Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hacienda Heights Bail Bondsman, Former Police Officer Killed in Crash Hours Before he was Due in Court on Criminal Charges

A Hacienda Heights man was killed early Monday in a hit-and-run crash just hours before he was due in court on charges of illegally soliciting bail from prisoners while working as a bail bond agent, officials said.

Bail bondsman and former Los Angeles police officer Edwin Sunmin Lee, 39, was due in court at 8:30 a.m. Monday, according to Shiara Davila Morales of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Lee never made it after he was involved in a fatal two-vehicle crash at 2:47 a.m. on Garfield Avenue and the 105 Freeway in Paramount, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said.

Three men were seen fleeing following the collision, said sheriff's Lt. Shane Robley.

"It was three male Hispanics, and two were helping the third," he said.

No arrests had been made as of Tuesday afternoon, and information regarding the crash was not immediately available, Robley said.

Lee was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.

Authorities alleged earlier this year that Lee - while working as a licensed bail agent for Creative Bail Bonds in Van Nuys - solicited two arrestees to enter into bail agreements while at the Los Angeles Police Department's jail in Van Nuys.

Prosecutors also allege he failed to keep complete records of the bail transactions. Lee pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this year.

Lee's attorney Grant Beuchel said his client wasn't guilty of the solicitation charges. Lee's only mistake was failing to keep proper records, Beuchel said.

"He had nothing to fear from this case at all," Beuchel said. "He was looking forward to going to trial."

Lee leaves behind a wife and young child, Beuchel said.

Lee resigned from the Los Angeles Police Department after pleading no contest in April 2005 to a felony count of filing a false police report.

That charge was subsequently reduced to a misdemeanor and dismissed in February 2007, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

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