and Zach McKinstry #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate defeating the San Diego Padres 11-6 in a twelve inning game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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SAN DIEGO — Did they leave anything for the second act?

With early-aughts ThunderStix apparently teleported in for the occasion, Friday’s first meeting between the Dodgers and their newly-minted NL West challengers did a better job of living up to Justin Turner’s spring prediction of 19 regular-season World Series games than down to the ho-hum, all-business attitude some Dodgers put on this week.

“Yeah, it felt like a rivalry tonight,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who rejected that label this spring.

The San Diego Padres came from behind with two runs in the eighth inning off Corey Knebel then did it again with a run in the ninth, down to their last strike against Kenley Jansen.

But Corey Seager finally decided things in the 12th inning, leading off with a two-run home run – an unholy phrase birthed by baseball’s new extra-innings rule – that sparked a five-run inning and gave the Dodgers an 11-6 victory over the Padres late Friday night at Petco Park.

“That was the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of,” said Dodgers rookie Luke Raley, who hit his first MLB home run but did not have to live a sheltered life before making that statement.

The first of seven meetings over 10 days (and 19 during the regular season) between the two teams expected to vie for National League supremacy, it was quite an opening act for the season-long drama ahead. The last inning featured Joe Musgrove – feted in a pre-game ceremony for throwing the first no-hitter in Padres history earlier this week – playing left field for the Padres and David Price collecting the second RBI of his 13-year career and first win with the Dodgers.

“It felt like a playoff game,” Roberts said. “They deployed a lot of guys. We deployed a lot of guys. The intensity was there. Man, I can look up and down my lineup card and everyone contributed.

“I’m just spent emotionally. … We responded. They answered back. They kept fighting. We kept fighting.”

In fact, they nearly did. The game even featured the first staredown of the rivalry when the Dodgers’ Dennis Santana hit Jorge Mateo with a pitch in the 10th inning – a duo not even on the board when predicting who would set off the first benches-clearing confrontation in this matchup.

“I was kind of thinking about that out in the bullpen,” said Price, a veteran of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. “All rivalries in baseball are really good. But once you get that first benches-clearing whatever happens – that’s when it goes to that next level.”

This one already had plenty of levels.

The Padres activated their star shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr., from the Injured List for the series, reportedly advising him about the “danger points” and “high-risk plays” they hoped he would avoid – things like diving for balls – so he wouldn’t re-injure the shoulder he partially dislocated just 11 days ago.

He didn’t heed their advice.

With runners on first and third and two outs in the sixth inning, Tatis made a diving stop of Chris Taylor’s ground ball into the hole, rolled over and tried to throw to second base for an inning-ending forceout that would have preserved a one-run Padres’ lead – built on a Tatis home run.

His throw was wide of the base and scuttled off into right field as two Dodger runs scored. The error led to a three-run boondoggle and a two-run lead for the Dodgers to protect over the final three innings.

They couldn’t.

It turned into a one-run lead when the Padres scored on a throwing error by Zach McKinstry in the seventh, then a two-run lead again when McKinstry’s double over right fielder Wil Myers’ head drove in a run in the top of the eighth.

Knebel came in to protect that lead in the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Manny Machado. It was the first hit off Knebel this season (by the 18th batter he faced).

Two batters later, Myers’ single was the second then Jurickson Profar’s double down the left field line was the third. Two runs scored on the double, tying the game.

Jansen came in and put out the fire with two runners on then the Dodgers gave him a new lead to protect. Mookie Betts led off the ninth with a single, went to second when Seager dribbled a ground out in front of home plate and scored when Turner lashed a single through the infield.

But Jansen had to go through the teeth of the Padres’ order to close it out in the bottom of the ninth. He didn’t quite make it. He walked Machado with two outs. Machado stole second to get into scoring position then advanced to third on a pitch in the dirt. Down to his last strike, Eric Hosmer drove a ground ball single into center field to tie the score again.

Santana loaded the bases in the 10th but froze Tatis on a called third strike to escape. In the 11th, Roberts turned to Thursday night’s closer, Price, who had pitched on consecutive days just twice before in his career. He went the final two innings, getting the win when the Dodgers broke the game open in the 12th on Seager’s home run, RBI singles by McKinstry and Luke Raley – and a sacrifice fly by Price.

­“I mean, it had everything. It really did,” Roberts said. “It was incredible. It’s hard for me to kind of process this one right now. I’ll take the win and I’ll probably not even try to think through this game again and get ready for tomorrow.”

First pitch swinging, see you later. 👋 pic.twitter.com/yMXU9AAP2L

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 17, 2021

Round 1 goes to the @Dodgers. pic.twitter.com/sv8GpcsDUm

— MLB (@MLB) April 17, 2021

DENNIS. SANTANA. pic.twitter.com/p8lJwB1HJN

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 17, 2021

Luke with a no-doubter. 💪 #Crushed pic.twitter.com/FyHtvyZhKE

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 17, 2021

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3 arrested in distraction burglaries in Pasadena, Los Angeles and Monterey Park

PASADENA — One man and two women from New Jersey were arrested in connection with a string of burglaries in Pasadena, Los Angeles and Monterey Park where they posed as construction workers to gain access to victims’ houses, authorities announced Tuesday.

Police officers responded to a residence in the 100 block of South San Rafael Avenue, near the Ventura (134) Freeway and Annandale Golf Course, in Pasadena on April 5 on reports of a residential burglary, according to Pasadena Police Department Lt. Jesse Carrillo.

Victims at the scene reported a man posing as a construction worker lured them outside to check work he and two women claimed they completed near their residential property line.

While the man distracted the victims, the two women entered the residence and stole several items of jewelry worth about $40,000, Carrillo said.

Detectives investigated the case and learned the suspects were responsible for at least four similar burglaries in Los Angeles and one in Monterey Park, Carrillo said.

They also determined the suspects used a white 2017 Chrysler Pacifica displaying a New Jersey license plate of H34NEC while carrying out the crimes.

Anaheim Police Department officers on Wednesday located the vehicle parked at a Residence Inn motel in the 1100 block of Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove, Carrillo said. Officers observed three individuals enter the vehicle and detained them.

Pasadena detectives responded to the Residence Inn and obtained search warrants for the rooms occupied by the suspects, Carrillo said. Detectives recovered a significant amount of jewelry that was identified as being stolen in the April 5 robbery.

The suspects — all New Jersey residents — were identified as 24-year- old Bobby Lucci, 25-year-old Jessica Frank and 21-year-old Paris Frank, Carrillo said.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on Monday charged Lucci with one count each of first-degree burglary and receiving stolen property and Jessica Frank and Paris Frank with one count each of receiving stolen property, Carrillo said.

Lucci’s bail was set at $50,000, while Jessica and Paris Frank each had their bail set at $1 because of policies by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Carrillo said.

It was not immediately know if the Franks were related.

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L.A. County brother and sister arrested, accused in real estate scam tied to fraudulent listings and sales

LOS ANGELES — A Southern California brother-and-sister team were arrested Tuesday on federal charges alleging they orchestrated a $6 million real estate fraud scam in which they listed homes without the owners’ consent and collected money from multiple would-be buyers for each of the not-for-sale homes.

Adolfo Schoneke, 43, of Torrance, and Bianca Gonzalez, also known as Blanca Schoneke, 38, of Walnut, each pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a nine-count indictment unsealed after their arrests.

If convicted of seven counts of wire fraud and one count each of conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, Schoneke and Gonzalez each would face up to 162 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A June 1 trial date was set. Both defendants will remain in custody at least until detention hearings scheduled Friday for Schoneke and next Tuesday for Gonzalez.

According to the indictment, Schoneke and Gonzalez, with the help of co-conspirators, operated real estate and escrow companies based in Cerritos, La Palma and Long Beach under a variety of names, including MCR and West Coast.

The indictment alleges Schoneke and Gonzalez found properties that they would list — even though many, in fact, were not for sale, and they did not have authority to list them for sale — and then marketed the properties as short sales providing opportunities for purchases at below-market prices.

Using other people’s broker’s licenses, Schoneke and Gonzalez allegedly listed the properties on real estate websites such as the Multiple Listing Service. In some cases, the indictment alleges, the homes were marketed through open houses that co-conspirators were able to host after tricking homeowners into allowing their homes to be used.

As part of the alleged scheme, the co-conspirators accepted multiple offers for each of the not-for-sale properties, hiding this fact from the victims and instead leading each of the victims to believe that his or her offer was the only one accepted, according to federal prosecutors.

The co-conspirators allegedly were able to string along the victims — sometimes for years — by telling them closings were being delayed because lenders needed to approve the purported short sales.

The indictment also alleges that Schoneke and Gonzalez directed office workers to open bank accounts in the office workers’ names. Those accounts were used to receive down payments on the homes and other payments from victims who were convinced to transfer the full “purchase price” to these bank accounts after receiving forged short sale approval letters, prosecutors allege.

Schoneke and Gonzalez also allegedly directed the office workers to withdraw large amounts of cash from those accounts and give it to them — a procedure that allowed the defendants to take possession of the fraud proceeds while hiding their involvement in the scheme.

Investigators estimate that several hundred victims collectively lost more than $6 million.

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Tree fire spreads to Compton pallet yard, homes

COMPTON — What began as a tree fire was pushed by gusting winds into an industrial pallet yard and warehouse complex in Compton on Wednesday, creating a plume of thick black smoke visible from as far as Orange County and prompting evacuations as embers ignited blazes at homes in an adjacent neighborhood.

Update: Slew of street closures in effect near large Compton industrial fire that has spread to several homes. See the list here. https://t.co/69LbXFEXGn

— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) April 1, 2021

 

A passerby initially reported a fire burning in a tree near Alameda Street and East Rosecrans Avenue around 4:30 p.m., fire officials said.

With the Southland in the tail end of a Santa Ana wind event, gusty conditions quickly pushed the flames into the industrial yard, sparking an inferno as flames chewed through flammable materials stacked in the yard and inside metal-roof structures on the property.

Sporadic small explosions could be seen within the fire.

Fire crews from Compton, Santa Fe Springs, Downey and Los Angeles County were among those responding to the blaze, which quickly went to a third alarm.

Unable to access the property due to the raging inferno, ladder crews were relegated to a surround-and-drown attack, pouring water on the flames from above.

The winds, however, continued pushing embers from the blaze into adjacent neighborhoods, where at least three structures were damaged, including one several blocks away. Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the neighborhood and were evacuating some homes. It was unclear how many residents were affected.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries.

Sheriff’s officials urged residents to avoid the area, announcing a series of road closures around the blaze.

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Alexander: Another UCLA victory in another crazy finish

Being the 11th Seed That Could is nice. But Mick Cronin noted Sunday night, after his UCLA Bruins knocked off Alabama, that just overachieving is hardly satisfactory.

“Somebody said, ‘Well, now you’ve been to an Elite Eight,’” he said. “That’s not why I came to UCLA. I’ve got a lot of friends in the NBA, and they make fun of people that have rings that say ‘Conference champion.’ There’s only one. Whoever wins the NBA title is the world champion.

“So for me, we’ve got to win three more games.”

They still have a chance. And now that UCLA is back in the Final Four, maybe we should stop being surprised.

They were ready for the moment again Tuesday night, beating No. 1 seed Michigan, 51-49, in a slog of a game that further demonstrated the resilience that has made UCLA just the second team to go from the First Four to the Final Four. And while Cronin has repeated at each of his post-game news conferences during this run that all the credit should go to the players, those players are a reflection of the guy in charge.

“On April 9, 2019, I told you, I spell fun w-i-n,” Cronin said Tuesday night, a reference to the day he was hired at UCLA. “You have to find a way to win, and these guys are having the most fun they’ve ever had in their life back in that locker room because they won.

“I told them I was going to teach them how to win. And you have to be able to win different ways … to find a way to beat (Michigan) with defense the way we did tonight, I’m obviously extremely proud of our team. It was just resilience.”

Johnny Juzang, who shot the Bruins back into the game in the first half after they trailed 11-4, and finished with 28 points even after hurting his right ankle early in the second half and leaving the game briefly, is an L.A. guy who originally chose Kentucky but had no hesitation returning home to play for Cronin. The shooter and the defensive-minded coach wouldn’t seem to be a natural match, but Juzang said the idea of being coached hard appealed to him.

“There’s just something inexplainable. I just felt something about Coach,” he said. “I knew that he was hard. I knew that he was intense. I knew that he was defensive-minded, and those are things that drew me. I wanted that. I wanted to be pushed. … I knew that he would push me and hold me accountable and challenge me, and I wanted to play for a program where he does that for everybody.”

Consider that he left Kentucky, another of the sport’s blue-bloods.

Also consider that Kentucky missed the tournament, while UCLA knocked off the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in its region to get to the last Saturday. The last 11 seed to do that was LSU in 1986, led by former Crenshaw High star John Williams, which beat the top three seeds in its region.

These Bruins and those Tigers are two of only five No. 11 seeds ever to make it to the Final Four, joining George Mason in 2006, VCU in 2011 – the first team to get there from the First Four – and Loyola-Chicago in 2018.

None of us had the heart during the postgame Zoom session to ask Cronin if he’d started looking ahead to Gonzaga, the undefeated overall  No. 1 seed that laid waste to USC’s Final Four chances in the first game of the evening.

But maybe the Bruins – having won two tourney games in overtime already – were paying close enough attention to that game to be reminded just how important it is to seize the moment. Gonzaga (30-0) took the initiative from the tipoff and USC was on its heels most of that game. In the nightcap, after Michigan (23-5) took its early 11-4 lead with UCLA making just 2 of 13 field-goal attempts, the Bruins (22-9) threw the next punch. Juzang scored 12 points in a 3:40 span to put his team in front, where it would stay most of the game.

The little things matter for this team, hugely, and a guy who didn’t score a point might have been indispensable. Kenneth Nwuba, the 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore from Lagos, Nigeria who had averaged 5.4 minutes in the 16 games he played, was on the court for 21 minutes after Cody Riley got into early foul difficulty. Nwuba had five rebounds, drew two charging fouls early in the game and was one of the guys Cronin was thinking of when he suggested that the stat sheet might as well be crumpled up.

“Kenny has never played that many minutes, I don’t think,” he said. “He dug deep for us – five big rebounds, great physicality, set some great screens. Again, stats can be overrated. Here is a guy that didn’t score but (the questioner) brought his name up for a reason. He had a big impact on the game physically.”

How big a milestone is this? UCLA will be in the Final Four for the first time since 2008 and the 19th time overall (though the 1980 appearance was vacated by the NCAA, so the official number is 18).

Cronin made it in his second season in Westwood. It took Ben Howland three years. It took John Wooden 14.

“I knew the expectations, right?” Cronin said. “I mean, it’s pretty clear at UCLA.

“I thank (former athletic director) Dan Guerrero for believing in me. I tried to convince him and the guys that were around him with this that I understood it and I wanted it. Coach (Rick) Pitino is like an older brother to me, and he used to say, ‘I’d rather live one day as a lion than a thousand as a lamb.’ It’s like I told my father (Hep), ‘If I don’t take this job I’ll feel like a lamb.’”

Oh, he’s a lion all right. His players will attest to that, and so will any official within earshot after a questionable call.

That passion has gotten his team back to the Final Four. It already is a double-digit underdog to Gonzaga in Saturday’s semifinal, according to the experts in the desert. But would you really want to bet against UCLA’s toughness, resilience and stubbornness?

jalexander@scng.com

@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

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